by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
In western “Democracies”, where personal freedom is quite high, where freedom of speech is the norm, where property rights are fairly well respected, the love of “Democracy” is very popular.
Citizens of most Western countries compare their freedoms and their affluence with the lack of these things in the countries that suffer from some sort of despotism. The recent uprisings in the Middle East are a demonstration of the natural longing of people for “Freedom”. They have risen up against their dictatorships to express dissatisfaction. They long for “Democracy”, as they witness the prosperity and the individual freedoms of people living in the Western nations where “Democracy” is the norm.
But is “Democracy” as good as it gets? Is a popularly-elected government necessarily a guarantee of individual freedom and prosperity?
As we witness the economic decline of many Western “Democracies”, it is a good opportunity to reflect whether “Democracy” is as good as it gets. After all, the most economically free economy in the world is Hong Kong, a non-democracy. And Singapore, number two in the economic freedom rankings, is a fairly authoritarian democracy. So if it is not democracy, what is it that has brought about the prosperity of these two very small and very rich places?
It is capitalism which is the common denominator in prosperous countries; yet capitalism gets bad press, while “Democracy” gets good press. And so what happens?
Politicians, always on the lookout for some Bad Guys, someone to pin the blame on when things go wrong, can find easy targets among the Greedy Capitalists. So the bankers and business people, particularly Big Business, gets blamed and the politicians, looking for [re-]election, promise to make things right with some new regulations, restrictions, taxes. And thus capitalism, real free-enterprise, property-rights, self-ownership gets stifled. The market starts to fail (and governments love to discover some “Market Failure”) thus requiring even more regulating, taxing and thus stifling.
Thus capitalism struggles to survive in a “Democracy” where the majority votes and becomes, with the government of the day as their agents, tyrants themselves.
The tyranny of the majority can be an even more insidious tyrant than many a dictator as the people don’t see a single tyrant out there running their lives. They see their government, their freely elected, majority-chosen, democratic government, sitting in the seats of power, promising to save them from what they fear at the moment. And if the government doesn’t convince the majority, the electorate, that they can do the job, then the Opposition, the other party, will come up with their plan to offer the Majority their version of a cure for the people’s fears and woes.
Thus in a democracy, the majority rule tends to repress the minority, and even represses its own majority — for a while. Governments need votes and will do whatever it takes to get elected, even if that means some repression of some groups. Even if it means a dose of tyranny. After all, it is the Democratic Majority that gives them the power, the right, the mandate, to do this bit of tyranny.
A democracy can be even more repressive than some overt dictatorships, as it may be easier to rise up against a dictator, because he (or she) can be easily identified; whereas, in a Democracy, the oppressor is harder to identify — it can be the system itself, it can be the freely-elected majority government. Most people are reluctant to condemn the system that gives them the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, the “Majority”, the trappings of “Freedom”, while they are actually being repressed and tyrannised by it.
Democracies have always lead to decline and repression, to eventual overthrow — perhaps by a charismatic white knight who offers solutions — and acquiescence to some “temporary hardships” and some personal sacrifice while the great new leader gets things sorted out.
So while the majority bask in the wonder of Democracy worship, the tyranny of the majority can become the way it manifests. Freedoms can be slowly lost until many of the norms of “Democracy” disappear under the guise of National Interest rules and repression.
- Welcome from Neville Kennard
- Think Tanks Don't Work
- "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
- The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
- Corporate Welfare
- Citizenship for Sale?
- I Don't Vote
- Voting: Right or Privilege?
- Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
- Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
- Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
- Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
- Government Likes War
- Collusion is Our Right
- Why Not the Drug Olympics?
- Unconventional Wisdom
- Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
- Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
- Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
- Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
- Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
- Separating Sport and State
- Your Home is Not an Investment
- Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
- A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
- Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
- Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
- What is a good Australian?
- Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
- The Market Failure Industry
- Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
- Wot if ...?
- The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
- The Tannehills
- Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
- Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
- Minarchy vs Anarchy
- Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
- The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
- Is Howard Our Best PM?
- Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
- Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
- Authoritarian Freedom
- Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
- The Tyranny of the Majority
- If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
- Business Should Exploit Boat People
- The Immorality of Trade Unions
- "America" vs "The United States"
- Sweet Anarchy
- The Illusion of "Job Creation"
- Gold Is Money
- Guilty Capitalists
- Prosperity vs Growth
- Capitalism vs Democracy
- More people = More fun
- Self-Ownership - the very idea!
- Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
- The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
- Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Government Needs Bad Guys –
that's why they like wars
- What Is Obscene?
- Traffic Economics
- Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
- Neville Kennard Obituary