In this debut work of political philosophy, Wallace argues that American society is hindered by the twin restraints of democracy and religion.
There are certain elements holding back our economy, the author asserts, though economists rarely make mention of them, due to their status as societal sacred cows. They’re institutions that many consider core principles of the American experiment: majority rule, democracy, and faith in a higher power. Wallace argues that all these institutions are highly anachronistic in the 21st century and that we, as a society, would be freer and more prosperous without them. Democracy, he says, is simply the dictatorship of the majority over the minority, legitimizing such acts as theft and violence because they’re committed in the name of the so-called common good. Representative democracy is even worse, he asserts, resulting in a tiny minority ruling on behalf of a largely powerless majority; on the other hand, he says, majority rule “is simply mob rule. Sometimes a mob is right, sometimes, the mob is wrong.” Religion, of course, is depicted as irrational, predatory, and used as a justification for all manner of violence, theft, and persecution. The author’s solution is the “Voluntary State,” essentially a constitutional republic concerned primarily with individual liberty: “A Voluntary State is an individualistic state. An individualistic state is a non-aggression state. A non-aggressive state does not use aggression to the individual.” Arguments against religion are hardly new or uncommon when discussing political life in the United States, and the author refers to a number of thinkers and talking points from the New Atheism movement. His arguments against democracy are the most engaging sections of the book, in part because such cases are so infrequently made. Even so, he’s essentially espousing a libertarian philosophy (although he does dedicate a section to highlighting the hypocrisy of the Libertarian Party itself), and several chapters, such as a 16-page list of government agencies, will give readers the sense that they’ve encountered these arguments before. Although the book offers an interesting thought experiment, it is, in the end, a bit of utopianism with little practical application.
A sometimes-intriguing but often familiar treatise against the oppressive forces of democracy and religion.