The Threat to Democracy

Supposedly the strength of democracy and the libertarian ideal is that it allows you to stop thinking about politics and just let you get on with your life. Discussing policy is just an expression of the vanity of political wonks who want to prove how clever they are and how they ‘care’ about the issues of the day. Ordinary people just get along keeping their families secure, paying their bills and everything else that constitutes normality.

The trouble with democracy, or any political system for that matter, is this contemptible desire to be normal. It breeds complacency and kills the life spirit of ambition. People don’t focus on what they can become but on what sort of normal they want to be. So deluded are the seekers of normality that they can’t distinguish between them, the previous sentence becomes some mere tautology deemed banal.
Such banality is a mere reflection upon their own though patterns though. People who become great become representative of ideas, whether those ideas be good or ill. Mahatma Gandhi became the personification of civil disobedience, while Napoleon Bonaparte became the personification of Imperialist ambition. Likewise our societies which achieve greatness become representative of ideas, the US is meant to represent the values of liberty and prosperity born out of capitalist endeavour. Britain, likewise, represents a synthesis of US values and the virtues of social democracy best represented by the National Health Service.

To love the normal is to resist the glamour to explore the realm and value of ideas, it is a resistance against going beyond the confines of yourself and the networks you reside in. As the value of ideas decreases to zero so does the appreciation of abstract values. The importance of appreciating abstract values is a necessity in advanced societies, because they are the founding pillars. We descend into primitivism when abstract values are reduced to platitudes being used in a game of showmanship. The rise of the far right and the return of ethnic nationalism as a political force exemplifies the failure of democracy to encourage thinking.

Here lies the threat of democracy, its success breeds the complacency that leads to it decay. As politicians familiarise themselves with the system and the value of abstract ideas depreciates, voters lose trust within the system and eventually decide that not only someone else but something else must represent them. The decay is now at the forefront of our sight, we’ll need more than vigilance to save democracy. We must return to philosophy to reorientate ourselves to the realm of ideas and substantive rigorous thought.

Gareth Mawer
I consider myself a left libertarian committed to promoting the philosophy of liberty, even though I do not always support proposals that are normally considered libertarian. Georgism and mutualism have had profound influences over my beliefs, though I'm not afraid to digress from them were necessary. My mains interests are politics, economics and philosophy.