"These days," says Tibor R. Machan, "almost everybody believes in democracy. But not everybody agrees on just what democracy is." If we accept the literal meaning of the word as "the rule of the people," do "the people" constitute some entity over and above the individuals of whom it is composed? Is it then right if "the people" vote to stop individuals from using their money for private instead of government schools? Or right if they vote to stop gays and lesbians from marrying? Public policies like these violate the rights of some individuals, yet many think "the will of the people" justifies such actions.
In Liberty and Democracy, contributors grapple with the issue of the proper role of democracy in a society that is committed to respecting and protecting the individual rights of all members. They challenge conventional thinking, offering an assortment of perceptive and provocative ideas on democracy and individual freedom.
John Hospers asserts, among other things, that the Constitution is a profoundly antifederal government document and shows why. Gregory R. Johnson reviews the thoughts of the first founding father—Aristotle—on freedom, individualism, and popular government and explains why the Greek philosopher would today be situated to the right of Patrick Buchanan. Loren E. Lomasky considers our "default democracy," questioning whether democracy is merely the "least bad" solution to the problem of political organization. Neera K. Badhwar looks at the issue of moral worth and the worth of rights: Are we all morally equal—or equally valuable to society—or is there a natural hierarchy of worth among human beings?