Saturday, November 15, 2008

More on the Moral Impotence of Democracy

I read this quote today in John Locke's Essays on The Law of Nature and it reminded me of my election day thoughts:


'The voice of the people is the voice of God.' Surely, we have been taught a most unhappy lesson how doubtful, how fallacious this maxim is, how productive of evils, and with how much party spirit and with what cruel intent this ill-omened proverb has been flung wide lately among the common people. Indeed if we should listen to this voice as if it were the herald of a divine law, we should hardly believe that there was any God at all. For is there anything so abominable, so wicked, so contrary to all right and law, which the general consent, or rather conspiracy, of a senseless crowd would not at some time advocate?


Democracy, when it is seen as an end in itself, rather than as a means to the end of liberty, becomes little more than the rule of a mindless mob. The mob that Locke dismisses in the above quote as a possible source of natural law is also entirely incapable of ruling with the unfettered power we seem not to mind investing in the electoral process today. The fact that most people want something is not a justification of its being law. It's that simple.