This is regardless of what ‘electoral’ people want to believe.
It is time for me to write something I have had in mind for awhile. As with anything worth writing, there are particular groups of people who are not going to like it. In this case, these are people who are still hung up on the idea of electoral politics as a solution for anything.
This includes people affiliated with political parties, especially ones which consider themselves “left” and “progressive.” But the most obnoxious ones are the devotees of Fair Vote Canada (FVC) and its local chapters. The message I want to send is that, while I will comment as I see fit about their misinformation, I do not want to be responded to by people who cannot or will not understand what I just said.
These people are not as outright offensive as the antivaxers or the Ukraine flag wavers, so I do not normally block them. Yet they are not the most exemplary specimens of humanity.
Their usual modus operandi is to reply to my comment with one of their stock tropes which says nothing useful and has nothing to do with what I just said. Then large numbers of them pile on and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ that reply. My problem with this is that large numbers of people see their reply, but not my original point.
These people really do not have much of an argument anymore. What they are talking about is, of course, the idea that if we switch to Proportional Representation (PR), most of our present governance problems will disappear. I am dismayed that so many people in Canada are still unfamiliar with this persistent issue, but if you really need to get up to speed on it you can use this primer from the Equine organism’s mouth.
My position about it is that, while voting reform in Canada may have made some sense in the last century, the way in which advanced societies are developing in this century makes this irrelevant. I have had some history within FVC, and here is my account of it. My object was always to get them to look beyond mere voting reform to real democratic reform.
Instead, they have been going the other way. In recent years they have turned into a really obnoxious believer cult. They think their solution will solve everything and get very upset when contradicted.
I recounted my adventures earlier this year, with running once again for their board with the idea of trying to get them to consider forming a subcommittee to study deliberative and epistemic democracy. That is, systems of governance which get away from parties, elections, and politicians, to more direct public control of government.
I found myself prevented from running by the clique which has taken control of FVC and wants to restrict discussion. The excuse was that too many people this year, 2022, applied to run.
This created a lot of turbulence at the subsequent FVC Annual General Meeting. Many old time prominent FVC members were offended by these misdeeds. The AGM went on over long and ended deadlocked.
The jerks in control refused to back down. They made some noises about holding a special meeting to discuss the issue. I have heard nothing further and I doubt if any of the dissenting faction have, either.
Thus, I am no longer interested in participating with FCV. I think a lot of the old time people, and some of the more clueful new members, are as well. But what I really want is to help start those interested in governmental reform off in a new direction, toward a more direct and participatory democracy.
There is no migration away from FVC in that direction, as far as I can detect. Yet the topic is increasingly looked into in many countries, especially the ones which have had proportional systems for a long while and are now seeing its limitations. The topic remains a dead zone in Canada.
Into this dead zone I will continue to try to plant seeds. I am a germinator of new and better strains, you see. In doing so I will continue to be bombarded with the stale truisms of true believers.
These people never have any new ideas. I, however, keep developing my ideas. I will keep looking at how other countries are starting to move away from representative systems in search of better forms of government.
I will not respond directly to the true believers but try to show to the people they are trying to take in the flaw in their thinking. I will present here cross cutting responses to all their standard lines, which I can quickly refer people to. This means I will need to modularize this piece much more than I usually do, to refer people to specific points.
I will also briefly address the lines used to draw people to political parties. I have some history of involvement in political parties as well. I will say less about that, but I have completely given up on them as well.
Modules; The main FVC tropes.
The countries with Proportional Representation (PR) have the most developed social safety nets and the highest living standards.
This is a “with, therefore because of” fallacy. The more advanced societies have a statistical tendency to have PR voting systems as well. But many countries with very limited voting systems, or nothing at all which westerners would consider democracy, nonetheless have high levels of social development.
Many countries with long standing PR are terrible places in which to live. However, countries which have both high living standards and PR do so because they have something else as well; a relatively progressive political culture.
The countries with Proportional Representation (PR) are the most democratic, never become dictatorships, never revert to single member systems, etc.
This is a fallacy of generalization. That is, if countries with elements of PR are not democratic, are poorly governed, or fall into dictatorship, then they cannot have really been PR systems.
Generalization is sometimes called “The No True Scotsman” fallacy after the famous story of the Scottish girl trying to convince her uncle that real Scotmen put sugar in their porridge. The Scottish uncle just keeps changing the definition of what a true Scotsman is so as to show that no true Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.
Hitler came to power due to the dysfunctional government during the Weimar republic, which was very much a PR system. More recently, France threw out the PR based fourth republic because it was so dysfunctional, and reverted to the single member system in the fifth republic. More recently, PR based Greece has been plundered by foreign banks led by the IMF, no matter the will of the Greek people and whatever government they elected.
Your True Scotsman will have diabetes before you ever get through to the true FVCer that all these governments could reasonably be considered highly proportional systems. Nope! If it did not produce a good result, there had to be some flaw in it somewhere that made it not a true PR system.
PR leads to political compromise among parties and to harmonious government.
First of all, some PR governments have become very unstable and unable to make effective decisions. The French fourth republic is the perfect example.
More importantly, it is not obvious that compromise among parties is desirable. It could be a symptom of very deep corruption. A perfect example is many of the European countries during this century, especially Germany.
Right now in very PR Germany, most of the parties have achieved consensus and joined in a coalition to destroy the country under the direction of the European Union and its “Eurocrats.” That most of the German population does not want trouble with Russia and does not want to freeze in the dark, does not matter. The only parties opposing these developments, on the left and right, are in danger of being banned.
The problem is similar all over Europe. Most have PR governments. Most major parties, across the spectrum, have been taken over by agents for the “Eurocracy”.
This is an insurmountable problem for any country, under a representative system, during an age of aggressive, corrupting global capitalism. People in Europe are starting to understand that the only solution is government by sortition; a randomly chosen governing body. People in Canada are slower to understand.
One final point on this head is that minority governments in Canada usually do not lead to accords between parties and never to ‘coalitions.’ Governing parties here do not well tolerate any dilution of their power. Usually what happens in Canada in these situations is that the governing party plays the opposition parties against each other.
PR automatically produces ‘consensus’ government which reflects the will of the people.
FVC people have this strange idea that there must be some automatic agreement among people about how the country should be governed. In fact, there is usually no policy which a majority of people will agree on. Usually, the right policy for the good of the whole will be opposed by most people for a diversity of reasons.
The best governed countries, PR or otherwise, tend to solve these problems by appointing independent commissions to find, not the compromise solution, but the optimal solution for the good of the whole. Compromise solutions usually fail; they are not what is really needed. Like your Grandmother said, what is meant to please everyone ends by pleasing no one.
The point of a sortition system is that the members of the governing body are truly impartial and seen as such. Thus they can make decisions which could not be made otherwise. As well, they are almost impossible to corrupt.
Modules; My points about Democracy
My estimation of the real problem with electoral reformers.
The basic problem with any representative system is that it is a plan for an oligarchy. The subordinate classes are only voting on which oligarchic faction they align with. True democracies generally work through sortition; randomly selecting people to a legislative body.
The people in FVC are generally upper middle class liberals. They do not really understand their own thought processes, but they are actually oligarchs. Even if they do not know the word, and think of themselves as liberal and democratic, their concern is to preserve oligarchy.
PR is a way to make oligarchy more efficient and somewhat less authoritarian. It has nothing to do with democratic government.
Now, to consider political parties as agents of necessary change in the neoliberal era.
PR seems to make reformist political parties even less effective. With a single member system, they have a chance of gaining real power and carrying out governmental reforms. With PR, very rarely would any party which is even slightly controversial be able to get a majority. It would be limited to what other parties will let it do.
The neoliberal system which has strengthened in this century has multiple levels of control to prevent any reforming party from becoming effective. It is a standard practice of globalist neoliberals to saturate any organization with their own agents, so such parties will usually be coopted by them.
If that does not work, then the “mainstream” media will be used to destroy such a party. If it defeats all this, other branches of government will work to box it in.
Thus it is seen that an electoral political party will not be a reliable vehicle for achieving necessary governmental reform. So, look elsewhere than at my doorstep for support, party canvassers.
In the world of the 2020s, what will be required to achieve necessary change is likely not going to be non violent or, of course, legal under the laws of the present system. It would be useful to first see how the Europeans go about this; they have a lot more practise than Canadians.
So, to sum up my objection to political parties and to organizations like FVC in these times. They are obstructors, not facilitators, of necessary change. They draw human energy and attention away from addressing the real problems and the more likely ways of solving them.
They should go away, but of course they will not. What I will do is to continue looking into the idea of real democracy. I will blog about the subject as I learn, so watch for these postings.