[EM] An artist's view on voting methods

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Mon Dec 3 11:52:22 PST 2012

On 12/03/2012 05:35 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
> Jonathan Denn said:
>> Someone is editing Kurt Vonnegut letters for publication. This was
>> online today... I'm struck with "editor" meaning "voter" and
>> "stories" as "candidates"
>> "...I invite you to read the fifteen tales ..."
> I believe whole civilizations have been voted into existence by this
> method, more or less.  The candidate stories for the collection are
> myths of a cherished past (as in The Iliad), or utopias of a hopeful
> future (New Testament) or both (Mahabharata).  The narrow method is
> one of cultural selection; but the larger process, which Vonnegut
> seems also to ask of his students, might more pointedly be called
> "cultural *e*lection".
> Could such an election happen in modern times, do you think?

One should be careful with election by story, though. The worst kind of 
modern-day dictatorial regimes have often been backed by stories or 
myths to lend the regime legitimacy. For instance, left-wing 
authoritarian rulers have claimed power to have been given to them by 
the workers or the people, and that the centralization of power through 
authoritarian measures is needed in order to protect the system from 
vast external enemies that would otherwise destroy it, and so that the 
rulers can direct the nation towards a glorious future. Similar 
mythology exists on the right: see, for instance, Gentile's description
of the structure of Italian Fascism: 
http://www.oslo2000.uio.no/program/papers/s12/s12-gentile.pdf . Among 
other things, he notes that totalitarianism provides a single narrative, 
then seeks to "politicize" all of life so as to pull it into that narrative.

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