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Form versus Outcome in the Polis

September 3rd, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

It would be useful for everyone, liberal, libertarian, and conservative, to confront the issue of which they’d prefer:
1. A dictator with the right policies (welfare state, free market, or promotion of virtue) or
2. A democracy with the wrong policies (free market and traditional values for the liberal, welfare state and traditional values for the libertarian, welfare state for the conservative).

We can up the ante in either case by specifying whether the dictator or democracy uses heavy oppression to maintain itself, e.g. executing 100 political opponents per year (which a democracy is capable of doing, just like a dictatorship).

I think conservatives would have no trouble picking (1), and liberals would have a strong preference for (1) but be ashamed to admit it and so would pick (2). I don’t know about libertarians.

Hayek would pick (1), though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was wrong on the facts with regard to Pinochet.

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