Announcements, Democracy

Bleg: Suggestions for Book Titles

I’m currently writing Compulsory Voting: For and Against with Lisa Hill. After that, though, I’m doing another single-authored book. My working title when I sent the proposal to the publisher was The Politics of Voting: Competence and the Right to Rule, but that’s a bit boring. They’d like something more provocative.

Here are some of the general conclusions of the book:

  1. Democracy is not inherently just.
  2. For most people, the political liberties are not all that valuable.
  3. Exercising the political liberties in fact tends to corrupt us and tends to turn us into civic enemies.
  4. It is a vile, contemptible fact about human beings that we associate political power with dignity. Rawls and other philosophers who try to ground equal political liberties on these kinds of arguments are in fact valorizing human vice.
  5. We each have a right not to be subject to incompetent political decision-making or to political decisions made in bad faith. (Call this the Competence Principle.)
  6. Epistocracy is compatible with public reason liberalism.
  7. To comply with 5, we have a choice: We can greatly constrain the scope of government power, but stay democratic, or we can have a more expansive government, but must constrain democracy and partially replace it with an epistocracy.

I’m tempted to call the book Civic Enemies: A Theory of Democracy, or perhaps Civic Enemies with a different subtitle. Any suggestions? (If I use your suggestion, I’ll be sure to credit you.)



  • Maybe “Civil Enemies: Rights & Voting”?

    I was going to come in here and say it should be called “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight: Bleeding Heart Libertarianism’s Guide to Dealing with Others,” but since you’re not really talking about that…

  • Gary Chartier

    Per #7, there might even be another option.

    • Yes, there are lots of other options, some of which I explore.

  • “Of The People, By the People, For the People: A Theory of Democracy and the Right to Rule”

  • Travis B.

    Go all Ghostbusters with it. “Choose the Form of the Destructor: A Theory of Democracy.” (Foreword by Ray Parker, Jr.)

  • Tim O’Keefe

    “Democratic vices: against rule by the ignorant masses”

  • Jeffrey Ellis

    “Don’t Pee In The Pool: Civic Enemies in Democracy”

  • Sean II

    “Forced to Choose: ____________”
    Possible subtitles: “How Our Least Important Right Makes a Mockery of the Rest” or “Democracy and Unfreedom” or “A Theory of Illiberal Democracy” or “What You Don’t Know Can, Has, and Will Hurt Me.”

  • hgfalling

    Majority Misrule: How Democracy Legitimizes Corruption, Injustice, and Incompetence

    • Tim O’Keefe

      “Majority Misrule: When Ignorance is Strength” (alt, “When the ignorant are strong”)

  • Rob Gressis

    _You’re Not the Boss of Me!_ or maybe _We’re Not the Boss of Us!_
    _Idiots Rule_ (the name of a Jane’s Addiction Song)

  • J D

    “Civil Enemies: Democratic Competence and the Right to Rule”

    • J D

      My tired brain wrote “Civil” instead of “Civic”, and my alert brain cares enough to say so.

      Anyway, adopting one of Sean’s subtitles, I like “Civic Enemies: A Theory of Illiberal Democracy”

  • Cap’n Facetious

    “My Struggle”

  • It’s a bit of a geek in-joke, but how about going with a classic title template from computer science: “Voting Considered Harmful” (with the subtitle “How Democracy Threatens Us All”).

  • Dan Dennis

    Stupid voters=Stupid Government

    [I also think ‘Majority misrule’ (above) is good]

  • Gordon Shannon

    “Freedom or Virtue? Choose”

  • martinbrock

    In an epistrocracy, who knows? How do I know what they know, and since they’re ruling me, how do they know what I know, much less what I want or need? Is epistrocracy rule by the knowers or rule by the credentialed? How does rule by the credentialed differ from rule by a bureaucracy or a titular nobility? If the knowers are simply the most literate, who decides what the literocracy reads? Do I get a credential for reading lots of eschatology by Hal Lindsey and John Hagee?

  • Digital Liberty

    Political Cannibalism

  • I’m thinking maybe a play on the description of the state of nature as a war of all against all. Maybe: “The Rule of All Against All”?

    • I really like that. I’m suggesting it to my editor as a subtitle. Thanks!

  • j_m_h

    I suppose I would suggest “Is Democracy just about voting?”

    Then again I think you’re barking up the wrong tree in terms of improving our society and polity and laying (potentially) the ground work for an authoritarian state rather than a liberal/libertarian one.

  • Garden Mole

    How about “Voting is Evil” or “When Voting is Evil”

  • Thomas Colthurst

    “Politics is Bad: And Democracies Should Feel Bad”

    Send Matt Groening an advance copy and he might even let you use an image like

  • Kyle Nearhood

    People are Scum: Why neither you nor your neighbor should vote

    • Kyle Nearhood

      On a less humorous note. I agree with you that democracy will always become a form of mob theft over time. Best to set up an unwieldy structure like the Swiss Cantons where people jealously guard their own small power and thus fractions are played off one against the other and the level of centralization is kept low.

      • Sean II

        How about: “Ballots are Bullets: We The People Have Come to Steal Yo’ Shit”.

  • Kevin

    “Civic enemies: tyrants in a democracy”, as a play on the tyranny of the majority.

    I think political liberties are valuable to most people, even if exercising them is not.

    Politics should not be the means of getting what you want from others that it has become. People lack a moral foundation for the role of government and erroneously think that democracy is a good means of aggregating our choices.

    I’d imagine that an epistocracy would have to be built on top of a democracy, which means it will end up involving the same political games we have now.

    I don’t think we are entitled to good decision making anymore than we each are capable of only making good decisions.

  • J. Anderson

    “Oligarchy: For and For”

  • J. Anderson

    Or perhaps: “Oligarchy for Dummies”

  • Devon Sanchez

    Democracy: Liberty or Social Justice

    Democracy of Liberty or Protectorate of Social Justice

  • Algeroth

    Civic Enemies: The Importance of Being Restrained
    Crossroad of Liberty: Taming the Leviathan, Taming the Masses? (or Crossroad of Liberty: Taming the Leviathan, Taming the Crowds?)
    Competence and Democracy in the Age of Bureaucracy