"To include freedom in the very definition of democracy
is to define a process not by its actual characteristics
as a process but by its hoped for results.
This is not only intellectually invalid, it is,
in practical terms, blinding oneself in advance
to some of the unwanted consequences of the process."
Thomas Sowell
(1930- ) Writer and economist
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Reader comments about this quote:
Freedom / liberty is not merely "hoped for results" of democracy. The process of decmocracy can occur only where freedom / liberty exist and dominate that process. Sowell's assertions in this quotation don't stand up to reason.
 -- D. Joe Dunlap, McHenry IL     
  • 5
     -- KS, Queensbury,NY     
    True, democracy and freedom don't get along with each other. It would be a different story if he had said republic.
     -- P.M.     
  • 3
    It depends on what you mean by "democracy." Obviously, Sowell was including those democracies, like ours, that sometimes result in a tyranny of the majority -- the establishment of the graduated income tax, for example.
     -- RC, Annapolis, MD     
    Kinda funny (not haha), with contemporary definitions of democracy, revelations of a religious majority utopia always are attached to mob rule expectations. As long as the herd mentality has a hope of bread and circus, the blind advance unwanted consequences of the process. Democracy's patrons, the proudfully ignorant and the demonic slave masters, always seek a government of men vs. a government of law.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 4
    Once again, God bless Thomas Sowell. He totally understands the power of words and sees how easily people are led with propaganda. Democracy is mob rule: 51% of the people can oppress the other 49% (and the political body works towards this goal continually). Our republic is based upon the rule of law where everyone enjoys the same opportunity and freedom, Of course, men have a way of fouling that up when no one is looking....
     -- Abby     
  • 3
    The blindfold upon justice was removed long ago ! As also an unjust balance and weights. " It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment " KJB. Our Republic in based upon the rule of God's natural laws, with statues in harmony of said laws. Political and judicial disdain for our Constitution and Declaration of Independence made clear in the fleecing and unjust exaction, by the courts, bringing undue pressures to bear upon the upright person. Who become a prey for doing that which is right ! " Spiritual wickedness in high places " demonic slave masters ". Thanks Mike.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
  • 2
     -- Jim k, Austin      
    Why do you think that the founding fathers worked so hard to prevent us from adopting a democracy instead of the Republic they gave us? Does this quotation remind you of any North American nation today?

    "Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society. "
    -- John Adams, Novanglus Letters, 1774
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill     
  • 2
    The 'democratic' mindset considers what he/she does not own as public domain, and thus any claim to property is subject to vote on how best to utilize the 'commonwealth.' It is not surprising that the property-less lean toward the idea, whereas the independent free man/woman living on their property votes for representatives who will protect their property from trespass -- particularly from corporate and government collectives that can apply vast resources to tax/sue property owners while tying up the property/business in court indefinitely -- asset seizure laws completely ignore property rights and due process of law.

    The Law is to protect the rights of the People who have chartered their government. When legislators promise the property-less that if they vote for him/her, they will tax the property of those that have it (they call property owners 'the wealthy' -- anyone can own property in America), that is when Democracy becomes a wild beast, insatiable.

    What needs to be regulated is democracy -- that is how the founders formed the government, with democracy kept in check by the rights of the people themselves, and each of the branches of government keeping check on the others.

    Why all these checks and balances? To protect the nation from the corruptions that are inherent wherever power is concentrated. Honor and integrity should be the primary qualifications for even running for office -- I think 90% or more of all of Congress would not pass the integrity requirement.

    But how do you check a man's ambition? Should you? The hard truth is that Power is only kept in check by Power. With each new generation, we become more powerful -- we have what were mainframe computers in 1970 as 'smart phones' today with hundreds of times more processing power -- those that know how to harness the power of technology, credit, transportation, and ENERGY are playing in a bigger game than the 'consumers'. Keeping the power in the hands of the individual is what Liberty is all about -- if everything were subject to vote, we would eat pizza every night. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 2
    Process of democracy only exists where freedom and liberty exists? That does not hold up to logic. Watch the Oxbow Incident. 
     -- TWT, Enid, OK     
  • 2
    Awww, that I could rate this with innumerable stars an innumerable number of times. So SO accurate! ! !  We hold this truth to be self evident.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
    Implementing the responsibility feature should put us back on track to contend with the unwanted consequences. Then we'll be able to hold fast to the freedom component.
     -- Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown     
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