Is a Meritocratic Oligarchy Superior to a Democratic Republic?

Is a Meritocratic Oligarchy Superior to a Democratic Republic?

  • Yes

    Votes: 18 26.9%
  • No

    Votes: 41 61.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 8 11.9%

  • Total voters
    67
Dec 2017
266
USA
IIs a Meritocratic Oligarchy Superior to a Democratic Republic?

Consider the case of a Fictional Meritocratic Oligarchy found in Star Wars--The Jedi Council. The Jedi Order holds the Jedi Council at the top of a pyramid who dictate the rules, course of action, ect. ect. as the primary governing body. One is only granted a position on the Jedi Council based upon merit, typically (essentially always) after receiving the rank of "Master".

Another example of a Fictional Meritocratic Oligarchy is found in Star Fleet from the Star Trek Universe.

Are these systems superior to the model provided by Democratic Republics?

Thoughts?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
All things being equal, and over the long run, I say no. While appealing at first glance, a meritocratic oligarchy is ripe for corruption and abuse. Machiavelli's adage , "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is a truth for almost every person. It takes a most unique and special person to not become full of himself and drunk with power. Even with its flaws, a democratic republic, with the proper checks and balances, is superior when a vested constituency exercises its right to vote and influence.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,723
Dispargum
Assuming this oligarchy would be drawn from only a narrow segment of society, I don't see how this oligarchy could understand the problems of most citizens and therefore it could not solve citizen problems. The oligarchy would only devote time and effort to solving its own problems. At least with democracy those who rule might (but are not always) incentivized to try to understand and solve the problems of the common people.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,770
Australia
This sort of government would be extremely tempting....and utterly wrong. As the others have pointed out, such a government would end up governing for itself and ignoring the concerns of the majority of the people. At first it may well be very efficient and popular, however this would not last as the government became a dictatorship of the few.
 
Apr 2017
745
Lemuria
Assuming this oligarchy would be drawn from only a narrow segment of society, I don't see how this oligarchy could understand the problems of most citizens and therefore it could not solve citizen problems. The oligarchy would only devote time and effort to solving its own problems. At least with democracy those who rule might (but are not always) incentivized to try to understand and solve the problems of the common people.
Such an oligarchy must be highly empathic as well as intelligent. You can't have an autistic savant with no manners in the ruling class. Sub ruling, specialized class but not ruling.
An example of such an oligarch is Elon Musk. Highly intelligent empaths detect emotion naturally and can rationally interpret them.
Democracy is a horrible system of governance. It is a system that has a natural tendency toward entropy.
 
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Dec 2017
266
USA
Assuming this oligarchy would be drawn from only a narrow segment of society, I don't see how this oligarchy could understand the problems of most citizens and therefore it could not solve citizen problems. The oligarchy would only devote time and effort to solving its own problems. At least with democracy those who rule might (but are not always) incentivized to try to understand and solve the problems of the common people.
I think any Meritocratic Oligarchy revolving around a singular/primary concern is highly limiting at best and doomed to fail in a number of areas. An example of an inherently flawed Meritocratic Oligarchy is a Timocracy-Stratocracy. A prime example of this in World History is Sparta. Another example is a Plutocracy as wealth is largely arbitrary and not a proper indicator of true merit.

Now, as a counter to this, I would point out that Academia is already structured in a strictly hierarchical, Meritocratic Oligarchic manner and has a wide variety of disciplines concerns (i.e. it is not "Centralized" but operates on many, varied de-centralized wings). That is, in Academia being an Albert Einstein level Physicist grants you nothing in the History department, nor even in the Neuroscience (i.e. a distinct Science, separate from Physics) department--although such an individual would have a "vote" in particular areas of the Physics discipline. It is perfectly plausible to have varied sectors of society operate on a similar model.

The current model grants me (or some other unqualified individual) to have an equivalent vote alongside an Einstein-level Physicists on matters of Physics. Now, the amount of experts in any given field will almost (if not) always be drastically outnumbered by the numbers of non-experts in a given discipline. Thus, the "vote" of an expert will very quickly be drowned out by the masses of non-experts who have a "vote" as well.
 

Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
8,178
România
I think I'd have more rights in a democratic republic.

I also think it would be better positioned to protect me in case of a war, giving how well democracies have done in wars (despite what some wannabe edgy people like to think about democracies being weak), tho they are as likely as non-democracies to engage in war (despite what some of the people who were certain they knew the future thought some time ago). Citizens tend to be more invested in the outcome of a war if they are better represented at a state level.

One of the closest things to a rule in international relations is that democracies tend not to fight each other. That's also nice.
 
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Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
8,178
România
IConsider the case of a Fictional Meritocratic Oligarchy found in Star Wars--The Jedi Council. The Jedi Order holds the Jedi Council at the top of a pyramid who dictate the rules, course of action, ect. ect. as the primary governing body. One is only granted a position on the Jedi Council based upon merit, typically (essentially always) after receiving the rank of "Master".
I haven't seen the latest Star Wars movie yet.

The Jedi are a religious cult (who view themselves as "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy") which indoctrinates children. They don't really consider the consequences of their dogmatism (the imbalance in the Force was caused by their attempt to exterminate their rival religious cult).

Here's another example:



And they are far from an entity that cares about justice, hence:
ANAKIN: I had a dream I was a Jedi. I came back here to free all the slaves... have you come to free us?

QUI-GON: No, I'm afraid not ...
What was the response to having their star pupil go to the darkside? Living in caves/swamps and wallowing in their self-pity, until some kids decide to actually try and do something.

I will never understand why, after the prequels, people still think the Jedi were admirable/good.

It's not as if Lucas has even been a subtle person. Just look at the lighting (for example, in that Yoda scene I posted), pay attention to the soundtrack and the surroundings.

A few other short example: the first prequel starts with the Jedi looking sinister, right after we are told that their actions are taking place while democratic debates (that they completely ignore) are taking place.



Notice the reaction from Dooku, Windu, the kid seeing his father die and the music:



Only the first 32 seconds are relevant:



Note the arrogance with which those lines are being delivered, after the suggestion that a former Jedi might have done something bad.

Just because the prequels had racist stereotypes, Jar Jar, bad acting, bad dialogue (tho, fair point about sand) and bad directing, doesn't mean they didn't have a pretty obvious story to tell. I do not know why people ignore it so much.

No one in that system thought Yoda wasn't flawless. Dooku used to be part of the Jedi Order. Kenobi utterly failed in his training of Anakin, as did the rest of the Council in preventing him for joining the darkside.

Unless I'm not remembering correctly, the Jedi were pretty much the only ones who believed the Jedi were worthy of authority over anything.

It's noteworthy that all your examples of a meritocratic oligarchy were fictional. I don't blame you. I wouldn't have gone with Iran either. The Star Wars one works better as an example of why it's not a good system. I'm not familiar enough with Star Trek to discuss that one (tho, I've seen plenty of episodes were people disobey rules and orders and the outcome is positive; the prime directive was violated plenty of times).

May the force live long and prosper!
 
Last edited:
Dec 2017
266
USA
I haven't seen the latest Star Wars movie yet.

The Jedi are a religious cult (who view themselves as "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy") which indoctrinates children. They don't really consider the consequences of their dogmatism (the imbalance in the Force was caused by their attempt to exterminate their rival religious cult).

Here's another example:



And they are far from an entity that cares about justice, hence:
What was the response to having their star pupil go to the darkside? Living in caves/swamps and wallowing in their self-pity, until some kids decide to actually try and do something.

I will never understand why, after the prequels, people still think the Jedi were admirable/good.

It's not as if Lucas has even been a subtle person. Just look at the lighting (for example, in that Yoda scene I posted), pay attention to the soundtrack and the surroundings.

A few other short example: the first prequel starts with the Jedi looking sinister, right after we are told that their actions are taking place while democratic debates (that they completely ignore) are taking place.



Notice the reaction from Dooku, Windu, the kid seeing his father die and the music:



Only the first 32 seconds are relevant:



Note the arrogance with which those lines are being delivered, after the suggestion that a former Jedi did something bad.

Just because the prequels had racist stereotypes, Jar Jar, bad acting, bad dialogue (tho, fair point about sand) and bad directing, doesn't mean they didn't have a pretty obvious story to tell. I do not know why people ignore it so much.

No one in that system thought Yoda wasn't flawless. Dooku used to be part of the Jedi Order. Kenobi utterly failed in his training of Anakin, as did the rest of the Council in preventing him for joining the darkside.

Unless I'm not remembering correctly, the Jedi were pretty much the only ones who believed the Jedi were worthy of authority over anything.

It's noteworthy that all your examples of a meritocratic oligarchy were fictional. I don't blame you. I wouldn't have gone with Iran either. The Star Wars one works better as an example of why it's not a good system. I'm not familiar enough with Star Trek to discuss that one (tho, I've seen plenty of episodes were people disobey rules and orders and the outcome is positive; the prime directive was violated plenty of times).

May the force live long and prosper!
@Offspring

First, thank you for your post. I think you made a large number of strong observations.

Now, everything you said in your post was very robust & engaging until your final paragraph. I did give an example of a (in many ways) highly successful Meritocratic Oligarchic model with Academia. Also, I think you are presuming my position far too much (as I largely agree with everything you said about Star Wars Jedi Council--The Clone Wars animated series highlights this very well, even more so than is found in the Movies). Furthermore, opening up a topic for discussion doesn't necessarily pledge ones allegiance toward it (this is standard in Philosophy).

Now, I would like to see you engage with my example of Academia (and the extension of this model I suggested as hypothetically possible). Also, on my end, I will respond to your points regarding Star Wars (when time permits me--in the next few days I would suppose).
 
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