RE: British democracy in 1812 and freedom indices (was WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...))

From: pchaston (
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 12:58:43 MST

The British monarchy in 1812 was a parliamentary monarchy where the elites
tended to form an oligarchy, united by kinship, money and domination of the
centres of power (Church, Parliament, and land).

One could set up a freedom index based upon institutional or structural
criteria but this would not reflect the actual experiences of the historical
actors. (For example, the lack of a bureaucratic and rational state
structure interfering in people's freedom of action is more than made up for
by social, religious and economic pressures). I am not sure if sufficient
historical evidence could be gathered to construct a consistent and
comparative index of freedom before the last century. Too many doubts over
methododlogy, I suspect.

Philip Chaston

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Anders Sandberg
> Sent: 27 November 2001 09:02
> To:
> Subject: Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get
> Afghanistan...)
> On Mon, Nov 26, 2001 at 06:08:43PM -0500, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> > Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > >
> > > > > 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).
> > >
> > > No two countries with a "MacDonald's" franchise have ever gone to
> > > war against each other, democracies or otherwise.
> I actually think this rule of thumb was broken during the Balkan
> conflict.
> > Furthermore, both Japan and Germany were led by governments
> > democratically elected by parliamentary systems prior to WWII. Going
> > back in time, the British government was democratically elected in 1812
> > when it engaged in war with the democratically elected US government.
> > Going even further back in time, both Sparta and Athens had their own
> > democratic systems when they engaged in the Pelopponesian War, and Rome
> > was still a Republic when it took over Greece later on. On the other
> > side of the world, Pakistan and India, two democratic nations, have
> > fought at least three wars against each other when both were led by
> > elected leaders. Then, for instance, Israel, a parliamentary democracy,
> > has fought a war against the Jordanian kingdom, a constitutional
> > monarchy structured along British lines.
> I think several of these examples twist the term democracy; see my other
> post about the need for a stricter term. That Germany and Japan had
> parlamentary systems doesn't mean they were democratic. And the forms of
> democracy of Athens and Sparta were highly different from what we
> currently call democracy, and I have a *very* hard time viewing the
> spartan system as a democracy - it has been described as a democratic
> timocratic monarchical oligarchy, and the democratic part seems to have
> been fairly thin.
> The 1812 war is more interesting; does anybody have any estimates of the
> freedom index of respective nation at the time?
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
> GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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