Should Democracy Be Promoted or Demoted?

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“Should Democracy Be Promoted or Demoted?” is the title of an article published in 2007 by Francis Fukuyama and Michael McFaul (currently the U.S. ambassador to Russia). They are learned scholars in their fields of political science and international relations. There is close, mutual and long-term interaction between them and government officials and policies, i.e., symbiosis.

Both these gentlemen belong to the establishment elite. Their efforts, careers, beliefs, attainments and influence are case studies in how the democracy that they espouse and strongly support actually works, which is through oligarchies (small numbers of people with power over many.) They belong to America’s education oligarchy. America also has corporate, military and political oligarchies. Taken together, they make up the establishment oligarchy or ruling class.

There is no surprise then in finding that Fukuyama and McFaul have the opinion that democracy should be promoted. They believe in it. They argue for it enthusiastically. McFaul’s life and livelihood revolve around it. At the same time, how convenient it is that the term “democracy” is a currently Pavlovian stimulus word that triggers responses from citizens in support of official policies propagated by the oligarchy. Democracy has been made into apple pie through the usual techniques of repetition from figures of authority.

The surprise to many Americans is likely to be how such scholars can be so biased, so blind, so mistaken and so shallow in their thinking. The surprise is how such intelligent and learned men can harbor so many misconceptions as to extol democracy. Maybe their educations are not all that their degrees symbolically represent. Maybe the academic journals in which they publish are not the founts of knowledge that they are reputed to be. Maybe there are whole fields of study in universities that rest on the shakiest and shallowest of foundations.

Reading this article of theirs is an exercise in detecting fallacies and misconceptions. For example, they mistakenly equate freedom with democracy. They wrongly place American democracy into one category and totalitarian or other autocracies into another, when in fact they differ only in degree, not in kind. They want the American empire to help construct democracies in 50 to 100 foreign lands when American democracy, such as it is, was not originally the constitutional form of government of the federal government or the states. And, to the extent that democracy has become American government, it has failed and has become oligarchy. Fukuyama and McFaul are operating under the false assumption that democracy somehow reflects a “public” interest, preference, and good. “Democracy promotion is intended only to help reveal public preferences in the society itself,” they say. This has been shown by Kenneth Arrow, for one, to be impossible; and certainly Mises and Rothbard have said the same in other frameworks of analysis.

The democratic dream world of Fukuyama and McFaul exists solely in their minds, as transferred onto paper in such improbable statements as this: “First and foremost, democracy provides the best institutional form for holding rulers accountable to their people.” I’d like to know how these scholars can declare that democracy is “best” when they do not even consider and evaluate important alternatives. The superiority of democracy is clearly not factual, not when the people or the oligarchs that “represent” them in actuality rule them as subjects and get to decide on laws that may delve into any area that the rulers want them to. Alternatives are available that are likely to be better. One institutional form is kritarchy. Another is anarcho-capitalism under natural law. Another is panarchism. Hoppe has argued persuasively that even monarchy is superior to democracy.

Another mistaken view of theirs is that democracy promotes economic welfare: “Second, democracies tend to provide more stable physical and economic welfare for their people than do autocracies.” Robert Barro has evidence that this is not so. We need only examine America over the past 25 years or to look at the fiscal instabilities that lie ahead to see that this is incorrect. Fukuyama and McFaul mistake the benefits of free markets with democracy.

7:36 am on October 6, 2013