A useful example of why we're liberals not socialists

Owen Jones tells us what socialism really is:

Socialism is the democratisation of every level of society, or it is nothing. It is based on an understanding that the concentration of wealth and power leaves democracy hollowed out, and that simply trooping to a polling station every few years is an insufficient counterweight to the behemoths of global capital. Under the prevailing system, the same vested interests remain in power whoever is in office, which is why a transformative government must seek to democratise the workplace, the economy and all of society’s pivotal structures, from the media to local government.

We’re agin this. We’re rather in favour of certain types of socialism - you want to set up a commune, a workers’ cooperative, a Friendly Society, you go right ahead. That sort of voluntary cooperation without the capitalist ownership structure, why wouldn’t we be in favour? Our only objections to such things are when they become compulsory.

But this idea of total democracy, sorry, no. Certainly, that democracy is a necessary and desirable method at times. Working out which group of poltroons get to set tax rates for the next few years, well, all other methods of deciding this seem to devolve down to heads on pikes at some point. But all of society? All of the time?

As all of us with any knowledge of either large organisations or student politics know that voting on everything all the time really means rule by that small number of people who run the agenda subcommittee. And as Mysterioso’s formulation of Worstall’s Law has it:

Any large organisation ends up being run by the kind of perverts who enjoy committee meetings

This isn’t something we would wish upon society as a whole. As PJ O’Rouke has pointed out if we all vote on dinner then every meal is pizza. But given the cranks who end up doing that voting it’ll be organic vegan pizza free of cruelty to tomatoes. You know, toast.

Which is where the liberal vision of society diverges from the progressive. Other people get to determine, vote upon, our behaviour only when that’s entirely necessary - Mill’s harm to third parties. Other than that we all get to partake of that stately progression to the grave on our own terms.

Everyone voting on everything all the time is simply the institutionalisation of the tyranny of the majority and why would any liberal want that?