The Polarizing Effect of Democracy

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch"

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The legendary political theorist, economist, and philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe made the following astute observation in his masterpiece "Democracy: The God That Failed":

“With a [democratic] government anyone in principle can become a member of the ruling class or even the supreme power. The distinction between the rulers and the ruled as well as the class consciousness of the ruled become blurred.

The illusion even arises that the distinction no longer exists: that with a public government no one is ruled by anyone, but everyone instead rules himself. Accordingly, public resistance against government power is systematically weakened.

While exploitation and expropriation before might have appeared plainly oppressive and evil to the public, they seem much less so, mankind being what it is, once anyone may freely enter the ranks of those who are at the receiving end.

Consequently, [exploitation will increase], whether openly in the form of higher taxes or discretely as increased governmental money “creation” (inflation) or legislative regulation.”

The pervasive illusion of freedom of choice in a democracy blinds its supporters from realizing that democracy is an oppressive system that ends up splitting and pitting the oppressed among themselves to the benefit of the oppressors.

This is achieved by the perennial promise that the ruled can become the rulers as a result of democratic elections; perhaps the presidential candidate that you supported this time lost, but in a few years, somebody of the same ilk may rise to power instead. As such, instead of people turning against the very flawed system of democracy, they instead fail to see the bigger picture and decide to direct their energy towards supporting one tyrant over another tyrant, even though their vote is practically meaningless.

On the other hand, the libertarian sees that every politician is a wanna-be tyrant at best, and a tyrant at worst, with the exception of very few principled people such as Ron Paul who have spent their lives spreading the message of liberty. Yes, some tyrants may be somewhat more or less tyrannical than other tyrants, but supporting tyranny is the opposite of what any person interested in freedom should be doing.

Yet, in a democratic presidential election where there are usually two main candidates to choose from, these two candidates are presented by various mainstream media sources as being polar opposites to each other. Each candidate will also tend to present the other candidate as being very far away from their worldview, in an attempt to win as many votes as possible in order to loot the country as fast as possible provided that they win the election.

The thinking behind this strategy is incredibly simple: there are very few people who openly claim to be bad people. Almost everyone considers themselves to be a good person, or at the very least, that being a good person is a worthwhile target to strive for. Since good people want the best for their country, and since most people are unaware of how stupid of an idea democracy is, they are susceptible to falling for whichever candidate's propaganda campaign appeals to them most.

Of course, there are also people who recognize that both candidates are evil and that the system they live under is corrupt to the core. Yet, they still fall into the trap of supporting one over the other under the guise of "choosing the lesser of two evils". But this is a false dichotomy: your options are never limited to voting for one tyrant or voting for another tyrant; you have the option of not voting and therefore not supporting evil. Even if you live under a regime where you will be fined for not voting, assuming you want to avoid the fine, you can still spoil your ballot.

Also, by choosing the lesser of two evils, there is a good chance that you will become emotionally invested in the politician that you have voted for. Just by the fact that you took time out of your day to go and vote for this person, it makes sense that you have a vested interest in this person winning the election. Meanwhile, you might find yourself extremely opposed to the candidate who you have decided is the greater of two evils, to the point that you may believe every allegation made against them, whether true or not. This might even be the entire reason that you are voting in the first place: to keep the "greater of two evils" out of power.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with opposing tyranny, but in doing so, we must be principled and consistent, otherwise, we are not truly opposing tyranny. In other words, if you are so passionate in your opposition to a particular candidate that it warps your perception of reality into considering the "lesser of two evils" as a messianic figure who is selflessly embarking on a heroic adventure to defeat the literal reincarnation of Satan to rescue the entirety of humanity from doom, then perhaps you need to take a step back and reassess the situation.

Let us take a critical look at democracy. Why do people tend to run for office? Is it because they are selfless heroes who will fight against evil at any cost? Or is it because they want the privileges that come with becoming president? Presidents are widely considered to be high-status individuals who have the sacred backing of the majority. Becoming president is a great way to make money by looting the country as fast as possible through financial decisions that benefit you at the expense of the taxpayer. As Hoppe puts it:

"A democratic caretaker’s incentive is that I have to loot the country as fast as possible, because if I don’t loot it as fast as possible, then I will no longer be in power. I can buy myself many, many friends if I just impose a tremendous amount of taxes right now, and as to what happens after I am out of power, who cares?"

This lack of responsibility in a democracy is not only afforded to the rulers, but also to the masses who are responsible for electing tyrants. Not only do democratically elected presidents face no consequences for looting their countries as fast as possible, but the people who voted for them face no consequences insofar as being responsible for the damage they have caused to the people who did not support that particular tyrant.

In other words, hypothetically speaking, you may vote for a tyrant who ends up winning the election and proceeds to raise all taxes by 50%, thus making millions of people poorer, and this may also negatively impact you, but you were one of the people who supported this tyrant.

What about all the people who did not support that tyrant? They do not get any compensation for the tyrant's actions, nor from the tyrant himself, nor from the people who supported him or continue to do so. The tyrant's supporters can always claim that they were duped or that no matter how bad the situation has become under the new tyrant, it would have been significantly worse under the rule of the losing candidate. The former claim exposes their naivety and the latter is unfalsifiable.

Mentioning the example of raising taxes, Hoppe described this perverse incentive structure in his book "A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline" like so:

“Under democracy, the incentive structure is systematically changed. Egalitarian sentiments and envy are given free reign. Everyone, not just the king, is now allowed to participate in the exploitation—via legislation or taxation—of everyone else. Everyone is free to express any confiscatory demands whatsoever. Nothing, no demand, is off limits. In Bastiat’s words, under democracy the State becomes the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else. Every person and his personal property come within reach of and are up for grabs by everyone else.”

In a democracy, not only do we see polarization between two groups of tyrannical masses, but there is also a considerable split between voters and non-voters. People who do not vote for a candidate are often branded as ignorant and blamed for helping evil people get into power through their "indifference". The phrase "If you do not vote, you have no right to complain" comes to mind.

This phrase could not be any further from the truth. People who do not vote are not actively supporting tyranny through the democratic process. Whether one tyrant or the other tyrant wins, the last people who ought to be blamed for tyranny are the people who decided to ignore the repetitive, robotic calls from slave-minded drones to participate in democracy for the greater good. Being able to resist peer pressure to partake in stupid games is a sign of a free-thinking individual.

The legendary comedian George Carlin flipped the flawed phrase "If you do not vote, you have no right to complain" on its head in the following clip:

Finally, I want to reiterate the false dichotomy of being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. If you are truly opposed to evil, then you should not waste your time choosing between evils. Instead, be consistent and principled in your opposition to evil and realize that whether evil is packaged in red or blue, it is still evil.

The best way to ensure that the society you live in will continue to be a corrupt declining dumpster fire is by continuing to participate in the democratic process in which you add fuel to the fire. Stop complaining about the actions of bad politicians if you are going to keep voting for them. If you recognize that politicians are the problem then there is no reason to keep supporting them.

Alternatively, you can read about the ideas of true freedom and how we can live in a civilized manner away from the clutches of the state. Firstly, I recommend reading the great Murray Rothbard's "Anatomy of the State" for a succinct account of the nature of the state, followed by "For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto" in which the irrepressible Rothbard makes the argument for a stateless society, offering libertarian alternatives to mainstream narratives that most people have never even heard of. Hoppe's aforementioned "Democracy: The God That Failed" is also a great resource for understanding why democracy is inferior to monarchy, and why monarchy is itself vastly inferior to anarcho-capitalism.