But is this just a simple case of sore losers refusing to accept that they lost? DePape wrote an editorial for the Toronto Star where she brings up the fact that about 60% of voters voted against Harper, whereas Harper won a majority with only 40% of the popular vote. (I like to point out that 40% of Canadians didn't even bother voting at all, so where's our majority? Haven't we shown our refusal to be governed?)
After reading DePape's editorial I had a change of heart. She's just some young idealist like myself, she sees something seriously wrong with our system of government and wants to be the change she wants to see in the world. So consider this post to be an open letter to Brigette DePape.
DePape, your editorial brings up some good points, so let me elaborate on your ideas and present the case for why democracy has failed, needs to be delegitimized and why only private property is the key to prosperity and everything that makes Canada great.
...Also, it's the only way to stop Harper.
Before I get into the bulk of my letter (which is really just a carbon-copy of the ideas economists/philosophers Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe have been saying for years) I wish to highlight a quotation from your editorial. I believe it sums up what most Canadians are feeling:
"Our views are not represented by our political system... A broken system is what has left us with a Conservative government ready to spend billions on fighter jets we don’t need, to pollute the environment we want protected, to degrade a health-care system we want improved, and to cut social programs and public sector jobs we value."
The reality is, is that democratic system is broken. Most of us recognize this, yet an equal number of us all have our own ideas on how to fix it. Is it a simple solution of scrapping the First-Past-the-Post for a more mixed representation? Are there fundamental problems with Parliament, and is Canada better off to head in a more Republican style of government? Or is there a deeper problem where people just don't care anymore? That no matter what kind of government we have, those inside the system will manipulate it to their advantage. Meanwhile, as long as the people can still vote on Canadian Idol, nobody gives a shit.
I don't claim to answer the last point, but I can offer some insight as to why our current system is the way it is. Those that advocate a mixed member proportional representation are just skimming along the surface of our problems. The problem is democracy itself.
Now hear me out. You said:
"Democracy is not just about marking a ballot every few years. It is about ensuring, with daily engagement and resistance, that the vision we have for our society is reflected in the decision-making of our government."
I argue that society's vision can never be represented through government. To quote Hoppe, Democracy is the God that failed.
So what is democracy? Mob rule with checks and balances? I take the view of Rothbard and Hoppe who claim that democracy is, essentially, the nationalization of the people. Canada evolved from Monarch rule, lords, land-owners and Church Leaders may have exercised (and abused) power, but the ultimate decision-making authority was the Monarch in charge, whether it be King or Queen.
Although far from perfect a Monarch, acting as if the entire country was his or her private property, would hand down the country's land, people and riches to next generations in his or her bloodline. By treating the country as if it were his or her private property, Monarchs were better managers of a country's resources, despite the authoritarian rule and lack of basic rights for the people.
Democracy was the next step in society's evolution. The idea was to rid the country of these special Monarch privileges and create equality before law. The proposed solution was to open up the state apparatus to everyone to participate in. However, democracy failed at one major aspect: it didn't create one universal law that everyone had to follow. Monarch privileges became "public functions."
Under the guise of "public functions" acts of theft, kidnapping and murder are justified and go virtually unnoticed. Theft becomes taxation, kidnapping becomes arrest and murder is called war. In the "private" realm of society, we see these criminal acts as they really are. Tim Hortons cannot collect payment going door-to-door with a gun. They cannot send an agent from their corporation to trespass on your private property and force you to drink their coffee. Yet, this is how the institution of government functions.
Democracy is made worse by the fact that the people adhere to the idea that "we are the government." At least under Monarchy, when a King or Queen raised taxes there was resistance. Under democracy we accept this theft as "the price of civilization." In Monarchy an aggressive police force could face hostile opposition, even revolution. Under democracy we demand an "investigation" and ask for "more police training." Under Monarchy there is widespread opposition to fighting a war for some Royal. Under democracy war has a humanitarian angle where the people believe we're acting as the world's "peace-keepers."
Finally, there's the issue that while a King or Queen believes they own their country, a Prime Minister is only a short-term caretaker. Capital consumption is more likely because the PM is only in office for a decade or less. One look at the modern democratic states and their debts should indicate that not only has democracy failed, it has proven that political representatives only look out for their own self-interest. It is only around election time does this self-interest take constituents into account.
Now if I haven't convinced you yet, or at least sparked your interest perhaps it's because of our blind allegiance to democracy. It took me quite a while to finally break out of the mold public education shaped us into. So if you're still playing with the idea that there is a "correct" way of practicing democracy, by all means, keep exploring the issue. Just keep the State out of it, as in my final section of this letter I hope to reason with your intellect. Look at this government thing critically and honestly tell me it's a good idea.
First, let me bring up the problem of social order and co-operation. Aside from all the social services and theoretical reasons for having government, basically the idea of government comes down to the fact that human beings need a way of avoiding conflict and maintaining peace to build civilization. In a world of scarce land and scarce resources, rules or "norms" are needed for a functioning society.
We can deduce two basic "norms" just by giving it some critical thought. Everyone owns his or her own body. Nobody owns anybody else. If I want to do something to someone, or use his or her body in some kind of way, I need their permission. Obviously.
The second "norm" is the one of private property. Recently, in an eerie Orwellian sense, the idea of private property has been frowned upon. I don't know why this is the case. There's been man-made disasters every time private property is abolished and there's been no alternative. The State can nationalize all property, but this doesn't make it "public" in a true sense. I don't own it anymore than you do. "Crown land" is simply the State's private property. There is no alternative to private property. Someone who claims ownership for the first time on land that is uninhabited, becomes the private property owner.
The other two rules or "norms" that help prevent social conflict and encourage social co-operation are: anyone that produces something from the things he or she owns, becomes the owner of that thing. And ownership (whether it be of land, resources or produced goods) can only be acquired through voluntary exchange. That is, mutual agreement from consenting parties.
These four rules or "norms" avoid conflict. Any law or government or private agency that violates these four rules are actually creating social conflict and hindering social co-operation. As I hope to show you, Miss DePape, the State (whether it be democratic or not) violates these rules by its very existence.
The State can be defined as an agency with a territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making. It is also an agency that requires payment by force. Unlike other institutions in society that must rely on voluntary payment, the State stands alone as the only agency that demands payment from all citizens, whether they consent to it or not.
These characteristics make the State a burden on society, despite any value one may regard it with. Whereas voluntary organizations produce goods and services, a monopolist produces goods of a lower quality for a high price. This is in contrast with the kind of monopoly the State has. In order to function, the State must produce "bads" not goods. In order to produce goods or services the State must first produce a bad, that is, taxation. A tax remains a net-loss for society since it is money one no longer has to spend, save or invest voluntarily. The State cannot tax $3 and turn it into $5; taxation (even in democracies) has never relied on the consent of individuals. Taxation is only exercised through force, persuasion and obedience.
With this unique power to tax, the monopolist in ultimate decision-making will not try to prevent conflicts, but actually provoke them since payment is a guaranteed thing. If you decide the outcome of every conflict in society, then you will be in a position to cause conflict and settle it according to rulings that benefit yourself or your agency. Supreme Courts, the Charter of Rights & Freedoms, Parliament, the Senate etc. are all part of the State apparatus and more often than not, favour the State.
The monopolist of ultimate decision-making must violate private property rights (via taxation) in order to provide protection for private property. This is a contradiction in terms.
Human beings aim for greater leisure and only sacrifice this for work. Work is a means to an end. For example, a man who works 8 hours a day in a factory does so, so he can make money and raise his standard of living that provides more enjoyable leisure time. This desire to work less and spend more is predominant in human decision-making. Following this logic, the State will continually increase taxes while offering less protection. The monopolist in ultimate decision-making actually has an incentive to offer less protection as this justifies higher taxes.
Whether or not the State is democratic, it's very existence violates the four "norms" of life, liberty, peace and property. Coming to this conclusion, we're left with the obvious question: What's the alternative? For this, let me begin with your words:
"Such a system [our current one] leads us to feel isolated, powerless and hopeless — thousands of Canadians made that clear in their responses to my action. We need a reminder that there are alternatives. We need a reminder that we have both the capacity to create change, and an obligation to."
There are alternatives. The term anarcho-capitalism is bound to conjure up images of Corporations running amok while individual citizens are thrown into absolute poverty (in other words, Harper's agenda) but the reality is much different. So let's use the term "private law society."
Under this political philosophy, all individuals and institution are subject to the same set of rules. The same four rules or "norms" previously mentioned. There are no public functions. Instead of a monopolist providing solutions to social conflict, there would be various competing agencies, all of them using voluntary contracts and voluntary payments to make a living providing goods and services.
And without the State, contracts would enforce rules and avoid conflicts. Social co-operation in things such as universal health-care, education and the environment would result from a voluntary ethic arising in a free market. Contrast to the current method which involves State coercion.
There are plenty of details to be hammered out, debated about and brought to their logical conclusion. But this is outside the scope of my letter. My purpose has been to bring up some serious implications of having a "democratic" government and to inspire you to read up on some alternatives. A private-law society may seem radical or unworkable, but so too was democracy for those under authoritarian rule. I only ask that you read more into this subject. Move away from this two-dimensional Left vs. Right ideology, and realize that human existence has hitherto been Civil Society vs. the State. Democracy arose from the injustices of Monarchy. It served its purpose for its time. Now it's time to let a Private Law Society uproot Democratic States and restore life, liberty, peace and property to human civilization.
Thank you for your time,
P.S. – For more on this the website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has some great info. You see visit them at mises.org or check out the Canadian branch of the Institute at mises.ca