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Democracy is Caesar Too!by Michael S

Democracy is Caesar Too!by Michael S

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Published by michael s rozeff

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Published by: michael s rozeff on Jan 12, 2012
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Democracy Is Caesar, Too!
  by Michael S. Rozeff Our current President¶sstatements about democracyare typical: one has liberty and one has thefree exercise of one¶s rights when one can cast a vote for one¶s leader. In that is consent. In thatis no coercion. In that is freedom. He may even believe this. At least he says so. And even if hedoes not believe this, it is the ruling orthodoxy. It¶s commonly believed that elections are the basic girders of liberty.Democratic leaders worldwide claim that they cannot do simply anything with their powers, evenas they do just about anything. They claim that they are constrained by constitutions, by theinvisible wires of consent, and sometimes by the internal checks and balances of their owngovernments. Such constraints as exist don¶t prevent governments from becoming half or moreof their economies.The conventional wisdom is that if we combine free elections with these constitutionalconstraints, we obtain liberty. Be happy, then, citizens! You are free!This notion of liberty is as sadly deficient and defective as it is false. What difference does itmake to be told one must buy health insurance or be searched at an airport or pay taxes tosupport invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan or pay taxes to support the production of ethanol if the power behind these commands is a dictator, an elected premier, a parliament, or a legislature?Coercion is coercion, whatever its source. If one person or a majority of your neighbors or their representatives coerce you, does the source of this coercion determine whether or not you haveyour liberty? Do elections and your capacity to cast a vote eliminate the coercion?Democracy no less exercises power against rights or liberty than does any other form of government in which the Person is violated, chained, intruded upon, threatened, made to pay,robbed, constrained, and forced to obey commands against his will. Why write Person rather than person? It is to emphasize the prime importance of the Person in connection with liberty. Itis the Person in you that is the locus of your free will, the will to act, and the will to create. Thatwhich crushes this freedom of the Person, as does democracy, is that which enslaves. Voting ismerely one possible action of a Person. A voter is a political concept, not a Person. Likewise, acitizen is a political concept, not a Person. A Person is a real creative being.In the conventional view of democracy, there is always a People. The term ³People´ doesn¶tmean just any collection of persons or people, but a collection that somehow sets itself apart or that others think is set apart by some recognizable and shared characteristics. In his brief remarkson Egypt, President Obama used the phrases ³people of Egypt´ and ³Egyptian people´ thirteentimes. Democracy and the People are linked inextricably. His rhetoric reflected that.But emphatically the People is not at all the same as the Persons who comprise it. Each Person isunique. The People connected to the concept of democracy is, like voter and citizen, at bottom a political concept. Even if the Persons who comprise the People are connected by common bondsof language, or religion, or culture, or ethnicity, each of them as Persons still maintains
irreducibly unique aspects of Personality, consciousness, creativity, and free will. What makesthem a People is something else that is labeled as political when taken in conjunction withgovernment by democracy. Democracy connects to a People but it is coercive power usedagainst Persons. Which matters more, you as a Person or you as part of a People?Obama does not set himself apart from other politians past and present, here and around theworld, in having extraordinarily limited aspirations for the Egyptian people or any people. Hisaspirations for them, as were his predecessor¶s, are that they have democracy, which is linked tothe People. Then all will be well. This is both a limited and false vision. The reason is that itignores Persons.Freedom of the Person does not mean freedom of the People to have a democracy. Freedom of the Person opposes dramatically the coercion and thus enslavement present in every democracyon earth. Freedom of the Person means an unhampered capacity to develop one¶s Personalitythrough action and creativity. Freedom of the Person is immeasurably distant from casting a vote periodically for a government whose powers invariably find very wide scope and boundarieseven when constitutionally limited. Freedom of the Person and Freedom of all Persons, eventhose comprising a People, is not freedom of the People to have a democracy.Why does the Egyptian people or any People need or want democracy or any coercivegovernment anyway? All such governments suppress freedom of Persons. Why not go straightfor the freedom of Persons? Does any person aspire to democracy? Who is it who aspires tovote? Isn¶t the most basic aspiration of any Person to be a Person, which is to say, to be free toexercise and develop one¶s capacities? Democracy and voting are, at best, means to this deeper end. Any persons and people may aspire to democracy as a means to improve their lot, but let uskeep in firm view that one¶s development is found at the personal level, not as a voter or citizen.The aspirations of human beings go far deeper and/or should go far deeper than becoming political animals or even politically democratic or politically republican animals.The existing answer as to why people choose government was given by James Madison in
The Federalist No. 10
: ³Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union,none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control theviolence of faction.´ The People are actually disunited politically, Madison says, even thoughthey are a People. They form factions. They fight with one another. The answer to this, inMadison¶s view, is to have a government of this (disunited) People that unites them and thatstops the fighting. The People will unite enough to create a politics by which they sublimate their conflicts and transfer them into the arena of elections, constitutions, and political control. Somewill rule all, and all will select that some by an agreed upon means. They will agree to abide bythe consequences. The blood will no longer flow in the streets.Madison¶s answer is a close relative to that of Hobbes, differing only in the nature of thesovereign. But the idea that there must be a sovereign is present in both. Can a Union be ³wellconstructed´? The history of the United States provides little encouragement. The more power that a Union is given ³to break and control the violence of faction´, the more it can turn that power against Persons. The factions may stop bleeding each other directly. Instead they will bleed each other through the instrument of government, and the government will bleed everyone.

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