Discussion:
Multi-system democracy
(too old to reply)
The Zygon
2018-03-10 03:24:57 UTC
Permalink
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.

I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Lynn McGuire
2018-03-10 03:31:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?

Lynn
The Zygon
2018-03-10 04:25:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years. America was a not a democracy before the 1960's. Athens was not a Democracy. No matter how democratic is among itself, the country they rule cannot be called a democracy, as the word is understood today.

The governments which have become democracies continue to exist, so we cannot know how long the would last.

But I was not suggesting it is particularly credible that the democratic governments we have now would exist in the far future. As in most of the stories there are new governments with completely different political groupings. That makes sense. I just wonder why they are so often not democracies.
Gary R. Schmidt
2018-03-10 09:00:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years.
France? I'm sure I remember something about elections in France a few
centuries ago...

Cheers,
Gary B-)
--
When men talk to their friends, they insult each other.
They don't really mean it.
When women talk to their friends, they compliment each other.
They don't mean it either.
J. Clarke
2018-03-10 12:06:21 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 20:00:59 +1100, "Gary R. Schmidt"
Post by Gary R. Schmidt
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years.
France? I'm sure I remember something about elections in France a few
centuries ago...
Might have been at some point, but it certainly wasn't a democracy in
1789. The US wasn't the only place that had a revolution around that
time, and in France it didn't go quite as well.
Kevrob
2018-03-10 16:27:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 20:00:59 +1100, "Gary R. Schmidt"
Post by Gary R. Schmidt
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years.
France? I'm sure I remember something about elections in France a few
centuries ago...
Might have been at some point, but it certainly wasn't a democracy in
1789. The US wasn't the only place that had a revolution around that
time, and in France it didn't go quite as well.
The US were republics with democratic elements, and a limited franchise,
from 1776 on. The confederation was strengthened in 1789, in that
there was representation directly elected to serve in the national
capital (House of Representatives), in addition to deputies of the
state governments (Senators.) The latter have been directly elected
for over 100 years. This slid our "compound republic" a little further
down the continuum to "direct democracy" than it had been. Other
reforms introduced in the "progressive era" were the initiative* and
referendum,** in the various states, though not at the Federal level.

Interstellar federations where communications are no faster
than ship travel, and even FTL travel takes significant time,
lends itself to arrangements similar to far-flung colonies on
Earth prior to the telegraph and radio. Once you introduce
"subspace radio," an ansible or the like, and the center can give
the periphery orders in real-time, or a trans-galactic assembly
can convene in a virtual space, then less distributed arrangements
can make sense. We could have the latter now, but while business
makes frequent use of teleconferencing and online document sharing,
representative government sticks with in-person interaction,
for the most part.

If both transportation and communications are FTL, and trekking
to Altair VI and back is like flying from London to Wellington,
a unified or closely federated polity is possible.

What makes me wonder is; why be connected? For trade? What
would Sufficiently Advanced Humans trade for across interstellar
distances that would have to be physically moved? Encrypted
information that couldn't be entrusted to transmittable form?
Actual humans with unique skills or knowledge not committed
to some media? DNA in the form of sperm and eggs to increase
genetic diversity on colony worlds or habitats? This is why
we have had "thionite," "spice" and "dilithium crystals"
as goods that are in high demand but only available in some
particular environments.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum

Kevin R
Robert Carnegie
2018-03-11 12:58:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kevrob
Post by J. Clarke
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 20:00:59 +1100, "Gary R. Schmidt"
Post by Gary R. Schmidt
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years.
France? I'm sure I remember something about elections in France a few
centuries ago...
Might have been at some point, but it certainly wasn't a democracy in
1789. The US wasn't the only place that had a revolution around that
time, and in France it didn't go quite as well.
The US were republics with democratic elements, and a limited franchise,
from 1776 on. The confederation was strengthened in 1789, in that
there was representation directly elected to serve in the national
capital (House of Representatives), in addition to deputies of the
state governments (Senators.) The latter have been directly elected
for over 100 years. This slid our "compound republic" a little further
down the continuum to "direct democracy" than it had been. Other
reforms introduced in the "progressive era" were the initiative* and
referendum,** in the various states, though not at the Federal level.
Interstellar federations where communications are no faster
than ship travel, and even FTL travel takes significant time,
lends itself to arrangements similar to far-flung colonies on
Earth prior to the telegraph and radio. Once you introduce
"subspace radio," an ansible or the like, and the center can give
the periphery orders in real-time, or a trans-galactic assembly
can convene in a virtual space, then less distributed arrangements
can make sense. We could have the latter now, but while business
makes frequent use of teleconferencing and online document sharing,
representative government sticks with in-person interaction,
for the most part.
If both transportation and communications are FTL, and trekking
to Altair VI and back is like flying from London to Wellington,
a unified or closely federated polity is possible.
What makes me wonder is; why be connected? For trade? What
would Sufficiently Advanced Humans trade for across interstellar
distances that would have to be physically moved? Encrypted
information that couldn't be entrusted to transmittable form?
Actual humans with unique skills or knowledge not committed
to some media? DNA in the form of sperm and eggs to increase
genetic diversity on colony worlds or habitats? This is why
we have had "thionite," "spice" and "dilithium crystals"
as goods that are in high demand but only available in some
particular environments.
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum
Kevin R
Shared scientific research to avoid duplicating effort.

A political relationship to avoid conflict of interest
leading to war.

And of course people will want to know about the Kardashians.
Stephen Harker
2018-03-10 20:34:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Gary R. Schmidt
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years.
France? I'm sure I remember something about elections in France a few
centuries ago...
Elections don't make a democracy. Many ancient states had elections,
but mostly with a restricted franchise (very restricted usually: male
citizens with often a property qualification). This was common later in
history too. The most restricted I can think of is the Holy Roman
Empire of the German Nation with a varying number of electors (seven to
nine) at various times (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince-elector).
The restricted franchise was typically to sufficiently wealthy males.

Parliaments are one form of modern representative body with a more
complicated history. Others are a senate, synod or congress each with a
complicated history and influencing each other. Modern forms are mostly
comprised of representatives elected moderately democratically, but
historically they were not.

Iceland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Althing) which has been mentioned
elsewhere and the Isle of Man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tynwald)
are two with some claims to first and first continuous Parliament.

In Britain the Parliament had elected members, with restricted
franchise. The famous rotten boroughs demanding money for votes and
pocket boroughs with no longer existing towns with a single nominal
owner of the land concerned appointing his representative
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotten_and_pocket_boroughs).

Historically the idea of democracy was despised, but gradually gained
strength with a gradual reduction in restrictions through the nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries.

Many and, probably, all of these have been used as backgrounds for
science fiction settings. For many of the possibly democratic settings
it is hard to get enough information to decide how the system actually
works. Robert Heinlein's _Double Star_ is one in which the system is
described in fair detail.
--
Stephen Harker ***@netspace.net.au
http://sjharker.customer.netspace.net.au/
larry
2018-03-11 00:09:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
We don't know how long democracies can last because the world has not seen any before the last 100 years. America was a not a democracy before the 1960's. Athens was not a Democracy. No matter how democratic is among itself, the country they rule cannot be called a democracy, as the word is understood today.
Slight correction - the Iceland parliament (the Althing) was founded
in 930 and has run (with a 45 year break) since.
Post by The Zygon
The governments which have become democracies continue to exist, so we cannot know how long the would last.
But I was not suggesting it is particularly credible that the democratic governments we have now would exist in the far future. As in most of the stories there are new governments with completely different political groupings. That makes sense. I just wonder why they are so often not democracies.
--
After investigation, believe that which you have yourselves
tested and found reasonable, and which is for your good
and that of others.
Gautama.
J. Clarke
2018-03-10 04:29:30 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The Roman Republic is generally considered to have existed from 509 BC
to 27 BC.
Post by Lynn McGuire
Lynn
William Hyde
2018-03-10 20:53:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The Roman Republic is generally considered to have existed from 509 BC
to 27 BC.
And it even had some democratic components. The franchise was restricted to male citizens, of course, and for offices like Consul and Praetor the rich had far more votes than the poor. A setup which at least one former poster to this group regards as an improvement on our current one.

But for the powerful tribunes and some other offices all(*) free male citizens could in theory vote, and votes counted equally, much as in the US in 1850.

(*) As the tribunate was specifically created to protect the plebeians from the patricians, the latter had no vote in those elections.



William Hyde
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-03-10 04:40:11 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Sjouke Burry
2018-03-10 16:25:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-03-10 17:21:07 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:25:16 +0100, Sjouke Burry
Post by Sjouke Burry
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Why not?
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
David Johnston
2018-03-10 17:34:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:25:16 +0100, Sjouke Burry
Post by Sjouke Burry
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Why not?
Things keep better in the freezer.
Kevrob
2018-03-10 20:54:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:25:16 +0100, Sjouke Burry
Post by Sjouke Burry
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Why not
The Swiss have a long republican history, also.
Part of it was as an effectively autonomous part
of the "Holy Roman Empire" from the 14th century,
but independent since 1648 (Peace of Westphalia.)
There was an interruption during the Napoleonic Wars
when a puppet republic replaced the Confederation,
which was restored by the Congress of Vienna.
Switzerland as a Federal State,without nobles, dates
to 1848.

France, since the 1789 revolution, has had constitutional
monarchy, 5 republics, the German occupation along with
Petain's Vichy regime, and 2 empires.

San Marino, has been under a Grand Council and Captains Regent
since 1243, and an assembly called the Arengo before that,
back to the 5th century.

Kevin R
Ahasuerus
2018-03-10 23:43:30 UTC
Permalink
On Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 3:54:32 PM UTC-5, Kevrob wrote:
[snip-snip]
Post by Kevrob
France, since the 1789 revolution, has had constitutional
monarchy, 5 republics, the German occupation along with
Petain's Vichy regime, and 2 empires. [snip]
To be more nearly precise, there have been 3 constitutional monarchies
with 3 separate constitutions: 1791-1792, 1814-1830 and 1830-1848.
In addition, what we now think of as the First Republic saw a number
of constitutional arrangements (1793, 1795, 1799 and 1802) which
paved the way for the establishment of the First Empire in 1804.
Dimensional Traveler
2018-03-10 21:03:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sjouke Burry
Post by J. Clarke
On Fri, 9 Mar 2018 21:31:53 -0600, Lynn McGuire
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree.  There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be
an effective form of government  for a multi-system society.  This
seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and
communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that
point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and
fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why
shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Why not?
--
Inquiring minds want to know while minds with a self-preservation
instinct are running screaming.
Quadibloc
2018-03-11 04:42:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Sjouke Burry
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Iceland.
Frozen democracies do not count.........
Although the weather is cold in Iceland, it hasn't been in suspended animation or
a Slaver stasis box, which would be the kind of "frozen" that would be a valid
reason for not counting the length of time it remained democratic.

John Savard
Quadibloc
2018-03-10 16:43:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Iceland.
That is the potential counterexample that first occurred to me as well.

John Savard
Cryptoengineer
2018-03-10 05:03:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640, iirc. That 350+
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.

pt
William Hyde
2018-03-10 21:05:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640,
Oh, long before that. Of course it wasn't very democratic at first, and I've no idea what time you could decide it was more democratic than otherwise. A good case could be made that it wasn't until 1918.

And of course half of it wasn't elected at all, but IIRC it was in 1603 that someone pointed out that the members of the house of commons were on average three times richer than the lords. So within parliament the elected house began to have the effective power.

iirc. That 350+
Post by Cryptoengineer
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.
Most histories cite the "glorious revolution" of 1688 as the turning point. Personally I think that the beheading of Charles II forty years earlier had a lot to do with it.


William Hyde
Garrett Wollman
2018-03-11 00:02:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Hyde
Post by Cryptoengineer
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640,
Oh, long before that. Of course it wasn't very democratic at first, and
I've no idea what time you could decide it was more democratic than
otherwise. A good case could be made that it wasn't until 1918.
Or even later.
Post by William Hyde
And of course half of it wasn't elected at all, but IIRC it was in 1603
that someone pointed out that the members of the house of commons were
on average three times richer than the lords.
Of course at the time many members of the Commons were descendants of
the nobility anyway (often junior sons, or sons who had yet to inherit
their father's title). And even as late as the turn of the twentieth
century, it was still considered plausible for a prime minister to
lead a government from the Lords.

-GAWollman
--
Garrett A. Wollman | "Act to avoid constraining the future; if you can,
***@bimajority.org| act to remove constraint from the future. This is
Opinions not shared by| a thing you can do, are able to do, to do together."
my employers. | - Graydon Saunders, _A Succession of Bad Days_ (2015)
Lynn McGuire
2018-03-11 00:05:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640, iirc. That 350+
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.
pt
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy. Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.

Lynn
The Zygon
2018-03-11 02:31:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640, iirc. That 350+
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.
pt
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy. Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
Lynn
England is a Constitutional Monarchy, but also a Democracy according to common usage today, if not by technical definition. My question is based on common usage, not technical definition.
Quadibloc
2018-03-11 04:45:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lynn McGuire
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy. Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
I'd say that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, at
least in present, a democratic nation - it has a free press, freedom of
religion, free elections. It is _not_ a republic, but it certainly is, like the
United States, a democratic nation. (Some people draw a distinction between a
democratic republic and a "democracy", meaning by the latter Athenian-style
direct democracy. Yes, the UK is not that.)

Countries where dissent is not suppressed, which don't have political prisoners
- that is, on our side, not like our Nazi and Soviet enemies - are democracies
in the normal use of the term. The UK is in that category.

John Savard
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-03-11 05:13:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Quadibloc
Post by Lynn McGuire
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy. Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
I'd say that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, at
least in present, a democratic nation - it has a free press, freedom of
religion, free elections. It is _not_ a republic, but it certainly is, like the
United States, a democratic nation. (Some people draw a distinction between a
democratic republic and a "democracy", meaning by the latter Athenian-style
direct democracy. Yes, the UK is not that.)
Kind of hard to have a direct democracy in something the size of
the US, or even the UK. Even in Athens, where the term was
invented, they managed (barely) by restricting the franchise to
male, adult, free, native-born Athenians. And even then it was
awkward. Cf. Lysistrata in Aristophanes' play of that name: "Oh,
you will see that, like true Athenians, they will do everything
too late." The best example of something approaching direct
democracy is the Norman Rockell-ish American town hall in a small
town (see famous painting, which I'm not able to load on this
slow machine), where all the adults in town are few enough that
they can come to a decision in an evening.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
The Zygon
2018-03-11 06:04:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Quadibloc
Post by Lynn McGuire
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy. Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
I'd say that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, at
least in present, a democratic nation - it has a free press, freedom of
religion, free elections. It is _not_ a republic, but it certainly is, like the
United States, a democratic nation. (Some people draw a distinction between a
democratic republic and a "democracy", meaning by the latter Athenian-style
direct democracy. Yes, the UK is not that.)
Kind of hard to have a direct democracy in something the size of
the US, or even the UK. Even in Athens, where the term was
invented, they managed (barely) by restricting the franchise to
male, adult, free, native-born Athenians. And even then it was
awkward. Cf. Lysistrata in Aristophanes' play of that name: "Oh,
you will see that, like true Athenians, they will do everything
too late." The best example of something approaching direct
democracy is the Norman Rockell-ish American town hall in a small
town (see famous painting, which I'm not able to load on this
slow machine), where all the adults in town are few enough that
they can come to a decision in an evening.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Male property owning class only. I despite the idealizations of later admirers, participation was very low. Worse, votes among the poorer ones were bought and sold like two-penny whores. Among the richer ones, business relationships were at least as important as the political issues involved. There is a reason why it crashed and burned.

It is one of the reasons why the Romans so despised and distrusted it. Sure, after their Republic existed for about 500 years, they became pretty much the same - but that is different story.
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-03-11 07:04:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
The best example of something approaching direct
democracy is the Norman Rockell-ish American town hall in a small
town (see famous painting, which I'm not able to load on this
slow machine), where all the adults in town are few enough that
they can come to a decision in an evening.
To the best of my knowledge, this model has never existed in the U.S.
outside New England, but it's common there. I grew up in a town run
by Town Meeting, with a Board of Selectmen to keep things running
between meetings. The Selectmen could call special meetings, in
addition to the regular annual ones, and any adult citizen could
petition for a special meeting -- if the Selectmen didn't cooperate,
enough signatures on a petition meant the meeting happened anyway.

Rockwell, of course, was a New Englander.

My town was Bedford, Mass. Population got up as high as 14,000 when I
lived there, and theoretically every single adult resident could speak
and vote at Town Meeting, but in practice they rarely got more than a
few hundred people to show up.

One thing that was absolutely clear but that outsiders sometimes had
trouble grasping was that the Selectmen had no authority other than
what the Town Meeting gave them -- they could be voted out instantly,
with no appeal or other recourse, in the middle of any meeting, and
any decision they had made could be overruled (except contracts they'd
made on the town's behalf with, say, construction companies, or town
employees). It wasn't like a mayor or city council, with set terms.
There were no elections for any town office. Selectmen (who could be
any sex) served from one Town Meeting to the next, where they might or
might not be reappointed, and special meetings counted exactly the
same as annual ones in that regard.

It's about as close to direct democracy as you can get.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
m***@sky.com
2018-03-11 13:25:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
The best example of something approaching direct
democracy is the Norman Rockell-ish American town hall in a small
town (see famous painting, which I'm not able to load on this
slow machine), where all the adults in town are few enough that
they can come to a decision in an evening.
To the best of my knowledge, this model has never existed in the U.S.
outside New England, but it's common there. I grew up in a town run
by Town Meeting, with a Board of Selectmen to keep things running
between meetings. The Selectmen could call special meetings, in
addition to the regular annual ones, and any adult citizen could
petition for a special meeting -- if the Selectmen didn't cooperate,
enough signatures on a petition meant the meeting happened anyway.
Rockwell, of course, was a New Englander.
My town was Bedford, Mass. Population got up as high as 14,000 when I
lived there, and theoretically every single adult resident could speak
and vote at Town Meeting, but in practice they rarely got more than a
few hundred people to show up.
One thing that was absolutely clear but that outsiders sometimes had
trouble grasping was that the Selectmen had no authority other than
what the Town Meeting gave them -- they could be voted out instantly,
with no appeal or other recourse, in the middle of any meeting, and
any decision they had made could be overruled (except contracts they'd
made on the town's behalf with, say, construction companies, or town
employees). It wasn't like a mayor or city council, with set terms.
There were no elections for any town office. Selectmen (who could be
any sex) served from one Town Meeting to the next, where they might or
might not be reappointed, and special meetings counted exactly the
same as annual ones in that regard.
It's about as close to direct democracy as you can get.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
There have been various plans to use computers to make direct democracy practical in very large groups - e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoex. Personally I would like to think that representative democracy also means hiring my representative to take more time thinking over problems than I would be able to myself, and coming to sensible conclusions - so I don't think the disadvantages of direct democracy are limited to the practicalities of getting everybody in one room. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boaty_McBoatface
David Johnston
2018-03-11 05:30:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree.  There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government  for a multi-system society.  This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640, iirc. That 350+
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.
pt
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy.  Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
Except of course that the UK doesn't use the freaky definition of
"democracy" that only American Republicans use.
The Zygon
2018-03-11 06:06:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Johnston
Post by Cryptoengineer
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple
solar systems are autocratic to some degree.  There is almost always
an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens
even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is
today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an
effective form of government  for a multi-system society.  This seems
to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point.
If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as
easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't
they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
The English Parliment has been in place since 1640, iirc. That 350+
years. As time passed, power has gradually shifted from the King to
elected representatives.
pt
England (actually the UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy.  Not even close
to a Republic or a Democracy.
Except of course that the UK doesn't use the freaky definition of
"democracy" that only American Republicans use.
No other country can. That "definition" is too country specific.
Greg Goss
2018-03-11 08:54:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lynn McGuire
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Have any Republics (the USA since 1789) or Democracies (Greece many
years ago) lasted 300 years or more ?
Lynn
https://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/politics_and_society/2016/03/09/politics_in_iceland_a_beginner_s_guide/
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
David Johnston
2018-03-10 04:51:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
I've seen plenty of space "Federations" and "Republics" which are no
more autocratic than the United States and sometimes less.
The Zygon
2018-03-10 05:57:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Johnston
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
I've seen plenty of space "Federations" and "Republics" which are no
more autocratic than the United States and sometimes less.
I have seen some too.

Are you suggesting that my impression that they are most often autocracies is based on the sample I happen to have read? I am disputing this. This is quite possible. I would just like to understand if that is what you are saying.
David Johnston
2018-03-10 06:57:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
Post by David Johnston
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
I've seen plenty of space "Federations" and "Republics" which are no
more autocratic than the United States and sometimes less.
I have seen some too.
Are you suggesting that my impression that they are most often autocracies is based on the sample I happen to have read? I am not disputing this. This is quite possible. I would just like to understand if that is what you are saying.
"Almost all" isn't the same thing as "most often" for a start.
Interstellar autocracies are common of course because the author is
doing yet another case of cribbing from Earth history to get
inspiration, or because they need an opponent for their interstellar
democracy or they need something for their space rebels to y'know, rebel
against.
Robert Carnegie
2018-03-10 10:17:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
Post by David Johnston
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
I've seen plenty of space "Federations" and "Republics" which are no
more autocratic than the United States and sometimes less.
I have seen some too.
Are you suggesting that my impression that they are most often autocracies is based on the sample I happen to have read? I am disputing this. This is quite possible. I would just like to understand if that is what you are saying.
We need some sort of catalogue, and a count.

Amongst other types of government found in space are
"company town" and military dictatorship - that tends to
have a single dictator and maybe it's called something else
when it's a committee. One general may be President in
vestiges of a previous republican establishment but this
may not be significant. Oh, and there's theocracy -
but if it's science fiction then hat usually means religion
in charge, but not gods themselves making decisions and
giving orders.

If the authority is democratic then its decisions and
deliberations need to be shown and explained, and the
author may not want to bother with that.

Even in a centralised tyranny, there probably will be
an authority at star-system level or below, if only
a mid-ranking aristocrat or a space colonel or
branch manager. There even may be a local tolerated -
but isolated - democracy, possibly with the tyranny
on the point of crushing it after all.

Lando Calrissian's Cloud City is a commercial site
until the Imperial forces arrive.

Jack Campbell's "Lost Fleet" novels have democratic
star-system government and a federal senate of worlds
back home, faced with their own frustrated military
taking over - if the fleet actually gets home from
the other side of the star-map. On the other hand,
the starship captains vote in tele-conference on
fleet actions - until the hero points out that this
isn't terribly efficient. A few of the ships are
from separate and allied space-nations, which is
either to provide plot complication or to represent
something about U.S. politics, or both - I'm elsewhere
in the world and I can only identify the plot complication
dimension - the allied ships brought a politician.
Butch Malahide
2018-03-10 09:47:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
Even if a galactic democracy would be feasible, it's hard to see what the point
would be. It's not clear what advantages there are to being ruled by a trillion rulers, rather than being ruled by one. Well, one can hope that the swarm will rule less efficiently, as the members will often be at cross purposes.
Quadibloc
2018-03-10 20:44:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Butch Malahide
Even if a galactic democracy would be feasible, it's hard to see what the point
would be. It's not clear what advantages there are to being ruled by a trillion
rulers, rather than being ruled by one. Well, one can hope that the swarm will
rule less efficiently, as the members will often be at cross purposes.
While it is easy to contradict you by pointing out that a single ruler will
often be a cruel tyrant, while democracies are more easy-going, there is still a
valid point in what you say.

There are those who might say, what do <insert group here> (i.e. Canada's Inuit)
have to complain about, as they're living in a free, democratic country with
equal rights.

To take Canada's Inuit as an example, though, they don't live in a country where
*they are the majority*, thus, unlike even French, Inuktitut does not have the
status of an "official language" in Canada, even though non-immigrant native
speakers of that language live here. Because they didn't choose to come to
Canada as immigrants, there is no basis to assign to them an obligation to learn
a new language.

So, yes, democratic self-rule for a group is preferable to democratic rule in a
setting where one is vastly outnumbered by outsiders.

John Savard
p***@hotmail.com
2018-03-11 06:27:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Zygon
I have noticed that almost all human governments which span multiple solar systems are autocratic to some degree. There is almost always an Emperor or someone who is effectively an emperor. This happens even when the position is largely ceremonial as most royalty is today. There seems to be an assumption that Democracy would not be an effective form of government for a multi-system society. This seems to be so when the society has FTL both in travel and communications.
I have never understood why there is so much agreement on that point. If people can communicate with, and especially travel to and fro as easily as we now do between Washington and Los Angeles, why shouldn't they be able to build a functioning democracy?
In his novel _Galactic Patrol_, published in serial form in 1937, Edward
E. Smith shows a democratic interstellar government. In this and in
the ensuing _Lensman_ series the galactic federation is contrasted
with the opposing authoritarian organization of Boskone. The concept
of a galactic empire is generally associated with the _Foundation_
series by Isaac Asimov several years later, and Asimov does not really
show the empire as being natural or desirable, but as something that
came into existence through historical circumstances, to be replaced
by something better after it collapses.

Other examples of democratic interstellar governments include the
Federation of the Hub series by James Schmitz and the Philosophical
Corps stories by E. B. Cole.

Peter Wezeman
anti-social Darwinist
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