While I’m not particularly a fan of any state, as Winston Churchill rightly observed, “Democracy is the worst form of government–except for all the others.” While I’d nitpick a bit and point out that we don’t (and have never had) a democracy–we have a republic with universal suffrage–I’m going to use the terms interchangeably, incorrect though it is. This is because most people think we have a democracy, and I don’t want to confuse them unnecessarily. Because it doesn’t matter the nuances of what they consider “democracy” as much as it matters that, regardless of their definition, it’s being undermined across the world.
Take this recent passage from (I think) the Guardian:
The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago.
A country where the government can dismiss elected officials on a whim is hardly a democracy, or even a democratic republic. The people of a given territorial area, if they have a government, are indisputably the ones in control of their government. It doesn’t matter whether a group of people whose lives are not vested in that area don’t much care for how the people in that area direct their government–the people of Barcelona don’t govern the Catalans; the Catalans govern the Catalans. The politicians in Madrid don’t govern Catalonia; the Catalan politicians govern Catalonia.
We should be as appalled and disgusted by the efforts of Madrid to govern Catalonia from a distance as we are when we look back on the imperialism of the British in India, because there is no difference except that the imperialized territory happens to be closer to the central government that denies them the exercise of their right to self-governance. Instead, we’ve found alarming condemnation of the Catalans right to independence from the same people who have generally been the loudest voices of anti-imperialist sentiments: the modern left.
That a people have the right to choose their government, to abolish existing political ties, and to eject foreign powers from their soil is washed away in a tide of addiction to political power. We see this addiction in the United States, as well, with the regular shift of power from Republicans and Democrats that precede a series of power abuses from one side of the aisle to the other. At any time after seizing power, either one could end the cycle of abuses, but they don’t. Democrats abuse Republicans, and are unable to see their actions as abuse, and are so vengeful upon seizing power, after suffering similar abuses by Republicans that Republicans also do not recognize as abuses, that they immediately do everything possible to use the power structure that had done them wrong mere months before, instead of dismantling it.
It’s difficult to explain this behavior. It’s very much like a marriage where the partners beat each order and periodically take turns on who is the abuser and who is the victim. When one has the upper hand as the abuser, it would be a simple matter for them to declare “No more hitting” (a rule that, for the sake of our analogy, would be obeyed). However, rather than taking that obvious measure, the abuser instead uses their momentum to pay back the other for their own abuses.
It would even be fair to say, “These lunatics deserve each other,” were it not for the spillover of their fighting, reminiscent of an Andy Capp-style scuffle that catches up innocent bystanders.
As indictments loom over the anti-Russian hysteria, it’s worth remembering that the charge, as I pointed out last night on The Call to Freedom, is not that Russians influenced the election. The accusation is that Russians influenced voters. The difference is supremely important: as I’ve pointed out before, what factors a particular voter uses when making their decision is no one’s concern but their own. Whether the person votes for Trump because Russians influenced him, because his dog told him to, because Trump had an R next to his name, because he thinks Hillary is “the devil in a pantsuit,” or because of some other reason, it’s nothing to us. That person has the unalienable right to vote based on whatever facts, emotions, and lies they want.
It’s not stated so bluntly, of course. The assertion is always that Russians “influenced the election.” This statement should be challenged any time it is said. It’s a lie and a euphemism. The contention is actually that Russians influenced voters, which caused the voters to vote in a way the speaker doesn’t like for reasons the speaker disapproves of. This should never be allowed to stand uncontested. Even if all allegations are true, the argument is that Russians influenced voters, and voters then influenced the election (by voting).
It’s an insidious way of challenging the legitimacy of the election by discarding whatever votes the person thinks were cast for reasons they don’t like. At the end of the day, the argument is that “If you are influenced by Russians, your vote shouldn’t count.” It shouldn’t be necessary to stop to point out this horrific violation of universal suffrage. It would also be amusing coming from the Democrat Party if it wasn’t so dangerous. I’d venture the statement that I haven’t seen such widespread attempts to undermine democracy, now that it has produced results that one side doesn’t like, in my life. We now effectively have a checklist of Legitimate Reasons You Can Vote For Non-Democrats, and anyone who has spent much time around Democrats knows there is no such thing as a legitimate reason to not vote for them. This is a blind spot Republicans also have, though they decry democrats’ reasons as illegitimate in different ways.
Let’s return to the bizarre continuation of events in Catalonia:
Violence has broken out on the streets of Barcelona as Nazi-saluting fascists draped in Spanish flags clashed with Catalan police wielding batons. Spanish officials organised a unionist march through central Barcelona today in which they claimed more than a million people took part to resoundingly reject Catalonia’s declaration of independence.
More thwarting of democracy, as more than a million people failed to grasp the basic idea that they don’t get to rule over Catalonia with all the subtlety of the British Empire in India. In fact, to demonstrate the horror of this position, let’s swap a few words.
Violence has broken out on the streets of London as Nazi-saluting fascists draped in British flags clashed with Catalan police wielding batons. British officials organised a unionist march through central London today in which they claimed more than a million people took part to resoundingly reject India’s declaration of independence.
There’s no way around that, though if the imagery of Nazis taking the side of the Spanish government to continue this imperialist governance from a distance isn’t clear enough, then it’s unlikely that parallels to the British Empire in India (especially after Catalan officials called for peaceful resistance–like Mohandas himself resisted British imperialism, in fact) will make it clear. The truth, however, is that even though the modern left in the United States has been successful in the public eye at presenting itself opposed to fascism, powerful central governments and state supremacy, even if that means dismissing elected officials (like another Nazi did…), are the key components of fascism. It is a shock to no libertarian that the modern left has found itself on the same side as Nazis, resisting self-governance, thwarting democracy, and attempting to impose colonial rule on who they consider to be subjects.
It’s conjectural on my part to say that the modern left is vehemently anti-independence, at least in regard to Catalonia, though they seemingly don’t mind invoking the sentiment when it’s their own independence and “right to not be ruled by a government with which they disagree,” such as with the Californian secession talk. They were opposed to Brexit, after all, and made the claim that Brexit advocates were motivated by xenophobia and, thus, their votes weren’t as valuable as Remain votes.
That seems to be an underlying thread–that a vote’s value is determined by the reasons for which it was cast. How valueless the vote becomes varies from one person to the next, but I’d venture the guess that most modern leftists would say that your vote should be thrown out if you voted for Trump simply because he’s white. We should never allow the mindset that a vote derives its value not from being cast but from the reasons for which it was cast to propagate, but it appears to be too late–there are already millions who say that Trump’s victory is illegitimate because racists voted for him, and that Catalonia’s independence vote is illegitimate because the other side stupidly opted not to vote, and therefore the votes cast shouldn’t count.
As I pointed out in the linked article, this is yet another method of thwarting democracy, by conscripting the uninterested and apathetic into the ranks of the “No” camp, shifting the focus away from the actual vote results and instead onto voter turnout. With the apathetic added to their numbers, those on the “No” side who refuse to vote (because they don’t want “Yes” to win, remarkably) outnumber the “Yes” votes. In this way, Yes Votes don’t merely have to outnumber the No Votes; they must also outnumber the apathetic, the No Votes, and the No supporters who hid among the apathetic to mask their actual support level. It raises the bar so high (by automatically adding at least 20% of the population to their side) that it’s nearly impossible for Yes to have legitimacy by those standards. Considering that votes are not often landslides and are most often split around 45-45, it is obvious that adding 20 to one of those makes it almost insurmountable in any realistic terms.
The initially posted quote has the brazen audacity to describe Spain as a democracy in the very same paragraph where it talks of a central government dismissing elected officials. It is well known that Spain intends to send police and officials to replace the elected Catalan government. “Democracy.”
Not for Catalonia, clearly. The absurdity is highlighted by calling India a democracy because the parliament of the British Empire was elected democratically. Imagine the British Empire dismissing Mohandas (or whoever was in charge at the time they began calling for independence) and Indian officials, and then people having the ignorant nerve to refer to India as “a democracy” in those tyrannical conditions.
Independence and secession attempts are never recognized as valid by the ruling powers, or by its flunkies. Even as such people recognize that the American colonies, India, and South Korea had the right to independence, they fiercely rebuke Catalonia’s calls for independence. And as someone reminded me on my last article, the independence attempts of the southern states were also rejected. This led to the War For Southern Independence (then, as now, the reasons for independence were dismissed as racist, disregarding the many other grievances), which the secessionists lost. As a result, it was determined, in flagrant violation of the foundation of the very nation that crushed the independence attempt, that states do not have the right to independence. Despite the bulk of Americans saying today the the south didn’t have the right to independence, and that California doesn’t (and, naturally, there are those who say the south didn’t have the right, but California does), they recognize the legitimacy of India’s independence, and the United States’ independence from the UK.
What scares me most is the possibility that the American left’s attempts to thwart democracy will be successful, that Trump and Pence will be removed, and that they’ll do some kind of tyrannical thing to install a Democrat as president. This isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. It’s happened many times in history, and there’s no reason to believe the United States is immune. Such a turn of events would give political parties the ability to use political power (instead of votes) to remove people in another political party from office, setting up an actual tyranny.
It’s not that I like democracy or Democratic republics. I don’t. However, I certainly prefer them to unilateral despotism by a powerful political party that decides to remove elected officials from office over reasons that are basically fabricated and that, even if true, ultimately boil down to nothing more than “We don’t recognize the validity of your votes because we don’t recognize the legitimacy of your reasons.”
That being the case, I really think the Democratic Party should change their name. Republicans, too, but at least they aren’t quite as extremely unrepublican as Democrats are undemocratic.
Regardless, the question of our era is no different from ages past: “Who do we want to be?”
While we can certainly answer that question by hungrily proclaiming “Tyrants!” and using a democratic majority to seize total and unrelenting control of the political process, to rule barbarically over others, it wouldn’t be advisable, and I would bet my Litecoin that no ordinary reader finds that idea palatable. So why do we see so much of it? Why are people who consider themselves morally superior and righteous so giddily asserting that India has no right to declare independence from the British Empire?
Just behold the very first passage I quoted from a “reputable” news source. There’s no self-awareness at all, and no critical thinking. It is obvious that dismissing elected officials and sending in authorities to reassert control is antithetical to democracy; it is a violation of democracy every bit as much as Hitler’s (who was elected democratically) dismissal of the German Parliament. It is similarly obvious that removing Trump for things that aren’t in any sense an actual problem is the same sort of violation (As I’ve grown fond of asking, even if Trump and Putin meet up once a month to have sex, why is that a problem?).
If the modern left wants to demolish democracy (and the modern right would, too, if it was convenient for them; it’s simply not convenient for them right now), they should be honest about it. Stop calling this tyranny “democracy.” It blatantly isn’t democracy. Discarding the will of the voters, challenging the legitimacy of voters’ reasons, imposing rule from a far, violating the tenet of self-governance, and a McCarthyist witch hunt over Dem Russians! are directly counter to democracy.
As a method of allowing the people of a territory to quantify their will and enact it collectively, the Democratic Republic is the least evil. That is why I defend it. I’d similarly prefer not to be murdered, but if it’s going to happen, I’d prefer it to be a gunshot to the head, not some slow and torturous death. I’d like to have no state at all (and work toward that), but if we’re going to have a state, then it should be the least destructive and least tyrannical. This is the Constitutional Democratic Republic.
And it’s under attack by tyranny and fascism.