IPFS Dave Gallagher

Necessary Evil

More About: Foreign Policy

DEMOCRACY ... <i>whatever</i>

Originally published Jan. 28, 2006 
Democratic elections, we are led to believe, are the answer to the worlds problems. As our illustrious president says, democratic nations don't attack other nations. Armed with this axiom and more firepower than the next twenty mightiest militarys of the world combined, the "democratic" USA attacks other nations for the supposed purpose of installing "democracy".

The Irony of this silliness of course does not need to be pointed out, but what of it's effectiveness, and what of the United States commitment to "democracy"?

Our founders well knew the dangers of democracy and therefore set out to define a republican form of government that incorporated democratic elections to fill the house of representatives and to choose "electors" who would select the president every four years. What the founders placed in high esteem was "Liberty" NOT democracy!

In making the distinction between liberty and democracy, Benjamin Franklin said "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote ".

Liberty is freedom and the rule of law. Democracy is the whim of the people. People can be persuaded by emotion to disregard their own laws. The rule of law is rigid, a stake in the ground from which all actions should be measured. In the constitutional government, democracy was just another check and balance within the federal system. It was not THE government. Senators were not elected by popular vote until the 17th amendment. Prior to that they were chosen by the state representatives. So democracy was not seen as the bedrock of freedom, and it would have been considered laughable to suggest to our founders that proliferation of democratic governments would end armed conflict.

Truly free people will tend to mind their own business, powerful governments will wage wars as far as they can reach when it suits them. As Hans Herman Hoppe pointed out, war is just as likely under a monarch as a president.

As for true liberty, we should wish it for all men. We should seek to demonstrate an example of the fruits of liberty. You cannot hang fresh fruit on a dead tree and claim to have built a healthy fruit tree. In short order you will be left with a dead tree and rotten fruit. As with the fruit tree, the tree of liberty must be nourished from the ground up, it grows from within. Jefferson of course pointed out that it from time to time must be nourished with the blood of patriots, but even this comment referred to people fighting for their own liberty.

History and natural law aside, lets take a look at how this whole democracy thing is working out around the world these days.


Recent elections in Iraq have confirmed the power of the Shiite Muslims, increasingly friendly to their axis of evil cousins in Iran, they are hardly shaping up to be the US friendly western style democracy envisioned by the Washington PNAC'ers. In addition there are now reports that supporters of Al Quaeda have also been elected in some Iraqi provinces.


Hamas was the big winner among the Palestinians. President Bush has said that the US cannot support a Hamas dominated Palestinian government. Reports today are that US aid to Palestine may be ended should the democratically elected Hamas take power.


Four years after 9/11 Osama Bin Laden is apparently still at large and Alqeada continues to issue warnings to the west. The US does however claim credit for democratic fruit hung on the dead tree of Afghanistan. Afghan president Karzi is being kept in power solely by the presence of US and British troops.

To be sure, the democratic vote is a vital part of the US system of government. But it is only part. Elections of representatives should be fair, accurate and open. But elevating "democracy" in and of itself to godlike status is unwise. To believe that exporting this "one man one vote" mentality to other peoples will change them to our liking is folly.

The money is now on the table. Around the world, our imposed democracies are electing people who hate us, or at least who will resist capitulation to the pressures of the US government. Will Bush and the neo-cons let democracy run it's course? Or will they prove what some of us already know ... that they are not conservative and they do not really believe in "democracy", or even true freedom for that matter. Bush and the neo-conservatives have a track record of unwillingness to admit mistakes. I fully expect them, in Orwellian fashion, to use rhetorical misdirection to take the focus off of the obvious errors in their fundamental premise of democracy as savior. Because afterall the only thing they really believe in is themselves.

But what about the rest of us? It is said that democracy is just tyranny of the majority over the minority. Will we finally see that to worship democracy is to worship government? On the contrary, to embrace liberty is to repel the shackles of government tyranny and place freedom, under law, above the momentary whims of the people.

"Democracy!" ... yeah whatever.