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Democracy: the God that failed
lewrockwell.com ^ | November 12, 2001 | Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Posted on 11/12/2001 6:49:48 AM PST by Aurelius

Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Theory and History

On the most abstract level, I want to show how theory is indispensible in correctly interpreting history. History – the sequence of events unfolding in time – is "blind." It reveals nothing about causes and effects. We may agree, for instance, that feudal Europe was poor, that monarchical Europe was wealthier, and that democratic Europe is wealthier still, or that nineteenth-century America with its low taxes and few regulations was poor, while contemporary America with its high taxes and many regulations is rich. Yet was Europe poor because of feudalism, and did it grow richer because of monarchy and democracy? Or did Europe grow richer in spite of monarchy and democracy? Or are these phenomena unrelated?

Likewise, is contemporary America wealthier because of higher taxes and more regulations or in spite of them? That is, would America be even more prosperous if taxes and regulations had remained at their nineteenth-century levels? Historians qua historians cannot answer such questions, and no amount of statistical data manipulation can change this fact. Every sequence of empirical events is compatible with any of a number of rival, mutually incompatible interpretations.

To make a decision regarding such incompatible interpretations, we need a theory. By theory I mean a proposition whose validity does not depend on further experience but can be established a priori. This is not to say that one can do without experience altogether in establishing a theoretical proposition. However, it is to say that even if experience is necessary, theoretical insights extend and transcend logically beyond a particular historical experience. Theoretical propositions are about necessary facts and relations and, by implication, about impossibilities. Experience may thus illustrate a theory. But historical experience can neither establish a theorem nor refute it.

The Austrian School

Economic and political theory, especially of the Austrian variety, is a treasure trove of such propositions. For instance, a larger quantity of a good is preferred to a smaller amount of the same good; production must precede consumption; what is consumed now cannot be consumed again in the future; prices fixed below market-clearing prices will lead to lasting shortages; without private property in production factors there can be no factor prices, and without factor prices cost-accounting is impossible; an increase in the supply of paper money cannot increase total social wealth but can only redistribute existing wealth; monopoly (the absence of free entry) leads to higher prices and lower product quality than competition; no thing or part of a thing can be owned exclusively by more than one party at a time; democracy (majority rule) and private property are incompatible.

Theory is no substitute for history, of course, yet without a firm grasp of theory serious errors in the interpretation of historical data are unavoidable. For instance, the outstanding historian Carroll Quigley claims that the invention of fractional reserve banking has been a major cause of the unprecedented expansion of wealth associated with the Industrial Revolution, and countless historians have associated the economic plight of Soviet-style socialism with the absence of democracy.

From a theoretical viewpoint, such interpretations must be rejected categorically. An increase in the paper money supply cannot lead to greater prosperity but only to wealth redistribution. The explosion of wealth during the Industrial Revolution took place despite fractional reserve banking. Similarly, the economic plight of socialism cannot be due to the absence of democracy. Instead, it is caused by the absence of private property in factors of production. "Received history" is full of such misinterpretations. Theory allows us to rule out certain historical reports as impossible and incompatible with the nature of things. By the same token, it allows us to uphold certain other things as historical possibilities, even if they have not yet been tried.

Revisionist History

More interestingly, armed with elementary economic and political theory, I present in my book a revisionist reconstruction of modern Western history: of the rise of absolute monarchical states out of state-less feudal orders, and the transformation, beginning with the French Revolution and essentially completed with the end of World War I, of the Western world from monarchical to democratic States, and the rise of the US to the rank of "universal empire." Neo-conservative writers such as Francis Fukuyama have interpreted this development as civilizational progress, and they proclaim the "End of History" to have arrived with the triumph of Western – US – democracy and its globalization (making the world safe for democracy).

Myth One

My theoretical interpretation is entirely different. It involves the shattering of three historical myths. The first and most fundamental is the myth that the emergence of states out of a prior, non-statist order has caused subsequent economic and civilizational progress. In fact, theory dictates that any progress must have occurred in spite – not because – of the institution of a state. A state is defined conventionally as an agency that exercises a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decison-making (jurisdiction) and of taxation. By definition then, every state, regardless of its particular constitution, is economically and ethically deficient. Every monopolist is "bad" from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is hereby understood as the absence of free entry into a particular line of production: only one agency, A, may produce X.

Any monopoly is "bad" for consumers because, shielded from potential new entrants into its line of production, the price for its product will be higher and the quality lower than with free entry. And a monopolist with ultimate decison-making powers is particularly bad. While other monopolists produce inferior goods, a monopolist judge, besides producing inferior goods, will produce bads, because he who is the ultimate judge in every case of conflict also has the last word in each conflict involving himself. Consequently, instead of preventing and resolving conflict, a monopolist of ultimate decision-making will cause and provoke conflict in order to settle it to his own advantage.

Not only would no one accept such a monopoly judge provision, but no one would ever agree to a provision that allowed this judge to determine the price to be paid for his "service" unilaterally. Predictably, such a monopolist would use up ever more resources (tax revenue) to produce fewer goods and perpetrate more bads. This is not a prescription for protection but for oppression and exploitation. The result of a state, then, is not peaceful cooperation and social order, but conflict, provocation, aggression, oppression, and impoverishment, i.e., de-civilization. This, above all, is what the history of states illustrates. It is first and foremost the history of countless millions of innocent state victims.

Myth Two

The second myth concerns the historic transition from absolute monarchies to democratic states. Not only do neoconservatives interpret this development as progress; there is near-universal agreement that democracy represents an advance over monarchy and is the cause of economic and moral progress. This interpretation is curious in light of the fact that democracy has been the fountainhead of every form of socialism: of (European) democratic socialism and (American) liberalism and neo-conservatism as well as of international (Soviet) socialism, (Italian) fascism, and national (Nazi) socialism. More importantly, however, theory contradicts this interpretation; whereas both monarchies and democracies are deficient as states, democracy is worse than monarchy.

Theoretically speaking, the transition from monarchy to democracy involves no more or less than a hereditary monopoly "owner" – the prince or king – being replaced by temporary and interchangeable – monopoly "caretakers" – presidents, prime ministers, and members of parliament. Both kings and presidents will produce bads, yet a king, because he "owns" the monopoly and may sell or bequeath it, will care about the repercussions of his actions on capital values. As the owner of the capital stock on "his" territory, the king will be comparatively future-oriented. In order to preserve or enhance the value of his property, he will exploit only moderately and calculatingly. In contrast, a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock.

Nor is it an advantage of democracy that free entry into every state position exists (whereas under monarchy entry is restricted by the king's discretion). To the contrary, only competition in the production of goods is a good thing. Competition in the production of bads is not good; in fact, it is sheer evil. Kings, coming into their position by virtue of birth, might be harmless dilettantes or decent men (and if they are "madmen," they will be quickly restrained or if need be, killed, by close relatives concerned with the possessions of the dynasty). In sharp contrast, the selection of government rulers by means of popular elections makes it essentially impossible for a harmless or decent person to ever rise to the top. Presidents and prime ministers come into their position as a result of their efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Hence, democracy virtually assures that only dangerous men will rise to the top of government.

In particular, democracy is seen as promoting an increase in the social rate of time preference (present-orientation) or the "infantilization" of society. It results in continually increased taxes, paper money and paper money inflation, an unending flood of legislation, and a steadily growing "public" debt. By the same token, democracy leads to lower savings, increased legal uncertainty, moral relativism, lawlessness, and crime. Further, democracy is a tool for wealth and income confiscation and redistribution. It involves the legislative "taking" of the property of some – the haves of something – and the "giving" of it to others – the have-nots of things. And since it is presumably something valuable that is being redistributed – of which the haves have too much and the have-nots too little – any such redistribution implies that the incentive to be of value or produce something valuable is systematically reduced. In other words, the proportion of not-so-good people and not-so-good personal traits, habits, and forms of conduct and appearance will increase, and life in society will become increasingly unpleasant.

Last but not least, democracy is described as resulting in a radical change in the conduct of war. Because they can externalize the costs of their own aggression onto others (via taxes), both kings and presidents will be more than 'normally' aggressive and warlike. However, a king's motive for war is typically an ownership-inheritance dispute. The objective of his war is tangible and territorial: to gain control over some piece of real estate and its inhabitants. And to reach this objective it is in his interest to distinguish between combatants (his enemies and targets of attack) and non-combatants and their property (to be left out of the war and undamaged). Democracy has transformed the limited wars of kings into total wars. The motive for war has become ideological – democracy, liberty, civilization, humanity. The objectives are intangible and elusive: the ideological "conversion" of the losers preceded by their "unconditional" surrender (which, because one can never be certain about the sincerity of conversion, may require such means as the mass murder of civilians). And the distinction between combatants and non-combatants becomes fuzzy and ultimately disappears under democracy, and mass war involvement – the draft and popular war rallies – as well as "collateral damage" become part of war strategy.

Myth Three

Finally, the third myth shattered is the belief that there is no alternative to Western welfare-democracies a la US. Again, theory demonstrates otherwise. First, this belief is false because the modern welfare-state is not a "stable" economic system. It is bound to collapse under its own parasitic weight, much like Russian-style socialism imploded a decade ago. More importantly, however, an economically stable alternative to democracy exists. The term I propose for this alternative is "natural order."

In a natural order every scarce resource, including all land, is owned privately, every enterprise is funded by voluntarily paying customers or private donors, and entry into every line of production, including that of property protection, conflict arbitration, and peacemaking, is free. A large part of my book concerns the explanation of the workings – the logic – of a natural order and the requirements for the transformation from democracy to a natural order.

Whereas states disarm their citizens so as to be able to rob them more surely (thereby rendering them more vulnerable also to criminal and terrorist attack), a natural order is characterized by an armed citizenry. This feature is furthered by insurance companies, which play a prominent role as providers of security and protection in a natural order. Insurers will encourage gun ownership by offering lower premiums to armed (and weapons-trained) clients. By their nature insurers are defensive agencies. Only "accidental" – not: self-inflicted, caused or provoked – damage is "insurable." Aggressors and provocateurs will be denied insurance coverage and are thus weak. And because insurers must indemnify their clients in case of victimization, they must be concerned constantly about the prevention of criminal aggression, the recovery of misappropriated property, and the apprehension of those liable for the damage in question.

Furthermore, the relationship between insurer and client is contractual. The rules of the game are mutually accepted and fixed. An insurer cannot "legislate," or unilaterally change the terms of the contract. In particular, if an insurer wants to attract a voluntarily paying clientele, it must provide for the foreseeable contingency of conflict in its contracts, not only between its own clients but especially with clients of other insurers. The only provision satisfactorily covering the latter contingency is for an insurer to bind itself contractually to independent third-party arbitration. However, not just any arbitration will do. The conflicting insurers must agree on the arbitrator or arbitration agency, and in order to be agreeable to insurers, an arbitrator must produce a product (of legal procedure and substantive judgment) that embodies the widest possible moral consensus among insurers and clients alike. Thus, contrary to statist conditions, a natural order is characterized by stable and predictable law and increased legal harmony.

Moreover, insurance companies promote the development of another "security feature." States have not just disarmed their citizens by taking away their weapons, democratic states in particular have also done so in stripping their citizens of the right to exclusion and by promoting instead – through various non-discrimination, affirmative action, and multiculturalist policies – forced integration. In a natural order, the right to exclusion inherent in the very idea of private property is restored to private property owners.

Accordingly, to lower the production cost of security and improve its quality, a natural order is characterized by increased discrimination, segregation, spatial separation, uniculturalism (cultural homogeneity), exclusivity, and exclusion. In addition, whereas states have undermined intermediating social institutions (family households, churches, covenants, communities, and clubs) and the associated ranks and layers of authority so as to increase their own power vis-a-vis equal and isolated individuals, a natural order is distinctly un-egalitarian: "elitist," "hierarchical," "proprietarian," "patriarchical," and "authoritorian," and its stability depends essentially on the existence of a self-conscious natural – voluntarily acknowledged – aristocracy.

Strategy

Finally, I discuss strategic matters and questions. How can a natural order arise out of democracy? I explain the role of ideas, intellectuals, elites, and public opinion in the legitimation and de-legitimation of state power. In particular, I discuss the role of secession – and the proliferation of independent political entities – as an important step toward the goal of natural order, and I explain how to properly privatize "socialized" and "public" property.

November 12, 2001 Copyright 2001 by Hans-Hermann Hoppe


TOPICS: Editorial; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: democracy
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1 posted on 11/12/2001 6:49:49 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
19th century america had the highest standard of living.
2 posted on 11/12/2001 6:57:30 AM PST by weikel
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To: Aurelius
The title is a variation of the classic book about Communism's abject failure called "The God that Failed."

These Lew Rockwell guys don't even try to hide their anti-American communist bent anymore.

3 posted on 11/12/2001 6:58:26 AM PST by tallhappy
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To: Aurelius
Amazon.com

Democracy-The God That Failed : The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order

by Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Hardcover - May 2001)

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4 posted on 11/12/2001 6:59:30 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: tallhappy
communist?

You must have an unusual conception of communism.

5 posted on 11/12/2001 7:02:16 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: weikel
19th century america had the highest standard of living.

From what dark crevice on your body did you pull that little jewel?

Rockwell is becoming an enemy of America.

6 posted on 11/12/2001 7:03:22 AM PST by sinkspur
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To: Aurelius
The God That Failed (by Metallica)

Pride you took
pride you feel
pride that you felt when you'd kneel

not the word
not the love
not what you thought from above

it feeds
it grows
it clouds all that you will know
deceit
deceive
decide just what you believe

I see faith in your eyes
never your hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
broken is the promise, betraya
l the healing hand held back by the deepened nail

follow the god that failed

find your peace
find your say
find the smooth road in your way

trust you gave
a child to save
left you cold and him in grave

it feeds
it grows
it clouds all that you will know
deceit
deceive
decide just what you believe

I see faith in your eyes
never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
broken is the promise, betrayal
the healing hand held back by the deepened nail

follow the god that failed

I see faith in your eyes
broken is the promise, betrayal
the healing hand held back by the deepened nail

follow the god that failed

pride you took
pride you feel
pride that you felt when you'd kneel
trust you gave
a child to save
left you cold and him in grave

I see faith in your eyes
never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
broken is the promise, betrayal
the healing hand held back by deepened nail

follow the god that failed


As a side note, I saw Metallica perform this song the first time it was ever performed live.

7 posted on 11/12/2001 7:11:48 AM PST by Phantom Lord
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To: Aurelius
I agree with some points...

Democracy has transformed the limited wars of kings into total wars. The motive for war has become ideological – democracy, liberty, civilization, humanity. The objectives are intangible and elusive:

and disagree with others...

Presidents and prime ministers come into their position as a result of their efficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues.

Personally, I'm stickin' with The Republic...One Nation under God, 'till the end!

8 posted on 11/12/2001 7:37:34 AM PST by Verax
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To: Verax
Democracy has transformed the limited wars of kings into total wars. The motive for war has become ideological – democracy, liberty, civilization, humanity. The objectives are intangible and elusive:

You agree with this statement? It's idiotic - wars have become larger because of the Industrial Revolution and increased populations - and generally, democracies do not wage war on each other - the great wars of the last century were started by monarchies or fascist states.

9 posted on 11/12/2001 9:18:40 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Aurelius
Can't agree with this. Here's how I see it at present:

#1 Democracy is not God. There is only one God. Democracy is one of the closest things we have on earth to God's government in heaven.

#2 Democracy is not a god. A god is something/someone (other than the one and only God) which is worshipped, adored -- falsely; an idol, a false god. If we worshipped democracy I guess that would make it a false god. But we do not worship democracy. Democracy enables us to worship God (or whatever else we choose to worship) freely, without interference. IMHO.

PS Nice screen name.

10 posted on 11/12/2001 9:19:58 AM PST by germanshepherd
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To: Verax
Which republic would that be?
11 posted on 11/12/2001 9:21:00 AM PST by SteamshipTime
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To: Aurelius
" I always feeeeeel like....somebody's waaatching meeeeeeeeee.... AND I HAVE NO PRIVACY!"

- Rockwell

12 posted on 11/12/2001 9:24:01 AM PST by sayfer bullets
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To: dirtboy
You agree with this statement? It's idiotic - wars have become larger because of the Industrial Revolution and increased populations - and generally, democracies do not wage war on each other - the great wars of the last century were started by monarchies or fascist states.

I think Hoppe would argue that fascism is a variant of democracy. Fascism dispenses with voting as a means of conferring legitimacy on the rulers and uses mass rallies instead. The basic operation of the various fascist states was essentially like a democracy -- political leaders chosen by demagogic skill rather than heredity, tendency towards huge bureaucracy and heavy govt. spending ("capital consumption" as Hoppe puts it) and most of all disintegration of civilized morals brought on by legal uncertainty.

13 posted on 11/12/2001 9:28:07 AM PST by Entelechy
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To: Entelechy
I think Hoppe would argue that fascism is a variant of democracy.

I think Hoppe needs to get out more often.

14 posted on 11/12/2001 9:30:08 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy
It's not as radical a conclusion as you think. Hitler was elected and the Nazi's enjoyed widespread public support right up until the very end.
15 posted on 11/12/2001 9:33:32 AM PST by Entelechy
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To: Aurelius
Historians qua historians cannot answer such questions, and no amount of statistical data manipulation can change this fact. Every sequence of empirical events is compatible with any of a number of rival, mutually incompatible interpretations.

Hogwash. This is the kind of thing somebody says when the empirical data doesn't suit his hypothesis. The guy is a wack-job.

16 posted on 11/12/2001 9:34:50 AM PST by beckett
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To: Entelechy
It's not as radical a conclusion as you think. Hitler was elected and the Nazi's enjoyed widespread public support right up until the very end.

The Soviet Union held elections as well. The point is, when Hitler became chancellor there was no Nazi Germany, no fascist state - he created those over time, and the elections became more and more meaningless. And even if you want to continue to split hairs to keep that point, what of Japan and Germany under the Kaiser? Those were monarchies and they started major wars. The whole premise that democracy leads to large-scale war is one of the more idiotic ones I have seen in some time. If you want a good analysis of the demographic and economic factors that created the major wars of the 20th century, I suggest reading the beginning of Barbara Tuchmans The Guns of August.

17 posted on 11/12/2001 9:37:46 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Verax
Personally, I'm stickin' with The Republic...One Nation under God, 'till the end!

That's the problem, however. We are no longer a republic, haven't been one for ages (well exactly 141 years but who's counting?). Under a Republican form of government, the public votes for a group, that being the legislatures, who in turn would vote for the federal government officials. The Founders, decided to give the public a little more power than most republics and we were constitutionally allowed to vote for the US House of Representatives (well until the 17th Amendment and that was meant to take the last vestige of power out of the hands of the state legislatures, but of course it is easier to control a mostly uneducated mass known as the 'people', rather than 50 state legislatures). At no time, by the Constitution was the general public supposed to or should vote for the US Senate and the POTUS. Technically, under the original Framers intent, each state legislature nominated two of their own to be in the Senate and also to vote for the POTUS. Popular vote for the President was meant to give the legislatures an idea of how the people within their state would vote but by no means was legally binding. That changed over the years forcing the legislatures to follow the masses, hence this nation has been blessed with idiots such as FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton

No, we are a Socialist Democracy...at best

18 posted on 11/12/2001 9:38:01 AM PST by billbears
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To: weikel
That depends on who you are talking about.
19 posted on 11/12/2001 9:39:46 AM PST by rdb3
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To: Aurelius
thanks for this provocative post. interestingly enough, i think that hans and i want freedom. however, i disagree with his means to ensuring we have a government that guarantees freedom.

myth 1... the emergence of states has caused subsequent economic and civilization progress

we only need to study the romans to learn that this is not a myth. barbaric tribes brought the roman empire to its knees. without a strong state that ensures national security there will be no investment leading to economic improvement because the outsiders will gather the fruit of one's toils.

myth 2...there is near-universal agreement that democracy represents an advance over monarchy

democracy is an advance over monarchy. absolute monarchs keep their subjects in poverty, while tolerating a nobility class that help keep the peace and help bring wealth. democracy is responsible for the improvement of the human condition in western civilization.

as hans correctly points out, democracy does not guarantee freedom. democracy merely allows people to get the government that they deserve (er, i mean vote for). when the citizens do not understand democracy or are afraid to defend democracy, they will lose freedom, as happened in germany, italy and other cited situation. [nazi germany started out as a democracy, but quickly moved to a dictatorship as hitler solidified absolute power with a set of elitist rulers. the people of germany, who revere authority, for whatever reasons, did not stand up and by tacit approval allowed hitler the power he obtained.] nazi germany was a step from democracy to rule by the elite few.

myth 3 ... there is no alternative to western style democracies [to guarantee freedom]

his arguments backing the debunking of this myth ring hollow. replacing elected officials with an elite ruling class will result in a dictatorship. absolute power corrupts absolutely. sooner or later there will be corruption.

communism was supposed to be socialist system ruled by an elite few guaranteeing egalitarianism. history shows what has happened to our communist pals.

western style democracy is the only government that can guarantee the freedom of the citizens. as hans states, there are problems with it -- but throwing it out is not the answer. unfortunately, because of racism and those who would otherwise limit the freedom of others (thievery, crime, etc.), the government must put in place rules to ensure that the rule of the majority do not violate the rights of the minority. in the united states we have defined a set of laws that undergird our constitution and also have a bill or rights dictating what each of us can do.

to stay in power, our elected officials must bribe the voters with various government programs. this sad fact does state that a free democracy will move to a socialist democracy. this is not a state i desire.

unfortunately, we do not have an economic bill of rights. our government can tax, implement socialist programs and implement welfare programs. it is too easy for our government to raise taxes, and this does what the barbarians of an earlier era does: keeps people from wantint to invest in economic progress.
we need an economic bill of rights that limits how much taxing and spending our government can do. tax limits should be set and a balanced budget must be guaranteed. this has the further benefit of limiting how much our elected officials can bribe their way to office.

democracy is not the scourge of freedom, rather it is its friend. freedom is only guaranteed with a strong government that guarantees security. economic growth comes by allowing those who invest to reap their rewards. our constitution requires some changes to ensure we do not move further into a socialist democracy.
20 posted on 11/12/2001 9:45:18 AM PST by mlocher
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To: germanshepherd
The word, "Democracy" has acquired something of a holy aura. The principle of democracy it is treated as a holy principle. And, in contrast to what the founders had in mind, political minoriies are expected to bow to the will of a political majority in circumstances where the founders would have expected minority rights to be protected.
21 posted on 11/12/2001 9:53:17 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: dirtboy
I think it would be more accurate to say that the iniation of those great wars was a cooperative effort of all of the participants.
22 posted on 11/12/2001 9:58:32 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius; philman_36
democracy=rule of the majority
republic=power is excercised by elected officers and representatives
Not the same thing...necessarily. Maybe some of our problems lie in the fact that we are a republic (with corrupt representatives?.)

Hey Philman_36----How about lending a hand here---knowing firsthand your expertise on the subject.

23 posted on 11/12/2001 10:03:45 AM PST by LoneGreenEyeshade
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To: tallhappy
You're much closer to being a communist than Hoppe is. Of course, you probably think that democracy is the form of government established in the US Constitutiton. Try reading articles before commenting on them. It might make you look less like a dimwit.
24 posted on 11/12/2001 10:05:02 AM PST by Twodees
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To: beckett
"Every sequence of empirical events is compatible is compatible with any number of rival, mutually incompatible interpretations."

You could not be more wrong in your you remark concerning this statement. This is a very import and fundamental truth; practically a tautology. Alternative explanations for such "sequences of events" are offered all of the time. One can not be proved "right" and the other "wrong" simply "from the facts". I don't share Hoppe's confidence that "theory" can clear up the matter beyond all doubt; it can certainly contribute to our judging the relative plausibility of two competing interpretatations.

25 posted on 11/12/2001 10:12:32 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: LoneGreenEyeshade
Thsi goes to the point that I was trying to make in my post 21; we should expect a better protection of the rights of the a minority under a Republic.
26 posted on 11/12/2001 10:15:42 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
Democracy is a "God that failed." Socialism, Communism and Fascism are "Gods that failed." Miseanism is another "God that failed" or a "God that will fail." All systems have their flaws and failings. None is truly God. Of course some fail more than others.

Socialism contradicts basic aspects of human nature. Democracy doesn't, though its costs may increase beyond its ability to pay them. To be sure democracy may deny differences in ability between people, but that is to assert the basic worth of the person. Misean freemarketism is in accord with that part of humanity that socialism denies, but it neglects other aspects of human nature.

A small, wealthy, commercial republic that does well in its sharp dealings will attract envy. You can argue that it shouldn't, but that it does is human nature. Larger states and democracies spread the risk and benefits and provide a larger base for society and more resources for its defence.

What's true of international relations is true of internal affairs. A society of armed individuals runs the risk of becoming overrun by this or that armed band. The Old West was an armed society, but nonetheless was subject to bandits and desperados. Having police and courts provides more resources to deal with bandits and allocates the risks and costs of dealing with them to something more than the solitary individual or homestead. Remember Gary Cooper in "High Noon". That armed society was still disinclined to put their lives on the line. And that's often the case. Keep a gun to defend yourself. But are you really going to go out and hunt down the criminals yourself? By contrast armed Appalachian society of the late 19th century was too quick to take up arms. There's something to be said for having trained professional peace officers to do what people won't do in some societies and what they are far too ready to do in others.

Monarchy has its advantages, but many of them are tied up in its sacral, spiritual and even "democratic" or populist character. A Misean monarchy, designed to keep the masses in check, would be a brittle thing like the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Phillipe. People who might accept monarchy as the will of God aren't too keen on accepting it when it's just a scheme to limit their power -- something which successful republics have been able to do.

And kings have a notorious way of being fickle, self-willed and perverse. Your king may want all power for himself, or he may derive great pleasure out of seeing his state humble the wealthy. If kings all acted as we would want them to, we might all be living under monarchies. The reason why we don't is because they don't.

27 posted on 11/12/2001 10:18:40 AM PST by x
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To: dirtboy
The Soviet Union held elections as well. The point is, when Hitler became chancellor there was no Nazi Germany, no fascist state - he created those over time, and the elections became more and more meaningless.

Granted, but if Germany had had a tradition of true democracy, I think it's clear that Hitler would have been persistently re-elected and Germany would still have manouevered for war.

And even if you want to continue to split hairs to keep that point, what of Japan and Germany under the Kaiser?

Japan is the stronger counterexample. However, the rise of Tojo's regime clearly follows the democritization of Japan (and the decline of its monarchy).

However, the Kaiser's Germany was really a representative republic. Germany had a national state, regional voting and a full-fledged welfare state. Although it's not the exact form of democracy that America has today -- it still counts.

If you want a good analysis of the demographic and economic factors that created the major wars of the 20th century . . .

I'm not sure Hoppe is correct either. Some of Hoppe's critique stems from his Austrian ancestry. He sees the disolution of the Austrian Empire after WWI as destroying classical liberal thought in central Europe (and blazing a path for the Nazis). Since his analysis relies largely on a belief that the Central Powers should have won WWI, he is open to criticism. OTOH, civilizations are notoriously incapable of noticing the cause of their own decline -- ours is no exception. Thus his analysis deserves consideration because our belief in democracy may be blinding us to its flaws.

28 posted on 11/12/2001 10:22:34 AM PST by Entelechy
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To: Aurelius
I think it would be more accurate to say that the iniation of those great wars was a cooperative effort of all of the participants.

Maybe for WWI, where there were a lot of nationalist ambitions - but I don't think that applies to WWII - although France and Britain had a common-defense treaty with Poland, it became clear after Poland was attacked that neither country was terribly interested in getting involved - until the Nazis came after them. As for the United States, it's a convoluted argument as to whether this country wanted to be part of WWII - but in the end, IMO we really didn't have much choice.

29 posted on 11/12/2001 10:26:18 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Twodees
These parasites are Communist Front groups.

Enough of their garbage has been posted to know this.

30 posted on 11/12/2001 10:33:00 AM PST by tallhappy
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To: Aurelius
Good point. Interestingly, I was just reading about our early days and the first political parties (BTW: political parties were a rather nasty notion to our Founding Fathers, at the first.) Hamilton epitomized the Federalists: strong national government to protect elite and capitalism. Jefferson epitomized the Democratic Republicans: strong local government to protect the general public.

Think we conservatives of today would have been the "Independent" party!

31 posted on 11/12/2001 10:33:32 AM PST by LoneGreenEyeshade
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To: tallhappy
In support of your comment, I might add that the article says: For instance, the outstanding historian Carroll Quigley claims that the invention of fractional reserve banking has been a major cause of the unprecedented expansion of wealth associated with the Industrial Revolution, and countless historians have associated the economic plight of Soviet-style socialism with the absence of democracy.

Now who is Quigley and why do I key on his name? Carroll Quigly was a Bill Clinton mentor at Georgetown, as I recall. He was famous for his works and theories on an overall world conspiracy controling all history. For him, the Illuminati are not only real, but the CFR, Skull and Bones, Bilderbergers, and the Knights of Malta along with the Jesuits control everything you do today.

32 posted on 11/12/2001 10:39:08 AM PST by KC Burke
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To: dirtboy
By "total war", Hoppe, as he clearly says, means wars that have been extended to the total population of the enemy country. Historians contend that in early modern times, 17th to mid 19th century there was a deliberate attempt by warring armies to minimize damage to civilians. Hoppe gives a reason why one might expect such from the armies of a monarchy. Generally, the termination of this trend is seen as beginning with actions of the Union Army in the War between the States.

The reasons that you suggest are certainly relevant to the continuation of this trend in this century, particulary advanced weapons technology. However, other factors also enter. The ideology of democracy, if not the reality, makes the whole population responsible for the actions of their government, this is then seen as an excuse for taking the war to the people. This is also how terrorists justify terrorism against civilians.

33 posted on 11/12/2001 10:39:28 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
Historians contend that in early modern times, 17th to mid 19th century there was a deliberate attempt by warring armies to minimize damage to civilians.

I think that's rose-colored glasses. The British during the Revolutionary War often destroyed civilian facilities that manufactured arms and equipment for the Continental Army, for example - so how is that different from bombing a German ball-bearing factory? What has changed over the years is the ability of military force to project great distances via air power into the heartland of the enemy - and with that comes the temptation to attack large civilian populations to crush their will to fight (a flawed theory IMO)...

34 posted on 11/12/2001 10:44:56 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: KC Burke
Now who is Quigley and why do I key on his name?

Except that Hoppe is clearly criticizing Quigley for holding a belief which is false.

And I might add, Quigley is a intriguing historian and I've always been puzzled by Clinton's stated admiration of him. Did Clinton delude himself into thinking he could join Quigley's hidden elite?

35 posted on 11/12/2001 10:51:07 AM PST by Entelechy
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To: dirtboy
"The British during the Revolutionary war often destroyed civilian factories that manufactured arms and equipment...

Of course they did. I'm sorry, I should have been more specific and said: "civilians not explicitely involved in the war effort". I am referring to the bombing of civilian populations in non-industrial areas. As in the case of Dresden, for example. Also, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

36 posted on 11/12/2001 10:54:38 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: dirtboy
I agree with it from an American perspective. In the way that our government has steadily drifted away from Washington's policy of neutrality to become the world police force.
37 posted on 11/12/2001 11:05:31 AM PST by Verax
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To: SteamshipTime
Our Constitutional Republic.
38 posted on 11/12/2001 11:07:15 AM PST by Verax
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To: Verax
I agree with it from an American perspective. In the way that our government has steadily drifted away from Washington's policy of neutrality to become the world police force.

What does that have to do with this statement:

Democracy has transformed the limited wars of kings into total wars.

39 posted on 11/12/2001 11:08:16 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Entelechy

Fascism dispenses with voting as a means of conferring legitimacy on the rulers and uses mass rallies instead.

Excellent observation. International fascism (Soviet communism) functioned in the same way. Both were variants of democracy.

40 posted on 11/12/2001 11:17:27 AM PST by Zviadist
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To: Aurelius
Hoppe wants us to believe that consensus building among peers (i.e., democracy) leads to war more inexorably than other forms of government, for example absolute monarchies. In fact the exact opposite is true, as the long record of empirical data that "historians qua historians" have compiled shows incontrovertibly. His statement that "...democracy virtually assures that only dangerous men will rise to the top of government" indicates that he either prefers to ignore or he hasn't the foggiest idea how leadership manifests itself. In the halcyon "secessionist" utopia he envisions the men (and women) who slug it out for leadership positions will have the same "dangerous" attributes leaders have had from time immemorial.

Hoppe's system, a castle in the sky worthy of Rousseau, Marx or Heidegger, will not alter the nature of the men and women who populate it any more than the reckless ideas of those three "thinkers" created a "noble savage," a "new soviet man," or an "Aryan übermensch." Jefferson captured the problem quite well when he wrote in 1798, "let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." The Constitution--a document created by consensus and legitimized by the ballot.

As I said, Hoppe is a wack-job.

41 posted on 11/12/2001 11:20:42 AM PST by beckett
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To: Zviadist
Fascism dispenses with voting as a means of conferring legitimacy on the rulers and uses mass rallies instead.

Excellent observation. International fascism (Soviet communism) functioned in the same way. Both were variants of democracy.

Oh, come on. That is extremely convoluted reasoning. Folks show up at mass rallies in totalitarian countries more from fear than from willingness...

42 posted on 11/12/2001 11:22:01 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy

Folks show up at mass rallies in totalitarian countries more from fear than from willingness...

Motivation is not the point: that they are there confers "democratic" legitimacy on the regime. No one questions your motives to vote; they can be any number of things. But your ballot casting confers legitimacy on the regime. The point is that both look to the people -- despite methods -- for legitimacy. Monarchies were fundamentally different.

43 posted on 11/12/2001 11:27:25 AM PST by Zviadist
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To: Zviadist
Motivation is not the point: that they are there confers "democratic" legitimacy on the regime. No one questions your motives to vote; they can be any number of things. But your ballot casting confers legitimacy on the regime. The point is that both look to the people -- despite methods -- for legitimacy.

That is still a convoluted attempt to equate fascism with democracy.

Monarchies were fundamentally different.

Not really. Look at what the Chinese said about the mandate of the people. And monarchies could be pretty bloodthirsty in their own right. The point is, the process of replacing monarchies with representative government coincided with the Industrial Revolution, which in turn led to much more massive wars due to economic and demographic factors that resulted from the Industrial Revolution - but that does not mean that massive war is a result of democracy, but of the Industrial Revolution itself.

44 posted on 11/12/2001 11:33:16 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: beckett
"In fact the exact opposite is true, as the long record of empirical data that "historians qua historians" have compiled shows incontrovertibly."

And how again does this long record of empirical data show that incontrovertiby? Can you cite me some source that might enlighten me on that point a little better than your totally unsubstantiated assertion?

Also, can you explain to me how the "reckless" ideas of Martin Heidegger created an Aryan Ubermensch (can't do the umlaut)? Not that I'm an admirer of Heidegger. I know that he had a very brief flirtation with Nazism, but I don't think he devoted much time or thought to creating Aryan Ubermenschen.

45 posted on 11/12/2001 11:40:48 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Zviadist
I was just reminded by the recent eletion in Australia that voting is mandatory there.
46 posted on 11/12/2001 11:43:45 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
election

Wish this site had a spell check.

47 posted on 11/12/2001 11:44:52 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: mlocher
Since Aurelius seems to be leaving your post untouched, I'll address it.

myth 1... the emergence of states has caused subsequent economic and civilization progress

we only need to study the romans to learn that this is not a myth. barbaric tribes brought the roman empire to its knees. without a strong state that ensures national security there will be no investment leading to economic improvement because the outsiders will gather the fruit of one's toils.

Well, that's the Roman's spin on the fall of their Empire. Too bad it's a whitewash of their history. As Roman politics got more and more populist and their military bureaucracy more and more entrenched their civilization declined. The number one reason the barbarians won is taxes. If you were a peasant you ate more under the barbarians. The collapse of Rome primarily benefitted the illiterate which is why we consider it a "dark" time.

myth 2...there is near-universal agreement that democracy represents an advance over monarchy

democracy is an advance over monarchy. absolute monarchs keep their subjects in poverty, while tolerating a nobility class that help keep the peace and help bring wealth. democracy is responsible for the improvement of the human condition in western civilization.

Here you are attributing the growth of the middle class to democracy rather than to its true source, industrialization. Democracy allows the people to vote themselves a share of other people's property. This "communalizing" of property leads to moral decay and provides the intellectual climate necessary for socialism and/or fascism.

myth 3 ... there is no alternative to western style democracies [to guarantee freedom]

his arguments backing the debunking of this myth ring hollow. replacing elected officials with an elite ruling class will result in a dictatorship. absolute power corrupts absolutely. sooner or later there will be corruption.

Here you misunderstand Hoppe. Hoppe is not advocating monarchy. Rather, he is saying monarchy is better in most respects than democracy. The system he advocates is what is known as "market anarchism."

Hoppe's fundamental unit of "government" is insurance. He envisions a world of thousands of gated communities and city-states linked by a common law court system.

Unfortunately, we do not have an economic bill of rights. our government can tax, implement socialist programs and implement welfare programs. it is too easy for our government to raise taxes, and this does what the barbarians of an earlier era does: keeps people from wanting to invest in economic progress.

I think we've seen that democracy isn't restrained by a civil liberties bill of rights -- so why would we believe it would be restrained by an economic one. Political power is the power to steal. Giving it to a small handful of people is flawed (monarchy) but giving it to everyone (democracy) is a disaster. Best that no one be consider a "legitimate thief."

48 posted on 11/12/2001 11:45:53 AM PST by Entelechy
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To: beckett
Re: Heidegger. If you are looking for a philosopher on whom to pin the blame for Nazism, read Ayn Rand's disciple, Leonard Peikoff. According to Peikoff, it was all a result of the influence of Kantian idealism.
49 posted on 11/12/2001 11:51:01 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: tallhappy
These Lew Rockwell guys don't even try to hide their anti-American communist bent anymore.

If you really believe that Lew Rockwell is communist then you're one very confused individual. Rockwell and his site advocates extreme laissez faire capitalism, the very antithesis of communism.

I will hope for the best and assume you were kidding.

50 posted on 11/12/2001 11:58:57 AM PST by ICU812
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