Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Ruinous Despotism of Democracy

Not long ago, in "'Liberalism,' as Seen by Liberals," I quoted from a review in The Washington Post of Paul Starr's Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalism. Here is an especially telling paragraph from the review:
By opening up power to progressively broader participation, liberal constitutions have subjected government to scrutiny, criticism and even resistance, and thus have helped to protect citizens against overweening bureaucracies. At the same time, they have made democratic states more legitimate and have enabled them to borrow, tax and, until recently, conscript more and more. Paradoxically, then, constitutionally limited states historically have wielded more power than despotic ones.
I was reminded of that passage by one that I have just came upon in Christopher Dawson's The Dynamics of World History (a compilation of Dawson's essays written 1921-55):
Today the common traditions [of religion and culture] have been abandoned by the rulers of the modern [s]tate and the planners of modern society, while at the same time the latter have come to exercise a more complete control over the thought and life of the whole population than the most autocratic and authoritarian powers of the past ever possessed.
Dawson wrote that in 1949. Though he was writing about Britain, he might just as well have been writing about the United States. And matters have only worsened here (as in Britain). Consider the economic realm, for example:

Of course, there's more to it than that. There are social consequences aplenty (e.g., higher rates of violent crime) arising from the voter-enabled substitution of state-imposed and state-endorsed behavioral norms for socially evolved ones -- always in the name of "liberality" or "progress." For example, as I wrote here:
[A]bortion-on-demand and same-sex marriage are not manifestations of liberality, they are manifestations of statism because they are (or would be) state-imposed -- which is what "liberals" want.

If abortion-on-demand and same-sex marriage were manifestations of liberality, they would have arisen from voluntarily evolved social norms. That they have not done so means that they are destructive of the social order -- of civil society -- upon which liberty depends.
If my position makes me out to be a reactionary, I stand with Barry Goldwater:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
To put it more baldly, todays "democratic statism" is antithetical to liberty, justice, and progress. For our sake and the sake of our progeny, it must by replaced by the founding principles of limited-government republicanism.

There's more -- much more -- in the following categories:
Affirmative Action - Immigration - Race
Constitution - Courts - Law - Justice
Economics: Principles and Issues
Leftism- Statism - Democracy
Liberty - Libertarianism - Rights
Religion - Science - Pseudoscience
Self-Ownership... - Gender - Etc.
War - Peace - Foreign Affairs