Friday, August 27, 2010

Hayek (third hand) on Democracy

Roberts taking on DeLong taking on Hayek:
What I take Hayek to be saying in the quote (and I don’t have the book handy so I don’t have the context) is that unlimited democracy tends toward an egalitarianism and redistribution that relieves people of responsibility.
It is popular to say that democracy is horrible but better than any of the alternatives. I would say that unlimited democracy is horrible and inferior to limits that restrict the power of the state to carry out the will of the majority. Majority rule can be very nasty. As a way to govern a nation, it is not in my hierarchy of good things. It is vastly inferior to a constitutional republic, especially one where the constitution is respected.
Hayek had a few better things to say about democracy than the quote DeL and R are discussing. Consider these from Road to Serfdom. I still rather like Easterly's praise of democracy that focuses on the values inherent in it rather than the mechanics. Another huzzah for checks and balances and the protection of minority rights to make "democracy" work.

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