Liberals often claim that democracy is absolute necessity for a civilized society and that there can be no other means for an orderly society to sustain its existence. Obviously, liberalism is not about anarchy as for a liberal, state is an absolute necessity. However, liberalism is an esoteric idea and it would be difficult to understand the limits of a liberal to which he will allow government to control his life.
Recently, I was confronted by an Indian liberal who first claimed that he is a pro-free market liberal capitalist and he considers that government is an absolute necessity and it isn’t a necessary evil. In his enthusiasm to support government and its existence, he almost forgot his claim about being a pro-free market capitalist and started claiming that bailouts are a good way to stimulate failing economy. Obviously, he doesn’t despise government interventionism in free market. To spread his esoteric knowledge, he further expressed his firm support for fiat currency and central government and claimed that fiat currency is way better than gold standard or competitive currencies. I refuted his esoteric ideas with exoteric evidences yet he denied to accept the logic behind free market.
His next move was to support democracy as the best system to operate in a free, fair and equal society1 . Liberals are known for their love towards democracy.
Ludwig von Mises, who was a liberal, praised democracy in the following words2 :
Democracy3 is that form of political constitution which makes possible the adaptation of the government to the wishes of the governed without violent struggles. If in a democratic state the government is no longer being conducted as the majority of the population would have it, no civil war is necessary to put into office those who are willing to work to suit the majority. By means of elections and parliamentary arrangements, the change of government is executed smoothly and without friction, violence, or bloodshed.
Ludwig von Mises was exactly right in suggesting that in democracy, the majority of population will not need to resort to violence to change the government in exactly that manner in which they want it. However, this doesn’t mean that democracy is free of any violence. On the contrary, democracy is a violent political institution which works in favor of majority to exploit the minority.
Indian liberal conceded that in a democracy, each individual argues in favor of what s/he thinks is the right way to go, and in the end, the decision of majority becomes the law (The Failing Democracy) .
This explains the violent nature of democracy. Democracy strictly means the rule of majority where the minority will have to accept the majority decision and will have to pay for it. While our Indian Liberal tried to defend his position by claiming, Democracy “is a system that identifies the rights of all its citizens to equal participation in the process of political self-determination.”
However, this is not possible in parliamentary democracy, nor it is possible in representative democracy. In these two types of democracy, the government works on compulsory taxation and the citizens have no right to reject. Right to reject is an individual’s inherent right to not to agree and be a part of a collective decision and action. Every human being has an inherent right to enjoy the labors of his fruits. Compulsory taxation is direct breach of this human right. That is, if an individual feels that a certain policy promoted by majority vote is wrong, he should have a right to reject4 , to not to support this policy by denouncing taxes. That is, taxes should not be Compulsory. Or in better terms, there should be ‘Direct Democracy.’
Failure of Democracy
In current world, we observe three types of democracies, the first one is Parliamentary democracy or Fabian socialist democracy adopted by England and copied by India. It is obviously not the government of public by the public for the public because it allows the Parliamentarians to dictate their terms on public. There hardly is a check against the power of politicians. While it is true that public will have a chance to choose other set of parliamentarians in next elections, it hardly matters especially when all politicians realize that the real incentive is in being corrupt, tyrant and dominating. Mahatma Gandhi explained Parliamentarian democracies in best way when he commented, “If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined. Parliaments are merely emblems of slavery5 .
The truth is, England, India, and other Parliamentarian countries (all of them) are failure because their initial idea of democracy is wrong.
Other type of democracy is majority democracy. It is true, No Man is Island, but no man is bound to be slave of the collective by nature. He is in fact given the rational ability to oppose the collective whenever the collective is wrong. He has the right and ability to live a life on voluntary principles.
All men can reside on the same island while remaining free of each other with a right to collaborate with each other voluntarily. Forcing them is foolish and it leads to failure. This is why the second type of democracy, the Majority Representative Democracy is also a failure. It has been adopted by America (the USA). Now obviously, US citizens are more educated and alert towards their political issues and economical woes.
By this logic, even if Indian citizens achieve similar degrees of education/literacy, information etc, they are bound to fail as a democratic state. Yes American democracy is also a failure and there are ample examples of its failure. I wonder who will deny this fact. Mahatma Gandhi explained why US democracy is a failure when he said, “It is a superstition and an ungodly thing to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority6 .”
Ayn Rand supported representative democracy bound with a Constitution and termed it as Constitutional Republic. In such democracy, people are allowed to choose their representatives, but they are not allowed to have referendums to change anything in the given constitution, nor do the representatives have any right to change anything in the given constitution. Obviously, the idea of Ayn Rand is also a failure because there is nothing that can stop majority and their representatives from changing and tossing the constitution out of the sight. America was a great nation with a great Constitution but now, neither America is great, nor is its constitution. Last night, American Congress decided to suspend the Habeas Corpus in America for indefinite times, now anyone in America can be detained/ jailed for the suspicion of being a terrorist and he will not have a right to appear in court or any other right offered by habeas corpus. I am sure Ayn Rand might not have liked this idea of playing with the Constitution every now and then7 .
The Direct Democracy is the true democracy8 which allows individuals to act voluntarily, to decide voluntarily. It allows deliberation, consultation and consensus. If for a referendum only 30% people agree, they will have the right to go on with their idea and invest in it, implement it on their group of 30%, while the 70% other which denies with their idea through referendum will not be forced to pay for that idea/policy. Direct democracy doesn’t demand compulsory taxation, rather it works on the principles of voluntarism, it works on voluntary taxation (an oxymoron?).
Direct democracy exists and it is successful. Direct democracy is out of the control of government because it doesn’t need any government. Direct democracy is Black Market and it is thriving across the globe. Direct Democracy is exactly compatible with Anarchocapitalism. In fact, Anarchocapitalism is direct democracy, the market is the right place to vote for and to buy or not to buy, to agree for a service or not to agree is the real referendum.
Plebiscite or referendum means direct voting, however, it is not for selecting representatives of people to make decisions for them, rather it is voting to make decision.
- Democracy and Mob Rule, Indian Liberls [↩]
- The Foundation of Liberal Policy, Ludwig von Mises [↩]
- The Failing Democracy, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Mockery of Right to Reject, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Was Mahatma Gandhi a Libertarian, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Was Mahatma Gandhi a Libertarian, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Habeas Corpus in 21st Century, Wikipedia [↩]
- Direct Democracy, Wikipedia [↩]