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 I prefer democracy above dictatorship.

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Mon 26 Jun 2017, 22:24

Temperance and Priscilla prefer perhaps discussions about religion and all that but I was always focused on political systems as for instance the Social Liberals as alternative for the Conservatives and the Socialists...
I was always from the very beginning on the history fora interested how dictators were able to come to power, even in a so-called social democracy, as for instance a Hitler who came to power in a legal way along with the laws in vigour of that time...

First some links before starting a discussion tomorrow:
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/wjec/history/pdf/democracy_or_dictatorship.pdf
http://thedailyjournalist.com/the-expert/democracy-versus-dictatorships-what-works-better/


And yes specially dedicated to Nordmann, as I am awaiting something from his corner...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Tue 27 Jun 2017, 14:56

Paul wrote:



Temperance and Priscilla prefer perhaps discussions about religion and all that but I was always focused on political systems...


Forgive me, but I did smile at the "and all that" bit in your sentence, Paul. I wonder to what does the "all that" refer?

I shouldn't really try to speak for our friend, Priscilla, of course, but I do hope we do not come across as obsessed by religion. I do read and talk about other things, you know, and I rather think Priscilla does too!

That said, I must add that I suppose it could be argued that Christianity became a "political system" once the Romans decided it was all a Splendid Idea - not what was originally intended at all (although some commentators today argue that Jesus of Nazareth actually was a serious political agitator and a thorough nuisance - that's why he was got rid of by the original Romans who knew a Bad Thing when they saw it. Dreamers are one thing; charismatic political subversives quite another).

However, let us not wander off-topic. Who came up with the idea of benevolent dictator? I always thought it came from Plato, a benevolent dictator - a philosopher-king - being the Socratic ideal. I have been reliably (or perhaps unreliably - these days I don't trust anyone) informed, however, that it was really John Stuart Mill's suggestion - see On Liberty.

"Benevolent" dictator seems a fine idea - a strong but decent leader, someone who only wants the best for all his (or her) people - but do such rulers really exist or is the concept merely a nice but impossible ideal? And who decides on what constitutes "benevolence" - the benevolent one himself?


benevolence (n.)  "disposition to do good," from Old French benivolence (Modern French bienveillance) and directly from Latin benevolentia "good feeling, good will, kindness," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volantem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). In English history, this was the name given to forced extra-legal loans or contributions to the crown, first so called 1473 by Edward IV, who cynically "asked" it as a token of good will toward his rule.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Tue 27 Jun 2017, 21:51

Temperance, just entering and already half past ten PM overhere...

"Forgive me, but I did smile at the "and all that" bit in your sentence, Paul. I wonder to what does the "all that" refer?"


"and all that, from near of from far (I don't even find the expression in any dictionary and on internet I find it only in quotes from novels, I think it is an expression in Dutch from sixty years ago, although it does still exist in dialect: "van dichte of van verre") has to do with religion... Wink

"However, let us not wander off-topic. Who came up with the idea of benevolent dictator? I always thought it came from Plato, a benevolent dictator - a philosopher-king - being the Socratic ideal. I have been reliably (or perhaps unreliably - these days I don't trust anyone) informed, however, that it was really John Stuart Mill's suggestion - see On Liberty.

"Benevolent" dictator seems a fine idea - a strong but decent leader, someone who only wants the best for all his (or her) people - but do such rulers really exist or is the concept merely a nice but impossible ideal? And who decides on what constitutes "benevolence" - the benevolent one himself?"

Thank you for this comment. Will study it tomorrow.
First rapid comment: In my opinion a "benevolent " dictator don't exist...look at the Austrian Jozef II and that other Prussian: Friedrich der Grosse...

Kind regards from Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Wed 28 Jun 2017, 06:46

Wasn't Frederick the Great an "enlightened despot" - the 18th century idea? Is "enlightened despot" exactly the same as the earlier Greek ideal of a "benevolent dictator". The terms sound synonymous, but are they?

I'm still wondering about John Stuart Mill too, like you do,
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Wed 28 Jun 2017, 13:25

The notion of a dictator as it originally applied in Roman political law is one that is badly understood these days, especially since the title has now become synonymous with absolute power invested in one individual, be it dispensed benevolently or not.

A dictator, as Julius Caesar officially was and before him Sulla and Marius amongst others, was essentially a consul who acted alone and who had no end to his term beyond that which he chose himself or which the senate imposed on him. The last bit is important - while in practice it was rarely that the senate had the military backing to act on its possible opposition to a dictator (who in every documented case carried the bulk of the army with him), in theory power was still invested in that body, as it was in the knights and the urban civic authorities, and the dictator's job was to dispense their will. Even a dictator therefore made sure to have a good number of these on his side too (Sulla retained power with support of the "optimates", Marius and Caesar with that of the "populares"). Appeal to the less aristocratic "populares" carried with it an extra complication in that they were also the most fractured group in terms of what they considered as important policy, so that kind of dictatorship was often best practiced through a triumvirate or similar, the consulship in those cases having been usurped by three (or more) individuals who each represented one aspect to thsi broad but fragile support.

A dictator therefore really displayed more the illusion of absolute power than in fact he could claim to hold. While his opponents might use that illusion against him, even they were also adept at exploiting those elements of power denied to a dictator to countervail his effect. Marius's reaction to such opposition was to use his army to impose a military state - a very close analogy to modern day dictatorship - but it is worth noting that this imposition barely lasted a year before it dissolved into anarchy, even among his own forces. Sulla countered it with political guile and ruthless treatment of his senior opponents - reminiscent of Hitler's early dictatorship - but again really only ended up eventually destabilising even his own support base so that his latter "reign" was one of economic and political stagnation which ironically transferred real power to the civitates, as close to a House of Commons as could be found in Republican Rome. How Caesar would have fared is open to question as he was stopped rather abruptly and permanently in his tracks, but it is telling that his nephew Octavius, upon assuming the consulate power himself later, made sure to avoid any claim to be a dictator (preferring the archaic "princeps") and made sure also to have every imperial diktat at least rubber-stamped by a senate whose constitution he did not change in even the least respect.

In short the original notion of a dictator therefore was - by definition - a benevolent dictatorship. The dictator's job was to rescue the republic at times when political inability to formulate policy by the consuls meant that it would be better done by one person untrammeled by a set term of office. The dictator did not need to "consult" (as the consuls' own office name indicated they were obliged to do), but neither could he assume automatically that his diktats overrode senate approval. That bit he had to enforce, often with menaces, and inevitably shortened his potential reign in doing so (at least too often).

A Roman would not necessarily have understood this thread's title at all. For him or her, a dictatorship might be the best defence of true democratic principle and procedure. Julius Caesar's proposed dictatorship was definitely seen as such (not just by him), exactly that which prompted the most die-hard optimates (who only liked democracy when power was invested in a very small super-aristocratic senate class) to gang up on him and do him in, thereby leading to those immortal last lines ...

"Infamy! Infamy! They all have it in fa' me!"
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Wed 28 Jun 2017, 22:17

Temperance and Nordmann,

struggling with Plato, the Roman dictatorship and the Greek Tyrants...and tomorrow absent and already past 11 PM again...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato%27s_five_regimes
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/greeks/greekdemocracy_01.shtml
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_dictator


Kind regards and good evening from Paul.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Thu 29 Jun 2017, 11:42

I heard bits of this this morning but kept getting interrupted. I must listen again.   In Our Time - Plato's republic.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Fri 30 Jun 2017, 16:04

What about Lee Kuan Yew? Changed Singapore from a third world city into a modern economic tiger.


The PAP has won every election since 1959, and is a semi authoritarian state. It does, however, seem to work effectively.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Fri 30 Jun 2017, 17:10

Hmmm ... the Soviet Union could be said to have worked "effectively" from 1922 'til 1991, especially if you were a party member who loyally towed the party line. The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Fri 30 Jun 2017, 22:58

@Meles meles wrote:
Hmmm ... the Soviet Union could be said to have worked "effectively" from 1922 'til 1991, especially if you were a party member who loyally towed the party line. The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany.



Meles meles,

a bit late to enter the debate...

"The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany."
Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan:
https://www.thoughtco.com/did-mussolini-get-the-trains-running-on-time-1221609


Through my parents I had an insightful picture of the Interbellum (in between the wars?) period in Belgium and especially in the Dutch speaking North. I later studied it more in depth among others for the several history fora.
In fact the mood was in my opinion rather on the right spectrum of the politics. Even the Belgian king Leopold III was in that mood. It later was used against him in the Kings Question after WWII...
The general opinion was one of: We need a strong figurehead that makes tabula rasa with all those by scandals (as the scandal of the Bank of the "Boerenbond" (farmers union?)...too many parties, which can't make decisions and end in endless palavers...no we need a strong man, who gives a clear direction...of course many hadn't heard of populism...even so called intellectuals and university-trained people were trapped...and first of all about the Italian Fascism of Mussolini...

I still remember strongly, it has to have been in I guess 1960, a school book about Dutch literature from Belgium and The Netherlands: "Zuid en Noord" (South and North). One text from an author, I forgot his name, but it was a reknown Flemisch writer, about Mussolini...a nearly lyric elogy of the Duce, entering a field with wheat to be mowed...and the Duce start the work...
And yes the Communists were very good in all such stuff too...as was Germany with Riefenthal...

But just to say that the call for a strong doctrinair leadership was a bit everywhere during the Interbellum...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sat 01 Jul 2017, 13:39

I remember the term "benevolent despotism" from history lessons at school. I suspect it was more benevolent for the despot than those who had despotism imposed upon them though. (Though I suppose there are some nuances between despot and dictator). As Meles Meles said the "benevolent" person remains a dictator. I can remember when Mrs Thatcher was British Prime Minister some people said they liked her because she had a strong personality - I suppose that was true but it was also her downfall because her strength was combined with inflexibility. I'll have to come out as a democracy girl even if the last couple of (British) elections have ended up with results I didn't want.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sat 01 Jul 2017, 15:08

@PaulRyckier wrote:

@Meles meles wrote:
the trains run on time

Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan

The claim that one of Mussolini’s achievements was that ‘he made the trains run of time’ rather misses the point. The phrase ‘making the trains run on time’ seems to be taken far too literally. The reference surely is to the huge advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s. Punctuality was only one of them. More significant were the building of new railway lines, the excavation of new tunnels and above all the electrification of the network.

Italy’s access to cheap electricity, which was overwhelmingly (i.e 90%) hydro-powered by virtue of the country’s mountainous terrain, was envied across Europe. In terms of upgrading the rail network then let's just consider that an electric motor is more reliable than an oil-powered diesel engine and also lower maintenance than a coal-powered steam engine. An electric motor is also cleaner and quieter than either. In an electricity-rich economy such as Italy’s, therefore, the electrification of the railways was a no-brainer and a win-win option.

Hydro-electricity would continue to dominate the Italian energy sector until the 1960s when it would reach full capacity and when other (i.e. fossil fuel) sources of electricity generation would begin to be used more and more in order for Italy’s industrial growth to continue. In the 50 years since then, the ratio has almost completely reversed with hydro-electricity now accounting for only about 10% of Italy’s energy consumption.

Attributing the rail advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s solely to ‘Mussolini’ seems to ignore the fact that making the best use of Italy’s hydroelectric bounty during those decades would surely have been the instinct of the technocrats of that country almost regardless of the political hue of any government which happened to be in office. This was already in evidence, for example, before Mussolini came to power and continued after his time. Similarly, downplaying the technological and civil engineering achievements etc of Italy during the Mussolini years simply because they might be perceived as being ‘fascist’ achievements is equally perverse. An evaluation of economic history should be able to see the bigger picture beyond contemporary propaganda (whether that be positive or negative) and also beyond current political sensibilities.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sat 01 Jul 2017, 16:50

I find it very interesting that Italy was almost self-sufficient in hydro-electric electricity generation in the 1920s and 30s. One sort of forgets - or at least I do - that Italy has almost as big an Alpine region as does Switzerland, Austria or France ... and rather more then than now when after WW1 Italy controlled the mountainous Gorizia Province of what is now Slovenija.

But the fact that we all remember Mussolini in part because "he made the trains run on time" surely only demostrates the enduring influence of his dictatorship, even so far as to affect how people think and remember him seven decades after his ignominious death ... and in the face of all contrary evidence. For what it is worth I'm pretty sure I have seen a data study that showed how Italian train punctuality reached its peak just prior to WW1 - and so well before the rise of Mussolini - a peak that was not surpassed until today (post 1980s). Although, as you have said, the Italian rail network was then (pre WW1) much smaller and was neither nationalised nor centrally controlled ... and generally it was not very fiscally sound either. But the three situations - before, during and after Mussolini - are not really comparable are they?
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sat 01 Jul 2017, 22:14

@Vizzer wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:

@Meles meles wrote:
the trains run on time

Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan

The claim that one of Mussolini’s achievements was that ‘he made the trains run of time’ rather misses the point. The phrase ‘making the trains run on time’ seems to be taken far too literally. The reference surely is to the huge advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s. Punctuality was only one of them. More significant were the building of new railway lines, the excavation of new tunnels and above all the electrification of the network.

Italy’s access to cheap electricity, which was overwhelmingly (i.e 90%) hydro-powered by virtue of the country’s mountainous terrain, was envied across Europe. In terms of upgrading the rail network then let's just consider that an electric motor is more reliable than an oil-powered diesel engine and also lower maintenance than a coal-powered steam engine. An electric motor is also cleaner and quieter than either. In an electricity-rich economy such as Italy’s, therefore, the electrification of the railways was a no-brainer and a win-win option.

Hydro-electricity would continue to dominate the Italian energy sector until the 1960s when it would reach full capacity and when other (i.e. fossil fuel) sources of electricity generation would begin to be used more and more in order for Italy’s industrial growth to continue. In the 50 years since then, the ratio has almost completely reversed with hydro-electricity now accounting for only about 10% of Italy’s energy consumption.

Attributing the rail advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s solely to ‘Mussolini’ seems to ignore the fact that making the best use of Italy’s hydroelectric bounty during those decades would surely have been the instinct of the technocrats of that country almost regardless of the political hue of any government which happened to be in office. This was already in evidence, for example, before Mussolini came to power and continued after his time. Similarly, downplaying the technological and civil engineering achievements etc of Italy during the Mussolini years simply because they might be perceived as being ‘fascist’ achievements is equally perverse. An evaluation of economic history should be able to see the bigger picture beyond contemporary propaganda (whether that be positive or negative) and also beyond current political sensibilities.


Vizzer,

thank you for this elaborated survey about that question. There was a hint in Wikipedia, but you explain it that much better.
Sadly it is already nearing 11 PM and I am involved in a debate about the after IS in the Middle East on a French forum of geopolitics. A new big battle between the Sunnis backed by Saudi Arabia and the Americans on one side and the Shiits backed by Iran and the Russians on the other side. Turkey yet enough with the Kurds, who seem to have a new territory near Turkey and with the Kurds inside Turkey...No Sykes-Pycot frontier anymore...and battles about borders as in the good old times...
I think Meles meles can follow the French documentary...and there is a lot of English in the documentary too...but I have no translation as it is a full French production...
http://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/066344-000-A/les-guerres-cachees-contre-daech


And I have still to answer a lot to Nordmann, Ferval, Meles meles, Temperance about the subject overhere...sigh...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sat 01 Jul 2017, 22:16

OOPS and I forgot Lady in retirement Embarassed

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 02 Jul 2017, 21:00

@Temperance wrote:
Wasn't Frederick the Great an "enlightened despot" - the 18th century idea? Is "enlightened despot" exactly the same as the earlier Greek ideal of a "benevolent dictator". The terms sound synonymous, but are they?

I'm still wondering about John Stuart Mill too, like you do,

Temperance,

you seem to be an erudite...never heard of John Stuart Mills...just set my first steps by a study about Socialism versus Liberalism. And what is a Liberal? I read about social Liberals, also in Belgium. Did even a study about it.
Will study first all the new stuff that you reported to me...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardian_economics

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 02 Jul 2017, 21:22

Deleted - off-topic.


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 03 Jul 2017, 03:31; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 02 Jul 2017, 22:14

@nordmann wrote:
The notion of a dictator as it originally applied in Roman political law is one that is badly understood these days, especially since the title has now become synonymous with absolute power invested in one individual, be it dispensed benevolently or not.

A dictator, as Julius Caesar officially was and before him Sulla and Marius amongst others, was essentially a consul who acted alone and who had no end to his term beyond that which he chose himself or which the senate imposed on him. The last bit is important - while in practice it was rarely that the senate had the military backing to act on its possible opposition to a dictator (who in every documented case carried the bulk of the army with him), in theory power was still invested in that body, as it was in the knights and the urban civic authorities, and the dictator's job was to dispense their will. Even a dictator therefore made sure to have a good number of these on his side too (Sulla retained power with support of the "optimates", Marius and Caesar with that of the "populares"). Appeal to the less aristocratic "populares" carried with it an extra complication in that they were also the most fractured group in terms of what they considered as important policy, so that kind of dictatorship was often best practiced through a triumvirate or similar, the consulship in those cases having been usurped by three (or more) individuals who each represented one aspect to thsi broad but fragile support.

A dictator therefore really displayed more the illusion of absolute power than in fact he could claim to hold. While his opponents might use that illusion against him, even they were also adept at exploiting those elements of power denied to a dictator to countervail his effect. Marius's reaction to such opposition was to use his army to impose a military state - a very close analogy to modern day dictatorship - but it is worth noting that this imposition barely lasted a year before it dissolved into anarchy, even among his own forces. Sulla countered it with political guile and ruthless treatment of his senior opponents - reminiscent of Hitler's early dictatorship - but again really only ended up eventually destabilising even his own support base so that his latter "reign" was one of economic and political stagnation which ironically transferred real power to the civitates, as close to a House of Commons as could be found in Republican Rome. How Caesar would have fared is open to question as he was stopped rather abruptly and permanently in his tracks, but it is telling that his nephew Octavius, upon assuming the consulate power himself later, made sure to avoid any claim to be a dictator (preferring the archaic "princeps") and made sure also to have every imperial diktat at least rubber-stamped by a senate whose constitution he did not change in even the least respect.

In short the original notion of a dictator therefore was - by definition - a benevolent dictatorship. The dictator's job was to rescue the republic at times when political inability to formulate policy by the consuls meant that it would be better done by one person untrammeled by a set term of office. The dictator did not need to "consult" (as the consuls' own office name indicated they were obliged to do), but neither could he assume automatically that his diktats overrode senate approval. That bit he had to enforce, often with menaces, and inevitably shortened his potential reign in doing so (at least too often).

A Roman would not necessarily have understood this thread's title at all. For him or her, a dictatorship might be the best defence of true democratic principle and procedure. Julius Caesar's proposed dictatorship was definitely seen as such (not just by him), exactly that which prompted the most die-hard optimates (who only liked democracy when power was invested in a very small super-aristocratic senate class) to gang up on him and do him in, thereby leading to those immortal last lines ...

"Infamy! Infamy! They all have it in fa' me!"

Nordmann,

thank you for this erudite description of the Roman dictatorship. In fact I had also this in mind, rememberings from my Latin lessons in the time...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_dictator
From this Wiki:
A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were regularly appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla, and then by Caesar. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.[1][2][3]


But first of all...and I seeking on the net for words from Caesar Wink ...I remembered: "Tu Brutus..."
But can it be...?




Wink  I never saw this film...perhaps not intersting enough for the Belgian public...to be nonest I prefered more the "other" Carry on films...as the one on vacation...

But back to the subject...Plato and Roman dictators are 2000-2500 years ago...I agree they could already looking back to another 3000 years of organized city/state life...but that life from Egypt, the Sumerian city states, Babylon as a bit mythical and an ancient period before them with kings as absolute rulers...?
The Greeks had to rethink it all...and as Plato mentioned they had it nearly all, all possibilities of ruling...

But in the last 2500 years, we have had again a large experience of all kinds of societies and methods of ruling, and we can learn from it...if one looks to that period it seems that the "democratic" societies last the longest, far before the dictatorships? The democratic states haven't perhaps not such a fast decision making...but because they are so long discussed many times there comes a better solving agreed upon by a broader part of the population, than a decision imposed upon them with no rights for amendments...perhaps they climb not that quickly as for instance the Stalin industrialisation...but it will be always a question, if there hadn't been a WWI, if Russia with or without Tsar wouldn't have industrialised faster than there Soviet counterpart...?

I studied the French Third Republic for a French forum and I am not sure if this Third Republic with all its flaws and controverses wouldn't have lasted longer if there hadn't been a WWII...and with a better result at the end...after all the Hitler dictatorship of 12? years was a complete catastrophy at the end...

Coincidentally there is a thread on Historum about authoritarian benevolent regimes...but as I suppose Triceratops is reffering to it overhere I will reply directly to his message...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Mon 03 Jul 2017, 10:19

Yes, Paul. The Romans struggled to control the principle of "magisterium" as it applied to public office from the moment they first defined it. Its origin was ancient and dated back to the days when the Roman "Republic" in its infancy was still, in real terms, a conglomeration of associated tribes - much like modern day Afghanistan, in which the tribal leaders could not be seen to have been usurped totally in terms of decision making even though in essence that was the only deal on offer. The compromise was to appoint these people as magistrates who could, up to a certain point, dispense rules and justice within their own "magisterium", originally geographical areas but which over time became more and more geopolitical and ultimately morphed completely into what might be called "fields of expertise". This was when they got dangerous as tradition demanded that any ordinance proclaimed by a magistrate therefore could not be readily gainsaid by his ostensible superiors. When it worked well they represented something of an independent judiciary and served the Republic well in that respect (the original corn dole for example was a magisterial decree which ultimately defined the Roman economy for the next 500 years). When it didn't work well, which was more often, it provided a very handy stepping stone for would-be dictators and power-hoggers who could use the extraordinary authority that came with the office to ignore, oppose or even attempt to usurp political decrees proclaimed at a higher level. It was this "extraordinary authority" aspect that allowed the office to be adapted to create dictators - of which there were several over the years - but even this apparently handy use of the office proved problematic (getting them to stand down was always problematic), such that the senate abolished the whole set-up once the Carthaginians were finally totally vanquished.

Sulla, who was something of an avid historian and a great fan of early republican history, resurrected the office for his own ends and at least publicly presented this as a "return to old values", in much the same way as populist politicians today, while steering their countries into hell on a hay-cart, still pretend to be "making us great again" and words to that effect. The truth of the matter is that the world does not stand still and political language and terminology is a reflection of this dynamism, not a preserver of ancient definitions of "greatness", "authority" etc. Even if Sulla had been less egregious and had really wanted to recreate the notion of "magisterium" as it had applied on the few occasions it had worked to the public's benefit he could not have done so. He was managing a new situation and therefore creating a new office which he planned to exploit. His version of "dictator" therefore bore little or no resemblance to that which had pertained before, and unavoidably echoed his ex-boss Marius's previous style of rule which had been an outright dictatorship in absolutely every aspect except the official title Marius had devised to describe himself.

Caesar's was if anything actually closer to the ancient version. He went to great pains to let the senate believe they retained a unilateral ability to dissolve the office if they so wished, and the fact that he had just spectacularly managed to get this policy approved by them was the trigger that set his assassins in motion. They had been out-voted quite democratically (and quite popularly) and didn't like it. One could almost say that it was they who therefore behaved most unconstitutionally in that whole incident, most like a modern dictator in fact in that they privately engineered a coup, and in fact set most precedent for the further political instability which then resulted in many deaths and ultimately a new "first among equals" to get the whole thing working again in some constitutional shape or form.

Note I have avoided comparing any of these approaches to wielding power in terms of "benevolence", which really serves no useful purpose in describing political reality. If one equates the term with actions perceived as being in the public good then many of Rome's dictators were in fact defined purely by their "benevolence", while "malevolence" was often most evident when power was wielded using more standard political processes. The opposite applied too, especially as particular dictatorships descended into anarchy - in Rome the political result of a despot being constrained eventually by the actual reality of the situation he had engendered, and which it must be remembered was nearly always redressed using constitutional processes (which sometimes included his necessary assassination). Benevolence wasn't really a factor in this at all, be it as the basis of policies which might have kept him in power longer, or as motive for those who might constitutionally have opposed him and brought about his removal.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Mon 03 Jul 2017, 13:40

Very good post, sir. Not a grovel; I mean it.

PS Paul, sorry I did not reply sensibly to you last night - I had had too much to drink. I hope I have not offended you too.

Temp.



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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Mon 03 Jul 2017, 22:10

Nordmann,

thank you very much for this elaborated message from which I learned a lot. I will include it in my further comments in this thread.
And grateful that you described the term "benevolent" as I want to expand on the term "benevolent dictator".

Temperance,

"offended" not at all...as it is again a glimpse of your warm personality...


Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 10 Sep 2017, 22:55



This a circular model with the typical Left/Right for ideology and up/down with regard to power.

















This is a square model with relations between governmental power being up and down (the further up the more power you seek and the further down the less power you seek) and then economic freedom in the left to right spectrum (less economic freedom to the left and more economic freedom to the right)... And while it measures more power and economics rather than power and ideology, it does demonstrate the ability measure issues in the political spectrum that a simple linear model cannot cover alone...


These are two graphics that I am allowed by Sam-Nary to publish from the thread from Historum: Comparison between Communists under Stalin and  and Nazis under Hitler to use them in my comments of this thread.

Unfortunately it is all a bit disorderly, but it was the best, with my limited knowledge of computers, I could do.
Tomorrow more comments.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 17 Sep 2017, 18:09




Studying this graphic I tend also to agree with Sam-Nary that the four quarters diagram gives a wider nuancing than the linear one underneath it.

The difficulty two compare the other four quarters model with this one is that one has to turn it upside down to compare





The difficulty I have in the second diagram is that the economic factor is not well defined, and in fact even in the first diagram...I have also some doubts about how the word "libertanian" is defined in this diagram.
On the old BBC board I had already a discussion with Alexander Crawford about that seemingly American word, while I always referred to "liberalism" in Europe.
I give here the two links to further discuss them afterwards about the differences and similarities.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism


In the second diagram I find the word "progressive" a word without content. One can be progressive in anything? The square with the question marks I would mark as "socialist" and the "Stalinist square" I would mark as Communism...
As for the names, as Sam-Nary said it is the author's view...
BTW: Helen Clark seems to be in the center of the centers...
Is that the New Zealand one?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Clark


As I find the second diagram not that well, I will restrict me to the first one.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 17 Sep 2017, 18:41

Addendum to the previous message.





Again I have some objections about the diagram.
In my opinion is "capitalism" not a "political orientation" but an "economic" one. Thus I would rather change the name to "liberalism"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism


Also "command economy" can happen on the extreme left dictatorship as on the extreme right one (for instance Nazi Germany)
Instead of "market economy" I would say "capitalism" and the degree of the market economy is given by the degree it tends to extreme capitalism or to the center with the more social balanced capitalism (I would say more interference of the state as in the socialistic democracy).
Instead of "command economy on the left side I would prefer: equal distribution of the common wealth against total free distribution of the common wealth...
And one has to pay attention that one speaks here about individual countries. But countries are connected as in the real world and both liberalism and socialism even in a democracy of one country has to reckon with the impact from outside. I will expand later on this item.
But in my opinion the impact of global capitalism is bigger as socialists till now are acting more in the frame of one country? Or they are internationally not strong enough to weigh on the global market?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Sun 17 Sep 2017, 21:58

I want first to discuss the family of liberalism, as there seems to be quite an evolution in time.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_liberalism

I read the wiki about Libertarianism. And now I understand why Alexander Crawford couldn't explain it to me (in that time more ignorant than now). I prefer to not discuss it here because as I see it you can put any possible movement in  it Wink ....

The classical liberalism we know from the 19th century, was the ideology of the industrialization and capitalism, hence the reaction of the workers against the exploitation.
Then there seems to have come also an adaptation of Liberalism to the "social or modern liberalism", which is more comform with the socio- democratic state.
http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-modern-liberalism-and-vs-classical-liberalism/

• Definition of Modern Liberalism and Classical Liberalism:

• Classical liberalism is a combination of civil liberty, political freedom, and economic freedom.
• Modern liberalism is a combination of social justice and mixed economy.

• Government Power:

• Classical liberalism viewed government power as a necessary evil.
• Modern liberalism recommends a far greater role of the government.

• Economic Preferences:

• Classical liberalism liked taxation with low taxes, low or no tariff, etc.
• Modern liberalism liked high tax systems, many laws on businesses, high minimum wage laws, etc.


I looked to the Belgian parties and here they seem it to call "progressive liberalism"(also in the Netherlands). I started with the Liberal parties in Belgium "And there I see (if one can believe what they all write about themselves) the Flemish liberal part more social liberal than the French speaking counterpart. That part more ressemblance with the New Flemish Alliance, which are more classical liberal...

What with the Liberal-Democrats in the UK, which are described as "social liberalism" in my list?
What did they under the right wing liberal Margaret Thatcher for instance?

For me the party with the most credentials for a democracy and has to be in the centre, because extremism has shown time and time again that it always ends in disaster (sooner or later), is this social liberal party (as long as the party naming it as its core value, isn't a façade for other politics) (I remember still the "people's republics" of the former East-Bloc Wink )

Hence for me are Christian Democrat parties as in Belgium and Germany more social liberal than many Liberal parties...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: I prefer democracy above dictatorship.   Mon 18 Sep 2017, 21:39

Returning to the dictator-democracy discussion...

One mentioned Singapore...ok the city state is doing it well...but at what cost?...not a climate of freedom of press, freedom of speech, to do what one want to do, to discuss improvements in social change and so on...not a happy society in my opinion? All changes from top to bottom instead of the reverse?

China, an oligarchical state nowedays? Something similar as the Venetian republic (that Nordmann described so well, or was it on another board?). Again the same as Singapore? All guiding comes from the top to the public. If they make mistakes it is not discussed as in an open society to correct it eventually or improve it?

And then one man dictatorships are a clear disaster, as the one man many times don't listen to his advisers and act from his one man thinking, which is most times not as balanced as the combined thinking of a whole theme of experts with an added evaluation of the whole population...?



But up to now I was always talking about individual countries, and here I return to my former messages.
All good and well to establish for instance a flourishing social liberal country, but there are more than 100 sovereign countries in the world.
If one can't align all the social systems of these countries in some way, by the capitalistic system the money will flee to the best opportunities to gain money and that will be a country with a low social system where labour is cheap? And the currency of the countries with high labour cost or product cost will be depreciated? I have a vague rememberance that even a country as the UK was no match for the stock-exchange? The pound on its lowest value? Under Major? If even the UK can't resist, what then with Belgium?

And even the international plague of the tax-evasion can't be muzzled as long as the big ones, the US, the EU, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brazil don't act? Merkel wanted to do it in Germany, but as long as it is not a worldwide closure of the tax evasion paradises it will be wishful thinking?

Kind regards, Paul.
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