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Quotation of the Day…

… is from Tom Palmer’s April 12th, 2005, address (“Challenges of Democratization“) to members of the Iraqi National Assembly as this address appears on page 421 of Tom’s excellent 2009 book, Realizing Freedom:

It is important that the issues to be decided by democratic processes be limited if democracy is to be harmonious and stable. In a stable constitutional democracy many issues are not decided by democratic elections, but are reserved to the free choices of individuals and groups, whose rights are protected by the constitution.

DBx: This crucial insight is increasingly lost in the United States. Democracy does not entail or imply that all decisions be made by majority-rule, or that majorities get to decide which decisions will be made collectively and which will be left to individuals acting outside of politics. Democracy is a means of making a limited number of “collective” decisions in a manner in which each affected person has some say.

And while reasonable people can and do disagree over just where to draw the line separating collective decisions from decisions that are rightly left to non-politicized individuals and groups, failure to recognize the need for such line-drawing – or drawing the line too far in the direction of having an excessively large number of issues decided by voters and their representatives – results in chaos and the tyranny of either majorities or of special-interest groups that thrive under such chaos.

But pick anyone – left, right, or center – who today endorses this and that expansion of government’s discretionary power to superintend and override privately made decisions and you will find someone who is oblivious to the truth conveyed in Tom’s above remark.


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