Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jason Brennan, Against Democracy

I know this is an interesting book, perhaps even vital, when the Jacobin foams at the mouth in denouncing it. See, "Bleeding Heart Bullshit."

And from the blurb at Amazon:
Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us--it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But, Jason Brennan says, they are all wrong.

In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results--and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse--more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government--epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable--may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out.

A challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable, Against Democracy is essential reading for scholars and students of politics across the disciplines.
Brennan is supposedly some hip new libertarian dude, although I'm not familiar with him, and I'm not that big on libertarianism (since it ineluctably devolves to leftism and anti-Semitism, frankly, at least in its current manifestations amid the culture wars).

But if the guy in fact harks back to a more Milton Friedman-esque style of libertarianism, I could throw some weight behind it.

In any case, here's another review, at Free Beacon, "Free People at the Polls — Review: Jason Brennan, 'Against Democracy'."