Pondering on democracy


On the surface of it, democracy appears to be a fair, agreeable way to run a country. But is it really as wonderful as it’s made out to be? The first thing to be contested with democracy is that it is as good as two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Perhaps from a utilitarian perspective, this would still be an idyllic system, but for lots of us (particularly the sheep) this is far from ideal.

It is, however, the nature of democracy, to be flawed on other levels. It is bound to be governed by short-term agendas. When a government comes into power, they have one term to impress the citizens. Any long-term policy will go unnoticed by the population. Similarly, governments will not have to suffer the long-term consequences of short-term policies. In fact, it is their opposition that is likely to suffer the consequences. Such a dynamic clearly does not operate in the interests of the country.

On this basis, it could be argued that government terms should be far longer than they are, arguably 20 or 30 years, so that they can implement, and see through long-term sustainable policy; although imagine the state of this country if the present lot remained in power for another ten years. Short of his ideal anarcho-capitalist state, Hans-Hermann Hoppe has argued that a monarchy would be better than what we have now: “Assuming no more than self-interest, the ruler tries to maximize his total wealth, i.e., the present value of his estate and his current income. He would not want to increase current income at the expense of a more than proportional drop in the present value of his assets." Indeed, a prosperous and secure society will raise the value of the king’s estate, so it is very much in his interest; but who is to say that the monarch would be so rational?

Unfortunately, every system of government tried has its flaws. I am quite undecided as to what is the best system. What I would argue is that to limit the flaws of any system in place, particularly those of democracy,  the power of the government ought to be kept at a minimum level. The less power the government has, the less propensity there is for them to make erroneous decisions.