On bureaucracy as anti-democracy

In ‘We need to be more than right: in a liberal democracy we should be making space for small, dissident, and unconventional opinions and parties’, John O’Sullivan writes (my bold emphasis):

As Anna Fotyga remarked, there is a surprising problem with the term “liberal democracy.” As a defender of liberal democracy as pure as Marc Plattner of the NED has written, there is always a tension between liberalism and democracy, between majority rule and the liberal rules designed to prevent the misuse of majority rule.

For myself I would argue that the balance within liberal democracy has tipped too far away from democracy and towards liberalism with more and more powers being transferred from Parliaments that are democratically accountable to the voters — and towards courts, bureaucracies, and transnational institutions that are accountable either to themselves or to no one.

To make matters worse, these non-democratic institutions are often driven by opinions very different from those of the voters. And though they begin modestly by correcting those laws and regulations that arguably violate the Constitution, they go on to lay down their own positive laws, i.e., to legislate, if unchecked.

The longer this continues, the more that the substance of majority-rule democracy is whittled away and replaced by judicial oligarchy. Maybe we should call this system post-democracy as John Fonte of the Hudson Institute does.

This has been one of the most worrying trends in Australian (and other western) society over the past thirty years, exacerbated when the Labor party is in power, and unfortunately only rarely and only ever partially undone when the Liberal party is elected (a more genuine term than ‘wins’). Especially evident of the above has been the increased bureaucratic intrusions in education, and the ever increasing self-promulgated power of these bodies – bodies that also appear to dictate how to provide them with increasing autonomous powers when, again, especially Labor in power.






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