firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Liberal democracy versus democracy: Can we live in a democracy without freedom?
Summary: The nation has been embroiled in a debate over liberal democracy versus democracy. Can we live in a democracy without freedom? It will eventually become a totalitarian society. Without freedom, it is impossible to explain the history of economic prosperity for Korea as well as the world. Liberalists should oppose totalitarianism as it will bring the world into ruin. Furthermore, democracy cannot survive without freedom. To guarantee freedom in a liberal democracy, democracy should be limited to some extent. Liberal democracy, not democracy, is our country`s common law.
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The education ministry recently announced guidelines to use the term "liberal democracy" rather than "democracy" in history textbooks. The move sparked a hot debate over liberal democracy versus democracy. The key issue is whether a democracy needs freedom or not.
Leftists argue that liberal democracy justified anti-communism during the Cold War era and now stresses market freedom. Is liberal democracy unnecessary as they claim?
Democracy without freedom slips into totalitarianism
As Hayek clearly pointed out in his book titled The Constitution of Liberty (1960), democracy is the opposite of authoritarianism and liberalism is the opposite of totalitarianism. As such, a democracy without freedom results in totalitarianism (e.g., socialism, fascism, communism and people`s democracy in North Korea) that puts the state ahead of individuals and organizes the economy and society through planning (IV in Figure 1, authoritarian totalitarianism).
Interestingly, leftists stress democracy, taking out freedom, as they believe freedom is the opposite of democracy. The ideal democracy is the one that serves as a means to protect one`s freedom from authoritarianism. But leftists think democracy is the goal itself.
It is a pity that the belief has transformed democracy into unlimited democracy, which brought about "democratic totalitarianism" such as Nazism, Roosevelt`s New Deal, social democracy and free welfare. (III in Figure)
History of prosperity does not exist without freedom
Without freedom, we cannot explain the history of human prosperity and Korean society`s development. The market economy backed by economic freedom and property rights has led to civilization advanced and helped fend off Malthus`s doom from the different growth pace of population and food. Korea has risen from the absolute poverty of $70 per capital income in the 1960s to the world`s 13th largest economy. The success would have been impossible without freedom of economic activity and property rights.
Anti-communism, although often abused, contributed significantly to protecting property rights for the prosperity of society. Leftists may not like the idea and blatantly criticize the view as a Cold-War legacy. Since pro-communism means allowing totalitarianism that will ruin people`s lives, the first goal of liberalism is anti-communism.
The Fraser Institute`s world economic freedom index shows that a country with higher economic freedom has higher income, less unemployment, less corruption, and more satisfaction and happiness. The study suggests the consequences of limited or no freedom is beyond our imagination.
No freedom, no democracy
Korea once experienced "authoritarian capitalism" whereby it was economically free but political freedom was limited. But the economic development has gradually brought about more political rights. A Freedom House study shows our democracy is now highly advanced, nearly to the level of that of the U.S., U.K. and Germany. We should realize that political development has been driven by economic freedom and prosperity.
The Western history proves the importance of market freedom to democracy. R. Bobbio said in his book Liberalism and Democracy that market freedom and civil liberty is a prerequisite to the development of democracy. He precisely points out the truth that without freedom, there is no democracy. 젨
The premise of liberal democracy is demarchy
For the development of democratic politics, individuals` freedom should be guaranteed. But liberalism demands laws assuring freedom instead of democracy. It does not care about how the laws are created. Liberalism ignores whether the laws are derived from an authority such as judges and minority rules or from democratic principle of majority decision. What matters for liberalism is whether the laws protect freedom and liberty.
Law of freedom and liberty can be created under authoritarian rule. That`s why liberalism can coexist with authoritarianism (authoritarian liberalism, II in Figure). But democratic legislation is preferred as democratic majority decision is believed to reflect more opinions.
However, there is no guarantee that every law created by majority decisions can ensure freedom and liberty. When the power of the majority is not restrained, it may slip into a trap of democratic totalitarianism that represses freedom.
Therefore, the constitution should limit democracy in order to protect freedom and democracy in a liberal democratic society. This is demarchy.
Liberal democracy is common law in Korea
In conclusion, a prosperous and peaceful society requires a liberal democracy whereby freedom should be ensured and democracy must be limited.
This version of liberal democracy is our "common law" that has affected the interpretation and application of the constitution in every manner. We should remember that constitutional order has brought today`s freedom and prosperity to our society.
By Min Kyung-kuk, professor of economics at Kangwon National University