Monday, November 16, 2015

The Vote

The point behind universal suffrage is not that the majority is somehow more enlightened than a given minority. Universal suffrage is intended as a protection. Autocrats and ruling minorities rarely see themselves a oppressive and corrupt. Instead they see the people they are keeping down as unfit, due to their lack of enlightenment, to govern themselves. They live in a world where the masses need them more than they need the masses - and so when they see to their own needs and comforts, they are doing the masses a favor.

While it is true that in a system where everyone is allowed to vote that the majority may advance itself at the expense of minorities, this is a known imperfection in the system, and one that is considered more palatable than the reverse, in which a minority advances itself at the expense of the rest of the society. It is easy to trust in the enlightenment and benevolence of those people who think like we do, and conclude that there is no danger in subordinating the desires of the public at large to the guiding hand of those who know best.

But this is one of the problems with our current understanding of Evil. We view the historical occurrences where unaccountability to the greater society as being born of the inherent moral bankruptcy of those who rose to power, rather than the intrinsic danger that a conviction that one objectively knows right and wrong entails.

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