Sunday, May 31, 2009

Democracies are More Coercive Than Monarchies

"It may be argued that there are really two Powers which are different in kind; that one is the Power of a small number of men over the mass, as in a monarchy or aristocracy, and that Power of this kind maintains itself by force alone; and that the other is the Power of the mass over itself, and that Power of this kind maintains itself by partnership alone.

"If that were so, we should expect to find that in monarchical and aristocratic regimes the apparatus of coercion was at its zenith, because there was no other driving power, and that in modern democracies it was at its nadir, because the demands made by them on their citizens are all the decisions of the citizens themselves. Whereas what we in fact find is the very opposite, and that there goes with the movement away from monarchy to democracy an amazing development of the apparatus of coercion. No absolute monarch ever had at his disposal a police force comparable to those of modern democracies. It is, therefore, a gross mistake to speak of two Powers differing in kind, each of which receives obedience through the play of one feeling only. Logical analyses of this kind misconceive the complexity of the problem."

---Bertrand de Jouvenal
On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth, p. 23

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