My Blog List

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Attacking Democracy itself

I posted a blog post on July 8 2012 about how Frederick Hayek actually despised Democracy, praised Pinochet's dictatorship (and the bloodshed with it) and how libertarians seem to be morphing into Fascists (Neo-Liberalism already is pretty identical to Fascism outside the USA) and today I get this wonderful gift of a horrible dishonest -- but intensely revealing article that confirms my observations; and I guess my fears about where at least some on the far right are trending.  The friend who sent this to me, based on past history with his governance style has no problems with this thesis. A mutual friend shared this article from the Capitalism Magazine. He seems to agree with it entirely, including its thesis that democracy is evil. Brian Phillips writes:
"Democracy means unlimited majority rule. The majority may do as it pleases simply because it is the majority. Under democracy the individual is subservient to the majority, that is, the collective. Democracy is a form of collectivism."
This article is dishonest, misleading, misdirects people about what democracy is about, and thus shows how Libertarians, probably out of frustration with the fact that most people have trouble seeing the fine quality of the invisible cloth that they spin their ideology from are gradually morphing back to their roots as fascists that we discussed in my last blogpost. For one thing it distorts the subject from the first line to the last.

First, Democracy does not mean "unlimited majority rule."  The word means simply "democracia" -- rule by the "demos" or the people. It has never meant simple majority rule except in the hands of polemicists and demagogues. The ancient Athenians believed that democracy required the people to "step up" (Hoi boulomenos) and volunteer in democratic institutions. Indeed in modern times word democratica in Greece is synonymous with Republic. Democracy: δημοκρατία Republic: δημοκρατία. So when Jefferson is talking about 51% votes and such he is referring to "direct democracy" versus the Republican notion of a Federation or a commonwealth. Even so Jefferson and Madison believed in indirect "Republican Democracy. They saw the danger that democracy can descend into mob rule, where "the individual is subservient to the majority" -- but that is not what democracy is about. They are making a false equivalence between democracy and collectivism. And this is a disturbing development because up until now the majority of libertarians have at least paid lip service to majority rule.

I guess this is illustrative of where the far right is trending.  I guess just because the far right can't seem to convince people that they should vote libertarian, (or neo-liberal as their philosophy is known outside the USA), even though it means poverty and desperation for the many and liberty only for the masters they seem to be giving up on the subject and like always with neo-fascists they cannot  simply make their case without first hijacking, rustling the word "democracy" and then trying to rebrand it as something ugly. I guess that is why they make the false association between the word "democracy" with "collectivism:" Brian Phillips continues:
"Collectivism holds that individuals exist only as a member of a group—whether a race, an economic class, or the State. Individuals per se  do not possess rights, but only in their capacity as a member of a group. Under democracy an individual possesses rights only when he is a member of the majority. Even then those rights are limited and continually threatened, because if the individual finds himself in the minority on any issue, he is required to follow the dictates of the majority. He may be on the winning side on a vote regarding light rail, but be on the losing side on a vote regarding school bonds."
 There are two interesting points about this assertion. The first one is that the only place you see the Supreme Court, or anybody, asserting that a group has rights "only as a member of a group" is in the case of corporate law, where the Citizens United Case built this whole megillah about Corporate Personhood, having the privileges of special speech and that money is privileged speech.  In their Arizona decision the Court claimed that giving public money to competing groups and individuals "burdened" the speech of the privileged and wealthy.  Obviously, for the current court, free speech is a collective right only granted to the privileged and wealthy. The rest of us believe that groups exist to defend our individual rights from other groups or the government itself. We understand that the problem is "faction" versus commonwealth.  In a functioning commonwealth if the majority wants school bonds and one is on the winning side one accepts that the majority with which one disagrees is legitimate to want to invest in "light rail." One can't have commonwealth if one's faction dominates whether it is majority or minority.  If one's faction wins whatever the issue, that is not a functional republic.  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. quotes Jefferson endorsing the concept of democratic republicanism:
""We may say with truth and meaning that governments are more or less republican as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23"
The above article examples Federalist 10 in context with Madison's and Jefferson's other writings. And they don't support this next quote from the Demagogue Brian Phillips either. Phillips writes;
"For the most part, the Founders were opposed to democracy. James Madison, for example, wrote “There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”
This is not true. Maybe some of the founders, but not James Madison or Jefferson, were opposed to democracy, but Jefferson and Madison were opposed to mob rule, not democracy! What the honest writer  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.  notes that:
Apparently, Jefferson believed that the enlightened citizenry of a pure republic would not be so inevitably subject to the destructive factions that Madison described in Federalist No. 10 (see above). In fact, Jefferson suggested that a republican form of government without a due degree of popular control was no panacea, and lumped such governments along with monarchies(!) as channels of oppression.
And  Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. quotes Jefferson:
"Societies exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments, wherein the will of everyone has a just influence; as is the case in England, in a slight degree, and in our States, in a great one. 3. Under governments of force; as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.
Phillips continues quoting Jefferson out of context:
Thomas Jefferson stated that “a democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” And perhaps my favorite is a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”"
But the fact is that Jefferson was referring to direct democracy not to democratic republicanism.  It looks like libertarians are abandoning the principles of republicanism along with their despite for democracy.  Jefferson wanted to avoid mob rule, and had definite ideas how to do so, including privileging free education. Jefferson's republican principles dictated:
"Action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removable by themselves, constitutes the essence of a republic... All governments are more or less republican in proportion as this principle enters more or less into their composition." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816.
Thus a lot of the misquotes in this article are taken out of the context of the destinction between direct democracy and democracy as government getting it's authority from the people. Read Federalist 10 for more. Coats goes into more detail and explains the subject pretty darn well:
Phillips concludes:
"Democracy forces you to act in accordance with the demands of the “will of the people,” regardless of your own judgment. Democracy compels you to surrender your liberty and your property for the “general welfare.” Democracy forces you to sacrifice your rights."
This is a call to authoritarianism and a pack of lies. Since I know better, I think Jefferson has the right term for it; "dupery.":
"Believing as I do that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816.
I could go into more detail, but that is enough for this post.  I agree with this final quote from Jefferson, which is also my operating principle.
"Lay down true principles and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendency of the people." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.
And this quote comes from Jefferson's Inaugural address, and also contradicts Phillips lies and spin:
"During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions."

Phillips might have the words, but he has none of the spirit of Jefferson in his writings. He's like an assassin who attacks the very spirit of his target. He's like a kidnapper who cuts the words out of a book and rearranges them into an extortion note. This attitude of hate towards democracy, the 99%, and the people has to be stopped. It has to be defeated. Then maybe we can restore the "harmony and affection" that mark a real commonwealth and a democratic republic, and that were the vision and goal of the real founding fathers rather than the twisted and dark shadows that are invented by these neo-liberals who try to rebrand Jefferson's ideas and the concepts of Democratic Republicanism into something dark and authoritarian.

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