22gigantes.com - Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us—it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But, Jason Brennan says, they are all wrong.In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results—and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse—more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government—epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable—may be better than democracy, and that it’s time to experiment and find out.A challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable, Against Democracy is essential reading for scholars and students of politics across the disciplines.
Most helpful customer reviews 0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. Crowdsourcing is not consent of the governed By David Wineberg The day after the Brexit referendum, the top internet search requests were for “benefits of EU membership”. This compactly explains Jason Brennan’s thesis in Against Democracy. Democracy is an operating system, nothing more. If you give it bad input…. His main argument boils down to governance being instrumental. If there is a better instrument than democracy, then we should use it and reap the benefits. Because in democracy, “knowledge and rationality do not pay, while ignorance and irrationality go unpunished”. A US senator is worth an average of $14 million, and a congressman $6 million. This is not even representative democracy; this is the Ruling Class. Democracy isn’t working. Brennan says the only thing democracy has going for it is that we haven’t found anything consistently better. Absolute power might corrupt absolutely, but so does politics. It seems to improve nothing. If you get voters away from politics, everything will improve.He says there are three broad categories of voters, only one of which provides valid input. Hobbits know and are pleased to know nothing. Their input is worse than flipping a coin. Hooligans hold tightly to political positions despite the facts. Their votes are fixed and wasted. Vulcans analyze, are open to new sources and can convincingly take different sides. They seek correction so as not to appear in error.Brennan’s solution is an epistocracy. The epistocracy is a collection of the brightest Vulcans. They have to pass a test: economics, immigration, environment – everything. Only they get to vote. It keeps politics away from the masses, and (in Brennan’s theory) leads to more effective government.The main problem with epistocracy is visible today. The Supreme Court is made up of nine people: educated, bright, sharp, beyond politics (theoretically) or bribery. Yet they predictably come down on ideological sides every time. Most of them can stay home because we know how they’re going to vote. All we really need is to hear from the swing voter. This is epistocracy at work.The other problem is that democracy was never intended to be the most efficacious system. It’s like the post office: never intended to be profitable, it was a service that united the country for the benefit of all. So with democracy; it gives voters the feeling of belonging and making a difference. Epistocracy addresses solutions democracy never intended to match. Brennan is right: the math for democracy doesn’t work. But it isn’t meant to.There are two terrific reasons to read Against Democracy. Brennan is challenging. He attacks the sacred foundations fearlessly, logically and thoroughly. You are always on your toes looking for faults, loopholes and disagreement. And he is direct. I particularly like his critiques of other authorities. He just comes out and says they are wrong. And then he tells you why. It is not qualified with “I must take issue with” or “They might be missing a point here”. They are out and out wrong. That is refreshing from a philosopher.The basic difficulty I have with Brennan’s quest is that it seeks truth. Voters don’t do that. They choose who they want, not what is correct or best. There is no analysis, no meeting of the minds, no informed decision. So yes, our democracy is mostly sham. Voters are not qualified to decide, and nothing they decide will affect the outcome anyway. It’s just an opiate. What’s wrong with Brennan’s whole thesis is that I might not want him in the epistocracy.David Wineberg See all 1 customer reviews...
"A brash, well-argued diatribe against the democratic system. ...Brennan makes the compelling argument that politics as currently practiced make us 'situational enemies.' Sure to cause howls of disagreement, but in the current toxic partisan climate, Brennan's polemic is as worth weighing as any other." --Kirkus s."A brash, well-argued diatribe against the democratic system. There is much to mull over in this brazen stab at the American electoral process. . . . Sure to cause howls of disagreement, but in the current toxic partisan climate, Brennan's polemic is as worth weighing as any other."--Kirkus From the Back Cover "Jason Brennan is a marvel: a brilliant philosopher who scrupulously studies the facts before he moralizes. In Against Democracy, his elegant method leads to the contrarian conclusion that democratic participation prompts human beings to forget common sense and common decency. Voting does not ennoble us; it tests the virtue of the best, and brings out the worst in the rest."--Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter"The great temptation of political philosophy is to sacralize politics, and we urgently need work that teaches us not to succumb. In this valuable and bracing book, Jason Brennan challenges comfortable pieties and debunks familiar myths about political life in general and democratic rule in particular. I expect that most readers will find plenty with which to disagree--I certainly do--but also that most will find Brennan's arguments unsettlingly difficult to resist with certainty."--Jacob T. Levy, McGill University"Against Democracy makes a useful set of challenges to both conventional wisdom and dominant trends in political philosophy and political theory, particularly democratic theory. Engagingly written, it is a lively and entertaining read."--Alexander Guerrero, University of Pennsylvania About the Author Jason Brennan is the Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He is the author of The Ethics of Voting (Princeton), Why Not Capitalism?, and Libertarianism. He is the coauthor of Markets without Limits, Compulsory Voting, and A Brief History of Liberty. He writes regularly for Bleeding Heart Libertarians, a blog.
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