Friday 6 July 2012

Democracy eventually makes good government impossible


Reading the analyses of bad things that happen in modern societies, it is difficult (once one has dropped the automatic assumption of its intrinsic superiority) to avoid the conclusion that democracy makes good government impossible.

And the more mature the democracy, the more widespread are democratic processes, the more this is the case.

And this is unavoidable since any individuals who do govern well and make good decisions that go-against the destructive effects of democracy, will soon find their good decisions undercut and reversed by the grinding of democratic processes.


Simply reading the coverage of any democratic process at any level - from a small committee running a small society, right up to the electoral machinations and voter-buying/ intimidation of nations and multi-national bodies - it is clear that such procedures prevent good government to the extent of the longer and more widespread they have become.


(Somehow, people engage in blatant attempts at manipulation of democratic processes, designed to and succeeding in subverting the spontaneous will, while yet regarding the outcome of this corruption as not just a self-evident Good, but as a transcendent value!)  


Monarchists (I mean advocates of divinely-ordained monarchy) are usually criticized on the basis that Kings and Emperors are not necessarily good, and may be bad.

Perfectly true. Undeniable.

The best that can be said about divinely-ordained monarchy is that it can be good.

But democracy is necessarily bad, as we see all around us - democracy causes and prevents the solution of what are simple and (in principle) perfectly-soluble problems (such as the current economic crisis, inflation of money and educational certificates, continually-expanding state dependency).


Of course democracy doesn't do all this damage overnight - indeed, due to social inertial it has taken decades.

But that is not grounds for optimism; because inertia means that what took decades to become a problem will take (at least) decades to set right.



Matias said...

Hans-Hermann Hoppe's "Democracy - The God That Failed" is the best account of the flaws of democracy that I have read. As opposed to hereditary monarchs, democratic rulers does not own their country's capital value, but seek short-term income maximization, In time, this exploitation will destroy the capital value of the country.

Egalitarian consumerism (mass democracy) has removed the moderating effects a ruling class might have had on democracy. A ruling class could act as the owner of a country, seeing to it that the mob does not simply rob it clean. But nowadays it is clear that the ruling class in modern societies are simply the experts in manipulation.

dearieme said...

Wot abaht the Swiss?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matias - Good points. But even if they didn't apply, there would still be the problem that committees and voting are not wise nor do they demonstrate judgement.

@dearieme - what about the Swiss? Some say they are less-rapidly suicidal than the surrounding nations - maybe...

JP said...

Swiss democracy really dates from 1848 -- and "direct democracy" from 1891 -- which to me says that they haven't had a very long time at all in which to self-destruct. Possibly, as BGC says, they will do so less rapidly than their neighbors due to their inherent qualities.

The pre-1798 Swiss "Republic" was run by an aristocratic oligarchy. It was not a democracy.

chris said...


Thought you might find this interesting.

Morning Bell: Governor Walker Breaks New Ground in Higher Ed

Anonymous said...

The swiss have done well primarily through not allowing women to vote until the 1970s. Now that women have the vote and are influenced by american mass media the Swiss are on the same trajectory as the rest of us.