How liberalism leads to the end of democracy
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on Theodore Dalrymple’s article on what I call anarcho-tyrannical Britain, be sure to see the discussion
between Mark D. and me regarding liberalism and the end of majority rule. Mark figured out how the the liberal belief in equality of individual rights, which in the Declaration of Independence is the basis of government by the consent of the governed, becomes, in today’s radical liberal democracy, the basis of denying
the consent of the governed. Since all individuals are equal, no majority of individuals should be allowed to force its will on any minority of individuals. Under the older liberalism, majorities ruled, but were prevented from infringing the basic human and civil rights of the minority; under today’s radical liberalism, majorities are not allowed to rule at all.
Also, for an application of the same analysis to a different issue, see the thread where I reply to a reader who sarcastically said that with my call to Westerners to repent of their liberalism I am putting myself in the place of God.
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Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 22, 2006 05:24 PM | Send
You write that under advanced liberalism, “society must be run by a non-elected instrumentality” in order to ensure the primacy of the individual will. Is this not, in essence, the very thing our present Supreme Court embodies? Is this not what makes the judicial tug-of-war the most central purely political struggle of our time? I have long thought as much, and it is a relief to encounter some affirmation of that intuition on your site.
Sage M. McLaughlin
Dear Mr. McLaughlin,
Absolutely. That’s a perfect example of what we’re talking about: Abington v. Schempp (outlawed psalm readings in schools in the name of individual rights), Roe v. Wade (overturned all abortion laws in the U.S. in the name of individual rights), Lawrence v. Texas (overturned all sodomy laws in the U.S. and basically all state laws pertaining to sexual behavior in the name of individual rights), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (defined the federally protected “liberty” in the 14th amendment as the godlike power of each individual to define good and evil, just like what the snake offered Adam and Eve in Genesis 2), and other cases overturning loitering laws, overturning school dress codes, and on and on, all in the name of individual rights. The Court exists for the purpose of forcing on society the “correct” understanding of individual rights over and against the consent of the governed, i.e., over and against the consent of the majority.
Ok, but what I just said is familiar, there’s nothing new about that litany. What for me is new here is the idea that the object is not just to stop some particular majoritarian oppression of a minority; the object is to disempower the majority altogether, because by the very act of imposing its will on the minority, the majority is oppressive of the equality of individual wills, which is the only true principle of the modern liberal regime.