That Old Bugaboo, Democracy

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I
recently read Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy:
The God That Failed
and owe to it a blessed simplification
in my outlook on life in the good ol' U.S. of A. today. I have taken
aboard his radical critique of democracy, now, so to speak, in the
mainstream, and at last I feel free to admit something I've kept
pretty much to myself for more than 50 years.

I
have long thought democracy a freak and a fright and a philosophical
and political error of the first magnitude, but I kept on trying
to talk myself out of it and take on a firm belief in what (nearly)
everybody else seemed to worship. I have the same trouble with professional
football, and fear I am, at bottom, an alien from Mars.

I
took a course in Plato one summer at college. It was given by Philosophy
Professor Raphael Demos (coincidence!), and I remember two things
and two only from it: one was Demos's helplessness in the face of
a charge made by a girl student. In those days, girls, now known
as women, could attend summer-school classes but not courses in
the regular school year. (This was, as you'll gather, shortly before
the Flood.)

The
charge delivered to Professor Demos on that hot day in August 1942
was that Plato "did not understand the woman's point of view."
Demos uttered a long drawn out sigh: "Ahhhhhhhh." He paused
for a long moment, chalk in hand, and then went on with his discourse.
Ever since, I have always supposed that Plato's primary shortcoming
was revealed in that vivid moment.

The
other thing I remember from the course is that Plato said democracy
was inevitably followed by tyranny. We had the proof of that in
front of us in those days: Adolf triumphant, elected in democratic
Germany. Benito, ditto in Italy. Plainly, these were terrible betrayals
of Wilson's plans for a democratic Europe, which we had been told
were very fine.

And
our own FDR, what of him? At that point everyone I knew seemed to
think he was not at all the tyrant sort of thing. A hero of the
people was more like it. I know I thought so. I was a member of
the kind of Irish Catholic family of whom it was said we were born
Democrat, and baptized Catholic.

(Some
members of my family continue to vote Democratic all these years
later, apparently with no understanding that their party has become
the leading proponent of Jacobinism in the nation. The Dems are
followed closely, it has to be admitted, by the Repubs, and perhaps
are now even being outpaced by them and with even better ideological
"cover.")

I thought then that we (the US that is) simply could never produce
a tyranny, although I did wonder how the people of Bach, Beethoven,
and Brahms, the "most literate and scientific nation in Europe"
as they were famously considered back in those days, could have
elected such a sorry item as Der Führer. It was simply incomprehensible
and had to be chalked up to the Devil himself.

Around
that same time we suddenly learned that the political outfit we
had all along thought was the Devil indeed, namely the Communist
USSR, was now our staunch and stalwart ally. At that point one shut
down one's thinking apparatus, rather as you do when you step into
a roller coaster car, hanging on for dear life for the duration
of the ride.

Some
ride. We now know that FDR was a bunko artist with the best of them.
A dreadful man with a slick and charming way about him. I think
every student ought perhaps to read The
Mask of Sanity
by Hervey Cleckley, especially the part about
the inevitable and winning charm of psychopaths. We are insufficiently
alert to the type when it comes to us wrapped in the glad rags of
political triumph.

There
never seems to be much connection between what politicians say and
do. And the disjunction seems the more severe the higher you go
on the political totem pole. Clinton did us all a great favor when
he revealed, in a particularly steamy moment in his career, that
the truly political mind (which is a distillation, I think, of the
truly lawyerly mind) has serious doubts, reservations, and hesitancies
when confronted by such a puzzler as the meaning of the word "is."

It
was a common thing to hear, back in the war years, that nations
got the government they deserved. The Germans and Italians had,
the Japanese had. Tough for them. We would prevail against them
because we, too, had the government we deserved, and it was just
great and heading on to victory.

I
wonder if the principle still holds?

March
4, 2002

Tom
White [send him mail] writes
from Odessa, Texas.

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