Democracy as deathtrap

Formalism is necessary final consequence of democracy.

If we take democracy seriously, than each democracy that allows certain social group to have more power than another is not perfect yet. The democracy that takes itself seriously is thus driven to formalize it’s procedures so that all powers are equalized at least in principle. And principle is crucial in this case. Formalization of procedures it the only practical ant theoretical way to ball out possibility of one social group having more power than another.

All democratic regulations are in fact emergent properties of this intrinsic law. We do believe that more detailed than any law is, less there is space for some individual to interpret the reality according to his or her personal interest. Same goes to public procurement rules. How to avoid a group of people that have got a power to decide about a distribution of public goods? The only way is to develop an algorithm, a formal rule, that would make any personal inclination out of play. The ideal of formal democracy is a computer algorithm that would run democracy regardless of any individual or group interest.

The same quest was pursued by mathematician David Hilbert. But even for his quest, that aimed to reduce all mathematics in a finite set of symbols, Kurt Gödel proved that it was unrealizable. Even arithmetic, the most formalized part of our world, is incomplete. There are always true statements of the system that can not be proven on the basis of the rules of that system.

That is why we experience in everyday life that more the system is formalized, more power has the one that does not fit into that system, that saturates the system, that decides in the name of that system. Since a system can not decide in principle, more formalized the system is, more power is in the hands of the one that acts against the system, that takes decisions (each decision is nothing but execution of particular interest based on personal values of decisionmaker). More than we formalize democratic procedures, more space we open for a man with all his vices and virtues, to decide. More than we formalize democratic procedures, fewer are those that take decisions.

And there is yet another peculiarity emerging from formalization. Higher formalization, higher equalization of agents in such system, higher the entropy of such system. So we could say that tendencies towards democratization follow second law of thermodynamics. But as we should know, following the path of higher entropy leads us inevitably to perfect equilibrium, lowest possible temperature – death. This proves that tendencies towards democratizations are part of natural laws we as humans should fight against. Since life is nothing but fight against entropy as Erwin Schrödinger proved ins his famous What is Life (1944), we as humans should use every opportunity to counterbalance formalization, equalization.


Andrej Drapal