Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Friday, March 03, 2006

No Democracy, Republic Please

Democracy, in the strict sense of majority rule, is a bad idea. What works, in America and Switzerland and elsewhere, is republican (small r) government. Walter Williams tackles the subject (briefly) in his latest column. The distinction is often lost on many. So it's a good refresher, and certainly something to ponder, especially for Iraqis and Lebanese these days.

Here are a couple of quotes: (from "How to Create Conflict" by Walter Williams)

Chief Justice John Marshall added, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
Majority rule is a zero-sum game with winners and losers, with winners having the power to impose their wills on the minority. Conflict emerges when the minority resists.


  • At 3/4/06, 12:24 AM, Blogger ghassan said…

    I am very familiar with all the work of Walter Williams. He is no authority on the subject and his column is just a one persons point of view. Whats evident is that his column tries to make a distinction between what he calls a republic and what he calls a democracy without ever explaining what is it that he means by a republic. He had to do that because if he did explain what he meant by a republic it would turn out what you mean by a democracy.

    In the same sense that for a democracy the franchise is not enough it is clear that a dictatorship of the majority is also not acceptable. That is why the right of dissent and constitutional guarantees for a free press and personal freedom and liberty are also essential for a functioning democracy.

    The federalist papers were essentially a dialogue about what type of a union to form i.e. it was essenyially about the allocation of power between the states and the central government. Of course the federalists could not tolerate the idea except of a republic, the colonies waged a war against both a monarch and the idea of a Monarchy.
    Walter Williams is wrong a true republic must be democratic but a real democracy does not have to be a reublic although it probably would be. Mr. Williams enjoys these mental gymnastics that he is entitled to practice , irrespective of who is in power, only in a constitutional democracy.


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