Democracy is NOT Freedom (and vice versa)

Jarret Wollstein writes today at the Future of Freedom Foundation that democracy and freedom are not the same thing. I’ve been working on a similar idea for an LRC piece for months now (chalk most of it up to laziness), from the standpoint that popular sovereignty is a fraud, and “the people” can never be meaningfully soveriegn.

I’ll get it done.

What interests me a lot is the focus Americans (in particular) have regarding law and constitution. As if somehow, pieces of paper covered with noble and beautiful words will magically create good and decent government. But good government, and good order, aren’t created by canon or constitution; good order creates both canon and constitution. Custom, culture and individual character (the three C’s) are responsible for good government, and without much of any of those, the rule of law is just one more way to tyranny. Regardless of what kind of system individuals create, it’s only as good as the people in it. Even in a dictatorship, most people in “the system” will be okay, mediocre men and women who are neither saints nor totally depraved sinners. A few will be saints, but only a few. They will rarely rise to the top. Anywhere.

But you will have — because you will always have — more sinners than saints. Pretty words don’t stop sinners, especially hungry and powerful ones, from misusing and abusing power. (The neocons constantly remind us of that, without ever considering that they themselves are evil too.) That is the problem I am increasingly having with democracy — you elect people who want power, and it is generally a bad thing to give power to those who want it.

I’m increasignly inclined to believe that Hans Hermann Hoppe is right: if people must be governed, very limited and very liberal hereditary monarchy (most of the limits imposed by culture and custom, rather than law), and not democracy, is the way it should be done. If for no other reason, it gives a community or society a fighting chance that someone who never ever wanted power, and never fought to gain it, could get it.