Iraqis Too Smart for American-Style Democracy

Some things in life get better with the passage of time: fine wine, a great novel, a loving relationship. Others start off bad and just get worse: public education, fiat money, the two-party system.

Unique among the latter category is democracy. It starts off bad and deteriorates exponentially. Winston Churchill once said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." A conversation with the average American voter today would require only a few seconds to reach the same conclusion. Most Americans have an infantile reverence for democracy, a result of their ignorance of democracy's true nature and their "education" as citizens. To them, democracy represents the zenith of government evolution. Nothing could be more noble or progressive than a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." Nearly a century of public education and government propaganda have taken their toll on generations of American intellect. Most Americans believe that democratic government protects their freedom and promotes prosperity while ensuring justice, fairness and equality for all. They have been indoctrinated to believe that the United States has a unique moral mission to spread democracy throughout the world. Whenever force is employed by their government, supposedly to carry forth this mission, Americans put blind and unquestioning faith in their leaders and the holy warriors who fight "the good fight" in their name. Since the early twentieth century, it has been accepted largely without criticism that if American soldiers are sent halfway around the world to kill people, it must be to protect our "freedom" or the United States from "imminent" danger. As most of us are aware, democracy is based on the premise--flawed premise--that a majority of the people know what is best for everyone. If a majority wants "public" schools, then government will provide them. If a majority wants a "public" retirement and old-age health care system, then government will establish one. If a majority wants "public" access to every business and establishment in the land, then government will pass legislation requiring access and create bureaucracies to force compliance with the law. Minority opposition to such schemes has always been lampooned as the rantings of bigots, misers and extremists. They are the forces of darkness who stand in the way of "progress," "equality" and "fairness." According to the enlightened who carry forth the liberating torch of democracy, minority opposition exists solely to deny the oppressed, the poor, women, ethnic and racial minorities, the gay and gender confused, and the physically impaired, their "right" to enjoy the fruits of an affluent society. Perhaps the greatest fraud of the democratic system is the notion that the "people's will" is done by government when it passes legislation such as affirmative action laws, environmental laws or occupational safety laws. Ever present in the minds of congressmen and senators is the all-powerful, short-sighted and completely doctored opinion poll. This is how a "majority" is created among the general population. Activists and lobbyists pressure their associates in the corporate and media worlds to provide funding and official positions supporting whatever cause they want to become the concern of all Americans. Some even resort to extortion, such as Jesse Jackson is noted for, when they need money or an endorsement for their cause. Americans, whipped into an emotional and irrational frenzy, flood their representatives in Congress with phone calls, letters and emails expressing outrage over an issue they couldn't even begin to explain or analyze. The outcry is too great, the "people" have "spoken" and Congress cracks under the pressure. The end result is that a small, vocal and annoying minority has manufactured a "majority" through lies, deception and extortion. Such is the true process of American-style democracy. The American people don't see democracy as bad because they've been immersed in this mongrel system of government for too long. What should be painfully obvious, isn't; that, whenever government, constituted under the legal formality of "majority rule," votes to provide benefits for one group of citizens, it must always take away the liberty and property of all citizens. Even when government "borrows" money to provide goodies instead of extracting it directly through taxation, it condemns future generations to a lower standard of living at best and slavery at worst. Since the ideological make-up of the "majority" is constantly changing in a democracy, the "ox that gets gored" changes as well. The ever-changing nature of democracy is what makes it such a dangerous form of government. Whence the fight to establish a "majority" is concluded in a democracy (Election Day), the plunder of liberty and property quickly commences. Discussing the negative social and economic impact of the redistributive policies inherent in any democracy, Hans Hermann-Hoppe writes in Democracy: The God That Failed, "Rather than being immutable and hence predictable, law becomes increasingly flexible and unpredictable. What is right and wrong today may not be so tomorrow. The future is thus rendered more haphazard." Most Americans, long since trained to ignore the future and scorn the past, could care less. For generations, Americans have been brainwashed that democracy and majority rule are the supreme expressions of governance. As we hear of the difficulties establishing democracy in Iraq, all Americans should pause and contemplate why Iraqis so vehemently object to democratic government. Putting aside all the explanations provided by the "experts," maybe their reason is an instinctive suspicion of any government with the authority to pass laws. With their first shot at real freedom, why should Iraqis put faith in a puppet government under the ultimate control of a foreign government that just bombed the hell out of their country? Iraqis have an edge on Americans: they have not been corrupted over generations to worship the attainment of democratic government as the culmination of a civilized society. Because they continue to be an occupied people--decades under Saddam Hussein and still counting under the Bush regime--Iraqis know full well the meaning of Ludwig von Mises statement that government is, at its core, nothing more than "beating into submission, imprisoning, and killing." It matters not to them whether it is a single individual or a majority enforcing "the will of the people." Too bad most Americans aren't that smart.

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Harry Goslin's picture
Columns on STR: 37

Harry Goslin lives in eastern Arizona.