The Democracy Delusion

As Wikipedia puts it: “a delusion is a belief that is held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception” (emphasis is mine).democracy

Most people in the western world are strongly convinced that democracy is both the morally best as well as the most efficacious way to organize society. Since there is indeed superior evidence to the contrary on both counts most people must sadly be diagnosed as suffering from a serious delusion in this regard.

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This proposition can be put as a simplified deductive argument as follows:

  1. Most people strongly believe democracy is the morally best and most efficacious way to organize society
  2. Evidence that democracy is morally inferior to anarchy is readily observable
  3. Evidence that democracy is inferior to anarchy in terms of consequences for society are readily observable
  4. People who strongly believe in something despite superior evidence to the contrary suffer from a delusion
  5. Most people suffer from a delusion regarding democracy

Premise 1 may sadly be taken for granted.

Premise 2: The moral bankruptcy of democracy

No matter which form of government one could propose, one would by definition have to create a state with a monopoly of violence. How could government govern if it did not have absolute power to coerce its citizens to abide by its laws, including paying taxes?

This applies equally to socialism, communism, republicanism, and democracy.

Democracy operates by creating laws, which if you think about it are just like agreements, except agreements  always have at least two parties – like an employer and an employee or a buyer and a seller. But with a law, one party gets to write the whole thing, and the other party doesn’t even get to sign it. And yet, if the other party refuses to comply with the rules that the government – probably inspired by some corporation – thought was a great idea, well then they are more than happy to persuade you through the use of threats or actual violence.

The moral corruption inherent in any society based on coercion is furthermore manifested by the ever-growing corruption in the form of the manipulation of government by big corporations. Both the inherent and outwardly manifesting corruption at the heart of democracy is readily observable in everyday life.

Anarchy is the absence of rulers and thus of coercion. In place of laws, it puts agreements. In place of violence, it puts peaceful cooperation. Since most people experience the absence of rulers within their own family structures and in the marketplace, this too, is readily observable.

Premise 3: The inferior efficacy of democracy

The state apparatus, consisting of the worst parasites of the human race – politicians, bureaucrats, enforcers and corrupt corporatists – has a parasitic effect on society. It speaks to the wonderful power of capitalism that even under democracy, it is possibly for non-parasitic people to innovate and to produce and distribute ever improving and cheaper goods and services to the whole world through global trade, hampered though it may be by parasitic tariffs and so on.

However, as this detailed analysis clearly demonstrates, it is economic freedom that increases growth, quality of life and even our lifespans. Since democracy is government and state, it can through every single one of its actions do nothing to increase freedom and can only decrease freedom. Thus, democracy is inferior to anarchy in regard to efficacy as anarchy is the absence of coercion and thus equates to the greatest possibly economic freedom.

Premise four is true by definition.

The conclusion – that most people suffer from the democracy delusion – follows from the first four premises.

Indoctrination and delusion

Children in most countries are subjected to state-controlled and administered education from a young age and for many years. History textbooks portray democracy as the pinnacle of human civilization and progress while anarchy or the immorality of state coercion etc. are hardly mentioned. Critically (pardon the pun), children are most often never taught to critically examine the doctrines they have learned. Nor can they expect much prompting towards critical thinking from the entertainment industry or the mainstream media. At some point they may laugh with friends at Churchill’s words about democracy (“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”) and laugh knowingly, accepting yet again this lie that there is no better alternative to democracy.

Having been thus subtly but thoroughly indoctrinated it is no wonder that people fall prey to the democracy delusion.

So we can see that democracy itself is the creator and sustainer of the delusion about itself. Pretty clever, when you think about it.

Cognitive dissonance

Unfortunately, human beings are equipped with at least one mental defense mechanism that works to sustain the democracy delusion. This mechanism defends against what is called “cognitive dissonance”, which is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas, or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. [1]

As can be seen from the above the democracy delusion is closely related to the generation of serious cognitive dissonance, as people are confronted every day with more evidence that democracy is in conflict with other core believes such as the belief that it is wrong to harm fellow human beings.

According to Leon Festinger, people can reduce dissonance can be achieved in four ways [1]. In the case of the democracy delusion, imagine a person realizes that taxation is robbery by another word. Now, this is very uncomfortable – to accept this truth means accepting that the foundation of one’s society is morally corrupt and probably bad for human progress in general. According to Festinger, the person might cope with this discomfort in four different ways:

  1. Change behavior or cognition (“There must be something better than this democracy”)
  2. Justify behavior or cognition by changing the conflicting cognition (“When the state steals, it is different from if I did it”)
  3. Justify behavior or cognition by adding new cognitions (“Stealing is necessary to ensure the welfare of the poor – isn’t that what they call the ‘social contract’ “)
  4. Ignore or deny any information that conflicts with existing beliefs (“Politics are boring and I’m too busy to think about it”)

For me, it was that last one that kept me under the spell of democracy’s delusion for so long – it took me more than thirty years to see my own delusion. What I want to encourage you do to is to start helping those around you that suffer from this delusion. In terms of cognitive dissonance, the goal is to help people make the choice to solve the problem in the only effective way: seeing that there is indeed a better alternative – namely anarchy – and then to get started implementing this solution in the real world. For those who are more deeply deluded and are handling the dissonance by one of the other means (1, 2, or 3 in the list above), we have a different challenge in each situation.

In light of the above democracy would be more aptly spelled democrazy. But let us not stop at declaring our fellow humans deluded. Let us remember that many of us too were deluded for a long time. Now it is our moral obligation to at least try to open the eyes of our fellow man, to deliver him from the paralyzing spell of this democracy delusion that continues to hinder the progress of the human race.

[1] Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. California: Stanford University Press

3 thoughts on “The Democracy Delusion

  • July 11, 2016 at 3:48 am

    In Australian politics there is 2 major parties and that’s all you vote for u don’t vote in legislation, we give up our responsibility for a party based on promises that have always been historically broken. Check out this to make democracy better – until we get to anarchy 😉

  • July 11, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Hi Jarrod,
    Thanks for your enlightening comment.
    I do think that politics aren’t broken – they are working exactly as designed, namely by helping the privileged few politicians and big business shareholders get rich off the back of everyone else.
    Still, it’s an innovative concept you’ve got going on there 🙂

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