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democracy and plutocracyMy recent article on the relative merits of monarchy and democracy brought an array of comments from both ends of the political spectrum. At one extreme I was berated for suggesting that the absolutist view of monarchy, rooted in the political theory of the divine right of kings, was wrong. The person who made this criticism was clearly a Traditionalist Catholic who seemed to believe that supporting an “absolute monarchy” was truly Catholic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The whole idea of the divine right of kings came to the fore at the time of the Protestant Reformation as a way of justifying the monarch’s right to act in defiance of the pope, not as a means of justifying his right to act in defiance of the people (the latter of which had always been taken for granted!).

The Catholic view of “absolute monarchy” is seen in the response of St. Thomas More to Henry VIII’s efforts to usurp the power of the Church. As and when a monarch decides to establish a state religion and trample on the rights of people to religious freedom, the only correct response is that of disobedience, emulating the example of St. Thomas More or, for that matter, the hundreds of Englishmen martyred as “traitors” in the 150 years following Henry’s draconian war on the Faith.

At the other extreme from the absolute monarchist was the absolute democrat, who responded to my article thus:

Well, you’re not an idiot, but you are wrong. No I don’t believe you can have a real democracy if you have an aristocracy and monarchy. Democracy implies that every citizen is of equal status before the law and more importantly before each other. I would never answer to any living human being as “your lordship” or “highness.” And there’s no evidence that western democracies de facto lead to dictatorship or injustice. Because some have does not imply they all do.

This thoughtful response and thought-provoking riposte deserves to be taken seriously. Beginning with the refusal to answer to any living human being as “your lordship” or “highness,” I’d merely comment that it is appropriate to refer to the pope as “your holiness,” a cardinal as “your eminence,” and a bishop as “your lordship.” In doing so, we are not fawning to the person but paying due and deferential honour to his office. In the secular sphere, one might refer to a senior judge as “your lordship” and to the monarch as “your highness.” In treating the office with due decorum, we are simply acknowledging the civilized order of which we are a part. It might also be suggested that a refusal to show such deference displays not only a dangerous degree of pride on the part of the recusant but also a contempt for the established order of society, which, if unchecked, leads to the sort of egalitarianism that ends in tyranny.

The foregoing can all be summarized succinctly in the words of Christ that we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s. When Caesar usurps the power that is rightfully God’s, we have an absolute duty to defy Caesar. If, however, Caesar is mindful of the legitimate rights of religion, he has the right to expect that we will render unto him the deference and respect that his legitimate political position warrants.

Let’s now respond to this part of my interlocutor’s riposte: Democracy implies that every citizen is of equal status before the law and more importantly before each other.

No doubt this is true, or at least arguable, at least in theory, but it would be wrong to assume that this is the sole prerogative of democracy or that it is an invention of those who call themselves democrats. Whether or not the dignity of the human person and his equality with his neighbours are implicit in democracy they have always been explicit in the Creed of Christendom. The inalienable rights of human persons have their bedrock foundation in the fact that they are made in the image of God and are therefore mystically equal as co-heirs of the Kingdom. Once this Christian foundation is lost, it is pure folly to believe that such equality will be protected by democracy. One only has to look at the track record of democracy on the thorny issue of abortion to see that democracy is no guarantor of the “equal status before the law” of those who live under its dominion.

One could argue that a democracy is not so much about the equal status of its citizens but about the gratification of the desires of the majority, often at the expense of the relatively powerless minority. Another name for this sort of “democracy” would be mob rule.

Much more could and should be said on this issue, and no doubt much more will be said, by me and others, but I’d like to end with a confession that I am and remain a democrat (lower case d!), in the sense that I believe that ordinary people should have real political power. The problem is not necessarily with democracy per se but with the various systems that call themselves democracies without being democratic in any really meaningful sense. Today, in the United States, for instance, the political machine is manipulated and ultimately controlled by big business and big media, the latter of which is at the service of the former. Nobody can stand for president unless he has the megabucks of big business behind him and the mega-influence of big media to make him known to the public. The problem, it seems to me, is not that we cannot have a real democracy if we have an aristocracy and monarchy, as my interlocutor claims, but whether we can have a real democracy if we have a plutocracy.

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30 replies to this post
  1. I think Democracy, without a strongly enforced set of negative rights, is the worst of all possible governments. Democracy imbues plunder and dominance with Moral authority. I would gladly accept an infallible Monarch charged with enforcing a set of negative Rights over a situation where “the people” can trample on the Rights of the individual.

    I have no problem referring to a Judge as Your Honor or my Rector as Father. I have immense respect for those positions and the role they play in maintaining faith in our legal system and cultural stability respectively.

    My preferred solution is secession…into political groupings that are held together organically by culture or a shared worldview. At that point the form of government becomes almost irrelevant. I am hopeful that as the Federal government increasingly tries to become a National government…”the people” will begin to consider more radical solutions.

  2. A couple of points should be made here. First, our nation has been a plutocracy for almost all of its history. Realize that the Constitution was written to defend America’s financial elite and in response to dissent and a citizens’ uprising called Shays Rebellion. Historical documents from that time, such as Federalist 10 and Henry Knox’s Letter to George Washington, show this point as a particular ‘faction’ of citizens was singled out as being the threat. The Constitutional debates showed class divisions to be an important concern along with protecting ‘the minority of the opulent against the majority‘ in the minds of those who participated. That quote was said by Madison after making statements that opposed the opening of elections to all classes in England. Either by structure and/or implementation, we’ve had a plutocracy here. And much of that has occurred while this nation was a Christian nation. So though Pearce’s contention that a Christian foundation is necessary for a true democracy to exist has not been challenged by our history, it’s easy to see that a Christian foundation does not imply that a true democracy will follow. This fact should cause us to question and more thoroughly examine Pearce’s implication.

    We should note that what we have here is a reversal of what Marx proposed–please note that many socialists would contend that when Lenin seized power, he did not follow Marx’s teaching on and promotion of the ‘proletariate dictatorship.’ So we could look at a plutocracy as being the other side of the coin of Marx’s proletariate dictatorship.

    Here, we should note that a true democracy is seen on neither side of that coin. A true democracy requires, perhaps, a different coin. So here, I would appreciate it if Pearce could respond and provide a more detailed explanation of what it means for everyone to have equal standing before the law. For we could take equal standing before the law to mean that everyone will be judged in the same manner by any particular law, or we could take it to mean that the laws being passed protect the equal standing that all should have in society, or that it could have some other meaning. It seems to me that during the Constitutional debates, Madison argued against the 2nd meaning.

  3. All of the above incited me to think of what is essentially a “side issue”, albeit a rather important (or so I believe) side issue.

    In a democracy we tend to conflate the office with the officeholder. This produced consequences which are less than desirable. If the officeholder is (in our opinion) a sterling person, and charismatic, we tend to allow extreme latitude in the execution of the office. If the officeholder is (in our opinion) a reprehensible villain, we tend to disrespect the office itself.

    Both the fawning and the disrespect are antithetical to the conservative impulse, even to the American conservative impulse, and both tend to erode constitutional government. They are symptomatic of Left and Right, but not of conservatism, properly construed, or of liberalism, properly construed.

    In recent years, we have seen the Right excusing the excess of Dubya while the Left excoriated him as a neo-fascist, followed by the Left worshiping Obama and the Right summoning the vilest of invective. Both men were subject to considerable amounts of inappropriate rudeness (as an ill-mannered shout during an address to Congress typifies).

    These non-conservative and non-liberal responses to the office because of agreement or disagreement with the officeholder have contributed much to the decline in trust of the idea of constitutional government by all the bitter factions of Left and Right. It would be appropriate for a conservative to admonish those of the Right, and a liberal to challenge those of the Left who work, howbeit unknowingly, to undermine respect for government. I expect to see such happening, however, about the time pigs learn to fly.

    • David,
      Your characterizations of the Left depends on one’s definition of the left. Personally, I am an anti-capitalist and most leftists I know use capitalism as the dividing line between leftists and nonleftists. Leftists oppose capitalism, liberals and conservatives support capitalism. And here, the issue for leftists is not big government, which is a liberal and conservative issue, it is worker control and expanded democracy.

      No one on the anti-capitalist left that I know of regards Obama as a leftist let alone worships him. It is only some liberals who worship him.

      • Please note I distinguish between Left and liberals as I also distinguish between Right and conservatives. Permit me the small (and admittedly “sez you”) rejoinder of noting *your* characterization of conservative depends on *your* definition thereof. (Specifically, that supporting capitalism is not NECESSARILY a conservative position, but it IS a Right position.)

        May I complain you seem to miss (or was I THAT obscure?) the point of my original posting — the confusion of the office with the officeholder, and the denigration or exaltation of the OFFICE depending on one’s opinion of the holder of said office.

        So far as your issue of “worker control and expended democracy”, it is perfectly addressed by Distributionism, at least IMHO, and save for some frothing Rightists, Distributionists are acceptable within the conservative tent.

        Of recent years, the political spectrum, especially in and among the commentariat, has been dominated by those who erect straw men after their own likeness and superscription, which they then attack, and convince themselves they have demolished a serious foe. That such a delusion is eminently hilarious is only apparent to those looking on, and not to the engaged combatants. (Ave the Combox Warriors!) The most persistent errors are of assuming one’s image of The Other Side is real and substantial.

        Lastly, it is my observation that those who genuinely think about problems can speak civilly with each other, and often profit by such interaction. Those who are into the Team Blue vs. Team Red charade cannot speak save to insult and demean. Which is why I haunt these pages, the quality of those who also show up is rather elevated (especially compared to certain websites which I shall not name.)

        • David,
          Sorry if I didn’t pick up on you leftist-liberal distinction especially since you described the left as worshipping Obama–the point which my comment was trying to correct. But to tell you the truth, those of us on the Left see more similarities between conservatives and liberals than liberals and leftists. BTW, it wasn’t my intent to comment on the point of your original post. As a Leftist, I am just tired of being associated with Obama.

          Regarding your previous comment, neoliberal is not to neoconservative what liberal is to conservative. Being neoliberal is someone who follows the current form of capitalism. Here, neoliberalism would be contrasted with the Bretton-Woods system that was globally employed after WW II and was being gradually replaced across the globe starting in the early 1970s. Neoliberalism is very much conservative if not conservative libertarian concerning economics but not exclusively so. It is there in liberals though not as overtly as it is in conservatives.

          On the other hand, neoconservative applies to a particular American-centric, form of foreign policy, Pax American, which tends to be extremely nationalistic–see project for a new american century. Again, neoconservativism tends to attract more conservatives than it does liberals or one could say that neoconservatism has a stronger presence in conservatives than in liberals. Should note that conservative libertarians tend to reject neoconservatism.

          So the confusion on my part is due to the fact that we are somewhat working with two different dictionaries. I know that looks past the points you’re making, but one’s working definitions will affect how people receive and react to what you write and the same applies to me such as my working definition for the word ‘conservative.’

          One question for clarification’s sake. Are there those on the Right who believe that businesses should be run democratically with each employee getting one vote in determining how the company should be run? I ask because of your mentioning of distributionism.

          • Mister Pearce did a bit on distributism earlier, and I should refer you to that, as well as those by John Medaille, as they are the authorities, and I am a clumsy amateur.



            The rest of the confusion seems to stem, as you rightly deduce, from the different dictionaries we employ (the dictionary formed from our life experiences being the most important.)

            As a side note, my youthful indiscretions and other experiences on the Left led me six years hence to declare — in the face of neocon outrage porn — Mister Obama was not a socialist, or any other sort of leftist, merely a Chicago politician. And I think events have proven the correctness of that presumption. Note that I do not say the Left “worships” the gentleman, only that those left-of-center, like those right-of-center will conflate the person with the office they hold, for good or bad, rather than separating the two. This eventually demeans or magnifies the office beyond its constitutional scope, for the ill of the nation as a whole.
            This is not the place, there is somewhere an essay on the confusion in the political spectrum, rather sphere (it not being strictly two-dimensional). I just like to be clear-eyed as to the nature of allies and opponents, and not to confuse the two. (Not to mention the bystanders.)

          • David,
            I appreciate the references and the clarifications. Will get to read the articles linked to either tonight or tomorrow.

            Seems like our lives are going in opposite directions. I was a political conservative for most of my life and now I am a socialist–kind of that is. I like Marx’s analysis of capitalism, but I disagree with any utopian dreams and the proletariate dictatorship.

            It seems that with that dictatorship, Marx is playing the same game as the bourgeoisie only he wants the first and last place teams to switch places. I want everybody to have an equal voice.

            The moment we scapegoat and externalize evil, that is the time we forget the parable of the two men praying and we make it easier to eliminate peers in the same cause but who are significantly different from us. That what happened in the French Revolution and in the Russian Revolution when Lenin hijacked it.

  4. Aristotle objected to democracy because it does, in fact, lead to mob rule. That is why he distinguished ‘democracy’ from ‘polity’, a government led by a virtuous citizenry. Today’s citizens are just as venal and corrupt as the plutocrats who rule them, and therefore unfit for polity. A mixed system offers more hope for good government than does rule by one man, a group of men, or all citizens led by demagogues.

    Kings are addressed as ‘your majesty’, not ‘your highness’. Their children and grandchildren can be called ‘your highness’. The first ‘prince’ in English history was the future Edward II, whose father, Edward I, created him Prince of Wales after he conquered that country. Before Edward I became king, he was called ‘the lord Edward’, not ‘Prince Edward’. In the movies about Robin Hood, King Richard I’s brother is referred to as ‘Prince John’, but that is an anachronism. Before he became king, John was called ‘Count John’ (he held the title of Count of Mortain).

    • Exactly, my generation is probably the one with the least historical and cultural knowledge. In my home state for instance we have one of America’s most long and interesting histories but people my age generally would rather get high and go to rap concerts than learn important things.
      This is why this country needs a real aristocracy, one that is moral and defends the Christian faith. Venice was the worlds most successful republic because it had a strong Catholic aristocracy.

  5. You are mistaken on two points. 1. I am not aTraditionalist in the strict sense I attend the new mass ( against what I truly want though). 2. I’m not always in favor of divine right, I only think that democracy is nothing better than mobocracy. I would be more than happy with something like a Theocratic republic, but I recognize the fact that Catholic Saints who support absolute Monarchy are probably better Catholics than I will ever be. Have a Blessed Easter.

  6. Monarchy is so completely misunderstood today, based on propaganda deriving from the so-called Enlightenment. Also, the author is completely correct to point out that Divine Right came about post-Reformation. People would be shocked to learn how limited English kingship really was in the Middle Ages. English kings were often actively opposed, not just by the nobility, but occasionally in popular uprisings. Medieval Kings were keenly aware their reigns depended on the goodwill of the realm. Those that forgot that had turbulent reigns and often met unhappy ends. Today’s monarchy, of course, is no threat to anyone or anything.

    By the way, a modern-day President of the United States has more power at his disposal than any medieval king could even fantasize about.

    • Divine right is not a Protestant concept, its origins go much farther back than the middle ages. its really a dogma that already had its roots in Oriental/Middle Eastern societies and was around in Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire. Its really a Western Catholic Equivalent of Tsarism. The Jacobites and Carlists both believed strongly in Divine Right, (very Catholic people).

  7. That was my comment you highlighted! Let me respond, but first let me say what an honor it is to dialogue with you Mr. Pearce. I have several of your books, and I’ve enjoyed them all. I find your insights into literature to be of the highest caliber.

    Here I think we’re going to disagree. Let me try to address your points in order. Referring to the Pope as “your holiness” is not the same thing as referring to one’s king as “your highness.” Referring to the Pope by his title is a choice I make as a Catholic. I choose to be a Catholic and I chose to observe the protocol. Nothing compels me to do it, and if a non-Catholic wishes not to do it, then there is no force of law that can make him. I personally don’t refer to the Dalai Lama as “His Holiness” as is proper protocol because I don’t feel any obligation to. If I had the occasion of actually meeting the Dalai Lama, of course I would not be rude and I would use the title. But that would be curtsey. I don’t even feel compelled to refer to Obama as “The President.” I’m not even sure I would give him the curtsey (since I’ve grown to really dislike him) of such a respectful address. But the difference with a monarch is twofold. First, unlike the Holy Father, it’s a title given as a birthright. Second until modern times when monarchs aren’t truly monarchs any more, I would have been obligated by force of law.

    Whether human dignity of the individual is derived from Christianity (and I believe it is) is irrelevant. A monarch doesn’t have to be Christian. The emperor of China or of Japan weren’t Christian. I’m not even sure that the successor to the current Queen of England is Christian, or at least a believing one. There’s no evidence that modern democracies (which to be correct are republics with legislative representatives and bill of rights, so the whole Aristotelian critique doesn’t apply) infringe on the individual. What we have are disputes as to what constitutes an individual (the unborn, mental capacity, and once upon a time race), not whether we can limit individual rights. Liberals (and I’m no Liberal) are quite strong on that. If anything individualism has run amok.

    You could argue that “a democracy…is about the gratification of the desires of the majority” but I don’t think that would be quite accurate. Modern western countries, and I know for certain when it comes to the United States, have a Bill of Rights which protect minority rights from being infringed upon. It’s not mob rule. There are basic rights that protect all minorities (yes, I know race was an issue once) from being trampled. If anything religious minorities (Quakers, Shakers, Puritans, etc.) had to flee monarchial countries to come to the United States for those very liberties.

    As to plutocracy, well that’s just a red herring. There is no plutocracy enshrined in the US constitution. Part of individual rights that goes hand in hand to human dignity is that a person is entitled to keep the fruits of his labor if legally obtained. Certainly you can’t be endorsing taking people’s private property. Wealthy people get wealthy by making a very small profit multiplied over a large population so that the accumulation becomes substantial. That seems fair, and besides modern democracies actually have a mechanism called progressive taxation, which if you think about it, is anti-plutocracy. And that level of taxation varies from western country to western country based on the local value systems. For instance the level of taxation in Sweden is breathtakingly high from my point of view, but if that’s how they assess social justice then let them be happy with it. The point is that a democratic legislative system comes to level of taxation reflective of the values of the citizenry. Would an absolute monarch come to such a value? History has shown lots of Kings that imposed more taxation than warranted.

    Finally I would venture to say that the differences in our views on this stem from the different conservatisms that we have matured under. Perhaps as a Brit you feel comfortable under a monarch, and your conservatism stretches back to medieval times. American conservatism is rooted in our founding principles, where individual rights were codified, as well as a relationship with our governments. We shucked off a king once because we didn’t like monarchial whim or privilege. And as kings go in history, he wasn’t all that oppressive but nonetheless the founders didn’t feel like he deserved any such privilege. Now one might argue that the rebelling colonies were a liberalizing force overturning a conservative principle. I think that argument might hold for the French Revolution, but the American Revolution is in my opinion rooted in a deeper conservatism than monarchy. The American Revolution was rooted in a return to the conservative principles of the Roman Republic, a conservatism that despised titles of rank and birthright distinctions between its citizens.

    • 1.The Roman Republic was not a Christian social order though. The founders were not as Christian as we like to think. They had a quasi-protestant nostalgia for a pagan past. 2.Our Lord himself was the rightful eir to the Throne of David 3. The only truly Christian republic was that of Venice, a small aristocracy. These are three reasons why I am a Theocrat. A monarchy is probably more able to thrive as a Theocracy than a republic, but if a republic is truly Catholic and the laws of God are obeyed and the church has a special place in the heart of the country (the true definition of Theocracy). Than I would be fine with it.

      • I don’t think the original discussion was about the best form of government for Christianity. It was just over the best form of government. Anyway, that’s what I was addressing. You assume that the monarch is going to be Christian or a Christian of the variety you espouse, or even one sympatheitic to Christianity. Sure you might have one, but over time monarchs change in their sympathy. Frankly I believe that a separation of church and state is best for religions. And the best way to eshrine that is thruogh a bill of rights that codifies religious liberty.

        • Dear manny,
          Your last argument baffles me, because i can never understand if you believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ how you could want his Churches to be excluded from the political sphere. A response to your first part would be that i don’t support Monarchies that are not Christian, ( or any thing else that isn’t). Its just that Monarchy works so well in a Christian setting (in my view).

          • Where did I say Christians should be excluded from the public sphere? Separation of church and state does not mean the church can’t advocate and preach policy. They must be in the public sphere. Separation means that the government does not endorse religion and religion is not part of the government. But Christians and their churches have an obligation to make their influence felt through the electorate.

          • You can live in a country with an established Christian Church, and be of another faith, you just need to recognize that this country has a certain history and culture. A country without one will fall into democratic anarchy.

  8. “Are there those on the Right who believe that businesses should be run democratically with each employee getting one vote in determining how the company should be run? ”

    Only if you see the world in purely adacemic, theoretical terms. Anyone who’s actually been in a real business at any level can see how ridiculous this is. Your proposal would say that a new hire who’s been on the job one day should have an equal say in running a company as a shop foreman who’s been there 30 years and knows every aspect of the business.

    • When many years younger, I toyed around with certain ideas of worker control (syndicalism), and customer control (the co-operative business idea).

      I spend 20 years working for a Co-operative electric utility after spending 20 years working for an IOU (Investor Owned Utility). I can say from my personal experience, the co-op is no better run than the IOU. In many cases, due to the cronyism of the Old Boy Club, it is run worse.

      That experience soured me on untried theoretical panaceas for remedying all social or economic ills, whether neocon nation-building, libertarian destruction of government, or socialist economic controls. Which is why I find a vast preference for conservatism of the Kirk-Burke school.

      • My experience tells me that not all socialists are utopians or believe they can solve the world’s problems with one or two magic bullets. Rather, some of us believe that distributing power prevents or limits the abuse of power. There are also moral values one has to adopt in order for any kind of socialism to improve the status quo. And one of those basic moral values is the belief that we share society as equals rather than competing in order to be in control.

        Now neither a distributed power structure nor having the above moral value become popular solves all of our problems. We will always have problems. But believing that the one’s own pet system, whether it be the current one or another one, can’t be improved is to imply that one’s favorite system is utopian because saying that it can’t improve is saying that it is as good as it gets. And quite personally, the current system could improve.

        • Evermore, I gain the impression many disagreements would evaporate if terms and assumptions were properly defined and stated.

          “…some of us believe that distributing power prevents or limits the abuse of power.” No conservative would argue with that, it being one of the basic notions of Russell Kirk and of the beloved Mister Burke, MP, that the proliferation of “little platoons” of association, of family, of trade, of club, or church, provide bulwarks against the excesses of a centralized state bent on total domination of society.

          “There are also moral values one has to adopt in order … to improve the status quo.” Again, pure Burke-Kirk as I understand them.

          “Now neither a distributed power structure nor having the above moral value become popular solves all of our problems. We will always have problems.” Amen.

          “But believing that the one’s own pet system, whether it be the current one or another one, can’t be improved is to imply that one’s favorite system is utopian because saying that it can’t improve is saying that it is as good as it gets.” An adherence to *ideology* (bad word to a conservative) or other false map of reality is the sure way to bury a society in pain and disaster of unimaginable proportions (did we not have the examples of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Red China from the last Century to instruct us.)

          “And quite personally, the current system could improve.” Again, no argument. There is not a conservative alive who would presume to think otherwise. Men of the Right may be Stand-Patters, reenactors, or revanchists, but those are not conservatives.

          If I may remark, without meaning insult or condescension, that your “socialism” sounds suspiciously like a form of conservatism, with different terminology.

          It seems, as I have observed, your thought confuses conservatism with a worship of capitalism. That worship of capitalism is properly the provenance of Libertarians and Objectivists, not of conservatives. Capitalism comes in several forms, laissez-faire, Welfare Capitalism, State Capitalism, Command Capitalism (a close cousin of State Capitalism), and so forth. It is an ancillary principle, not a central tenant, of conservatism proper, and the exact form appropriate to society has received much discussion over the years.

          No conservative objects to change, especially necessary change. The objection to what is termed “change” in this wonderful world of tomorrow is that it is thought proper to impose “change” from the top, or from some external Authority, not the change deriving organically from the body social. When this vaunted “change” comes from an imposed ideology, from a Utopian scheme, that is the change which a conservative will ever oppose.

          • David,
            I believe that we have both more agreements and disagreements than meets than meets the eye.

            The disagreements revolve around individual liberty vs democracy. From what I have read in a number of conservative places, the conservative way to distribute power is to both increase individual liberty and focus on size. For most conservatives, the size of government, except for the military and law enforcement, must be small. In distributism, companies must be small. Keeping things small allows any group to be more self-sustaining and self-ruled. Correct me here if I am wrong.

            From the Left’s perspective, there is some agreement, such as in libertarian socialism to anarcho-syndicalism, with distributism, but such a perspective does not help in societies that require the mass production of goods and services to survive along with increasing divisions of labor. In addition, competing interests between groups must be mediated in some way. Just focusing on gov’t size does not address that issue. So to offset that, the Left’s solution is to extend democracy from the public sector, assuming it is there, to the private sector. That is because we realistically cannot expect democracy in the public sector when we don’t have democracy in the private sector–this has to do with the power of some in the private sector Before Lenin hijacked the Russian Revolution, Russians had developed ‘soviets,’ or workers councils. Those who served in the soviets were elected by peers and kept their day job. Lenin eliminated many of the soviets and purged the remaining ones of those who disagreed with him by calling them ‘counter-revolutionaries.’

            The problem with reducing the solution to our problem with gov’t to that of size is that a small gov’t has no power to keep private sector elites who have grown too big in check. Gov’t has to be big enough to both provide and enforce incentives and laws that prevent businesses from growing too big. In addition, where mass production is required to provide for people’s needs, keeping everything small could very well prevent minimum standards from being met and the adequate production of goods and products.

            Plus, there are some services, besides self-defense, that require the resources of the central gov’t and this is similar to the need for regional hospitals because they can provide specialized services that smaller, local hospitals cannot.

            For distributism, the solution revolves around size. All other factors are facilitated through size. For the left, the solution revolves around increased participation in decision making by the all of the stakeholders whether that is done directly or through elected councils.

            Currently because gov’t consists of those who represent the wealthy and because of the costs of elections and our allegiance to the two party system, most of us go unrepresented. BTW, does distributism address the problems presented by the two party system since party size is inversely related to the number of competitive political parties? To an extent, limiting government power means limiting what policies the government can produce and enforce to keep the private sector elites from consolidating wealth and power.

            In addition, as in education, we need a mix between national standards and local control. Just focusing on the size of gov’t does not address how to achieve that mix.

            As to conservatives objecting to change, that depends on what is being changed. Revered past traditions are very often defended as being items that cannot be changed.

            BTW, a few of our agreements have been touched on above. In addition, I am a theological conservative Christian and that might point to other values we have in common but have been implicitly expressed.

    • A little research will tell you that there are companies that are run democratically and have succeeded.

      BTW, while you ridicule the idea of a new hire having the same say as employees who have been there many years, you assume that different kinds of probationary periods could not be a part of employee run businesses. At same time, you have to ask yourself whether someone who buys stock that is not originally issued should have more say in a company than an employee who has been there for many years.

  9. “A little research will tell you that there are companies that are run democratically and have succeeded.”

    And how many have failed? How many hippie communes are still in existence?

    But that’s not really the point, is it? The point seems to be you want to FORCE companies to be run by your ideological standards. Keep in mind that democracy is a means to an end, not an idol to be worshipped. Even in politics, democracy can be dangerous if not restrained by things like a Constitution and a republican form of government. It would be foolish indeed to make a fetish out of the word “Democracy” and then try to impose it in places where it is neither needed nor wanted.

    • Eric ,
      How many regular companies have failed? Failure is the risk of running a business. But why the antagonism to that way of operating a company? Why the name calling? Aren’t such companies that run democratically simply competing with other companies in terms of how they operate?

      And whether companies run according to my ideology is not the issue. That workers have a greater voice in their place of employment and that wealth and work are put on a more equal footing are the issues. Otherwise, we are simply we are allowing one group to dominate over the other. Is that what you want?

      • ” That workers have a greater voice in their place of employment and that wealth and work are put on a more equal footing are the issues. ”

        You never did address my point about why a new hire should have as much say in how a business is run as someone who has been there far longer and has far more experience. Your scheme seems designed to deny authority to those who have earned it and give it to those who have not.

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