Samstag, 28. Mai 2011

A treatise against Democracy

Watching a video on democracy some days ago, I stumbled across a statement made by a youtuber which really made me think.

It said: "Democracy is the unquestionable belief that the majority is ALWAYS right.”

Though the word itself – being a composite from the Greek words Demos and Kratos – actually means the “rule of the people”, the reality of democracy is the rule of the majority.

Thus, the underlying principle of democracy is that law receives its legitimacy from the will of the majority.

It is because of that principle that I am not a democrat.

I believe in the rule of law based on true and immutable principles – not in the arbitrary conventions of a certain portion of a country’s population.

In order to clarify what I mean, let me give an example.

Take for instance the constitution of a hypothetical country saying that man has an intrinsic dignity upon which certain inalienable rights are based –
for example the right to life.

It is well-known that many Western democracies have similar statements in their constitutions that are seen to guarantee these so-called inalienable rights.

One may now ask where the problem is?
After all, the existence of inalienable rights shows that all legislation must be made in accordance to these rights:
Thus we have the rule of law based on objective truth.

The problem arises when one goes beyond the façade of false immutability that constitutions put up.

In democracies, the legitimacy of any constitution ultimately rests upon human convention.
These constitutions may be modified or abolished and replaced.
Therefore, whatever claims they make regarding “rights” have to be seen in light of the underlying principle of democracy:
Namely, that it is the majority’s will which gives legitimacy to law.

That said, there is nothing objective about democratic legislation:
Law and rights are not based on objective truth transcending the arbitrary nature of mere human conventions.

What is claimed to be an inalienable right today, may be taken away by majority vote tomorrow.
Such an act would not be contrary to democracy.

Since law itself then is based on the will of the majority – and man’s will is not immutable -, then one can say that:
Democracy is the expression of the dictatorship of relativism.

Law is essentially normative: it does not merely describe the state of things, but tells us how things ought to be.

The idea that there is a way things ought to be suggests that there is a truth about the things subject to law and about their proper ends.
It is for this reason that we can claim certain acts to be unlawful.

Law – understood in the proper sense – thus is intrinsically tied to truth.
And it is the truth which ultimately grants any law its legitimacy.
If any law violates truth, then it is illegitimate and an abuse of the power of governance.

Democracy – which subjects the legitimacy of law to the will of the majority – destroys the essence of proper governance.

Instead of binding human society to what is true through the rule of law, the will of the majority is turned to the supreme and absolute principle by which human society must live.

Thus I conclude that Democracy – as any type of human absolutism – is a perversion of the rule of law – and as such ought to be rejected.

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