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Limited government and a decent level of civil order are more important than democracy defined in simplistic and unhelpful terms, like the rule of the majority. Democracy as defined by classical liberals like Mises and Popper is simply a system that permits changes of government without violence but to deliver the kind of freedom and prosperity that we have enjoyed in the west, a whole lot of written and unwritten institutions and traditions need to be in place. Voting is the shadow of democracy and a dark shadow it is without the substance which includes limited government, property rights and a range of freedoms, including live traditions of decency and integrity in public service. It was touching to see the joy of Iraqis and more recently people in Sierra Leone when they had the chance to cast a vote but they would have been infinitely better off in Hong Kong under British protection without the vote.

On the topic of democracy and liberal principles, folk may be interested in a talk (possibly the only one) that Popper delivered to the Mont Pelerin Society. This online version was prepared as a part of a program to deliver Popper's thoughts in condensed form to cater to the gnatlike concentration span of modern students and their aversion to books and libraries. It was a great shame that Readers Digest did Serfdom and not OSE and Human Action as well, but OSE has now been done http://www.the-rathouse.com/popshorterOSE.html Human Action is in the works.

Some of the essays in Conjectures and Refutations are condensed at Oysterium and this is the Mont Pelerin talk.
http://oysterium.blogspot.com/2007/07/public-opinion-and-liberal-principles.html

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