Monday, July 21, 2008

A Libertarian View of Democracy

German political theorist Carl Schmitt argued that the best state creates the law yet lives outside the law (Schmitt Political Theology 19). For example, if the state declares killing innocent men illegal, Schmitt's ideal state has the authority to kill innocent men without repercussions. Additionally, Schmitt's state also decides what is normal (Schmitt "Definition of Sovereignty" 13). For instance, it is certainly abnormal for killing innocent men to be legal; however, Schmitt's state has the authority to decide that legal-killing of innocent men is normal. Clearly, Schmitt's ideal state is immersed in vice. Unfortunately, democracy is not much different.

Democracy's problem is that it decides by majority rule, which is only concerned with agreement, not Truth. When a group assembles for the purpose of democratic decision making the group members are not trying to determine what the best or virtuous decision is. The group members are only striving to achieve fifty percent plus one; Truth and morality are not even afterthoughts.

Clearly, majority rule is not a virtuous decision-making-method since it classifies success as fifty percent plus one and not the moral quality of the decision. However, individuals assume majority rule is a virtuous decision-making-method. Moreover, individuals assume the virtuous method begets virtuous decisions. Of course, this is not the case at all; however, because of this assumption, majority rule's decisions are excused from moral scrutiny. Essentially, democracy operates with a moral blank check.

Since majority rule's decisions are assumed virtuous, a democratic state can create the laws, while operating outside the laws. Taxes are a perfect example. By majority rule, a democratic state decides that thievery — seizing another's property without the owner's permission — is illegal. However, the same democratic state can decide by majority rule that taxes — state acquisition of citizens' funds without the individual citizens' consent — is legal. Thievery and taxes are exactly the same, but individuals see no conflict. Individuals view the state as correct for outlawing thievery and correct for collecting taxes. This is exactly how Schmitt wanted a state to operate.

Majority rule's assumed virtuous decisions also allow a democratic state to decide what is normal. War is a fantastic example. It is undoubtedly abnormal for one individual or state to attack an innocent individual or state. Initiating force against innocents — individuals or states that have not attacked the aggressor — is the acme of abnormality. However, democratic states consistently decide this is normal. The Iraq, Vietnam, and Korean wars are fine examples. Other excellent examples are the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War, Prohibition, and the War on Drugs. Unfortunately, once again, individuals of a democracy generally accept the state's classification of initiative war as normal, at least early on; opposition only grows much later. Though the eventual opposition does not adhere with Schmitt's ideal state, the fact that the opposition is not immediate indicates majority rule does have some ability in deciding the norm. - Steven M. Paquin of Nolan Chart

This, I think, would make Mr. Chomsky happy.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, well democracy, especially in Noam's view, is not necessarily majority rule, but rather participation of the people in political affairs and such.


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