A friend of mine recently made a Facebook post that read: “Democracy is the bizarre concept that you are too stupid to run your own life, but smart enough to elect the men that will run it for you.”.

I have to disagree with this notion and I wish to challenge it. This will be part of my talk about “The Liechtenstein Model for market governance and self-determination”, that I will be giving at the CoraxConf2017, following my paper of the same title which I published through Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad and which can be found here: http://www.fundalib.org/…/01/Andreas-Kohl-TLM-EMDL-01-2017.…

Here was my reply:

There is nothing bizarre about the concept of “being smart enough to choose someone to do something for you that you can’t or don’t want to do yourself”, or have you never hired an electrician, plumber, ordered food at a restaurant, etc? This is why we have division and specialisation of labour, and economics itself.

There is nothing wrong with a group of people choosing a person or an organisation to lead them and manage certain aspects of their lives. There is nothing wrong with democracy.

What is wrong, is when you separate the concept of democracy from that of self-determination. That’s where the real problem lies.

Self-determination is an implicit part of democracy, one so obvious at large scales that nobody ever doubts it, but that somehow we have, anti-democratically, removed at smaller scales.

Let me explain what I mean with an example.

Imagine if the US held a referendum with the question “Should we annex Canada?”, and the result came out in favour. Does this mean that the US government is now the democratically legitimate government of Canada? No, of course not, nobody is crazy enough to claim otherwise; it’s obvious that such a move can not be decided by American voters – Canadians would need to decide something like this.

Even if the referendum included all Canadian voters as well as all US voters, the US’ population is 10 times bigger than Canada’s, so that would change nothing. Such a referendum would still be illegitimate and anti-democratic.

This is where self-determination at the large scale is obvious and accepted.

The problem is, if you extend the logic of this principle, you will find that the US government is only legitimate in Texas if more than half of Texans agree to it, and the rest of the US has no say in that.

And the government of Texas is only legitimate in Austin if more than half of Austinians agree to it, and the rest of Texas has no say in that.

And so on and so forth, down to the individual.

That’s right, if you take the founding principles of democracy, which includes self-determination, and you follow them consistently, then you must have total freedom of association and individual liberty. There’s no way around it.

But unfortunately, we don’t live in a democratic world, and we don’t truly believe in democracy. We recognise it at the global level, and would criticise the US undemocratically taking over Canada, but at our own national level, we don’t expect or demand democracy for Texas, or Austin, or Yourself as an individual.