Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sun Nov 25 2001 - 03:10:46 MST

On Sat, Nov 24, 2001 at 10:33:59PM -0500, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > On Sat, Nov 24, 2001 at 10:54:54AM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> > >
> > > Actually, I think it will be unlikely to be a problem if any
> > > secular democratic society acquires military nanotechnology.
> > > We've generally avoided the use of offensive technologies
> > > unless we are attacked first.
> >
> > So far, democratic nations have never declared war on each other (of
> > course, plenty of nations *call* themselves democratic, but we are here
> > talking about real democracies).
> What about the Weimar Republic? Although it is not exactly true to say
> that Hitler was elected (the Nazi Party did not achieve a majority in the
> last free election held in Germany), Hitler's dictatorial powers were
> granted him by parliamentary vote of elected parties.

Well, I did not say democracies can't turn into dictatorships (even
legally), just that democracies - and here I mean democracies in the
sense that there is a free press, people do get to hold the government
accountable and influence it, laws and rights are respected and so on -
so far have not gone to war against each other. There are some
borderline cases like the Balkan situation, but if you look at the
actual level of democracy in Serbia as opposed to the formal level of
democracy, it is clear that it was not a very democratic country.

I somewhat dislike having to distinguish "real" democracy from formal
democracy since it sounds like I'm using the word in a slippery manner,
but democracy is 1) a fairly complex concept and not easily measured
along a scalar scale, and 2) every nation loves to claim to be
democratic, causing an endless stretching of the concept to fit various
agendas. But it is such an important concept that we need to take it
back from semantic slipperiness.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:21 MDT