June 12, 2013

Against Democracy

By In Philosophy, Politics

The glamorized system of democracy, while despised by those radical limited-government theorists among the founders of the United States, is commonly misunderstood and praised by the majority of the public today.  Although it seems cliche to point out the fact that the Constitution established a Republican form of government, it is not only necessary to understand this, it is also likely the most important distinction to be had in the continual transition to an outright collectivist system.

German born economist and philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s work on Democracy, in many ways, provides the fatal blow to the illusion of the concept of Democracy.  In Democracy: The God that Failed, Hoppe writes this:

 Competition in the production of goods is good, but competition in the production of bads is not.  Free competition in killing, stealing, counterfeiting, or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad.  Yet this is precisely what is instituted by open political competition, i.e., democracy.

Despite the preference that I, along with many others, have in seeing a fully free and voluntary system of law and property rather than a well-intentioned Constitutional Republic, it can hardly be stressed enough that our transition away from Republicanism toward Democracy has been the most detrimental move since our founding.

Democracy is, by its nature, a collectivist system in which either the majority rules the minority, or the majority elects the leaders to rule the populous at large.  The disregard for full property rights and individual liberty is astounding and dangerous.  A majority of executive decisions, bills of legislation,  judicial determinations, and elections, are a transfer in some sense of power or property from the individual to the State.  The State, as described by Murray Rothbard here, “is the organization of robbery systematized and writ large.”  It is no wonder that the expansion of democracy in the world has led to an expansion of socialism, welfare, taxation, poverty, and war.

As Hoppe points out in Democracy, whereas a monarchy describes a private monopoly on the government, a democracy describes a public ownership of the monopolistic government.  The monarch, based on the fact that he or she (or more commonly, the royal family) owns the state, has the self-interested motivation to preserve the culture, society, and economy.  The democratically elected official merely “oversees” but does not “own” the state.  Therefore, the self-interest of the democratic leader motivates him, not to preserve the nation to be passed on, but to wring it dry of its resources, take it to war, inflate the currency, and tax the population to an extent much higher than the monarch.  The process to destruction is much slower under a monarchy than a democracy.

Competition for a democratically elected position is to make the most popular and attractive promises, thereby effectually aiming to ever increase spending, welfare, wealth distribution, and political favors.  In other words, a democracy, being what Hoppe described as a “competition for ‘bads,'” is simply the process of voting for the transfer of wealth, power, and control, away from the individual private hands, and into the “public control.”  The State, by its nature, is detrimental to economy and society, and since democracy is the competition of the control of the State, democracy is naturally a regressive system in regards to liberty and prosperity. Democracy and socialism go hand in hand.

Further, under democracy, those subjected to the State have a long-running assumption that, because they are the ones voting their rulers into office, they have both a voice in government, as well a vocal consent.  Notice those statistics which run rampant in the media and higher education, which point to a given topic in which more than half agree or disagree on a given issue.  When most hear these (usually manipulated) statistics, they are so often left without words.  Well, the majority does want free healthcare.  So I guess that is what we ought to do.  After all, we live in a democracy.  But of course the real answer is that majority agreement in no way makes something morally or practically right.  Democracy is the dangerous means toward illusion.  Ron Paul says “End the Fed.”  I say “End Democracy.”

While this post, and Hoppe’s book, is hardly a defense for Monarchy in any sense, the point is to illuminate the idea that just as it is true that private ownership of a business is far more sustainable and productive for a country, so this principle can be applied at the government level as well.  In other words, democracy is so bad, that even the atrocious monarchy is preferable.  The solution therefore, should not be assumed to be an advocacy of monarchy, but rather, a pursuit of pure laissez-faire capitalism and unadulterated individual property rights.  Similar to what the founders tried in their “Constitutional Republic.”  Of course, given the public ownership of this government, its centralized nature, its power to tax, and what Rothbard called “The Anatomy of the State” in general, it would inevitably follow this path.

I think the Articles of Confederation were better (albeit not perfect, because they too gave too much power to the Federal Government) after all.  And when Lincoln “saved the Union,” it is probably more accurate to say he gave it more power and centralized it further, setting the foundation to the modern leviathan and globalist State.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • An enlightening post. However, like you said in your post about Gary North and the Ron Paul Curriculum, you need to be careful about how you define certain terms, such as democracy. You should not forget to define between the Misesian, libertarian definition of democracy (that people have the right to use the free market to secede and practice self-determination) and the modern day, “progressive” definition of democracy (majoritarianism) as understood by the social “democrats” of today.

    • calrush91

      You are right and I understand the nature of Mesesian Democracy completely.

      I am using the “Hoppeian” explanation as stated in the above. And Hoppe himself, in his treatise, address the Misesian definition. Thanks again for the note.