The Veto Nonsense and Unanimity

Herodotus reported about a people that had the custom (like many animals living in tribes) to kill a person who is ill. ‘Naturally’, he comments, ‘the unfortunate man protests that nothing is wrong with him but to no avail’. In such a case, a veto-right, the right of one person in a small scale group being able to torpedo a general decision, would be life-saving (for the man). It would even be advantageous to the group in Summum Bonum fashion. In our case, things are different. When 20 shipwrecked people in a lifeboat should agree with a proposal to drill a hole in the boat except one sane person, who means to survive, the existence of a veto right, then, might well save the lot. This example more or less reflects our state of affairs. But there are other reflections possible.

First of all, one wise man in a boat-load of 20 may compare to a ratio of 100 in the 5 billion, or even to 3 in the 1000 governors.

Secondly, the proposal and vote to drill a hole, can easily be made into the opposite proposal ‘not’ to drill such hole. The veto of a sane man for the first, could be compared to the veto of a crank, the one saving lives, the other destroying life. When you veto the ‘not’ drilling, you in fact drill.
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