In America, “democracy” or “democratic” are among the most common words used to justify or endorse positions or policies. “Democratic” is attached as an adjective whenever something is considered good politically (e.g., “our democratic way of life”), and “undemocratic” is attached to things being criticized (including almost everything that represents a loss for just about anyone).
Americans are constantly told we must fight for democracy. Leading up to elections, politicians extol the democratically-expressed wisdom of the electorate they hope to represent (that those elected often then ignore or overturn). We are told that the American Revolution was for democracy, that people have died for our democratic right to vote, that each vote was crucial, that if you don’t vote, you don’t care about America, and so on. We even hear proposals to replace the Electoral College because it isn’t democratic enough.
Such rhetoric ignores the fact that democracy can destroy liberty as well as preserve it. For a minor example, ask, “Would I have more or less liberty if a majority vote picked my clothes each morning and my dinner each night?” More importantly, ask, “Would I have more or less liberty if that was how my religion, my spouse, or my job was chosen, or how my take-home pay was determined?”
Currently, the “democratic” equals “I approve” approach has turned into a cottage industry about how America and the world face massive threats to our democracy. Good examples are President Biden’s statement that “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it,” and his “Summit on Democracy” (ignoring the irony of how many things his administration has imposed or tried to impose against the wishes of most Americans). It is also illustrated by a Google search that turned up over 4.5 million hits for “threat to democracy.”
Unfortunately, while democratically determining who will be entrusted with the reins of government may generally be the best hope to enable governments to change without bloodshed (although the precedent set by John Adams’ acceptance of electoral defeat at the hands of Thomas Jefferson is also a critical American precedent), democracy is not America’s core. Liberty is.
Democracy, from America’s Founding on, has been important only insofar as it served and defended liberty. You cannot take seriously our Founders’ words without coming to that conclusion (e.g., George Washington’s statement that “Your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty…the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other”). It is why we have the Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights. After all, if whatever the majority decided “democratically” at a given time were always to be law, there would be no purpose in restrictions that explicitly put certain rights against government impositions beyond majority determination. It is also why Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that liberty, not democracy, was the central reason for our country’s greatness in “Democracy in America.”
Today, however, many fail to recognize liberty’s primacy over democracy, and the lessons history teaches us about losing liberty despite, or sometimes because of, democracy. That makes it important to refocus attention on that central issue that gets so little attention in policy discussions.
The equation of democracy with liberty fails to distinguish between two quite different things. One is whether there is excessive power in government hands. The other is how those who will administer the government will be selected. Of crucial importance is that electing those who will wield excessive power does not eliminate, or even necessarily reduce, the threats such power poses to citizens the government is supposed to protect. After all, the test of dominant preference looks a lot like “might makes right,” which stands in sharp contrast with liberty. Or as James Bovard put it, “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” Democratic determination also means that the wishes of those who are in the minority on any issue are irrelevant to the outcome, rather than providing any significant voice in a result they will be forced to accept. Since all of us are in the minority on some issues, that is hardly an ideal to aim for.
“Consider…all the acts of all the units of government for one day. How many among them were the proper functions of a liberal government…in how many instances did you have any opportunity or right to participate in the decision; if you disagreed with the decision, in how many instances was there anything that you could do about it?…Your ‘liberty’ in the process is that you enjoy the right to be forced to bow to the dictates of others, against your wisdom and conscience…the direct opposite of liberty.”
Harper also recognized what is now driving an increasing wedge between democracy and liberty. We must remember that: “Government of even the best design should be used only where, in the interests of liberty, it becomes necessary to arrive at a singleness in pattern of conduct.” When we need not all agree about our desires and the trade-offs we are willing to make — which is true for the vast majority of choices — liberty is the best democracy, in that each individual’s choices matter. Substituting political democracy for economic democracy, when we need not agree on what to do, gives each of us less liberty in our lives (which is why federalism and freedom tend to increase or decrease together).
America is already far beyond what can be justified as advancing our mutual well-being. And our government seems determined to double down on how far it oversteps, a strategy which necessarily shrinks liberty and the benefits only liberty can provide. That makes it worth noting that a maximum of democracy means a minimum of reliable protection for citizens’ rights, which in turn means a minimum of liberty. If we thought carefully about that, “democracy” would no longer be the go-to word for good in politics, and liberty might get more attention.
Dr. Gary Galles is a Pepperdine University economics professor. His books include “Pathways to Policy Failure” and “Apostle of Peace.”
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on the American Institute for Economic Research.
Justin Trudeau Crosses The Rubicon And Reveals The End Stage Of Fake “Liberal Democracy”
February 22, 2022
One year ago, the Globalist American Empire flexed its muscle by more or less politically castrating the sitting US president while he was still in office. They banned President Trump from every social media service of note, shut down his email list, crushed entire websites like Parler, banned thousands of rank-and-file Trump supporters and linked groups from Twitter and Facebook, and turned reams of data over to Deep State law enforcement so as to enable “the largest manhunt in American history.”
It was an incredible overreach. At the time, it felt difficult to imagine what could come after. Mass deplatformings, undisguised censorship, the calculated destruction of an entire political faction and any companies seen as enabling it. What more, realistically, could they do?
A lot more, it turns out, and Justin Trudeau is pointing the way. Four days after granting himself emergency powers in response to the trucker protest against vaccine mandates, Trudeau sent in police to smash the protest. Along with the physical escalation of its crackdown, the Trudeau regime also used its emergency powers to freeze the bank accounts of anyone lending financial support to the Trucker Convoy.
But the “emergency” part of the response has already been exposed as a lie. Refusing to let a crisis go to waste, the Trudeau regime is now racing to make its “emergency” powers permanent.
Not only that, but the Trudeau government is also mulling a bill that would let people be sued or criminally charged for thought crimes. Incredibly, the bill would allow people to be targeted for allegedly “contemplating” a “hateful” act or statement.
On February 14th Mr Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in the law’s 34-year history.
Mr Trudeau’s government has expressed shock that racist symbols were displayed during the protest. It appears to be planning to reintroduce an “anti-hate” bill that could lead to the imprisonment of people who use racist speech. This could include a clause which would allow individuals to take other people to court if they fear that they may be about to say something which falls under the definition of “hate propaganda”. They could also be charged for contemplating an offence “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor”.
If you feel North America’s two great Anglo “democracies” have taken a dark, decisive turn in the last few weeks, you aren’t alone and you aren’t mistaken. The Globalist American Empire is crumbling, and as it crumbles it also trembles, shrieks, and lashes out. As Western nations abandon even the pretense of being free-societies, our corrupt ruling class will ever-more enthusiastically embrace the naked language of compulsion, intimidation, and force.
The way Trudeau treated the Trucker Convoy, you’d think they were violent arsonists or deadly killers. Police smashed up vehicles:
Officers arrested citizen journalists for recording events:
By mid-afternoon Friday, at least seventy people had been arrested just in Ottawa.
During the three weeks of trucker protests, Trudeau and his allies smeared participants as racists motivated by “hate,” with an agenda of “antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, homophobia, and transphobia.” Truckers were accused of “threats” and “violence.” These calumnies were obvious lies.
If there was ever a “peaceful protest,” the trucker occupation of Ottawa certainly qualified. The most damning fact that The New York Times can muster against the truckers after more than two weeks of protesting is that, “during the first 11 days of the protest, truck horns blasted up to 16 hours a day, and some residents say they have been harassed on the street.” In reality, there was only honking for the first 11 hours of the protest because the truckers ceased when a judge ordered them to.
That was the extent of the trucker protest. Some residents in one of Canada’s richest, most privileged neighborhoods in the Imperial Capital heard a lot of honking for less than two weeks, roads were clogged up and a few people were allegedly harassed. Ottawa businesses didn’t even bother boarding up their windows, because why would they? Nobody expected any real chaotic violence from the protesters. In fact, the protest was so peaceful that street crime in Ottawa actually fell during the protests.
Compare this to the damage created by the BLM protests, which Trudeau supported:
Even today, BLM is celebrated and well-funded. In contrast, the Regime responds to the Trucker Convoy movement with a declaration of total war. Despite being entirely peaceful in its conduct and restrained in their demands, Trudeau crushed the convoy physically and banned protest leaders from doing so much as speaking in support of the cause. But perhaps most sinister of all is how banks, media, and (perhaps?) even the intelligence services were collectively enlisted to make even the most marginal financial supporter of the truckers entirely beyond the pale.
Just as Trudeau was announcing his new emergency powers, the “whistleblower” group Direct Denial of Secrets (DDoS) announced it had obtained a full list of all donors to the trucker convoys on GiveSendGo. The Antifa hacker group immediately shared the information with press outlets. The press itself soon played its part, directly contacting many on the donor lists and making it clear they could dox anybody they wished if they felt like it. You don’t want to end up like this café owner, do you?
It gets even more sinister. In 2020, the Trump Department of Homeland Security claimed that DDoS is a “criminal hacker group.” Despite that, it enjoys IRS non-profit status. DDoS’s high-profile hacks have, almost without exception, targeted domestic dissidents against the regime, or its international enemies, rather than the regime itself. Besides doxing every GiveSendGo donor, DDoS’s other targets include Gab, Parler, local police departments, Russia, Myanmar, and right-wing chat groups online.
So much for speaking truth to power. By all accounts, DDoS speaks power to truth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, DDoS’s leader is the “chronically ill” “they/she” transgender freak show Emma Best.
DDoS almost certainly works hand in hand with serious criminals, if it is not an outright criminal organization itself. Yet nobody is shutting down financial support for DDoS or seizing its assets. While Julian Assange awaits trial and, in all likelihood, life in prison for embarrassing the security state and the Hillary Clinton campaign, “Emma” Best (they/she) faces no serious efforts to stop his activities whatsoever. And why would he? He is among the most heroic tranissaries rendering an invaluable service to the Globalist American Empire.
The right to protest, publicly, is enshrined as a sacred privilege and marker of democracy. When the US backed the overthrow of Ukraine’s government in 2014, it was because President Viktor Yanukovych allegedly used force against “peaceful protesters” (in fact, they were not peaceful; they killed several police officers). The American Regime used the Chinese government’s use of force against “mostly peaceful” protesters in Hong Kong to justify more moral grandstanding. If a trucker protest just like the one in Canada had been suppressed and criminalized like those in Minsk, or Moscow, or Tehran, the State Department and US regime press would shriek about totalitarianism.
Now, the hypocrisy is too naked and blatant to ignore. The Canadian crackdown is a decisive “mask off” moment for the class obsessed with masks.
A similar “mask-off” moment is unfolding in America. Last week, the Biden Administration’s “intelligence officials” smeared Zero Hedge as a Russian intelligence operation for publishing articles critical of US foreign policy. A week before that, the administration claimed that dissident views on Covid-19 policies contribute to domestic terrorism. In the US client state of Ukraine, the mass banning of Russian-language TV stations is characterized as a “gift” to the Biden administration. Even MyPillow founder Mike Lindell is getting a Canada-style debanking because of his political activism.
Still, what is most interesting about the Canada development is not how evil it is, but how overt. Western governments seem to be abandoning even the pretense of existing as free societies. Even the press is admitting it.
The good news is, it’s unclear how well this will work. The pretense of being a free society is central to the self-perception of Americans and Westernerns more generally. If a government shorn of moral legitimacy decides to rule by force instead, it is unclear that it will have the persuasive or coercive tools to make the change stick.
A year ago, in the early days of the Biden Administration, Revolver warned about America’s rapidly crumbling moral authority in a piece entitled, “With Zero Moral Authority Left, The Globalist American Empire is Doomed to Fail at Home and Abroad”:
In China, people tend to defer to state authority so long as the state is performing competently. There is no psychological need for the Chinese to think of their nation in “moral terms” as a “free society” that respects “human rights.” For better or worse, things are different in America. Being a “free society” is just as must an essential part of American self-identity as being a “global superpower.” America’s decline from global superpower status and its transition from a nation that at least pretends to be a free society to a more transparent and overt totalitarianism are mutually reinforcing tendencies that could strain the very special preconditions for American patriotism as we know it.
It is far from clear that the American regime can complete this transition without dire consequences with respect to its standing globally, and to its own citizens right here at home. Patriots of all stripes should not view this as a consolation prize, but as a great opportunity.
That opportunity is now greater than ever before. The Globalist American Empire was low on legitimacy a year ago. Today, it is scraping the bottom of the barrel. It cannot win wars. It cannot prevent crime; in fact, it encourages it. It cannot keep shelves stocked or even consistently keep the lights on. It nakedly dispenses with bedrock American rights like freedom of association, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and equality under the law. It makes a mockery of the “democracy” it claims the sole right to represent. It shuts down your bank account while shrieking of “racism,” “homophobia,” and “fascism.”
And now, it fears being called out. The authorities in Canada lashed out because they were genuinely afraid. As Substack writer N.S. Lyons noted last week in a piece analyzing the clash between the Physicals and the Virtuals (those who engage in real-world economic activity versus those who use laptops):
When the truckers rolled their big rigs, which weigh about 35,000 pounds, up to the political elite’s doorstep, engaged their parking breaks (or removed their wheels entirely), and refused to leave until their concerns were addressed, this was like dropping a very solid boulder of reality in the Virtuals’ front lawn and daring them to remove it without assistance. And because the Virtuals do not yet actually have the Jedi powers to move things with their minds, the truckers effectively called their bluff on who ultimately has control over the world.
To many of the Virtuals, this is existentially frightening. [The Upheaval]
This is the key weakness of the Globalist American Empire: Its most zealous adherents are not able to maintain the society they rule over. Though members of the “thinking class,” they are actually bereft of meaningful hard skills. They do not build roads, keep the lights on, or grow food, and if suddenly tasked with doing so they would be in a near-hopeless position. A handful of truckers getting uppity put their backs to the wall. A more meaningful, widespread general strike by even a few hundred thousand workers would immediately render their regime helpless. That is why they must threaten even the slightest deviation with maximum force, with threats to seize protesters’ entire life savings without due process.
With its hysterical reactions against all dissent, the Globalist American Empire prepares the way for its own doom. The Empire has no clothes. As it claims more power than ever, it is in fact closer than ever to losing it all.
What The Bible Says About Liberty
LIBERTY (דְּרﯴר֙, H2002, a flowing, liberty, חֻפְשָׁה, H2928, freedom, חָפְשִׁי, H2930, free, רַ֫חַב, H8144, wide, broad; ἐλευθερία, G1800, a freedom, liberty, ἐλευθερόω, G1802, free, set free.) That condition or reference to a condition the opposite of slavery or forced subjection whether physically, materially, or spiritually.
In the OT the concept of liberty is used basically to refer to the physical freedom of slaves. Thus, derōr is used in Leviticus 25:10 for proclaiming liberty for Heb. slaves in the fiftieth year of Jubilee (cf. Ezek 46:17), and in Jeremiah 34:8, 9, 14, 15, 17 this liberty is to be granted to slaves in the seventh sabbatical year.
Hebrew hopšî is used also to indicate liberty granted to Heb. bondslaves in the seventh year (Exod 21:2, 5; Deut 15:12, 13, 18) and liberty to a male or female slave because of an injury inflicted by a master (Exod 21:26, 27). Job 3:19 speaks of a slave’s freedom from his master after death, and in a more general sense the oppressed are spoken of as being set free (Isa 58:6). The psalmist laments that he is “like one forsaken among the dead” in the sense of being cut off from God’s remembrance (Ps 88:5). In the area of material liberty hopsî speaks of freedom from taxes and other types of obligations (1 Sam 17:25).
In one instance the Heb. rāhāb speaks fig. of the psalmist’s freedom in living a godly life since he has sought the Lord’s precepts (Ps 119:45); and in another derōr is used prophetically to describe a part of the Messiah’s spiritual ministry of salvation as He will “proclaim liberty to the captives” (Isa 61:1; cf. Luke 4:16-21).
In the NT there is reference to the physically free, as opposed to the slave (1 Cor 7:21, 22), where the Christian who has his political and social freedom is enslaved to Christ and the Christian slave is free in Christ. Galatians 3:28 teaches that with all other groups free men are united to Christ.
The NT lays greater stress on spiritual liberty, with the one through whom spiritual freedom is obtained being clearly set forth. Christ’s interpretation of Isaiah 61:1 makes clear that He as the promised Messiah will bring to sinners deliverance from sin. The Gr. here is ἄφεσις, G912, (Luke 4:16-21). Galatians 5:1 amplifies this. Compare also Romans 6:18 where the Christian is declared freed from the slavery of sin by Christ’s death. In John 8:32, 36 Christ and His word of truth are set forth as the means by which the sinner is really made free. Romans 8:2 teaches that the authority of the life-giving Holy Spirit has made the sinner free from the authority of sin, and it is this same Spirit who frees men so that they may know the Lord and His Word (2 Cor 3:1-17).
Having been liberated by Christ from the penalty of sin, the Christian is challenged to employ this liberty properly in Christian living. He is not to use it as an excuse to satisfy unchristian sinful desires but he is by love to serve others (Gal 5:13; cf. vv. 19). The world should see that the believer’s freedom in Christ does not result in sin; it issues in good works (1 Pet 2:15, 16). The Christian is to consider the conscience of another in his use of Christian liberty (1 Cor 10:29). A divine means by which the believer’s life is influenced to godly living is the perfect law of liberty, the Word of God (James 1:25; 2:12).
2 Peter 2:19 suggests that a false freedom can lead to corruption and bondage.
Finally, at the Second Coming of Christ the Christians will be given a glorious freedom from the effects of sin (Rom 8:21).
Bibliography J. E. Frame, “Paul’s Idea of Deliverance,” JBL IXL (1930), 1-12.
God’s Not Dead: We The People (Official Trailer)