Opinion

Democratic Socialism is Government Sanctioned Theft by Majority Vote

Today’s call for Democratic Socialism is all the rage. What is it? Advocates of Democratic socialism give lip service to capitalist markets only because they understand that they need the goose to lay the golden egg. If there is no golden egg, then there is nothing to tax and redistribute.

The following is my description of how it works on a small scale.

If someone breaks into your house to steal something, that person most likely will go to jail or pay some type of restitution. What if a person who wants to steal from you calls on some of his neighbors to join him in stealing your identity? Would that be legal? What if when they were caught they attempted to justify their actions by claiming that what they had stolen was for a worthy cause? Some of them needed money to send their children to college. Others needed help with their mortgage payment. Would this neighborhood theft ring be morally justified to steal from you if the cause was said to be good?

What if the group expanded its efforts by asking the less fortunate to join the group and help with the stealing? Would that be moral or legal?

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How about if this larger group decided to implement a political solution to avoid anti-theft legal sanctions by creating a civil government to pass laws to take money from some people so it can be redistributed to other people?

Democratic Socialism is theft by the majority. Using the power and force of government to extract money from some people so it can be given to other people is the essence of Democratic Socialism. What would be illegal for one person or a group to do outside the bounds of government is now made legal and exemplary inside the protective bounds of government.

When we hear the word “Democracy,” we immediately believe it’s a good thing. There are certain expressions of Democracy that aren’t good. One of the last accurate definitions of Democracy was published in 1928 in a training manual developed by the U.S. War Department. Democracy was described as “a government of the masses.” Authority was said to be “derived through mass meeting or any other form of ‘direct’ expression.” Direct democracy, according to the manual, would result in “mobocracy.” The “attitude toward property is communistic—negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences.”1

In a word, direct democracy makes “we the people” the immediate sovereigns without any guarantee of external moral restraint. C. Gregg Singer, echoing this definition, writes that “Modern political theory has replaced the doctrine of the sovereignty of God with that of the sovereignty of man” that manifests itself either in anarchy or totalitarianism.2

Democracy has become a political god—vox populi, vox dei—for many: “The voice of the people is the voice of god.” Is it any wonder that John Adams, the second president of the United States, declared that “the voice of the people is sometimes the voice of Mahomet, of Caesar, of Catiline, the Pope, and the Devil.”3 Adams also wrote: “If the majority is 51 and the minority 49, … is it certainly the voice of God? If tomorrow one should change to 50 vs. 50, where is the voice of God? If two and the minority should become the majority, is the voice of God changed?”4

John Cotton (1584-1652), a seventeenth-century Puritan minister in Massachusetts, wrote in 1636: “Democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?”5

In the Federalist Papers (No. 10), James Madison (1751-1836), fourth president of the United States and recognized as the “father of the Constitution,” wrote that democracies are “spectacles of turbulence and contention.” Pure democracies are “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property…. In general [they] have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”6

Did these men oppose the democratic process? Winthrop certainly did not. Rulers were chosen “by the general vote of the people” through the raising of hands.7 Madison cannot be accused of rebuffing the democratic process since the Constitution mandates that representatives be elected by popular vote. Maybe it’s because they understood the observational wisdom of this quotation usually attributed to an Alexander Tyler. Though not substantiated, its sentiments are on the money:

A democracy cannot exist as a pure form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [benefits for themselves] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship.

The “public treasury” is money taken from working people. Governments don’t have any money unless they tax people or print money. Both are forms of theft.

Christian philosopher and apologist Francis A. Schaeffer described democracy as “the dictatorship of the 51%, with no controls and nothing with which to challenge the majority.”8 Many who are arguing against homosexual marriage are doing so by an appeal to poll numbers. While such an appeal might work in the short run, over time, with humanists controlling our schools and the media, public opinion can shift rapidly.

Our founders certainly didn’t want a pure democracy even when the majority of those who could vote were Christians and believed in some form of higher law. John Winthrop (1588-1649), first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared direct democracy to be “the meanest and worst of all forms of government.”9

To temper the abuses of democracy, our founders created a system of checks and balances. These men feared that the whims of the majority, cut off from an outside moral standard (higher law), would prevail if direct democracy were ever accepted as a legitimate form of civil government. On the other hand, these men knew that only “the people” could keep a civil government in check. There was no divine right of kings (or a divine right of representatives or judges), and there must be no divine right of the people. But if at any time the character of the people changed, their constitutional effort, no matter how noble, would have been nullified. Here is show Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) explained it:

In ascending to the great principles upon which all society rests, it must be admitted that there are some which are of eternal obligation and arise from our common dependence upon our Creator. Among these are the duty to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God [Micah 6:8].10

In his book The Course of American Democratic Thought, Ralph Henry Gabriel describes democracy as a “romantic” idea, a “national faith” that has “the power of a state religion.”11 As long as people believed that “beneath society, its customs and institutions, a law exists that men did not make,”12 the faith could be kept alive. If a majority of people recognized that such a fixed law existed, a law that obligated citizens and statesmen alike, “a moral law that had been carried down from the time of Moses by the Judeo-Christian tradition,”13 democratic elements within a republican system could be sustained. Even the “intellectual descendants of the Enlightenment” believed that there was a fixed “natural law”14 that “is beyond the just reach of human power.”15 Most Americans believed that what distinguished their country “from tyrannies abroad where law was the will of the man in power”16 was Chancellor James Kent’s assessment that America was a “government of laws, and not of men.”

Imagine a world government, democratically elected according to the principle of one-man-one-vote on a worldwide scale. What would the probable outcome of an election be? Most likely, we would get a Chinese-Indian coalition government. And what would this government most likely decide to do in order to satisfy its supporters and be reelected? The government would probably find that the so-called Western world had far too much wealth and the rest of the world, in particular China and India, far too little, and that a systematic wealth and income redistribution would be necessary.17

It’s like the Democrats who pit the rich over against the poor. The rich have too much money, and the poor don’t have enough. Let’s tax the rich, in the name of “the people” and redistribute this excess wealth to the poor who will then vote for the power grabbers in the next election to keep the money flowing.

When you hear someone advocating for Democratic Socialism, think, “Thou shalt not steal, even by majority vote.”

  1. Training Manual, No. 2000-25 (Washington, DC: War Department, 1928), 91. []
  2. C. Gregg Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967), 43. []
  3. John Adams, quoted by Gilbert Chinard, Honest John Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co., [1933] 1961), page 241 by John Eidsmoe, “The Christian America Response to National Confessionalism,” in Gary Scott Smith, ed., God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989), 227-228. []
  4. Quoted in Eidsmoe, “Christian America Response,” 228, note 15. []
  5. Letter to Lord Say and Seal, quoted by Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, eds., The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, [1938) 1963), 1:209-10. Also see Edwin Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts: 1620-1692 (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966), 55. []
  6. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist, Jacob E. Cooke, ed. (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 61. []
  7. Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1958), 90. []
  8. Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (1970) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 4:27. []
  9. Quoted in A. Marvyn Davies, Foundation of American Freedom: Calvinism in the Development of Democratic Thought and Action (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1955), 11. []
  10. Joseph Story, Miscellaneous Writings (1835), 74. Quoted in Ralph Henry Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 2nd ed. (New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1956), 17. []
  11. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 14. []
  12. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 14. []
  13. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 14. []
  14. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 17. []
  15. Quoting Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution in Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 17. []
  16. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought, 18. []
  17. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001), 95. []
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