Form of government where the power is exercised directly or indirectly by a majority of the citizens

Reference

Democracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Democracy is a form of government in which policy is decided by the preference of the majority in a decision-making process, usually elections or referenda, open to all or most citizens. In recent decades 'democracy' was used as a synonym for (western) liberal-democratic systems in nation-states, but the existence of "illiberal democracies" is now recognised. The qualifier 'liberal' in this context refers strictly speaking to constitutional liberalism and individual rights, but 'liberal democracy' is widely used to describe other aspects ..."

Articles

A Democratic Dictatorship, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Future of Freedom, May 2006
"What many Americans fail to understand is that it is entirely possible to have democracy and dictatorship at the same time. Democracy entails the use of elections to place people into positions of power. Dictatorship entails the extent of the powers that the ruler is able to exercise after he assumes office."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Terrorism
UpdBernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist, by Marian L. Tupy, The Atlantic, 1 Mar 2016
Clarifies the meaning of various terms which young people tend to misunderstand, including socialism, communism, capitalism and corporatism, and then discusses the relative levels of economic freedom in the United States and other countries
"Considering the negative connotations of 'socialism' in America, it is a bit of a puzzle why Sanders insists on using that word. It would be much less contentious and more correct if he gave his worldview its proper name: not 'democratic socialism,' which implies socialism brought about through a vote, but social democracy. In a social democracy, individuals and corporations continue to own the capital and the means of production. Much of the wealth, in other words, is produced privately. That said, taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much heavier under social democracy than would be the case under pure capitalism."
Bourgeois Virtues?, by Deirdre N. McCloskey, Cato Policy Report, May 2006
Offers an apologia (formal defense) of capitalism, in particular of the phrase "bourgeois virtues" as being neither a contradiction in terms nor a lie
"To put the matter positively, we have been and can be virtuous and commercial, liberal and capitalist, democratic and rich. As John Mueller said in Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery, 'Democracy and capitalism, it seems, are similar in that they can often work pretty well even if people generally do not appreciate their workings very well.'"
Democracy and Government Schools, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jan 2007
Discusses the status quo of government education, including "solutions" such as charter schools and vouchers, and the influence of the "religion of democracy" in attaining a real solution
"In the United States the variant of statism known as democracy isn't seen as simply one of a variety of ways to accomplish a goal. It is a secular religion. Its test is not how well it does things, but whether it, in some theoretical way, acts in the name of The People."
Related Topic: Educational Freedom
Democracy: The God That Failed: In Iraq, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, by Justin Raimondo, 12 Oct 2005
"Democracy is the god that failed to accomplish its ostensible goals everywhere the U.S. has intervened — but the real objective of our 'liberationist' foreign policy is well on the way to being achieved. ... the would-be exporters of 'democracy' have merely succeeded in creating more and bigger trouble, wherever their democratist dogma has been applied."
Related Topics: Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine
Democracy Versus Freedom, by Jarret B. Wollstein, Future of Freedom, Jan 2006
"Whatever its virtues, democracy is not freedom. As the 19th-century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville warned in his classic Democracy in America, a democracy can be just as tyrannical as a dictatorship once the voters decide to vote themselves money from the treasury."
Related Topics: Inalienable Rights, Rights, Voting
Democracy Versus Liberty, by James Bovard, The Freeman, Aug 2006
Discusses the dangers of equating liberty with "self-government" as majority rule
"Democracy can be a good method for reaching agreement on standards of weights and measurements used in commerce, but is a poor method for dictating wages and prices. Democracy should be a system of government based on common agreement on issues that must be agreed upon, and tolerance—however grudging—on all other differences."
Finding the Flaws, by Joseph Sobran, 25 Mar 1997
Discusses how governments naturally attempt to influence each other, the democratic flaw of voting for benefits at others' expense, in particular children, and how the U.S. Constitution has failed to avoid this outcome
"The flaw in democracy is that people learn to vote themselves benefits at other people's expense. ... The worst twist in American democracy is that the voters have learned to pass the stupendous costs of the welfare state on to the next generation. It's bad enough when some voters force other voters to support them. But the American voter has learned to force nonvoters to bear his expenses, by deferring payment to the next generation."
Goethe on National Greatness, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Free Market, Oct 1999
"In his view, democracy was incompatible with liberty. 'Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time,' he wrote in his Maximen und Reflexionen, 'are either psychopaths or mountebanks.' Political centralization, as Goethe explained in his conversation with Eckermann, would lead to the destruction of culture ..."
Government, by James Mill, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1820
Discusses the purpose of government, the means for attaining that end and various related questions and objections; rationalises that representative democracy, as exhibited in early 19th century Britain, is most conducive to "good Government"
"It may be taken, therefore, as a position, from which there will be no dissent, that a community in mass is ill adapted for the business of Government. ... The management of the joint affairs of any considerable body of the people they never undertake for themselves. What they uniformly do is, to choose a certain number of themselves to be the actors in their stead. Even in the case of a common Benefit Club, the members choose a Committee of Management, and content themselves with a general controul."
Gustave de Molinari on States and Defense, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 25 Jul 2000
Examines Molinari's conception of the states, including democracies, and their role in defense, as well as his proposal for agencies to provide defense against external aggressors
"Molinari notes that so-called popular sovereignty had not altered matters in principle. Constitutions and separation of powers had merely unleashed political parties – 'actual armies which have been trained to pursue power' ... – raising up a fierce competition for temporary 'ownership' (so to speak) of the power to exploit society in the name of protecting it."
Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Apr 2005
Examines several of the initial themes in "Civil Disobedience", including government injustice, the individual as the source of power and authority, war and the military and the reasons why people obey the state
"But if government is 'the voice of the people,' as it is often called, shouldn't that voice be heeded? Thoreau admits that government may express the will of the majority but it may also express nothing more than the will of elite politicians. ... Moreover, even if a government did express the voice of the people, this fact would not compel the obedience of individuals who disagree with what is being said. The majority may be powerful but it is not necessarily right."
UpdH.L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian, by Murray N. Rothbard, New Individualist Review, Jun 1962
Examines the themes and style in Mencken's writings, mainly from the self-selected pieces in A Mencken Chrestomathy
"H. L. Mencken's contempt for democracy is well-known. It stemmed largely from his primary devotion to individual liberty, and his insight that the bulk of men—the democratic majority—is generally inclined to suppress rather than defend the liberty of the individual. Mencken once summed up his view of the nature of democracy, the common man, and the State in this eight-word definition of 'democracy': 'Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses.' Other Menckenian definitions: 'Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.'"
Hong Kong's Legacy, by James A. Dorn, The Journal of Commerce, 1 Jul 1999
Discusses the potential results of Hong Kong moving away from "its policy of laissez-faire capitalism" such as intervening in support of stock prices versus the effects of Hong Kong influencing mainland China towards a freer and more prosperous economy
"In moving toward a democratic system, the people of Hong Kong should recall the words of John O'Sullivan, who in 1837 wrote in the U.S. Magazine and Democratic Review: 'This is the fundamental principle of the philosophy of democracy, to furnish a system of the administration of justice, and then to leave all the business and interests of society to themselves, to free competition and association — in a word, to the voluntary principle.'"
Related Topics: China, Hong Kong, Rule of Law
NewIntroductory, by John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Chapter I
"The notion, that the people have no need to limit their power over themselves, might seem axiomatic, when popular government was a thing only dreamed about, or read of as having existed at some distant period of the past. ... The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power."
Killing in the Name of Democracy, by James Bovard, Attention Deficit Democracy, 27 Jan 2006
Excerpt from the "Messianic Democracy" chapter, details various U.S. presidents' policies and actions from Wilson to Eisenhower
"The U.S. government's first experience with forcibly spreading democracy came in the wake of the Spanish-American War ... President Woodrow Wilson raised tub-thumping for democracy to new levels ... During the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. military interventions in Latin America were routinely portrayed as 'missions to establish democracy.'"
Killing in the Name of Democracy, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Jun 2006
Revised text of the "Messianic Democracy" chapter of Attention Deficit Democracy with additional parallels to George W. Bush
"Killing in the name of democracy has a long and sordid history. ... The U.S. government is currently spending more than a billion dollars a year for democracy efforts abroad. But Thomas Carothers, the director of the Carnegie Endowment's Democracy and Rule of Law Project, warns that Bush policies are creating a 'democracy backlash' around the globe."
Liberalism, by Friedrich A. Hayek, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas, 1978
Chapter 9; originally written in 1973 for the Enciclopedia del Novicento; covers both the history of both strands of liberalism as well as a systematic description of the "classical" or "evolutionary" type
"... in the Continental tradition the demand for the self‑determination of each group concerning its form of government occupied the highest place. This led to an early association and almost identification of the Continental movement with the movement for democracy, which is concerned with a different problem from that which was the chief concern of the liberal tradition of the British type."
NewLudwig von Mises and the Justification of the Liberal Order, by William Baumgarth, The Economics of Ludwig von Mises, Nov 1974
Critically examines various Mises' writings on liberalism, democracy, the wisdom of the masses, special-interest politics, equal treatment under the law, anarchism, self-determination and of course economics
"The vocabulary of the common man is thoroughly democratic because it refers to the ideals and aspirations of democracy. It must be stressed at the outset, however, that this democratic flavoring of the vocabulary of politics has itself undergone modification over its long history. Thus, contemporary liberal democracy is classical democracy transformed, or, as some scholars might say, contemporary liberal democracy is classical democracy tailored to the necessities of an expanded commercial society."
Manning Show Trial Exposes the Fraud of Representative Democracy, by Kevin Carson, 30 Jul 2013
Analyses the court martial of Bradley Manning and explains what the trial shows about the state
"The U.S. government fears an informed American people, and an informed world public opinion, far more than it ever feared al Qaeda. What we've called 'representative democracy,' since the rise of universal suffrage in the West a century or so ago, has been an elaborate exercise in securing the outcome desired by ruling elites — preserving an intersecting alliance of corporate and state oligarchies — while maintaining the fiction of popular rule."
Misguided Democracy, by George C. Leef, Future of Freedom, Mar 2006
A review of Attention Deficit Democracy by James Bovard
"What if, however, the state becomes so omnipotent that the elections under democracy are virtually meaningless? What if 'throwing the rascals out' means only replacing them with other rascals? ... Under those conditions, it might be the case that democracy is just a delusion — a fancy, elaborate ritual in which the results of elections scarcely matter."
Related Topics: James Bovard, Voting
Murray Rothbard's Philosophy of Freedom, by David Gordon, The Freeman, Nov 2007
Examines the arguments made by Rothbard from the premise that slavery is wrong, self-ownership, private property rights and a free market without government interventions follows
"Measures such as the income tax and conscription, however much they interfere with individual liberty, have been enacted by democratically chosen legislatures. How can we compare a democracy with a system in which a master compels others to labor, regardless of what they want? ... In a democracy, the majority acts as the slave master. ... The fact that he, along with his fellow slaves, has a share in determining what he will do still leaves him unfree. Democracy, in Rothbard's view, is a system in which each person owns a share of everyone else."
Nonsense on the Inevitability of Democracy, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, May 2006
Examines Francis Fukuyama's assertion about the "universalization of Western liberal democracy" and recent pronouncements by George W. Bush
"The democratic-inevitability theory is also akin to the Marxist theory of the withering away of the state. Marx asserted that, after the creation of communism, the state would simply wither away, since there would be no need or incentive for people to exploit one another. Democratic inevitability implies that, once democracy is achieved, politicians will no longer seek power to violate the rights and liberties of citizens. For some unexplained reason, after democracy becomes universal, voting will turn politicians into choir boys."
Public Enemy Number One: The Public, by Kevin Carson, 15 Jun 2013
Considers the establishment's reaction to revelations by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and the attempts to manipulate public opinion
"The 1960s was the first time since WWII when it seemed to dawn on a significant portion of the public that 'another world is possible.' Since then, management of public opinion to engineer consent has been doubly important to them. That's why the 'national security' community engages in psychological operations to manage public perceptions, the same way they'd manage the perceptions of a wartime enemy — in both cases, the goal being to manipulate the desired reaction out of us."
Subjugating Ourselves, by Sheldon Richman, 7 May 2010
Examines key passages from La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude and criticises newspaper editorial writers (with a recent example) for preaching to the people to acquiesce and submit to government
"Romanticizers of representative government put much weight on the claim that the people rule themselves, but that doesn’t withstand close examination. This is not the place to elaborate, but anyone can ask himself how casting one vote out of hundreds of thousands or millions every two, four, and six years could possibly count as self-rule. Which self are we talking about here?"
The Crazy Arithmetic of Voting, by Sheldon Richman, 8 Feb 2008
Reviews the "Voting Versus the Market" chapter of Bruno Leoni's Freedom and the Law
"Leoni points out that the motive of early democratic movements, such as Jeffersonianism, was to prevent the tyranny of an aristocracy. In that sense, advocates of liberty should sympathize with democracy and be wary of moves toward rule by the few. But this does not mean that majority rule respects individual liberty the way the free market does."
Related Topic: Voting
The Criminality of the State, by Albert Jay Nock, The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, authored by Robert Muccigrosso">American Mercury, 1939
Cautions Americans that rather than being worried or surprised by the doings of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, the Munich agreement and other foreign states, they should devote their energies to reining the growth of the United States government
"Furthermore, the idea that the procedure of the 'democratic' State is any less criminal than that of the State under any other fancy name, is rubbish. The country is now being surfeited with journalistic garbage about our great sister-democracy, England, its fine democratic government, its vast beneficent gift for ruling subject peoples, and so on; but does anyone ever look up the criminal record of the British State?"
The History of Freedom in Antiquity, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 26 Feb 1877
Surveys the ancient history of liberty, both from the side of rulers (despots, Solon, Pericles, Roman Republic and Empire) and philosophers (Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics), and the later influence of Christianity
"Government by consent superseded government by compulsion, and the pyramid which had stood on a point was made to stand upon its base. By making every citizen the guardian of his own interest, Solon admitted the element of Democracy into the State. The greatest glory of a ruler, he said, is to create a popular government. Believing that no man can be entirely trusted, he subjected all who exercised power to the vigilant control of those for whom they acted."
Related Topics: Government, Liberty, The State
The Idea of a Private Law Society, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Mises Daily, 28 Jul 2006
Discusses the problem of social order, i.e., rules to regulate the use of "everything scarce so that all possible conflicts can be ruled out"
"In fact, the former objectionable schism and inequality of the higher law of kings versus the subordinate law of ordinary subjects is fully preserved under democracy in the separation of public versus private law and the supremacy of the former over the latter. Under democracy, everyone is equal insofar as entry into government is open to all on equal terms. In a democracy no personal privileges or privileged persons exist. However, functional privileges and privileged functions exist."
The Myth of the Rational Voter, by Bryan Caplan, Cato Unbound, 6 Nov 2006
Posits that voters mistaken beliefs, in particular about economics, do not "cancel each other out" but instead they compound
"If the average voter believes that less immigration is best for society, democracy rewards politicians who oppose immigration. ... Regardless of what is going on in politicians' hearts and minds, though, we can expect democracy to listen to the average voter, even when he is wrong. The empirical evidence indicates that he often is."
Related Topics: Economists, Logic, Psychology, Voting
The Production of Security, by Gustave de Molinari, Journal des économistes, Feb 1849
Questions whether the provision of security to citizens should be an exception to the economic principle of free competition, delving into arguments favoring monopolistic and communistic government and concluding with a hypothetical free market example
"They assume that human reason has the power to discover the best laws and the organization which most perfectly suits society; and that, in practice, these laws reveal themselves at the conclusion of a free debate between conflicting opinions. If there is no unanimity, ... they insist that the decisions of the majority must become law, and that the minority is obliged to submit to it, even if it is contrary to its most deeply rooted convictions and injures its most precious interests."
Related Topics: Communism, Government, Monopoly, Society
The Servile State Revisited, by Joseph Sobran, The Wanderer, 5 Jun 2003
Ponders David Hume's observation as to the ease with which "the many are governed by the few"
"The citizen is told that he enjoys 'democracy' and 'self-government,' so that the will he obeys is really his own will. The State is really nothing more than an extension of ourselves, so that when it seems to be harassing us 'we' are really harassing 'ourselves.' This is nonsense, of course. Some men are forcing others to obey, under the abstractions of an ideology few bother to question."
The War System and Its Intellectual Myths, by Murray N. Rothbard, Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader, 1968
Originally titled "Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War"
"The broad Revisionist ... knows only too well that democracies can be just as or more aggressive and imperialistic [than dictatorships] — the chief difference being that democratic governments must engage in more hypocritical and intense propaganda to drug and deceive the voters into joining the war drive."
Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It, by Glenn Greenwald, 2 May 2017
Discusses recent criticism of Donald Trump that claims that his foreign policy towards known dictators and tyrants constitutes a major shift, when in fact that has been standard U.S. policy since at least the end of World War II
"Being able to claim that the U.S. is devoted to spreading freedom and democracy in the world is central to their internal monologue. From the Washington Post newsroom to the corridors of the State Department, this is the fairy tale that they tell themselves every day in order to justify their position as global arbiters of the behavior of other countries. ... The reality is that even the fiction, the pretense, of the U.S. as some sort of defender of human rights and democracy is being wildly overstated."
We the Sheep, by Joseph Sobran, The Reactionary Utopian, 7 Mar 2006
"... remind yourself that this is a democracy, where every sheep can freely express its preference for which kind of wolf it wants to be eaten by. Many sheep, perhaps understandably, prefer a wolf in sheep's clothing, which is after all the basic idea of democracy. So far it has worked pretty well. The wolves all agree ... and they want to spread democracy everywhere."
Related Topic: Voting
'What Kind of Democracy Is This?': A grieving father wants to know, by Justin Raimondo, 23 May 2007
Examines questions about American democracy and militarism posed by professor Andrew J. Bacevich after the death of his son in combat in Iraq
"This is the kind of democracy ... that can have both parties calling for an increase in the size of the U.S. military at a moment when the people are sick and tired of war ... The kind that has all 'major' candidates for the White House ... pledging to prosecute the war in Iraq more efficiently and successfully than Bush."
Related Topic: Militarism

Cartoons and Comic Strips

I see a future with a political system called democracy, by Parker and Hart, The Wizard of Id, 12 Apr 2012

Books

Attention Deficit Democracy, by James Bovard, 10 Jan 2006
Electronic text of Introduction available at LewRockwell.com
"The rising gullibility of the American people may be the most important trend in U.S. democracy. With each passing decade, with each new presidency, it takes less and less to snooker Americans. And a candidate only has to fool enough people on one day to snare power over everyone for four years."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Voting
The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, by James M. Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, 1962
Electronic text available at The Library of Economics and Liberty.

Videos


What's So Bad About The Galactic Empire?, by Sean Malone, 4 May 2017
Analyzes the various Star Wars movies and attempts to answer the title question and conversely what is good about the Rebel Alliance
"Unfortunately, Star Wars never actually wrestles with these issues in any meaningful way. It seems to assume that the major difference between a 'good' world and a 'bad' world is the presence of Democracy, but that's hardly a guarantee. Many Democratic leaders have created misery for their citizens and even used Democracy to amass power and become dictators themselves – just like Emperor Palpatine did."