Democracy: The God That's Failing

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Jeff Deist via The Mises Institute,

When Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe made his famous argument against democracy back in 2001, the notion that voting was a lousy way to organize society was still radical even among many libertarians. Virtually everyone raised in a western country over the past century grew up hearing “democracy” used as a synonym for wonderful, good, just, and valid. It takes a great deal of unlearning to overcome this as an adult, and to question the wisdom of representative government installed via democratic mechanisms.   

Fast forward to 2017, however, and the case against democracy is being made right in front of our eyes. Witness Hillary Clinton, who not long ago gushed about our “sacred” right to vote — that is until her stupendous loss to Trump. Today she clings to the specious nonsense that the Russians somehow influenced our election by planting stories and using social media, which if true would be an excellent argument against voting rights. If the natives are so easily duped by a few silly posts in their Facebook feeds, why on earth is their vote meaningful or sacred?

Other progressives like Michael Moore demand that Trump be arrested, presumably for treason. Left-leaning cable news pundits openly call for Trump to resign or be impeached. Mainstream newspapers wonder whether he’ll even finish his four-year term. The overwhelming message from the media is that Trump is a disaster, an existential threat that must be stopped.

But it’s not just progressives questioning democratic outcomes. Neoconservative Bill Kristol tweets that he’d rather be governed by an unaccountable deep state than Trump. Mild-mannered conservative moralist Dennis Prager, a reasonable and likeable right winger in my view, argues quite seriously that we are in the midst of a second civil war with those who simply reject their electoral defeat. And the libertarianish jurist Richard Epstein, writing for the somnambulant Hoover Institution, unloads a litany of grievances against Trump that would make Bill Maher blush.

We should recall that as democratic elections go, Trump’s victory was perfectly legitimate. Nobody seriously challenges his margins in the key states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. Lamentations about Clinton winning the so-called popular vote are irrelevant and blatantly partisan — the Electoral College is as much a part of the “rules” as having two senators per state.

Meanwhile in the UK, former Prime Minister Tony Blair employs the language of revolution in urging Remain forces to “rise up” against Brexit and overturn the referendum in Parliament. Never mind that Blair is no longer an elected official and holds no government office, never mind that both the referendum process and the Brexit vote were perfectly valid: he just doesn’t like the results. His argument that Leave voters had “imperfect knowledge” is both hilarious and disingenuous: voters always have imperfect knowledge about candidates and policies prior to elections; pertinent new information always comes to light after elections. If Blair thinks we can start overturning elections based on any degree of voter ignorance, then I must suggest he begin with the vote in the House of Commons that made him PM. And why does he, a democrat, imagine some right to overturn election results at all?

It’s time to call a spade a spade. All of this angst hardly comports with our supposed reverence for democracy. Again, Trump handily and fairly won a democratic election just three months ago. If he’s the devil, a wrecking ball that cannot be stopped by the other branches of government, then our entire constitutional system and its democratic mechanisms are defective. Why doesn’t the #neverTrump movement take its arguments to their logical conclusion, and insist an electorate that would install Donald Trump never be allowed to vote again or have any say in organizing society?

The reality is becoming clear, even as it remains uncomfortable for many: democracy is a sham that should be opposed by all liberty-loving people. Voting and elections confer no legitimacy whatsoever on any government, and to the extent a democratic political process replaces outright war it should be seen as only slightly less horrific.

As I stated before the election last year:

… no matter who wins, millions of people — maybe 40 percent of the country — are going to view the winner as illegitimate and irredeemable.


In fact a recent Gallup poll cites that fully one-third of Americans won’t trust the election results anyway — which is to say they don’t trust government to hold an honest election.


Trump vs. Hillary represents something much bigger: what we might call the end of politics, or at least the limits of politics. Americans, and Europeans too, are witnessing the end of the myth of democratic consensus. Democratic voting, so called, doesn’t yield some noble compromise between Left and Right, but only an entrenched political class and its system of patronage.

Great libertarians like Thomas Jefferson have long warned against democracy, even as they uneasily accepted it as a necessary evil. Both Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek were democrats, men who championed both the virtues of an intellectual elite and the necessity of having that elite gain legitimacy for its ideas through public acceptance. Mises termed democracy a “method for the peaceful adjustment of government to the will of the majority.” Hayek viewed democracy as potentially wise if tempered by built-in safeguards to protect individual liberty.

But these men lived in very different times, coming as they did from pre-war Old Europe. We can’t know what they would think of modern social democratic welfare states, or Trump, or Brexit. I suspect they would find democracy quite wanting, in terms of producing what either would consider a liberal society. Both were utilitarians (of a sort) in their economic thinking, and it’s not hard to imagine they would take a consequentialist view of a society gone awry via democracy.

Things are getting strange in America when Michael Moore and Dennis Prager start to sound the same, and that’s arguably a very good development. We are close to a time when the democracy illusion will be shattered, for good and all. Democracy was always a bad idea, one that encourages mindless majoritarianism, political pandering, theft, redistribution, war, and an entitlement mentality among supposedly noble voters. It’s an idea whose time has passed, both on a national and international scale. The future of liberty is decentralized, and will be led by smaller breakaway nations and regions where real self-determination and real consensus is not an illusion. Jefferson and Hoppe were right about democracy, but it took Trump and Brexit to show the world how quickly elites abandon it when they don’t prevail.

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Dilluminati's picture

Democracy isn't failing, it is governance that is.

nmewn's picture

I've got a serious problem calling the country a "democracy" when it never was or intended to be.

TeamDepends's picture

For those who don't know the difference between democracy and Constitutuional Republic, take it away Red:

SWRichmond's picture

Fantastic article by Mises Institute.

Escrava Isaura's picture

Democracy: The God That's Failing

Wrong, because democracy is not a doctrine/dogma, but a value.


techpriest's picture

Escrava, I like some of your posts but I don't think you're getting the point that Hoppe is trying to make.

In some Western philosophical traditions, "God" is the greatest thing that one can conceive of. Outside of philosophy, a god, aside from being a particular kind of entity, is figuratively the thing that you lean on for safety, security, peace, or understanding. Also, the atheists were unfortunately successful in redefining "religion" or "faith" as a notion of belief with either no evidence, or in the face of contradictory evidence.

Democracy fits this definition quite well. People lean on it as the arbiter of right and wrong, and as a thing to put their hope in. Some see it as the pinnacle of society, the greatest thing. It is also defended even when shown to be less than ideal as a means of organizing a large, heterogeneous society. In this sense you can describe democracy as something that a substantial number of people revere, as if it is a god.

Escrava Isaura's picture

So Mises and Hoppe are confused…….Around their “hidden” agenda.

Let me try this “quick” introduction first: Honesty is a value. It doesn’t need explanation, unless people failed to act honestly. So is democracy.

Article: Virtually everyone raised in a western country over the past century grew up hearing “democracy” used as a synonym for wonderful, good, just, and valid. It takes a great deal of unlearning to overcome this as an adult, and to question the wisdom of representative government installed via democratic mechanisms. 

So, if not democracy, then what? Anyway, in the end, this is Mises’ solution:

The future of liberty is decentralized, and will be led by smaller breakaway nations and regions where real self-determination and real consensus is not an illusion.

Now, Mises is talking socialism, because you can only achieve real consensus by assembling, discussing, and voting. By the way, humanity is better served by being decentralized, meaning, have them taking charge of their own communities and what they produce. So, here Mises is correct, in my opinion.

Jefferson and Hoppe were right about democracy, but it took Trump and Brexit to show the world how quickly elites abandon it when they don’t prevail.

That’s nonsense because elites “power structures” hate democracy. So do the libertarians, religion, and the democratic and republican parties.

However, ironically, democratic movements in action is what we’re witnessing right now.    


mind reset's picture
mind reset (not verified) Escrava Isaura Feb 19, 2017 4:48 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do...

Dick Buttkiss's picture

The decentralizing and disintermediating effects of the Internet, cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain will empower humanity as never before and, in the process, overwhelm statism in all its forms, democratic and otherwise.

Escrava Isaura's picture

Sorry. You got all wrong.

Internet, crypto currencies, blogging, you name it will be gone post collapse, because there will be less and less energy.

Post collapse anything centralized is finished. Survival will be done locally.

Post collapse new social contracts will form, because it will be impossible to go alone or to extract through money. Money will become irrelevant, worthless.

Democracy is a value. So is honesty. So, the new social contracts will have to have lots of democracy on it because everyone survivals depend on others, and not on wealth. Wealth will be nonexisting.

So, if the new values developed are not democratic, that locality will be run by tyrants.

Now, if tyranny is the case, that locality is no long free, meaning, free of cohesion is a right, and not a value.

Rights you will kill, and die for it.


thisandthat's picture

Oh boy, the fallacy of absolutely arbritary definitions, completely unrelated to actual or costumary meaning of the words (valid also for the article)...

So, for the record, actual meaning of the words:

Democracy (deimos+kratos): rule of the deimos (where deimos refers to the city's administrative subdivisions in ancient Greece). Now, I don't know about the US or elsewhere, but here in Portugal, we have a direct equivalent to that, called Freguesia - typically a (small/big) part of a larger town, or a larger rural area encompassing several smaller towns - which has with its own elected legislative/executive body (the Junta de freguesia).

Republic (res+publica): public affairs. The rule of that which isn't personal (private) affairs; also in opposition to (absolute) monarchies, where everything and everyone is property of the monarch, so it's his private affair.

Now, for the costumary use of the words:

Democracy: rule by the people (directly/by representatives) - i.e.: by (majority of) vote.

Republic: rule by non-hereditary (elected) representation.

No dichotomy whatsoever between both; no pre-established "pecking order", either (i.e.: it could've easily been shifted around in the examples in any way it pleases you). Proof: democratic republics/dictatorial republics; democratic (constitutional) monarchies/dictatorial (absolutist) monarchies.

Bottom line: there's two and only two possible (practical) ways to rule a collective: by majority (democracy, direct or by representatives) or by minority (dictatorship).

And that is all there is to it.

Obviously, you can't expect long, deep ingrained misconceptions to be "fixed" just like that - that's not how the brain works - but for an institution such as Mises to fall for/perpetuate them while claiming moral authority in "sound governance", that's really rich - and telling...

Btw, X, under democracy, is very much well established and defined: it's the citizenship, through the electorship; the "we the people", which, in a democracy, is the (co-)sovereign of its nation. Otoh, God, under republic, being a man-made concept (and because and as proof of that), may mean anything you want (or its opposite), nothing at all, or even everything at once, depending on who you ask - e.g.: an atheist or a polytheist.

Finally, and symptomatically, Plato's Republic is an as accurate as possible definition of a Despotic, Chronyistic and Dystopic society as you could ever possibly get (and, obviously, as "enlightened" and "benevolent" as any dictatorship would claim to be...).


GreatUncle's picture

Being democratic I got a whole lot of problems with the concept of "fake democracy".

As the lemon said (CNN) about fake news, it is all about intent and it is quite obvious the elites are proliferating "fake democracy" for their own ends.

Not no more, I have required for my voting rights to be removed from the list over here ... no more fucking concensus to be persecuted by the fuckers :-) That's the way to do it.

If they do not have a consensus all they do may result in somebody killing a few of them, brings the risk back to greed.


Nobody's picture

Exactly, this country was established as a Republic.
Our forefathers looked at the history of Democracies and realized the evident end to the concept.
In a democracy of 51 wolves and 49 sheep, voting on what they will be having for dinner will have the same outcome until no sheep are left.
The wolves will never realize that they are voting for their own demise.

Helicopter Rides's picture

Democracy is mob rule, it's cancer, government is exactly the best the people can pull off.

hound dog vigilante's picture


democracy writ large IS failing.

tribalism (human nature) limits the collective/global ambitions hidden behind modern 'democracy'.

the author here is correct: decentralized (local) democracy, not globalized, is the way forward as it allows for the realities of human nature.


TheEndIsNear's picture

Yes. Originally the founding fathers envisioned sovereign states with little to no influence from the Federal government except to adjudicate disputes between the states and other minor matters.

The overbearing National government that we have now is anathema to the original intent of the founders, and it is our own fault for letting the US Constitution be trampled underfoot and for allowing the Federal government to become bloated with undue influence not authorized by the Constitution, corruption, and malfeasance. We may as well be ruled by the Mafia, in fact that might be an improvement.

DeaconPews's picture

"Jefferson and Hoppe were right about democracy, but it took Trump and Brexit to show the world how quickly elites abandon it when they don’t prevail."

That's it in a nutshell. The elites won't go quitely into the night.

Hail Spode's picture

Decentralization, combined with a Republican form of government where certain areas of life are not subject to majority vote (i.e. individual rights) is absolutely the answer. It is the best form of government flawed humans are capable of sustaining. The elites are doing the exact opposite of both of these: they centralize and take political power further from the individual citizen and they do not honor the boundaries placed on the state by constitutions.

They are fighting against our liberties in an intelligent way, we need to be able to fight back in an intelligent way. This easy-read explains how they centralize power so that every generation of Americans gets a government more centralized than the last no matter how we vote, and also what we should be trying to do instead..... "Localism, a philosophy of government"

MasterControl's picture

Can't find the word "republic" anywhere in this article.

markpower49's picture

Only white men with property should be allowed to vote. That blacks, Mexicans, progressives, feminist women's votes count as much as mine is insane, unjust and immoral.

koaj's picture

When when there are more takers than makers, any system of government will fail

malalingua's picture

"Democracy is the tyranny of the majority..."

HRClinton's picture

Define Majority.  Popular Vote?

malalingua's picture

Yep, because of the overwhelming numbers in a democracy use force on the minortiy with using theft via taxes.

LetThemEatRand's picture

So that's why the .01% are suffering so much.  I was wondering about that.

Ignatius's picture

"Democracy is the tyranny of the majority."

True enough, in a sense, but do these guys who love quoting it prefer its opposite: dictatorship?

It's a cliche' - almost meaningless, or at best misapplied.

malalingua's picture

You can't comment on this thread anymore since we all formed a democracy, and since we are the majority we declare it a law. That's how democracy becomes tyranny of the majority.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Except what if we had a Constitution that prevented such laws?  Oh right, we do.  That would be why America is not the "tyranny of the majority."   

It pains me to see so many people want to toss a brilliant system because it is not perfect, even as they observe the unelected Deep State attempt to take power away from the candidate championed by those same people.  Want to know what happens when elections don't matter and a few powerful people get to decide who rules?  Watch the next 4 years unfold.

malalingua's picture

Uh, no. Go ahead and tell me about the "Patriot Act" which pretty much guts the 4th amendment.

It pains me that people still believe we have a system of laws. There are a set of laws for us and and set of laws for the banksters/politicians, if anything the Constitution hasn't prevented the government we have today.

LetThemEatRand's picture

I agree completely that we are at a crisis in our system, and that the oligarchs have taken the keys.  The Constitution guarantees nothing if the People do not support it and defend it.  My point is that the alternative is worse, and the system our Founders created is worth defending (Mises Institute disagrees).   

logicalman's picture

Natural law and non-fiat money would fix 85% of the world's problems and, at that point, there's plenty of time left over to figure out solutions to the remaining 15%.

We're never going to have a perfect world, but the one we have now is so far away and receding further because of the power of the currency conjourers.

Honest exchange with no middle man skimming off for doing nothing.


SWRichmond's picture

Communism, Nazism and invading Yankees are what you get when government has too much power.

It doesn't matter where that power comes from.

malalingua's picture

Power comes from the people and their belief in "authority", if people started believing in themselves rather than giving their power away so cavalierly there could be a shift away from centralized control. But since America practices all the planks of the Communist Manifesto with a state school it's going to be difficult to change thinking, but I'm hopeful since we have the internet, one of the freest markets in education right now.

TeamDepends's picture

Will post this vid again as it is a MUST WATCH. The communists have been soundly defeated, now we must pick up the pieces. Luckily we have this road map.

logicalman's picture

When you vote you give power away to those who wish to control you.

Seems like a bad idea to me.

malalingua's picture

Exactly, voting only legitimizes the scheme, that people think they have a say is part of the it. Most of the real control comes from un-elected bureaucrats like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve who has more power than the president.

roddy6667's picture

You make it sound like there are only two forms of government-dictatorship or democracy, and we must choose one. You present a false dichotomy.

Why are you using this obvious propaganda technique?

TeethVillage88s's picture

Ja, Komerad. Wir Haben a Federal Republic und many 50 States that are also Republics.

And 97 kinds of Taxes, maybe grew larger this last year.

- Think term limits is a problem/corruption
- Think Lobbying and endless money & Gifts in Politics is a problem
- Think US Congress policing themselves and creating ethics and conflict of interest rules is a problem?
- Self Regulating Lawyers through BAR Association with no Mandate to protect the US Constitution or Right to Quick Due Process and Speedy Trials through BenchMarks or Guidelines in Streamlined, Simplified, or Standardized Laws, Regulations, and Procedures... that is NOT a Problem!!!???

ReZn8r's picture

eat shit along Hummas gash, Popular vote means nothing just like you.

TeamDepends's picture

You lost the popular vote by at least ten million, and the Russians had absolutely nothing to do with it. Face it, you suck.

GreatUncle's picture

No such thing ... it is the elites paying to have their way and they ain't paying no more so they can fuck off.

MasterControl's picture

Popular vote of legal citizens yes.

chubbar's picture

I smell a trick. Not sure what it would be or why. Probably thinking some sort of divide and conquer strategy.

LetThemEatRand's picture

The divide and conquer strategy is working pretty well, I'd say.   

chubbar's picture

Yeah, for sure. But, divvy us up into 9 regions and see how easy it would be to rule over us with a NATO type organization.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Looks like FEMA has 10 regions.

SeuMadruga's picture

Instead, USA have (has?) WDC.

secretargentman's picture

I've got a better idea! Let's have a Republic! Think we could keep one?