Monday, November 15, 2010

Thomas Jefferson’s nightmare

From Defending the Human Spirit: Jewish Law’s Vision for a Moral Society by Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, the chief rabbi of South Africa (pp 127–128 in the 2006 edition):
The fear [Jefferson had was] that of tyranny at the hands of the majority, who may seek to infringe the rights of the minority. The mention [in his letter to Madison] of civium ardor prava pubentium [“the excessive ardor and passion of the people”] indicates what Jefferson feared most — “not tyranny from above, from a nonresponsive closed government corporation, but tyranny resulting from the excessive ardor and passion of the people, in other words, from a faction.” 
Jefferson’s fear of democracy was such that he favored “a judicial veto and a year’s delay in the passage of legislation”.
Good old Jefferson knew what he was talking about. No wonder he discovered electricity, eh? (And had a veggie garden the size of three football fields.) What we have going on nowadays in this here country is nothing short of what the third President of America feared.

Now, imagine some Mac users saying that they are afraid of Windows users gaining majority and oppressing the users of other operating systems. Such a fear is laughable. Simply because this is not how market works. People pick which computer to buy, which OS to install, and users of different operating systems (as well as clients of different cell phone companies or chassidim of different rebbeim) can co-exist in the same society and even do business together.

Imagine if everyone in the society would have to vote for the members of some governing body that would determine what elements an OS that everyone had to subscribe to would have. Sometimes the Windows faction would be in the majority, sometimes the Apple one. Sometimes users would find having to click on a Start button, sometimes not. And everyone would use the same OS, and nobody would be happy. That would be crazy, wouldn’t it?


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