Sunday, July 30, 2006

Democracy vs. Freedom

There seems to be a common misonception that has become "conventional wisdom" that democracy is equivalent to freedom and the best form of government. But democracy is not freedom. Democracy just means majority rule. Pure majority rule is mob rule. Mob rule does not equal freedom, it equals tyranny. This should be obvious - if the majority always rules, then the majority can violate the rights of the minority and the individual. For example, it should be obvious that a majority opinion that slavery is okay would not magically make slavery correct - it would require circumventing majority rule in such a case to protect the minority. Just as a majority vote in congress for an unconstitutional law, such as one that created a state religion, would not be "freedom" it would be tyranny of the majority. "Democracy" in the middle east would result in nothing but a Muslim theocracy.

America was created, in part, to protect the minority and individual from this. There are fundamental inherent rights that no majority should be able to vote away. This sentiment is clearly reflected in the declaration of independance, which was heavily inspired by the natural law/natural rights principles of John Locke. To be clear, that does not mean that I think oligarchy is any better, it is tyranny for different reasons. But it is important to not buy into the cliche of "democracy = freedom", which is not the case. It is a pure misconception, as is the notion that America is supposed to be a pure democracy, which is not the case either. Whenever someone suggests that majority rule is freedom they're lining us up for tyranny. "Society" is not an existing individual of its own that chooses, acts and thinks on its own - it does not have rights of its own the supercede the rights of the individual.

America was not founded as a Democracy, it was founded as a Constitutional Republic with strict protections of the individual's freedom through strict limits on government power. "A Republic, if you can keep it" were Franklin's words when asked after the constitutional convention what kind of government was created. John Adams argued that democracies merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. Ron Paul's old article "Democracy is not Freedom" put the point very well. Ultimately, Democracy is not compatable with individual rights, as it is a collectivist construct. An endless majoritarian rat-race for control over others. Furthermore, a pure direct democracy is likely simply not possible.

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