Wednesday, 29 October 2008

True understanding is given only to the few

Marcel Berlins thinks that 16-year-olds shouldn't get the vote because they are too ignorant of the world.

Ignorance is a terrible thing, of course. An ignorant man cannot be trusted to exercise good judgement on political issues. Not through any great personal flaw, but simply because, being unfamiliar with the true facts of the matter, he may misapprehend the issues involved and base his judgement on false premises. For example, such a man might fall into the error of thinking that we give the people power because they've got a track record of making good decisions. Complete nonsense. We give the people power because that that is where power belongs - in the hands of the governed. No-one ever fought for the vote because they thought they and their ilk were uniquely gifted to lead the country. They fought for representation. They fought to have a say in the political process that ruled their lives. We don't believe in democracy because it gives good results: we believe in it because it's right.

1 comment:

John B said...

To be honest, I'm philosophically in favour of benign dictatorship, but empirically they tend to turn into malign dictatorships rather easily, and people able to become dictators who aren't demented sociopaths are a rarity.

So while I support democracy, it's entirely pragmatic - I don't have any attachment to its "right"-ness (indeed, letting idiots instead of people who know what they're doing choose what to do seems more like 'wrong' than 'right', all other things being equal).

No idea how that impacts on votes for 16-year-olds, though. I guess we should have a referendum to decide...?