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Democracy is Not Liberty

August 24th, 2009

The practical conception of liberty is simple enough. What liberty requires is: “the ability to use one’s body and property in any manner.” The condition by which this requirement is constrained, is that: “those actions do not collide with the liberty of others.”

From which, Jim Fedako concludes that, “democracy is not to the advantage of the demos, it is to the advantage of the power elite.” I believe this to be true.

…In a democracy, liberty is simply the right to cast a vote for or against an issue or candidate, and then to accept the decision of the majority under threat of the apparatus of coercion and compulsion.

But is this really liberty?

All forms of democracy rest on the argumentum ad populum logical fallacy — the illusion that popularity is privileged. The idea that might makes right. Accordingly, even when it is informal, democracy is an institution, and in accordance with its nature, it is an apparatus of control. It is the institution by which a majority imposes its will on the minority, with the color of propriety.

The market on the other hand, is not a democracy. No “majority” ever “decides” anything in a free market; a plurality of options are almost always available. That’s the difference between true Laissez-faire and Democracy: in true laissez-faire, there is no institution, no apparatus of control.  A marketplace where buyers and sellers transact freely is about the farthest thing from a democracy that could possibly exist.

The principle of laissez-faire excludes tyranny—even popular tyranny—by definition.

But some communists go so far as to suggest that the “free market” creates the elite, the corporate plutocracy or the hated capitalists. But even their favorite scapegoat, “private property” can be interpreted in a far more-forgiving manner than the standard commie talking-points suggest (emphasis added):

‘Private property’ is a social system to determine who is using what, and is a quick and easy way for strangers to tell what group/association/person is using what. That is all it is, it a tool for free association, a tool to quickly sort things out among strangers… The implications of “no property” is this – a stranger or asshole walks into your home, a stranger or asshole uses all your stuff, a stranger or asshole sleeps in your bed, a stranger or asshole uses your TV or computer when you want to use it, a stranger or asshole takes the clothes off your back to wear them themselves, and a stranger or asshole eats all the food in your refrigerator. That is Authority, that is coercion, domination and slavery.

…I think that oftentimes “anarcho-communism” is viewed as something that will be democratically mandated upon everyone through a majority vote scenario… This in my opinion is not a form of “anarcho-communism” or “voluntary communism” at all, it is instead a directly democratic participatory conformist workers’ State. This is the view-point that seems to come about when “free association” is not given great importance as a prime anarchist principle.

Or as I’ve recently argued, democracy is tyranny unless individuals maintain the right to exit.

Even though the “market” (or rather, the co-opted, zombiefied remains thereof) may be the principle means by which the elite oppress and extract rents from the productive class, the market was not the origin of these evils. The market is not the means by which some men effect control over others.

On the contrary, it was through democracy that the power elite was born, and it is through democracy that the power elite maintains its position of dominance which subsumes the peaceful transactions of the market, transforming them into something ignoble.

Since democracy rests on popularity rather than propriety, it can be (and often is) hijacked. It should go without saying that those most inclined to hijack it are those least likely to be trusted therewith. Reverence for “democracy” is the proverbial given inch, by which the usurpers intend to “take a mile.”

And it is the existence of such an institution which attracts, like a magnet, the very vice to which we (as anarchists) are united in opposition.

We view the mere existence of the State as sufficient condition to attract evil, to impose on our liberties, etc. I hold Democracy (or rather, the belief that Democracy is some sort of be-all/end-all) in the same regard.

Comments

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  • The Man says on: August 24, 2009 at 11:12 pm

     

    So move to Somalia. There's functionally no government there at all. Of course, protecting your property rights against thieves, gangs, and thugs is awfully hard without a police force or laws to even define where your property begins and ends.

    • nothirdsolution says on: August 24, 2009 at 11:51 pm

       

      My impression, based on a lay understanding of the history of the African continent, is that the vast majority of the problems, from genocide to clan warfare to corrupt politicians stealing oil-for-food, can be principally traced back to British/Dutch imperialism. The power vacuum they left in their wake, or more specifically the prospect of international recognition/sanction for their criminal regimes, is what the warlords are fighting for.

      That said, "Somalia" is kind of a cheap shot. You wouldn't suggest I move to the desert in New Mexico, (and I wouldn't) so why should I be asked to move to a desert half the world away?

      And if you're curious about how Somalia compares to other abandoned empire-states like Somalia:

      When extreme poverty (percentage of individuals living on less than PPP$1 a day) was last measured by the World Bank in 1998, Somalia fared better than many other countries in Africa, over some of whom Somalia also had superior infrastructure.

      And further that:

      that living standards have often improved "relative to other African countries since the collapse of the Somali central government

    • nothirdsolution says on: August 24, 2009 at 11:52 pm

       

      My impression, based on a lay understanding of the history of the African continent, is that the vast majority of the problems, from genocide to clan warfare to corrupt politicians stealing oil-for-food, can be principally traced back to British/Dutch imperialism. The power vacuum they left in their wake, or more specifically the prospect of international recognition/sanction for their criminal regimes, is what the warlords are fighting for.

      That said, "Somalia" is kind of a cheap shot. You wouldn't suggest I move to the desert in New Mexico, (and I wouldn't) so why should I be asked to move to a desert half the world away?

      And if you're curious about how Somalia compares to other abandoned empire-states like Somalia:

      When extreme poverty (percentage of individuals living on less than PPP$1 a day) was last measured by the World Bank in 1998, Somalia fared better than many other countries in Africa, over some of whom Somalia also had superior infrastructure.

      And further that:

      that living standards have often improved "relative to other African countries since the collapse of the Somali central government

    • Don says on: August 26, 2009 at 1:45 am

       

      How the hell do people get this way?

      The police and the laws do not protect your property, at all and I have no idea why you think that.

      There are police and laws throughout the US yet millions of pieces of property are stolen everyday, even by the police themselves.

      If you want your property protected you must do it yourself or hire a security firm to do it for you for the jack booted thugs have been proven over and over again by the courts to have no responsibility for protecting you or your property.

      The worst thing this gov't ever did was to hijack the public school system, for by rendering generations of people, like this specimen above, into complete non-thinking idiots has paved the way for all other gov't and societal ills.

  • Don says on: August 26, 2009 at 1:51 am

     

    There is no such thing as partly free, just as there is no partly pregnant or partly dead.

    You are either free or enslaved.

    Here in the US all of the citizenry has been enslaved since at least the early part of the 20th century.

    The only reason people have the impression they are free is by way of extreme gov't inefficiency – they can't watch everybody all of the time.

    But technology and tyranny are closing the gap quickly and soon it will be obvious to all but the comatose what its like to be a slave.

    Unfortunately by then it will be too late.

    History has shown tyranny can last for centuries.

    They take your money, they tell you what you can and can't do, they control just about every faction of your life.

    What is *free* about that?

    I know, I know, "we're still the *freest* country on the planet and if I don't like it here I should move to China, for the children.

    • nothirdsolution says on: August 26, 2009 at 2:04 am

       

      Thanks Don – you are a voice of reason!

  • Stewart Browne says on: August 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm

     

    The Somalia comment is an interesting one that is getting thrown at libertarians a lot these days. The notion of a stateless society is gaining enough traction out there to be threatening to some, and they've concocted a meme to fight it. What's noteworthy is that Somalia was the most violent, chaotic place in the world as the formal central governing arrangement broke into civil war. Somalia is evidence that anarchy cannot turn around an uncivilized society overnight. There must be movement both on the political front (away from central government) and within society at large (toward voluntary transactions). To some extent, a degree of barbarism in a culture is what allows large central democracy to form. The barbarism itself must be addressed in order for a stateless society to come about. If a libertarian political movement somehow tore down the state overnight in America, we might well have a bit of chaos as those who want a violent state try to find new ways to coerce others. But if the state is brought down because a critical mass of people have gotten into the web of voluntary transactions and desire to leave the state, those people would have no trouble forming a civilized society, because they were already doing so.

  • Gog & Magog says on: August 31, 2009 at 6:46 am

     

    Zionist = Goyim – Humanism

    • nothirdsolution says on: August 31, 2009 at 11:38 am

       

      nobody has any idea what that means. thanks for wasting my time.

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