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Hans-Hermann Hoppe thinks so:
The American model – democracy – must be regarded as a historical error, economically as well as morally. Democracy promotes shortsightedness, capital waste, irresponsibility, and moral relativism. It leads to permanent compulsory income and wealth redistribution and legal uncertainty. It is counterproductive. It promotes demagoguery and egalitarianism. It is aggressive and potentially totalitarian internally, vis-à-vis its own population, as well as externally. In sum, it leads to a dramatic growth of state power, as manifested by the amount of parasitically – by means of taxation and expropriation – appropriated government income and wealth in relation to the amount of productively – through market exchange – acquired private income and wealth, and by the range and invasiveness of state legislation. Democracy is doomed to collapse, just as Soviet communism was doomed to collapse.

Classical (pre-revolutionary) monarchy appears in a far more favorable light than democracy. It is part of the dominant, American-influenced world view that the process, beginning with the American and French revolution and essentially concluding with the end of World War I, of the substitution of presidents and prime ministers for kings represents historical progress. The following investigations show that the opposite is the case. The transition from a monarchical world to a democratic one must be regarded as de-civilizing retrogression. In other words, we would be better off today as far as living standards and liberty are concerned than we actually are, if we had never adopted the American system.

Unlike democratic "caretakers" of "public goods," kings, as proprietors of these same goods, take a long-run view and are interested in the preservation or enhancement of capital values. They are considered personally responsible for their actions and bound by pre-existing laws. They are not the makers of law; they apply old and eternal law. Independent of popular elections, they have little need for demagoguery, redistribution and egalitarianism (the lack of which is all good for economic development). In sum, the monarchical state is comparatively moderate and mild: with low tax revenue and little invasive and oppressive.

Link: http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe9.html


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2003 05:38 pm (UTC)
There is one flaw in this... we do not live in a democracy. We live in a representative republic.
Dec. 6th, 2003 06:57 pm (UTC)
We're transitioning away from democratic (or republican) government anyhow, like it or not. If only we could be so lucky as to go back to constitutional monarchy.
Dec. 6th, 2003 09:26 pm (UTC)
Democracy an Ideal thing, Oligarchy a real thing!
But I guess that's whether you are a pessimist or an optomist... Guess what I'm reffering to?

Oh, well, our contry's foundations are more based on the Roman republic model. In a group of up to several thousand, voting and a few elected officials do wonders as long as everyone sets aside time for important public meetings. (ancient Greece model of Democracy) A larger empire of hundereds of thousands or millions gets choked even attempting this. The best compromise is to keep the Greek model locally and use that to elect representatives to go to more central areas to work out nationwide matters.

The ideal of such a government is to overall attempt the best overall benifit to the society while allowing maximum reasonable freedom to individuals. Also, though the 'many' are usuall favored small interests can usually get a reasonable compromise made for them. (like don't move the troops near this sacred temple, except to defend it) That helps the cohesiveness of a larger empire for it rewards the contributions to it, not just takes by brute force.

What I see 'wrong' with our current society is a lack of participation in our government by individuals. There is little or no voting, not to mention attendance at community meetings or public projects, etc. It seems that instead of the "Tyranny of 51%" that a large Democracy risks, we have a "Tyranny of special and monied interests" as only those who see direct, personal benifit participate. I'll go further to suggest that they actually try to discourage most from voting. (The right wing bile everywhere is but a small example)

A "Republican" government would be good, IF and ONLY if the social situation was such that a 95% voter turnout was talked about the same way a 20% voter turnout is now. There would still be a monied and special interest influence, but the attention would force their demands to be deserved and reasonable. (i.e. pollution controlls not choking but existant and perhaps limiting abortions but supporting sex education to prevent it's neccesity)

Another problem we face is that, like Rome, we are not growing socially as we grow economicly and technologicly. "Progress" is a catch word for justifying the ruin of a livlihood or wealth horded amongst masses of poor. Indeed, we even have our 'bread and circuses' to placate the 'masses' as the cracks in the foundation are perhaps patched, but not mended.

A third one, though it is a symptom of the first two, is the rise in 'divisiveness' where people polarize themselves unflexably. This is disguised in terms such as 'left' and 'right' and of course 'religion'. This attitude both fuels apathy and contributes to the special interest dominance. The end result of 'seeking a better way through an unflexing moral view' is an erosion of the foundations of the very society that was relied on. This had something to do with Rome's weakeaning, if I remember history right.

A 'begnin dictatior' is indeed the best ideal form of governance. The question is, how can one such be found? One that would WANT to rule would likely be corrupt already. One that might NOT want to rule could end up creating worse problems. Then there is the tired cliche of 'absolute power corrupting absolutely'.

I actually have an idea for the best kind of 'begnin dictator' but I won't go into it here for I'm putting it into a sci-fi story I'm writing.

In RL, short of "King Arthur" returning, or maybe Ramses being cloned, I'd be more to oppose any future absolute ruler...Look at our Commander in Thief for how a 'dynasty' can end up.
Dec. 7th, 2003 06:29 am (UTC)
Is it April 1? Is the concept of a twenty-first century Tory possible outside of an ironic context?

The critiques in this article amount to saying that a country governed by a democracy will experience certain inefficiencies and misallocations of resources. Of course. It's easy to name examples; pork-barrel legislation, politicians who are unqualified high-level decision makers, an incentive structure that promotes a culture of "spin" and emphasizes the election-value, rather than the real value, of resources, policies, and opportunities. The advantage of a democracy is, in a word, resilience. The problems are largely self-correcting, a carefully engineered result of the framework laid down in the Constitution. Democracies aren't perfect and they do not instantly redress grievances and inefficiencies brought about by our ever-changing cultural, economic, and technological environment. Empirically even more so than theoretically, democracies have outperformed and continue to thrive while the remaining examples of autocracy stagnate. Turkmenistan is not the City on the Hill, nor is Myanmar or any other state with absolute, centralized power unaccountable to the people.

For democracy to "catch on," survive, and spread in the manner it has, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition that it produces economically superior results. The other necessary aspect is that it have the loyalty and approval of the people, the ultimate arbiter of political power. Although not all citizens of democratic countries are truly free, it is only in a non-autocratic state that a man can be free--free from arbitrary persecution, free to elect his leaders, free from fears over life, liberty, and property. The contrast between the frequently brutalized ,yet ever-growing, pro-democracy reform movements in repressive (a word history has made synonomous with non-democratic) states and the simply non-existant pressure for a regression to monarchy in democratic states lends some weight, I dare say, to the preference people have for democracy.

Democracy is more efficent. Democracy is preferred. I'm going to close with a word about the preposterous and unfounded claims that monarchs take the longer view, are more responsible stewards of the state's assets, answer to the people ("are considered personally responsible"... what a phrase!), and operate according to eternal pre-existing laws. What the hell? Seriously? So unresponsive have monarchs historically been to their citizens, and so greviously have the monarchs harmed them, that time and time again the extreme recourse of armed revolution has been used to end decades or centuries of opulence, corruption, incompetence, and staggering taxation for war chests. This flaw of monarchy is structural--the incentives simply are not there for the monarch to behave. T

he article seems to assume that there is, was, and always will be an enlightened despot on our hypothetical throne. If we had ideal, perfect politicians in our system, it would be perfect, too. The test is not how they perform under impossibly ideal situations, but rather how they, and the people, fare during times of crisis. In that case, I'll take a democracy, thank you.

Who can actually endorse monarchy? Geeze! How could this not be a joke, or satire, or an illustrative example of how not to engage in the process of thought?
Dec. 7th, 2003 06:34 am (UTC)
The obvious quote bears unearthing, "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried from time to time," ... props to Churchill.
Dec. 7th, 2003 07:16 am (UTC)
Did you read the article?
Who can actually endorse monarchy? Geeze!

Not Hans-Hermann Hoppe. I suspect that you only read the excerpt I posted and not the actual article.

The first sentence after the material I quoted reads, "Notwithstanding some clear sympathy for classical monarchy, I am not a monarchist, however."

Dec. 7th, 2003 07:41 am (UTC)
Very well said (even if you didn't read the article ;)
Dec. 7th, 2003 08:24 am (UTC)
Any executive power model works as well as any other, for the most part, so long as it is effectively limited by an appropriate governmental Constitution. Unfortunately, ours is not effective, if only because it is open to amendment by legislative vote and subversion by judicial activism. King/democracy/republic . . . ultimately, the only difference is in method of elevation to power, division of labor, and longevity of office. The people in power are still human, subject to human frailties like spite and egocentricity (as opposed to egoism, which is entirely different).

The important part of government is its limits. Without effective, ethical limits, any government will necessarily descend into authoritarianism or a chaotic institutional breakdown.
Dec. 7th, 2003 09:36 am (UTC)
egocentricity vs. egoism
Hmmm... I just compared the Dictionary.com definitions for egocentricity and egoism, and I'm not entirely clear on what distinction you wanted to emphasize with regard to these two terms.
Dec. 7th, 2003 09:51 am (UTC)
Re: egocentricity vs. egoism
It's not really germane to the discussion at hand — I only mentioned the distinction because I didn't want someone with the common (in Libertarian circles) Objectivist understanding of "selfishness" (aka "egoism") to believe that I was referring to enlightened selfishness when in fact I was referring to one of its antitheses, "self-centeredness" (aka "egocentricity").
Dec. 7th, 2003 08:33 am (UTC)
Very interesting. I will definitely read this book (Democracy. The God That Failed). Thanks also for leading me to lewrockwell.com

But I question a lot of what he says in this "article" (preface to the book), even though his analysis is often very insightful.

we would be better off today as far as living standards and liberty are concerned than we actually are, if we had never adopted the American system.

This is silly. One can only assume that "never adopting the American system" defaults to the system that was already in place, which, we know, is woefully inept, and would do nothing to increase the standard of living so much as the intellectual freedom and impetus to innovate afforded under the more open system of democracy (compared to monarchy).

Unlike democratic "caretakers" of "public goods," kings, as proprietors of these same goods, take a long-run view and are interested in the preservation or enhancement of capital values.

Silly! Unsupported assumption.

They are considered personally responsible for their actions and bound by pre-existing laws.


On the one hand, the existence of a state thus leads to the development and promotion of parasitism.

Now he is getting into his proposed solution: anarcho-capitalism, from what I can tell.

Regarding the above quote: he is forgetting the US Constitution. This amuses me because foreigners often are ignorant about the function and importance of the constitution. The constitution limits the power of government. It's purpose is to overcome and choke this parasitic tendency of democracy/republic. Clearly, we are currently having problems adhering to the constitution, but this really just means that a slightly more perfected system is needed. The system may need some tweaking, but the constitution, in my opinion, is a pretty decent solution to his criticism/assumption of the parasitic inclinations of the system.

The higher the state revenue, the better off the parasites are and/or the more parasites there are.
Worse still, as final judge in all matters of conflict, the occupants of the state are in a position not only to arbitrate conflicts expensively and miserably, but to actually cause and to provoke conflict in order to then "solve" it to their own advantage.

Even to someone who may not buy into anarcho-capitalism, his insights into the parasitic nature of democracy are poignant.

Security – property protection, law and order – like other goods and services is provided by means of self-help, in neighborly cooperation, and in association with freely financed specialized security firms. Along with individual or neighborly efforts such as fences, walls, bars, locks, warning devices, knives and revolvers, contractually agreed upon security provisions of all kinds are offered by freely competing (unregulated) property and life-insurers, who work in cooperation with independent and mutually competing arbiters and judges and independent or associated enforcement agencies and police forces.

I'm very curious: he is suggesting anarchy, is he not? How does a population avoid results such as that in Afghanistan, where the economy is essentially anarchistic, with warlords appropriating undue and unjust power, and the result wholly less cheery than imagined and implicated by Hoppe?
Dec. 7th, 2003 10:11 am (UTC)
Hoppe: Unlike democratic "caretakers" of "public goods," kings, as proprietors of these same goods, take a long-run view and are interested in the preservation or enhancement of capital values.

Silly! Unsupported assumption.

Hoppe: They (kings) are considered personally responsible for their actions and bound by pre-existing laws.


Steven Yates, another Lew Rockwell contributor, made a similiar claim in one of his recent articles. He quoted Rob Schenk, who wrote:
"Secular nations have one thing in common – mass graves, and the reason is that they believe the government is the final arbiter of right and wrong and good and evil."

Those who rule by the divine right of kings handed down by God remain answerable to a higher moral power than themselves or the structures of government by which they execise control. Governments which recognize no higher moral authority than themselves tend to grow tyranical.

That my encapsulation of Dr. Yates' position. I didn't buy it and wrote to him to tell him so. He replied with;
Re your comments on secular vs. theistic gov'ts: history offers us a mere handful of examples of explicitly atheistic governments (the communist ones), and we still do not have an accurate body count. I don't know if an atheistic gov't *must* have this result, but the fact that we don't have any counterexamples to a definite tendency places the burden of argument on *them*, not on *us*. (The Nazis didn't have an explicit ideological argument with the church, but sa
Dec. 7th, 2003 10:20 am (UTC)
cut off quote
(The Nazis didn't have an explicit ideological argument with the church, but saw the church as subordinate to the interests of the almighty state, which yielded effectively the same result.)
Dec. 7th, 2003 03:38 pm (UTC)
The governmental argument strikes me as a false conflation of two historical tendencies. Conflicts of the kind that lead to mass graves have only been technologically possible in the last hundred and fifty years or so, which coincides with the end of the Enlightenment period, marked by greater intellectual freedom and less reliance on older, theological thinking. In all likelihood this greater freedom of thought contributed to technological progress.

The short version is this: the older 'theocracies' didn't have the means to kill on such a large scale, though a quick survey of the Crusades and the Inquisition suggests they weren't averse to using what they had to hand. One might respond that such events were perversions of religious doctrine, but this begs the point: is it not more likely that *any* form of government bound to 'higher' principles regarding respect for life will be less brutal, rather than it being a matter of theocratic vs secular government? The more recent examples of Iran and Afghanistan do not exactly warm the cockles of my heart regarding their less brutal treatment of people.

So perhaps this is a fairer statement: the historical tendency is towards greater destructiveness. Governments that do recognise a higher authority (but not necessarily theological) will mitigate this; whereas those who don't, or twist it to their own ends, will use this increasingly great power for the purposes of destruction.
Dec. 7th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)
I'm very curious: he is suggesting anarchy, is he not?
Given his affiliations, I assume he advocates anarcho capitalism (A.K.A. Paleolibertarianism). You could ask him. His email address is hoppeh@unlv.nevada.edu .
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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