Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fighting For Democracy? For Real?

A Harvard political scientist writes that troubles in Ukraine may draw the U.S. into war.  To the west, American troops will be deployed to Poland to rally the spirits of NATO in the face presumed Russian ambitions. 

At the core of Russia’s current crankiness, according to Reuters, is America’s persistent, bi-partisan campaign to bring democracy to the world, and Russia’s doorstep in particular.  Democracy you say, isn’t that the stuff that made America great?  The short answer is “no”.

The American enterprise that commenced in 1776 was never an experiment in democracy.  It was an endeavor in limited governance that sought to syndicate governmental jurisdiction over thirteen sovereign states and one federal authority of limited scope.  Additionally, in each state as well at the federal level, authority was parsed out over three co-equal branches – legislative, executive and judicial. 

In no instance were laws to be created by direct democracy.  All legislation was to be created by elected representatives and in conformity with the supreme law of the land, a written constitution.  On top of that a Bill of Rights, that many considered to be redundant, was appended to the Constitution to protect citizens from the government.  In all, the Founders designed a finely tuned mechanism that at once dispersed power so that no one body was preeminent, protected individuals from overbearing and arbitrary government and protected government from the momentary passions of mob rule.

The Founding Fathers cared little for democracy and made no bones about it.  A sampling of their sentiments follows:

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.” - Thomas Jefferson

“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.” - James Madison

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” - Benjamin Franklin

“Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy...it has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this.”  - Alexander Hamilton

In our own day, activist and author, Brian Phillips opines:

Under democracy the individual is subservient to the majority, that is, the collective. Democracy is a form of collectivism…. The Founders were avid students of history. They studied all forms of government—monarchies, parliamentary systems, democracies, and more. They sought to erect a system that prevented a tyranny of one—such as monarchy—as well as a tyranny of many—such as democracy. The Founders recognized the primacy of the individual and sought to protect his rights.
The Founders established a constitutional republic for this purpose. They limited and enumerated the powers of the federal government, securing for the individual the freedom to act as he judges best. This is precisely what democracy prevents.”
Economist, Hans Hermann Hoppe concurs, “Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Democracy is a soft variant of communism, and rarely in the history of ideas has it been taken for anything else.” In the introduction to his book, Democracy, The God That Failed, Hoppe traces the rise of the democratic ideal in America at the expense of republicanism and individual liberty.
Hoppe points out how the First World War was an ordinary territorial squabble until the U.S. decided to enter.  Our progressivist president, Wilson, turned it into an ideological struggle to overturn European monarchies and “make the world safe for democracy”.  Being that the war became a philosophical battle as well as a military one, total victory was necessary to purge the world of the ancien regime and to inaugurate a new dawn of democratic bliss.

Things didn't work out so well.  The power voids created by the destruction of prevailing governments as well as the harsh terms imposed on the vanquished opened the door to Nazism, Fascism and Marxist Communism.  The world would be plunged into an even more gruesome war within two decades.  As the principle proponent and exporter of democracy, America would remain at war, be it hot, cold, covert or proxy from the 1940s until today.   There is no end in sight.  We wage wars to assure that every man, woman and child might enjoy the benefits of Western style democracy.

But has democracy even been beneficial to the west?  Hoppe argues “no” and his Failed God, written in 2001 he offers a litany of evidence.  Things have only gotten worse since then.

“…the American system is itself in a deep crisis. Since the late 1960s or early 1970s, real wage incomes in the United States and in Western Europe have stagnated or even fallen. In Western Europe in particular, unemployment rates have been steadily edging upward and are currently exceeding 10 percent. The public debt has risen everywhere to astronomical heights, in many cases exceeding a country's annual Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, the social security systems everywhere are on or near the verge of bankruptcy. Further, the collapse of the Soviet Empire represented not so much a triumph of democracy as the bankruptcy of the idea of socialism, and it also contained an indictment against the American (Western) system of democratic - rather than dictatorial - socialism. Moreover, throughout the Western hemisphere national, ethnic and cultural divisiveness, separatism and secessionism are on the rise. Wilson's multicultural democratic creations, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, have broken apart. In the U.S., less than a century of full-blown democracy has resulted in steadily increasing moral degeneration, family and social disintegration, and cultural decay in the form of continually rising rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and crime. As a result of an ever expanding list of non-discrimination - "affirmative action" - laws and non-discriminatory - mutlicultural-egalitarian - immigration policies, every nook and cranny of American society is affected by forced integration, and accordingly, social strife and racial, ethnic, and moral-cultural tension and hostility have increased dramatically.

The aggressive expansion of NATO, including the courtship Ukraine, in the service of universal democracy, has pushed the Russian Bear into a corner and he is lashing out.  The pursuit of democracy once again brings us to the brink of global conflict and the extermination of civilization or the species in its entirety.  God forbid.
The solution lies in a radical change of heart and restoration of Founding principles.  America needs to relinquish the illusion that big, centralized government will solve all of our problems and to restore respect for state and local autonomy as well as for private property and individual freedom.

 Likewise we need to respect the autonomy of foreign nations to choose their ways of life and their own form of government.   We need to let go of our progressive era instinct that we can forcibly impose a “better” way of life upon Earth’s masses.   This is the genuine American vision, the true conservative vision of George Washington, of Edmund Burke, of Russell Kirk and Robert Taft.  The only way that war will bring “peace in our time” is by killing all beings that are capable of war.

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