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