A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for the candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies, always followed by a dictatorship. — Macaulay [or the ‘Tytler Calumny‘ (thanks Matt)]
From the Urban Dictionary, Democracy:
1) A common system of government directed by the whims of mobs and marked by a low tolerance for basic human rights and common sense; primarily used to incrementally transition a government ruled by common law (Republic) to a government ruled by the political law of a few elite (Oligarchy).
As the slide continues, the perennial understanding of anti-demotic statecraft (and initiatory insight of the new reaction) appears to be going mainstream. Alex Berezow writes at Realclearworld‘s The Compass blog:
It’s been a rough few years for democracy. Despite that, Westerners always seem to assume that the most highly evolved form of government is democratic. The trouble with that notion is that, at some point, a majority of voters realize they can vote for politicians who promise them the most stuff, regardless of whether or not it is good policy or financially sustainable. And once that occurs, the country is (perhaps irreversibly) on a pathway to decline.
Whilst glibly insubstantial by Moldbug standards (of course), the article never retracts this initial premiss, and concludes with the suggestion that the whole world could profitably learn arts of democracy inhibition from China. Interesting times.
[Note: the two articles immediately below Berezow’s at the RCW site are ‘Is Cameron’s EU Strategy Unraveling?’ (by Benedict Brogan) and ‘Libya Is Still Unraveling’ (by Max Boot) — just noticed (consciously). Contemporary news: all unraveling, all the time.]
Will the ‘post-democratic world’ have a clear principle of political legitimacy? The most elegant, by far, would be the introduction of commutativity to the slogan of Anglosphere colonial rebellion: ‘No taxation without representation.’
No representation without taxation restricts legitimacy to those regimes in which those who fund government determine its structure, scope, and policy, in direct proportion to their contribution. The improvements that would result from this integration of the State’s fiscal and electoral feedback circuits are too profound and numerous to readily outline, but they can be summarized in a single expectation: radical, irreversible, and continuous shift to the right.
Among the most obvious anticipated objections:
(1) It’s impractical (Oh yes, only horrors are practical)
(2) It’s unjust (For soldiers and cops, perhaps, but the deleterious effects of complication outweigh the benefits of moral nuance)
(3) In the West, at least, Brahmin plutocrats would undo it at the first opportunity (A sadly plausible prediction — perhaps no Abrahamic culture is capable of supporting a sane social order, and will always choose to resolve policing problems through expansion of the franchise.)
Granting all of these objections, and more, the principle of commutative tax-politics still provides one very valuable service: it explains what went wrong. Representational hypertrophy destroyed the modern constitutional order, based on a one-sided interpretation of the demand that government be made accountable for its exactions. Balance (commutativity) might well be unobtainable, but it isn’t difficult to understand what it would be.