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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Since When is America a Democracy?

The impression I got from high school and college is that America is a Democracy. Democracy is great, and the world should become more democratic. I hear people talk about the democracy in America all the time. On TV, in classrooms, by politicians, in the news, and so forth. I am not sure where this myth emerged. Perhaps, as I wrote here about how textbooks can misrepresent history. However this myth emerged, it is wrong, America is not (or it not supposed to be) a Democracy, it is a Republic.

We need to understand the important difference between a Democracy and a Republic. A democracy is a government ruled by the majority will. A republic is more difficult to explain, in order to explain it we need to understand where "rights" come from. A "right" is just a fancy word which means being able to do something or not do something, that is to say, "the person has a right to do this and this and this and has a right to refuse this and this and this". A republic is a limited government set up to protect rights, rights are inalienable, rights cannot be taken away. A democracy has no rights. In a democracy there are "privileges" there are no "rights". A person does not have a right to free speech, instead he has the privilege to 'free' speech. A privilege is something granted by the government. If rights can be voted upon or if rights can be taken away or if rights can be regulated then they are no longer rights. They become privileges. In a republic people have rights, the government and no majority of people, can take them away, because in a republic, the function of a government is to protect the rights of the people. In a democracy, the majority can decide what to be a privilege or not. In a democracy, if people are not happy with guns then they can decide to ban them. In a republic, no matter how many people hate guns they cannot ban them because the people have the right to self defend themselves. In a democracy, if the people want to ban 'hate' speech, then they can ban 'hate' speech, speech, in a democracy, is a privilege, not a right, it can be regulated, and it can be taken away. In a republic, people cannot be prevented from saying 'hate' speech because people have a right to free speech, this would mean no majority can prevent these people from speaking. The distinction between a democracy and a republic is the following. A democracy is a government ruled by the majority. A republic is a limited government whose function it is to protect the rights (which are inalienable) of the people. A republic can vote for senators and representatives but voting does not imply a democracy, because these senators and representatives cannot take away the rights of the people. Majority will is fine, in a republic, as long as it is limited and does not infringe on the rights of the people. This is why a republic can have elections and still be non-democratic.

America (the way it is supposed to be) is not a democracy. Democracy is completely contradictory to the idea of America. Indeed, the word "democracy" is never used anywhere within the Constitution. The Constitution itself is a document for the Republic.

It is a good thing that America is not a democracy. Democracy is evil and unjustified. Democracy is nothing but mob rule, where 51% control the other 49% (to paraphrase Jefferson). Democracy leads to despotism and tyranny, eventually democracy commits suicide (to paraphrase Adams). And as Benjamin Franklin humorously said, "democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner, liberty is a well-armed lamb". What I so much despise about democracy is that it convinces the people that they are free. No kind of slavery is as terrible as the kind of slavery where the slaves believe they are free. Supporters of democracy talk about how free people are in a democracy. They say, "you are in control". Well, if you really think you are in control then do this experiment for me. Buy yourself some LSD and use it, see what happens if you get caught. What does LSD affect? It affects you mind, it affects your thoughts and feelings. How dare one say that they are free if they have no permission to control their own thoughts and feelings. In a democracy, you are not free, you only have the illusion that you are free, you have the illusion that you are in control. Being able to decide a vote does not make you free. If slaves on a plantation were able to vote for their slavemasters every four years, they would not be free, they would still be slaves. Choosing your masters does not imply freedom. This is what I so much despise about democracy. That it is treated as a virtuous government.

My question is, why is America called a Democracy?

(By the way, this does not mean you have to vote Republican. The dispute between Republicans and Democrats has nothing to do with anything I described above. That is a totally separate issue. I just have to state it here before I get accused for being a Republican.)

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