The Will Of The People
Why representative democracy rests on a totally incoherent and logically impossible premise
There are among us still some who imagine that representative democracy is not merely a complete catastrophe that must always, pace Plato, eventually lead to the emergence of tyranny. For such naïve individuals, the supposed virtue of representative democracy rests primarily on the belief that there exists such a thing as “the will of the people.” Much as primitive people used to believe in souls, ghosts, gods, and spirits of fire, wind, water, and trees, so too do some people today continue to believe that “the will of the people” is something real, as opposed to merely the consequences of inadequate cognition.
This article will explore the vague notion of “the will of the people” and demonstrate why it is both a logical impossibility and empirically disproven. We will begin by demonstrating that “the will of the people” is an intellectually incoherent concept when applied to more than one person. We will then proceed to show that it continues to be an intellectually incoherent concept even when applied merely to a single individual.
Let us imagine a very small village containing just twenty people, eight of whom are younger than eighteen years of age and four of whom are over the age of seventy-five. Thanks to an entirely misguided reliance on age as the sole criterion that determines whether or not a person can be permitted to vote, one extremely intelligent and well-informed teenager is prohibited from voting (so their “will of the people” doesn’t count) while three of the four people over seventy-five years of age are extremely stupid and ignorant. They can, however, vote merely because of their age. The remaining villagers aged between eighteen and seventy-five vary wildly in intelligence and their comprehension of the world around them. In this way, our imaginary small village adequately resembles the real world.
The highly intelligent and well-informed teen would like to vote because she understands the notion of cause-and-effect and is concerned that all the “jam today” policies favored by the stupid and ignorant adults of the village are depleting resources her generation will need. But as she’s too young, her voice goes unheard and thus her will…