The Scam Of Democracy

How should a subject of the law view the laws that govern him? What is the rational way to look at the law?

The truth of the matter is that citizens are, for lack of a better term, consumers of laws. Use of this term is somewhat problematical (I am not, in general, a fan of those who try to reduce every facet of human existence to the rules of economics), but looking at one’s relationship to the law in the context of the modern consumer allows us to see it in a practical light. Do you care – or even really know – how the things you consume are made? How much do you really know about what is involved in making flat-screen televisions, or scotch tape, or breakfast cereals? Most people, in fact, don’t know or care about these things, and why would they? All they care about, and all they need to care about from a rational perspective, is that the end product is of high quality.

If there is a good reason why the same logic should not apply to laws, I don’t see it. As a citizen, my interest in government is, and really only is, that it provides good laws and enforces them fairly and consistently. Thus, the only rational definition of a good government is one that reliably does these things. If a government does not reliably do those things, then it is not a good government. It does not matter what process is involved in coming up with its laws. No process of coming up with laws should be accepted prima facie as being good irrespective of the quality of its results. After all, what is the rational definition of a good process? A good process is one that consistently produces a high quality result. If it does not consistently produce a high quality result, then it’s not a good process.

I cannot speak for you, dear reader, but as for me, I care precious little about process compared to results, and see no rational reason why it should be otherwise.

Which brings us to democracy.

One of the things that makes democracy such an insidious hazard to decent governance is that it is, in essence, a species of con game; a magic trick played by governments to fool people into thinking that they have acceptable government when they actually don’t. Like most magic tricks, this one relies on sleight of hand, in which the viewer’s attention is distracted away from what’s going on in one of the magician’s hands and focused on what’s happening in his other hand. Thus, while everyone is looking at him wave around cards in his right hand, he quickly pulls an ace out of his left sleeve. It’s an age-old method employed by carnival hustlers, sidewalk three-card monte dealers, and riverboat card sharps worldwide, which explains why it is also popular with politicians in democracies.

This is what democracy does: it focuses attention on the process by which laws are made instead of the results that come from it. Are you worried about the creeping surveillance state, the sweeping away of free speech and free association in the name of combating “hate”, the slow death of the 4th Amendment, and the militarization of the police? Nonsense, say the democracy’s politicians! This is a democracy – it is your government, which you voted for – and thus it cannot possibly be oppressive! Further, it lays blame upon the citizens themselves (some of whom deserve it, some of whom don’t) for the dysfunctional, nonsensical, and oppressive actions of their government. They use the word “democracy” as a synonym for “liberty” and “decency”, and you are expected to accept this prima facie; thus it is expected that you should define democracy, as a process, as being good irrespective of its results.

Does this make any sense? Look around you, to the state of your nation and the whole of the Western world. Do you have high-quality governance by any reasonable definition of the term? Are these governments providing high-quality laws, and enforcing them fairly and consistently? Do these seem like good results?

If not, then why would you – why would anyone – continue to believe in the unquestionable, inherent goodness of the process that has provided these results? Because the people whose power relies on the scam of democracy have spent years trying to scare you away from the perceptions of your own senses and the judgments of your own rationality by feeding you the idea that there are only two kinds of government possible – mass democracy, or Hitler?

No… I just don’t see it.

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Short Takes

I apologize for the long delay between posts. In my own defense: how could I be expected to think or act with the Federal Government shut down? Since I am (obviously) still recovering from the trauma of not having 100% of the government there to tell me how to run my life, I present what will (I hope) be the first in an intermittent series of posts of short thoughts – things too important to be left unsaid, but not long enough to require a column of their own.

1) To the extent possible, this column will not deal with the mundane, day-to-day affairs of politics. I shall leave mundane politics to mundane thinkers – the Rush Limbaughs of the world handle such things better than I could, and have more interest in them than I do. After all, anyone who knows history and is not blinded by ideology or hubris knows how this will turn out in the end. There will be no coming-to-senses to save the Republic. It will slide further and further into moral degeneracy and economic bankruptcy until either tyranny or dissolution occurs. Plato told us 2500 years ago that that was the inevitable path of democracies. In our hubris, we believe ourselves to be an exception. We aren’t. Watch.

2) Attention conservatives, traditionalists, libertarians, and believers in fiscal prudence and sustainability of every stripe: You will not win through democracy. Not now. Not ever. You’ve had twenty-five centuries of warnings from wise men and examples from history that show you that this is the case. The sooner you get it through your thick skulls, the better.

3) Heard on the internet: “Modern mass-media techniques of the manipulation of public opinion have rendered democracy obsolete.” True enough. Democracy was never a good idea and was never going to last no matter what, but the experience of the past century has proved beyond any doubt that democracy is incompatible with modern mass media. Whatever faults democracy has on its own, mass media amplifies, intensifies, and accelerates them.

4) I don’t care about the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence, or any of the other “founding documents” of the United States). I long ago stopped believing that an idea was unquestionably true just because a group of 18th century farmers believed that it was.

5) That said, the United States does not in any real sense have a Constitution. The unlimited power to “interpret” the Constitution is functionally identical to the unlimited power to rewrite the Constitution. Thus, the US does not functionally have a Constitution – it has the ideologies, biases, and prejudices of nine black-robed government functionaries who only have to be clever enough to cloak those things in some sort of rationalization that mentions the Constitution, no matter how tortured, farfetched, or arbitrary that rationalization may be. This is key because it illustrates that on at least some level, the United States is already a fascist country: Can anyone tell me how having important social policy set by one man in a brown shirt is very much different from having it set by nine people in black robes? Neither any genuine constitutionality nor the will of the people is a significant factor in determining the outcomes in either scenario; so why is one fascism, but not the other?

6) Speaking of fascism, I continue to be mildly surprised that a Sulla/Caesar/Augusts has not yet appeared to put the sad remains of American democracy out of their misery. Could it be that our society is so degenerate and disspiated that we are no longer even capable of producing a man of their sort? Or is it that we are actually in what is the real final stage of the Spenglerian cycle – the Rule of the Bureaucratic Mandarins?

7) First it was “Shit My Dad Says”, then “Schmidt My CEO Says”, now it’s “Shit My Pope Says”. Being a Catholic these days and listening to the Pope can be just as maddening and embarrassing as what Google employees went through under their lead-tongued former CEO. Ugh.

8) Related: The practice of nuking one’s allies in order to impress one’s enemies with what a swell guy you are, formerly known as “Jonah Goldberging”, will henceforth be known as “Pope Francising”.

9) Off the top of your head, can you name anything in America today – from politics to the economy to mass media to, well, anything – that is not a rigged game? Me neither.

10) One of my favorite things that anybody said, ever, was when Neal Stephenson defined intelligence by saying: “The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety”. One particular form of inability to handle subtlety is excessive literal-mindedness. Remember this the next time you’re dealing with an internet atheist: Excessive literal-mindedness is not a sign of intelligence; it’s just a sign of autism.

11) Leftists often, in their usual mode of condescending fake concern, accuse men of the right of being “angry”. Am I angry? You bet I am. Why is that necessarily a bad thing? There are things that happen in this world that, if they don’t make you angry, there’s something very wrong with you.

12) A shameless plug: You can find me on Twitter at @antidemblog – the more people follow me, the more I’ll Tweet, so please do see me there.