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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Democracy’s Road to Tyranny | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 25, 2021

There is, in fact, only either just or unjust discrimination. Yet, egalitarian democracy remains adamant in its totalitarian policy. The popular pastime of modern democracies of punishing the diligent and thrifty, while rewarding the lazy, improvident, and unthrifty, is cultivated via the State, fulfilling a demo-egalitarian program based on a demo-totalitarian ideology.

Democratic tyranny, evolving on the sly as a slow and subtle corruption leading to total State control, is thus the third and by no means rarest road to the most modern form of slavery.

https://mises.org/wire/democracys-road-tyranny

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Plato, in his Republic, tells us that tyranny arises, as a rule, from democracy. Historically, this process has occurred in three quite different ways. Before describing these several patterns of social change, let us state precisely what we mean by “democracy.”

Pondering the question of “Who should rule,” the democrat gives his answer: “the majority of politically equal citizens, either in person or through their representatives.” In other words, equality and majority rule are the two fundamental principles of democracy. A democracy may be either liberal or illiberal.

Genuine liberalism is the answer to an entirely different question: How should government be exercised? The answer it provides is: regardless of who rules, government must be carried out in such a way that each person enjoys the greatest amount of freedom, compatible with the common good. This means that an absolute monarchy could be liberal (but hardly democratic) and a democracy could be totalitarian, illiberal, and tyrannical, with a majority brutally persecuting minorities. (We are, of course, using the term “liberal” in the globally accepted version and not in the American sense, which since the New Deal has been totally perverted.)

How could a democracy, even an initially liberal one, develop into a totalitarian tyranny? As we said in the beginning, there are three avenues of approach, and in each case the evolution would be of an “organic” nature. The tyranny would evolve from the very character of even a liberal democracy because there is, from the beginning on, a worm in the apple: freedom and equality do not mix, they practically exclude each other. Equality doesn’t exist in nature and therefore can be established only by force. He who wants geographic equality has to dynamite mountains and fill up the valleys. To get a hedge of even height one has to apply pruning shears. To achieve equal scholastic levels in a school one would have to pressure certain students into extra hard work while holding back others.

The first road to totalitarian tyranny (though by no means the most frequently used) is the overthrow by force of a liberal democracy through a revolutionary movement, as a rule a party advocating tyranny but unable to win the necessary support in free elections. The stage for such violence is set if the parties represent philosophies so different as to make dialogue and compromise impossible. Clausewitz said that wars are the continuation of diplomacy by other means, and in ideologically divided nations revolutions are truly the continuation of parliamentarism with other means. The result is the absolute rule of one “party” which, having finally achieved complete control, might still call itself a party, referring to its parliamentary past, when it still was merely a part of the diet.

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Author:

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1909-1999) was an Austrian nobleman and socio-political theorist who described himself as an enemy of all forms of totalitarianism and as an “extreme conservative arch-liberal” or “liberal of the extreme right.” Described as “A Walking Book of Knowledge,” Kuehnelt-Leddihn had an encyclopedic knowledge of the humanities and was a polyglot, able to speak eight languages and read seventeen others. 

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