Karl Popper

It is well known that there are a lot of things people are always interested in, for instance biographies, but we have no intention to provide this kind of information, first because we consider this kind of data completely irrelevant and second because we can find biographical data about Karl Popper more or less on one million website on the internet.

The basic idea of "The open Society and its Enemies" is relatively simple. Authoritarian or totalitarian regimes have a clear idea concerning the ideal state. This idea of the ideal state is either a society that already existed, Platon, or is supposed to be the logic result of certain universally valid economic laws, marxism. It is equally possible, for Popper the worst version, that any kind of government is considered ideal and this philosophy, Hegel, can be used to justify any regime. For Hegel any regime is the objective expresion of the 'spirit of the world' that unfolds itself in the course of history. The difference between false and wrong has vanished in the logic of Hegel, because something can be as true as the opposite of this something. In other words, the thesis is not formulated in a falsifiable way. Any reality fits with the thesis.

These lines of thinking have one thing in common. They suppose an ideal state, either as imagined ideal or as the result of a historical process. In both cases they feel no need to subject themself to the vote of the voters. If someone is convinced to possess the truth or if the course of history is independent from human decisions, he feels no need for a democratic decision making process.

Democracy doesn't aspire a determined state this is obvious. A system were the change is institutionalised can't aspire a determined state. Democracy is a procedure that allows to approach, step by step, to an every time better state. For Popper democracy is something like an experiment in science. Someone had a theory about a causal relationship and he thinks out an experiment that allows him to test his theory against reality. If the result is what he expected it to be, the theory is at least not falsified. Not falsified doesn't mean that the theory is true, it can never be proved that a theory is true, because we can't deduce from a limited number of incidents, and we always know only a limited number of incidents, to an unlimited number of incidents. The most famous example that serve to illustrate this are the swans. Most people have only see white ones and they would therefore deduce that all swans are white. However there are some black ones as well.

Popper applies this logic to democratic decision making. Someone has a theory how a certain problem can be resolved. He can put his solution on the political agenda and if he succeds the majority that his concept will resolve the problem, he can try it out. If it works, he has a good chance to get reelected.

Some basic assumptions, for instance the ceteris paribus clause, are not compatible with that criterion, the criterion that a theory must be formulated in a way that a test against reality is possible. If a theory is only true under the assumption that nothing changes, in case that the results doesn't fit with the theory it can always be said that there was a change in the conditions.

[Beside the other, more fundamental problem. Microeconomics studies the stability of equilibriums in the short run and in the short run, actually nothing changes. The ceteris paribus clause is not even needed, see equilibrium in the short run and equilibrium in the long run.]

Popper is not an economist. Depending on the perspective he can be considered as a philosopher, a sociologist or a political scientist. However it would be useful to include his theory in the academic curriculum. It doesn't make any sense to discuss the economy as something completely independent from the political sphere, if it is crystal clear that the political sphere can change at any moment the circumstances of the economy.

It is actually true that in the course of history extreme points of views and extreme ideologies has disappeared, although with a certain delay depending on the country and the continent. What happened for instance in South America in the 70th / 80th of the last century, authoritarian regimes like the one of Pinochet in Chile, Videla in Argentina, Fujimoro in Peru had happened in Europe 50 years earlier in Spain, Portugal, Greece etc.. Extrem theories like socialism or Manchester Liberalism nowadays have disappeared.

What we see nowadays however are totalitarian regimes, in other words criminal regimes, of a new type. Islamic fundamentalism is similar to christian fundamentalism in the Middle Ages. The arabic countries link 600 year behind, although they will close the gap more quickly.

It is often complained that the differences between the different political parties in old democracies vanish more and more. Something that is obviously true. There are few political parties on the extrem 'right' or 'left' nowadays. (Although they exist, the french Front National is an example of this kind.) What is complained by many people can be considered as well as a normal process. If democracies succed in eliminating errors, the political parties will become more and more similar.

However it would be a monocausal explanation if one said that this is due to a democratic learning process. A better schooling system, economic growth, techonological progress, internationalization of trade etc.. played obviously a big role.

Furthermore political parties depend on majorities and majorities are always heterogeneous constructions what makes compromises necessary. This it the big error of Hayek. Hayek assumes that majorities are homogeneous groups with the same interests, see a variation of a totalitarian theory. However this is not true. Majorities are very fragil constructions and it is not very likely that all the members of the majority agree on every social or political isssue. It is therefore, in normal situations, not very likely that the majority oppresses the minority, because at least on some topics a part of the majority shares the opinion of the minority.

In democracies the minorities are interesting, because the opposition will always try to convert the minority into votes and to become the majority. That explains for instance why the two leading parties in Germany become more and more 'green'.

For Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek democracies are characterized by the rule of the majority, see Milton Friedman on Democracy. This aspect is less relevant for Popper. The relevant aspect for Popper is the fact that democracy is the institutionalized peaceful change. Hayek argues, that democracies can eliminate minorities, something that actually happened several times in the course of history, but this is not a convincing argument against democracy, because it breaks the rules. Democracy is about competing ideas and concepts and not about eliminating the competitors. In these sense democracy is similar to a market economy. Only if the level of competition is high enough, in other words if there are several or at least two political parties or companies, democracy and a market economy can work.

However the concept of Popper is somehow abstract and of little relevance in practice. The question is whether at an abstract level there are several competing options for resolving problems, the question is, whether a rational choice between these options is possible. If this is not possible, we have a competition between the best marketing strategies, but not between the best ideas, see preliminaries.

The approach of Popper is as wrong as the approach of the academic economists. He wants to advice the academic world and through the academic world the politicians. Concerning the academic world they wrote and will write a lot of never discussed discussion papers about critical rationalism. They need to do this kind of exercises for their academic career. Politicians will perhaps quote them in a talk show on TV, but when it comes to resolve real world problems it is completely irrelevant.

Beside that there is no need to advice politicians, although this is more interesting from an economic point of view. Students of economics see themselves working in national or international 'research' centers and institutions or in think tanks, getting good money at the end of the month and doing very 'serious' things that will help to rescue the whole planet. Advising the public is a much more complicated business and requires professional skills, because salary is not paid by the tax payer at the end of the month independently from any relevance of the discussion paper, but by the public.

However it is the public that has to be provided with the information and the theories that allow to interprete the data, because in a democracy it is the public that will decide at the end on the politics.

As in ordinary live a democratic learning process can only happen if the decisions are taken consciously based on facts and on an idea about the causal relationships. Only in this case it is guaranteed that the same error will not be committed again and again. If the decision is based on marketing and propaganda, we will get something more like a pendulum swing in one direction or the other. See preliminaries.

The statement of Miltion Friedman that 'capitalism', a term he never defines really, but we assume that he means a free market economy, is the winner of history. The truth is, that in no developed country we have a pure free market economy. This kind of model has been modified in the course of history, because it was not very succesful. For Milton Friedman exist only the pure free market economy at one hand and socialism at the other hand. Actually there are thousands of things in between, which are the result of a democratic decision making process.

A book with the title "Capitalism and Freedom" or "Road to Serfdom" sells obviously very well, because it appeals to emotions, but is actually outdated, because modern democracies has left the stage of these simple extreme positions. It is actually a problem that only by emotionalisation it is possible to promote a public debate. Their critique of socialism is some kind of preaching to the converted. Nobody has any interest in establishing a socialist regime of the Soviet Union type. The real questions are more complicated. Is it really a good idea to provide social support through different systems with different expensive administrations or wouldn't it be better to guarantee some kind of unreserved basic income without high administrative costs and expensive control. Perhaps the second question is a little bit boring, but would be the targeted question.

Trying to convince people that democracy is the best political order, that is what Karl Popper does, is somehow like preaching the evangelium to the Pope. There are a lot of issues that can be discussed, Dambisa Moyo mentiones some of them, see The Debt Crisis: Is Democracy The Problem?, but beside Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek nobody questions that. Even authoritarian regimes held elections, although the result is predictable. Even authoritarian regimes need at least a pseudo democratic legitimisation.

The desinterest for elections, something typical for all 'old' democracies, is not due to the fact that people question democracy. They simply doubt that their vote has any impact and furthermore that politics is done behind closed doors and in most cases the elections doesn't depend on the politicians themselves, but on circunstances they have no real influence, but which they can, in case they are positive, present as an effect of their politics or, in the case they are negative, the opposition can attribute to them.

The texts of Popper are very 'philosophical' and tend to abstract from the concrete actors. Something perhaps useful if one wants to become famous. After world war II Popper was in a confortable position. He was against socialism and he abstracted from the trivial fact that political parties are political entrepreneurs and behave like entrepreneurs. This is the main message of Anthony Downs presented in the book An Economic Theory of Democracy.

Politicians strive for jobs, income and power as the rest of human beings and we don't should expect them therefore that they provide by themselves the information needed to evaluate a situation. At the other side we have the problem that people don't ask for information, because the benefit they get from it is very low, if they are not directly concerned by this issue or better say, if they are not directly concerned at the moment of voting. We have therefore two problems: a lack of supply and a lack of demand.

This problem can only be resolved if it is possible to make a living from gathering relevant information even for small groups or groups dispersed in a wide area, in other words only based on new communication technologies like the internet. Fortunately we see appear this kind of services. Some people have insider knowledge without making a big effort and they have the possibility to publish them. For some professions, for instance lawyers, providing relevant information can be a marketing tool, most of all in countries like Germany, where the supply of lawyers is (very) abundant.

The expenditures for the production of content is only a minimal percentage in the case of normal newspapers, on paper. Most of the costs are generated by the production and the distribution of newspaper. (In Germany they were delivered every morning to the single households and this is a logistic challenge.) In the long run newspapers can therefore change their business model. Instead of producing trivial content that interests a lot of people a little bit, they can produce well researched in depth articles for small groups. See as well preliminaries.

Popper has a tendency to reduce democracies to the act of voting. The pure act of voting means nothing. The question is whether it is possible to take a conscious decision in the election and more and more people have the impression that this is not possible and therefore the don't vote at all.

Elections become more and more personalized. In other words people don't vote for a programm and a concrete agenda, but for persons. Personalisation illustrates that people are overstrained by the complexity. Actually persons are irrelevant, provided that they do the right thing. However people see it the other way round. The elect persons in the hope that they do the right thing, whatever it is.

There is everywhere an intense debate about referendums as a means to introduce more elements of direct democracy. It is assumed that there are issues that are so important, that a separate decision is useful instead of voting for a complete package where this specific issue is included. Furthermore it is possible that an issue was not on the agenda at the moment of voting, but so important, that people should asked for their opinion. Furthermore it is assumed, that the issue has such an impact on the live of people, that they were willing to inform themselves and to get to a rational opinion. However the participation in referendums is even lower than in normal referendums, more or less fifty percent. We see therefore that a democracy can fail due to the lack of supply and demand for information and this problem has a greater impact than the philosophy of Platon, Hegel, Marx and the all the philosophers of the world together.

The pure fact that people can vote, is not enough for a real democracy. A real democracy through its education system and its information policy has to actively promote democracy in other words to provide the information and the theory that allows the evaluation of a situation.

It is a strange kind of phenomenon that the whole debate about improvements in the democratic decision making is about referendums and more "plebiscitary elements". This author would say, that the real problem is about transparency. If one can vote every 4,5 or 6 years is not the relevant question. The relevant question is, whether it is possible to make a relevant choice. Whether that rational choice can be taken every 4,5 or 6 years is secondary, see preliminaries.

Popper preaches to the converted. The problem is not Platon, Hegel and Karl Marx or historicism. The problem is that in democracies as well it is possible that decisions are taken behind "closed doors" and it doesn't make a big difference if people know what is going on, but can't do anything against it or if people simply don't know what is going on and therefore don't do anything against it. In both cases the government can do what it wants, although the second version is more elegant.

People like 'fundamental discussions', they are less boring and everybody has something to say about it. Books with titles like 'Captialism and Freedom', 'Roads to Serfdom', 'The Danger of Collectivism', 'Free market or Socialism' etc.. fire the public discussion much more, and are much more profitable from an economic point of view, than a debate about the question whether an increase in the prices of shares is sign of a growing economy or sign of a lack of innovation. However this question is much more relevant, see Keynes, although a little bit 'boring'.

The success of this kind of books shows that the age of fundamentalism is not still overcome. It can reappear at any moment. In the case of crisis as the ones we have right now, we are still in 2015, in Spain or Greece the old ghosts reappear once again. In case of crisis people don't look for new solutions, but they stick to old answers that have already failed.

Political parties in old democracies have the same problem as the producers of detergents. If there is a learning process the differences are going to be minimal at the end and the existing differences are hard to explain and it is still more difficult to predict in a convincing way the result of the different alternatives. That explains the shift of electoral campaign away from a discussion about concept to a discussion about people and the emotionalisation. The haircut of a politician and his tie can attract more attention in the mass media than concrete statements about economic issues.

Emotionalisation means as well that election campaigns are dominated by the discussion about "values", patriotism and things like that. Nationalism is something that always reappears in time of crisis, today for instance in France in the form of the Front National. They propose higher taxes for foreign products, return to the Franc and abolishing the Euro, reduce immigration and more protection for the french language. All of that doesn't make any sense. To higher customer duties on foreign products the foreign countries will react by imposing higher customer duties for french products, as the US did already very often. The Euro is actually not the problem, the problem is the exceed of Germany in the balance of trade. To protect the french language doesn't make any sense. The solution is to learn more foreign languages. If the french speach spanish, italian, german etc.. they can enter these markets more easily and the others, who don't speak French, have a problem. It is often supposed that immigration leads to higher unemployment. However it is hard to see what is the difference between importing foreign goods and importing foreign workforce. Foreign goods, taken in isolation, compete with the national production as well. This is actually a question of wages. From a purely logical point of view people in industrialised countries who are against immigration by arguing that immigration increases unemployment should be willing to pay three times more for clothes for instance.

[As already discussed in the chapter about Keynes the situation is different in the case that the government follows an expansive fiscal policy. In this case the efficiency depends on whether or not the benefits of the secundary effects remain in the country.]

From a western point of view democracy was with out any doubt a success model, although we don't know whether democracy led to economic growth or economic growth to democracy. It can be questioned as well whether democracy would surive deep crisis with high unemployment rates and a state that is not longer able to help the poor through social transfers. For western countries the question is very theoretical because modern states will always be able to avoid extreme impoverisment of the masses. (Something that was not the case before world war II.)

However for the rest of the world the situation is different. Dambisa Moy argues that someone who lives on one dollar a day doesn't care really about democracy, see Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?. China is perhaps not what we would consider in western countries a democracy, but nevertheless very successful economicaly. However this opinion is refuted by Mario Vargas Llosa, who as well comes from a continent with extreme economic problems.

The position of Dambisa Moyo is a little bit hard to understand. It is obviously true that people don't care about democracy and freedom if they starve to death. It is as well true that a government who does not depend on the voters can take unpopular measures that are at the end (or only in the short run if environment problems are disregarded) beneficial. The whole question raised by Dambisa Moyo can therefore be reduced to a very simple one: In which conditions a smale elite gets to better decisions as a majority?

A constellation of this kind we can have in underdeveloped countries with a smale, well trained, active and well intentioned elite and a vaste majority of illiterate and passiv illiterates. It is possible that in this case the small elite takes better decisions than the majority. Than can even impose that girls go to school even if their parents believe that this is not useful.

This can as well be the case in more complex infrastructure projects like the construction of railroads, roads, bridges, channels etc.. Ordinary people are not able to plan a road of for instance 1000 miles. There are several problems. The land can belong to the government. In this case it would be difficult for purely private companies to use it for the roads. Roads, railways, bridges, chanels affect the interest of a lot of people, especially of the people living there. In democracies a consens must be found and this consense can only be found by the democratically elected government. Beside that this kind of infrastructure has positive external effects and is therefore a task of the government. Perhaps roads can be constructed by the private sector alone, but that actually never happens. For an authoritarian regime it is easier to realize this kind of things.

Dambisa Moyo assumes that the economic achievements of China wouldn't have been possible in a democracy. However the business model of China is quite simple. Conquering foreign markets based on low wages and exploiting their workers. There is no doubt that this business model wouldn't work in a democracy. Dambisa Moyo argues with the Gini coefficient, which is an indicator for the distribution of income. She states that there is not a big difference between the United States and China. We don't know where she gets the data from to calculate it, but we are absolutely convinced that not even one american worker would work for the salary of a chinese migrant worker. They would immediately send their government to hell.

The point is not really the distribution of income, the question is the living standard of the poorest. Discussion about distribution assumes implicitely that something is taken away from one group and given to another group. That's not true. The fact that Bill Gates earn tons of money doesn't mean that the baker is therefore worse off. It is well possible that the Gini coefficient is the same in China and in, for instance, the US, although this author doubt that, but normal people can be anyway 100 times more wealthy than normal people in China. For more details about chinese migrant workers see The Economic Situation of Rural Migrant Workers in China.

The general statement of Dambisa Moyo that western world should take a more cooperative attitude towards China is a little bit strange. Some people would say that the western world is already too cooperative. The question is, what helps best the political prisioners in China, cooperation or confrontation.

The advantages of an authoritarian regime in comparison to a democracy are hard to see and are only imaginable in the situations mentioned before and the example of China, if we don't consider only the last 20 years but the last 50 years, shows that authoritarian regimes can take as well fatal decisions. Authoritarian regimes can learn as well, but the costs of errors can be enormous, see for instance The Great Leap Forward.

The argument put forward by Dambisa Moyo that people are not interested in democracy as long as the basic needs are not satisfied is completely irrelevant. The question is whether a authoritarian system is better and in which conditions it is better. What concretly an authoritarian regime can achieve and a democracy not?

[We don't deny that in some situations a well intended authoritarian regimes can be better, this is for instance the case of Kemal Atatürk in Turkey. A lot of persians who fought against the Resa Pahlavi in Persia see things in a different way today. However the normal case, including China, is different. Authorian regimes which are not controlled by elections become more and more corrupt.]

Furthermore it is to assume that in the long run, when the people are better trained, it is to assume that millions of people know more than a small elite, see homo oeconomicus.

The question whether people are interested in democracy or not is by the way irrelevant. Germans after world war II were no democrats. Democracy was imposed. Democracy defines most of all the rules of the games and these rules can be imposed. There is actually no need that people find that very relevant or not or if they have other priorities. Dambisa Moyo raises the wrong question. The really interesting question is that: In which situation an authoritarian regime can resolve a problem that a democracy can't resolve and the higher the education level of the people the less probable it is that a small group knows more and takes better decision than the society as a whole.

China has a lot of problems, for instance the external costs generated by pollution, and their economy depends, as the german one, on exports. That makes it extremely vulnerable. It is more than unclear whether China is really a success model and whether something like a 'chinese model' really exists. The chinese model is based on low wages that allow being competitive on the world markets. The average wage was 1600 dollars a year in 2000 and 8000 in 2013. That allowed China to accumulate 2 trillions of foreign exchange reserves. It is questionable whether this business modell will work in the future.

In market economies as well it is the government, or better said the tax payer, who finances the basic infrastructure and controlls in a large part the investments in research and development, see research and development, but private companies convert the results in marketable products. The question is whether an authoritarian regime will be able to promote innovation. It is to assume that economic growth will decrease dramatically in the next ten year in China, if it depends on national consumption.

The thesis of Dambisa Moyo that the Chinese are more successful in promoting growth in Africa than western countries may be true, but the explanation is much more simple. Western countries gives money, but money is of no help, if these countries are not willing or able to invest in real projects and to detect profitable real projects. In this case a direct investment in a concrete projects is much better, obviously. Another possibility would be to train peoble from this country and give them the equipment, not the money to buy it, but the equipment, to start a company. The problem is not really very new. We have the same problem in Europe. Whenever the European Union subsidizes something, the result is a desaster.

Dambisa Moyo and a lot of other people, for instance Hayek and Friedman, put the question in a wrong way. The question is not whether democracy is a perfect system, the question is, whether a better one exists. Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek argues that in democracies the majority will oppress minorities. This is a theoretical possibility, but it is unclear why that shoud not happen in an authoritarian or totalitarian regime. The most brutal form of oppression of minorities were commited by authoritarian or totalitarian states.

It is as well true, that in democracies the political parties try to serve special interests: to stay in power or to win elections, to get interesting jobs in the government / bureaucracy or the economy. There is no doubt that this happens, see preliminaries. However it is completely unclear why that should not happen in an authoritarian regime, but there is a strong probability that this happens less in democracies. In a democracy there are always a lot of groups who benefits from the publication of this kind of phenomenon, the opposition parties, the newspapers, NGO etc.. There is therefore the money needed for an in dept research, although that doesn't work right now how it should work, see preliminaries.

The problem with the discussion about the best political system is the mixing of different phenomenon. Milton Friedman for instance critisices the rule of the majority, see (Something irrelevant by the way for Popper. The question is not whether the majority rules or not, the question is how to get rid of an incompetent government.)

Milton Friedman, to name one famous critics of democracy, is contradictory. At one hand he critisices democracy as the rule of the majority, see Milton Friedman on Democracy. In this case his problem is that minorities can be surpressed by the majority. At the other hand he critisices the fact that minorities and special interest groups has to much power, see Power of the Market - Big Government. In this case the influence of minorities is the problem.

[The later problem is by the way the more relevant one. This problem is addressed by Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy.The idea is, that small pressure groups have a lot of benefits if their interests are taken into account and will therefore strive to be heard. The costs to be beared by a single member of the majority is small and therefore the majority won't protest. The first metionned problem is a theoretical possibility with no relevance in practice.]

The solution for both problems, following Milton Friedman, is a minimal government. A minimal government can't oppress a minority and can't interfere in the economy in favour of a certain interest group. The idea of Milton Friedman is that the civil society through free cooperation resolves all problems alone. This is a very romantic view that has nothing to do with reality. We will discuss this issue in the chapter about Milton Friedman.

All the discussions about democracy, included the one of Anthony Dowsn, are very abstract, speculative and philosophical. The concrete and relevant question is simply this one: How to make transparent and traceable governmental activities. This is not an abstract, speculative and philosophical debate without any relevance in practice, but something that can be realised step by step, see preliminaries.

Democracy is not the superior system because the majority rules or because decisions are taken on a more rational basis. Democracy works better than any other system because it is an interesting business for the opposition to reveal all kind of scandals, failures, corruption and missmanagement. That's the way they get voters and with the voters incomes, jobs to offer to their party members and power.

Many people find that disappointing and are therefore unsatisfied with the democracy in their respective countries or with the democratic model in general, no real need to prove that, there are thousands of articles about the topin on the internet from any corner of the world, for instance this one Half Of Americans Think Our Democracy Needs 'A Lot Of Changes' Or A Complete Overhaul.

However this is completely normal. Just as any company political parties and it members try to maximise their profit, but in a democracy they compete with other parties and at least if the desinformation and manipulation through the mass media is not perfect, the less corrupt will win the elections.

Especially in times of crisis people lose their confidence in the democratic model. For an unknown reason they expect the democratic elected government to resolve the problems they can't resolve themselves. This is due to the fact that in election campaigns political parties obviously promise to resolve the problems, otherwise they wouldn't be elected.

Furthermore there is a dynamic interaction between the political sphere and the mass media. Both of them have an interest to put certain issues on the agenda, no matter whether these issues are relevant or completely irrelevant. At the time of writing these lines, we are still in 2015, Germany has to deal with the problem of a huge number of refugees from Siria, Irak, Afghanistan etc.. There are thousand of private initiatives trying to resolve the problems connected to this phenomenon from supplying food, clothes, shelter to medical care and german lessons. The mass media could theoretically contribute something to the resolution of these problems by providing precise information, but they are more interested in discussing a completely irrelevant speech of the president of the republic. That strengthen the impression that the political sphere is very relevant, although the real problems are resolved by private initiatives.

That is a strange kind of phenomenon. If people by a car they gather as much information as they can and they take their decision based on objective data and care very little about the outfit of the seller or things like that. The reason for that is simple. There is a lot of money at stake. However if the buy the product of political partiy, in other words if they have to decide for one party or another, they do exactly the opposite. They care very little about facts and focus most of all on persons. From that we can deduce that most people have the impression that politics has very little impact on their personal live, what is actually even true in most cases.

Therefore the articles we can read every day about the generalised discontent about democracy may be true, but people are dicontent with an issue they actually think to be irrelevant. If they thought that it is relevant, they would try to gather more and most of all more relevant information.

The choice on who to vote for in election is a complex process, because the decision to be taken is not about an isolated isssue, but a whole package: should the add value tax be increased or not, should we intervene in Afghanistan and how, should we focus more on renewable energies and which legislative measures should be taken, should governmental debt should increase or not, how the education system should be organised, is a reform of the pensions system necessary, how the health care system is to be financed etc. etc. etc.. (To name some issues that are on the political agenda all over the world in 2015.)

The single individuum has no change to make a rational choice on these topics. The question wheter an intervention in Afghanistan is useful or not for instance can only be answered if the individuum has detailed information about the situation. The taliban can only be defeated if it is possible to isolate them from the rest of the society and that depends on the possibility to promote economic growth and by offering clear alternative to the afghan society.

Beside that a lot of decisions taken during the period in office of the government and where not on the agenda at the time of the elections.

It can therefore be questioned whether the pure act of voting is the decisive element of a democracy. Due to the complexity of the bundle on the political agenda, which is arbitrarily chosen, people have decide on, their decisions depend on their belief whether politicians sticks to their 'moral values'. This is an irrational debate, because the question is less whether this 'moral values' are wrong or right, the question is, whether the means proposed will lead to the expected results.

In the case of a pension system based on individual capital stocks the question is not whether this is compatible with certain values. The question is, whether it is possible to transfer consumption to the future by saving, see Keynes. In other words, all the people who saved money in order to maintain their consumption level in the future will be disappointed.

Much more important is the permanent control of the government in other words more transparency, see preliminaries. That means for instance that all the information about the intervention in Afghanistan and the strategy followed, especially the strategy aiming to establish the basic infrastructure, has to be available. On most topics there are experts on the respective issue inside the civil society and the internet allows them to publish their point of view. That would lead to a more precise discussion allowing to measure the efficiency of the government.

There is a similitary between political parties and the mass media. Programms of political parties have to be very general, otherwise nobody would read them and even in this case, very few people read them. In general they focus more on values, family, nation, freedom, commitment, religion, education etc. than on a concrete politics. These abstract values are easier to transmit through a person, than through concrete propositions, with concrete milestones and concrete results. Patriotism for instance is something we find in a lot of programms of many political parties round the world, although it means precisely nothing when it comes to talk about a real world problem. It seems that it is easier to gather people around 'feelings' than around rational concepts.

The question whether deficit spending and an expansive fiscal policy works or not and under which condition it works or not, see Keynes, is much more relevant than religion. However a lot of people find the last issue much more interesting.

Mass media at the other side are interested in spreading information that can be obtained at low costs and interests a lot of people a little bit. Highly specifique information are more difficult to obtain and interest only a small group. It is therefore a bad business.

Politics and mass media have therefore the same problem, they have to find the lowest common denominator. The model personalisation with very little information is therefore a model that fits for both of them and that's what they do.

The question discussed in public debates are not the relevant questions, but the questions raised by the mass media and for a journalist it is easier to know the question discussed in public than the relevant questions. Journalists for instance will always question why the prices for stocks goes up and down and they will always find an answer to this question: the consumer index is bad / good, the new predictions about the labour market next year are good / bad, the chinese economy goes well or bad, the climate changes, the oil price raises or falls, people are afraid of the next government etc. etc.. The basic assumption is always that rising prices for stocks has to do with a growing economy and falling prices signals that the economy is slopping down. Keynesian theory would suggest something different. High prices of stocks are a signal that the economy is in recession, because there is no reason to invest in shares, apart from the ipo, if there are profitable real investments. This would actually be the interesting question.

More transparency is never put on the political agenda, although this is the fundamental problem. Before the internet there was no strong mouvement in society for more transparency, because even if some one had made an effort to get the relevant information, he woudn't have had any possibility to publish them. Nowadays in most countries, in Germany since 2008, have something similiar to the freedom information act. However in most countries there is problem in practice. Bureaucracies will find any kind of excuse aiming to not deliver the data and information and the more interesting the information, the lower the interest to deliver them, because the really interesting information are those that someone has an interest not to deliver.

The problem is, that people are so wraped in the mass media, that raises all the same questions, that they feel perfectly informed. Everybody has for instance the impression that he understands perfectly the crisis of the Euro. However in order to understand it, it should be necessary to understand which bank has lent how much to Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, where the money the lent came from, the role playes by the central banks and why they didn't foresee the problems before 2008, what induced banks to lent money to the government in Greece instead of lending it to private companies etc. etc.. Before people try to give an answer, they first need a theory allowing them to raise the correct questions.

It can be argued that the problem remains the same. Nobody but a small group is interested in getting more information about a somehow marginal issue. This is not true. If the attack is direct and concerns a certain misbehaviour of a concrete person and if he sees his name appearing on the internet he will change his behaviour. The internet is a very strong weapon, especially because it never forgets.

All these questions are much more relevant than philosophical debates about Platon, Hegel and Karl Marx, collectivism, freedom and all the other terms of the academic circus.

Easy access to information can be organized only through the internet. An infrastructure able to reflect the complexity of society has to meet some criteria. First of all it has to be able to store any amount of information, something that all the mass media, radio, television, newspaper can't do. For a full understanding of a problem a lot of background data are needed and furthermore not everybody needs the same information.

It must be possible to retrieve these information in an easy and straightforward way and the access to these information has to be free. Last not least the system has to adapt itself to new needs. The internet meets all these conditions.

We have seen in the last 25 years dramatic changes in the news industry. The relevance of television, radio and newspapers is more and more questioned and there economic basis is eroding.

The traditional mass media don't meet any of these requirements and based on the traditional mass media a further step in democratisation is not possible.

The crucial issue of any government is the budget. The budget disposable assigns the power to the government. Control of the use of this budget is therefore crucial and a detailed presentation of the budget, not only the amount of resources dedicated at the beginning to a certain goal, but how they are actually used, is only possible through the internet. If it is possible to retrieve in an easy way the data needed depends on the structure they are stored. In some cases it is useful to get the data generated by a certain administrative entity, for instance if we want to compare one administrative entity with another one. Sometimes we are interested to know the amount of certain type of expenditures, for instance the money paid for external advice. Sometimes we want to know the expenditure for a certain project, for instance right now, we are still in 2015, it would be very interesting to know how much money the german government pays for the shelter of the refugees. It can be assumed that for the money paid to private companies it is possible to simple built new houses.

At the end of the day everything is about money. If we don't know how much money is spent for schooling in a specific school or in a nursery, in a hospital, in a public library or how much the production of a passport, registering of a car, garbage collection etc. etc. actually costs, we can't discuss about these issues and we can't compare the efficiency of an administration entity with a similar entity. In Berlin culture, opera, theater, concerts are subsidized with half a million euros EACH DAY. The question is what they really do with that money. Only if we know that, we can discuss about an alternative use of this money. To give an example.

Experience of this author and in general shows that although the public administration is obliged to deliver the data required, see freedom information act or similar laws, they are not very willing to comply the law and the more the required data are critical, the less they are willing to deliver them. They know that engaging in legal procedures is a time consuming activity and hope, what is very often true, that the questioner will give up.

It can be argued that nobody would care about these data, because nobody is personally concerned and the effort necessary to analyse these data is too high. However this is not true. For any kind of issues there are always people who knows enough to evaluate the data without big effort. If the government for instance instruct a private company to construct a building competitive companies know how much its costs.

The government budget nowadays is spent with almost no control at all. It is to assume for instance that very few Germans know how much money is spent in defense, 33 000 millions of Euros, and in research and development, 13 000 millions of Euros, and in development assistence, 6 000 millions of Euros and still less how this money is actually used. The expenditure for defense are kind of occupational therapy and is to assume that most problems that leads to military conflicts can be resolved if more money is spent in the solution of these problems.

It can be argued as well that a control by the civil society is not necessary, because the oposition is interested in publishing misbehaviour and will therefore control it. That sounds logic at first glance, but experience shows the opposite and if we put 'waste', 'tax payers', 'money' on youtube we get 61000 results with a lot of funny examples how money is wasted and it is not very difficult to find examples for corruption, patronage and nepotism in any country.

The opposition is always in a quandary. At one hand they have the same interests as the government. They want more institutions run by the government because that means an increase of power, jobs and resources. At the other hand they can profit from criticising the waste of resources. However it seems that the first motive is stronger than the second, because in almost all countries private institutions at a national or international level, for instance transparency international, exerce a stronger control the opposition. This kind of institutions wouldn't be needed, it the control through the opposition would be effective.

The fact that the control by the opposition doesn't work can be explained by several reasons. Government budget, at least at the level of a nation or a federal state, are very huge with hundreds or even thousands of balance sheets items. Parlamentarians are not qualified enough to exert an effective control and most of all they don't benefit from analysing in detail the budget. Only if a topic is 'pushed' by the mass media it can become interesting to worry about the details.

Public debate is never about details, but about 'big' issues, immigration, fundamental discussions about collectivism, socialism, capitalism etc. in general, schooling system, health care, pension system, etc.. It is very difficult for organisations like transparency international to attract attention. Political parties have to focus on the issues put on the agenda by the mass media, even if these topics are not the really interesting ones.

We have for instance everywhere a big debate about student fees and that debate is led in fundamental terms. It is discussed in terms of free market economy or socialism, see for instance Milton Friedman - Should Higher Education Be Subsidized?. The basic question is much more simple. How much does a university place actually costs? If organised in an efficient way and with mor e-learning, the costs of university place for economics for instance would be near to zero. What actually costs money is the correction of the exams, but even that can be done more efficiently by conceiving the exams in a way that can be corrected by computers (more multiple choice elements). It is crystal clear that all that discussion about student fees is irrelevant, if the costs of a university place can be reduced to a ridiculous sum.

However it is doubtful that any one can profit from a discussion that goes more into details. Lawyers in the United States has no interest on a discussion about the costs of a study of law that shows that these costs could be near to zero. That would bring them a lot of competitors and most politicians are lawyers, everywhere in the world. It can be doubted as well that the academic teaching stuff is very interested in talking about costs and the public discussion is dominated by the academics personnel.

In a lot of countries only people with a special study can become teachers. In other words, not everybody with a high school diploma in physics, math etc. can become a teacher, but only people who studied to be teacher. That means that a normal engineer can't become a teacher, although he is better qualified. That makes the system very inflexible. If there are too much teachers, it is not possible to fire them, because they are public employees, and if there are not enough of them, it is difficult to hire more people, because only certain people are allowed to the job. In the first case, teachers are protected against unemployment and in the second case, they can ask for higher wages, which don't decrease if the demand decreases again. It is a perfect system for them. However teachers are a very strong lobby group and no political party can profit from questioning this system.

The questions discussed and how they are discussed depends on whether it is possible to gain votes or to attract public attention.

Nations with a lot of public employees can run into a problem. If a great part of their voters are public employees, it is very bad idea trying to reduce the number of public employees. That happens for instance after the fall of the wall in Berlin 1989. Due to the fact that Berlin lost most of its industry during the cold war, a lot of new jobs were artificially created in the public sector. But no political party was able to reduce them after the fall of the wall, because it wouldn't had survived the next elections. (At the end the amount was reduced, but through a special trick. The reduction was induced by consulting companies and all the problems were assigned to them.)

Some things are really funny. The Democrats in the United States has the same strange idea than the conservative in Europe. They assume that a pension system based on private saving can work, see HELPING AMERICANS SAVE FOR RETIREMENT. That means whatever amout of money the FED injects into the market, more than one trillion since 2008, private saving will find a profitable investment.

Furthermore the fact alone that there is an opposition doesn't mean necessarily that they have different opinions or different interests. It is even possible that they share the same opinions about most issues and have the same interest: To get and stay in power. That is actually a problem for them, because in order to stay in power they have to sell the same product with very small differences, but in a different package. It is to assume that in the future the real public debate will be initiated by NGO, civil right organisations, internet activists etc.. like,, etc.. will get more and more influence, traditional parties will lose influence.

The system we have nowadays assumes that a political 'elite' knows more than their several millions of voters. Concerning the economy, the opposite is assumes. The free market economy is based on the assumption that the individual market player, as a consumer, entrepreneur, investor, saver whatever knows more than any kind of central steering entity. The civil society can therefore control governmental activities much better than the opposition. The opposition can use these information to control the government, but is well controlled itself. See as well preliminaries.

As long as their is no control, government and opposition reach a 'gentleman agreement'. They will extend and enlarge the administration and bureaucracy sharing fraternally the jobs created. The rule of Parkinson is always true, unless control stops it. A nice example for that are the german liberal party. Before the election they wanted to abolish the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, but after the election when the formed part of the government, it was a member of this party who become new Development Minister.

People are disappointed by democracy because they believe that politicians are idealist and elections are about ideas, what is actually strange. Nobody expects in a free market economy that the market players are idealists, but everybody believes that politicians are idealists and therefore they are disappointed if they realize that this is not the case.

The problem with democracy is the same as in the economic sphere. If the parameter that steer the behaviour rewards missbehaviour and punish good behaviour it is clear what will happen. The controlling system has to be strong enough to ensure that the interest of the political parties are compatible with the general interest.

Democracy is no condition for economic growth, although many people believe that, and we can have a free market economy in an authoritarian regime. What is actually true is the basic logic of a free market economy, the incentives are put in a way that the personal interest is compatible with the general interest, see homo oeconomicus, is valid as well for a democracy.

The strength of a democracy has nothing to do whether politicians are idealists or not. It is even possible that some parties have authoritarian ideas. The strength of a democracy consists in the fact that effizient control is possible, although this control is not necessarily exerted by the opposition.

The big difference between the market economy and democracy is the fact that the 'consumer' has only a small interest to control the producer by 'buying' the product or not, because there are no clear 'price' signals and the recompensation for a more detailed research is small.

The best mixture for the traditional supplier of control, the mass media, is a mix of information and entertainment, what leads to infotainment, with an increasing part of entertainment. The last caprioles of a spanish, english royal attracts more attention than the governmental budget. Most people are not even able to estimate the amount of the government budget and still less to say what it is used for.

There is a large debate whether the internet is going to change democracy. The author would say, that this is crystal clear. The internet is going to change the democracy dramatically for the very simple fact that it can store any amount of data, it can make accesible any kind of data for free, from any point of the world at any hours, it allows to anybody to publish information, it simplifies the interaction between people at a national and international level.

To say that the internet has no impact on democracy is as saying that information in general is irrelevant in democracy. If the access to information is the crucial point of a democracy, it is crystal clear that the internet is going to change the democracy.

It is not very astonishing that the mass media in general the that more critical. They lack all of the advantages of the internet and most of all, they have no business model allowing them to survive. They can't store information, they can't offer content for free, they can't offer their users sophisticated retrieval techniques, they can't offer their users any kind of background information.

Mass media consider themselves as the "fourth power", beside the executive, legislative and the judiciary. This is a critical statement, if we consider the fact that this power has no democratic legitimation. However the mass media play a role in democracies and is therefore not very plausible that the situation doesn't change if one element loses relevance and the mass media will become more and more irrelevant, because the internet attacks the financial basis. No one will pay for adds in newspapers, television, radio if he pays less for more efficient adds on the internet.

It is crystal clear that the supplier of information needs a financial basis. Right now all the initiative of e-democracy, e-government, e-petitions, e-participation etc. are started by volunteers who get now money at all or by donations. It is to assume however that this is going to change in the future and actually it is changing right now.

The general principle of the mass media is this: Tell a little bit about almost everything. Mass media don't have in general a special focus. They spread news about the wars in the world, the apple harvest, the blows of fate of any kind of celebrity, the up and down of the stock markets etc. etc.. Journalists in general don't have a specialisation either. They write on monday an article about soccer, on tuesday about the association of rabbit breeders and on wednesday about the dangers of tobacco.

Inside the framework of the traditionel mass media specialisation is only possible if a certain group needs a constant flow of information. In other words, mass media and specialisation is a contradiction. The production and distribution of a newspaper is only possible if the number of copies is very high. Special interests, preoccupations, claims etc. cannot be taken into account and still less there is a feedback, mass media are a one direction communication. Without a feedback we can't really say if people care more about the love life of a royal or about the fate of Edward Snowden or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

E-petitions and similar activities can express the real concerns of the people. E-petitions in favour of Edward Snowden for instance can reach only in Germany in a few days more than 1 million subscribers. Normally any kind of service has a marketing problem and a huge ammount of money is needed to promote a service. However if an association like avaaz has already 42 millions members and their email they can get in a very short time millions of subscribers. They cannot only put a topic on the political agenda ignored by the mass media, they can as well exert pressure on politicians. Furthermore once a topic is put on the agenda, it is very often spread quickly by the social media.

However the basic problem is clear. The bigger their database the more they will sent petitions to people who are not interested or are not willing to suscribe. A possible solution would be a refinement of their database. In the process of registering people can declare the topics they are interested to get informed, human rights issues, law problems, taxes, bureaucracy, waste of public money, development policy etc... This would allow to match better petitions and receiver.

It is argued that this kind of organisations contribute little to the democratic decision making process, because the participation consists of little more than a click. The argument is a little bit strange, because beside the click people can do anything they did before and even a click is better than nothing. Furthermore an internet action can be the basis for other actions, demonstrations, letter and emails to the concerned politicians, a more in depth discussion etc.. if needed. The more people know about an issue they are concerned with, the bigger the control of this issue. It is doubtful that the USA would have supported the taliban in Afghanistan if a lot of people would have predicted the results and if a lot of people knew that the results had been predicted. To give an example.

The thesis that the internet improves democratic decision making is refuted in general by the traditional mass media. That's comprehensible. Whatever happens in the future and in the development of the internet, they will become more and more irrelevant and their economic basis will erode.

Right now all the internet initiatives aiming to improve democratic decision making depend more or less on donations. However in some areas it can become a profitable business. In most countries, for instance in Germany, we have three times more lawyers than what is actually needed. The amount of lawyers in Germany increased by 300 percent in the last 25 years, although the population didn't increase. Everybody who doesn't know what to do in live and who doesn't have special talents studies law. In order to make a living and to distinguish oneself from the others a marketing strategy is needed. Delivering data and discussing controversial issues can be a good marketing strategy rewarded by the search engine of google, who requires a lot of high-quality content for a good ranking. Jurisdiction is not a 'science' and very subjective with big differences from one judge to another and from one court to another. There is a lot of space for in depth research. The author of these lines is running a webiste like this as an hobby.

The same strategy can work in any profession were the entrepreneur or freelancer has some special know how that can be interesting for the public.

To put it short: The democracy of Popper is a basic model. Useful, but not optimal. Popper assumes that people takes rational decisions at elections, but doesn't discuss whether this is possible or not and the truth is, that this is not possible. First unplacement decisions are taken in general after the elections and not before and they were not on the political agenda at the moment of voting. Second what is put to voting is a bundle of vaguely defined options and it is unclear if these bundle include the really important issues or merely the issues spread by the mass media. Third he assumes that political parties have a genuine interest in serving the public. This is only true if the control is so strict, that there is no place for pursuing their own interests at charge of the public interest. The result of all that is, that there is no rational decision making in elections. People vote for persons, not for concepts. In other words, people vote for abstract "values" which they assume to presented by this person and they hope that this "values" are taken into account in the government decision making process.

A politician with a certain social background inspires trust to people with the same social background for instance, although this is not the question. The question is whether certain measures really leads to the expected results.

The question whether Platon, Hegel or Marx are responsible for ideologies and for the closed societies is very irrelevant, beside that this author doesn't believe it. The really relevant issue is this: Is it possible to take a rational decision at the moment of voting. It is crystal clear that there are three problems. The first problem is, that political parties, nor the government nor the opposition, are very interested in transparency. This is logic from a theoretical point of view and well proved in practice. The second problem is the supply of demand. Without a working business model, there will be no supply of information, because the really important information, the ones someone has an interest not to see published, are difficult to obtain. Third there is a problem with the demand for information. The benefit the single user gets from being well informed is almost zero. These are the problems that has to be resolved.

Theses questions are not purely philosophical as some readers may assume, because the academic curricula depend on what is considered relevant for the working life and the concepts one have about the role of economists in society.

Students of economics see themselves in the future sitting in national and international "research" institutes, think tanks, organisations writing never discussed discussion papers and advising politicians and high ranking public employees. The truth is, that "research" organisations of this kind actually exists, millions, most of the them financed with the money of the tax payer, but nobody cares about what they say. At most they have a fig-leave function, a "scientific" look to a measure, something that justifies a measure.

There are several problems with that. The first one is, that there are not enough jobs in these institutions, because the possibilities to subsidize this kind of nonsense are limited. That's the concrete problem students of economics should care about, because they are directly concerned. The second problem is more 'philosophical' and not a big problem for people who are satisfied if only they get their money at the end of the month, regardless whether they do something useful or not. Democracy lives from better informed voters, not from never discussed discussion papers.

It is understandable that student strive to get jobs in "research" institutions, they are well paid by the tax payer, there is little control about the performance and everybody can follow his hobbies and beside that they are prestigious. Saying that someone works for the European Commission sound much better than saying that someone runs a website. However a single website can have, and there are examples for that, more impact on the public than the whole European Commission together.

However communicating with the public requires special skills. Communicating with the public requires more than pseudo-scientific abracadabra. It requires the ability to write in a way that the message is understood and to identify the real important issues. Furthermore it requires a good knowledge how the internet works and the ability to earn a living from that. All these things are not included in the academic curricula.

If transparency and rationality, decisions taken based on facts and a clear theory are the basis of a democracy, than we need less never discussed discussion papers and an improvement of the level of the public discussion.

Including the necessary skills in the academic curricula is difficult, because it would require a complete substitution of the academic teaching stuff. The only thing these people can do is write never discussed discussion papers in government / tax payer sponsored "research institutions". They have no real working experience.

It is almost useless to advise politicians. Political parties change, because the society changes and not the other way round. The discrimination of homosexuals, certain ethnical or religious groups, the disappearence of nationalism, the discrimination of women etc.. didn't happen because political parties changed, but because the society changed.

Most of economic thinking, and in the case of the ordoliberalism it is even explicetely pronounced, is implicetely a systemic thinking. It is assumed that people are steered by incentives and disincentives. The problem consists therefore in establishing an order that guarantees that the incentives are put in a way that personal interest is compatible with the general inerest, see homo oeconomicus.

In this tradition democracy is a question whether the incentives are wrong or right and the incentives are will be wrong if their is no sharp control through transparency. Intransparency allows to pursue ones own interest at the expense of the society as a whole.

In public discussion there is different perception of the economic sphere and of the political sphere and two different approaches. In the economic sphere people only expect from the market players that they maximise their profits accepting the rules of the game established by the economic order. We don't find in any textbook about economics a discussion about 'values'. The whole economic system is steered by incentives and desincentives. Some branches of economics, for instance Pareto with the Pareto optimum even try to convince us that any kind of model that is not based on this behaviorism like concept of incentive => reaction is not scientific.

However it is to assume that most economists would be unable to respond to the question whether democracy can work steered only by incentive => reaction. (Beside Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, obviously. For them a democratic decision making process is not even needed, because everything that has to be steered is best steered by the market mechanism and what cannot be steered by the market mechanism, shoudn't be steered at all.)

Economists are not aware of this problem, but they assume that the same people who follow in economics a behaviouristic model are guided by much more complex motives and values as citizens of a democracy.

What is still more stunning is the fact that a lot of 'values' we find in public debate, patriotism or religion for instance, are actually completely meaningless in the economic sphere. Would an entrepreneur only employ his compatriots even if foreigners can do the job for less? Would the consumer buy national products although the foreign products are better and of higher quality? What an entrepreneur produce inside the nation even if production is cheaper abroad? Would an entrepreneur employ christians although Moslems would do the job for less money?

If we put aside books like 'An Economic Theory of Democracy' by Anthony Downs democracy is almost never analysed as a system, in other words as something like the economic system. It is assumed that democracy depends on values universally accepted and the values of democracies differ from the values of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. The analysis of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes focus therefore very often on 'psychological' phenomenons like antisemitism, racism, obedience to authority, on 'culture' that is nothing more than a thin patina that covers crude barbarism, deindividuation, sadism and strive for power over others, psychology of the masses and things like that.

All that is without any doubt very interesting and we can even learn a lot from these studies. It is for instance very obvious that the education system of the Republic of Weimar failed completely. Students read Friedrich Schiller, but the message didn't pass. That's why the seizure of power of national-socialism is often considered as a collapse of civilisation. It revealed that culture is only a very thin patina and has a more the character of an exchange value than a value of use. We will come back on this issue in the chapter about Th.W. Adorno.

'Values', patriotism, religion, philosophy of life, empathy, sense of fairness, etc.. are things that are opposed to rationality in the economic sense of the term. If someone is a patriot only if that is good for business, he is not really a patriot, because his patriotism is not a value on its own, it is an instrument. We can only call something a value on its own, if in the case of conflict someone sticks to his values at the expense of its personal benefit or in other words, if it is more important for him to respect his values than getting a direct personal benefit, money, power, prestige etc..

The economic system doesn't need values, it is enough that the single market player, companies, workers, customers etc. use their resources in the best possible way. There is in general no space for values. A shop owner who closes his shop on sundays because the bible says that this should be done, sticks to his values, but goes bankrupt if his competitors open on sunday.

Totalitarism or authoritarian regimes are often explained by the absense of values. This author would say, that if 'values' and even basic instincts like 'empathy' disappear in only a few years, at it happens after 1933 in Germany, they didn't exist before.

However the same is true for the 'values' considered to be the basis of totaliarian regimes, racism, antisemitism, nationalisme etc.etc.. It is argued for instance, that is the thesis of Daniel Goldhagen, that antisemitism was deeply rooted in the german society and that this leads to the holocaust. This author would say that the national-socialists succeded to reward the discrimination of jews. The boycot of jewish shops, the 'aryanization' of jewish companies, the elimination of jewish neighbours was profitable. Hard to believe that antisemitism, racism or the persecution of other minorities becomes a problem if it is not rewarding.

'Values' in the positive or negative sense, are only rewarding, if they are supported by the system.

The complexity of the problem can be obviously be reduced by restricting government intervention. The more government intervention is restricted, the more things are resolved by private initiatives, in other words by the market, and the less probable is an abuse of power. This is the Milton Friedman / Friedrich Hayek approach. Apart from the obvious problem that market economies are not stable, see Keynes, there are a lot of problems the market can't resolve, see Friedrich Hayek.

To put it short: This author believes that an abstract discussion about values doesn't make a lot of sense and totalitarism is a fatal systemic error. As long as people don't have any direct benefit from discriminating certain groups, they will be tolerant. The real problem of democracy is the supply of information, the demand of information and transparency. Given transparency, that depends on supply and demand for information, we have a system that works almost as the free market.

The basic theory of Milton Friedman is that a government that attracts more and more resources have more and more power and can abuse of this power to pursue its own interests. This is only true, if the tax payer doesn't know what is going to happen with his money. If he knows it, the government will, in a democracy, substituted by another government.

This is even still more true, if we take into account that the main problem, distribution, only exists if we assume a certain theory. Discussions about distribution implicetely assumes that some groups can only get richer if others get poorer. There is a cake of a certain size and each slice of the cake can only be consumed once. However all highly industrialised countries are well below of their productive potential. The real question is not how to distribute the cake, but how to make it bigger, see Keynes.

It is well known that Adorno and Popper didn't like each other. It can be even said that they disdain each other. However there is one point where they agreed. Both questioned a culture that only have an exchange value but no value of use. A culture that has only a systemic value, in other words that has only a value if its possession is rewarded by the system, is actually no culture at all.

We have even strange kind of "intellectuals" like Pierre Bourdieu. He speaks of cultural capital that helps people of the same class to identify each other and regulates social mobility. The stunning phenomenon is not this concepts, there are some fools everywhere, the problem is, that it became so popular at the university sphere. For these people culture have no value for itself, but only an exchange value. One could believe that this concept questions the role of culture as a thin patina, but that's not the case. They are serious about that.

Cultural capital in the sense of Pierre Bourdieu is not human capital, in other words concrete skills needed for a certain job, but what Th.W. Adorno calls the The Jargon of Authenticity or more precise, human 'cultural' capital has the same function as the Jargon of Authenticity. Cultural capital and the Jargon of Authenticity abstract from any concrete content and serve as a pure glue that holds a certain social class together. The most easiest way to see this phenomenon live are texts from marxist economists, see Karl Marx. This people didn't really understood the marxist theory, but they dominated the jargon and the jargon reveals a greater penetration with an ideology than a a deep understanding. Understanding points to rational debate and that means that the concepts can be questioned.

Culture is something very individual a dynamic interaction between individual experiences and circumstances and the content of the cultural artefact, books, music, painting etc.. Some people can identify themselves with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger, for others it will be meaningless. But if culture only serves as a glue that hold a certain group together, it is something like a Harley Davidson for motor-gang or a handbag from Gucci. The content is almost irrelevant.

The term 'cultural capital' implies that culture is something productive, serves to produce something else, a consumer product. Culture is actually a goal, not a means. Capital is considered as a productive factor. The same way we can talk about 'religious capital'. If anything becomes a means, the economy loses it's goal. We will return on the subject in the chapter about Th.W. Adorno.

The problem is not Pierre Bourdieu, there are millions of fools on earth. The problem is, that he became famous with his theory that culture has only an exchange value, is a pure means of production and the content is completely irrelevant.

Culture is often assumed to be a bulwark against barbarism. Reduced to a pure exchange value, it can't play this role, because a totalitarian regime can set up anything as an exchange value.

One possible improvement on democracy could theoretically be achieved by the education system. However Karl Popper doesn't tell us where the new teachers should come from. If culture and education is only a means to advance in the professional life, people will never become individuals in the sense of John Stuart Mill. Liberalism in the sense of John Stuart Mill means, that things are questioned. The actual educational system teaches that things must not be true or correct, but useful.

We are led here, I believe, to a result of some importance, and to one which can be generalized. Institutions for the selection of the outstanding can hardly be devised. Institutional selection may work quite well for such purposes as Plato had in mind, namely for sting change. But it will never work well if we demand more than that, for it will always tend to eliminate initiative and originality, and, more generally, qualities which are unusual and unexpected. This is not a criticism of political institutionalism. It only re-affirms what has been said before, that we should always prepare for the worst leaders, although we should try, of course, to get the best. But it is a criticism of the tendency to burden institutions, especially educational institutions, with the impossible task of selecting the best. This should never be made their task. This tendency transforms our educational system into a race-course, and turns a course of studies into a hurdle-race. Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career; he is led to acquire only such knowledge as is serviceable in getting him over the hurdles which he must clear for the sake of his advancement. In other words, even in the field of science, our methods of selection are based upon an appeal to personal ambition of a somewhat crude form. (It is a natural reaction to this appeal if the eager student is looked upon with suspicion by his colleagues.) The impossible demand for an institutional selection of intellectual leaders endangers the very life not only of science, but of intelligence.

Karl Popper, The open Society and its Enemies, first volume, The Spell of Plato

The debate about more direct democracy, in other words about more direct participation where people don't decide about a whole package of options about different issues but about a concrete issue reveals something typical about the self-perception of political parties and the mass media. In general the mass media tends more to question the intellectual capacity of the voters than the ones of the politicians and the respective administration.

The arguments put forward against direct democracy are a little bit strange. It is argued that the people are not competent enough to decide on complicated issues and that they tend to take extreme decisions. The author would say that really extreme decisions have always been taken by governments. Furthermore the really important decisions, the decisions taken in the economic sphere, are taken by the people. Every day thousands of millions. The same politicians who don't trust the people to take rational decisions about political issues assume that they take rational decisions in the economic sphere and the last one is the basis of the first one.

The really interesting question is whether political parties and the mass media would profit from more plebiscitary elements. Political parties and the mass media have kind of symbiotic relationship. Only the mass media have access to the information, at least as long as political parties want to see these information spread and they earn good money distributing them. If they are too critical, the source will dry out.

The more the information generating process is organised in a decentral way, for instance by millions of website, the more the classical mass media run into trouble. That's the problem they have with google. The problem is not, as they argue, that google spiders newspaper articles and make them accesible through its 'news service'. The problem is, that google has become the goal keeper. People will find first find the information which is considered the most relevant one, without impeding the user to read all the others.

This is considered by the mass media as a big manipulation. They want google to shows million of information about an issue without any order. (Assuming that they have any idea how a search engine should work.)

In the last fifty years no newspaper ever complained that they filter information and only delivered the information they though to be useful. The business concept was simple: Spread to a maximum of people news and information that everbody interests a little bit, almost it is of little practical use. This business concept is at stake if millions of website produce specific content for specific groups. This article show the problem of the newspapers, Newspapers: Fact Sheet. The decline in add revenue and circulation is not as dramatic as in Germany, but the tendency is the same.

At first glance mass communication doesn't follow any rules. It is unclear why they report about some issues and not about others and which political parties has a chance to get their messages passed through this channel and why. The only thing we can see is that they report all about the same topics they get from international news agencies like Associated Press, Reuter, AFP etc.. We are much better informed about a soccer or football team than about the question where the IS gets his arms from, although the last question is much more relevant, because that leads to very huge amount of refugees to Europe. We are still in 2015. (It is to assume that people in the administration of the US can answer this question, but they don't see any advantage for them doing it.) The last issue is real problem, because it costs billions of Euros, the first topic is actually irrelevant.

The mass media is a one way communication. The mass media inform the people about the measures taken by the government, but they have no interest and are technically not able, to transfer the knowledge of the people to the government. Still in 2015, where most of the political discussion has moved away to the social media, they stick to 'the letter to the editor modell' and denigrate social media by saying that they promote the spread of extremism of any kind.

We can assume that 80 millions germans, for instance, know more about any topic than 620 parliamentariens. Tax consultants, in Germany we have 90 000 of them, for instance are more able to evaluate the impact on a change in the tax system than a parliamentarien, because he deals with this kind of problems every day.

It is to assume that mass media will not be able to change and will therefore slowly disappear. A possible new business modell could be to gather information from the people on a certain topic and summarize the different point of views. Services like that can be financed by donations or advertising. Another possibility could be to join their efforts with initiatives that facilitates petitions or requests based on the freedom of information act. This modell would be kind of user generated content.

However it will take them still some time, perhaps too much time, until they understand that they are not any more the big expounder of the world, but just a service allowing and promoting public debate. If they don't react, and it is to assumed that they won't react, information gathering and public debate will completely shift to the social media.

Mass media and political parties assume that people are not able to judge for themselves and advocate in favour of a representative democracy, what is actually not a bad idea. But if that means that intransparency leads to a situation, where no control at all is exerted, than democracy is abolished. The ideal of the first democracy, the one of Athen in the time of Pericles, was different. Pericles assumed that not everybody is able to figure out a strategy, but everybody is able to judge it and people who don't do that, due to laziness or stupidity, is not an unambitious citizen, but a useless citizen.

We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and, instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all. Again, in our enterprises we present the singular spectacle of daring and deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in the same persons; although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger. In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving, favours. Yet, of course, the doer of the favour is the firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the recipient in his debt; while the debtor feels less keenly from the very consciousness that the return he makes will be a payment, not a free gift. And it is only the Athenians, who, fearless of consequences, confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of liberality.

The History of the Peloponnesian War By Thucydides

Book II, Pericles' Funeral Oration

Pericles appeals to the idealism of his fellow citizens, although it may be possible that in a small community like the antique Athens people were directly concerned by political decisions and had therefore an incentive to get informed and beside that it was easy to get well informed. In more complex nations it can be a rational behaviour not to be informed, because the costs and trouble of information gathering exceed the benefit. At the other side a business model is needed to organise the supply of information.

In general we call a democratic government a government that respects the votum of the voters. This is a minimal definition. We only should call democrates who actively promote democratic decision making, in other words people who actively promote transparency, public debate and the knowledge necessary for a rational decision making.

Although that has changed in the last 20 years, the debate about more plebiscitarian elements is dominated by the question whether people are competent enough to decide directly, for instance by referendums. It is obvious that people who considers themselves as the great expounders of the world, political parties and mass media, saw the problem more in the voters than in a systemic error. This author would say that a public debate that allows the experts inside the civil society to make their voice heard would have a higher quality than a debate in parliament, where actually laymans, in general jurists, discuss about topics they have no clue about.

People who make a living of explaining the world to the people have good reasons to denigrate initiatives like wikipedia as 'swarm intelligence'. This article for instance is funny example for that, The Dangers of Direct Democracy. It argues for instance that professional signature gatherers can induce people to sign documents they don't understand. That may be a problem, but if electoral campaigns are nothing more than sophisticated marketing campaigns focused on persons where there is strictly nothing that must be understood, the argument is a little bit strange.

Popper refutes any kind of historicism, in other words the idea that history is driven by universally valid lows that works indepedently of what humans do. This is without any doubt correct, although his silently ignored opponent, Ernst Bloch, refutes historicism in a much more radical way, as we will see later in the chapter about Ernst Bloch.

Beside that the examples he uses to illustrate what historicism is about, are strange. Instead of Karl Marx he could have taken as well David Ricardo, because David Ricardo as well assumed universal valid laws that drives history. We assume that it was easier for Popper to preach to the converted, to be against Marx in the western world, than to attack one of the founders of 'capitalism'.

Furthermore historicism is more an academic problem. From a purely practical point of view the problem is that people take a lot of things for granted. They attribute certain characteristics to certain etnical groups and assume that these characteristics are stable in the course of history, something that never happens. In Germany for instance it is assumed that moslems sticks more to their religion than christian. The truth is, that the moslems today are very similar to the christians in the 50th of the last century. It is not a question of religion, it is a question of time. Economics assumes, that people react on economic incentives. That is true today, but it is easy to imagine that in 100 years people do what they think to be useful and economic incentives play no role any more. It is assumed, that intelligence is the decisive factor in the learning process and that the didactical skills of the teacher / the learning environment plays a minor role. Perhaps it is the other way round. To give some examples.

Popper applies to democracy the same logic used in science that he describes in The Logic of Scientific Discovery. In a democracy someone has an idea about the causal relationship allowing to resolve a problem. If he can convince enough voters, he can put his theory into practice. If it works, he has a good chance to be reelected. That is similar to an experiment in science. Someone has a theory and conceived an experiment that should lead, if the theory is correct, to a predictible result.

The important point is, that it is imposible to prove that a theory is true, because we can never deduce from a limited amount of events to an unlimited amount of events. We can't say that all strawberries are red because all the strawberries we have seen until know are red (or green). (By the way: There are white strawberries as well, see pineberry.)

Second the theory must be formulated in a way that can be tested against reality, it has to be falsifiable. A theory that cannot for instance be tested against reality is the theory of Hegel, because any kind of situation fits with this theory. Not formulated in a falsifiable way is the psychology of Sigmund Freud. Someone can believe in the Ego, Super Ego and the Id or don't believe in this terms. There is no way to prove that.

The concept of falsifiability has been questioned in the famous positivism debate between Adorno and Popper. The basic question is simple. In sociology what is measured is the result of something and if we disregard the causes and take the effect for the causes, we get to strange results. This author for instance says, that totalitarism is a systemic problem and under the present conditions he believes that this is true. However it is possible that in the future, due to a change in the education system for instance, people stick to their very individual values and in case of conflict they will do what they think is right and not what is convenient for their career. We will get back on the issue when talking about Adorno.

There are several strategy to immunize a theory against reality, in other words to formulate it in a way that it can't be tested against reality. The first possibility is to put conditions that are never meet in reality. The ceteris paribus clause is an example for that, although it is a special case. The ceteris paribus clause assumes that nothing but the parameters taken into account in the model changes. Actually there is no need for the ceteris paribus clause, because in the short run nothing changes indeed, see equilibrium in the short run and equilibrium in the long run. However, generally speaken, if a theory doesn't fit with the results that the theory suggests, it can always be said that the theory is right, but a condition changed.

Another immunization strategy is to tell trivialities that look like deep scientific insight. The reader may think that this rarely happens, however the opposite is true. In economics we have hundreds of scientific looking trivialities. The whole Vilfredo Pareto nonsense with the Pareto optimum is of this kind. The Pareto optimum tells us, that two people will stop to exchange goods if one of them is worse off after the change. That is obviously true, but put in an Edgeworth Box it looks very scientific.

The criterium of falsifiability is trivial and was always applied in science since the renaissance. In former times discoveries were made accidentally. The ancient greeks already knew that birchbark helps against headache, but they didn't know that the active component was acetylsalicylic acid and still less how acetylsalicylic acid acts and even very important drugs like penicillin are not the result of a systematic research, an elaborated theory and a test against reality.

Actually since people started to construct machines, they uses the criterium of falsifiability. They figured out a machine, in theory, than they built it and then they tested if it really does what they expected it to to. Any programmer of a computer program tests his program, with sometimes astonishing results. The program does what the programmer ordered it to do, but what he ordered the computer to do, very often is not what he wanted it to do.

Actual scientific research is not as simple as Popper assumed. In live science and medicine there is very often no theory at all, but only a statistical relationship between two effects and then people try to figure out what can possibly be the causal relationship between these two effects. It is obviously true that a clear idea about the casual chaine is what scientists are looking for, because that makes it easier to intervene, but at least in bio science scientific advance is more driven by statistic relationships without any theory at all. At least at the beginning.

Furthermore the criterium of falsifiability cannot be applied to phanomenons that has to be understood in their individuality. A painting of Picasso, Miró, Velázquez a novel like the Don Quijote, An American Tragedy, I Promessi Sposi etc.. are very individual expressions and cannot be explained by a general theory that can be tested against reality. It would be ridiculous to say if these ingredients and conditions are given we get a Picasso, a Cervantes or a Theodore Dreiser. If that were possible, nobody would pay for it, because we could produce this kind of things like washing machines.

All that is very trivial. Nobody has any problems to see that there are nomothetic sciences, that consider a phenomenon as the result of universally valid laws and idiographic science, that tries to understand a phenomenon as an incidental constellation of individual circumstances.

However concerning social science and economics the question is not reall whether they are nomothetic or idiographic, the question is for how much time the "universally valid laws" will be valid and do they really describe casual realtionships or just statistical relationships between two or several effects.

It economic laws for instance are universally valid, it is due to the fact that they are trivial. An equilibrium price is a price where everybody who wanted to buy the product for the market price and who could afford to pay it bought the producut and everybody who was willing and able to sell the the product for the market price sold it. This is obvious. Nobody will buy a product if he cannot afford the market price or is not willing to pay it and nobody will sell, in normal conditions, a product at a price that is lower than the production costs. This is always true, however trivial and the explanatory power is very low. Some things can be analysed using this model, but not the really relevant issues, see methodological approach. We don't want to know that an equilibrium price exists, we want to know why this price is so different in different countries compared to what people earn and this depends on individual circumstances.

Popper is the only philosopher an economist would ever quote and normally the only one he knows, at least by name. One may wonder why Popper has got such a prominent place in economics, if there is apart from the ambition of some economists to present themselves as real intellectuals with a broader view, another reason. One possible reason is that Popper advocates in favour of the same methodological approach in science and in science and in economics. This way economics became a "real" science and not just something like sociology.

Furthermore the theory that national - socialism and socialism are variations of the same evil, the closed society, were useful in times of the cold war, because the socialist field argued the other way round. National - socialism is an extreme version of imperialism and capitalism.

The problem with Popper is not that he tells something wrong, the problem is that it is trivial and that he doesn't discuss the real problems of a democracy. Discussions about the democracy of Athen are entertaining, but very irrelevant if it comes to resolve problems in modern and fare more complex democracies.

Some people became famous because they coined catchy expression. The creative destruction of Schumpeter is an example for that or the invisible hand of Adam Smith. Hayek became famous with his fatal conceit. The concept itself is nothing new, although the expression is catchy. The meaning of the expression can already be found in wealth of nations and is nothing new. Decentral information processing by prices is more efficient than central planning. The central planning committee is never so well informed as the individual market players. They are better informed about their concrete alternatives, about their concrete capacities and possibilities, they will react faster on price signals and they have a concrete incentive to react on changes in the economic structure.

If all kind of social interaction could be resolved by mechanism similar to the market mechanism, it would be the best solution. Actually we wouldn't need no government at all. However there are lot of things that the market alone can't resolve. The solution of Hayek, to reduce government intervention to a maximum is therefore no solution at all. The answer to the fatal conceit given by Hayek is a reduction of governmental intervention. That is something that he sells as a fight for freedom, although everybody knows that the absence of the government doesn't mean necessarily freedom.

Even if the intensity of competition is kept high enough, the distribution of income can become so unequal, that even economic growth is at stake, see Keynes.

The term fatal conceit means even less than the criterium of falsifiability of Popper. Fatal conceit is something like the famous expression of Socrates "I know that I don't know nothing". In practice we need to know something. The falsifiability criterium at least give some hints whether a statement is useful or useless.

Friedrich Hayek assumes that it is impossible to controll a government by transparency as strong as the control exerted by the market mechanism. This is fatal conceit. He took things for stable which are actually very instable. We see in the present, we are still in 2015, appear services on the internet which can have an heavy impact on transparency.

Hayek assumes that transferring power to the government means always 'power without competence'. We can add that it means as well power without responsability, because the public admininstration never has to bear the consequences of wrong decisions. Both is obviously true if there is no control. If there is a strong control, this is no longer true. The proposition of Hayek to restrict governmental intervention to almost zero is not realizable and would require a total change of the system which will encounter great resistence in society. Normally people want the government to resolve their problems. More realistic is the step by step introduction of a more efficient control. Hayek is pure phantasy and furthermore he doesn't define what the government should do and what the government shouldn't do. It is just pseudo scientific gossip.

He assumes furthermore that democracies will lead to a levelling of income, because more and more the government will change the result of the market process in order to get majorities. There are several problems with this thesis. The first problem is, that it is not true. There are very big differences in the distribution of income and fortune in democracies and they are still growing. The second problem is that big inequalities can lead to a decrease in economic growth, for several reasons, see Keynes. It is even possible that the rich would be less rich without distribution. It can even be argued, that redistribution makes the rich richer, because only the rich can borrow money to the government and second because they pofit from an increase in consumption.

Hayek fears that in democracies the majority will suppress the minority. Actually the opposite is true. There is a tendency that in democracy small, well organised minorities get more influence on the government than poorly organised majorities and beside that majority is a theoretical term. A majority is composed of a lot of minority. Minorities are suppressed in authoritarian and totalitarian states, because an authoritarian or totalitarian state doesn't allow any kind of opposition.

Although both, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, were member of the neoliberal Mont Pèlerin Society there is a big difference. For Hayek democracy is more a threat for liberty than its protector wheras for Karl Popper democracy is the basis of liberty.

Sometimes Karl Popper got the point, although he started with Platon, Hegel and Karl Marx.

This distinction between the personal and the institutional element in a social situation is a point which is often missed by the critics of democracy. Most of them are dissatisfied with democratic institutions because they find that these do not necessarily prevent a state or a policy from falling short of some moral standards or of some political demands which may be urgent as well as admirable. But these critics misdirect their attacks; they do not understand what democratic institutions may be expected to do, and what the alternative to democratic institutions would be. Democracy (using this label in the sense suggested above) provides the institutional framework for the reform of political institutions. It makes possible the reform of institutions without using violence, and thereby the use of reason in the designing of new institutions and the adjusting of old ones. It cannot provide reason. The question of the intellectual and moral standard of its citizens is to a large degree a personal problem of its citizens. (The idea that this problem can be tackled, in turn, by an institutional eugenic and educational control is, I believe, mistaken; some reasons for my belief will be given below.) It is quite wrong to blame democracy for the political shortcomings of a democratic state. We should rather blame ourselves, that is to say, the citizens of the democratic state. In a non-democratic state, the only way to achieve reasonable reforms is by the violent overthrow of the government, and the introduction of a democratic framework. Those who criticize democracy on any ‘moral’ grounds fail to distinguish between personal an institutional problems. It rests with us to improve matters. The democratic institutions cannot improve themselves. The problem of improving them is always a problem for persons rather than for institutions. But if we want improvements, we must make clear which institutions we want to improve.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, volume 1, The Spell of Plato, page 152

He want so say, that democracy depends on the 'moral' qualities and competence of the voters. This is as true as trivial, however more complicated in detail.

Concerning the economic sphere there is, if we stick to the ideal model, no moral needed. In a free market economy with a sharp control there is little need for a moral. It is only needed that the level of competition is high enough. Companies produce at competitive prices in a competitive quality otherwise they disappear. Concerning the economic sphere the question is whether the economic order put the right incentives, see ordoliberalism.

If a democracy needs 'moral' qualities depends on the assumptions about the economy. Some people believe that the redistribution of income and fortune is a question of 'moral'. That's the way it is considered in the classical theory and all the lines of thinking based on this theory. In this theory a more inequal distribution of income leads to higher savings, because the rich earn more than the poor, and higher savings to more investments and more investments to higher economic growth. If prior savings is not the condition for investments and investments depends on demand, see Keynes, it is even possible that the rich get richer if the government redistributes the income. If a free market economy leads to bubbles and speculations, redistributing income is not a question of 'moral', but an economic problem.

The problem a democracy is confronted with is the same faced by the economy. The incentives given by the economic order has to be put in a way that the individual interest is compatible with the general interest or have no influence on the society as a whole.

Authoritarian or totalitarian regimes have a tendency to require 'moral' qualities. A democracy doesn't care about way of lives, sexual preferences, religion, tastes etc.. as long as the impact on society is simply zero, in other words, as long as they don't bother someone else.

To illustrate that with an example. Germany has no problem with islam or with women wearing a veil. We have already seen much, but much more extreme dresses. But Germany has a big problem if women are obliged to wear a veil and due to the fact that very often it is hard to say whether they wear it voluntarily or if it is their own decision to wear it, the german society is critical of this issue. That is perhaps a value needed in a democracy. Nobody, not even the parents, have the right to impose their moral values on others.

Like the free market economy democracy is most of all a set of rules that must be accepted. There is no 'moral standard' needed.

The other problem, the intellectual standard, is more serious. Without a supply and demand for detailed information there is no transparency and without transparency there is no control and there is a problem on the supply side as on the demand side. If people buy a car they have a strong incentive to get informed about the quality of the car, but the impact of a wrong voters choice has almost no impact on his live and getting well informed is therefore not worth the effort.

(Unless it is entertaining like the movies of Michael Moore.)

It is not difficult to imagine what would happen if people buy a car without trying to gather information about this car first. Obviously the car companies wouldn't put any effort in producing good cars, because that would be irrelevant for them. However that is what happens in modern democracies. People vote for persons, not for concepts and a person is never a falsifiable concept. A person can disappoint us, but beside that there is little we can learn.

Statements like this one are funny: "The question of the intellectual and moral standard of its citizens is to a large degree a personal problem of its citizens." This may be true, but is of very little help.

We can assume that people participate in the democratic decision making for the same reasons they participate in the economy. They try to improve their personal situation. The bigger the (assumed) impact on their personal life of a political measure, the more they will participate in democratic decision making. If they don't participate, they don't see that voting for one or another party has a big impact on their personal live. That can mean almost everything. That they are unhappy with all the parties or happy with all of them. In both cases there is no rational motive to participate in the democratic decision making process, unless things become more serious and it is up to decide upon an issue that has a big impact on personal live.

And here we got to the point where the refutation of all kind of utopies, this is main message of Karl Popper, becomes critical. If people don't think that things can be improved, if the unhappy have resigned and the more or less happy don't see any space for improvements, why should they participate in elections?

A scientist who does not agree with the theory suggested by the data provided by another one, will have a closer look on them than a scientist, who is convinced that the theory suggested by the data is true. People will participate in a democratic decision making process if they are convinced that things can be improved. We wouldn't call, like Pericles, a citizen who doesn't care about public affairs lazy, we would say that such a citizen has little phantasy.

Furthermore the author would say that unhappy people are a problem, because they can be manipulated easily. For someone who is unhappy a lot of things, even do die for his country, are more interesting than the life he has. The fact that lifes don't mean a lot in authoritarian and totalitarian states can be explained as well by that. These people don't have a lot to lose. An example for this kind of person is Ernst Jünger. He found that war is fun. We assume that if he found war fun, he was never happy.

To put it short: The widespread desinterest for democracy and the declining participation in elections can be explained in part by the fext that the voters don't see big differences between the different parties and most of all no new 'visions'. Without a 'vision' an idea worth struggling for, we have a closed society as well. The society of Karl Popper is open, but open for what? If there is no answer to this question, the society is actually closed. A house is not open because there are doores and windows. A house is open, if there is something beyond the doors and the windows. That's obvious.

There are therefore to main problems with the philosophy of Karl Popper. The first one is of a pure practical level. Political power has to be controlled by an improvement in the supply side and in the demand side of information. That means that on the supply side a business modell is needed that allows to refinance the supply of information and on the demand side the costs and effort to obtain these information must be lowered.

[To illustrate this point with a concrete example. Right now, we are still in 2015, Germany is confronted with the immigration of very huge number of refugees. This problem is discussed under a lot of aspects, but not under the really critical ones, because there the facts are difficult to obtain. Organised in a professional way, it wouldn't be a big problem to satisfy the basic needs of these people. The government pays between 8 and 13 euros to private company for one bed and one night in one room with six beds. For this price it is possible to construct luxury appartments. The public discussion about the reception capacity has to be based on data and that is not the case. Actually there is not even any need to construct houses. In East-Germany there are, due to the decline of the industry after the wall of the wall in 1989, several million of empty flats. There is indeed an organisational problem that has to be resolved, but the reception capacities are fare from being exhausted. Just to give an idea what we mean by supply of information.]

The second problem is a more philosophical one. Popper assumes that a society is open, if there is no utopia. The author would say, that this is a closed society. It is not enough that there is a door, the door has to lead to somewhere. The unconditional basic income for instance is kind of an utopia, but there are data needed in order to say whether it is possible or not.

[The story is a little bit complicated, because actually, at least in Germany, we already have it, but it is paid by a lot of different systems that requires a lot of administration.]

The famous philosopher of utopia is Ernst Bloch who is therefore silently ignored by Karl Popper everytime they met somewhere. Popper assumed that Bloch has a fixed idea about how the ideal society should be organised, is therefore a representative of the closed society. This perception is wrong. Utopia for Bloch is a horizon, but each time we reach it, a broader one will open. The question of Bloch is where we get the utopia from that keeps us going.

Hayek and at a minor degree Popper considers the free market economy as a protection against 'collectivism'. We don't know what they mean by this term, because they never define it. In philosophical terms it could be described as opposed to individualism. Individualism means, that people differ in their way of life, in their behaviour, their preferences, religion, opinions etc.. The term is very controversial in philosophy, because individualism is a dynamic between the subject, a concrete human being, and the object, the surrounding world. In general it is assumed, for instance in the work 'À la recherche du temps perdue' by Marcel Proust, that individualisation is a process.

The question is whether the free market economy is a protection against collectivism, as Hayek assumes, or if it leads to collectivism, as Adorno assumes. The market itself doesn't appreciate individualism. The market is a systemic control and that means that nothing has an absolute value. Everything is only useful if it helps to attain economic goals. The mass media won't spread relevant information, if they can earn more money with irrelevant information and things that needs work to be understood, have no chance in this world. Individualisation is not attained by 'swimming with the current', but by questioning things. That requires an effort. In the cultural industry there is no space for new "experiences", because what is new can only be obtained with an effort.

To illustrate this point: Reading a book is kind of a conversation with someone and this conversation is easy if the conversation partner have the same level of information. That is the case in a normal daily conversation. But if one conversation partner is much better informed than the other, the less informed has to make an effort. He will be better off later, will have learned something, but it is no fun and no business for the mass media.

The market is not about individualisation, the market is about adaptation to the demand of the collective. The market produces easy consumable consumer products. He doesn't care about individualisation. In contrary, the market wants a big collective that can be served with the same standardized products. The only liberal was John Stuart Mill. He understood that individualisation is resistance, see On Liberty.

The case of Friedrich Hayek is unclear. He talks a lot about collectivism, but the opposite of collectivism is individualism and individualism is nothing that is promoted by the market. There is no incentive and no benefit from becoming an individual. Hayek has the strange idea, that is something we have to assume, that people are born as individuals and due to a socialist government they lose individualism. That is completely weird. What is perhaps true is that a democratic society will promote individualism through its education system, although the students don't find that very fun.

If economists are right and if the behaviour of human beings is steered completely by economic incentives like the behaviour of ants is steered by pheromones is a question we don't have to clear, because the economy as well as the democracy needs individuals.

Anthills can be very stable structure, but they don't evolve. What Hayek and Friedman and economist in general describe are anthills and in order to believe in anthills, one has to be an ant. What makes life really interesting and leads to progress are not the actions endlessly repeated, but the action motivated by an individual dynamic.

This sentence "It is quite wrong to blame democracy for the political shortcomings of a democratic state. We should rather blame ourselves, that is to say, the citizens of the democratic state" is correct, but unfortunately Popper doesn't explain us where the people who defend democracy should come from and which value they should defend and where these value should come from. Democracy alone doesn't produce any value. Democracy is completely neutral.

The only thing we can say is that the free market economy has only one value: Make profit. Inside the logic of a free market economy this is alrigth, because the control is very sharp and the individual benefit is compatible with the benefit of the society as a whole. However this system doesn't produce any moral value. The opposite is true: In the case of the mass media for instance the message is very clear; if people want useless bullshit, give them useless bullshit. If you try to change them, you will go bankrupt and you are an idiot.

Moral values by definition are something that are in contradiction with the logic of optimization of personal benefit. In other words, we only know that something like that exists, if there is a contradiction. Only if someone abstains from optimizing his personal benefit, because a certain behaviour or action is inconsistent with his conscience, he sticks to moral values. However it is completely unclear where this value should come from. In the logic of the free market economy someone who sticks to moral value is foolish.

The really interesting point is therefore where the moral values should come from. One possible option would be the education system, but unfortunately this system failed completely in the Republic of Weimar and didn't prevent the crash of civilisation from happening. The cultural patrimony of Germany had been reduced to a pure 'cultural capital'. We will return on the issue in the chapter about Adorno.

We may wonder what is really new in the philosophy of Karl Popper and the answer would be nothing. Long before Popper science always tried to test its theses against reality, but is can be doubted that any scientific advance was based on a previous theory that is then tested against reality, see above, and beside that, without previous empirical data, there is no theory. Normally the observation that there is a (statistical) relationship between two or more phenomenon triggers a theory and this kind of relationship, at least in bioscience, is very often found incidentilly.

Furthermore the pure fact that a theory is formulated in a falsifiable way and general enough to be tested against reality doesn't allow to estimate the quality of the theory. A good theory explains in detail the causal relationships. The more we know about the causal relationships, the more we can intervene in the process. However falsifiability is given if a theory only states that the phenomenon a) is always connected to phenomenon b) as well as in the case that the causal relationship between a) and b) is well known.

It is known for instance that acetylsalicylic acid have a protective effect against cancer. This thesis is formulated in a falsifiable way. However it would be much more interesting to know how this effect is achieved, because this would allow to develop more efficient drugs.

Popper never defines the term 'theory'. Theory can be the knowledge obtained by experience that a phenomenon a) always shows up with a phenomenen b). A theory can as well be a clear idea of a causal relationship, that 1) => 2) => 3).... leads finally to the phenomenon b).

In todays mainstream economics Popper is used to denigrate any kind of 'moral values' as unscientific. This is actually the same thing that is already put forward by Vilfredo Pareto. (Who Popper, correctly, called a fascist.) It is indeed true that 'moral values' can't be proved 'scientifically'. Right now for instance, we are still in 2015, Germany accepts 800 000 refugees, what is a lot even for Germany. This is a moral decision, but is denigrated in a in part of the society as romantic dreaming, see for instance the comments to this video Merkel under fire from Germans after warm welcome for refugees, although most Germans are proud that moral values are respected and willing to accept the challenge.

In this case, by the way, the philosophy of Popper is not very helpful. What would he do if the government blocks its frontiers because the majority is against more integration. (Something that right now is not the case.) What Popper than opt for moral value or for democracy? Is it a closed society if the government opts for moral values? Is it an utopia if the german government believes that the integration of these people is possible? Following the Popper logic, a democracy can decide to stop this integration and change mood several years later. In this concrete case this is not possible, because these people would be dead then.

Actually Popper is nothing else than some superficial thoughts about democracy and scientific research. It is a little bit better than the weird thoughts of his comrade in the Pèlerin Society Friedrich Hayek, but far away from being a real step forward. Hayek is afraid that democracy can't resolve all problems on earth, but Hayek doesn't explain us which political order can resolve the problems better.

The fashionable concentration on democracy as the main value threatened is not without danger. It is largely responsible for the misleading and unfounded belief that so long as the ultimate source of power is the will of the majority, the power cannot be arbitrary. The false assurance which many people derive from this belief is an important cause of the general unawareness of the dangers which we face. There is no justification for the belief that so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary; the contrast suggested by this statement is altogether false: it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary. Democratic control may prevent power from becoming arbitrary, but it does not do so by ist mere existence. If democracy resolves on a task which necessarily involves the use of power which cannot be guided by fixed rules, it must become arbitrary power.

Friedrich A. August Hayek, Road to Serfdom, chapter five, Planning and democracy

To call democracy a fashion, "fashionable concentration on democracy", is not very far away from Vilfredo Pareto, who speak about the religion of democracy and Vilfredo Pareto is for Popper, and this is correct, a precursor of fascism.

From purely practical point of view Hayek is completely irrelevant. Although he is better known in public than personalities who participated in the elaboration of the german constitution in 1948, for instance Carlo Schmid, he never had any real impact on politics.

The argument of Hayek that in a democracy there is the risk that the majority suppress the minoraty is curious, because in an authoritarian or totalitarian regime there is a chance of 100 percent that a minority suppress the majority and that is in any case still worse. (Apart from the fact that it is very implausible that in a democracy the majority suppress the minority, see warning about planned economies.) Totalitarian or authoritarian regimes are totalitarian or authoritarian regimes because they suppress the majority, otherwise they would opt for democratic elections.

There are actually a lot of theories about democracies, a more precise analysis is An Economic Theory of Democracy by Anthony Downs. Anthony Down is the only one who pays attention to the effects of a lack on the demand side for information. For the majority gathering more information is not beneficial, the possible benefit doesn't recompensate the effort. To gather more information about the customer duty on coffee beans, something that doesn't make a lot of sense for several reasons, and to take actions for its abolition is not beneficial. (Only idealists do that.) For the national coffee roaster at the other hand it is very interesting to have this customer duty maintained, because that way that get rid of all eventual competitors.

However even Anthony Downs doesn't question this fact, he takes it for granted that it is like that and the supply side of information is completely ignored.

Popper, Hayek, Friedman etc. question the legitimity of democracy and advocates for the free market. They assume that in a free market economy all these problems with the supply side and the demand side of information don't occur and that therefore all market players are under sharp control. That is actually true. If the society would be well informed about the governmental activities, we would have the same scharp control.

Hayek argues that a government will pursue its own interenst and not the interest of the society and that it will attract more and more resources and therefore become more and more powerful. This wouldn't be true, if the society is well informed. The room to move for pursuing its own interest at the expense of the society would be reduced. A needlees puffing of the administration for instance would be impossible, if the society pays the bill and if the society knows that they pay the bill.

There is on ongoing large public debate about the competence of the voter. However this discussion is focused more on the subjective abilities of the voter than on the objective systemical problems.

Popper is a typical adademic phenomenon. For the academic world it is interesting to know whether Platon, Hegel or Karl Marx were precursor of totalitarian regimes. From practical point of view, this is completely irrelevant and beside that not helpful.

The conrete problem is the lack of information at the supply side and the demand side and this problem is not even addressed by Karl Popper. That is due to the fact that he had no real working experience and never tried to actually live from delivering news.

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Democracy as a truth finding process

Popper applies his theory about the progress of scientific research through falsification to social and political processes. Demoscracy is viewed as truth finding process by trial and error.

The question WHO governs is for Popper not the relevant question. The question is how to get rid of a bad government and democracy is the only political system that has an institutionalised way to do that.

This implies the refutation of any attempt aiming to realize in a planned way a social order imagined as "ideal". Democracies don't pursue a certain social order, they are open and any social order can be reversed by democratic elections.

However democracy in this sense can only work, if people are able to make a rational choice between different alternatives.

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