“Comply or Die” Democracy Is a False Choice

Economic prosperity is the greatest threat to disease and despair; it’s what enables people to thrive rather than live hand-to-mouth, further facilitating the mitigation or avoidance of unhealthy circumstances. The greater the economic prosperity, the better for humanity; therefore, anything that inhibits economic prosperity is an enemy of human longevity. The Cato Institute recognizes economic prosperity’s vital importance by co-publishing the annual Economic Freedom of the World. Every country’s economy lies somewhere on the command-market spectrum, and in Cato’s report, the highest scores are awarded to the countries where voluntary exchange dwarfs command and control; however, “most free” does not mean “completely free.” The world’s top economy didn’t receive a perfect score (10) for the same reason that the world’s destitute didn’t receive a zero. Though inherently regressive, legislation can neither produce nor completely stifle human ingenuity. Contrary to the hubristic claims of those cobbling it, legislation cannot alter human desires, and the wonk who endeavors to show that legislation changes human behavior relies on arguments at odds with reality. A jailed thief is still a thief. People cannot prosper without choices, and “comply or die” is a false choice.

Private property is the foundation for the rule of law in market economies. It follows, then, that private law is the lifeblood of market economies. Private law isn’t an abstract idea; you likely interact with it far more frequently than with “public” law. Think of private law as the eccentricities surrounding the universal belief that force and fraud are immoral, and it is that common recognition that forms mutual trust. When dining with a friend, whether in his kitchen or at a brewery, the joy you derive from his company is greater than the annoyance of the surrounding irritants—whether they’re his idiosyncrasies or the brewery’s. This relationship—a “market” relationship—can voluntarily end as quickly as it began, just as companies (people) can freely enter and exit a market economy (more people). In a command economy, however, a dictator can impose the rule of law on the entire country just as 50 governors and a president can impose the rule of law on a third of a billion Americans. That scenario is devoid of trust, and because exiting from it is incredibly difficult—if not impossible—it breeds resentment, not prosperity.

The rule of law is only as strong as the trust in it, so laws imposed, by definition, cannot be nearly as effective as those to which people naturally consent.

What manufactures legislation? What enables the thief to choose between instant gratification or incarceration, as opposed to getting rich or getting shot? What’s preventing those who want it from being completely free? What is this artificial barrier to prosperity? It’s not an act of nature, and it existed long before the lockdowns; it’s a sinister invention—whether called “the government,” “the state,” or, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe defined it, “a territorial monopolist of compulsion.” Regardless of your preferred name for it, you likely trust your state capitol far less than you trust your local grocery store. The former’s model is parasitic predation; the latter’s model is business. In 1974, Murray Rothbard described what the state is, and in 2013, Jeffrey Tucker described what the state wants:

“The state in all times and all places wants a population of despairing, dreary, hopeless, and weighted-down people. Why? Because such people don’t do anything. They are predictable, categorizable, pliable, and, essentially, powerless. Such people offer no surprises, threaten no change, and destabilize nothing. This is the ideal world that the bureaucrats, the plutocrats, and the technocrats desire. It makes their lives easy and the path clear. Today is just like yesterday and tomorrow—forever. This is the machine that the state wants to manage, a world of down-in-the-dumps and obedient citizens of the society they think they own.”

The state cannibalizes our health—the antithesis of economic prosperity—but the dominant ideology assumes that the state can be reformed. To believe that electing the “right” politician will generate prosperity is to fundamentally misunderstand economics. The “right” politician can only delay the state’s impending collapse. Overzealous parasitism kills the host, without which the parasite dies. If parasitism could truly yield prosperity, wouldn’t it be obviously apparent by now, and cries to reform it, readily derided?

Have you noticed that the stipulation—“If we get 51% of the vote,”—is always more forthright than what follows? The vagueness is intentional because “we can force our will on the minority” is a tougher sell. The rule of law forged by A and B at C’s expense is the moral outrage known as “democracy.” Injustice begets injustice—a depraved degradation. Unlike market democracy, compulsory democracy is vicious and morbid. Why is it assumed, then, that a moral outrage is capable of producing prosperity? If political “solutions” are as great as the parasites claim, wouldn’t we be happy to voluntarily subsidize them? When we buy groceries, are we forced to buy food we don’t want? “Comply or die” democracy forces the obese to buy cake and the alcoholics to buy booze. Private governance provides the only path to pure freedom, without which prosperity is bridled, at best. When mainstream economists suggest means to achieve economic prosperity, why does an uneconomical, moral outrage tend to dominate their thinking? Why, as Hoppe urges, are politically democratic means not “treated with open contempt and ridiculed as moral frauds”? With private governance, the paternalists can lead, the parentalists can be led, and those who want to mind their own business can be left alone; force, fraud, and a majority be damned.

This article originally appeared on Uncle Nap.

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Casey Carlisle

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