The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
This post contains three author's observations on the subject of democracy: the Swedish philosopher Tage Lindbom, the Italian unique mind Julius Evola and Henry Louis Mencken, who's writing I don't know enough about to agree 100% with. Lindbom and Evola on the other hand I wholeheartedly recommend.
My reason for posting this topic is to get a discussion going about the intrinsic fundamental problems of the idea of democracy, being the rule of quantity over quality.
"The exterior chaos and this exterior menace of dictatorship are nevertheless not the essential. They are but the projection of something incomparably more serious and more dangerous--interior chaos, the confusion that reigns in the hearts of men. It is now an affair of a generation which, in its ensemble, is incapable of discerning truth from lies, the true from the false, the good from the bad. The time of harvest is come for the Kingdom of Man."
<a href="http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/lindbom.html">Tage Lindbom</a> was born in Sweden in 1909. Having completed a doctorate in History at the University of Stockholm in 1938, he was for many years director of the Library of the Socialdemocratic party, housed in the headquarters of the Swedish Labor Movement in Stockholm. Close to the very center of decision-making, Lindbom helped conceive and implement “the Swedish model.” Thus, he became one of the intellectual architects of the famous Swedish Welfare State.
He was the friend of prime ministers, cabinet ministers, and labor leaders. He served on public boards and commissions dealing with cultural questions, including the executive board of the Royal Opera.
Later in his life Lindbom adopted more conservative political views. After World War II, Lindbom started to have serious doubts about the cause he promoted. He underwent a slow, but profound intellectual and spiritual change. In 1962 he published The Windmills of Sancho Panza. In this work he rejected the assumptions behind Social Democracy and related movements. Not surprisingly, he found himself suddenly isolated. Since breaking with his past, Lindbom has published many books in Sweden, most of which explore the tension between religion and modern secular ideology. Lindbom became a sufi and follower of Schuon in 1962, has written over 20 books in Swedish, his works have been also translated to German, Spanish, Turkish and English.
The two book which appeared in English were The Tares and the Good Grain (1983) and The Myth of Democracy (Cambridge, Eerdmans Publishing 1996).
The Myth of Democracy
The Cold War has ended and Democracy now reigns virtually uncontested world-wide. Western Constitutional thought has aggressively spread to all corners of the globe. Indeed, it would seem that Democracy is superior to all other political systems that have ever existed. Frenzied praise for democratic ideals and institutions overflow from Western politicians and intellectuals. Yet, beneath the rhetoric there lies festering problems of immense proportion which periodically break through the cloak of flattery. Growing moral unrest and disillusion frequently scar the presumably 'flawless' modern democratic society. The exquisite problem is summed up by Tage Lindbom's first line in his new book The Myth of Democracy. He inquires, "Who will rule, God or man?".
Lindbom argues that the entire secular world is suffering from a severe lack of divine leadership and consequently, all democratic nations are spiraling towards self-annihilation. He specifically cites deteriorating educational standards, the break-up of the traditional family, and rising crime rates as varied indications of secular collapse. Lindbom tends to focus on existential philosophy as one of the main factors in the grand failure of Western society. He communicates the egotistical nature of man through several historical examples which follow the evolution of Western politics up to the present day. Lindbom's extensive education at the University of Stockholm and his deep involvement in Swedish politics are both evident in his fascinating book.
The advent of governmental systems based on social contracts is one way humans confirm their worldly supremacy. Lindbom claims that man rejects the divine power of God by instilling himself with the ability to govern and vote. Unfortunately, man lacks identity by separating himself from God, and so he must define in a universal fashion what existence means. This is where a constitution comes into play for Lindbom's intricate explanation- it gives human beings a purpose and place "...in profane existence when the divine presence is forgotten..."(28). Through historical reference, Lindbom tracks how the City of God and the secular City of Man have torn away from each other. Beyond constitutional governing systems, Lindbom sees the industrial revolution as another major factor in man's modern fall from grace. Lindbom writes, "The mechanization of labor is not only a degradation of man; much worse than that, it is a tragedy" (45). Development is a manifestation of the forgetting process for humans in the secular world. The meaninglessness of our existence without God's presence causes man to preoccupy himself in progressing and bettering the secular world around him. However, instead of moving forward, Lindbom claims we are falling further away from the ultimate goal which is the City of God.
The argument presented in The Myth of Democracy assumes something that can not be substantiated; the existence of God. Although Lindbom makes some very interesting points about the nature of liberty and majority rule in democracies, overall his claims fall short of their initial, lofty goal. The final chapter of Lindbom's work entitled "Lucifer", compares the biblical fall of man with our present situation in the secular world. Lindbom makes the elegant association between the urges of biblical man and the ego driven temptations of modern humans towards greater political power.
Lindbom's considerable work and reflection come shining through in his most recent book, The Myth of Democracy. Those who persistently cling to Christian doctrines in this modern era of diverse beliefs will find Lindbom's conclusions logical. And those who are non-believers will certainly find Lindbom's distinct style of writing and arguing highly engaging. The sinful problems of the modern secular society may find their salvation in a divine solution. Lindbom presents our difficult choice quite clearly; the heavenly City of God or Lucifer's secular City of man. For Lindbom the answer to this eternal quandary is elementary, "When the divine is totally denied, the ineluctable consequence is that there is nothing else to take its place but the spirit of negation, the satanic" (122). "We [must] seek God, the very Source of our being" (130).
Excerpt from the article <a href="http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/regress.html">REGRESSION OF THE CASTES by Julius Evola</a>
As my intent was to offer a bird's-eye view of history, in the previous pages I have presented all the elements necessary to formulate an objective law at work in the various stages of the process of decadence, that is, the law of the regression of castes (1). A progressive shift of power and type of civilization has ocurred from one caste to the next since prehistoric times (from sacred leaders, to a warrior aristocracy, to the merchants, and finally to the serfs); these castes in traditional civilizations corresponded to the qualitative differentiation of the main human possibilities. In the face of this general movement anything concerning the various conflicts among peoples, the life of nations, or other historical accidents plays only a secondary and contingent role.
I have alredy discussed the dawn of the age of the first caste. In the West, the representatives of the divine royalty and the leaders who embody the two powers (spiritual and temporal), in what I have called "spiritual virility" and "Olympian sovereignity," belong to a very distant and almost mythical past. We have seen how, through the gradual deterioration of the Light of the North, the process of decadence has unfolded; in the Ghibelline ideal of the Holy Roman Empire I have identified the last echo of the highest tradition.
Once the appex dissapeared, authority descended to the level inmediately below, that is, to the caste of the warriors. The stage was then set for monarchs who were mere military leaders, lords of temporal justice and, in more recent times, politically absolute sovereigns. In other words, regality of blood replaced regality of the spirit. In a few instances it is still posible to find the idea of "divine right," but only as a formula lacking a real content. We find such rulers in antiquity behind institutions that retained the traits of the ancient sacred regime only in a formal way. In any event in the West, with the dissolution of the medieval ecumene, the passage into the second phase became all-enbracing and definitive. During this stage, the fides cementing the state no longer had a religious character, but only a warrior one; it meant loyalty, faithfulness, honor. This was essentially the age and the cycle of the Great European monarchies.
Then a second collapse ocurred as the aristocracies began to fall into decay and the monarchies to shake at the foundations; through revolutions and constitutions they became useless institutions subject to the "will of the nation," and sometimes they were even ousted by different regimes. The principle characterizyng this state of affairs was: "The king reigns but he does not rule." Together with parliamentary republics the formation of the capitalist oligarchies revealed the shift of power from the second caste (the warrior) to the modern equivalent of the third caste (the mercantile class). The kings of the coal, oil, and iron industries replace the previous kings of blood and of spirit. Antiquity, too, sometimes knew this phenomenon in sporadics forms; in Rome and in Greece the "aristocracy of welth" repatedly forced the han of the hierarchical structure by pursuing aristocratic positions, undermining sacred laws and traditional institutions, and inflitrating the militia, priesthood, or consulship. In later times what ocurred was the rebelion of the communes and the rise of the various madieval formations of mercantile power. The solemn proclamation of the "rights of the Third Estate" in France represented the decisive stage, followed by the varieties of "bourgeois revolution" of the third caste, which employed liberal and democratic ideologies for its own purposes. Correspondingly, this era was characterized by the theory of the social contract. At this time the social bond was no longer a fides of a warrior type based on relationships of faithfulness and honor. Instead, it took on a utilitarian and economic character; it consisted of an agreement based on personal convenience and on material interest that only a merchant could have conceived. Gold became a means ad powerful tool; those who knew how to acquire it and to multiply it (capitalism, high finance, industrial trusts), behind the appereances of democracy, virtually controlled political power and the instruments employed in the art of opinionmaking. Aristocracy gave way to plutocracy, the warrior, to the banker and industrialist. The economy triumphed on all fronts. Trafficking with money and charging interest, activities previouly confined to the ghettos, invaded the new civilisation. According to the expression of W. Sombart, in the promised land of Protestant puritanism, Americanism, capitalism, and the "destilled Jewish spirit" coexist. It is natural that given these congenial premises, the modern representatives of secularized Judaism saw the ways to achieve world domination open up before them. In this regard, Karl Marx wrote:
What are the mundane principles of Judaism? Practical necessity and the pursuit of one's own advantage. What is its earthly god? Money. The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the earth. The exchange is the true god of the Jews. (2)
In reality, the codification of the traffic with gold as a loan charged with interest, to which the Jews had been previously devoted since they had no other means through which they could affirm themselves, may be said to be the very foundation of the acceptance of the aberrant development of all that is banking, high finance, and pure economy, which are spreading like a cancer in the modern world. This is the fundamental time in the "age of the merchants".
Finally the crisis of bourgeois society, classs truggle, the proletarian revolt against capitalism, the manifest promulgated at the "Third International" in 1919, and the correlative organization of the groups and the masses in the cadres proper to a "socialist civilization of labor" -all these bear witness to the third collapse, in which power tends to pass into the hands of the lowest of the traditional castes, the caste of the beasts of burden and the standardized individuals. The result of this transfer of power was a reduction of horizon and value to the plane of matter, the machine, and the reign of quantity. The prelude to this was the Russian Revolution. Thus, the new ideal became the "proletarian" ideal of a universal and communist civilization. (3)
We may compare the above mentioned phaenomenon of the awakening and gushing forth of elemental subhuman forces within the structures of the modern world to a person who can no longer endure the tension of the spirit (first caste), and eventually not even the tension of the will as afree force that animates the body (warrior caste), and who thus gives in to the subpersonal forces of the organic system and all of a sudden reacts almost magnetically under the impulse of another life taht replaces his own. The ideas and the passions of the demos soon escape men´s control and they begin to act as if they had acquired an autonomous and dreadful life of their own. These passions pit nations and collectivities against each other and result in unprecedented conflicts and crises. At the end of the process, once the total collapse has ocurred, the awaits an international system under the brutal symbols of the hammer and the sickle.
<a href="http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/short.html">A SHORT ESSAY ON DEMOCRACY
Henry Louis Mencken</a>
I have alluded somewhat vaguely to the merits of democracy. One of them is quite obvious: it is, perhaps, the most charming form of government ever devised by man. The reason is not far to seek. It is based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism. They turn, in all the great emergencies of life, to the ancient promises, transparently false but immensely comforting, and of all those ancient promises there is none more comforting than the one to the effect that the lowly shall inherit the earth. It is at the bottom of the dominant religious system of the modern world, and it is at the bottom of the dominant political system. The latter, which is democracy, gives it an even higher credit and authority than the former, which is Christianity. More, democracy gives it a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world - that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters - which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.
All these forms of happiness, of course, are illusory. They don't last. The democrat, leaping into the air to flap his wings and praise God, is for ever coming down with a thump. The seeds of his disaster, as I have shown, lie in his own stupidity: he can never get rid of the naive delusion - so beautifully Christian - that happiness is something to be got by taking it away from the other fellow. But there are seeds, too, in the very nature of things: a promise, after all, is only a promise, even when it is supported by divine revelation, and the chances against its fulfillment may be put into a depressing mathematical formula. Here the irony that lies under all human aspiration shows itself: the quest for happiness, as always, brings only unhappiness in the end. But saying that is merely saying that the true charm of democracy is not for the democrat but for the spectator. That spectator, it seems to me, is favoured with a show of the first cut and calibre. Try to imagine anything more heroically absurd! What grotesque false pretenses! What a parade of obvious imbecilities! What a welter of fraud! But is fraud unamusing? Then I retire forthwith as a psychologist. The fraud of democracy, I contend, is more amusing than any other, more amusing even, and by miles, than the fraud of religion. Go into your praying-chamber and give sober thought to any of the more characteristic democratic inventions: say, Law Enforcement. Or to any of the typical democratic prophets: say, the late Archangel Bryan. If you don't come out paled and palsied by mirth then you will not laugh on the Last Day itself, when Presbyterians step out of the grave like chicks from the egg, and wings blossom from their scapulae, and they leap into interstellar space with roars of joy.
I have spoken hitherto of the possibility that democracy may be a self-limiting disease, like measles. It is, perhaps, something more: it is self-devouring. One cannot observe it objectively without being impressed by its curious distrust of itself—its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity. Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilson come instantly to mind: Jackson and Cleveland are in the background, waiting to be recalled. Nor is this process confined to times of alarm and terror: it is going on day in and day out. Democracy always seems bent upon killing the thing it theoretically loves. I have rehearsed some of its operations against liberty, the very cornerstone of its political metaphysic. It not only wars upon the thing itself; it even wars upon mere academic advocacy of it. I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world. Try to imagine monarchy jailing subjects for maintaining the divine right of Kings! Or Christianity damning a believer for arguing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God! This last, perhaps, has been done: anything is possible in that direction. But under democracy the remotest and most fantastic possibility is a common-place of every day. All the axioms resolve themselves into thundering paradoxes, many amounting to downright contradictions in terms. The mob is competent to rule the rest of us—but it must be rigorously policed itself. There is a government, not of men, but of laws - but men are set upon benches to decide finally what the law is and may be. The highest function of the citizen is to serve the state - but the first assumption that meets him, when he essays to discharge it, is an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour. Is that assumption commonly sound? Then the farce only grows the more glorious.
I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself - that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?
__________________ Three things are sacred to me: first Truth, and then, in its tracks, primordial prayer; Then virtue–nobility of soul which, in God walks on the path of beauty. Frithjof Schuon
Re: The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
Freedom and Democracy
The very word "democracy" in our time has become a term of commendation. Every system of government wants to call itself a democracy, even if it is actually a dictatorship. "Democracy" has become such a term of approval that to call something democracy is implicitly to commend it. Even communist nations whose governments are tyrannical to the core pride themselves on being "people's democracies." In non-communist nations such as the United States this tendency is equally evident: we hear of wars to defend democracy, and the need to "preserve the tradition of liberal democracy."
Whether one is talking about the right to vote or the "need to share our resources," people will use the word "democracy" to praise whatever political system or ideal they favor. The harshest criticism of any procedure is that it is "anti-democratic." And yet it was not always so: even a hundred years ago in this country, to call a nation a democracy could be construed simply as a description, not an evaluation sometimes even as a criticism. Almost nowhere is this any longer true.
Democracy is rule by the majority. In a direct democracy, such as that of ancient Athens, or like the New England town meetings, every citizen can vote on every measure. In an indirect, or representative, democracy, each citizen can vote to elect representatives (Congress, Parliament) who then do the voting, and it is the majority of the representatives rather than the majority of the citizens themselves who determine the outcome.
Let us consider representative democracy, the only kind that is feasible in large nations. Several conditions have first to be spelled out before our description is complete.
First, in a democracy there are elections. But how often? Suppose there were an election only once in a hundred years. In such a "democracy" voters could not vote to change governments more than once in a lifetime. Clearly, elections must be fairly frequent, enough to give voters a chance to vote for new candidates.
Second, the vote must be rather widely distributed. If only one per cent of the population could vote, or only persons whose initials were R.Z., no election would represent the will of the majority of the people, no matter how often they were held. There are almost always certain restrictions on voting - e.g., minors cannot vote, convicted felons cannot vote while in prison, persons in mental institutions cannot vote and non-citizens cannot vote-but in the twentieth century at least there are many times more residents who can vote than cannot. Only after World War I could women vote in the United States, and for many decades no blacks could vote, as they still cannot in South Africa.
Third, even if everyone could vote, and at frequent intervals, it would be to no purpose if there were no diversity of positions available to vote for (or against). In the Soviet Union people can vote, at least for some offices, but only for one communist candidate or another-non-communists are not permitted to be on the ballot. In other Eastern bloc nations, numerous political parties are permitted, but no one is permitted to be a candidate who is not officially approved by the government in power. Such a restriction on candidacy can have the same effect as permitting only communists to be candidates. In both cases, a wide diversity of preferences is ignored. If a democracy is to function at all, it must be possible for persons of whatever opinion to sponsor candidates for office and there must be means for getting them on the ballot.
Nor is even this sufficient. No choice by voters is meaningful unless that choice has at least the opportunity to be an informed choice; and this is not possible if all the channels of publicity are reserved for the officially sponsored parties. Electors must be able to find out all they need to know about the alternative candidates. If the government owns all the television and radio stations, and owns or controls the content of newspapers and magazines, the voter will not be able to receive an accurate impression of the choices available.
Even if the press is not owned by the government, if newspapers are censored or prohibited from expressing opinions contrary to those of the party in power, voting citizens will not be able to make choices on the basis of reliable information. If newspapers and the media are monopolized by one group or party, it is not possible for the groups which are denied access to the media to receive a fair hearing. And thus a controlled press is incompatible with democracy, and a free press essential to it.
There may well be other conditions, but these at least are indispensable if any system of government is to be called a functioning democracy. 1
Democracy is often spoken of as "self-government." But if we treat this term with any care at all, it is clear that democracy is no such thing. I can govern myself, determine to a large extent the course of my life, curb my desire for immediate satisfactions in order to achieve long-range goals, and so on. And you can do the same with yourself. If ten people do this, each is governing himself or herself. But when people speak of democracy as self-government, they are not speaking about each person governing himself, they are speaking of a process in which a majority of voters, or a majority of members of a legislature, make decisions which have the force of law for everyone, including those who are opposed to what is enacted. It is true that each adult individual in a democracy can participate in determining who shall sit in the seats of political power-but only in a very small way, seldom enough to change the outcome of an election.
In any case, self-government means governing oneself; it is a mistake to extend this from an individual to a collection of individuals and say that via democracy the collection is "governing itself." Democracy is simply government by the majority of a collective (or the majority of the representatives the voters have voted for). Their decisions may not accord with the needs or wishes of you as an individual at all. To the extent that they exert coercive power over your life, you are being governed by others.
An individual, of course, may govern himself badly: he may make constant mistakes, may ruin his own life, may waste his years on useless projects or alcohol; but at least he is doing it to himself. A democratic government may also govern others badly. When inhabitants of a nation freed from colonial rule say, "At least we're governing ourselves," what they are saying is that instead of people from outside the nation ruling them, there are now people from inside the nation ruling them-and sometimes doing so far worse than their colonial masters did.
Objections to Democracy
The most usual, and most easily understood, objection to democracy as a form of government is that it enables the majority to ride roughshod over the rights of a minority to persecute them, to censor their activities, even to kill them. A majority might vote to kill certain minority racial elements, or to make life difficult for them in many ways. If feelings run high and a majority knows it can get by with it, there is every temptation to vote into law whatever prejudices a majority may have. Is it inconceivable that a majority of Germans, had they voted on it, would have voted to do something (not necessarily death) to Jews? Certainly a majority of Americans for generations used the political means to keep blacks "in their place." When there is no criterion but majority rule, anything can become law, depending on what the whims of the majority are; it is like a ship without a rudder.
But a second, and even more tell-ing, criticism of democracy is that the majority of voters will often vote for policies which turn out to be ruinous to themselves, though they do not see this at the time. Legislatures, responding to the voters who elected them, may vote billions of dollars for various schemes of welfare. Even though only a small part of the money ultimately reaches the poor for whom it was intended, the legislators continue to vote for more of these measures. If they don't, they are branded as "cold" and "unhumanitarian" (as if it were somehow humanitarian for A to take B's money and give it to C) and they won't get re-elected. But the voters rebel at the resulting high taxes, so the government resorts to increasing quantities of printing-press money, and the result of course is inflation. The consumer's dollars will no longer buy what they did before, and almost everyone is worse off than before. But they didn't see the causal connection between the measures they voted for and their resultant poverty. They didn't realize that if 40 per cent of their income went to finance the government, that was 40 per cent they couldn't use themselves, and yet that 40 per cent wasn't enough to finance the government projects which they themselves favored.
When they said "It's government money," they didn't realize that it was their money that was being taken from them to finance the projects they wanted. They didn't realize that money isn't like manna from heaven - that the government has no way of financing anything except by taking it from the people themselves. They didn't see that for every person who gets something for nothing there must be at least one other person who gets nothing for something. Even a superficial knowledge of elementary economics should have told them this much; but they didn't have even that elementary knowledge, so they voted themselves into disaster. Thus, beginning in relative independence of government, they voted themselves into utter dependence on government, a result they had completely failed to foresee.
One may say, "Well, then they deserve it. They brought it on themselves." Perhaps so-but who is the "they"? The "they" is the majority. The minority, who warned against these consequences, and were only ridiculed for their efforts, certainly did not deserve such a fate; they knew well enough what would happen. But in a democracy they must suffer consequences along with the ignorant majority that favored the disastrous policies.
When Benito Juarez, the first president of Mexico, said, "Since people do not vote themselves into slavery, freedom flows from democracy as water flows from the hills," his words were doubtless eloquent and inspiring. But unfortunately they were not true; people do vote themselves into slavery.
Plato on Democracy
What, after all, is so great about a majority view? Does a majority's taste in art determine which art is best? Does a majority vote on Newton vs. Einstein determine which of their theories was right? Are the masses of mankind so imbued with political wisdom that the majority can always be trusted to make the right choices? On the contrary: the majority of people appear to be influenced more by a candidate's images than by his argument, and to become bored and uncomprehending when even moderately difficult points are discussed (such as the need for capital investment to bring about prosperity). Ignorance and confusion multiplied 100 million times are still ignorance and confusion. That is why Louis Napoleon characterized democracy cynically as "government of the cattle, for the cattle, by the cattle." And that is why Plato more than two thousand years ago spoke of democracy in the following manner:
Imagine this state of affairs on board a ship or a number of ships. The master is bigger and burlier than any of the crew, but a little deaf and shortsighted and no less deficient in seamanship. The sailors are quarrelling over the control of the helm; each thinks he ought to be steering the vessel, though he has never learnt navigation and cannot point to any teacher under whom he has served his apprenticeship; what is more, they assert that navigation is a thing that cannot be taught at all, and are ready to tear in pieces anyone who says it can.
Meanwhile they besiege the master himself, begging him urgently to trust them with the helm; and sometimes, when others have been more successful in gaining his ear, they kill them or throw them overboard, and, after somehow stupefying the worthy master with strong drink or an opiate, take control of the ship, make free with its stores, and turn the voyage, as might be expected of such a crew, into a drunken carousal.
Besides all this, they cry up as a skilled navigator and master of seamanship anyone clever enough to lend a hand in persuading or forcing the master to set them in command. Every other kind of man they condemn as useless. They do not understand that the genuine navigator can only make himself fit to command a ship by studying the seasons of the year, sky, stars, and winds, and all that belongs to his craft; and they have no idea that along with the science of navigation, it is possible for them to gain, by instruction or practice, the skill to keep control of the helm whether some of them like it or not.
If a ship were managed in that way, would not those on board be likely to call the expert in navigation a mere stargazer, who spent his time in idle talk and was useless to them? ... But our present rulers may fairly be compared to the sailors in our parable, and the useless visionaries, as the politicians call them, to the real masters of navigation.... Democracy will promote to honor anyone who merely calls himself the people's friend. 2
The government of the United States is not a democracy, and the Founding Fathers never thought of it as such. It is, rather, a republic.
A republic may be democratic in many of its procedures, but there are certain things it cannot do. In the constitution of a republic are contained certain limitations on what the majority may do. Thus, the First Amendment declares that Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press. Even if a law banning freedom of speech were passed by Congress, it would be unconstitutional and presumably would be struck down by the courts.
In the same way, the Constitution provides for "due process of law," protects citizens against search and seizure of property, entitles them to protect themselves against aggressors, and so on-and having these protections embedded in the Constitution gives all of us protection against measures that an ignorant or whimsical majority might enact. In short, the Constitution recognizes and protects individual rights against their violation by other individuals, and by the government itself-whereas unlimited democracy may flout them with abandon, and with nothing between them and us to protect us against the ever-changing whims of the majority.
As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
What Kind of Republic?
What whims we are protected against depends, of course, on what kind of republic it is. It depends on what kinds of protection are written into the constitution; it also depends on whether the constitution is actually followed in practice or is simply there for self-advertisement or window-dressing, like the constitution of the Soviet Union.
The best constitution is one which provides maximum freedom under a rule of law. Maximum freedom means freedom to live by one's own choices and not to live by the choices forced on one by others. But some choices that people make interfere with the freedom of others; some people choose to murder, to plunder, to steal the fruits of others' labor.
Such errant behavior is the reason why law is required. The first maxim of the law is: Do not harm others-whether those inflicting the harm are other individuals or the government itself. Law is required so that people may live in freedom, not having that freedom forcibly interfered with by the choices of others.
All this was certainly the intent of the Founding Fathers of the American republic. Such freedoms include, certainly, the political freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and press, freedom of peaceable assembly, and freedom from harm to one's person or property; they also include economic freedom, such as the freedom to start a new enterprise, freedom to sustain it by one's efforts (not to have it confiscated), and freedom to employ others or be employed by others on terms voluntarily agreed to by both; in short, the freedom of the market.
The Founding Fathers saw no reason to assume that a majority of citizens should have the final and deciding word on what bills should be enacted into law; decisions of such depth and complexity could not be left to the ever-changing whims of a majority. "No one imagines that a majority of passengers should control a plane. No one assumes that, by majority vote, the patients, nurses, elevator boys and cooks and ambulance drivers and interns and telephone operators and students and scrubwomen in a hospital should control the hospital. Would you ever ride on a train if all the passengers stepped into booths and elected the train crews by majority vote, as intelligently as you elect the men whose names appear in lists before you in a voting booth? Then why is it taken for granted that every person is endowed on his 21st birthday with a God-given right and ability to elect the men who decide questions of political philosophy and international diplomacy?
"This fantastic belief is no part of the American Revolution. Thomas Paine, Madison, Monroe, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, did not entertain it for a moment. When this belief first affected American government, it broke John Quincy Adams' heart; to him it meant the end of freedom on earth." 3
And yet, things haven't quite turned out that way. As one observes the United States today, it often seems as if very little of the original republic remains, and that it has been gradually, sometimes imperceptibly, but nevertheless surely been transformed into the democracy that the Founding Fathers feared. How has this happened?
Election to Federal Offices
One important straw in the wind is the gradual transformation of the manner in which individuals are elected or appointed to high office in the federal government. Most people seem to assume that congressmen and presidents always came into office as the result of democratic elections. But the founders of our republic carefully framed it otherwise. Consider how it was when the republic was founded, and for many years thereafter, based on the original (unamended) Constitution:
1. The only exercise of majority rule in the federal government was the House of Representatives. The majority of voters were empowered to elect-and to recall in two years-the members of the House, the only body having the authority to spend the money collected from the people in taxes. (Voting was also much more restricted during those years.)
2. The Senate was not elected by the citizens. Its members-two from each state-were appointed by the legislatures of their respective states, according to rules determined by the states and not the federal government. The popular election of senators did not come about until the 17th Amendment, in 1913.
3. The president was not elected by popular vote at all. Article 2 of the Constitution reads, in part: "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress ... The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons ... They shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each, which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the Senate. The president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed . . ." It was done this way so that the president would not be subject to the whims of any section of the nation, but would represent the entire republic.
Today, of course, the president is elected by popular vote, and the Electoral College is an empty charade. This is yet another step toward emasculating the republic and instituting democracy. "And many a president in a time of crisis, since that right [freedom from popular election, hence from special interest groups) was taken away from his high office, must have silently cursed the amendment that plunges him to the neck in a mob of shortsighted, local-minded, clamoring men, clutching and pulling at him with a thousand hands. Today that Amendment does not let the captain of this ship of State make one clear decision unhampered by the ignorance and prejudices and fears of all the passengers on all the decks and all the men playing poker in the ship's bar. An ocean liner could not be navigated for a day under such conditions." 4
The Courts and the Republic
But that is only the tip of the iceberg. What has occurred in this nation, and only partly because of changes in the method of electing presidents and Congressmen, is an enormous expansion of governmental powers. When this republic was founded, the main purpose of the federal government was defense against aggression: police to defend citizens against internal aggression, and armed forces to defend them against external aggression. But since government, to discharge these functions, requires a monopoly on the use of physical force-or at least a monopoly on the power to say who will be entitled to wield that force-it is tempting for a government, once installed, to use that coercive force in ways that were no part of the original plan. "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile" was never more applicable than to the powers usurped by governments: power to regulate industry and agriculture, power to control and inflate the currency, power to seize the earnings of those who work and give them to those who do not-and so on endlessly.
"But the United States is a republic; and the republic's powers are limited by its constitution. The Constitution does not mention any of these powers as being among those delegated to the federal government. The federal government is not constitutionally empowered to do any of these things."
This is quite true. But the Constitution is interpreted by the courts, and the courts-particularly during and since Roosevelt's "New Deal" have conspicuously failed to prevent the expansion of Federal powers. The result has been to sanction Federal interference in virtually every branch of economic activity, in which, as a republic, it has no place.
For example, the Constitution empowers the federal government to handle "interstate commerce." But the interstate commerce clause has been construed by the courts so as to permit all manner of activities never envisaged by the framers of the Constitution, such as "taxing North Dakota farmers to build flood control dams on a dry creek rising in the mountains of Los Angeles County, flowing through Los Angeles County, and discharging into the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles County." 5 Interstate commerce has been construed to include the wages of men who wash the windows of buildings in which interstate trade is conducted. It has been construed to permit all manner of regulation of agriculture, such as regulating the kind and amounts of crops a farmer may grow. (The federal government has the authority to regulate that which it subsidizes, said the Court; but what gave it the authority to subsidize in the first place?) It has been construed so as to permit the government to set the price of natural gas at the well-head (the Phillips Petroleum Case of 1954), thus discouraging the search for new sources of natural gas and meanwhile encouraging consumers to be wasteful of gas because of the government-set low price. Indeed, it has enabled the government to create an energy shortage where in nature no energy shortage exists. 6 These and thousands of other intrusions into the free market have been brought about by these court decisions, giving to the federal government tremendous regulatory powers never granted in the Constitution of this republic. 7
And yet, in numerous polls throughout the last decade, a majority of Americans appear to believe that what is needed are more controls, not fewer. The majority have no idea of the cost of these controls: the tremendously expensive and wasteful regulatory apparatus, the ball and chain it places on production, the countless men and women who would have helped to create a prosperous economy, who would (for example) have found natural gas and sold it at market price (and with greater abundance, the price would have come down). The majority see only that "we think the price is too high," and vote to control the producers. And thus they kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The minority who see clearly enough what is happening are outvoted at the polls. Such is the course of democracy.
The General Welfare
The federal government has also assumed enormous powers through a distortion of the phrase "the general welfare." In the first Congress, in 1789, a bill was introduced to pay a bounty to fishermen at Cape Cod, as well as a subsidy to certain farmers. James Madison said: "If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public treasury: they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union: they may seek the provision of the poor ... [all of which] would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."
And so Congress rejected the bill, and Thomas Jefferson said with relief, "This will settle forever the meaning of the phrase 'general welfare,' which, by a mere grammatical quibble, has countenanced the general government in a claim of universal power." It is an irony of history that the Hydra that Jefferson thought he had laid to rest has within our own century grown a hundred new heads, each of them aimed at our liberty.
The Constitution read: "Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the defense and general welfare of the United States." This meant that the national government could raise money only and spend money only to carry out its enumerated powers. They thought it ridiculous to construe two words "general welfare" as if they superseded the detailed enumeration of specific powers, rather than as merely summarizing them. The two words were always interpreted in the latter way by the Supreme Court during the first century and a half of American history. Their meaning, they held, could be changed only by amendment to the Constitution.
Yet today the amount of transfer payments-to promote "the general welfare"-takes up almost half the budget; more than that, if one includes all the entitlement programs. Moreover, the majority of Americans apparently consider all these things as their right. Those receiving money from the federal government now outnumber those who labor to sustain it. The resulting level of taxation, as well as national indebtedness, is causing the republic to hemorrhage to death in the name of the democracy.
Without the vast bureaucracy created through the regulatory agencies, free-market alternatives could be devised. For example, "Building codes and fire codes could presumably be replaced quite easily by privately enforced codes drafted by insurance companies. Few developers would construct hazardous firetraps if they knew beforehand that they could not acquire insurance for their buildings. And as Bernard Siegan brilliantly demonstrated in his 'Non-zoning in Houston,' 8egregious, incompatible property uses will not often cohabit if land use regulations were summarily abolished. Restrictive covenants that run with the land, renewable at intervals of several decades, could very expeditiously insure that a slaughterhouse will not locate in the middle of Shaker Heights, Beverly Hills, or Boca Raton. If one were so unfortunate as to find one's house suddenly within proximity of a noisome chemical plant a remedy would lie in nuisance law, for no one has a right to use his property in such a way as to adversely affect another's enjoyment of his property." 9
Democracy vs. the Market
The only thing that can increase a nation's standard of living is greater production. And anything that inhibits that production makes the nation poorer. If a farmer or manufacturer has part of his output taken away from him for distribution to others, he will be less motivated to produce in the future, If he is regulated by men from the Department of Agriculture who trample over his fields to determine how much corn he has planted, if the factory owner is regularly fined for trivial offenses that shouldn't be offenses at all (but are only contrary to rules set up by the government regulatory agency), he will sooner or later be forced into bankruptcy or to continue production under great difficulties (and higher prices). And if the government pays the farmer money to grow or not to grow crops, this increases the burden of every taxpayer in the land without any increase of production.
In a democracy, all such processes are easily sanctioned by popular outcries: "He's a profiteer - take it away from him." "He's getting too much-give it to us." People who haven't succeeded, or weren't willing to make the sacrifices he made, will do all they can to take it away from him after he has succeeded. A democracy easily becomes dominated by the morality of envy. A fickle mob, unaware of the facts of basic economics, but easily swayed by demagogues demanding as their right the fruits of the labor of others, can easily bring about the passage of laws which will inhibit production, destroy the free market, and in the end lead to such shortages and bottlenecks in production that they result, just as Plato said, in riots, calls for "law and order," and dictatorship.
Only a republic, in which the powers of the government are constitutionally limited, can avoid this fate. That is why the Founding Fathers were careful to create this nation as a republic, so that each person could determine his own destiny and not have it determined by others, whether by the tyranny of one (dictatorship) or of a few (oligarchy), or of many (democracy). "It is the blessing of a free people, not that they live under democratic government, but that they do not." 10 If the return to a republic is not achieved, Alexis de Tocqueville's prediction of a century and a half ago may yet come true: that the American government will become for its citizens "an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate.... For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances - what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living? ... The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting; such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." 11
Indeed, it is not difficult to make a case for the view that what Tocqueville predicted has already come to pass.
ABOVE this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labours, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness: it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances-what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.
Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Re: The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
A comprehensive and thoroughly brilliant essay on the different types of government.
I'd like to add to said article a few comments on issues discussed in it.
Francis Parker Yockey</a>
In the matter of "elections" which had a vogue of almost two centuries during the life of Western civilization, both in Europe and in its spiritually dominated areas elsewhere, an important law of political organisms is shown.
In "democratic" conditions ... occur the phenomena known as "elections." It was the theory of "democracy" arising about 1750 that the "absolute" power of the monarch, or the aristocracy, depending on local conditions, must be broken, and this power transferred to "the people." This use of the word "people" shows again the necessarily polemical nature of all words used politically. "People" was merely a negative; it merely wished to deny that the dynasty, or else the aristocracy, belonged to "the people." It was thus an attempt to deny the monarch or aristocracy political existence; in other words, this word implicitly defined them as the enemy in the true political sense. It was the first time in Western history that an intellectualized theory became the focus of political happening. Wherever the monarch or aristocracy were stupid or incapable, wherever they looked backward instead of adapting themselves to the new century, they went down. Wherever they took over the theories themselves and interpreted them officially, they retained their power and their command.
The technique of transferring this "absolute" power to "the people" was to be through plebiscites, or "elections." The theoretical proposal was to give the power to millions of human beings, to each his nth/millionth fraction of total existing political power. This was of course impossible in a way that even the intellectuals could see, so the compromise was "elections" through which each individual in the organism could "choose" a "representative" for himself. If the representative did something, by a satisfying fiction it was agreed that each little individual "represented" had done that himself.
In a short time it became obvious to men interested in power, either for themselves personally, or to carry through their ideas, that if one worked previously to one of these "elections" to influence the minds of the voting populace, he would be "elected." The greater one's means of persuasion of the masses of voters, the more certain was his subsequent "election." The means of persuasion were whatever one had at hand: rhetoric, money, newsprint. Since elections were large things, disposing of large amounts of power, only those who commanded corresponding means of persuasion could control them. Oratory came into its own, the Press stepped out as a lord of the land, the power of Money towered above all. A monarch could not be bought; what bribe could appeal to him? He could not be put under the usurers' pressure—he could not be sued. But party politicians, living in times when values became increasingly money-values, could be bought. Thus democracy presented the picture of the populace under the compulsion of elections, the delegates under the compulsion of Money, and Money sitting in the seat of the monarch.
So the absolute power remained—as it must in any organism, for it is an existential law of every organism that: The power within an organism is constant, and if individuals, groups, or ideas within the organism are diminished in power, some other individuals, groups, or ideas are increased in power by that amount.
This Law of Constancy of Intra-Organismic Power is existential, for if a diminution of power in one place within does not pass elsewhere within the organism, the organism is sickened, weaker, and may have lost its political existence as an independent unit. The history of South America from 1900 to 1950 is rich in examples of triumphant revolutions against regimes that stripped them of power—which then moved to the United States of North America, and as long as that condition continued, the country in which such a revolution had occurred was a colony of Yanqui imperialismo.
And on CONSTITUTIONS:
<a href="http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/divine.html">THE DIVINE ORIGINS OF CONSTITUTIONS
From Joseph de Maistre. Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions (1810)</a>
The more we examine the influence of human agency in the formation of political constitutions, the greater will be our conviction that it enters there only in a manner infinitely subordinate, or as a simple instrument; and I do not believe there remains the least doubt of the incontestable truth of the following propositions: -
1. That the fundamental principles of political constitutions exist before all written law.
2. That a constitutional law is, and can only be, the development or sanction of an unwritten pre-existing right.
3. That which is most essential, most intrinsically constitutional, and truly fundamental, is never written, and could not be, without endangering the state.
4. That the weakness and fragility of a constitution are actually in direct proportion to the multiplicity of written constitutional articles.
. . .
To this general rule, that no constitution can be made or written, à priori, we know of but one single exception; that is, the legislation of Moses. This alone was cast, so to speak, like a statue, and written out, even to its minutest details, by a wonderful man, who said, Fiat! without his work ever having need of being corrected, improved, or in any way modified, by himself or others. This, alone, has set time at defiance, because it owed nothing to time, and expected nothing from it; this alone has lived fifteen hundred years; and even after eighteen new centuries have passed over it, since the great anathema which smote it on the fated day, we see it, enjoying, if I may say so, a second life, binding still, by I know not what mysterious bond, which has no human name, the different families of a people, which remain dispersed without being disunited. So that, like attraction, and by the same power, it acts at a distance, and makes one whole, of many parts widely separated from each other. Thus, this legislation lies evidently, for every intelligent conscience, beyond the circle traced around human power; and this magnificent exception to a general law, which has only yielded once, and yielded only to its Author, alone demonstrates the Divine mission of the great Hebrew Lawgiver....
But, since every constitution is divine in its principle, it follows, that man can do nothing in this way, unless he reposes himself upon God, whose instrument he then becomes. Now, this is a truth, to which the whole human race in a body have ever rendered the most signal testimony. Examine history, which is experimental politics, and we shall there invariably find the cradle of nations surrounded by priests, and the Divinity constantly invoked to the aid of human weakness....
Man in relation with his Creator is sublime, and his action is creative: on the contrary, so soon as he separates himself from God, and acts alone, he does not cease to be powerful, for this is a privilege of his nature; but his action is negative, and tends only to destroy....
There is not in the history of all ages a single fact which contradicts these maxims. No human institution can endure unless supported by the Hand which supports all; that is to say, if it is not especially consecrated to Him at its origin. The more it is penetrated with the Divine principle, the more durable it will be.
Further, this article (and <a href="http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer-arch.html">ALL Shaffer's articles</a>)
by Butler Shaffer is great reading when discussing these issues, this particular one on the SOCIAL CONTRACT on which government ("society") bases its power and alleged legitimacy.
<a href="http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/shaffer14.html">The Social Contract and Other Myths
by Butler Shaffer</a>
Myths and lies have been major contributors to the indoctrination of children into the prevailing culture. Our earliest experiences usually included stories about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, characters we swore were integral parts of the cosmic scheme. In time – usually with the help of our more skeptical friends or forthright parents – we experienced the pains of disillusionment, and even prided ourselves on how sophisticated we were vis-a-vis our more gullible younger siblings. As young adults in a "bottom-line" world, we managed to discard more lies, such as "the check is in the mail," "user-friendly computer," and "I’m from the government; I’m here to help!"
There are some fables, however, that are too deeply engrained in us for us to confront, most of which have to do with how political systems operate. To look such myths in the face and see them for what they are would, in our politically-defined world, be too traumatic, forcing us to face up to the reality that we have been victimized by our own gullibility. (I have, for instance, been intrigued by the recent billboards and bumper-stickers that read: "In God We Trust. United We Stand." If we are trusting in God, why do we need to stand united? Is God incapable of finding and protecting us if we "stand individually?")
The myth that meets with the most resistance for examination, however, is that upon which modern "democratic" political systems are founded: the "social contract" theory of the state. According to this view, best developed by John Locke and woven into the fabric of the Declaration of Independence, human beings are free by nature, and may take whatever action is necessary for sustaining their lives, consistent with a like right in all others to do the same. This includes the right to protect one’s life and property from attacks by others. The individual enjoyment of such a right carries with it the right of individuals to join together for mutual protection, creating an agency – the state – to act on their behalf in this regard. At all times, however, this arrangement is understood as one of a principal/agency relationship, with individuals being the principals, and the state their agent. This, in theory, is the rationale for the modern state.
Of course, there is no evidence of any state having come into existence through such idealistic means. Being grounded in force, all political systems have been created through conquest, violence, and disregard for the rights of those who do not voluntarily choose to be a part of the arrangement. Even the origins of the United States of America – which provides us a great deal more empirical evidence – reveals the absence of any "contract" among its citizenry to participate in the system. As best I can tell from my reading of history, the Constitution was probably favored by about one-third of the population, strongly opposed by another one-third, and greeted with indifference by the remaining one-third.
The sentiment that "We the People" spoke, as one voice, on behalf of the new system; the idea that there was a universal agreement – which a contract theory demands – for the creation of the American state, represents historic nonsense. The Constitution did not even reflect the wishes of a majority of the population, much less all. Those who persist in the "social contract" myth are invited to explain how, once the national government came into being, Rhode Island was threatened with blockades and invasions should it continue to insist upon not ratifying the Constitution. Rhode Island was, after the majority of Americans themselves, the second victim of "American imperialism!"
If the origins of the United States government do not persuade you of the mythic nature of the state, then your attention is directed to the Civil War, wherein the southern states made a choice to opt out of the "social contract" by seceding from the Union. Lincoln – in my mind, the worst president this country ever had, including all the McKinleys and Roosevelts and Wilsons and Trumans and Bushes, none of whom could have inflicted their damage without Lincoln’s embracing the principle of the primacy of the totalitarian state – negated any pretense to a "social contract" justification for the United States. (If you would like further evidence on this, I direct your attention to two books: Richard Bensel’s Yankee Leviathan, and Thomas DiLorenzo’s just-published work The Real Lincoln.)
Those of a totalitarian persuasion have had to stumble all over one another to salvage the "social contract" myth – without which, the state is seen for what it always has been by its nature: a corporate body that employs force, threats, and deadly violence to compel individuals to participate in whatever suits its interest to pursue. Somehow or other, people are "free" to contract to set up a state as their "agent" but, once established, there is some kind of unexplained conversion by which the state becomes the "principal," and individuals the "agents."
Imagine if such logic were employed in the marketplace – which, fortunately, does not enjoy the use of coercive force. Suppose that you Suppose that you went to work for the United Updike Company and, after three years of employment, you decided to resign in order to take another job. Suppose Uniited Updike thought that you were too valuable an employee to lose, and so resorted to deadly force to compel you to remain with them. Suppose, further, that such a scheme would have been so transparent that it would have been met with general contempt in the community, and so the company rationalizes its coercive actions this way: "we are taking this action in order to protect the rights of your children, whose security might be threatened were you to quit your job." This was the essence of the Civil War!
I continue to get e-mails from readers who either do not understand – or do not want to understand – how the 13th Amendment to the Constitution nationalized slavery rather than ended it. Military and jury duty conscription, taxation, compulsory school attendance, are just a number of manifestations of how government is engaged in the practice of slavery. But the root explanation for this phenomenon is traced back to the rejection of "contract" as a basis for the state.
One must understand the interconnected nature of "liberty," "property," and "contract." To enjoy a condition of liberty is to have one’s claim to self-ownership respected. Such claims are respected when, and only if, we insist upon contracts as the only way in which to properly deal with one another. I believe it was Blackstone who defined "contract" as an agreement by two or more persons to exchange claims of ownership. Thus, if I wish to secure your services, I will respect your independence by making an offer to you that you will consider attractive enough to cause you to agree to work for me. The arrangement is a contractual one.
When the state wants our services or the products of our labor, it demands them by force, with no respect for yours or my right to refuse. Taxes are simply increased, conscription ordered, service demanded, and we are expected to obey with the same obeisance as a plantation slave being ordered to increase the rate of chopping cotton. We have so internalized our slave status that most of us take it as a compliment to be referred to as an "asset" of the community; or regard it as an expression of governmental "caring" to refer to our children as "our nation’s most valuable resources."
Lest you dismiss my observations as hyperbole, consider the dissenting opinion of Supreme Court Justice Harlan, in the 1905 case Lochner v. New York, where he sought to justify legislation that limited the number of hours people could work in bakeries. An excessive number of hours, he argued, "may endanger the health, and shorten the lives of the workmen, thereby diminishing their physical and mental capacity to serve the State" (emphasis added). Do you hear any sounds of retreat from such sentiments in the words of President Bush, or John Ashcroft, or Donald Rumsfeld, as they warn us of our duties of obedience to their will, or threaten us if we seek to find out too much about their military actions? And when Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, speaks of possible "mandatory" vaccinations against smallpox or anthrax, do you discern any more regard for our free wills in such matters than a rancher would in vaccinating his cattle for cholera or hoof-and-mouth disease?
In current efforts to establish a European Union, or to expand the powers – including taxation – of the United Nations, we witness the removal of even a pretense of support for the "social contract" principle. Only in Ireland, I believe, were people allowed to vote on the EU proposal – which was soundly rejected by the voters. Now, apparently, it is sufficient for existing political systems to create supra-political systems, without bothering to consult the rabble, whose function is only to be serviceable to the new regimes.
I know of no legal principle that allows an "agent" to delegate his or her agency to another, or to create a new agency, without the consent of the "principal." I strongly suspect that, should an agent undertake such authority without being instructed to do so by the principal, all courts would treat this as a fundamental breach of the agency agreement. And yet, agencies of the United States government – as well as other nations – now engage in just such transactions, seeking to bind their own citizenry to political obligations in which none of them has had even a remote voice. Does this not suggest to you a material breach in the alleged "social contract," leaving us free to pursue our well-being in other ways? John Locke and Thomas Jefferson would have said "yes."
In their teenage years, my children used to lament "I didn’t ask to be born." I informed them that, as they came to learn more about biology, they would understand that they did ask to be born; that the life force within their particular sperm wanted nothing so much as to be the fertilizer of what was to become their ovum; that they have never worked so insistently for anything in their lives as to come into existence. They soon stopped uttering this plea!
What my children probably meant to say was that they had entered into no contract with either my wife or me to be brought into being. While this is obviously true, it is equally the case that "life" was not simply thrust upon them; that while they had no conscious will in the matter, the sense of life that inhered in their pre-conceptual state impelled their actions.
But all of us – including my three children – are human beings and, as such, each of us is characterized by "free will." This means that each of us has the capacity for self-ownership and self-direction, qualities that men like Locke and Jefferson regarded as so inseparable to life itself that social institutions – particularly the state – must rest their legitimacy upon their inviolability.
We are long past the day when even intelligent men and women incorporate such insights into their thinking or discussions. The pragmatic demands of Realpolitik – including how to manipulate "public opinion" and put together power-based coalitions – now dominate the conscious minds of most. But as our modern world continues its present entropic collapse into worldwide warfare, police-state oppression, and dehumanizing regimentation, it might be timely to resurrect some earlier notions – born of renaissance and enlightenment thinking – about the centrality of individuals in defining our social systems and behavior.
At least since the time of Lincoln, our nation has abandoned such sentiments, elevating statist ambitions of empire over the liberty and prosperity of human beings. It is time for us to face up to the myths and other lies by which others have seduced our self-destructive compliance. There is no "social contract" underlying our relationship to the state. Contrary to the high school civics class nonsense in which we have been indoctrinated, you and I are not the government: we have no more say in the course of political decision-making than does our family dog in deciding where we are to take this year’s vacation!
April 1, 2002
(No, it's definately NOT a joke!/Draken;-))
__________________ Three things are sacred to me: first Truth, and then, in its tracks, primordial prayer; Then virtue–nobility of soul which, in God walks on the path of beauty. Frithjof Schuon
Re: The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
Has the truth about the real reason for European - and Western - decadence ever been more eloquently expressed than by Evola?
<a href="http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/decad.html">EUROPEAN DECADENCE</a>
from Imperialismo pagano by Julius Evola
Present Western "civilization" awaits a substantial upheaval (rivolgimento), without which it is destined, sooner or later, to smash its own head. It has carried out the most complete perversion of the rational order of things. Reign of matter, gold, machines, numbers; in this civilization there is no longer breath or liberty or light. The West has lost its ability to command and to obey. It has lost its feeling for contemplation and action. It has lost its feeling for values, spiritual power, godlike men (uomini-idii). It no longer knows nature. No longer a living body made of symbols, gods, and ritual act, no longer a harmony, a cosmos in which man moves freely like "a kingdom within a kingdom", nature has assumed for the Westerner a dull and fatal exteriority whose mystery the secular sciences seek to bury in trifling laws and hypotheses. It no longer knows Wisdom. It ignores the majestic silence of those who have mastered themselves: the enlightened calm of seers, the exalted reality of those in whom the idea becomes blood, life, and power. Instead it is drowning in the rhetoric of "philosophy" and "culture", the speciality of professors, journalists, and sportsmen who issue plans, programs, and proclamations. Its wisdom has been polluted by a sentimental, religious, humanitarian contagion and by a race of frenzied men who run around noisily celebrating becoming (divenire) and "practice", because silence and contemplation alarm them.
It no longer knows the state, the state as value (stato-valore) crystallized in the Empire. Synthesis of the sort of spirituality and majesty that shone brightly in Chinaa, Egypt, Persia, and Rome, the imperial ideal has been overwhelmed by the bourgeois misery of a monopoly of slaves and traders.
Europe's formidable "activists" no longer know what war is, war desired in and of itself as a virtue higher than winning or losing, as that heroic and sacred path to spiritual fulfilment exalted by the god Krishna in the Baghavad Gita. They know not warriors, only soldiers. And a crummy little war (guerricciola) was enough to terrorize them and drive them to rehashing the rhetoric of humanitarianism, and pathos or, worse still, of windbag nationalism and Dannunzianism.
Europe has lost its simplicity, its central position, its life. A democratic plague is eating away at its roots, whether in law, science, or speculation. Gone are the leaders, beings who stand out not for their violence, their gold, or for their skills as slave traders but rather for their irreducible qualities of life. Europe is a great irrelevant body, sweating and restless because of an anxiety that no one dares to express. Gold flows in its veins; its flesh is made up of machines, factories, and laborers; its brains are of newsprint. A great irrelevant body tossing and turning, driven by dark and unpredictable forces that mercilessly crush whoever wants to oppose or merely escape the cogwheels.
Such are the achievements of Western "civilization". This is the much ballyhooed result of the superstitious faith in "progress", progress beyond Roman imperiousness, beyond radiant Hellas, beyond the ancient Orient - the great ocean.
And the few who are still capable of great loathing and great rebellion find themselves ever more tightly encircled.
__________________ Three things are sacred to me: first Truth, and then, in its tracks, primordial prayer; Then virtue–nobility of soul which, in God walks on the path of beauty. Frithjof Schuon
Re: The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
DRAK...hav'nt read the post yet.
There is a quote by Thomas Milton...
"They, who have poked out the peoples eyes condemn them for their blindness".
What if the people recieved DIRECT instruction in the classics and were taught to "think" and indeed our social structures ACTUALLY gave time for people to become directly involved in the political process at the grass roots level?
Are we straight back into surfdom? How can we gaurantee the King will be just?
Can we have a mix of Liberal Democracy and a deep connection to place and people?
Has Liberal Democracy EVER had a chance?
__________________ [size=medium]\"The Office\" is the greatest comedy...ever. [/size]
Re: The Rule of Quantity Over Quality - The Myth of Democracy
I do remember that quote as your original signature. :-P
So pardon me while I burst into flames.
I\'ve had enough of the world and it\'s people\'s mindless games.
So pardon me while I burn, and rise above the flame. Pardon me, pardon me, I\'ll never be the same. -Brandon Boyd
:roll: To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts. int: :evil: :-...