La siguiente reflexión la escribí con motivo de la eliminatoria para la Olimpiada Nacional de Filosofía. La escribí en inglés por el mismo motivo.
Throughout history, man has gone through periods in which he has experimented with different ways of governing societies. In contemporary times, the two forms of government that have been used are republic and democracy, the latter leading all states that have used it, to failure. Assuming that democracy is only a system for choosing leaders is a mistake. Democracy is a form of despotic rule that believes that the wishes of the majority are the only pattern to measure good and evil, that everything that the majority decides is right.
Democracy fosters the debauchery of society’s moral code, the tyranny of the majority, the dictatorships legitimized with the popular vote. That was the conclusion of authors such as Aristotle, Cicero, Tocqueville and the founding fathers of the United States because it is a system in which your work, your property, your mind, your freedom, and your life are at the mercy of any faction or gang that meets the majority vote for the purpose that they want. The Russian author Ayn Rand tells us that
“Democracy is a system of unlimited sovereignty of the majority; the classic example is ancient Athens. Its symbol is the fate of Socrates, who was condemned to death because most did not like what he was saying, even though he had not initiated force against anyone or violated anyone’s rights.”
So we can say that democracy, in essence, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions.
Paraphrasing John Adams, a republic is the empire of laws and not of men, and that’s the moral justification of this political system. In a republic the purpose of the law is to protect the rights of citizens and the limit of the law are the same rights. The achievement “common good” or “general welfare” in a republic falls within the preservation of civil order which is accomplished by the compliance of universal standards of right conduct that allow each citizen to achieve their private affairs without being disturbed. Thus, it is in the “public interest” (res publica) that this order is ruled by law and not men, excluding any bias or private interest, eliminating any faction’s struggle to gain any privileges that a republican government can’t grant because the laws support the public interest and they benefit “all the people”. This is why Jean Jacques Rousseau said that “the legislature (laws) belongs to the people and can’t belong to anyone but to them;” thus, the sovereignty is of all the people and therefore no minority or majority can legislate on the rights of other individuals.
On the other hand, one should not confuse democracy with the right to universal suffrage. Both in a democracy and a republic there exists voting. However the right to vote in a republic is a consequence, not a primary cause of the free social system, and its value depends on the constitutional structure that strictly limits the power of the voters. Aristotle stated unequivocally that a majority vote is not the epistemological validation of an idea. Voting is simply a politically correct mechanism – within a sphere of strict and constitutionally limited action – to choose the practical means of implementing the basic principles of a society. But these principles are not determined by voting. Thus, by voting, individual rights in a republic are outside the scope of the public authorities, and the sphere of political power is severely restricted. More specifically, in a republic, the popular vote will never justify a crime universally desired by a majority. As it is in the case in Venezuela, where Maduro’s government claims legitimacy of violating the rights of Venezuelans because his gang was democratically elected. Do you think that’s right? It’s like the husband who justifies mistreating and beating his wife because she married him willingly. In short terms, a democracy allows a tyranny by a mob.
Murray Rothbard rightly established that freedom is incompatible with democracy. Since freedom is necessary for man to live, the right government is the one that protects the freedom of individuals. The one that recognize and protect the rights of its own people to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. The one that identifies and punish those who violate the rights of its citizens. But above all, the one who’s power is precisely defined, so that neither the government nor any mass that wants to achieve state power can be able to take out the freedom of its citizens. The one that grants that individual freedom is untouchable. The one in which the life of every man is still his and he is free to live (while reciprocally respecting the freedom of others to do the same). This kind of government isn’t a democracy, it’s a republic limited by a constitution.
So, why a republic and not a democracy? Because a republic establishes the legal conditions for the citizens to be virtuous, while a democratic state necessarily leads to vicious behavior and moral perversion of individuals. Because a republic is founded on moral principles of right conduct, while democracy is based on the arbitrary and despotic will of the majority. Because a republic is based on mutual respect between citizens, while democracy isn’t. Because a republic uses the government as a weapon to protect the rights of citizens, while democracy allows factions to use the government as a weapon to violate the rights of a minority. Because democracy perverts the law instead of protecting the life, liberty, and property of citizens, while using it to attack them. Because a republic is an association of free men who want to live a virtuous life in harmony, while a democracy perverts citizens to become an association of thieves who want to live off the plunder of others, legitimizing looting by calling it “social justice”.
For all of that.
La imágen ilustra el envenenamiento de Sócrates. Fue tomada de Wikimedia Commons con fines ilustrativos.