My general point has to do with this anti-democratic argument:
[…] where are the masses to stand up against war, bank bailouts, taxation, police aggression etc?
These are all Bad Things that democratic governments do, but they are also Bad Things that all governments do. And, in turn, these Bad Things are much less prevalent in democratic societies than they are in non-democratic societies.
In fact, it is only in democratic societies that you can complain about these Bad Things. It is only in democratic societies that you can do something about these Bad Things (even if it’s just blog-ranting).
This simple observation leads me to conclude that anti-democratic libertarians have it back asswards when it comes to democracy. Democracy is a byproduct of liberty. Maybe anarchy would lead to even less “war, bank bailouts, taxation, police aggression etc,” but as of now it is in democracies that these Bad Things have been made less prevalent.
Anti-democratic libertarians aren’t thinking on the margin when it comes to democracy. (Hence the dogmatism you find in certain anarcho-capitalist circles.)
This is from yours truly, in another dialogue with Chhay Lin on democracies, anarchies, and meritocracies. Read it from the top!
2 thoughts on “From the comments: All of the Bad Things that democratic governments do”
The thought that a democratic government might be better than others is bemusing; is a caged lion lion intrinsically less a lion?
The problem with anarchy (and I’m strictly speaking of the political theory here) is that it’s unstable. I don’t mean that it’s violent; I mean it simply doesn’t last long. There’s an old sing by Leslie Fish called “Serious Steel” that illustrates this. Eventually people realize that if they band together, they can take what other people have. Those being so victimized realize that they can band together to protect one another. This established an army. An army needs to be governed (that’s sort of how they work), which means that as soon as you have an army, you have a governmental body.
Even if you take violence off the table (nonsensical given human history, but let’s steel-man this argument), there are numerous activities that require coming together. Crop irrigation is one that anthropologists point to, for example. Again, any activity that requires coordination requires a governing body. And power is very sweet; few people give it up when the project is completed. Perpetuate oversight by three or four projects, and it becomes a fact of local political life. It becomes a government.
The existence of government, therefore, can be taken as a given–any truly anarchic area will survive for about a year (once the food reserves start getting low). The only question is what kind of government we’re going to have.