Friday, 25 May 2012

Hayek on democracy

I've finally found some time to make progress with The Road to Serfdom. This paragraph from the end of Chapter 5 (Planning and Democracy) seemed worth highlighting:

It cannot be said of democracy, as Lord Acton truly said of liberty, that it "is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. It is not for the sake of a good public administration that it is required, but for the security in the pursuit of the highest objects of civil society, and of private life".

Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom. As such it is by no means infallible or certain. Nor must we forget that there has often been much more cultural and spiritual freedom under an autocratic rule than under some democracies -- and it is at least conceivable that under the government of a very homogenous and doctrinaire majority democratic government might be as oppressive as the worst dictatorship.

Time will tell what sort of democracy results from the "Arab Spring". We'll know the result of the Egyptian presidential election soon.

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