If democracy would be a true tyranny of the majority, it would not be so bad.
The problem is in the definition of “majority”. The original concept of modern democracy assumes that all those who can vote, will vote. However in reality, a large portion of the population don’t even bother to vote and so they are not represented. Democracy ceases to represent the majority and represents only itself. It has lost its right to be considered valid. This is so because sovereignty rights now begin to travel backwards, from a majority to an oligarchy.
Typically, about 50% of people that could vote do not bother voting. In many countries, this number is even higher. This means that they are not represented in the democracy and therefore the voting 50% decides for them.
In addition, the required votes to generate a political win for party is usually determined using the first past the post type of method. Whoever of the candidates receives the most votes wins, even if it’s by one vote only.
In a typical multi-party election this means that in order to win, a politician needs to accumulate about 20% of all the possible votes.
If you now add the percentage of all the people that cannot vote for whatever reason including “children” of 16 or 15 years which are old enough to drive a car but have no voting rights whatsoever, the actual percentage of the people that determine political power in a country it is usually in the order of 10% or less.
Let us state this again. In a typical country, 10% of all the people that can vote determine who wins an election.
Think about this. The democratic system is supposed to be a system where the majority rules. However, what we end up with is a system where 10% of the population dictates what the other 90% of the population must do.
This is patently ridiculous!
BACK TO OLIGARCHY
We grant that democracy is a step forward from oligarchy, but it is not such a great step forward because it is broken and cannot be repaired.
Now also factor in the fact that most political parties do whatever they want to do, or more specifically, politicians do whatever they want to do. There is a total, complete and utter disconnection from what the voters want and what politicians actually do. We have explained this in our lessons Who Watches the Watchers and Why Democracies Fail, so we won’t repeat ourselves. Even this is hardly necessary. You feel it every day. You know it is true. You can’t get anything out of a politician. It’s like talking to a supreme alien being.
When all those factors are taken into consideration, there is only one possible conclusion we can reach. We are in the same position as other people were before when kings and oligarchies ruled. The only difference today is that titles have changed but the powers remain the same. A king is now called a president or a prime minister. Members of the royal hierarchy of noble people are now called senators, members of the parliament or representatives. Names are irrelevant. They all exert the same power over you as those preceding them. They carry with them all the human flaws that they had in the past and still have. Nothing much has changed.
FORMALITY AND REALITY
What this all means is that nominally and formally speaking, democracy it is a better system than oligarchy because the majority rule is better that the rule of a small group making decisions for everybody. However, in reality it is the same thing.
We moved forward from absolute leadership to an oligarchical system to the tyranny of the majority and then backwards to another oligarchical system, which is marginally better. This is so, because even in the best-case scenario only 10% of the population elects the government, which is somewhat permeable or malleable to peoples’ wishes. In a worst-case scenario (which is the most common one) governments are elected by powers and independent from the people. So yes, it is a step forward but a tiny one.
The point we are making is that in a democracy you are under a tyranny of an oligarchy, which some people calls the tyranny of the majority.
Except that this is not true because as we have seen in either scenario, the majority is not ruling anything.
Realistically speaking we cannot expect to rid ourselves of all powers that decide our life for us and to which we have no input. We wish there would be some magical way to accomplish this, but it is simply not possible.
You are powerless to control your own life. This is a fact. This is the situation today and humankind won’t be able to get rid of this system overnight. We have the reasons in the lesson Political Systems Lifecycle.
Political systems evolve slowly and they transition from one political system to another one that has some similarities to the previous one. Therefore, if all the previous political systems where tyrannical in some fashion a new political system, even an Austro-Libertarian one, will also be tyrannical in some way.
This is unavoidable. However, having said that, if you look at the lesson The Law of Political Systems Direction you will notice that as you move from one political system to the next one things do improve. This is precisely why we are Absolute Austro-Libertarians because we’re going in the right direction.
We are not saying that our system is wonderful and will bring everlasting happiness, absolute freedom and peace to everybody on the planet. Of course not. It is a flawed system simply because it is a model of reality, but it is a far better system than democracy.
In an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system, there will be other tyrannies. We will be under the tyranny of many, but those tyrannies will have a much lesser impact on our lives because those tyrannies would simply be commercial enterprises.
This sounds much worse than it is in reality. Consider that there is a direct way in which you can limit the damage that those enterprises can inflict on you. This is simply by contract. You know what you’re signing on to and you do understand the terms and conditions you are agreeing to. If you don’t like those terms and conditions you don’t sign a contract with a given company. It is that simple. The power is in your hands. There is no intermediary between you and the company. You control what you do and how you do it, and nobody else. You either contract or not. Nobody can impose anything on you.
Because the ownership of your property is absolute, no company can impose anything on you. On the same manner, you cannot impose anything on a company. This creates a plain level field. Everybody must follow the same rules. There is no government cheating in the background. It is fully your decision.
The bottom line is that in the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system everything tends to be decided by mutual agreement. This is a gigantic step forward from where we are today.
If you look at what governments are doing nowadays, you will notice that they are increasing their power and impact on everything that you, I, and everybody else do and think. They are increasingly adding more restrictions on what we can do with our properties, which is ridiculous because they don’t even have the right to do so. Literally. They don’t have the right. Just remember that a government has no rights by itself. They only may have privileges that we defer onto them. If we take those privileges away, they have nothing. Of course, this tiny little fact has never stopped them. Why would it? They have brute force on their side. Just like absolute kings and oligarchs.
At the end of the day, it is not possible to get rid altogether of the tyrannical element in a human political system. This is simply because we interact with other people and so we are dependent from other people. Because other people have different points of view and different goals that we have, there will always be somebody trying to impose something on us.
The key element of the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system is that people may try impositions on you, but they cannot be successful without your voluntary agreement. Meanwhile in a democracy that is exactly what they do. They impose rules on us against our will all the time.
The moral of this lesson is simply that tyrannies will always exist. The trick is to move forward from one political system to another, always increasing freedom and decreasing tyranny.
There will always be people around to game the system, to think beyond the system. This is simply the nature of human beings and it is fine. It is called progress. Eventually, any Austro-Libertarian system will fail as expected. It is only a model and it only and represents our best guess as to what we can do today to increase freedom and prosperity at the same time. We look forward to a better system that will come after the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system.
However, for as long as we are physical beings depending on scarce physical resources, the tyranny of the Absolute Austro-Libertarian system is our best option.
In the end, it’s your choice. You can choose higher freedom or you can choose to remain shackled to the whims of 10% of the population. It’s your choice.
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.