Friday, April 30, 2010

The Poverty of Democracy Part II: Monarchy vs Democracy

Given all the flaws of a democratic form of government, and in the quest to de-legitimize democracy, we must return to a question almost no one today asks, that of whether monarchy is better than democracy. The great Austrian scholar Hans Hermann Hoppe has made the comparison between monarchy and democracy in his book 'Democracy: The God That Failed', and the better system is undoubtedly monarchy. How can this be so? It seems that modern beliefs about democracy fall under the weight of fact and while I do not intend to paint a rosy picture of the 'old world', it was invariably better than what we have today when it comes to popular mindset and culture.

An objective view of history tells us that monarchy was a much more tolerable and limited form of government than democracy. Initially, this sounds absurd, how can the most centralized form of government be more lenient and allow for more liberty than democracy? But the reality is that the monarch's power was checked by tradition and the influence of the Church. If the monarch tries to abuse his power, his close relatives and great men of the realm will oppose him for his own sake through Magna Carta. If the monarch goes to far, he is excommunicated by the Church. The Church acting as a check to the power of the monarch is far more realistic and effective than checks and balances in a democracy. Taxation under monarchy for example was only about 10% whereas democracies take 40-50% of national income. This has to do with the source of revenue of those checks and balances. The Church gains revenue through voluntary donations while checks and balances in a democracy are just other branches of government. Hence, we have a situation of a government self-imposing regulations on itself, which is futile.

A commonly held belief is that a monarch is just a tyrant with a crown. This is not true. A monarch is trained from infancy for his role, respects tradition and the rule of law, with full knowledge that his power is did not come from his own ability. A democrat is the total opposite of this. One becomes a democrat through his ability to rally large crowds to his cause, often using propaganda and deceit. The democrat 'works' his way to the top through politics, assuming the role of savior of the people and is constantly subjected to its whims. Simply put, the difference is that a monarch can be humble while a democrat cannot.

Perhaps the most important distinction between a monarchy and a democracy is the mindset of the public and it is a phenomenon that is gravely ignored. Values that shaped monarchical societies were vastly different from those that shape democratic societies. The ideas that paved the way for democracy during the French revolution, equality, fraternity, and liberty must be carefully assessed lest society falls into chaos. Yes, popular sentiment was a reaction against growing abuse of a royal government, a cry for freedom. But what concept of freedom did the progenitors of democracy really have? Not a good one. Apparently, freedom for the democrats includes subsumes the ideal of equality and achieving so entails that everybody have the ability to enter into government. Whereas before people only paid attention to their own work, own personal concerns, they could now participate in the activities of a 'country'. They are sold into lies about 'the common good', 'public welfare', 'will of the majority' and so on. The fixation about the power of voting overshadows the fact that people were far better off without mass politics. Images of utopia fill the minds of the public. Life can be improved if only the right person were put in office. Personal responsibility is transferred to the politician and an entitlement mentality develops.

This must be contrasted with the popular mindset under monarchy. A hereditary monarchy eliminates grand ambitions of ordinary people climbing to the top of the political ladder. A monarch, unlike a politician, does not promise the amelioration of poverty or free education. People under a monarchical system do not dream about utopia, they do not develop the ambition of saving the world by handing over the fruits of their labor to the government. In short, democracy creates a political dimension in people's lives.

As the policies of democrats fail, effects of propaganda wear off and people are further impoverished, the state will provoke conflict among different groups by transferring the blame of failed policies or making new accusations. This creates new demand for more government intervention that will, in turn, fail. This process goes on until the people cannot imagine life without some kind of government service and views all social ills can be solved by the state. Augmenting this process of politicization are government schools made to indoctrinate and further the violence of the system. Political promises, engendering high expectations in the public, coupled with government schooling, promote the idea that society is something mechanical to be tinkered with. Everything, from education to health care to employment are viewed as rights to be given by the state. As more of human life become dependent on the state, its services are viewed to be indispensable. A popular mindset that results from humans being constantly provoked, deceived, and humiliated will in desperation be apathetic and confused. Those who are successfully indoctrinated by the state become professional state worshippers and work in the mainstream media networks or in academia. The driver for all this violence is that democratic leaders do not hold power for long and are subject to the whims of the masses and thus has to drain as much of the treasury as he can to pay the special interests and satiate moralistic demands. The monarch does not have this problem and his power is perfectly safe leaving the people alone.

A unique feature of democratic government is that the line separating the victims from the parasites is blurred. In monarchy there is a clear distinction and knowledge that the king has power to steal one's property. Democratic governments are not acknowledged as parasitic entities, they are even identified with the people. But to sustain this illusion requires expensive and socially poisonous mechanisms. Monopolization of the mint and the academy occurs. Monopolization of the mint by creating a central bank enables the state to print and borrow money instead of raising already high taxes. Monopolization of the academy enslaves the minds of children and turns them into unthinking, state-worshipping sheep.

Like most collectivist ideologies, and because ideal of equality is upheld, democratic governments always redistribute wealth. Professor Hoppe discusses the retarding effects of which in one of his essays:

"All redistribution, regardless of the criterion on which it is based, involves 'taking' from the original owners and/or producers (the 'havers' of something) and 'giving' to non-owners and non-producers (the 'non-havers' of something). The incentive to be an original owner or producer of the thing in question is reduced, and the incentive to be a non-owner and non-producer is raised. Accordingly, as a result of subsidizing individuals because they are poor, there will be more poverty. In subsidizing people because they are unemployed, more unemployment will be created. Supporting single mothers out of tax funds will lead to an increase in single motherhood, 'illegitimacy', and divorce. In outlawing child labor, income is transferred from families with children to childless persons (as a result of the legal restriction on the supply of labor, wage rates will rise). Accordingly, the birthrate will fall. On the other hand, by subsidizing the education of children, the opposite effect is created. Income is transferred from the childless and those with few children to those with many children. As a result the birthrate will increase. Yet then the value of children will again fall, and birthrates will decline as a result of the so-called Social Security System, for in subsidizing retirees (the old) out of taxes imposed on current income earners (the young), the institution of a family – the intergenerational bond between parents, grandparents, and children – is systematically weakened. The old need no longer rely on the assistance of their children if they have made no provision for their own old age, and the young (with typically less accumulated wealth) must support the old (with typically more accumulated wealth) rather than the other way around, as is typical within families. Parents' wish for children, and children's wish for parents will decline, family breakups and dysfunctional families will increase, and provisionary action – saving and capital formation – will fall, while consumption rises."

The same applies to crime, addiction, homosexuality, gender and animals. The economics of incentives are universal. Hoppe writes:

"In subsidizing the malingerers, the neurotics, the careless, the alcoholics, the drug addicts, the Aids-infected, and the physically and mentally 'challenged' through insurance regulation and compulsory health insurance, there will be more illness, malingering, neuroticism, carelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, Aids infection, and physical and mental retardation. By forcing non-criminals, including the victims of crime, to pay for the imprisonment of criminals (rather than making criminals compensate their victims and pay the full cost of their own apprehension and incarceration), crime will increase. By forcing businessmen, through 'affirmative action' ('non-discrimination') programs, to employ more women, homosexuals, blacks, or other 'minorities' than they would like to, there will be more employed minorities, and fewer employers and fewer male, heterosexual, and white employment. By compelling private land owners to subsidize ('protect') 'endangered species' residing on their land through environmental legislation, there will be more and better-off animals, and fewer and worse-off humans."

Finally, the conclusion that democracy is worse than monarchy can be drawn simply from the premise that kings assume the role of owners whereas democrats assume the role of temporary caretakers of the state. Hoppe writes:

"Theoretically speaking, the transition from monarchy to democracy involves no more or less than a hereditary monopoly "owner" – the prince or king – being replaced by temporary and interchangeable – monopoly "caretakers" – presidents, prime ministers, and members of parliament. Both kings and presidents will produce bads, yet a king, because he "owns" the monopoly and may sell or bequeath it, will care about the repercussions of his actions on capital values. As the owner of the capital stock on "his" territory, the king will be comparatively future-oriented. In order to preserve or enhance the value of his property, he will exploit only moderately and calculatingly. In contrast, a temporary and interchangeable democratic caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his advantage. He owns its current use but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. Instead, it makes exploitation shortsighted (present-oriented) and uncalculated, i.e., carried out without regard for the value of the capital stock."


The transition from monarchy to democracy made humanity worse off. Monarchs or kings are, contrary to popular belief, not the same as tyrants. In fact, the background and sociological development of a tyrant, a life in politics, is very much different from how kings are brought up. Social institutions like the Church and tradition offer a more practical check on the kings power than those present in democracies. Some monarchs have even given up their thrones rather than hurt their subjects. The popular mindset of a people under a monarchical system is humbler and individualistic, as opposed to the ambition and vanity engendered in the culture of people under democratic states. This results from the added dimension of politics into the life of the citizenry. A culture of vanity and ambition is not so hard to predict in a system where leaders are chosen through a popularity contest. Sustaining the illusion of identity with the state, that what is good for the state is good for me, is very expensive and entails wasteful and oppressive programs such as fiat money, central banking and government schooling. Redistributive schemes under a system of democracy taxes responsible, productive and honest citizens and subsidizes the reckless, corrupt and lazy. Democratic leaders, assuming the role of temporary caretakers, do not own the state but only the its use. Hence, the capital value of the resource will be continuously diminished just as a renter of a bike will be more careless with the bike and extract as much pleasure as he can from it. Democracy is a ruthless and immoral system that promotes social retardation and economic stagnation. It is based on the ideal of egalitarianism which can never be accomplished and tantamount to the growth of state-worship and progression into a total state.


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