It is a curious thing that people in the modern world have come to worship democracy at the very same time that they have come to abhor genocide. One would think that if democracy is such a wonderful thing for giving majorities the right to do what they will, then genocide is wonderful for that very same reason. After all, genocide is usually nothing more than the brutal expression of majority opinion in a given territory that some minority population ought to be exterminated. Is there anything more sublimely democratic than that?
There is more than passing resemblance here. The concept of democracy and the concept of genocide are identical in every ethically relevant way. Democracy is a system for reaching political solutions that are deemed to be acceptable to a majority of the population. This is precisely what genocide typically is. It is a political solution to a perceived problem that is deemed to be acceptable to the majority of the population in a given territory. Sure, there are some people in a genocidal bloodbath who don’t really have their hearts in it, but the same is just as true of any democratically derived outcome. Just think about all those people who voted for Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2008, but settled half-heartedly for Obama in the general election.
It is of no use to object that the concept of "democracy" is nonviolent by definition. The same used to be commonly said of the concept of "socialism," which was also claimed to be nonviolent by definition – at least, that is, until the socialists’ death count reached a point where it was too embarrassing for honest men to ignore. The death count for democracies hasn’t quite caught up to the impressive death count of the socialists, but it is certainly large enough that it should embarrass anyone out of claiming that democracy is nonviolent by definition. This is in addition to the fact that defining something as nonviolent by no means makes it so in reality.
It is also of no use to object that democracies sometimes have constitutions to protect minorities from attack by majorities. This objection overlooks the glaring fact that constitutions can be amended or abolished by…majority vote! A constitution will thus only protect minorities as long as the majority accepts the idea that minorities have rights; a fact conspicuously highlighted by the American constitution’s defense of black slavery. Should the majority change its mind about minority rights, it always has the ability to amend, abolish or simply ignore the constitution standing in the way of its intentions. In other words, there is no reason why a majority in a given population could not commit genocide with the explicit sanction of the democratically-created constitution.
Given this fact, it is an intellectual error of gargantuan proportions to assume that democracy and individual rights go hand in hand, or to assume that democracy and genocide are antithetical to one another. Democratic government, even representative democratic government, is merely a means for the majority to impress its will on minorities. It is mob rule dressed up in fancy legal livery. Genocidal bloodbaths committed by majorities around the world may lack the legal finery and the fancy ballot boxes, but they are thoroughly democratic nonetheless. In fact, genocide approaches the ideal of "participatory democracy" even more closely than the effeminate, representative form of democracy practiced in the West, since the majority of people in a genocidal bloodbath actually participate in the action.
If you happen to believe that individuals have God-given or nature-given rights that mobs should not violate, then you should have no business defending a system of government that makes the law dependent upon what the democratic mob happens to think from moment to moment. In fact, if you believe in individual rights, then you should detest the very idea of so-called "majorities" doing anything whatsoever. For, acceptance that majorities can legitimately create law or select "leaders" or do anything else is only one step removed from acceptance of majorities deciding who should live and who should die. Encouraging democratic mobs to do what they will in one area of the law only encourages them to do what they will across the board.
If you defend democratic mob rule today when it suits you, on what grounds will you object when its impulses turn ugly or murderous? At best you will be rightly labeled a hypocrite for only defending democratic government when it benefited you, as is the case with so many pro-democracy types in Washington who weep about Rwanda’s democratic genocide at the same time that they attempt to export democracy around the world. At worst, you may find that you are one of the minorities the democratic mob has its sights set on, and you may find yourself rotting in prison or an unmarked mass grave. After all, the democratic mob used to target the blacks just because they were black and it currently has its sights set on drug-users, many of whom find themselves pointlessly locked up in cages because the mob doesn’t like certain plants, but the democratic mob could just as easily change its mind and target minority groups of which you are part.
For the sake of intellectual consistency and of human civilization in general it is critical that man lose his reverence for democratic mob rule. He must come to appreciate that his own rights and dignity should never be subject to majority opinion, and that he should not participate in mob decision making that robs other men of their rights through voting or any other means.
The essence of human civilization comes not from arbitrary, mob-created democratic law, but rather from voluntary contract, voluntary exchange, peaceful coexistence, and private property rights. The defense of the values and the creation of law to support them does not require ballot boxes or of mob decision making of any kind. It only requires that individual men come to believe in peace, prosperity and property, and that they reject individuals and organizations that destroy these values. This includes, first and foremost, the taxing, war-making, regulating and suffocating democratic state.
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.
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