Saturday, February 19, 2005


Too many 'moderate' liberals assume a word can only have one meaning.

What the neocons call "democracy" is a Hamiltonian system in which the people exercise formal power to elect the government, but the key directions of policy are determined by a small and relatively stable Power Elite that is insulated from any real public pressure.

(from a post on the Mutualist blog, describing how the new elected powers of Iraq are straitjacketed by Bremer's pro-neoliberal laws; [Added 20/02:] also noteworthy because anti-war libertarians often take neocon rhetoric about spreading democracy at face value - so that they can denounce neocons as unrealistic dreamers, rather than cynical propagandists)


At 8:54 PM, Blogger josh narins said...

Eh, it's Montesquieu, not Hamilton. Aristocratic-Republicanism.

And Mutualist is reading into it the notion of a "stable" class. Eligibile elites are never chosen based on ideology, but capability. Therefore, in an A-R system, one should only expect the top 5-15% best educated/wealthiest/most accomplished to run for office.

The idea that the House of Reps should "mirror" the society at large isn't in the theory.

Democratic-Republics, in case you needed reminding, are where everyone votes on every law.

From a strict "division of labor" standpoint, I like A-R. From the "elites are better educated" standpoint (and because I am an elite in that respect) I also like it.

But the idea of a stable set of elites is bogus, and is a conflation of the idea (A-R) with the neo-cons desired result.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger DoDo said...

N-n-n-o, I think Mutualist does mean Alexander Hamilton, who thought the British government of the time was the best in the world, wanted senators to be senators for life, and overstepped his powers several times as Delegate or as Secretary of Treasury. Libertarians also hate him for introducing taxes in the USA (and it was him too who moved from the Founding Father's agrarian ideal towards industrialism).

(I got these and more after some web research.)

Or, do you mean that neocons explicitely name Montesquieu as role model? (This should be interesting because their position with regards to democracy is a main difference between the neocons and their purported inspiration, Leo Strauss.)


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