DEMOCRACY AND REPUBLIC
By Armando Ribas
Everything seems to indicate that there is a serious confusion regarding the substantial difference between democracy and the Republic.
The Americans seems to have fallen in that confusion; the present situation somewhat blurs the regime successfully initiated by the Founding fathers in the Constitution of 1787. So much so that a book was recently published on "The State in the third millennium" of Kart R. Leube, which deals with the subject, and refers and qualifies democracy. "History shows that in the long term the mere idea of democracy proves to be incompatible with large powerful States, quite possibly since these masses can only preserve through at least authoritarian or totalitarian control."
In this same sense a video has been released that explains to all Americans the substantial difference between the Republic and democracy. Thus rescuing the transcendent fact that the American system of the Rule of Law is the genuine expression of the Republic and is not a democracy. In this respect it begins by pointing out that the word democracy never appears in the U.S. Constitution; regarding this, it is also worth to remember that it is not appearing either in the Argentine Constitution. It was in that sense that Thomas Jefferson declared: "an elective despotism is not the Government that we are seeking". This expression is useful to analyze the current situation of Latin American democracies.
In keeping with the thought that translates the referenced video, it cites the words of James Madison in The Federalist, on the democracies. "Such democracies have always been spectacles of turbulence and conflict; they have been found always incompatible with the personal safety and with property rights". The system of the Rule of Law is fundamentally based on that the majorities do not have the right to violate the rights of minorities. And that proposition is based on the fundamental principle expressed by John Locke who says: "the right to the pursuit of happiness itself is the fundamental principle of liberty".
The confusion persists and it manifests itself in the political lexicon full of implicit value judgments that hinder the understanding of the concept that allegedly seek to describe. That first Lexicology confusion manifests itself in the so-called division of society between left and right. I then insist that the division between left and right political thought involves a value judgment. Thus the left for being in favor of the poor is altruistic, and the right it is considered in favor of the rich, and therefore concupiscent and greedy. This dichotomy of value ignores the right to the pursuit of happiness and therefore also the right to property.
In my opinion, such raise of a philosophical political issue of left and right is merely confusing the real political alternatives faced by society. What is at stake in society is the respect for individual rights, or on the contrary that the left, based on the fallacy of altruism, decides not to respect them. I can say then, that socialism, both in the United States and Argentina is an unconstitutional project, based in the supposition of eliminating the right of ownership which guarantee both constitutions.
More confusion creates the concept of extreme right, which implies confusing liberalism with fascism. So is ignored, as well explain what Von Hayek in "The Road to Serfdom", that Nazism was a derivative of Marxist socialism, to which definitely contributed recognized Marxist Werner Sombart. In my opinion equally contributed Lenin when in his essay "The new political economy" discovered that capitalists, in spite of their alleged wickedness, were the only ones who could do things right, and therefore, had to be compromised with.
That was the principle on which Mussolini’s fascism was based. In that system, in which property right is not respected, capitalist businessmen have no choice but to colliding with the dictatorship, or abandon their enterprises. Such as dictatorships that can be democratic in the sense that represent the majorities such as Hitler and Mussolini. Let us consider as well socialism of the 21st century, today extended to the Ecuador.
Let us then remember the words of Locke that there is no liberty without law, which is a threshold principle of liberalism. But it is necessary to make some clarification on the matter which it is explained by Von Hayek in the cited work, where it says: "The distinction between the formal law, justice, and the substantive laws, is very important. The difference between these two kinds of standards is the same as between establishing the rules of transit, such as a code of roads, and commands the people where to go"
We have then entered the field of Justice, and here is the big difference between the Republic and the democracy of the majority. The limitation of political power is a fundamental principle of liberalism, which is based on the acceptance of human nature. Such a principle is ignored by socialism in the search for a new man, full of generosity. "Thus Alexix de Tocqueville wrote in this regard: socialism and the concentration of power are fruits of same soil ". We have it also in Europe where is supposed to be the kingdom of democracy. As Lord Acton said: "The dogma, absolute power based on its popular origin hypothesis is as legitimate as the constitutional liberty, it's getting the environment dark".
We have reached a fundamental concept, which determines the division of powers as the limit to political power, acknowledging the immutability of the fallibility of human nature. That was why was Locke who recognized that the monarchs are also men, and therefore, liberty required to limit kings’ prerogatives. Faced with this reality we are faced with judiciary’s main role as guarantor of individual rights which the Constitution recognizes.
This explicit definition of the Rule of Law as an expression of the Republic, is exposed by Alexander Hamilton when he says: no law contrary to the Constitution can be valid... A Constitution is in fact, and must be considered by the judges as a fundamental law. Therefore it is up to them defining its meaning. And this conception was carried into practice by Judge Marshall in the case Marbury vs. Madison which became the inevitable precedent of Judicial Review thus established: "a law of the legislature repugnant to the Constitution, is null… "It is emphatically the scope and responsibility of the Department of Justice to say what is the law". Therein lays the fundamental principle of liberty.
The violation of that principle in the name politics, as President Mujica claims, constitutes ignorance of the Republic on behalf of despotism of the majority. That is why Adam Smith already recognized: "When the Judiciary is attached to the Executive, it is barely possible that justice not be sacrificed frequently to what is commonly known as politics", and he continued “In the progress of despotism, authority of the executive power absorbs all the other powers of the State".
I think that I've been quite explicit in the definition of liberal Republican principles that, for the first time in history allowed liberty and consequently, the creation of wealth. Sorry for the multiplicity of quotes, because fortunately were not my ideas that created this world. If so it were, we would be living in the middle ages. And finally let me remind Alberdi’s: "Politics cannot have different objectives than the objectives of the Constitution".