viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2009

Democracy as the main enemy

I really appreciate how frank is The Economist with its readers and that's why I'm one of its happiest subscribers. The Economist, for instance, hates democracy and doesn't pretend to do otherwise. Almost every week there's an article which is dedicated, in one form or another, to the contempt of the democratic thought. In the last issue, the excuse is the voter's initiative, a feature of the American democracy that started in 1898 in South Dakota and that has become increasingly popular during the last two decades, mainly because of the depleted prestige of the bipartisan system. The title of the article, The tyranny of the majority, couldn't be less explicit. Here goes the historical explanation:
Put differently, it [the voter's initiative] is the “tyranny of the majority” that James Madison, a Founding Father, warned about. His reading of ancient history was that the direct democracy of Athens was erratic and short-lived, whereas republican Rome remained stable for much longer. He even worried about using the word “democracy” at all, lest citizens confuse its representative (ie, republican) form with its direct one. “Democracy never lasts long,” wrote John Adams, another Founding Father. Asked what government the federal constitution of 1787 had established, Benjamin Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
There's no doubt that the writer of this piece is a very smart guy. First, he describes the antidemocratic thought as the truly American political tradition. Then, in order to disguise the ultraconservative nature of this kind of remarks, he focuses on one example of winning voter's initiative that is too much right-wing nuts, even for the neoliberal weekly of the world's elite -more precisely, propositions that forbid state legislatures to raise taxes without a two-thirds majority.