We have been told our whole lives that democracy is not only the best form of government but that it is positively good. But I contend that we have far too high an opinion of it, just as we do of our own selves today. And we think thus because We the People have been told our whole lives by our betters that we are awesome and know what is best and we have just gobbled up the praise like a doggy treat.
To assume that majority rule will produce the best result would be as wrong as to assume that those we put in power will respect the wishes of those that put them there. It would be to assume that man is good and wise. Well, sometimes he is but sometimes he is not.
Democracy is merely a means for a collective to make decisions, or distribute authority or resources peacefully. But it occurs peacefully only if all parties can accept any possible outcome, but this requires a degree of cultural unity and/or unity of purpose.
Likewise democracy as a means of peaceful collective decision making will only, as a rule, produce a good result when those that do the voting, by and large, agree upon what is right and wrong, are in fact correct, and lastly when they do in fact seek that which is right (or best, correct, wise).
Just imagine a band of robbers voting on which house to rob, or a group of seven year olds voting on what groceries to buy.
Where the electorate is more or less unified in its determination to do that which is good for the polity, then democracy can work brilliantly in peacefully effecting what is best, or at least what’s pretty good.
Where this paradigm does not exist, then we will not be surprised when elected officials default to self-interest, which includes acting in the best interest of themselves, those that they love, their particular tribe, or the patrons that put them in power.
A people united in virtue and good sense will need little government to begin with and can make almost any form of government work, including democracy. But democracy alone has no inherent value. It is but a tool, as useful or destructive as a sledgehammer.
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