Democracy really is an evil system that uses majority and mob rule to enjoy empire. Mob rule means gangs–but it’s not the 18th Street Gangs that rule: the state is one large gang constantly vying for legitimacy. It means the use and legitimization of violence to exact theft and confiscation of property. Democratic governments will kill to get what it wants. Yet democracy is sold as the most liberating political system the world has ever known. It isn’t. It is simply took the property of kings, dukes, and princes and transferred that property to democratic governments, sold as “for the people” to gain ongoing support from the people. Oh, your highness!
The alternative to democracy is liberty. Hans-Hermann Hoppe provides a definition:
A society is free if every person is recognized as the exclusive owner of his own (scarce) physical body, if everyone is free to appropriate or “homestead” previously unowned things as private property, if everyone is free to use his body and his homesteaded goods to produce whatever he wants to produce (without thereby damaging the physical integrity of other peoples’ property), and if everyone is free to contract with others regarding their respective properties in any way deemed mutually beneficial. Any interference with this constitutes an act of aggression, and a society is unfree to the extent of such aggressions.
DAILY BELL: Please answer these questions as our readers were not already aware of your fine work and considered opinions. Let’s jump right in. Why is democracy “The God That Failed?”
DR. HANS-HERMANN HOPPE: The traditional, premodern state form is that of a (absolute) monarchy. The democratic movement was directed against kings and the classes of hereditary nobles. Monarchy was criticized as being incompatible with the basic principle of “equality before the law.” It rested on privilege and was unfair and exploitative. Democracy was supposed to be the way out. In opening participation and entry into state-government to everyone on equal terms, so the advocates of democracy claimed, equality before the law would become reality and true freedom would reign. But this is all a big error.
True, under democracy everyone can become king, so to speak, not only a privileged circle of people. Thus, in a democracy no personal privileges exist. However, functional privileges and privileged functions exist. Public officials, if they act in an official capacity, are governed and protected by “public law” and thereby occupy a privileged position vis-à-vis persons acting under the mere authority of “private law.” In particular, public officials are permitted to finance or subsidize their own activities through taxes. That is, they are permitted to engage in, and live off, what in private dealings between private law subjects is prohibited and considered “theft” and “stolen loot.” Thus, privilege and legal discrimination — and the distinction between rulers and subjects — will not disappear under democracy.
Even worse: Under monarchy, the distinction between rulers and ruled is clear. I know, for instance, that I will never become king, and because of that I will tend to resist the king’s attempts to raise taxes. Under democracy, the distinction between rulers and ruled becomes blurred. The illusion can arise “that we all rule ourselves,” and the resistance against increased taxation is accordingly diminished. I might end up on the receiving end: as a tax recipient rather than a tax payer, and thus view taxation more favorably.
And moreover, as a hereditary monopolist, a king regards the territory and the people under his rule as his personal property and engages in the monopolistic exploitation of this “property.” Under democracy, monopoly and monopolistic exploitation do not disappear. Rather, what happens is this: instead of a king and a nobility who regard the country as their private property, a temporary and interchangeable caretaker is put in monopolistic charge of the country. The caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his protégés’ advantage. He owns its current use — usufruct — but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it makes exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock. Exploitation becomes shortsighted and capital consumption will be systematically promoted.
DAILY BELL: If democracy has failed what would you put in its place? What is the ideal society? Anarchocapitalism?
HOPPE: I prefer the term “private-law society.” In a private-law society, every individual and institution is subject to one and the same set of laws. No public law granting privileges to specific persons or functions exists in this society. There is only private law (and private property), equally applicable to each and everyone. No one is permitted to acquire property by means other than through original appropriation of previously unowned things, through production, or through voluntary exchange; and no one possesses a privilege to tax and expropriate. Moreover, no one is permitted to prohibit anyone else from using his property in order to enter any line of production he wishes and compete against whomever he pleases.
DAILY BELL: How would law and order be provided in this society? How would your ideal justice system work?
HOPPE: In a private-law society the production of law and order — of security — would be undertaken by freely financed individuals and agencies competing for a voluntarily paying (or not-paying) clientele — just like the production of all other goods and services. How this system would work can be best understood in contrast to the workings of the present, all-too-familiar statist system. If one wanted to summarize in one word the decisive difference — and advantage — of a competitive security industry as compared to the current statist practice, it would be: contract.
The state operates in a legal vacuum. There exists no contract between the state and its citizens. It is not contractually fixed what is actually owned by whom, and what, accordingly, is to be protected. It is not fixed what service the state is to provide, what is to happen if the state fails in its duty, nor what the price is that the “customer” of such “service” must pay. Rather, the state unilaterally fixes the rules of the game and can change them, per legislation, during the game.
Obviously, such behavior is inconceivable for freely financed security providers. Just imagine a security provider, whether police, insurer, or arbitrator, whose offer consisted in something like this: I will not contractually guarantee you anything. I will not tell you what I oblige myself to do if, according to your opinion, I do not fulfill my service to you — but in any case, I reserve the right to unilaterally determine the price that you must pay me for such undefined service. Any such security provider would immediately disappear from the market due to a complete lack of customers.
Each private, freely financed security producer must instead offer its prospective clients a contract. And these contracts must, in order to appear acceptable to voluntarily paying consumers, contain clear property descriptions as well as clearly defined mutual services and obligations. Each party to a contract, for the duration or until the fulfillment of the contract, would be bound by its terms and conditions; and every change of terms or conditions would require the unanimous consent of all parties concerned.
Specifically, in order to appear acceptable to security buyers, these contracts must contain provisions about what will be done in the case of a conflict or dispute between the protector or insurer and his own protected or insured clients as well as in the case of a conflict between different protectors or insurers and their respective clients.
Read the rest of the interview. It is excellent. Then get the book and read it.
Originally appeared at Lew Rockwell.com.