Guest Post: What Democracy?
by James Miller
A sacred cow is usually defined as that which is regarded as far too valuable or prestigious to even think about altering. Any proposition that comes close to complete abolition is met with astounding ridicule. In the realm of legalized harlotry (politics), careers are made out of defending sacred cows no matter how expensive, socially corroding, or intentionally dishonest they are. Compulsory public education is one of the first to come to mind. The various vote buying schemes that masquerade as a welfare safety net are another. Whenever the political class or its apologists in the media find themselves in a bind trying to validate the government’s latest plot to fill its coffers or grind already-undermined liberties further into the curb, they often resort to evoking the greatest sacred cow of all: democracy.
Starting from the earliest years of basic comprehension, children in the Western world are propagandized into believing that without democracy, society would descend into unlivable chaos. Schools, both public and private, perpetuate the fantasy to millions of forced attendees every year. They are told that the government which has a hand in practically anything they encounter was formed with only the best intentions. In America especially, the representative democracy constructed out of the collective genius of the country’s founding fathers is lauded as a gift to humanity. And though its influence is waning in recent years, the Constitution served as a model for developing nation-states around the globe. Back in 1987, Time magazine estimated that of the 170 countries that existed at the time, “more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”
The Constitution is presented as the miraculous creation of divine individuals when, in fact, it was nothing of the sort. Like any attempt to centralize state power, the Constitution was formed out of the economic desires of its framers. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and Henry Adams weren’t even present at the Philadelphia Convention as it was drafted. Many Americans at the time were suspicious at what ended up being a coup to toss out the decentralized Articles of Confederation in return for an institution powerful enough to be co-opted for the purposes of rent seeking. As Albert Jay Nock noted:
The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d’état.
It had been drafted, in the first place, by men representing special economic interests. Four-fifths of them were public creditors, one-third were land speculators, and one-fifth represented interests in shipping, manufacturing, and merchandising. Most of them were lawyers. Not one of them represented the interest of production
when the Constitution was promulgated, similar economic interests in the several states had laid hold of it and pushed it through to ratification in the state conventions as a minority measure, often — indeed, in the majority of cases — by methods that had obvious intent to defeat the popular will. Moreover, and most disturbing fact of all, the administration of government under the Constitution remained wholly in the hands of the men who had devised the document, or who had been leaders in the movement for ratification in the several states.