Monday, February 05, 2007

Why Democracy?

I wish to discuss a rather controversial topic.

Privilege and Power

The initial premise of democracy is that by expanding access to the governmental apparatus to everyone, wether that be through voting or through eligibility for holding political office, we will get rid of exploitation of men by men. The idea is that this will get rid of the special privileges in society, converting everyone into more or less a state of "equality under the law". This premise of democracy is practically universally accepted, especially in west. It is simply assumed that democracy is the best form of government.

But these premises are simply wrong. The only remotely good thing that democracy does as a system is get rid of the monarchal king. But this move in itself becomes meaningless and negated by the proceeding steps in the transformation towards democracy. Democracy may indeed get rid of the king, but it replaces the king with a plurality of rulers (which for all intents and purposes can now function as multiple kings). But think about what this actually does. We have gotten rid of the special privilege of the king, and replaced it with a special privilege to an even larger band of men.

Democracy does not get rid of privileged rulers. It replaces a system in which one person is at the top of the heirarchy with one in which multiple people are at the top of the heirarchy. Indeed, democracy does not get rid of heirarchy. A government (no matter what form), by its very nature, is heirarchal, and a government inherently creates a class division between itself and the populace. The political class is those who constitute the government and the individuals who ally with them for privileges (the tax-consumers), and the subject class is those who are ruled by the political class (the tax-payers). What democracy does is allow more people to become part of the political class, and hence it actually expands special privileges.

Voting and Representation

What, one may ask, about voting? Does voting not imply consent on the part of the population? It first must be established that the casting of a vote in itself need not be one of enthusiasm, but can be one of resignation or as a protective mechanism against encroachment by interests that the individual dislikes or opposes. Indeed, the only reason that I personally voted in the recent Ohio elections was as a protective mechanism against measures of the government that I thought would be harmful to my well-being as an individual and that of society. Further, the idea that voting necessarily implies any consent at all is questionable.

It also must be established that the mere act of voting is not truly binding on any politician. For all intents and purposes, a politician can run on a platform of X, and then do Y once in office (for example, see George W. Bush preaching about the virtues of non-intervention with foreign nations in the 90's and compare it to his actions in the present). One may counter that in four years or so they can get voted out of office, but (1) this is less likely than one may think due to the gullability of the voting populace (2) it does nothing to negate the damage already done in the time that the person does hold office and (3) it does nothing to truly legally prosecute politicians who break their oaths and contracts.

The demographic reality tells us that large chunks of many country's populations simply don't vote. It would follow that these people cannot be said to be "responsible" for things that came about as a result of voting that they did not take part in. One cannot reasonably argue that someone who has never cast a vote can truly be adequately represented. This rather large group of people, the non-voters, are technically pure subjects. But so are most of the people who do vote, because their votes do nothing but bind them. The non-voter is binded all the same, even without having voted, for they are still subject to whatever the government decides. The typical voter has simply been given the illusion that they are in a better position than the non-voter. This is not the case - both are subject to the government's decrees agaisnt their will all the same.

We are almost never dealing with true majorities in a democracy. We are dealing with "numerical majorities". The idea that, say, Texas is a "red state" is absurd in the sense that the actual statistics show us something very close to the following: say, 35% of the elible Texas population voted, and out of that 35% of the eligible Texas population 2% voted for 3rd parties, 15% voted for Democrats and 18% voted for Republicans.Thus, by literally considering Texas to be a "red state", we are projecting a rather small statistic (18% of eligible voters, which is probably less than 10% of the Texas population) into a generalization encompassing the entire population of the state. The real percentages get even smaller when we realize that our analysis is leaving out all the people who are not eligible to vote as well, which includes teenagers and perhaps some immigrants. But this demonstrates a vital point for us: "the majority" or "the state of texas" is not being "represented", but we are dealing with a small fraction of it's population.

What democracy functions to do is to dupe the population into believing that "we are the government", that they are on equal footing with the political class and indeed are one and the same. In a monarchy, the people are very aware of the separation between them and the government because it is made obvious to them. The government's exploitation is simply made less obvious in a democracy. In a democracy, this difference still exists, but it is blurred by the false idea that voting gaurantees representation and that "we are the government". It simply must be pointed out that the pure ideal of democracy, a situation in which each individual has complete equal say in government, is a utopian impossibility. It must be emphasized that the idea that "we are the government" functions as a way for rulers to "justify" themselves by providing a false cloak.

Majoritarianism

Another tenet of democracy that presents us with an inevitable ethical problem is the doctrine of the supremacy of the majority. As we have established, we rarely are dealing with real majorities. However, let's function under the premise that we are. How do numbers make anything legitimate? The ethically and logically consistant position would be that if it is wrong for an individual to do X (such as murder), then it is wrong for a group to do X. There is no situation in which it is moral for a group to do that which is immoral for an individual to do. If a group bands together and votes to enslave, plunder or murder a smaller group, the amount of people involved is entirely irrelevant. Adding more people to an activity does not increase its morality. Fifty people stealing from one person is not any better than one person stealing from fifty people from the perspective of pure right and wrong. Lastly, from the perspective of an individualist, the masses are pretty intellectually dull and easily driven by raw emotion. Why would we want to always rely on the lowest common denominator?

It must be realized that the doctrine of the supremacy of the majority is entirely contrary to the doctrine of preserving the rights of the individual and minority. It is inevitable that if the majority always rules, situations will arise in which the (usually numerical) majority bands together to violate the rights of a minority group or individual. There indeed are times when "the mob" wreaks havoc on individuals and minorities, and the ideal of pure democracy is a situation in which the mob always gets what they want. Thus, the role of the democratic politician is to make promises to appease the demands of the masses; to demagogue them. This is the democratic polician's method of gaining and keeping power.

The divine, mystical nature attributed to government power has always existed. In short, there has always been government propaganda designed to make the government seem legitimate in the eyes of the populace. In the earliest of times, the idea was that the ruler literally was a god (such as the Early Egyptian pharohs). When this had worn threadbare, it transformed into another idea: "the divine right of the king", I.E. the idea that the king was a quasi-divine figure chosen by god. This was watered down further with the addition of parlaiments. When the divine right idea had worn threadbare, we have been left ever since with a secular version of the same thing. The democratic doctrine for legitimizing the state simply cuts to the chase and assigns either the state itself with divine-like authority or puts forth the idea that "the people" or "the voters" or "the majority" are the divine justification.

Economics and Property

Insight into the economics of democracy has been expanded upon by professor Hans Herman Hoppe. What Hoppe has demonstrated is a wide difference in the incentive structures of democracy vs. monarchy. In a monarchy, the king has a natural incentive to preserve the value of his capital stock and tend to his property. In a democracy, the politician is only a temporary stewart with no real incentive to preserve the capital stock or property. If a democratic politician causes losses, they are not personally affected by it. If a king incurs such losses, they are personally affected by it and hence they have an incentive to avoid such losses.

Of course, a king can very well "loot the treasury", so to speak, but nowhere near to the extent that a democratic politician can. A king has an incentive to not loot the treasury too much because he is literally responsible for debt and losses. If he loots the treasury too much, he will pay for it personally. A democratic politician can loot the treasury as he pleases without being held personally responsible for paying off debt. The costs are simply passed onto to future generations and other politicians.

There is thus a vast difference in time-preferance as well between a monarchy and democracy. A democracy is present-oriented. It is all about appeasing the demands of the present (particularly by pandering to the masses) at the expense of the future. A monarchy is considerably more future-oriented, more prone to making sure that its short-term decisions do not cause effects that will be harmful in the future. A monarchy has an incentive to make sure that it doesn't diminish the source of its supply, lest the ruling class incur bad consequences directly as individuals. A democratic short-term steward is much more liberal in its diminishing of supply because they are not directly responsible for it.

As a consequence of the above, democracies will inherently have a higher tax burden, more inflation, more debt and more spending than a monarchy. Since the democratic politician is not personally affected by these things, they will be considerably prone to continue and expand them.

Conclusion

So, we have to conclude that democracy is not the best form of government, let alone a good one, and may very well be even worse than a monarchy in many respects. To find a truly superior form of government, we need to find ways to avoid the problems of both Democracy and Monarchy. This was once attempted by some wise men who formed a country called America. Their vision was never fully put into practise, and has been deteriorated by the vision of others since. It is the duty of not only Americans, but everyone, to pick up where they left off and expand on (and hence improve) their vision and put it into action.

2 comments:

kblair7 said...

A wonderful essay. You should attempt to publish it.
Instead of branching off into so many subtopics you should stick to one. Perhaps expand on your views on the theory of democracy.
Honestly I am very impressed.

Brainpolice said...

Thanks for the "props". Yea, I actually intended for it to be a bit longer, if not twice as long. I'll definitely keep it and revise it to make a larger, more detailed work. I only mentioned about half of the axoims and deductions that could be made.