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leicsmac

Forms of Government

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This was touched on in one of the politics-related threads recently, and thought it might make for an interesting thread all it's own - what with various places around the planet becoming more autocratic than the other way round.

 

So...what is a truly ideal form of government? Is it really situation and demographic-dependent? Was Churchill right when he said that democracy is the worst form other than all of the others that had been tried? 

 

In my own view a truly direct democracy would be the best form in principle - however, given humans propensity for abuses of power and manipulation (and to be manipulated) I think that such an idea doesn't work very well in practice; humans aren't long-lived enough and don't think about the future enough to give long-term direct democratic decisions the consideration they need. Having said that, I honestly don't know what would be the best form to balance personal freedom and the guarantee that such a system would exist tomorrow (and not be torn apart by the nature of some humans to use that freedom to be twats to each other).

 

Would be interested in knowing what other folks think.

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The ideal form of government would probably be a benevolent and omniscient dictator who oversees lots of small regions ran by benevolent, omniscient dictators.

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Nothing will ever be good enough because the "right" government means different things to different people.

Someone will always find a reason to complain about.

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19 minutes ago, Bryn said:

The ideal form of government would probably be a benevolent and omniscient dictator who oversees lots of small regions ran by benevolent, omniscient dictators.

So, a fantasy kingdom?

 

Somewhere down the long line of the hierarchy will be a rotten apple that causes problems. That's just the simple concept of being a "human"

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I'd like to see more accountability, less short termism and less populism, but I've no idea how to get there.

 

Wouldn't mind giving the public the power to call elections via means of an online 'hands up if you want to call an election' system, maybe held annually, but that probably works against the idea of having less short termism.

 

Longer terms is the obvious solution to short termism but then you run the risk of a failing, incompetent government being locked in power.

 

For populism the obvious but usually scoffed at solution is to require people to demonstrate a basic level of policy knowledge before they are allowed to vote. That's usually seen as infringing on people's rights, but in reality almost every other role in society, from selling pizzas to driving cars requires people to pass a test of some sort. Why should voting be any different?

 

Other than that I don't really have any problem with a representative democracy. There are plenty of changes I'd like to see on a policy level and within society but all of them are possible to achieve within the current system.

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Limited, small govt ,democracy like that envisaged by post revolutionary America  is as good as it's likely to get. I know some pedant will mention slavery and votes for women but I meant in general.

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1 hour ago, Finnegan said:

I would describe myself as a "Utopian Anarchist." I think anarchy is the only ethical way to run a community, it's often misunderstood as it has unfairly become synonymous with chaos. 

 

This isn't anarchy. Anarchy is a cooperative, functional society with no concept of currency and wealth where services are provided and exchanged with no weight of value because if you CAN provide, you will, for the sakes of all your peers. 

 

If that sounds too good to be true, it's probably because it is. Hence the "utopian." It's a myth really, isn't it? 

 

If it doesn't sound too good to be true, you're one of the psychopaths that are the problem. ;)

 

I suppose realistically I believe in a social democracy. I believe capitalism could work a lot better if its most successful proponents hadn't so successfully turned the proletariat against trade unions, which should be the force that exists to keep it in check. It frustrates me to hear relatively "poor" (ie most of us) people spout capitalist, anti-union rhetoric completely oblivious to how moronic they sound shooting themselves in the foot. 

 

That said, I believe that the competitive spirit of the animal kingdom will always stop the like of communism or anarchy ever truly working, people WANT to be better than their neighbours and in a system where everyone is equal, you'll always have dissatisfied people trying to make sure that system fails so that they can advance. 

 

So I don't really see a system other than a capitalist democracy ever really thriving in my lifetime. 

 

If this seems like a bunch of drivel stream of consciousness it's because it's an impossible question to answer and if anyone knew, the world would be much less of a mess. 

Good post this. 

 

The political concept of anarchy is widely misunderstood. 

 

Chomsky's take on anarcho-syndicalism  is worth a look. 

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1 hour ago, the fox said:

So, a fantasy kingdom?

 

Somewhere down the long line of the hierarchy will be a rotten apple that causes problems. That's just the simple concept of being a "human"

 

I didn't say it was likely, it's all but impossible.

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I think democracy is right, I’m just not convinced it’s implemented in the best way. I do think we need voting reform to get the best out democracy in this country, even if it only produces coalition and minority governments, is that really such a bad thing?

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2 minutes ago, Strokes said:

I think democracy is right, I’m just not convinced it’s implemented in the best way. I do think we need voting reform to get the best out democracy in this country, even if it only produces coalition and minority governments, is that really such a bad thing?

 

Why do we have a democracy?

 

Nobody asked me if I wanted one,

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2 hours ago, Finnegan said:

I would describe myself as a "Utopian Anarchist." I think anarchy is the only ethical way to run a community, it's often misunderstood as it has unfairly become synonymous with chaos. 

 

This isn't anarchy. Anarchy is a cooperative, functional society with no concept of currency and wealth where services are provided and exchanged with no weight of value because if you CAN provide, you will, for the sakes of all your peers. 

 

If that sounds too good to be true, it's probably because it is. Hence the "utopian." It's a myth really, isn't it? 

 

If it doesn't sound too good to be true, you're one of the psychopaths that are the problem. ;)

 

I suppose realistically I believe in a social democracy. I believe capitalism could work a lot better if its most successful proponents hadn't so successfully turned the proletariat against trade unions, which should be the force that exists to keep it in check. It frustrates me to hear relatively "poor" (ie most of us) people spout capitalist, anti-union rhetoric completely oblivious to how moronic they sound shooting themselves in the foot. 

 

That said, I believe that the competitive spirit of the animal kingdom will always stop the like of communism or anarchy ever truly working, people WANT to be better than their neighbours and in a system where everyone is equal, you'll always have dissatisfied people trying to make sure that system fails so that they can advance. 

 

So I don't really see a system other than a capitalist democracy ever really thriving in my lifetime. 

 

If this seems like a bunch of drivel stream of consciousness it's because it's an impossible question to answer and if anyone knew, the world would be much less of a mess. 

Dennis there's some lovely filth down here.

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Introducing elements of epitocracy, and greater devolved powers, would make a big difference I think. Epitocracy in allowing experts to make law and decisions on their areas of expertise, as opposed to Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt thinking that they are acting on the 'will of the people'. At the moment we live in somewhat of an elective dictatorship, whereby every 5 years (or 6 months as it has felt like recently) we get a say on how the country is going to be shaped for the following 5 years; before being somewhat powerless to how it plays out. 

 

Greater devolved powers would also take away the London-centric ethos of this land. What is good for London isn't always good for Manchester, Sheffield, Devon, Edinburgh etc. Anyway, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. 

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15 minutes ago, David Guiza said:

Introducing elements of epitocracy, and greater devolved powers, would make a big difference I think. Epitocracy in allowing experts to make law and decisions on their areas of expertise, as opposed to Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt thinking that they are acting on the 'will of the people'. At the moment we live in somewhat of an elective dictatorship, whereby every 5 years (or 6 months as it has felt like recently) we get a say on how the country is going to be shaped for the following 5 years; before being somewhat powerless to how it plays out. 

 

Greater devolved powers would also take away the London-centric ethos of this land. What is good for London isn't always good for Manchester, Sheffield, Devon, Edinburgh etc. Anyway, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. 

Which experts though? The experts that believe in (a) or the experts that believe in (b) or (c) or (d) whatever?

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30 minutes ago, David Guiza said:

Introducing elements of epitocracy, and greater devolved powers, would make a big difference I think. Epitocracy in allowing experts to make law and decisions on their areas of expertise, as opposed to Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt thinking that they are acting on the 'will of the people'. At the moment we live in somewhat of an elective dictatorship, whereby every 5 years (or 6 months as it has felt like recently) we get a say on how the country is going to be shaped for the following 5 years; before being somewhat powerless to how it plays out. 

 

Greater devolved powers would also take away the London-centric ethos of this land. What is good for London isn't always good for Manchester, Sheffield, Devon, Edinburgh etc. Anyway, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. 

 

Certainly, the fptp system is inherently unfair. I live in a Tory safe seat and my vote counts for nothing, like that of many others.

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22 minutes ago, Webbo said:

Which experts though? The experts that believe in (a) or the experts that believe in (b) or (c) or (d) whatever?

That's why it is difficult in practice, particularly when you consider that, thanks to the likes of Trump, experts aren't always welcomed in the same way that they have been.

 

One way, which links epistocracy and democracy, that I read about and has been trialed in certain corners of Europe and or North America is giving a group of people from varying backgrounds, class, beliefs etc a particular subject on which to pass law/decision make. The group of people are given all necessary evidence from both sides of the argument and asked to decide upon the same, thus giving members of society a voice during the political office and therefore better and more consistent decisions are made. This has obvious flaws, such as time, but it's interesting nonetheless. 

 

Of course there are issues with the same, and it would work much better in smaller and less volatile nations like Denmark or New Zealand, but I certainly feel as though there are areas of epistoracy or tecnocracy (which has been used in Italy in the past to drag them out of an economic crisis) that can be utilised. 

 

18 minutes ago, Buce said:

 

Certainly, the fptp system is inherently unfair. I live in a Tory safe seat and my vote counts for nothing, like that of many others.

Absolutely, the fact UKIP only had one seat despite getting millions of votes in the last but one election doesn't seem right, it's a relief, but certainly not reflective of 'the people'. Same goes for the Green Party whom have pulled in over a million votes in the past and only left with a particular say in Brighton. In 2013 the two parties received almost 5 million votes and shared 2 seats between them. 

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1 hour ago, Mark_w said:

Dennis there's some lovely filth down here.

 

We're an anarcho syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for a week. :D

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Totalitarian dictatorship is good, so long as I'm in charge.

 

Otherwise, rule by expert consensus (i.e. environmental policy determined by environmental scientists, health policy determined by senior doctors and health researchers etc.)

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I'm sure plenty will say I'm a brainwashed Westerner yadda yadda yadda, but I've still never seen a decent argument that anything but small-government free-market laissez faire Capitalism with a small public sector for essentials within an elective democracy - where we systemically elect experts in a representative democracy different fields be it Economics, Diplomatic or whatever which exists in all of the Western world today isn't the best form of government humans have ever come with up.

Humans are nothing to do with the problem for Communism or Socialism or whatever not working, the theory itself is the problem -  It's nothing to do with people being greedy or people wanting more than their neighbours, I've never understood the argument they are better "in theory" - they're simply vile and contradictory in theory which try and dress up the inevitable loss of liberty and individual choice which comes with them as some kind of utopia where everyone helps each other and everyone gets on - well they do, by assuming all humans to be braindead herd animals who act the same and have the same desires. Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its pod people isn't a satire on Communism/Socialism in practice under Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, the Kim dynasty or whoever - it's a satire of its theory, it's what the theory inevitably treats humans as. It's only utopian in that people get so attached with the niceties which it claims they ignore it's obvious theoretical (not just practical) flaws - that it takes the choice out of how individuals chose to live their own individual lives over what is better for the majority (which is not the best as every individual) - it promotes collective decisions, but it promotes them above the freedom for each individual to make their own individual decisions based on their own individual dreams, goals, families, friends and lives, A system which promotes individual liberty and individual choice over collectivism of which Capitalism and an Economy primarily driven by it's private sector and the voluntary exchange of private property is unquestionably the best humans have come up with to date, will always be a better type of government than one promotes collectivism over individualism.

Liberty and collectivism are simply not compatible, you cannot create a form of government which is based on the decisions of the collective - be it through a collectivist  Economy or some kind of syndicatism or anarcho-syndacatist movement which is not governed ultimately by *force* - which does not force decisions on individuals as to how they must live their lives because that's what either the state or the majority or collective have decided on. I've never seen a convincing argument that Liberalism (by which I mean what everyone else bar the US calls Liberalism and what we were all taught Liberalism meant growing up (i.e. the core idea that individual liberty is the most important trait a government could defend and Economic Liberalism), not the American bastardisation of the term in recent times) and Capitalism won't always be better forms of government than Socialism and Communism, not just in regards to being put into practice, but in theory either.

It's why also a publically owned economy driven by direct democracy or democratic syndicates has always struck me as vile - because the only way it works is if you *force* the decisions of the majority onto the rest of the population - just because it's good for the majority of the population does not mean it is good for every individual, what should ultimately be aimed for for me is the choice of the individual to live their lives towards their own dreams not have the choices of others based on their own individual dreams forced upon them.

Also, re: money. The problem with the idea of a society which does away with money is a better form of a government is another one I've never really understood the argument for. Sure some people take advantage of money but the only possible alternative there is or can ever be to money is the barter economy - all money is is a a tally of exchange for goods and services, without that all you can ever do is negotiate each individual transaction of a good or service - and no matter how empathetic a person is, we all have different skills and we all have limited labour hours - a person can be the most skilled and efficient surgeon in the world and have all the will in the world to help others for absolutely no personal gain, but they still only have limited hours in the world and he will never be able to cover each individual who wishes to acquire his services - and he still needs time to eat and exercise and sleep to be efficient too, probably more than people with less emotionally/physical engaging and stressful jobs - without money he is wasting labour hours simply negotiating who to help and what times to help and how to travel there, money is just an efficient exchange for negotiating these things in an instant. Even Lenin's visions of society contained money as a means of exchange for the exact reason, even if he felt every exchange should have the same value.

Of course that is all just theory in itself and it has plenty of asterixes and adendums, many of which have been ironed out by history and many of which are still to be ironed out - the liberty of the individual so much as they do not do any harm to other individuals for one and there always is going to be a place for the public sector for your essentials etc. And that's all my opinion as a brainwashed, uneducated Westerner of course. But definitely in my eyes at least Liberalism and Capitalism are definitely better forms of government than Socialism, Communism or collectivism ever could or will be.

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15 minutes ago, Sampson said:

I'm sure plenty will say I'm a brainwashed Westerner yadda yadda yadda, but I've still never seen a decent argument that anything but small-government free-market laissez faire Capitalism with a small public sector for essentials within an elective democracy - where we systemically elect experts in a representative democracy different fields be it Economics, Diplomatic or whatever which exists in all of the Western world today isn't the best form of government humans have ever come with up.

Humans are nothing to do with the problem for Communism or Socialism or whatever not working, the theory itself is the problem -  I've never understood the argument they are better "in theory" - they're simply vile and contradictory in theory which try and dress up the inevitable loss of liberty and individual choice which comes with them as some kind of utopia where everyone helps each other and everyone gets on - well they do, by assuming all humans to be herd animals who act the same and have the same desires. Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its pod people isn't a satire on Communism/Socialism in practice under Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, the Kim dynasty or whoever - it's a satire of its theory, it's what the theory inevitably treats humans as. It's only utopian in that people get so attached with the niceties which it claims they ignore it's obvious theoretical (not just practical) flaws - that it takes the choice out of how individuals chose to live their own individual lives over what is better for the majority (which is not the best as every individual) - it promotes collective decisions, but it promotes them above the freedom for each individual to make their own individual decisions based on their own individual dreams, goals, families, friends and lives, A system which promotes individual liberty and individual choice over collectivism of which Capitalism and an Economy primarily driven by it's private sector is unquestionably the best humans have come up with to date, will always be a better type of government than one promotes collectivism over individualism.

Liberty and collectivism are simply not compatible, you cannot create a form of government which is based on the decisions of the collective - be it through a collectivist  Economy or some kind of syndicatism or anarcho-syndacatist movement which is not governed ultimately by *force* - which does not force decisions on individuals as to how they must live their lives because that's what either the state or the majority or collective have decided on. I've never seen a convincing argument that Liberalism (by which I mean what everyone else bar the US calls Liberalism and what we were all taught Liberalism meant growing up (i.e. the core idea that individual liberty is the most important trait a government could defend and Economic Liberalism), not the American bastardisation of the term in recent times) and Capitalism won't always be better forms of government than Socialism and Communism, not just in regards to being put into practice, but in theory either.

It's why also a publically owned economy driven by direct democracy or democratic syndicates has always struck me as vile - because the only way it works is if you *force* the decisions of the majority onto the rest of the population - just because it's good for the majority of the population does not mean it is good for every individual, what should ultimately be aimed for for me is the choice of the individual to live their lives towards their own dreams not have the choices of others based on their own individual dreams forced upon them.

Also, re: money. The problem with the idea of a society which does away with money is a better form of a government is another one I've never really understood the argument for.. Sure some people take advantage of money. The only possible alternative there is or can ever be to money is the barter economy - all money is is a a tally of exchange for goods and services, without that all you can ever do is negotiate each individual transaction of a good or service - and no matter how empathetic a person is, we all have different skills and we all have limited labour hours - a person can be the most skilled and efficient surgeon in the world and have all the will in the world to help others for absolutely no personal gain, but they still only have limited hours in the world and he will never be able to cover each individual who wishes to acquire his services - and he still needs time to eat and exercise and sleep to be efficient too, probably more than people with less emotionally/physical engaging and stressful jobs - without money he is wasting labour hours simply negotiating who to help and what times to help and how to travel there, money is just an efficient exchange for negotiating these things in an instant. Even Lenin's visions of society contained money as a means of exchange for the exact reason, even if he felt every exchange should have the same value.

Of course that is all just theory in itself and it has plenty of asterixes and adendums, many of which have been ironed out by history and many of which are still to be ironed out - the liberty of the individual so much as they do not do any harm to other individuals for one and there always is going to be a place for the public sector for your essentials etc. And that's all my opinion as a brainwashed, uneducated Westerner of course. But definitely in my eyes at least Liberalism and Capitalism are definitely better forms of government than Socialism, Communism or collectivism ever could or will be.

So....the idea that unlimited individualism (or the actions of small groups/tribes) as displayed by other animals and almost always ending in their extinction isn't a convincing argument about where such individualism ends up to you? It's funny that the freedom that so many people talk about when it comes to such things don't mention that particular freedom, isn't it?

 

Of course, you could make the argument that such freedom and the inherent risks that come with it are better than abandoning it entirely and becoming some kind of hivemind in the anticipation that humans will last longer if we do, which is salient. It comes down to whether you view survival as the most important aspect, or the content of the life as more so, I guess.

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26 minutes ago, leicsmac said:

So....the idea that unlimited individualism (or the actions of small groups/tribes) as displayed by other animals and almost always ending in their extinction isn't a convincing argument about where such individualism ends up to you? It's funny that the freedom that so many people talk about when it comes to such things don't mention that particular freedom, isn't it?

 

Of course, you could make the argument that such freedom and the inherent risks that come with it are better than abandoning it entirely and becoming some kind of hivemind in the anticipation that humans will last longer if we do, which is salient. It comes down to whether you view survival as the most important aspect, or the content of the life as more so, I guess.

Unlimited individualism is certainly not the same as ignoring others or going against others which what I think you're intonatiating - the whole point of laissez faire Capitalism is it's hand off - if you believe humans are ultimately good then you believe the economy of their society can be privately left to its own devices to do good. Socialism and Communism may claim different but when you take their theory as a whole they ultimately treat humans as naturally bad creatures who have to have the whole economics of their society governed for them and be forced to get along through other means than just interacting with each other be it the decisions of the state or the decisions of syndicates or the decisions of direct democracies.

 

Of course you're second question is an interesting one. But yes, without question in my eyes, individual liberty is far more important than the survival of the human race, Why would anyone favour humanity surviving an extra few hundred or even thousand years when living a hivemind life without choice? Why do you think the survival of our race *that* important that you'd rather (as an extreme example) happily humanity lose their individual choice and live at the mercy of others just to pass on their genes? What kind of life is that? Why do you think it is worth spending our entire short, one-off mortal lives doing that for the sake of passing on our genes when our race will ultimately die out anyway, as the universe itself is ultimately only as mortal as the rest of us?

Edited by Sampson

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My view on the whole government system has changed drastically over the past few years. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who you vote for because in the end they're bound to mess something up.

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3 minutes ago, Sampson said:

Unlimited individualism is certainly not the same as ignoring others or going against others which what I think you're intonatiating - the whole point of laissez faire Capitalism is it's hand off - if you believe humans are ultimately good then you believe the economy of their society can be privately left to its own devices to do good. Socialism and Communism may claim different but when you take their theory as a whole they ultimately treat humans as naturally bad creatures who have to have the whole economics of their society governed for them and be forced to get along through other means than just interacting with each other be it the decisions of the state or the decisions of syndicates or the decisions of direct democracies.

 

Of course you're second question is an interesting one. But yes, without question, individual liberty is far more important than the survival of the human race, Why would anyone favour humanity surviving an extra few hundred or even thousand years when living a hivemind life without choice? Why do you think the survival of our race *that* important that you'd rather (as an extreme example) happily humanity lose their individual choice and live at the mercy of others just to pass on their genes? What kind of life is that? Why do you think it is worth spending our entire short, one-off mortal lives doing that for the sake of passing on our genes when our race will ultimately die out anyway, as the universe itself is ultimately only as mortal as the rest of us?

Yeah, think we've touched on that ideal before - that collectivism naturally puts limitations on individuals because they believe that humans are driven by their base purposes to beat each other over the head if left to their own devices. Quite frankly, history is full of examples of this, but then there's plenty of examples of humans being decent under totally free will too, so your mileage may vary.

 

Regarding the second paragraph, I might posit that as long as humanity is alive, the opportunity for them to use free will exists - given the situation it might only be a slim opportunity but it will always exist - and so having a situation where the possibility of a "free life" (your definition of that may vary) may exist again is preferable to one where there is no chance at all, viz. extinction. So, from that point of view, I do believe survival to be a more important factor given certain situations, as all questions of individualism and all other moral concepts only apply when there are humans around to conceive and perceive them.

 

However, I do also acknowledge (and what you've said there has made me think on this one, and thank you for that) is that position only holds up as long as that possibility exists...so such a collectivist situation would have to be with the caveat that it wasn't going to be inevitably eternal.

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Depends on the situation, imho.

 

The biggest government we had was probably during WW2, and it was reasonably succesful on quite a few measures, but during peacetime we don't want that level of interference. On the other hand, laissez-faire small government struggles with the atomisation of things that are best dealt with communally, with the approach to health spending or gun control in the UK and the US being obvious examples.

 

So I say no to big government ideology and no to small government ideology, but yes to the right size government, which is the pragmatic approach.

 

Obviously it has to be democracy. It is pretty rubbish at times, but the alternatives are worse.

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