- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

Does democracy undermine a country's future by shortening the time-preference of rulers? Does racial diversity produce conflict? Are America's "two greatest strengths" in fact the country's two greatest weaknesses?

This sixth and final in a series on America's imperiled future examines these questions in the light of two important new books.

"Democracy: The God That Failed," by political economist Hans Hermann Hoppe, makes the case that democracy causes rulers to use policy for their short-term gains at the expense of the long-term welfare of the country.

A king or hereditary line of rulers has a long-term view because he and his heirs have a proprietary interest in the country. Although all kings will not be well-informed or in possession of good judgment, their proprietary interest causes hereditary rulers to pay attention to the repercussions of their actions on the economic, social and cultural strength of their country.

A democracy, on the other hand, is ruled by temporary and interchangeable caretakers, who have no proprietary interest in the country. Their ability to exploit the country to their advantage is limited to their uncertain term of office. The results are shortsighted or present-oriented policies that benefit the officeholder at the long-term expense of the country.

The longer democracy exists, the more damage will be done to law, property, culture, family and moral values by the musical-chair system of rotating rulers guided by short-term interest. As redistribution expands, the incentive for businessmen, judges and consumers to take a long-term view is systematically reduced. Business time horizons shrink to three months, saving rates fall, and debt levels rise as shortsighted rule reduces government to income and wealth confiscation. The prevailing incentive for citizens becomes to overconsume income and to be a net debtor, as wealth is targeted for exploitation both by government and lawyers.

Not a cheerful analysis. Before dismissing it, sit back and make your list of government policies that take a long-term view to actually promote "the general welfare." In the past 102 years, only two come readily to mind: President Reagan's supply-side policy, which cured "stagflation" by overthrowing Keynesian short-term demand management, and President Reagan's decision to abandon "containment" and actively work to hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.

An honest look at democracy's "great victories" shows them to be unmitigated disasters. The Civil Rights Act destroyed freedom of conscience, voluntary association and equality in law, replacing it with status-based privileges from the feudal past. Busing and federal aid destroyed public education. The Great Society spending programs eroded family and encouraged public dependency.

The New Deal destroyed accountable law by forcing Congress to delegate lawmaking power to unelected federal bureaucrats. The Social Security Act substituted an intergenerational Ponzi scheme, which is entirely dependent on favorable demographics, for individual saving. The Federal Reserve Act gave us the Great Depression. American entry into World War I, which was to make the world "safe for democracy," resulted in V.I. Lenin, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Tse-tung.

Yet, all these disastrous policies greatly benefited the politicians who inflicted them.

When democracy is mixed with racial and cultural diversity, the combination of short time horizons with internal conflict maximizes weakness, regardless of accumulated scientific and technological skills. In another important recent book, "Conflicts Explained by Ethnic Nepotism," Scandinavian scholar Tatu Vanhanen argues that group conflict is biologically or racially based.

Mr. Vanhanen constructs an Index of Ethnic Heterogeneity, a measure of ethnic, tribal, racial, linguistic and religious diversity, for every country in the world with a population larger than 1 million. He then constructs an Index of Ethnic Conflict and finds a strong correlation between the scores of the two indexes.

In our world of politically correct scholarship, it is almost obligatory for sociologists to assume that the source of conflict is "oppression" or "injustice." Mr. Vahnanen dismisses these "explanations" as worn-out Marxist propaganda.

Conflict, he concludes, comes from "ethnic nepotism." It is natural to the human species to favor relatives over people who are unrelated to us. Extending this principle, people care more for those genetically related to them than for others. Of all chasms that separate people, race is the hardest to bridge.

Multiracial or multi-tribal states break up, because assimilation across racial boundaries is rare. The only solution to the conflict is secession and separation.

Mr. Vanhanen notes that the belief that racial diversity is a strength is limited to Western European countries, the United States and Canada. The belief is so obviously at odds with the experience of the rest of the world that only people brainwashed by political correctness can believe it. By infusing themselves with massive racial diversity, the countries of the West are ceasing to be nation-states and are planting seeds of future conflict without precedent in world history.

Non-thinking civilizations are doomed. The weakness of Western intellectual thought is apparent when the entire edifice can be challenged by two books. Is the West too politically correct to free itself from the black hole of no-think?

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