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Democracy with a true universal franchise is a relatively recent idea. In fact it's so recent it's less than a century old in most of the world. In spite of this a lot of people, especially in the West, seem to think that it's somehow naturally ordained and inevitable. In reality it's so exceptional that it has never happened before - and that makes it more fragile than it looks.

I think it could be put more strongly than that. Universal franchise democracy is not fragile, it's an experiment in governance that shows no signs of practicality. For well-tested practical government, look towards the feudal system, with a semi-inherited (usually for only three or four generations before a reset) aristocracy and a docile peasantry. Preferred system for 1000+ years in Europe and Asia.

This new-fangled "everybody gets a say" concept is farcical from first glance...

by asdf on Mon Oct 18th, 2010 at 10:57:56 AM EST
German tribes - and thus early Scandinavian kingdoms - used to elect their leaders. They also had rule of law of sorts. It was fairly stable for a long time.

Of course, it was only some who had some real say in the matter, and the possible candidates were even fewer - generally one candidate per important enough clan, often as few as two candidates, similar in everything except which family they belong to. The advantage over pure inheritance is that totally mad or totally incompetent leaders are sorted out before the election.

I see certain similarities.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 10:08:35 AM EST
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