Democratic Bullshit

Is democracy bullshit?

Actually, the question isn’t whether or not democracy is bullshit, but whether the bullshit of democracy is being put to good use.

First, what is bullshit? As Harry Frankfurt established, lying and bullshitting are not the same, although they may overlap. Let me explain.

Both liar and bullshitter aim to deceive, but in different ways and for different purposes. The liar wants his victim to believe what is not the case. In doing so, the liar necessarily misrepresents himself as believing something he does not believe, but self-misrepresentation is not necessarily his primary aim. In the case of the bullshitter, however, self-misrepresentation is always primary. The bullshitter is up to something, and he does not want his victim to catch on.

The essence of bullshit, in other words, is that it is inauthentic. A bullshitter wants you to believe he knows something he does not, can do something he cannot, and more fundamentally is something or someone he is not. A bullshitter, therefore, may not lie at all. A man may bullshit about carpentry with the aim of inducing you to take him as a genuine carpenter, without saying anything at all false about carpentry. Continue reading

The Case Against Democracy

In his book Against Democracy (2017), Jason Brennan presents a formidable amount of empirical evidence to the effect that the more someone is involved in politics, the worse he or she becomes as a person.

  • The more you are involved in political debate (especially as the representative of a group or ideology), the less likely you are to reach reasonable conclusions. Participation increases people’s tendency to ignore facts that don’t support their position, to argue in manipulative and deceptive ways, to adopt extreme views, and in general it makes people more biased and less reasonable.
  • The more active you are in politics, the less likely you are to talk with people whose views run contrary to your own. In fact, you may reach the point where you are unable even to imagine a point of view other than your own. As a result, the more active you are in politics, the less good you will be at doing what politicians are supposed to do: see enough sides of an issue to craft and sell a compromise.

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