5.a.7 – How to protect minorities?

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June 18, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

How to protect minorities?

If in this world rules exist, is because it is not always natural to follow them; the same way, even if everyone recognizes respect and solidarity as important values, our behaviour is not always consistent with them; that’s why we must set some rules and make sure that they are respected. Starting then from our values, we need rules that ensure the respect and solidarity within the group; the aim is to prevent the development of a dictatorship of the majority.
In a group of three people it can happen that two systematically agree against the third; we formerly said that everyone in a community should have an advantage in being part of it: if there is a disadvantage instead one would not be a member of the community, but a victim of it; in order to have an advantageous coexistence and cooperation, it is also essential the right to dissociation as well as to association. The group should not be a prison and then, going back to the example of three people, the third element, always in minority, should have the right to leave, if deemed convenient. This option certainly puts a limit to the arrogance of the other two, but is not enough to get rid of it because, relying on the need that the third party has, like all others, to belong to the group, they can continue harassing him without arriving to the point to convince him that remaining is no longer affordable.
According to the principle of solidarity within the group, all decisions should be to the benefit of all or at least should not harm anyone, but in some cases this is not possible and then someone will have to sacrifice for the good of others (not for the collective good, since he is excluded from the benefits and gets even damaged). In a real community it would be natural that the benefited seek to reward those who have sacrificed for them, limiting or reversing the damage that they have received. If this time we consider three people linked by a sincere friendship, and two of them can earn ten thousand euro, causing a loss of two thousand to the third, they would immediately agree in sharing the eight thousand Euros in three, using the remaining two thousand to cover the damage caused to the third, which would ultimately obtain a benefit rather than being damaged. Therefore for a correct behaviour, consistent with the objectives of democracy, it is good to set the following rule: when the majority considers it appropriate to make a decision that harms a minority, it is required to compensate it and share with it the benefit obtained.
With this rule we can expect that many decisions are taken unanimously or, if the gain does not exceed the compensation, would not be taken at all. Unanimity is the situation of maximum agreement, does not mean to have all the same idea from the start, but to find a good compromise through dialogue and confrontation; anyway, also with the rule of compensation for damages, we know that is not always possible to achieve it, for example in case some do not agree even without being damaged in any way. So if it is right to try to achieve a consensus in as many cases as possible, it is not realistic to always succeed: a system which does not provide alternative solutions cannot work.
If total agreement is not reached, the position that leaves unsatisfied the least number of people is certainly that of the absolute majority; the minority can only accept compensation, if due, or leave the group.


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