Under which regime would you have more "freedom?"

Under which regime would you have more "freedom?"

  • An absolute monarchy around 1500

    Votes: 1 4.2%
  • An American-style Democratic-Republic in 2019

    Votes: 19 79.2%
  • A constitutional monarchy around 1500

    Votes: 4 16.7%

  • Total voters
    24
May 2018
782
Michigan
#1
Think about it: Under an absolute monarchy of about 1500, there simply isn't the technological apparatus for surveillance, espionage, and behavior control that modern technology offers us. A Democratic-Republic in 2019 has a greater potential for restricting the liberty of its people than an absolute monarchy around 1500. The king's word may be law, but the reach of the king travels at the speed of horse, and is carried out by nobles of (often) questionable loyalty. Whereas today, a cell phone call to the police can have deputies on ground in under 20 minutes. Paper documents are far easier to forge than electronically signed and protected passports of today: at one time, all one needed was a razor blade and some glue to make a passable fake ID.

This extends to freedom of the press, and of speech. Although the dark web makes government surveillance difficult from a technological perspective, the ability of a few tech giants to effectively censor speech they don't like (no matter how distasteful that speech may be) is quite a bit of power. I recall the secret newspapers of the French revolution, or Bleeding Kansas and the printing press "wars": shutting down a secret newspaper often meant doing so by violence, potentially costing lives if the newspaper publisher made an ideological stand.

We have one regime that has all the legal power in the world, but relatively limited means of exercising it. And another regime that has all the means of exercising power, but constitutional restrictions on the appreciation of that power.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,270
#3
The vast majority of people, peasants in 1500 had lit;le recourse (other than usually futile peasant rebellion) from local despotism.

Sure the central government lacks capability, but the local lord does not. You will labor on his lands, you will hand over his cut of everything you do, paying to gather firewood, mill corn and everything else. And if you don;t like it you can appeal to the local court, run by the local lord.
 
May 2018
782
Michigan
#4
Another factor I would like to add to this is the ability of the population to revolt. Today, an armed revolution in the United States, or any first world country, would be nearly unthinkable. Not only because the people in these nations generally aren't disposed to armed revolution, but the sheer level of force the government can respond with is massively above what a civilian insurrection could achieve. It is doubtful that a civilian revolution could muster a single squadron of current-generation fighters, much less enough tanks (or nukes?) to challenge the American military.

Contrast this with less than 500 years ago, when the Jacobite rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie was a real threat, to the country if not the monarchy itself. Or the numerous other rebellions that could muster enough infantry, cannon and cavalry to pose a serious threat to government forces. A bunch of rednecks in pickup trucks with AR-15 rifles aren't a serious threat to the American military, and the left-wing version of those crazies is even less tactically significant.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,270
#5
Another factor I would like to add to this is the ability of the population to revolt. Today, an armed revolution in the United States, or any first world country, would be nearly unthinkable. Not only because the people in these nations generally aren't disposed to armed revolution, but the sheer level of force the government can respond with is massively above what a civilian insurrection could achieve. It is doubtful that a civilian revolution could muster a single squadron of current-generation fighters, much less enough tanks (or nukes?) to challenge the American military.

Contrast this with less than 500 years ago, when the Jacobite rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie was a real threat, to the country if not the monarchy itself. Or the numerous other rebellions that could muster enough infantry, cannon and cavalry to pose a serious threat to government forces. A bunch of rednecks in pickup trucks with AR-15 rifles aren't a serious threat to the American military, and the left-wing version of those crazies is even less tactically significant.
numerous other rebellions which failed out were put down with fire and sword. The sucess of these rebellions is extremely low, the brutal suppresion that often follows. yeah a few weeks of "freedom" beofre you and all your family are killed.
 
Mar 2016
1,207
Australia
#6
It depends on what type of freedom you're referring to. If you mean freedom from a myriad of high taxes on every conceivable product, service, asset and utility, then yes, countries in the 1500s would be far better in that regard. There would also be somewhat less intrusive government oversight when it comes to all of your personal information, purchase records, etc. However, on the flip side, human/civil rights were almost non-existent, and even if they did exist they were highly dependent on the integrity of the local lords/magistrates on whether they chose to uphold them or not. There was also almost no sense of political representation for peasants/lower classes beyond something as small-scale as a village or town mayor. Only in a very select group of relatively liberal and sophisticated countries like England and the Netherlands did some semblance of political representation for all classes exist, and even then it was very rudimentary and problematic at this point. You can also forget about modern developments like tolerance for all religions, sexuality, etc. as well as equal rights for women.

While some 16th century countries may have some improvements in terms of a lack of draconian government oversight, these are very minor and limited compared to the many other downsides. I'll take the modern-day system any day.
 
Sep 2016
1,142
Georgia
#7
Are we talking about Europe ? If so, what do you mean by Absolute monarchy ? What European countries do you consider to be Absolute monarchy in 1500 ? We also have to analyze how it all worked in practice.

What do you consider a Constitutional Monarchy in 1500 ? Because modern ,, Constitutional Monarchies '' didn't exist at that time. Parliamentarism and Constitutionalism was still developing and at different rates in various countries. Not to mention, that first modern Constitutions were created in second half of 18th century. However, modern liberal democracies with universal suffrage only developed by 20th century.

American Democratic Republic in 2019 would obviously win. England, USA, France and other countries in 19th century were much worse than modern USA in terms of freedom.
Only in a very select group of relatively liberal and sophisticated countries like England and the Netherlands did some semblance of political representation for all classes exist
Also Sweden
 
Feb 2019
698
Serbia
#8
Are we talking about Europe ? If so, what do you mean by Absolute monarchy ? What European countries do you consider to be Absolute monarchy in 1500 ? We also have to analyze how it all worked in practice.

What do you consider a Constitutional Monarchy in 1500 ? Because modern ,, Constitutional Monarchies '' didn't exist at that time. Parliamentarism and Constitutionalism was still developing and at different rates in various countries. Not to mention, that first modern Constitutions were created in second half of 18th century. However, modern liberal democracies with universal suffrage only developed by 20th century.

American Democratic Republic in 2019 would obviously win. England, USA, France and other countries in 19th century were much worse than modern USA in terms of freedom.

Also Sweden
I imagined that the OP implied a mix. A modern constitutional monarchy existing in 1500. If he implied only what existed then there was no such thing as a constitutional monarchy. Countries like England, Netherlands and Poland had more tolerance than most but were not modern constitutional monarchies. If the OP implies only the systems that actually existed in 1500 then the American Republic is a no-brainer.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,405
Wirral
#9
the ability of a few tech giants to effectively censor speech they don't like (no matter how distasteful that speech may be) is quite a bit of power.
They are private companies, not organs of the state and at the moment they can publish or not publish whatever they wish, in the same way that newspapers or tv channels can.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,405
Wirral
#10
numerous other rebellions which failed out were put down with fire and sword. The sucess of these rebellions is extremely low, the brutal suppresion that often follows. yeah a few weeks of "freedom" beofre you and all your family are killed.
Agreed. I stand to be corrected but I’m not aware of any popular mass rebellion that has succeeded in the U.K. at least.