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Centrists, not extremists, are most hostile to democracy (nytimes.com)
21 points by anigbrowl on May 23, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments



On a first glance, I see many issues with this article: (sorry for my mediocre English)

1. Extremists may have given pro-democracy answers in order to make their ideology/side seen as more benevolent.

2. Thinking that a democracy isn't a "very good" political system doesn't mean that you are going to be less contrary to an authoritarian political system. Maybe the opposite is true.

2a) Many people may have answered that democracy = "very good" simply because that's the idea that's been pushed by media, school, social pressure, etc.

Maybe the same psychological trait that makes people be skeptic of this idea that democracy is basically the perfect system is the one that makes people develop a centrist ideology,

2b)Maybe that same skepticism would make them oppose an authoritarian regime more than people who think democracy is perfect

3. Maybe people who think democracy is "very good" also think that an authoritarian regime is not that bad, but people who think democracy is mediocre think that an authoritarian regime is inacceptable.

4. Maybe the scale centrists use for good-bad is offset in relation to the scale extremists use for good-bad, but the relative distances between a dictatorship and a democracy are the same in both scales.

5. The author says that liberty and democracy are inherently related, which might not be the idea that everyone has. Then he confuses "I think liberty is necessary for democracy" with "I support liberty" which is not always the case.

Example: someone might fully support liberty, but not think that democracy always ends in liberty, maybe people will democratically decide that liberty is undesirable in favor of security, equality, etc.

My point is that you can't conclude the author's thesis from the data presented in the article alone.


1) You assume extremists act as a group rather than individuals in this survey, why don't centrists do the same?

2) In comparison to extremists, centrists we're less likely to say democracy is very good. Authoritarianism isn't the only alternative to democracy.

2a) then yes, centrists are not as supportive of democracy as extremists.

2b) sure

3) same as above. It doesn't matter what the alternative is, they are less supportive of democracy than extremists.

4) Not sure I understand (no need to list this in my reply, but just being consistent)

5) again, those who hold those ideas (that democracy doesn't lead to liberty) are less supportive of democracy.

Are you just trying to rationalize why someone would not be supportive of democracy? That isn't an issue with the article, that is a justification of the centrist position.


It also isn't so well determined that authoritarianism and democracy are so opposite... Part of the idea of two houses was to limit what was seen as the eventual authoritarian endgame of unfettered democracy. Liberal democracy is liberal because it doesn't have as much democracy as democracy, if it did, they would just call it democracy. I mean, they do, but that is only because they don't know what they are talking about.


2 is a really good point. It's the right wing parties here who talk most about direct democracy bla bla (but in reality only for stuff they would like to have). And present themselves as the people for the masses. Not that different to Trump I guess...

I'm more leftish but also feel that democracy isn't perfect. Mostly because of the "majorities voting for issues regarding minorities" thing. But authoritarian is even worse.


Wow. There's so much context from the questionnaires being lost in this exceptionally simplistic analysis that it's a bit embarrassing.

I'd really like to see someone who is... less motivated to get the answer they want... do a proper analysis of the data. There's potentially some very interesting things going on there.


Yeah, that's one of the most shallow pieces of analysis I've seen in NYT. I'm not sure how it got published.


Elections are not synonymous with democracy. In fact, elections were actually seen as oligarchic and undemocratic in ancient Athens. Sortition, or random selection, is how they conducted their democracy. And they were right to do so, it is a much more democratic system.


Reason has always decried impulsiveness!

Democracy seems appealing if you're insecure and/or naive enough to think that the next guy probably knows better and you're willing to rely on that as a rule.

The real world is many orders of magnitude more complex and idiosyncratic than most political thought expresses.

Admittedly, I didn't read TFA, but the headline is a glaringly obvious conclusion that nytimes is undoubtedly parading as some radical, innovative revelation.

In my (very limited) experience, the fewer logical and polariZed jumps a person is willing to make, the more rational that person is, or at least that thought they're pursuing at that time. People jumping down a spectrum of subjectivity are not engaged to a paradigm of any reason or rational or logical thought, it's all emotional and egotistical. One claim never begets another, only evidence.


Great point about the complexity of the real world. I would add that people who favor simple explanations are more likely to be centrist (supports status quo) because they are less likely to question the simple explanations handed to them.

George W Bush in so many words said "We must invade Iraq or they will nuke us." Compared to that, any arguement against the war would have seemed like a lot of logical jumps, but the simple argument was a lie.


Great example, that's along the lines of the kind of weird rhetoric politics is known for. Iraq is an entire country! Thousands of villages, micro and macroeconomic activity, relationships with several dozen other countries! It's got everything every other country has: complexity.

Simple minded "let's get em" shit didn't work then and won't work now.


Democracy doesn't work because a popularity contest is a good way to solve problems.

It works because the central problem of society is how to make people communicate without murdering eachother. That's why we have police, why we have the courts, and ultimately, the vote. All these things are ways of resolving disputes without violence.

Any effective decision-making that comes out of this is purely incidental.


Only that basically every right winger I've left didn't call himself right but center. Might be a European thing because they'll quickly call you Nazi otherwise, but still... "I'm not a racist, but...".

The other point is that they really do love their hierarchies, but probably don't think they do. Just looking at all the Burschenschaften (fraternities) I've seen with their strong sense for hierarchy and leadership. Yet only few of them acknowledge it and feel it's that way. It's only from the outside that you can see it really. Person cult is certainly strongest with the extremer parties. Looking at people in Austria dressing their babies in Strache or Hofer shirts and filling their Facebook profiles with photos together with them etc. You never see that with the traditionally centrist parties. They don't have those strong figures but seem more like a homogenous mass of people where you're hard pressed to name one of them. But I have to admit that it's probably one of the reasons why they're losing so much nowadays where people are seeking for those personalities again and love to hype Jobs, Musk or whoever else comes along..




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