It is in its dynamic, rather than in its static, aspects that the value of democracy proves itself. As is true of liberty, the benefits of democracy will show themselves only in the long run, while its more immediate achievements may well be inferior to those of other forms of government.

—Friedrich Hayek. The Constitution of Liberty, 1960.

The advantage of democracy lies not in the superior wisdom of its leaders, but rather in the way it allows the whole of the populace to participate in repeating mistakes over and over again until the wisdom of not doing a particular thing becomes generally agreed. This convoluted process has led to the evolution of checks and balances, constitutionally protected rights, and the rule of law. The apparent growth and success of a weed when compared to the oak seedling is analogous to the apparent growth and success of systems like Nazism or Communism compared to demo-cracy. Decentralized democracy has the potential to solve any problem with infinite sophistication; the process is often long and tortuous, but the solutions devised are ultimately superior to all alternatives.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove