An Argument against Representative Government

I’ve been thinking about my argument against universal suffrage and it seems that a very similar logic can be applied against representative government.

First, let us take representative government to be a form of government where representatives seeks to enact the desires and preferences[*] of those that they represent. Note the reliance on desires and preferences. Here I don’t take up the consideration of a representative government that seeks to enact the common good of those represented even against their desires and preferences.

As in the prior argument, a representative does not seek to enact the preference of the insane or small children for the reasons that their preferences are underdeveloped, uninformed and generally motivated by emotion and passion. The representative does not in fact even represent these segments of his constituency and does not even seek to do so.

In issues of national concern (though lesser levels as well), men in general do not possess sufficient knowledge to be informed in their preferences or have anything other than an emotional attachment to particular preferences.

Therefore, a representative by the same logic should not represent men in general, because their preferences are grounded in the same ignorance and emotion of children. Yet, this largely undermines the logic of representative government and the ground by which the representative acts. Therefore, representative government is practically a contradiction in that government is ordered to enact some ordering of goods, but representation provides no basis to enact some ordering of goods.


[*] Given the diversity of preferences of any group, this is generally impossible according to Arrow’s Theorem.

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2 Responses to An Argument against Representative Government

  1. Even in things not of national concern, the subjective preferences of someone else are impossible to know unless that individual reveals them to you, and even then they could be lying or have misconceptions about what they actually want. Asking someone else to represent you in getting what you most desire and prefer is just a terrible idea all around, and necessarily leads to you not getting all sorts of things that you really want or prefer.

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  2. My focus is limited to what is most manifest. Most people have no clue of the details of national issues or at least to the same degree as small children and their desires are therefore just as well formed. Representatives do not represent the unformed desires of small children. Therefore, they should not represent those of most people. The impetus for action of a representative is in representing the desires of people, therefore, representative government has no principle of action.

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