1 year ago: Anti-government, anti-democracy

July 25, 2012, on this blog: Anti-government, anti-democracy

But that is not the source of their anger. Their scorn is not directed at our failure to more fully realize the noble ideal of “government of, by and for the people.” Their scorn is directed at the belief that this is a noble ideal or that it is worthy of realization. Quote that glorious phrase from Lincoln and they will roll their eyes and sputter because they think you’re a fool to believe that such a thing could ever be even partially true.

They do not believe in it. They do not believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people. They cannot believe in it because they do not believe in government. That word, to them, means one and only one thing: tyranny. And so they respond to Lincoln’s phrase accordingly — as though he were advocating tyranny of the people, tyranny by the people and tyranny for the people.

And so again I ask, if not democracy, then what? If we are not to govern ourselves, then how are we to be governed?

That’s just it, comes the reply, we shouldn’t be governed at all.

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  • Carstonio

    I’m having a hard time making sense of their view. They profess a deep pessimism about the human capacity for self-government, but it comes packaged with an incompatible naive utopianism that believes in unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by anyone not elected by the public.

    I don’t remember whether I had this reaction the first time, but I think the contradiction is far simpler than Fred suggests. It’s really deep pessimism about the capacity of people not like themselves for self-government, with a naive utopianism that believes in unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by people like themselves. Not much different from the attitudes of the European powers that colonized Africa and Asia.

  • Carstonio

    I don’t believe in democracy where rights are concerned. Although I
    voted for marriage equality last year, the question should have never
    been on the ballot. Rights for minorities that are subject to majority vote aren’t rights at all.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I feel like this man would agree with your hypothetical conversation partner.

    Warning: Given the content, the comments section is…Not exactly sunshine and rainbooms.


  • AnonaMiss

    Someone’s been keeping up with the trollversation, heh.

  • Nope. This is from one year ago; long before I started commenting here frequently (if you’re referring to me). Judging from the comments on the post Fred linked to above, I should have started commenting here frequently long ago.

  • AnonaMiss

    1. I was referring to his choice of which old article to link.

    2. I was referring to the hilarious wingnuttery going on in the PA Police Chief thread, including assertions that Tucson, AZ is currently under martial law, that the IRS is unconstitutional, and that the federal reserve is a private bank rammed down the country’s throat by liberal socialists.

    3. Jeez, lighten up.

  • Ursula L

    On NPR the other day, they reviewed a book called “Savage Continent” about the aftermath of WWII in Europe. The collapse of civil society is an ugly thing.

  • LoneWolf343

    A democracy that isn’t engineered to respect the rights of all equally isn’t a democracy, but an oligarchy.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Wait…Martial law?


    I don’t want to go read that. Sounds like a “Migraine Assured” thread.

  • Miff

    What always bothered me about dystopian futures in fiction is that “unchecked corporate power” seems to translate into “use immoral and dangerous (to the consumer) techniques to make money” rather than “just bomb all the competition and take what we want from the public by force”. The latter is fits the behavior of warlords rather than businessmen, but I fail to see why characters already established as immoral wouldn’t go from “do anything for money and power” to “things would be better for us if we got that pesky government out of the way”.

  • dpolicar

    Why blow up what I can own?

  • Carstonio

    In that type of society, I would expect corporations to become de facto warlords in control of both political and economic power in their domains, like more brutal versions of company towns.

  • GeniusLemur

    Randians/Libertarians/Tea Partiers are united in the fantasy that they,
    personally are the strongest of the stong, and when the government stops
    holding them down, they’ll rise to the position they deserve. An actual
    Libertarian colony would collapse in about 5 minutes, because everyone
    would come in thinking they should be billionaire CEO’s, and no one
    would deign to do any actual work.

  • Thanks, Sam. Now I’m going to have nightmares about malevolent sunflowers.

  • smrnda

    I think these people’s true position is more analogous to that of a decaying aristocracy that is doing well because they have a degree of unearned privilege that any attempts at ‘democracy’ will remove and which will force them to play fair with all the people they’ve been pissing and shitting on for years. They’d prefer to stay feudal lords and have everyone else be serfs and lowly vassals.

  • Boidster

    BTAF is awesome. His its vs it’s comic is a staple of grammar nazis everywhere. <cough> So I’ve heard.

  • Boidster

    It’s really deep pessimism about the capacity of people not like themselves for self-government, with a naive utopianism that believes in unchecked power so long as that power is wielded by people like themselves.

    Yes, and the problem with this view…

    Sorry, I’ll start again…

    Amongst the many problems with this view are such diverse items as the fact that once “we” have overthrown the government (or left to form Aynrandistan) it won’t be long before “we” determine that those formerly like us are not quite exactly like us.

  • TheBCow

    There is certainly diversion to be had at that thread, including the adventures of a man who seems to be have performed every job relevant to the discussion at an expert level. I recommend marveling at this Galtian superman.

  • Yeah. You have to get a load of the guy who’s been:

    – a teacher of Constitutional Law (IN THREE TOWNS!)
    – a paramedic
    – a small business owner
    – a technician of some kind at one of the early nodes of the Arpanet back in 1972
    – a casino security tech
    – an automated control systems analyst

    The list goes on.

    Oh, and he’s 65 years old, and will totally (TOTALLY U GUISE) own us all with his guns.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Explosions are fun?

  • Sometimes, it may be more about ensuring that others don’t have, than that you do have.

  • Crabs-in-a-bucketism needs to be seriously deconstructed next Presidential debate.

  • Mary

    Exactly! “You are my friend and comrade when we defeat our shared enemies but once we have suceeded then I will turn on you like a rabid wolf,” This is the language of intolerance and if the fundamentalists ever manage to get the theocracy that they think will result in utopia, it would quickly degenerate into arguing over which form of Christianity is the “right” one and which should be in charge.

    Billy Graham is a prime example of this. After a meeting with Romney he then quietly dropped his web page condemning Mormonism as a cult. The reason why was to secure an agreement to fight gay marriage. I think it is pretty obvious that if Romney had been elected president and he had managed to squelch gay marriage then once the “threat” was gone good ol’ Billy would have found his prejudice against the Mormon church again.

    Edit: I guess I am a bit tired as I have missed the point of the article in that some don’t want any government at all. However I think that the fact that this would be unsustainable would in fact guarantee that another govenment would be formed and probably would end up as a theocracy since one of the main complaints of people with this mentality is that their religious rights are being violated just because of the fact that there are others who believe differently. So I think my point stands.

  • Mary

    So I can’t vote for another person’s rights? If banning inter-racial marriage were on the ballot I would vote against it even though I am not in an inter-racial marriage and I am not a minority.

    Rights are rights no matter whether the rights are those of the majority or the minority.

  • Matri

    That’s not what Carstonio is saying. Zie is saying that rights shouldn’t ever need to be voted on.

    Put it this way: When you were old enough, did your parents vote on giving you the rights to an education?

  • Matri

    You mean they aren’t now?

  • I had to go look that one up. Thanks for that.

  • Mary

    Sorry about that. I am very tired.

  • Carstonio

    I mean that the corporations would own the armies and the police officers. Imagine wars where the military uniforms had corporate logos instead of national flags, and the combatants sang corporate jingles instead of patriotic songs.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Don’t forget he was also an Army Ranger in Vietnam!

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Why buy what I can steal?

  • Obviously, you’ve never read Atlas Shrugged and neither had the author of that horrid cartoon. If you’ve ever read Atlas Shrugged, you’d understand that all the characters in Galt’s Gulch understand full well that they’re materially worse off than they were in the outside world and have to do work they never did in the outside world.

  • stardreamer42

    You’ve missed the point. It’s not the actual book that the cartoon is mocking, but the fantasy created around it by people who haven’t read it either. And yes, those people really do exist, in surprising numbers. You can find them in the comments section of any political blog.

  • stardreamer42

    Anarchy is an unstable form of society. Generally what it devolves into is some version of feudalism; when all your life is chaos, you’ll welcome any warlord who can promise some stability, and you yourself will hand him his saber and whip.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I agree with the sentiment of the article. Was it supposed to be sarcastic or something?

    “Their scorn is directed at the belief that this is a noble ideal or that it is worthy of realization.”

    I’m an American and a Christian I’m not some kind of democracy worshipper. it’s a decent but flawed system that I hope is eventually replaced by something less coercive. I don’t think, for example, that Muslim Americans should pay for occupation of Muslim countries or that Pro Life Americans should fund abortion.

    We have a bunch of gross millionaires in DC. HIllary, Gingrich, John Edwards, etc They are villains from central casting. Can western civilization do better? you’d hope so.

    ” And so they respond to Lincoln’s phrase accordingly — as though he were advocating tyranny of the people, tyranny by the people and tyranny for the people.”

    that’s what it is isnt it? technically speaking. I have to give the money I work to earn to the Pentagon which is the last thing in the entire world I want to do. If I don’t, I go to jail. the difference between this and a conquering horde taking a third of my crops and leaving me enough so I can live and produce more for them is pretty slight. There’s a fig leaf of them doing it for me but that’s just for the theatre and speeches.

    ” If we are not to govern ourselves, then how are we to be governed?”

    democracy isn’t always self government. in a republic with a constitution it is, in an empire where rule of law isn’t respected it’s the choice between 2 different ridiculous things you don’t want.

  • That was actually… intelligently reasoned. Comparatively, anyway.

  • Chris Hadrick