Against Democracy

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Brennan, Jason. 2016. Against Democracy. Princeton University Press.

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Description

Existing democracy is compared to ideal rule by experts, epistocracy. Laughable.

Links

Bleeding Heart Bullshit [More...]
"... a clumsy, unoriginal treatise, far too convinced of its own edginess, that attempts to do for libertarianism what The Moosewood Cookbook did for spaghetti squash -- that is, turn something unpalatable into something righteous." This review gets much harsher....
Democracy: Probably a Good Thing [More...]
"Some people openly advocate elite rule. They are both evil and foolish."
Epistocracy (4 links)
A notion favored by many libertarians that popular democracy doesn't work so most people should be disenfranchised in favor of "experts". They don't say it, but that's what Communist parties are. They never have a good explanation of what experts are needed, how they will be chosen, and how they can be prevented from self-dealing.
Uber Menschen [More...]
"This whole intellectual effort, of trying magically to reconcile bedrock libertarianism with an ersatz version of democratic theory, so that one would arrive at a population that would, through sheer force of combined erudition and intellect, arrive at the correct answer, reminds me of Peter Thiel’s notorious complaint that giving women the vote was a major mistake, since they didn’t have the right libertarian attitudes."

Quotations

[...] Bleeding Heart Libertarians (BHL) -- a group of free-market apologists who have built a brand out of applying lipstick to the libertarian pig.
Jonah Walters, "Bleeding Heart Bullshit"
The actual case Brennan advances [in Against Democracy] can be devastated rather quickly, since it suffers from a central logical flaw that renders the whole core argument worthless. Brennan makes his case against democracy by pointing out all the ways in which people are stupid and fail to govern themselves well. Then, he makes the case for epistocracy by thinking through how smart people might make better decisions. All of this is very persuasive, until we remember that he is comparing “democracy as it actually exists” with “epistocracy as an abstract theory.” By comparing real democracy to hypothetical epistocracy (instead of epistocracy as it would actually be implemented), Brennan’s book doesn’t address a single one of the important questions around restricted suffrage: in practice, wouldn’t voting tests probably be used (as they have for their entire history) to disenfranchise the socially powerless? Wouldn’t such a system inevitably be abused, and wouldn’t “knowledge” just become a stand-in for “things powerful people believe”? (Brennan admits that wealthy white men will probably be considered the most “knowledgable,” but does not appear to have a problem with this.) By presenting democracy with all its warts, but giving no thought to how “epistocracies” work in practice, Brennan avoids confronting the difficult fact that his preferred system of government, if adopted, will almost certainly reinstate Jim Crow. Thus Brennan’s book is ultimately morally disgusting, since it amounts to a manifesto in favor of seizing a right from African Americans that took them centuries of bloodshed to win.
Jason Brennan, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"
But at least Brennan [in Against Democracy] is honest in exposing the libertarian project as fundamentally opposed to the basic rights of human beings, its grand paeans to liberty being thin cover for taking the vote away from poor people.
Jason Brennan, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"
Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy makes the most spirited and comprehensive attempt at a philosophically coherent justification of despotic rule. Brennan’s book also offers a useful insight into libertarianism: Against Democracy is a good illustration of how supposedly “libertarian” philosophy is often just a defense of oligarchy. Libertarians always insist that they are defending a philosophy of freedom, but what they are in fact defending is the freedom of a few to maintain their status privileges. The rest of us, without money or votes, always tend to remain distinctly unfree.
Jason Brennan, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"