"Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom."
~ Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
The Protection Racket is believed to have originated with the Sicilian Mafia, in the late 19th century. Victims of the racket who refuse to pay the protection tax often end up with damage to their person or property - demonstrating to others in the neighborhood what happens to those refusing to comply! Today, our updated version of the Mafia is known as Democracy - refusing to comply often leads to a stint behind bars, though your home or business can still be trashed when the enforcer comes calling with a search warrant and instead of an arm or leg being broken you may get tasered, beaten or shot! Unlike the Mafia your State enforcer will impose restrictions on how you live your daily life - barring you from engaging in certain 'unapproved' activities, enjoying less freedom than under a Mafia Don!
So caught up have we become in today's protection scam that we willingly vote for a new Mafia Don! While some victims argue for the incoming Don to put his hands deeper into our pockets, promising to return more 'services' to the neighborhood and others want a Don who intrudes into our bedrooms and social lives to decide what habits we are allowed to indulge in, nearly all remain oblivious to the fact that each new Don only seems to bring further economic hardship - with less personal freedoms! What all who participate in the farce to elect the new Don every few years fail to see is that they are not freer by electing their oppressor - merely legitimizing their very enslavement! Solving a problem requires understanding its root cause - this one stems not from political party - but political system!
As the featured article below correctly headlines: ‘Democracy can’t be fixed. It’s inherently broken’! It correctly identifies the underlying ideology of democracy as collectivism, the notion that any small group of people can somehow decide through coercion what is best for the collective good - the very ideology that underpins every other collectivist system, such as socialism, communism and fascism. As more grow to depend on the State they vote for increasing its power - leading to totalitarianism!
[The problems of democracy are inherent. It’s like having dinner with a million people, and deciding up front the bill will be split evenly. Everybody has a strong incentive to order more than he would individually resulting in a huge bill that everyone deplores but no individual could do anything about. Politicians have a natural short-term outlook as they are only temporarily in office. They overspend, overtax and overborrow knowing their successors will have to deal with the negative consequences.]
Believing that the forcible removal of some of our natural (God-given) rights by any group of people for the 'common good' will not lead to oppression and tyranny is no less silly than believing in partial pregnancy - whether wanted or not, life soon changes for all involved by the end of either gestation!
The inherent error lies in conflating the ability to elect our rulers with that of removing basic rights! Until that fundamental flaw is accepted and governments are limited to advice (instead of coercion) we will continue to grow the power of the State even as we beg for mercy from our abusive master!
Revealing the American Takeover
An Interview with ‘Beyond Democracy’ Co-Author Frank Karsten1. What specifically motivated you to write this book?As far as Karel, my co-author, and I knew there was no easy to read, structured, and concise book showing the inherent weaknesses and dynamics of democracy from a freedom loving perspective. Of course many libertarians have written on the subject and we are indebted to them, especially Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s ‘Democracy, The God that failed’. But Hoppe’s book is a collection of academic essays and touches on things we don’t and vice versa. Our book is for the average person but I also think seasoned libertarians can learn lots from it.Many people still believe democracy equals freedom. And many libertarians still believe the proper road to more freedom is through the democratic process. Many non-libertarians are convinced democracy needs fixing but find no problem with the fundamental democratic principles themselves. Our book refutes those notions. Democracy is the opposite of freedom, almost inherent to the democratic process is that it tends towards less liberty instead of more, and democracy is not something to be fixed. Democracy is inherently broken, just like socialism. The only way to fix it is to break it up. You couldn’t fix socialism by replacing Lenin for Trotsky or the Russians for Cubans. And you can’t fix democracy by legally restricting payments to presidential candidates, by barring felons from voting, changing the voting age, or replacing Bush Jr. with Obama, et cetera.
Another reason for the book is that writing structures your thoughts and thereby brings you to new ones. While writing we came upon new insights that we of course included in the book. Fifteen years ago I was an ignorant proponent of democracy, ten years ago I thought it had serious drawbacks, and after writing the book I think it’s much worse than that.To be clear, we don’t want to withhold democracy from people and we don’t begrudge others a democracy. Also, we don’t claim that democracy is worse or better than dictatorship and neither that the problems we describe in the book are exclusive of democracy.2. The first myth about democracy that you seek to debunk is the idea that voting in an election empowers the individual. But even many libertarians vote. How do you explain this?There are several reasons I think. First, as a libertarian, you want to advance liberty and voting seems a way to do it. Although I generally consider voting immoral, voting for the least bad option can be a good thing. Note that generally such a vote is rather impossible to cast since many self-declared freedom loving candidates end up robbing you of liberty too when in power. As the late Harry Browne has pointed out, voting for the least bad party can be counterproductive since they know freedom loving people have no other option than to vote for them and therefore these parties have little incentive to improve their political goals towards more liberty.Secondly, even when your libertarian-leaning candidate seems totally unlikely to rise to power or to have any significant political influence, getting him or her in a parliamentary seat will provide a serious stage to gain media coverage. Ron Paul certainly achieved that and through his candidacies many people were confronted with libertarian ideas, or at least with the term libertarian. I am a great fan of Ron Paul and if I were an American citizen I would probably vote for him, mostly symbolically, but such candidates are extremely rare. But still, spending hours, days or even months studying politics and finally casting your vote in the voting booth is a big investment for such an astronomically small influence.Thirdly, many libertarians still see the democratic process as a way to gain more freedom. But this is a fallacy. The democratic process almost inevitably leads to less freedom.3. You claim that democracy is not politically neutral. What kind of political ideology is embodied in democracy?It’s clearly collectivism, the idea that we need to decide upon things collectively – note that this could really be anything – and the outcome of these processes need to be followed by everyone, also those who don’t favor it.In a democracy every voter is inclined to collectivise his personal goals. And politicians want more power and money and collectivisation of society offers that. Civil servants, as the great economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out, tend to vote pro-state and this is a self-reinforcing mechanism. It leads to ever more people being dependent on the State and thereby favorable of it. The same applies to the welfare system into which ever more people are drawn. History has shown this. All democracies suffer from it.
A good way to look at politics is to view politicians and the State as human farmers and citizens as the livestock. The human farmers (i.e. the Republican and Democratic Parties) do indeed have opposing interests but not towards the livestock, as the latter seems to think. They both are in the business of exploiting citizens but disagree strongly on who should collect the billions or trillions in proceeds. Both Republicans and Democrats have greatly expanded taxes, expenditures, debts and government meddling in the lives of companies and individuals while both have regularly claimed to reduce government.4. You quote the American economist Walter Williams who observed that many people firmly resist democratic decision making in the areas they personally care about. Is advocacy of democracy a mass exercise of hypocrisy?I do not see it that way, whereby I define hypocrisy as ‘Rules for others, exceptions for myself.’ People have been given the idea that things need to be decided upon democratically, they don’t necessarily agree with the outcome but do agree with the process. And also, many things democratically decided upon seem free because the State will pay for it, and the State raises many taxes stealthily. So people are inclined to let the State run sectors like education, health care, social welfare, et cetera. It’s apparently free and individuals can conveniently delegate their personal responsibility.Another reason is that people think they will belong to the majority and therefore want to decide democratically on certain matters.It might not be hypocrisy but more like selfishness. Democracy is a system whereby one can legally exploit others, you just need the majority vote.But there’s lots of hypocrisy I think when people vote. They vote for stuff like wars or Third World aid, but would never spend a dime on it personally. They are in favor of allowing asylum seekers and vote accordingly but would certainly not like to have them in their own neighbourhood.5. One of the arguments in favor of democracy is that it permits the “peaceful transfer of political power.” What do you make of this argument?This is indeed one of the few advantages of democracy, in that way mankind has grown and rulers, like during the Roman empire, are rarely killed anymore during a power change. Also no wars are fought over it. But it is a peaceful transfer of tyranny. Democracy is like a war against the minority, and actually against the people itself since many things happen in a democracy that very few citizens want, but special interest groups do.The business model we propose in the book, a market for governance, will very likely also result in a peaceful transfer of power, without minorities being oppressed. Corporations normally don’t change power through killing the CEO and some members of the Board of Directors.6. In your book you also identify the growing centralization of power as problematic. Do you think political democracy and centralization are related?Yes I do. Like I explained earlier, democracy leads to everyone trying to collectivise personal goals, thereby centralizing power.In a free market companies have a tendency to form cartels and monopolies since they aim for profit maximization. But this hardly poses a problem since every individual has the right to start competing businesses and challenge the cartels. This essential safety valve lacks in governance, resulting in continuously growing governments.7. Are you just seeking to change people’s minds or do you think there are successful strategies to limit the power of democratic governments?Ideas generally come before actions so these have to change first. Von Mises once said that ideas are more powerful than armies and I think truth will always win in the long run, so I am optimistic. But it’s very hard because democracy is the largest faith on earth, only eleven countries in the world do not claim be be democracies, and these ideas are so ingrained in people’s minds, even freedom loving individuals.I know not of successful strategies for limiting government power except by escaping government through secession or citizens or corporations moving to other countries.
The problems of democracy are inherent. It’s like having dinner with a million people and deciding up front the bill will be split evenly. Everyone has a strong incentive to order more than he would individually, resulting in a huge bill that everyone deplores but no individual could do anything about. Democracy therefore has a very limited self-cleansing capability. Our politicians have a natural short-term outlook since they are only temporarily in office. They will overspend, overtax and overborrow knowing their successors will have to deal with the negative consequences. Besides that, they spend other people’s money anyhow.