The Incompatibility between Libertarianism and Democracy:
A Creative Alternative to Democracy

written on 27 September 1993 by
John David Garcia, School of Experimental Ecology
Box 10851, Eugene, OR 97440 503/937-3437

A great man once said that democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the other ones. The fact that democracy seems to be the least evil system of government up to now, does not mean that it is a good system, let alone the best system of government possible. In order to come up with a better system of government it is necessary to understand exactly how democracy functions, and what are both its inherent advantages and its inherent disadvantages.

The main advantage of democracy is that, it tends to diffuse power, and as a consequence inhibits the corruption of highly concentrated power elites; therefore, it is usually less tyrannical than all the other of systems of government tried, until now. Tyranny is always unethical because it diminishes at least one person's creativity, including the tyrant's, by taking away their right to choose alternative, more ethical courses of action.(2,3,7) The majority of all electorates will almost always sacrifice their own, and almost certainly others', personal liberty in exchange for promises of more security from a centralized authority, which in virtually all democracies quickly becomes irreversibly evil and corrupt. Democratic authority, no matter how virtuous and well intentioned it originally was, becomes corrupted because professional politicians quickly learn that the easiest way to get elected is to openly share the fears and prejudices of the electoral majority, independently of the politicians true beliefs, and then to cater to, and manipulate, the majority by telling the lies the majority wishes to hear.

This was understood two thousand years ago by Cicero who said "the world wants to be deceived." (6) It was even better understood twenty four hundred years ago by Socrates who said that democracy would never work because the least creative majority would always choose to live parasitically off of the most creative minority by confiscating their wealth and then redistributing it among themselves, the first clear understanding of socialism.(5) Spinoza rejected democracy because it was destructive to individual liberty, which was essential to maximize creativity. Spinoza said that democracy always leads to the imposition of the will of the majority on minorities, and that this was unethical, because the destruction of freedom also destroys creativity.(7)

As Bertrand Russell eventually learned through personal experience after running for public office, all democracies eventually become so corrupt that "only persons who are hypocritical, stupid, or both can be elected to public office."(6) This is the case because the hypocrite has learned how to manipulate the majority by speaking what he does not believe; stupid politicians may actually believe some or all of what they say. Russell, presumably, considered anyone less clever than himself as stupid and he concluded that a majority of the electorate was stupid. My own observation is that politicians are more hypocritical than stupid, and that the electorate is more lazy and unethical than stupid. Most of the electorate could understand what is going on if they wished to spend any time studying it, by simply reading what has already been published on political corruption; however, they are too lazy to give up any of their 50 hours a week watching television to study and understand the political process. Furthermore, they are too unethical to reject the blatant lies that they are constantly told by charming but unethical politicians, such as Roosevelt, Reagan, and Clinton. It seems that most people choose to believe what they want to believe, not because it is true, but because believing it makes them happy. By definition, someone who values happiness more than truth, is already unethical.(2,3,4)

Almost all political paradigms fall into one of four classes, conservative, liberal, authoritarian, or libertarian. Conservatives are usually better off economically than the majority and wish no government interference in the economic sector, particularly concerning property rights, or forced government redistribution of wealth from those who have it, to those who have less of it; but conservatives wish government to control individual behavior that might be threatening to them, particularly crime, drug use, abortion, homosexuality, and any impediments to the aggressive expansion of their conservative religious beliefs. In terms of the ideological dichotomies used in my book (3), I would call these types of people conservatives of the right. A rightist is defined as anyone who believes that the major cause behind human differences is heredity instead of environment. In the United States most, but not all, conservatives are registered Republicans. Republicans, or Republican minded persons represent about 40% of the electorate.

The Democrats, or Democratically minded part of the electorate, are also about 40% of the electorate. These persons are usually called, incorrectly, from my point of view, "liberals", although there are conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Again using my previous paradigm (3), I would call "liberals", "liberal leftists". A leftist is someone who believes that the major behavioral differences between persons are due to their environment and not to their heredity. A liberal is a person who is tolerant of change in all aspects of the environment particularly those changes which most affect his beliefs and paradigms, so long as those changes do not physically affect his life; while a conservative is a person who is intolerant of change in most aspects of the environment, particularly those that affect his beliefs and paradigms, even if they do not physically affect his life. All leftists are socialists; liberal socialists are known as "social democrats"; conservative socialists are often called "authoratarians".

About 15% of the electorate in the United States prefers an authoritarian type of government that interferes in peoples lives in both (1) questions of personal morality, where authoritarians are usually conservative, and (2) in the economic sphere where authoritarians are usually leftists. Communism, fascism, and Islam are examples of recent authoratarian societies. Ross Perot, and many of his followers, are today's authoritarians. Sometimes authoritarian political movements are called "populism", "statism" or in my terms "conservative leftism".(3)

The least popular of the four political paradigms in all countries of the world, is called "libertarianism". It is most popular in the United States where, libertarianism was the political philosophy advocated by Thomas Jefferson. In the United States, the Libertarian party attracts about 5% of the electorate, although I suspect that if libertarian minded voters believed that there was any chance of the Libertarian party winning, the party might draw enough votes from Republicans, Democrats, Authoritarians, and possibly others, such as nihilists and existentialists, to perhaps have as many as 20% of the electorate. The libertarian believes that government should not interfere in peoples economic or moral life, except in protecting the members of society from undeserved harm from forces which violate their civil rights of life, liberty, and personal property. I define libertarians as, "radical liberals of the right", according to my previous paradigm. (3) A libertarian believes that the only legitimate function of government is in (1) a judiciary and (2) the defense of life and property. The public defense of life against pollution and infectious diseases, not in providing general health care, is also justifiable to libertarians; all other activities should be left to 100%, voluntary associations between private parties. Libertarians regard the initiation of aggression by anyone, as evil.

I have shown, in my most recent book (2), that all political paradigms, other than libertarianism, lead to contradictions and are inherently unethical and destructive. Indeed it can be stated as a general theorem, that any political paradigm, other than libertarianism, will lead to the eventual collapse of the society that practices it. Although the United States was originally designed by the Founding Fathers in general, and Thomas Jefferson in particular, to be a libertarian society, it has rushed ever further toward socialism, because of democracy.

The concept of democracy is simply the rule of the majority; democracy is not in itself a political paradigm but merely a method of implementing one of the previous four paradigms. Thomas Jefferson made the mistake of believing that a democratic, republican form of government was the best way of maintaining a libertarian society. A democratic republic is a nation in which there is not direct democratic rule as in the Greek city states, but instead government is formed by representatives who are elected by majorities of the citizens, and the powers of government over individuals is limited by a constitution. At the beginning of the American republic, democracy seemed a reasonable risk to libertarians, in a society where 90% of the electorate were likely to be independent farmers on their own land for the foreseeable future. Of course, almost from the beginning of the nation the industrial revolution caused ever more people to concentrate in the cities, until today about 95% of the electorate are urban dwellers, and only about 5% are rural dwelling, relatively self-sufficient property owners.

Jefferson despised cities, which he saw as concentrations of parasitical, uncreative human beings who lived off of the labor of the more creative, self-sufficient farmers and inventive rural dwellers, whom he saw as much more worthy and creative than the city dwellers. But Jefferson lived long enough to see the trend of political dominance in national politics by city dwellers. However, I believe that Jefferson's dream would have still failed, even if a majority of the population had remained self-sufficient, yeoman farmers, as Jefferson hoped and worked very hard to achieve with his illegal Louisiana purchase. The flaw in the American system of government is inherent to the very nature of democracy as Socrates, Cicero, Spinoza, and Russell had observed. A democracy will always be a tyranny of the majority; all tyrannies are destructive.

There is nothing inherently creative or ethical in having the allegiance of any popular majority.

Adolf Hitler, an authoritarian rightist, was democratically elected and had overwhelming majority support until he died. Richard Nixon, who almost succeeded in turning the United States into a police state, had overwhelming popular support in the 1972 presidential election. It would have been even higher without the Watergate incident We see today in the United States, that the only politicians who can be elected are those who tell the majority the lies they wish to hear, whether they speak the lies out of hypocrisy or out of stupidity. The 1992 presidential election in the United States, as well as almost all other elections, demonstrates this theorem.

In the 1992 presidential election Bill Clinton was the most mendacious of all the presidential candidates and he received about 43% of the popular vote. George Bush was the next most mendacious of the presidential candidates and he received about 37% of the popular vote. Ross Perot was the third most mendacious of the presidential candidates and he received about 19% of the popular vote. The only presidential candidates who eloquently spoke the truth at all times and had an ethically consistent political philosophy, were the Libertarian party candidates, Andre Marrou for President and Nancy Lord for Vice President; they received less than .5% of the popular vote. The presidential candidates of the Libertarian party were on all the ballots in all fifty states; their message was clearly disseminated for all who wanted to hear it. Yet the vast majority of the electorate preferred to vote for candidates who told them the lies they wished to hear. Furthermore, they voted in direct proportion to how much they lied to them.

This is the fatal flaw in democracy, the majority, at almost all political levels, and always at the national level, votes not on the basis of ethical principle but on the basis of whose lies they believe will make them happiest, by either distributing to them the wealth produced by others, or by chastising those who have beliefs, practices, or behaviors that are offensive to the majority. The reason for this is that at almost all political levels, majorities are not guided by ethical principles, but rather by the desire to be happy; most can be made happy by believing comforting lies appealing to their fear, greed, jealousy, hate, or other negative emotions by which they guide their lives. This is why democracy cannot long endure.

No nation in history has ever been closer to being an ideal libertarian society than was the United States during the 24 years that Jefferson and his closest disciples, Madison and Monroe, were President. The major flaw at this time was slavery, which all three of these presidents, as well as John Adams, the previous president, tried to abolish, but could not accomplish politically because of the democratic and bureaucratic structure of the Government. The United States has moved ever further from libertarianism toward increasing authoritarian socialism.

The United States finally ended slavery in 1865, but in the process centralized obscene power in Washington and made the United States less of a libertarian society than ever before. In contradiction to the Declaration of Independence, and the spirit of the early Constitution, since the end of the Civil War, the United States has increasingly become a hierarchy of power, with the most power in the Federal Government, then in the state governments, then in the local governments, and least in the private individual, where the most power was originally supposed to reside. This inverse pyramid of power is the exact opposite of what a libertarian society should be like. A libertarian society can never be produced or even maintained by a democratic system.

There is an ethical alternative to democracy that not only produces a libertarian society as a trivial side effect, but which also produces the freest and most creative society possible. There are several examples of how to structure such a society. The first, and simplest example is to turn the Libertarian party into a libertarian society, which, at this time, it is not, nor has it ever been. The Libertarian party is a democratic society, thus its failure. The Libertarian party is a contradiction in terms. The best way to bring about a Libertarian society is to become a living example of one, instead of being just one more oxymoronic example of a rather unpopular democratic party. A step by step program on how to turn the Libertarian party into a Libertarian society, follows. A detailed rationale for this program is given in my last book(2), which focuses on maximizing individual creativity rather than creating ethical political organizations; however, the latter flows out of the former.


There are many other alternatives for creating practical illustrations of libertarian principles in politics, economics, education, health and social organization. Some of these are given in my last book. A libertarian political system would have no parties, but the whole nation would be organized into Octets to produce the workers at all levels of legitimate Government, which would be limited entirely to military, public health, police and judicial functions. A libertarian society would have no bureaucracy, lawyers, or professional judiciary. Each Octet would be sovereign on its own territory; there would be no public lands. Octets who did not wish to pay taxes to support a common defense force, public health organization, or a judiciary consisting entirely of randomly selected neutral Octets, i.e. Octets with no connections to either party, for resolving disputes between Octets, could secede at any time from the libertarian society and go its own way without having to pay for any services it does not want, and will no longer receive. The major reason for a massive nation state is to provide adequate military defense against foreign aggressors. The same can be accomplished by a smaller society that is highly creative and invents superior weapons to those of the large nation states. If foreign aggressors could be eliminated, or if there were enough technological superiority among the Octets, then it would be possible to have a libertarian society which operates entirely on the basis of voluntary cooperation without any need for a central government. Octet consensus hierarchy would exist solely as desired, to accomplish goals not achievable by a single Octet.

The Libertarian party could create a sovereign libertarian society, as a living example of what a libertarian society would be like, within the confines of the United States, by simply concentrating, in rural areas suitable for self-sufficiency, self-employment, and voluntary cooperation, Libertarians who share fundamental ethical values and wish to work together. The libertarian ethic of maximum liberty for all without the diminution of the liberty of any for the alleged benefit of anyone else, is an inadequate ethical base for a maximally creative, progressive society. That is one of the reasons that the United States could not remain a libertarian society. A necessary and sufficient ethical system for creating and keeping a libertarian society, is one based on the notions that the ultimate good is to maximize creativity, and anything that diminishes even a single person's creativity is an absolute evil, no matter how many other persons are allegedly supposed to be benefited by this "sacrifice".

Ecological ethics can be seen to be in harmony with the above notions, by recognizing that the only environmental changes that one is entitled to make, including on one's own property, are those changes that do not decrease the creativity of a single unconsenting person. The environment is best managed to maximize the creativity of all, without diminishing anyone's creativity.


1. Bohm, D. & Peat, F.D. Science, Order, and Creativity. New York: Bantam, 1987.

2. Garcia, John David. Creative Transformation: A Practical Guide for Maximizing Creativity. Box 10851. Eugene, Oregon 97440: Noetic Press, 1991.

3. Garcia, John David. The Moral Society: A Rational Alternative to Death. Philadelphia: Whitmore Publishing Co., Inc. 1973; New York: Julian Press, 1971.

4. Garcia, John David. Psychofraud and Ethical Therapy. Philadelphia: Whitmore, 1974.

5. Plato. The Dialogues of Plato. (2 Vols.). Trans. by B. Jowett. New York: Random House, 1937

6. Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959

7. Spinoza, Benedictus de (translation from Latin into English by R.H.M. Elwes) Works of Spinoza. (political and ethical writings) 2 Vols. New York: Dover, 1951.

8. Spinoza, Benedictus de (translation from Latin into English by Henri Luriť) Ethics. P.O. Box 10851, Eugene, OR 97440: Noetic Press, 1993.

9. Varela, F.G.; Maturana, H.R.; Uribe, R. "Autopoiesis: The Organization of Living Systems". Biosystems, Vol. 5, 1974.

© John David Garcia, 1993.