from Don Boudreaux at the great Cafe Hayek, Quotation of the Day:

… is from page 144 of Anthony de Jasay’s brilliant 1998 volume, The State (original emphasis):

Private property, capital as the source of countervailing power, reinforcing the structure of civil society versus the state, used to be considered valuable both to those who owned some and to those who did not.  Liberal thought no longer recognizes such value.  It considers that democratic procedure is the source of unlimited sovereignty.

This truth is as sad as it is undeniable.  Modern “liberals” – “Progressives” – are both suckered by, and proponents of, what is perhaps the most treacherous political myth to be held by modern humans, namely, that regular corruption-free elections with a wide franchise are sufficient to keep the power of the state within appropriate bounds.  It isn’t only that “Progressives” stubbornly ignore public-choice realities.  They also believe in the existence of a mythical ‘People’s will’ or ‘People’s voice’ that they treat as a god whose desires and commands (always, of course, interpreted by the secular priests called ‘politicians’ and a select few high-church pundits) ought always override the wishes and desires of puny flesh-and-blood individuals.


It is a profound mistake to believe that the popular vote, also known as voter accountability, is considered enough to secure freedom.  It is not. It is the independence of the individual and private property that affects the greater check on tyranny.  In another post Boudreaux noted “Markets allow us to have faith in strangers.” ( a reader’s comment)

It is ironic that the early progressives such as Woodrow Wilson believed in the common will as true democracy yet recognized true leadership as one able to bend and form that will.  In those two thoughts he seemed to find little difference between democracy and the tyranny imposed by a demagogue.