democracy FAIL

Since ancient times, philosophers have tried to devise systems to try to balance the strengths of majority rule against the need to ensure that informed parties get a larger say in critical decisions, not to mention that minority voices are heard. In the Spartan assemblies of ancient Greece, votes were cast by acclamation. People could modulate their voice to reflect the intensity of their preferences, with a presiding officer carefully listening and then declaring the outcome. It was imperfect, but maybe better than what just happened in the UK.

By some accounts, Sparta’s sister state, Athens, had implemented the purest historical example of democracy. All classes were given equal votes (albeit only males). Ultimately, though, after some catastrophic war decisions, Athenians saw a need to give more power to independent bodies.

Kenneth Rogoff. The entire ethos of late-modern procedural bureaucracy is summed up in those last two words: “independent bodies.”