Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Government destroys Real Democracy

There is a common misconception that more government control of the economy leads to more democratic control. Leftists like MIT linguist and lifelong socialist Noam Chomsky often make this claim while criticizing private corporations as "totalitarian", due to their top down control management style where the shareholders have absolute say and the workers none. Both of these are faulty precepts.

Let us break each argument down and evaluate their merits. The idea that bigger government leads to more democratic control springs from the fact that governments are democratically managed, and therefore when they control resources, those resources become democratically managed as well. This is true at a theoretical level, but in practice governments are controlled by a political elite, and the electorate is generally ignorant about the issues being decided on, let alone participating in the decision making.

A large government empowers those closest to the political decision makers, and allows them to circumvent the most democratic of all forums: courts of law. Courts of law are where the people make decisions based on what they believe is just. In courts, the people who make up the jury are armed with all the facts of the case, and are given the time to study them and the complete power to make a decision on it.

With legislation, the politically connect can insulate themselves from the decision of courts. They can change the terms of contracts, re-allocate the wealth of society, and dictate the actions of individuals, all without having to convince any court of law.

As far as the second argument: that corporations are totalitarian, it is simply empty rhetoric as it ignores the defining quality of totalitarianism: government control of all aspects of society. A corporation alone has no governmental powers to impose its will.

There is a fundamental difference in the exercise of government power compared to other forms of power. Government power supersedes the will of courts and as such can ignore the protections granted to people by common law (which is essentially the law as created by the most democratic of institutions, courts).

It is ironic that those who call for big government in the name of increasing democratic control and fighting totalitarianism, are in fact doing the opposite by diminishing the role of courts and increasing the power of the only organization capable of exerting totalitarian controls.