Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Great aticle on "democracy."

“The Economist” is one of my favorite publications.  It’s relatively price, but well worth it if you want to get beyond the simple-mindedness of most of the media.  It’s generally ideologically balanced and usually doesn’t worry about political correctness.  The March 1, 2014 issue (pp. 47-53) on the problems of democracy world-wide is outstanding.  Some excerpts follow:

Democracy is going through a difficult time. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes. Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife.  . . .“Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.”

 “All over the world, including the U.S., the “biggest challenge to democracy, however, comes neither from above nor below but from within—from the voters themselves.  . . .  Democratic governments got into the habit of running big structural deficits as a matter of course, borrowing to give voters what they wanted in the short term, while neglecting long-term investment. France and Italy have not balanced their budgets for more than 30 years. The financial crisis starkly exposed the unsustainability of such debt-financed democracy.”

 The “most striking thing about the founders of modern democracy such as James Madison and John Stuart Mill is how hard-headed they were. They regarded democracy as a powerful but imperfect mechanism: something that needed to be designed carefully, in order to harness human creativity but also to check human perversity, and then kept in good working order, constantly oiled, adjusted and worked upon.”

”The power of the state needs to be checked, for instance, and individual rights such as freedom of speech and freedom to organise must be guaranteed. The most successful new democracies have all worked in large part because they avoided the temptation of majoritarianism—the notion that winning an election entitles the majority to do whatever it pleases.”

“But reformers need to be much more ambitious. The best way to constrain the power of special interests is to limit the number of goodies that the state can hand out. And the best way to address popular disillusion towards politicians is to reduce the number of promises they can make. The key to a healthier democracy, in short, is a narrower state—an idea that dates back to the American revolution. “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men”, Madison argued, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” The notion of limited government was also integral to the relaunch of democracy after the second world war.”


  1. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on dinner. "Alas, poor sheep! I knew him well."

    The idea of a democratic republic is to limit the power of the State to control the people, and to limit the providing of goodies.

    Obama, e.g., is not the problem. The problem lies with the electorate which made him president.


  2. Agreed. Too many people allow their votes to be "bought" and have an entitlement mentality. The idea of a constitutionally limited government seems to have lost its appeal with too many. Wild spending leads to economic chaos, which leads to political chaos, which leads to political violence and insurrection. The examples are out there (Venezuela, Ukraine). Why do so many want to ignore where we are headed under Obama and the liberal dems? Perhaps the scenario is intentionally sought. See the Cloward-Piven strategy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloward%E2%80%93Piven_strategy