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The Servile Mind and the Spirt of Modern Democracy

September 16, 2010

a new "Choice Architecture" to nudge you to happiness

My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns…

Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves.

This is from The Servile Mind by Kenneth Minogue, excerpted in the June issue of the New Criterion. [HT Arts & Letters Daily] There’s an old-timer’s lament about the new here and there, but the general point is a more specific example of the widening discrepancy between knowledge and decision-making power. Hayek was concerned about the economic consequences of that gap, but there’s a moral one as well.

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2 Comments
  1. February 28, 2012 11:47 am

    We’re usually humbled through our wonderful category of consumers : a community involving intelligent, knowledgeable, creative along with careful men and women. Thus it’s just natural which we’d think to eventually be yours.

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