Is it best to have a king first then later transition to democracy?
It would seem that kings followed later by parliament has been a very successful model for django.
I don't know how far this generalizes.
Seriously, on the historical timescale of kingdoms, democracy is a very young concept. It's only really after WWII that democracy got promoted to this almost utopian ideal that we know it as today. It's not a all given that it's the "best" way to run a society - as Churchill famously noted, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms".
To dial the abstraction a little back, it's a well known mode for software projects to die, when they cease being a labour of love of a small dedicated team with clear purpose and direction and starts trying to be all things to all people through "democracy"/"design by committee". Of course, plenty of projects have survived and flourished too.
This seems to suggest that monarchies and other forms of government aren't platforms for economic interests. This isn't true. You have the exact same dynamics play out in monarchies of sufficient size, because economic interests depend on manipulating bureaucracies, not governmental leaders. What we have in America is a system where all the governmental leaders besides SCOTUS justices are bureaucratic officials.
So if freedom from slavery. So?
Besides, democracy was formally conceptualized 2.4 millenia ago, in ancient Athens. And it was practiced even before in various forms.
> So if freedom from slavery. So?
It's actually not, whether you're talking about individual freeing of slaves (which has basically been a thing since slavery was instituted at all) or nation-scale emancipations.
E.g. the plebe/end users have some saying but mostly stuff is run by the core devs/patricians.
The more modern strand of democracy, the one I think may prove short lived, is that democracy means that the demos actually rules. With some checks and balances still in place, the prevailing narrative around "democracy" today is that as long as 50% kinda wants something, then there is full moral basis for doing it.
Here I go quoting Robert A. Heinlein for a second time this month on HN. Democracy is to me the ultimate example of why "good enough today" is world better than "perfect tomorrow".
"Good enough today" doesn't mean that you get to go home tomorrow, it is the preference of incrementalism over getting everything perfect in one go. Incrementalism then implies that you continue to look for things that are better, and that your recognise that what you have is only good enough, not perfect.
There are plenty of suggestions out there for improving the political system, such as direct democracy and more proportional representation. My main problem with these are that they are argued in terms for being "more democratic", ie. closer to the ideal that we should realise is deeply flawed, not in terms of actually better for society, except in terms for policies favoured by the proponents being perceived as easier to vote through.
I think the real problem is we think democracy is just a form of government, whereas (and this was known to ancient Athenians) democracy is simultaneously all about active citizen participation.
If people just vote once in 4 years, and at best do a few protesting here and there in insignificant numbers compared to the total number of citizens, then that's not any a democracy in the original sense, though we might call it that.
The way I see it, the basic problem of government is "how do we get honest and competent people into power?" I think if we start with that foundation, we get just laws, civil liberties, etc. as a result. Democracy solves this by saying that the government will be transparent, and the majority will surely spot the problems. However, as we can see this system is easily gamed, and when you have an apathetic majority of voters things get even worse. At some point one might argue that it becomes worth asking if it's better to have a monarch who fears revolution or an elected body that fears not being re-elected.
We have plenty of 'monarchs who fear revolution' today. A monarch is simply a hereditary autocrat, and there are tons of autocrats in the from of dictators today. It's no guarantee of even a mildly reasonable quality of life - indeed, scanning through a list of countries sorted by a quality of life index didn't show any autocratic countries in the top 50: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_Index
Edit: there is one - Qatar in spot #41
The way I see it, the basic problem of government is "how do we get honest and competent people into power?"
Unfortunately, most of the people who desire power aren't the kind of honest people we'd like in power. The ideal system would be less about how to get the honest in power, and more about how to control for corruption.
On the other point, yes, it's an old old idea that you should give power to those that are refusing it the most. Ideally, once again, a transparent government where everyone is held responsible individually, not in their position, will fear its people and will be much less likely to become corrupt.
This is an adage to be said over a few beers, but doesn't really work in real life. Plenty of folks would heartily refuse to govern while also being incapable of governing. Refusal of power doesn't equate to proficiency in governance.
Your first point is the real goal - checks and balances. Just today in the paper here in Aus, there are reports of a freshly retired politician who had his wife on payroll for quite a nice amount, but the staff in the office report never having seen her for three years. All up it'll be a couple of hundred thousand worth in fraud, but will he actually get anything more than a slap on the wrist? How different would be the treatment if it was welfare fraud instead?
a transparent government... will fear its people
The idea of a government being scared of its constituents is a peculiarly American viewpoint; that things should be kept in place by fear of putting a foot wrong. Checks and balances should obviously be there, but the semantics of philosophically starting out from a place of fear is just bizarre.
The US is very much into polarising anything political into two groups (government vs people in this case) - very odd given that it's got one of the greatest varieties of cultures on the planet.
Edit: regarding giving power to the unwilling: my point was that extreme want of power is a negative when it comes to a candidate, but a lack of that specific type of ambition is a necessary but insufficient qualification.
Not to say that politicians should go to work daily with trembling anxiety. But it would really help if they dreaded letting their constituents down (on the negative emotion side) and aspired to serve their constituents honorably (on the positive emotion side).
I entirely disagree.
The basic question of political theory is "How do we create and maintain a just society?" Government, and the kind of government, is a large part of this answer. Just laws are another large part. The distribution of power is another part. But first you have to answer what constitutes a just society at all, and you will already have disagreements. For me, I turn to Martha Nussbaum's Capability Theory, and her Ten Central Capabilities, for guidance on what capabilities every individual in a just society should have. It's not a clear-cut answer, but it's an excellent starting point.
Your mistake, as I see it, is to conflate governmental positions with power. But power isn't that simple; or rather, it's much simpler than that. Getting honest and competent people into power involves more than governmental hiring practices and elections; it involves controls on the private sector and on the wealthy and on the charismatic. That seems a slippery slope to go down.
It seemed like this model was a hypothetical, and not something he thought politically possible. But he is very skeptical of the one-person one-vote model, which to be fair has crashed and burned in many places it has been tried outside of its region of origin. Yew thinks China converting to a Democracy would set back its economic development by a hundred years.
My other concern is your policy on referendum for war. I'm opposed to war and would vote no on pretty much any referendum. However, I also have cerebral palsy and am completely ineligible to serve. Do I not deserve a say in our foreign policy? Also, the US has gone through its past few wars without instituting a draft. My more bellicose relations would be able to vote for this war without any serious fear of being drafted.
Now, as for the referendum thing... It's not my idea, I'm paraphrasing an idea that is twice as old as I am. I think it can be tuned and refined. The idea behind it is that war should be declared only when a majority of the country's draft-age people are willing to lay down their lives for the cause. What we have now is that a few hundred people get to decide to send a small minority that is the military into harm's way based on any reason they want. Making people more directly responsible for declaring war is a good idea.
You are right in that we have not had draft for the past few conflicts. Also remember that the United States has not declared war since WWII . The rest of these conflicts were not wars but "military engagements". And the military probably does not want to get an influx of draftees who have no idea what they are doing either. They are going to be much more likely to die in the conflict due to lack of training, etc.
All that aside, I think the idea here is more valuable than implementation. The idea that if you decide to do something so major as to declare war on a foreign country, you should feel the consequences more immediately. Perhaps if you vote yes, and the majority wins, then your taxes are raised to pay for this war. Or maybe if you vote to raise taxes, then your are raised by double of what you voted for one year (not for/against raising taxes, just using it as an example of a major change).
Granted, that's a nit pick. What's much more serious is widespread (and horrible) practice of disenfranchising adults who have been convicted of a felony. There are some 6 million adult Americans citizens who have no representation in Congress.
And it disproportionally affects blacks. From a couple of years back: "In Virginia, 20 percent of blacks can't vote. In Florida, that number is 23 percent. ... (Kentucky, which is safely in Republican hands, is the only other state where 1 in 5 African Americans can't vote.)"
I see a bunch of difficulties with the proposal (if the parents are felons but the child is not, can the parents vote? if the parents are divorced, who gets to control the voting right? what of children in foster care? if the child is mentally disabled, with the cognitive state of a 1 year old, then can the parents still vote? Why is the scaling factor 1 instead of, say, 0.5?)
These can be worked out, and civil rights shouldn't be ignored just because "it's complicated." But the proposal's doesn't feel right. If a felon can be disenfranchised, then that felon no longer has representation. If representation is that important for a non-voting child, then surely it's that important for a non-voting adult. So shouldn't some other adult be able to vote on behalf of the felon?
BTW, you might be interested in Mark Twain's short story 'The Curious Republic of Gondour."
(Also, your 73 million number is a bit too high. I came up with 70 million, based on the census numbers minus the number of non-citizens living in the country, and adding the number of citizens living outside of the country, then scaling the sum by the percentage of people in the US who are under 18.)
Let's take Spain as a sample. The king abdicated in 1873, with the First Spanish Republic (parliament) until the end of 1874. Then was the Bourbon restoration where the king first had parliament, but later backed a dictator) until 1931. Then the Second Spanish Republic until 1939 and the rise of Franco's dicatorship, until 1976, followed by a transition to parliamentary democracy, with the first elections in 1977.
That's 3 different transitions to a republican form of government. Two were not successful.
Or, how do you count the English Civil War and the brief Commonwealth of England in the 1650s?
What of the short-lived French Republic? The result of the Haitian Revolution? The democracy of Iran overthrown in 1953 by royalist forces supported and funded by CIA and MI6, and then the monarchy overthrown in 1979 by the Iranian Revolution?
Or Weimar Republic Germany, after the imperialism of the First World War. It famously had to deal with hyperinflation from paying war reparations. In 1930, President Hindenburg assumed dictatorial emergency powers, leading towards the end of the constitution and the start of Nazi Germany in 1933. The belief in Germany at the time, I'm told, was that the Weimar era showed that democracy was a failure.
Also, what's your baseline reference? "Is it best to have a king first then later transition to democracy" compared to ... what?
OP could rephrase the point as "strong central leader with absolutist powers vs. democracy." The fact that some of your examples fall on somewhere on a linear scale between the two doesn't really detract from your ability to evaluate the point.
In US history, this is our second organizational system. The Articles of Confederation was too decentralized, so we decided on a stronger federal system.
So if the US system is judged as "the best", then it's an example of where a more decentralized form of government is better than going from a centralized power. The Swiss confederation might be another example.
But change the meaning of "the best" slightly, perhaps so that Iceland tops the list, then there will be totally different answers.
Democracy is good because (if well designed) it protects the rights of the minority as well as the majority. But a dictatorship can use resources much more efficiently to accomplish it's goals.
Since programmers can easily switch frameworks it is better to have each guided by a strong and idealistic central leader.
I'm thinking about PHP vs Python
I have been in contact with both over different parts of my career.
Rasmus is pragmatic. In some sense he would say "sure, go ahead and write that code" without telling you the "One PHP Way of function arguments" (yeah, look at the *sort funcs).
Actually he does worse - he will put up a patch for review that I disagree with so that I will be unable to ignore it & the only way to defend my opinion it is to fix it "properly".
That is the other extreme of being idealistic - it's being extremely pragmatic. Also being influential simply because he doesn't bother arguing on principle.
The benevolent dictator model works in open-source projects because the power of the dictator is still limited by the willingness of the governed to participate in the project. This forces the "benevolent" part. Developers can always stop contributing, fork, or start up a new project.
This isn't the case with governments. Unchecked power ends up corrupting the ones holding the power in the majority of cases even if they start to govern with the aim to be benevolent. And you cannot stop contributing, fork or rewrite a society. Most dictatorships also try very hard to prevent their subjects from leaving their domain, because not participating and contributing is the ultimate act of disobedience.
The Constitutional Convention began on May 25, 1787 and finished in September. It was presented to Congress (organized under the Articles of Confederation), who submitted it to vote by the States. By September 1788, 9 of the states had agreed to it, and Rhode Island was the 13th, in 1790.
The Federalist Papers were written and distributed as part of the public debate, in order to sway those with anti-Federalist leanings.
How is that "secret" and with no "'general public' debate"?
Though it's been a long time since I studied it, my impression was that the actual votes and internal debate of the convention were under wraps until it was complete. This example might not match as well as I thought to OP's king->democracy proposal, though.
I still believe there was a general debate about the final draft. With the proviso of course that the modern meaning of "public" doesn't mean the same in a nation without universal adult suffrage.
BTW, it seems that secrecy was common practice of the time. Quoting from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RS20145.pdf :
> Both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention met in secret. The Senate met in secret until 1794, its first rules reflecting a belief that the body’s various special roles, including providing advice and consent to the executive branch, compelled it to conduct its business behind closed doors. )
I looked through "Journals of the Continental Congress", v32 and v33. Volume 32 proposes a meeting "for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the United States of America and reporting to the United States in Congress assembled and to the States respectively such alterations and amendments of the said Articles of Confederation as the representatives met in such convention shall judge proper and necessary to render them adequate to the preservation and support of the Union."
Volume 33 contains a copy of the proposed constitution on page 488 (dated 20 September 1787), followed by a motion on 27 September that Congress cannot decide on matters which effectively replace the Articles of Confederation, and so this should be forwarded to the states.
In looking through the journal, I see many references to Congress's secret journal, which helps me confirm that secrecy was pretty common back in that era.
It is so easy to get turned away from learning a framework, if the most visible people in the community are assholes.
All in all, a nice reminder that programming and developer communities like Django are about something much bigger than slinging code and reducing performance bottlenecks - nations unto themselves. I think that'll be the biggest legacy and impact people like Jacob in particular will leave us.
Jacobs post: http://jacobian.org/writing/retiring-as-bdfls/
> (But please, no more Django Pony. It's stupid.)
For mainstream fans it's really quite simple. Some extremely talented adults made a children's show. People of all ages enjoy and appreciate their work.
Besides rule 34 ponies isn't what is leveled against the fandom. It's the 'fact' that they're all pedophiles. Pedophiles that apparently want to broadcast this fact.
Similarly, ponies might be time to go.
"I want easy HTTP handling. "I want a good web framework." "I want a pony."
You want Django.
Same reaction as to the pope stepping down - it's much better for the community if you don't keep a position where you can't do much work.
On the other hand, if at some point the original vision is accepted by the mainstream, the project will be successful and popular for a while, the more so if it ceases to move on and develop its vision. Then at some point the project will fade away as the Next Big Thing arrives.
It's not always possible for a project born of one vision to adapt to a new reality - even if the leaders can foresee it perfectly - without starting afresh.
Given that, and that the skills and personality needed to "maintain" a mainstream project are different to those needed to develop and make concrete a vision, it's good that creators move on.
To me, Adrian and Jacob moving on is a sign of Django's settling into the mainstream. It'll stick around for a while, and then it will fade away. The Next Big Thing is on its way.
To Adrian and Jacob - I hope you enjoy your new ventures; and thanks.
Or rather - no I don't - what are you talking about?
You gotta let these things go, sometimes.