Sunday, September 23, 2007


One of the most strinking thins which can be observed around the world is the misguided connecting of liberty with democracy. Empirically, the effect of full democracy on economic growth is weakly negative.

In political terms, democracy means voting. It means the ability of the voters to elect representatives. There are many dubious side-effects of what is referred to as the "real democracy". In the state of democracy, there are few things that are contradictory to civil, human, political and economic freedom.

Coercion and constraints

1. Coercion. If political leaders are elected democratically through voting, it means that they have a full ability to pursue a particular political philosophy. As Friedrich August von Hayek wrote in The Constitution of Liberty, each extensive political philosophy supposes that the lives of individuals mismanaged by themselves, and thus they should be controlled through any means of coercion and constraint whether it be the taxation of individual income, information-sharing or the government force to agree and respect the disagreeable. Hence, the main determinator in the state of democracy is not the market where wants and goods are compensated by value exchange, but is the majority that casts the demands imposed on political bodies. Depending on the extent of majority rule, the demands will be suited only if they suit the political support over the term. The sum effect of majority rule is thus guided by the sources of political power which is close to the oligarchic rule. Thus, in many particular items, democracy is a self-contradiction governed by the seed of collectivism and by the tyranny of the majority rule as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote brilliantly in his work Democracy in America.

2. Interest groups: to gain support, the political rivals compete on getting votes from particular interest groups such as trade unions and agricultural lobbies to receive private interests on behalf of public good. In the free market, demand and supply are matched and taken as given. The ability to meet the market needs of individuals is determined by the freedom of choice, given the total utility impact. In political market, the ability to meet the needs of voters is determined by the concentration of power in the hands of most influential groups and formations in public whom the priority is given. This is another proof that democracy is perhaps the most notable hidden evidence of discrimination since "everyone-is-treated-equally" is rambled by "you-are-treated-equally-if-you-belong-to-majority".

3. Extensive government: Great Britain was free way before it became democratic. A country can be free and prosperous even without being dichotomously democratic. Singapore has a high degree of economic freedom and is treated as politically hybrid regime. Estonia is among the freest economies in Europe and the world, but its grade in democratic performance is likely marked by the label of flawed democracy. On the other hand, Sweden is known as "full democracy" but its 81,3 percent economically free relative to Hong Kong which is known as the economically freest place in the world.

Democracy - a self-contradiction

Democracy is treated as an untouchable dogma which is supposed to be in the interest of all. Failed and falsified as it is, democracy is neither close to liberty nor minimal state. Classical liberalism is based on the grounds of negative liberty of non-interference as well as on the absence of government coercion. Fundamentally, democracy mischiefs the extent of government coercion. Classical liberal/libertarian pursuit always predicts the individual and political action to reduce (or possibly eliminate) the extent of government coercion while the dogma of democracy takes no notice on the extent of government coercion, but only on the action which is governed by the rule of majority.

Democracy - the slavery of positive liberty

That is why government based on the principle of the minimal state, providing only the fundamental general framework of interaction (the-rule-of-law), functions efficiently and contributes a significant share to the future creation wealth in going for growth and prosperity. Minimal government is the best friend of individual initiative accompanied by the degree of being free to choose, live and create.

Read also:
Denis Bider: Robert J. Barro's Democracy and Growth (link),
Libertarec: Socializem ustvarja vojne (Socialism creates wars) (link)
Libertarec: Zgodba o dveh vased (A tale of two villages) (link)
Greg Mankiw: A question for democrats (link)
Robert Nozick: A tale of the slave (link)


mina said...
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mina said...

If you look at the chart, then you can see that the statistical calculation shows that Estonia's only real problem (why Estonia is "flawed democracy) is "political participation". Civil liberties, Electoral process and "Pluralism, Functioning of the government" or Political culture is as high as or even higher than some or the "non-flawed" democracies.

So only problem is that Estonians doesn't like to join political parties or demonstrate...

Making that kind of generalization while using one arithmetic mean that is generalization of many individual factors, leads to inadequate conclusion. And "Estonian arithmetic mean" itself is just below the "democratic/flawed" line.

And a bit more about freedom: “The four countries given the highest religious freedom rating of one are Hungary, Ireland, Estonia, and the United States."

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Rocks said...

In my opinion, Estonia is the most advanced democracy compared to other countries in transition.

In economic terms, Estonia sustained remarkable output growth driven by strong investment which led the economy to operate close to full capacity.

There are few biased inputs in the abovementioned research. One of such flaws is the input which measures the degree of political participation which you mentioned. If someone does not want to join political party or particular interest group, then that is nothing else but a pure decision driven by choice.

If Mickey does not want to be a member of trade union, that's fine, he knows best why he doesn't want to join it and he is nevertheless entitled to be free to choose.

In EIU's Democracy Index, countries on top of the index scored very high political participation. One of such countries is Sweden where nearly 80 percent of the labor force is unionized.

And if such membership is required by external obligations, say by government, then this could hardly be an evidence of government non-interference in voluntary exchange driven by the individual freedom to make the choice.

And this is a democracy's most obvious flaw - coercion which, in this case, determines the score on political participation.

And if a country as Estonia scores lower than "pure (fake) democracies", the statistical outcome is lower overall rank nevertheless.

In fact, such statistical failures, result in the perception of the researchers and readers that Estonia is "flawed democracy" just because the individuals do not want to join particular community groups or political parties despite the fact that Estonia scores much better on all other points than the majority of "full democracies".

Methodologically, the measurement of democracy is very dubuios because the parameters and preferences of democracy measurement are subject to different value perceptions that are entailed into the analysis.

According to The State of World Liberty, Estonia is the freest country in the world, way ahead of European social democracies and it is also economically the fifth freest country in Europe.

And it is not hard to figure out that there is no political liberty, religious freedom and freedom of press/speech without free economy because if you're controlled in free exchange and personally economic agreements, you're then controlled in nearly everything.