Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 6, 2015

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics

… is from page 215 of the 1997 Johns Hopkins University Press edition of H.L. Mencken’s indispensable 1956 collection, Minority Report:

The plain fact is that government is always an imposition.  It represents in the last analysis a conquest, and when that conquest is made with ballots they are no more than surrogates for bullets, for as someone has truly said, voting is simply a way of determining which side is stronger without putting it to the test of fighting.

Yep.  Majoritarian voting serves to determine which conflicting groups are, at the moment, the strongest.  And so for this reason, and for many others, it is absurd to regard the casting of ballots in a political election as a means of revealing “the” will or desires of “the” people – at least in any way that is remotely analogous to how the making of private choices by an individual reveals that individual’s will or desires.

Casting ballots – being less violent than shooting bullets – is a less morally objectionable ways for the strong to conquer and subdue the weak.  But do not lose sight of the fact that if losing minorities resist the demands of winning majorities, the latter – or, more realistically, those who act as agents for the latter – will not hesitate to load real guns with real bullets in order to force the losers to obey the winners’ commands.

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