Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#121  Postby Agrippina » May 26, 2011 6:40 pm

Teach it at school, as part of life skills training. Make kids aware of how their country is run. For one thing they'll understand that when a presidential candidate says he'll make sweeping changes, that without the support of his administration, he actually doesn't have the power to decide the colour of the presidential house's toilet paper, let alone whether free health care should be instituted.

With this knowledge, even young people will vote for the people with the best track record, rather than the bimbo with the pretty eye glasses or the guy who knows how to match his tie and his pocket handkerchief.

Definitely in this country, kids need to learn that when a party doesn't deliver on their promises "we'll build 50 million houses in the next five years" and don't build even 50,000 houses, then they should vote for another party giving them the chance to make good on the previous government's promises, or whatever the issue of the day happens to be.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#122  Postby jamest » May 26, 2011 7:40 pm

DaveD wrote:
jamest wrote:All I propose, essentially, is that people should know about politics before they can vote.

Who decides the standard against which that knowledge is judged?

I'll let you decide, Dave. ;)

Who decides the standard against which any knowledge is judged? If we can teach people about maths and science, etc., then why can't we teach them about politics? If examinations exist for maths and science, etc., why can't we produce an examination for politics?

You make it sound as though there's no objective way of learning politics. That's nonsense. We would of course have to come up with an arbitrary pass mark, say 50%, but that would be open to revision. Of course, I'm not talking about learning politics at university level, here - I'm just talking about having a fair grasp of politics as a whole. The kind of knowledge which almost all people would be capable of learning as long as they put in the effort.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#123  Postby my_wan » May 26, 2011 7:53 pm

jamest wrote:
my_wan wrote:
jamest wrote:
Why should everyone have a right to vote when much of the populace are incapable of making an informed decision?

Because whoever decides who is or is not capable of an "informed decision" decides what decisions constitute "capable" thus decides before the vote ever takes place.

I was advocating that voters should pass a test/exam entitling them to vote. I don't think that it's unfair that someone should exhibit a good grasp of political knowledge if said person is to be involved in selecting 'the best possible government'.


If it were me I would fail you just for saying 'the best possible government'. There is no such thing as 'the best possible government' as what constitutes 'best' has more to do with preferences than facts. Meanwhile many of the physical limitations nature imposes on us with respect to public policies are not completely understood by *anybody* at this point


jamest wrote:Likewise, everyone has a right to drive, but we insist on drivers passing various tests before we let them loose on the roads - simply because it's in all of our best interests that this should be so. In other words, the rights of individuals should not supercede collective rights - the right to good government; the right to safe roads; etc..

I do not know about you but where I came from driving is legally defined as a privilege, not a right. Else our laws could not place the level of limits on it that it now does.

You say "rights of individuals should not supercede collective rights". What the hell is a "collective right"?! The only thing I can imagine defining as a "collective right" is either to prevent an individual from taking another individuals rights away form them or individual right that belong collectively to all. Perhaps something like collective bargaining rights? But that is still a right of individuals to partake in collective bargaining

jamest wrote:As I say, what I've written is not an outright rejection of individual rights. Rather, it has been an attempt to show why there is a hierarchy of rights where the collective/general rights must come at a cost to individual rights. This is not unlike considerations of freedom, where we understand that personal/negative freedoms must not always supercede upon the collective/positive freedoms available to us. The freedom to do whatever one wants, for instance, will nearly always impact upon others. Likewise, collective/positive freedom necessarily constrains personal/negative freedom. A balance has to be struck.

That balance is best achieved, imo, by giving individuals the right to vote as long as they prove capable of voting. Consequently, this would give us our best chance of achieving 'the best possible government' - and it is the right of every man to be governed by the best possible government. Note too that if I was rejecting outright the right to vote, that I'd be advocating some form of totalitarianism... which I'm not.

I have no idea where your notion of "rights" come from but where I am from "rights" are not so easily trifled with! Your notion of rights is what we call privileges, which are not trifled with without sound reasons, or in some circles not so sound reasons but at least not in an entirely arbitrary manner.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#124  Postby serenity » May 26, 2011 8:14 pm

jamest wrote:Who decides the standard against which any knowledge is judged? If we can teach people about maths and science, etc., then why can't we teach them about politics? If examinations exist for maths and science, etc., why can't we produce an examination for politics?

You make it sound as though there's no objective way of learning politics. That's nonsense. We would of course have to come up with an arbitrary pass mark, say 50%, but that would be open to revision. Of course, I'm not talking about learning politics at university level, here - I'm just talking about having a fair grasp of politics as a whole. The kind of knowledge which almost all people would be capable of learning as long as they put in the effort.

If that is your view of a Selective Suffrage then I would answer yes, there has been a place where the right to vote has depended on level of education, and in modern times.

It was in the Southern States of the USA, where freed slaves and poor whites were required to pass a literacy test before they could vote. As the government of the State was in the hands of wealthy whites, it was in their interest to keep it so. Do you think they encouraged education amongst the poor? Do you think it was in their interest as administrators of the literacy test to run it fairly and openly and without bias?

Read about the history of suffrage in the USA and in particular about Operation Eagle Eye in Arizona between 1962 and 1964.

It is often said that it is in the interests of the wealthy to have an uneducated workforce. Or at least, educated only to the level necessary to provide a productive workforce. How easy would it be when in power to remove politics education from the syllabus? How easy to "sell" the government as the best for the country by excluding the poor and the uneducated, while continuing to remove the wealth from the country and removing the rights to education?

Selective Suffrage of any sort, whether by class, gender, wealth, status, education or intelligence disenfranchises people who should have the right to say who shall govern them - and the right to consent to be governed. Without that corollary, the consent, there is no good government. No vote means there is no consent to be governed from whichever proportion of the people you wish to exclude.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#125  Postby jamest » May 26, 2011 8:37 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:
jamest wrote:Individual human rights and freedoms conflict with collective rights and freedom. It's simply an unavoidable fact of life. 'Social contract' theories argue - upon the basis that we do have natural rights (and this discussion has assumed such) - that the individual must curtail many of its own rights and freedoms in order to achieve the security and order inherent within 'society' which a sovereign or government will provide. Therefore, individual rights and freedoms only serve to constrain the collective good insofar as the primary concern of any governing body must necessarily be that of the collective.


What a load of the worst crap ever. Arrogance pure fucking arrogance.

Why is it arrogance for me to argue my point, but not you yours? :?

Sir you are forgetting a lot of history and all the people who have given their lives that we today can have protected individual human rights.

That's rather a naive perspective. As I explained before, protected rights comes at some cost to individual rights. Step outside of the 'state of nature' into society and suddenly there's a huge list of things you cannot do; followed by another list of things which you can do within limited parameters. You're free to drive, for instance, once you've passed your tests and paid for compulsory insurance/taxes, but then you must do so within the limits of the laws dictated to you (speed limits, for instance).

One's rights only stretch as far as the fabric of society will allow. The very structure of a society moulds you into what you become and what you can do. As I tried to explain before, when individuals lend legitimacy to the authority of government they do so at the detriment to their own freedoms (and hence rights to those lost freedoms). The laws of the land are about collective rights and collective rights limit the freedoms of individuals. These laws allow for some freedoms and rights, but only insofar as they fit into collective law and the structures/processes of society.

The green bit is another load of arrogance. It stinks of 1984!

:lol:
I'm not a communist. Communism doesn't work due to the inherent selfish nature of humanity. I simply use the word 'collective' to refer to the whole.


It is the job of any government to implement policies/laws which are deemed best for the collective. The collective, therefore, must necessarily seek to empower the best available government. Therefore, it's in the collective's own interests to understand that the 'best available government' is a consequence of the most informed and open electorate. Therefore, it's in the collectives own interest to accept a system which only allows those individuals to vote who are willing to inform themselves of what politics is about.


The collective the collective? Who makes up the collective? Individuals all with equal rights.

Yes, but those rights fit into the framework of society/law, they are not the basis of it. When citizens of a democracy lend legitimacy and authority to a governing body, they do so at the expense of some of their freedoms and rights. They have to obey laws and conform to particular ways of life. Any freedoms and rights they have are caged-in by these laws and societal structures.

Another good bit of arse pulling there. Who are you or anyone else going to say who is interested in politics?

My concern is not whether someone is interested in politics, but rather that they understand politics sufficient to participate in it and be partly-responsible for electing a collective government,

Which Whitehall twat is going to make up the list?

List of what? It looks to me as though you haven't read my posts properly.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#126  Postby jamest » May 26, 2011 9:34 pm

my_wan wrote:If it were me I would fail you just for saying 'the best possible government'. There is no such thing as 'the best possible government' as what constitutes 'best' has more to do with preferences than facts.

Don't underestimate the role of ideas/rationale in the evolution of government. Indicating, I think, that those best-placed to produce a government are those best-placed to understand/debate ideas.

jamest wrote:Likewise, everyone has a right to drive, but we insist on drivers passing various tests before we let them loose on the roads - simply because it's in all of our best interests that this should be so. In other words, the rights of individuals should not supercede collective rights - the right to good government; the right to safe roads; etc..

You say "rights of individuals should not supercede collective rights". What the hell is a "collective right"?!

Collective rights are not necessarily synonymous with individual rights. For instance, one might say that one has a right to own what they work for and to do whatever it takes to protect their interests, but collective rights impinge upon those holdings and interests and are more concerned with individuals as a whole. 'Rights' is a contested concept, but the contestation usually revolves about what is best for the individual and what is best for individuals as a whole. Nozick's Entitlement theory, for instance, disagrees with Rawl's 'difference principle' and his Theory of Justice insofar as he sees no reason why he should distribute portions of his own assets in order to sustain the life/health/welfare of others. For Nozick, rights are purely individualistic and he lends legitimacy to the state only insofar as the state will protect his right to keep what he owns and works for. For Nozick, you get what you earn and what you pay for. You have a right to nothing else.

For many, Nozick's view of 'rights' is purely selfish, but at least it serves to illustrate a distinction between individual rights and collective rights. Rawls thinks that individual rights must conform to collective values. That is, the individual has a duty to look after other individuals, which means that collective rights are distinctly less selfish that purely individual ones.

I have no idea where your notion of "rights" come from but where I am from "rights" are not so easily trifled with! Your notion of rights is what we call privileges, which are not trifled with without sound reasons, or in some circles not so sound reasons but at least not in an entirely arbitrary manner.

Where do you get your notion of 'rights' from? It's always a puzzle to me when an individual starts talking about rights other than in legal terms, especially when he has no theological bent.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#127  Postby my_wan » May 27, 2011 5:44 am

jamest wrote:Where do you get your notion of 'rights' from? It's always a puzzle to me when an individual starts talking about rights other than in legal terms, especially when he has no theological bent.

Legally speaking a right cannot be taken without due process, a privilege can unless the taking of that privilege entails a violation of rights, such as based on race, gender, creed, etc.

I am still not seeing the distinction between collective and individual rights. If my personal rights infringes upon the rights of the collective then they infringe upon the rights of individuals in that collective. In such a case my personal rights certainly can be abrogated to some extent. So to a degree my rights can be moderated by collective values. If the individuals in this society choose that public funds should go to improving the condition of others I have no right to withhold my due portion. Otherwise I am denying others something that has been afforded me given the right circumstances, whether I choose to accept it for myself or not. I also benefit from the work performed by individuals that came well before me. I am certainly not going to reject that on the grounds it is not mine. Individual rights does not reject that a collective exist, but any such limitations of my rights must be predicated on the rights of individuals in that collective, not the collective itself. Perhaps that is why most Americans find people maintaining foreign cultures within our society generally just as American as anybody else?

Just because I do not subscribe to such rights being endowed by a creator does not make my rights any less inalienable. Theist have attempted that argument to hang onto their rights, then some, while fully rejecting that atheist had any at all. Perhaps if a theist got ahold of your test for voting rights God would also have something to say about intelligence? If you think that is not right up their alley in many corners you are sadly mistaken. Deny them and they will label you with the religion of intelligence, IQ worshiper. They will point at you and say that guy worships his own IQ, and my opinion regarding the nature of the absurdity may differ but the absurdity would still be fitting. :lol:
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