I ask, because a lot of us apparently would like one when it comes to our favorite causes.

Here's my example. You'll surely have examples of your own.

Environmental advocates try to do an end run around majority rule by pressuring politicians to pass environmental legislation, sometimes based on good science but sometimes based on half-baked science that later proves to be wrong, even though the public is not enthused about it, and may even be hostile to it.

In other words, the (supposed) end justifies the means.

Does it?

If so, maybe we need a benign dictatorship based on rationalism and technocratic control.

What do YOU think?

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If it could stay benign, then sure, but that benigness (I think I made up a word) is the problem. In a pluralistic society, or at least a stratified society, how does one determine what benign is? To be benign is to be harmless, but in a non-homogenous population there are bound to be actions that when taken will cause harm to a segment of people. So the government couldn't truly be called benign, just mostly, which for some just equals a dictatorship. .

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for reducing ignorance, improving efficiency, and using facts to base policies on in our government. The best way of achieving all that is through a "benign dictatorship based on rationalism and technocratic control." It removes the bullshit, promotes knowledge and facts, and streamlines the process of governing, but ultimately, I just think it's unrealistic. As long as people are involved, it will either be exploited, corrupted, or eventually overthrown. And if you want to take people out of it, well good luck convincing them of that. If it can bring power, people are going to stay involved.

Then there is the trust factor. People don't trust what they don't understand, and despite benefiting from this form of government, they still won't trust it. People who don't trust it will begin to oppose it, but this is all still assuming the current US culture. A more knowledgeable culture would, I think, by more inclined to accept a benign dictatorship granted that there was complete transparency of the decisions made and the reasons for them.

But it's nice to think that we could do it. Maybe it could be possible in some place like Singapore or Lichtenstein where populations are smaller.

Too much power in the hands of one person. No.

I was thinking more in terms of a committee of technocrats. And my intention isn't really to argue one way or the other, though I may if I think I should. I had simply noticed that both sides, including the liberals you'd think would be the champions of democracy, who are quite happy to lobby legislators to vote against the wishes of the public. And while mostly they run into the deaf ears you might expect, from time to time they have their victories, as they have with phasing out traditional incandescent light bulbs and removing phosphates from automatic dishwasher detergents, which would never have passed referendum.

Yes. Yes. YES!

I have had similar discussions numerous times with my friends (they disagree) that a benign dictatorship is always preferable to democracy. One can point to history - the original greek concept was severely restricted by modern standards, and even the early modern principle restricted to white males owning property, both minorities within minorities. I think the next step on the ladder is technocracy - expert rule - as seen recently in Greece and Italy.

 As to your question, the ends does justify the means, but not quite in the sense you originally posed. :)

One person's benign dictatorship is another person's bunch of people running roughshod over everyone else to push their agenda.

There are actually two separate issues here in this question.  Do I think a good government must necessarily be a democracy?  (Technically, a representative democracy, with restrictions on government power.)  No.  I could see some other means of organizing a government that wouldn't bother me.

What would bother me is a government that runs roughshod over peoples' rights.  [But there that brings up the issue of rights... we can't even agree on what those are and which ones are real rights as opposed to excuses to violate the rights of others.]  If it does that then I don't care if a majority voted for it, it's still a bad government.  If it does not routinely violate rights, I wouldn't care if it were a monarchy that never asked for my input in the voting booth.

Most people seem to feel that it's their right to do whatever they please. Want to keep a managerie of dangerous wild animals in your back yard? Some people feel it's their right. Want to drive down the road with your music playing so loud it can be heard a mile away? Some people feel that's their right. I could go on, but I'm sure you can come up with your own examples.

There's no doubt what a right IS, really. A right is being entitled to something under law, be it a behavior, an ownership, a compensation, or whatever.

What is controversial is what rights people should have.

Well, we could always put our fate in the hands of a supercomputer like Watson. Voila!: No human nature to screw things up. 100% logical decisions. I know computing isn't there yet, but...maybe next year!

Some cities have a city manager instead of a mayor. Generally, the city manager is an employee of the city council. Perhaps that could be a model for a benign dictatorship.

How would that differ from a theocracy based on Yahweh?

No matter how many words synonymous with benevolent precede it, the word, dictator, makes my skin crawl.

Well, for one thing it wouldn't be a theocracy. For another, no Yahweh.

I believe it was Spock who said, "A difference that makes no difference, is no difference."


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