Author: Arnold Eyre, Ottawa.
Greek philosopher Plato (c.425–347 B.C.) defined a democracy as “the authority of the crowd”, and predicted that when enough members of “the crowd” realize that they can get immediate benefits from government, they elect “snake-oil salesmen”; complacency sets in, then apathy, government dependency, dictatorship, anarchy or worse.
Canada’s democracy is approaching 149 years of age. There’s still time to save Canada’s democracy; perhaps about 50 years.
The author describes (1) his view of Canada’s current state, and (2) his recommended solution.
- Canada’s Current State
Canada’s current “crowd” comprises about 36 million Canadians. Thriving largely due to its abundance of natural resources and proximity to the U.S.A., many, if not most, Canadians have become complacent, and apathetic, as voter turnouts have shown recently. And almost 17 million Canadians are government dependent for their living income to a significant extent.
Government spending commitments necessitate high taxes, and borrowing resulting in a growing national debt.
The Canada Constitution states that Canadians will be provided with “peace, order and good government”, but does not enunciate the end to which that will be provided. In other words, the overall objective of Canada is not stated.
Because Canada’s overall national objective is not stated, there is no way of knowing how relevant the various expenditures are. Until recently at least, not one of the 20-or-so registered national political parties stated the overall objective and how it would govern to achieve it.
- The Recommended Solution: “Smarten Up”
Influenced by the teachings of Greek philosopher Pythagorus (c.570-495 B.C.), Plato suggested that a noocracy* (“no-awkrassee”), an “aristocracy of the wise”, would be better than a democracy (* “noo” from the Greek word “noos”, meaning wisdom or knowledge).
The many attempts to form a noocracy, including a fairly recent attempt by geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945), have failed, primarily because of the lack of a widely accepted quantification of “wisdom”.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines wisdom as the “quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment”. But what is good judgment? Each of us goes through life making good and bad decisions that have a bearing on the probability of achieving our overall objectives. But what are our overall objectives? There is one that is common to practically all of us: to live happily for as long as possible; i.e. to maximize our happy lifespans.
That our overall objective is to maximize our happy lifespans is born out by a fairly recent discovery, the discovery of “homoeostasis”.
Physiologists Claude Bernard (1813-1878) and Walter Cannon (1871-1945) found that every organism, whether single-celled or multi-celled, including the human being, has “homoeostasis”, the tendency to maintain a stable state of existence. All of us are “hard wired” to live happily for as long as possible; “hard wired” to maximize our “happy lifespans”.
The fact that we all are hard wired to maximize our happy lifespans is becoming general knowledge. Vernadsky and palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) spoke of the growing “noosphere”, the increasing number of people sharing the “mass self-consciousness of Man”.
We now have scientific evidence backing up what many of us have felt: that our common overall objective is to maximize our happy lifespans.
Thus the first thing that a democracy like Canada should do to “smarten up” is state publicly, by a constitutional amendment, that its overall objective is to maximize the happy lifespans of all of its citizens. Having stated that, the various political parties (20-or-so in Canada) can compete on the basis of who is most likely to govern Canada to achieve that overall objective.
The second thing that a democracy like Canada should do to “smarten up” is weight each voter’s vote according to her or his recognized “relative wisdom”. Initially, at least, a voter’s “relative wisdom” would be measured by her or his age. Usually the older one gets, the more experience that one gets, the more knowledge that one gets, and the better judgment one has. For example, if the voting age is 18 or over, an 18 year old’s vote might have a weight of 18, a 19 year old’s vote 19, a 20 year old’s vote 20, and so on. The vote weighting could be amended with time, as out knowledge of relative wisdom increases.
Bio The author, Arnold Eyre, CD, MSc, NAVE, FCSSE, PEng, was born and raised in Saskatchewan. He served as a naval officer, aerospace engineer and naval architect for 15 years before founding and operating a group of small Canadian consulting companies and a manufacturing company, employing over 250 Canadians.