Jeopardising Liberal Democracy: The Trouble with Demarchy.

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Friedrich Hayek presents a demarchic conception of democracy as a solution for what he takes to be the inherently corrupt and totalitarian nature of liberal democracy. While still preserving the label ‘liberal representative democracy’, this Hayekian demarchy precludes parliamentary and governmental institutions from providing positive laws and policies on the behalf their constituents where this would require the transfer of the private property of individuals. Such laws and policies would, on this demarchic conception of liberal democracy, undermine individuals’ free usufruct. I argue that demarchy’s detachment from any concern with the well-being of many of its citizens is an illiberal and anti-democratic (sub)version of liberal democracy that increases populism and risks crushing liberal democracy between the pseudo- and anti-liberal support of a totalitarian majoritarian people’s sovereign power and a minoritarian anti-democratic elite. As such, liberal democracy conceived of in Hayekian demarchic terms is itself an oppressive totalitarian political theory incapable of preventing an increase in illiberal and anti-liberal political forces.
Moreover, I argue that it is imperative that we acknowledge and appreciate the extent to which demarchy undermines, rather than strengthens, liberal democracy.

Keywords: demarchy; illiberalism; liberal democracy; markets; populism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2023


  • Markets
  • Demarchy
  • Illiberalism
  • Liberal democracy
  • Populism


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