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Democracy: The God That Failed

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,339 ratings  ·  101 reviews
The core of this book is a systematic treatment of the historic transformation of the West from monarchy to democracy. Revisionist in nature, it reaches the conclusion that monarchy is a lesser evil than democracy, but outlines deficiencies in both. Its methodology is axiomatic-deductive, allowing the writer to derive economic and sociological theorems, and then apply them ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 30th 2001 by Routledge (first published 2001)
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 ·  1,339 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hoppe's argument is essentially a well-executed follow through of Etienne de la Boetie's call to "support [the tyrant] no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces." Hoppe does an excellent job extending this line of logic into the modern democratic era. In doing so, he rightfully understands that the institution of the state functions as a monopolist over a territorial region. Consequently, Hoppe obser ...more
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the second time that I read “Democracy the God that Failed”, by Hans-Herman Hoppe. The first time I gave it three stars. This time I upped its celestial rating by one star. It is a deep book. For most people it will be contrary to their sensibilities as proud Americans….and contrary to what they have been taught. For it is a critical “Austrian view of an American age”…. That is, it is an Austrian Economics school view of world democratization.

Still, if one carefully looks to the US foun
Monica Perez
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mind-blowing. I had wondered what went wrong and when and started to think maybe it was more WWI than the Civil War, then I thought further, where did the founders go wrong? What should they have put in the constitution to forestall the massive growth of the federal government, then concluded, they did all they could. If everyone who had sworn to uphold the constitution had in good faith tried to do so, the founders' dream would have been realized but no. My conclusion? A just government in the ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, wrongthink
This book makes the case that 1) democracy, in the sense of mob rule, is a bad social order, as it inevitably leads to socialism 2) monarchy, particularly of the feudal and highly localized/informal model, is superior 3) a theoretical libertarian/anarcho-capitalist social order would be superior to even monarchy. These are pretty shocking conclusions for most Americans today (and westerners in general), but the argument, from some basic and acceptable premises, seems sound -- in particular, the ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
This collection of essays is a mixed bag. Hoppe's arguments for the superiority (well, really the less-badness) of monarchy over democracy are startling and persuasive, and he does a good job showing the nonsensical nature of theories of the social contract and the entire concept of democratic representation. His arguments for anarcho-capitalism are less interesting, original and persuasive. Nor is his description of his ideal stateless society based solely on private property and contracts part ...more
Feb 26, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I read how democracies die then saw this book and decided to give it a go...

When it arrived I saw who the publisher was and realized my mistake. But anyway, I gave it a go...

Oh boy... The first thing I would like to point out is that the author like footnotes and is completely ok even if they span over more than half a page... The definition of footnote makes no sense for the author.

Contentwise, lots of repetitions, weak arguments and "unquestionable" truths that, in my opinion are pathetic. Th
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Hans Hermann Hoppe begins in the first few chapters arguing why, while being the lesser of two evils, monarchy is a more preferable system than democracy.
The arguments are compelling and if understood correctly, leave very little reason (if any reason at all) to continue to regard democracy with any legitimacy.

Further chapters take a more detailed look at what 'cultural rot' democracy inevitability leads to, focussing on the fact that democracy at its essence is an egalitarian political system,
Kat M
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: politically "deep"
Expectedly, Hoppe does not hold back views that may rub people the wrong way. If you are capable of looking past your first emotional reaction to his words, you will see that there is a logical consistency that he is arguing. He is also not saying unpopular things just for the wow factor. Rather, he tries to systematically take ethical and economic truths to their logical conclusions.

This book is a collection of essays that have been published individually before. They are put together at 13 dif
Trey Smith
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hoppe's Democracy-The God that Failed is a must read for any serious student of political philosophy. Hoppe's analysis of monarchy as private government ownership yielding longer time preference than democracy as public ownership of government proves the decline of civilization that is also evidenced by increased government waste, increased positive law, increased in war, and moral decay post WWI. Such an analysis further turns the classical liberal idea of limited government on its head in favo ...more
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Highly thought provoking. Not an easy read, very chewy ideas that require a fair bit of time to digest and sink in.

Probably not a beginner read if you're not already accustomed to some of the ideas of liberty but HHH offers compelling and not easily refutable arguments in defense of his ultimate argument that, contrary to popular opinion, democracy leads to a degradation of society and is not actually an improvement to the old monarchical systems of the past.

Ultimately, however, he argues the be
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While I only agree with half of the book, I give it five stars for brilliance. In the first half, Hoppe argues that democracies introduce elements of decivilization and ultimately pave the way for barbarism. He documents how countries actually became poorer when they moved from monarchies to democracies.

His most interesting point is his thesis that World War 1 marked the end of civiliation. He is correct.

To the reviewer that said Hoppe argues for constitutional monarchies over democracies, taht
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Democracy is often considered the best political system among the alternatives. Though he does not endorse either system, Hoppe argues that between the two, monarchy has many advantages, not the least of which include greater individual liberty and prosperity. He makes a convincing case.
Daniel Moss
So eyeopening. I love the use of economic theory to develop political theory, and to top it off, the use of empiricism to show how this political theory is in fact what has happened in the last 100 years.
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This controversial book is an excellent collection of essays on the flaws of the sacrosanct institution of expansive democratic government. Hoppe argues that an expansive, compulsory democratic system incentivizes the short-term consumption of capital goods at the expense of long-term interests. After all, public officials in a democratic system do not own public property; thus, they are motivated to seek maximum income from the use of that property during their short tenure in office. As a resu ...more
M.G. Bianco
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Been wanting to read this book for awhile, finally have. Over time, I've found myself with a leaning toward monarchy--not sure why. Hoppe provides some excellent examples in this book of why democracies are inherently bad. Throughout, he tends to contrast democracies with either monarchies or anarcho-capitalist communities. While he obviously favors the latter, he has many good things to say for the former.

One point of interest is that he rarely says anything bad about monarchies. When he does,
Adrian Dorney
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This work is compiled as half a treatise of history and half a treatise of economic political theory. Herr Hoppe's Magnum Opus can be simply defined as an observational critique of time preference. The thesis is that growing time preference in the west since the advent of democratic-republican governance has done the most to enable and perpetuate the degeneracy of man. Time preference being the squandering of current resources, that is, neglecting capital accumulation, Dr Hoppe operate
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since the 1960s and early 1970s, real wage incomes in the United States and in Western Europe have stagnated or even fallen. In Western Europe in particular unemployment rates have been steadily edging upward and are currently exceeding ten percent. The public debt has risen everywhere to astronomical heights, in many cases exceeding a country’s annual Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, the social security systems everywhere are on or near the verge of bankruptcy. In the U.S., less than a centur ...more
Jonathan Sargent
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it
What starts out as an argument against democracy eventually devolves into an argument for an anarcho-capitalist society run by multinational insurance companies. Democracy: The God That Failed has many flaws, but for anyone moderately interested in history, political theory, and political philosophy would be wise to read Hoppe's book. It has a several flaws and will probably have left-wing types foaming at the mouth most of the time, but it's a well-written collection of radical libertarian argu ...more
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
This is the second book from the "Mises Institute" that I have started that & had very high hopes for. After finishing it I was left with an irritating feeling that author leaves everything in the middle. So lets discuss pros quickly before I go to cons, which are so many of them.
1. The author lists various cons of democracy and each con is given a separate chapter where each topic is discussed.
2. The comparison between democracy, oligarchy, monarchy & communism is taken up throughout the b
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every man, woman, and child needs to thoroughly comprehend the points Hoppe makes in this book. He is incredibly realistic and the patterns he brings to light that he makes should seem like common sense knowledge to the public but for various reasons are not. This book isn't entirely about democracy; it also points out larger societal problems which have occurred due to the consolidation of power given to the government, the over-dependence on welfare and the corresponding erosion of ethics, and ...more
Giovani Facchini
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
This is really an excellent book in many aspects. I do agree with most and almost all the points about both problems and disadvantages of Monarchy and Democracy.
History of many democratic countries shows how the leviathan is growing and oppressing people taking away their freedom, heavily taxing their work and stealing their money through inflation.

The main problem with his argument is the certainty. Some statements are too strict and do not allow for human ability to avoid democracy oppression.
Apr 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
This is one of those books whose central thesis falls apart if you look at actual history behind its idea, rather than what the author thinks is clearly the rational thing to do.

To wit, Hoppe argues that monarchy was better than democracy because hereditary monarchs had more of an incentive to keep down debt and expenses, because they’re going to pass the kingdom down to their heirs. That certainly sounds like it would be an entirely sensible thing for monarchs to do. Unfortunately, looking at
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book though I would like to point out three things:
1. I don't find this to be H³'s magnum opus (The Economics and Ethics of Private Property is more "magnus opus-y")
2. Because the book is based on several speeches it can be somewhat repetitive, especially towards the middle (a reason for why I don't find this book his magnum opus)
3. It's not a book for the faint of heart: if you don't know how to not hate (leave your preconceptions at the door) you'll very likely reject this book out of ha
Mark Tereshenkov
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
You can agree or disagree with Hoppe's views on democracy and monarchy but this book really makes you think and change your opinion on many issues. Nice and deep analys of such problems as migration, coerced integration, war, cultural conservatism and nihilism etc. I don't agree that democracy is worse than monarchy but advise everybody to read it. ...more
Michael Kenan  Baldwin
Often rigorous and powerful, yet deeply flawed.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Highly thought provoking and controversial, given democracy's near sacred status, this books takes no prisoners in challenging that status based on the economic, social and moral consequences of majority rule.
Hoppe defends feudalism as a more moral, or rather less immoral, regime than democracy, one that due to the inclinations of both intellectuals and the masses is seen, maybe unjustly, as a period of rapacious, arbitrary kings holding entire populations hostage in serfdom.
Although a detailed
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really deliberated over giving this review 4 or 5 stars as my only quibble is that while Hoppe is great at dissecting and diagnosing problems, he comes up short in fixing them. So please bear in mind that while I'm criticizing Hoppe's over-reliance on libertarianism (private property rights and insurance companies uber alles) that I fully respect him as a vastly under-rated intellectual.

That Hoppe was diagnosing our current "decivilizing" problems in 2021 back in the '90s is fascinating and he d
Patrick S.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
This is my 2018 "staple of libertarian" must-reads. I would say this book is two parts. The first is Hoppe's claims that monarchism is less-bad than democracy. In this section, Hoppe really shows the benefits that a set in place ruler has over those who rule quick and dirty. The biggest "interesting" fact is that if you're a business owner, then the set-in-place monarch will have more entrenched rules and that will let you better make time preference business decision. There are some interesting ...more
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Beware, this book is not just a creature of its time, but a creature of decades before its time... if the occasional derisive reference to homosexuals, "human trash" or "gypsies" is going to rattle you, keep your distance. I know Hoppe is culturally conservative, but just not used to seeing it jump out at you in print like that. And in fact, this cultural stance is a bedrock of his views. Disproportionate discussion of Pat Buchanan also an artifact of its times.

The subtitle of the book refers to
Jason Bray
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I am of two minds about this book. His critique of democracy is right on, but he seems to make several mistakes in his premises. His premises in fact prove too much. His premise that any individual exercising unilateral control over a territory is inherently evil is at odds with his belief in private property. Private property is, in his parlance, the right to exercise unilateral control over a territory or object. The fact that one owner is an organization and the other is a person does not cha ...more
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