Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

(2)The difference between a democracy and a tyranny is that under a democracy the government can be got rid of without bloodshed; under a tyranny it cannot.

This second of Karl Popper’s liberal principles – liberal in the traditional philosophical sense, not the modern socialist outpost sense – may strike a chord in relation to happenings in the US where concerns about enormous government purchases of ammunition are fuelling concerns in some quarters about the Obama government’s dedication to the democratic process.

The principle is a step forward from the view that a democratically elected government is ipso facto democratic. Allied observers, for example, might have deduced earlier that Hitler, elected in 1933, had no intention of going for re-election. Once he arrived at that view his government was no longer democratic; it might not have been democratic on the night of his win.

Wisdom concerning Hitler tends to be garnered through hindsight. The majority of Egyptian voters, on the other hand, appear to have perceived very quickly that Mohammed Morsi’s regime had an agenda to close down the country’s incipient majority in the name of jihad, and removed the elected tyranny by force.

Coming closer to home, we come to a question that may in future years become a smoking gun when assessing British politicians’ dedication to democracy. Was Tony Blair aware of the extent of voting fraud when campaigning for what became his 2005 victory? It was postal votes being fiddled, and in terms of raw numbers there were six times more postal votes than the size of Labour’s victory: but a case, of course, remains to be proven. But if Blair knew, Labour’s 2005-2010 government was a dictatorship.

And according to Popper’s second principle, if there was no way of removing the 2001-2005 government peacefully, it was a tyranny.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary

Resources

Why Does Obama need 1.6 billion bullets? Alex Jones' Info-Wars

Did Labour win the 2005 general election? 300 words

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