Champions of Democracy Are Wrong
by Bevin Chu
we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the
passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end
of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological
evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy
as the final form of human government."
Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?"
a 1989 essay published in The National Interest
"champions of democracy," Western and Chinese alike,
insist that "Communist" China ought to look to democratic
Taiwan for guidance on how to reform its political system. They
insist that "Communist" China ought to adopt Taiwanese
style democracy as practiced by Taiwan independence fascists Lee
Teng-hui and Chen Shiu-bian.
of democracy need to think again. Democracy is the breeding ground
for fascism. Democracy provides all the necessary conditions for
fascism to take root and mature. Unless for some perverse, indecipherable
reason champions of democracy want mainland China, with its 1.3
billion people, to march down the same fascist path as Taiwan's
Quisling nomenklatura, they had better check their premises and
revise their recommendations.
incorporates a variety of legal constraints against the abuse
of power. In theory, these constraints prevent the dangerous concentration
of power in any single branch of government, particularly the
executive. In practice, they merely legitimize state violence
against defenseless citizens struggling to lead their own lives
and follow their own dreams. In theory, democracy is government
of the people, by the people, and for the people. In practice,
democracy is government of an elective dictator, by an elective
dictator, and for an elective dictator.
for mankind, Frances Fukuyama and his fellow champions of democracy
are wrong. History has not ended. Mankind's ideological evolution
has not reached its end point. Western liberal democracy is not
the final form of human government. Otherwise mankind would be
trapped within a Kafkaesque nightmare world from which there is
doesn't Work. Neither does Democracy
theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In
practice, there is."
was destined to fail even before it was implemented, because it
was based on a fundamentally flawed assumption about human nature.
The assumption was that human beings would behave "unselfishly,"
as defined by Marxist-Leninists, if only political leaders with
determination held guns to peoples' heads and forced them to act
"unselfishly." Communism failed because human beings
can't be psychologically browbeaten or physically coerced into
behaving "unselfishly." People who want to coerce others
into behaving "unselfishly" will themselves behave according
to their fundamental human nature. They will impose their own
selfish values of "unselfishness" upon others, and refer
to it as "selfless service."
of democracy don't realize, or realize but refuse to admit, is
that the same holds true for democracy. Democracy was also destined
to fail even before it was implemented, because it too was based
on a fundamentally flawed assumption about human nature. The assumption
was that "democratically elected" officials would miraculously
behave "unselfishly" by virtue of "the democratic
process." Democracy has failed because elected officials
don't behave unselfishly merely because they promised to do so
during their election campaigns. Elected officials, once in office,
will behave according to their fundamental human nature. They
will abuse the powers delegated to them by "the democratic
process" to further their own selfish interests, then glorify
their despotic behavior as "selfless service."
Pact victims of the Communist delusion, champions of democracy
are victims of their own delusions about how democracy ought to
work in theory, as opposed to how it actually works in practice.
and democracy failed miserably as political systems because they
are predicated upon wishful thinking about human nature. Communism
and democracy are both predicated on the hypothetical premise
that "If pigs had wings, they could fly." Unfortunately
for both Communists and champions of democracy, pigs don't have
wings, they can't fly, and all the wishing in the world won't
politico-economic system, or to be more precise, metasystem, grounded
in the fundamental reality of human nature, is the spontaneously
generated free marketplace.
Breeding Ground for Fascism
matters more than winning. Not even what you believe in."
Tagline for The
Candidate (1972, directed by Michael Ritchie,
written by Jeremy Larner, former speechwriter for Eugene McCarthy)
The Candidate, the biting political satire starring Robert
Redford? The Internet Movie DataBase summarizes the plot: "Californian
lawyer Bill McKay fights for the little man. His charisma and
integrity get him noticed by the Democratic Party machine and
he is persuaded to run for the Senate against an apparently unassailable
incumbent. It's agreed he can handle it his own way, on his own
terms. But once he's in the race and his prospects begin to improve,
the deal starts to change."
the deal start to change?
starts to change because democracy is inherently corrupting. Democracy
incorporates certain perverse incentives. Democracy's holiest
sacrament is popular elections. Popular elections compel candidates
for political office to resort to populist demagoguery, i.e.,
"impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the
populace." Popular elections compel candidates to sacrifice
reason to passion, substance to image, and principle to expediency.
As the tagline
for The Candidate reminds us, under democracy's system
of popular elections, "Nothing matters more than winning.
Not even what you believe in."
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Bill of Rights, complained that
"Democracy is nothing more than mob rule." No wonder
James Madison, Father of the Constitution, concluded that "Democracies
have ... been found incompatible with personal security or the
rights of property."
School economist Friedrich von Hayek's landmark book, The
Road to Serfdom, includes a chapter on populism and fascism
entitled, "Why the Worst Get on Top." The title of the
chapter says it all.
Why do the
worst get on top? The worst get on top because democracy's defining
institution, popular elections, do not work as advertised. In
theory, democratic elections ensure that only the most farsighted
leaders offering the most rational policies get on top. In practice,
democratic elections ensure that only the most shameless demagogues,
for whom nothing matters more than winning, who are willing to
betray what they believe in, will get on top.
democratically elected Chancellor of Germany understood this better
than anyone. As Der Führer himself observed, "I know perfectly
well that in the scientific sense there is no such thing as race.
As a politician [however] I need an idea which enables the order
which has hitherto existed on a historic basis to be abolished
and an entirely new order enforced and given an intellectual basis.
And for this purpose the idea of race serves me well."
an Object Lesson for China
can observe a lot just by watching."
champions of democracy insist that "Communist" China
ought to look to democratic Taiwan for guidance on how to reform
its political system. Ironically, many political reformers agree,
but not in the sense that champions of democracy mean. By observing
real-life political developments on mainland China during the
50s, 60s, and 70s, and on Taiwan from the 80s till today, political
reformers on both mainland China and Taiwan have learned two enormously
valuable political lessons:
Communism doesn't work. This lesson was learned watching desperately
as Mao Zedong's economically suicidal, coercive egalitarian policies
destroyed mainland China's economy and society.
Democracy doesn't work. This lesson was learned watching incredulously
as Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian's economically suicidal, pro-independence
policies destroyed Taiwan's economy and society.
ill-fated experiment in democracy has provided Chinese political
reformers on both sides of the Taiwan Strait with an unmistakable
lesson. Taiwan has shown them that democracy is as much a recipe
for social, economic, and political disaster as Communism.
important lessons will stand the Chinese nation in good stead
as the coming century unfolds, because the adoption of Communism
and democracy are the two most catastrophic blunders committed
by developing nations in the late 20th and early 21st century.
reformers, like Yogi Berra, observed a lot just by watching.
is structurally defective. The defects of democracy, its ineffectual
constraints against the expansion of power, its predisposition
to reward fascist demagoguery, are defects in its incentive structure.
Such defects were unwittingly designed into the system from its
inception. Such defects cannot be "fixed" by "reformers"
waving brooms in the air and promising to sweep out the cobwebs
of the previous administration. The only solution to the insoluble
problems of democracy, is to jettison the system altogether start
over with a clean slate.
region of China tried Communism and discovered it didn't work.
The Taiwan region of China tried democracy and discovered it doesn't
work either. A future, reunified China has an unprecedented opportunity,
one that seldom arises in history, to try a radically different
political system that does work, that genuinely ensures human
beings' natural rights and individual liberty. That system is
known as "market anarchism" or "anarcho-capitalism."
if China were to move boldly forward and adopt such a system,
it would actually be returning to its historical roots, to the
great Daoist philosopher Laozi's "wu wei er zi" (govern
by doing nothing).
For an introduction
to "anarcho-capitalism, see:
from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
between Chinese Daoism and Western anarchism, see:
Chu [send him mail] is an
American architect of Chinese descent registered to practice in
Texas. Currently living and working in Taiwan, Chu is the son
of a retired high-ranking diplomat with the ROC (Taiwan) government.
His column, "The Strait Scoop" is published on his website, The
© 2005 LewRockwell.com