Whenever it is necessary that one of several conflicting opinions should prevail and when one would have to be made to prevail by force if need be, it is less wasteful to determine which has the stronger support by counting numbers than by fighting. Democracy is the only method of peaceful change that man has yet discovered.

—Friedrich Hayek. The Constitution of Liberty, 1960.

Democracy is the only form of change that does not depend upon violence because it is the only method that will be voluntarily accepted by those who disagree with its outcome. It is voluntarily accepted because it gives each person an equal say in reaching the outcome, something that accords with the natural law view that each person’s value is equal—thus its practicality springs from its morality.

This is not to say that democratic outcomes will always be accepted. There are two occasions where democracy fails. The first is when the people voting are uncivilized and the Golden Rule is not consulted; instead they behave as savages and think their own interests should predominate regardless of the interests of others. The second is among non-kindred peoples. When voting is along ethnic or religious lines, the losers will not accept the outcome because it is in the nature of oppression rather than a genuine consensus on what is commutative.

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