Democracy is one of the championed pillars and ideals of the modern world- it is consistently toted as a sign of “progress” and development, and as a way to make society the happiest. To call a government a dictatorship is a slur, and the western media describes governments it opposes as undemocratic, totalitarian, authoritarian, etc, regardless of the actual nature of the government. Democracy is also erroneously associated with the abstract notion of “freedom” which is how the American government can justify nearly all its wars as “giving freedom” to such and such a people. Traditionalists argue quite the opposite, as historically democracy was considered a cause of disorder and thought of as being as close to anarchy as possible.
How much the government of any self professed democracy believes in this of course, can be demonstrated from how it reacts to crisis and its own structure. In wartime most liberal democratic governments do not hesitate to enact wartime censorships and restrictions. TheUnited Statescertainly did not much pay heed to the notion of “freedom of choice” when it prosecuted the civil war to the fullest extent to reclaim the seceding states. The lesson here is that a government’s first priority will always be its own preservation first and foremost, whatever name it decides to give itself. This is not a moral issue, its one of common sense and reality. One certainly doesn’t see any democratic military structure, and no one in their right mind would put key strategic decisions to a vote among the rank and file. In the military there is a very strict hierarchy from the top marshals down to the lowest private. The only instance where this was challenged was in the early years of theSoviet Union, at the beginning of the Russian Civil War when the Bolsheviks perhaps overreached themselves and abolished rankings and organized soldiers’ councils to decide on issues. This was a disaster and defeat was partially averted thanks to the use of former tsarist officers as advisors, and the reinstitution of the rankings by the mid 1930s.
Most examples in history of democracy were failures. What allowed the Athenian democracy to exist was a combination of tight restrictions on
citizenship and voting rights, and the fact that Athens existed as a small relatively homogenous city state as opposed to a large multiethnic state like the United States. Needless to say, the track record for Athenian democracy left much to be desired. Its heyday in the 5thcentury BC came under the guiding hand of Pericles, a statesman who wasn’t above non democratic means to achieve his goals. Despite his confidence in the superiority of Athenian democracy, history showed the opposite as Sparta overcame Athens after nearly 30 years of warfare. Thus the Spartans who were seen as uncultured brutes who despised higher learning, wealth, and even trade to some extent were able to overcome the worldly democratic Athens, despite its naval and economic advantages. Athenian democracy also showed how an assembly of citizens can tyrannize, oppress, and make poor decisions as any one tyrant with the destruction of Melos and the death sentence against Socrates being two of the most infamous examples.
As C.Z. Codreanu said, democracy is incapable of perseverance. One can imagine a ship with no captain to decide which way to steer the ship. Instead this decision is put up to a vote, with a portion wanted to go east, another portion west, and a few undecideds. They vote again every few weeks, and the results are the ship moving back and forth a little to the east, a little to the west, ultimately not moving far from its starting position. A captain may not be competent but at least the ship will have a course, it may move into rough seas, it may sail to paradise, but at least it is going in some direction. A nation likewise, cannot build a future if the work of one party can be quickly undone by the work of its opponents with 4 years or less. Long term goals and long term projects require commitment that may take generations, as they sayRome wasn’t built in a day.
Of course we are here referring to democracy as an idea, for most nations that profess “democratic values” are not democracies at all, as they put a political “middle man” in the form of a representative and seemingly endless hurdles between the masses and the reigns of power. This partially explains why democratic republicanism can be paraded as a system to emulate- that the strongest nations adhere to its ideals with their lips. But political parties either cancel each other out, or they do something worse- they begin to value the “vote for its own sake.” This brings us to where we are today in the United States especially, where parties don’t really bother with a platform of ideology or beliefs but rather, adhere to the notion that to vote is an ideology in and of itself; that they only wish to support voting, regardless of the outcome. When a party loses an election it wishes its opposition luck and takes its seat alongside the winner, even if the winner’s policies in theory are directly contrary to their own. Even parties with ideological leanings are seen cooperating with their adversaries in a government. With both sides compromising, whatever direction either party would wish to take is watered down to the point where fairly little if any changes can be seen from one election to the next. The end result is parties degenerating from their ideological and even at times revolutionary origins into social clubs for the ruling elites. These elites are also the worst kind, not kings or great statesmen of ideals but bland careerists who bend and blow with the breeze with no depth.
The type of man democracy appeals to and champions is this kind exactly, one with no sense of place are calling, all roads are open to him, but this is as much a hobbling as if he was chained to one rigid way. Plato described as the “democratic character” in the Republic;
“… he lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the
hour; and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute;
then he becomes a water-drinker, and tries to get thin; then he takes
a turn at gymnastics; sometimes idling and neglecting everything,
then once more living the life of a philosopher; often he-is busy
with politics, and starts to his feet and says and does whatever comes
into his head; and, if he is emulous of any one who is a warrior,
off he is in that direction, or of men of business, once more in that.
His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence
he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he goes on.”
This sort of internal chaos and restlessness lead to one who may pursue this or that, but incapable of sustained effort and in the end is without any deeper understanding or ability to master anything.
The ancient philosophers and teachers always described a state in the terms of a body. The higher faculties, the head, etc rules the body and allow it to pursue higher pursuits, to be virtuous and good and dream beyond simple survival. It is in charge of the intellectual and spiritual pursuits. The lower faculties, the appetites are our basic needs and desires, food, drink, pleasures of the flesh, impulses etc. It is our higher faculties that make us truly human and allow us to dream beyond basic survival and physical sustenance. To be sure base pleasures are not evil, they are necessities of life and can be enjoyed, but it is our higher faculties that give us the discipline to not lose ourselves to our more instinctual urges. Likewise a nation for the ancients was understood as a “head” of the best of men, the Guardian/Aristocratic/Philosopher class, over the “body” of the masses, who performed all the physical tasks and were guided generally by the dictates of their bellies. This is as true today as in the ancient world, as the vast majority are primarily concerned with having basic guarantees in life- security, food, shelter and some sort of family life. This does not make the masses bad or unworthy of respect, as they are the pillar of the state, without their hands the great works the architects of the state imagine cannot come into existence. But it is the architect and the dreamer who imagines the great cathedrals and basilicas, the pyramids and temples and fortresses which are the lasting legacy of civilizations that have risen and fallen. A democracy is essentially a body decapitated, ruled purely by its belly, and the moneyed interest which capitalizes on those desires. A democracy by definition puts quantity of votes before quality of the notion or voter. This materialism of votes goes hand in hand with an emphasis on economic performance before all else, as if it were an end in itself rather than a means to an end, to further spiritual and social goals aimed at bettering the nation. The democratic state understands only appetites, but great nations are forged not through coddling the appetites of the masses but by struggle and hardship, and overcoming difficulties which democracy by its very nature seeks to avoid.
Though today we live in an era in which the democratic “march towards progress” seems inevitable, no state lasts forever and just as the powers today marvel at their greatness so to the Soviets did when they ruled half the world only 10 years before they disappeared! The pendulum swings both ways, and while history has swung in favor of disorder, and the democratic character, it will swing back in some way or another inevitably. There is nothing sacred about the ballot box. As the old saying goes; if a million people have a dumb idea, it is still a dumb idea.