6 books of the Lord
of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien describe a classical good
versus evil conflict. The theme is power,
and the goal is to end it. The story has a happy ending; the end
of tyranny and the return of the king after ages of darkness. What
do these marching armies reaching as far as the eye can see remind
us of? The nazism, fascism, and communism of the twentieth century
come to mind. There is little doubt that the past century gave us
the most terrible acts in human history. It is commonly believed
is the sound alternative to tyranny. However, it is not democracy
that returns in Middle Earth. It is monarchy.
find here a certain connection between J.R.R. Tolkien and Erik M.R.
von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, as Benjamin Constant is quoted in the chapter
"A Critique of Democracy" in Liberty
or Equality (also
available online) as saying “In certain historical periods one
has to make the full circle of follies in order to return to reason.”
Moreover, in Leftism
Revisited we find a quote of Sir Edward Grey on August 13,
1914: “The lights are going out all over Europe, and we shall not
see them lit again in our lifetime.” Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn himself
wrote in Leftism Revisited that “[s]ometime in the coming
century, people will rack their brains pondering how nations with
tremendous scientific and intellectual achievements could have given
uninstructed and untrained men and women the right to vote equally
uninstructed and untrained people into responsible positions.”
November of 1999 I was on my way to Macau to see the Portuguese
flags flying there before it was too late. On my way I had a few
hours in London, and I paid a visit to the
Adam Smith Institute, where I amongst other things had a discussion
Blair’s affair with the British Constitution. A response to
my critique that Mr. Blair by removing the hereditary peers from
the House of Lords was that the House of Lords didn’t have much
power left anyway, so it didn’t matter that much. This only goes
to show that Edmund Burke was right when he said that “[t]he true
danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.”
Now, Tony Blair has managed to do away with hereditary peers. What
is left is a right to take part in the debates to be terminated
by the death of the peers, i.e., the right is not to be passed on.
Perhaps British nobility will end up like the Swedish nobility.
Although Swedish nobility has not had any political power for quite
some time, just this year the Swedish parliament passed a bill abolishing
the “official status” of the nobility. Back to Britain. The monarchy
is now next. What the Brits stand in danger of ending up with is
a kind of “Swedish model," i.e., neither any actual nor formal
powers to the monarch. Although it can easily be argued that formal,
advisory, and reserve powers is insufficient as a bulwark against
mass democracy, the value of these powers should not be underestimated.
value of reserve powers can be illustrated by the example of the
Hitlerite attack on Norway in April of 1940. His Majesty King Haakon
VII was requested to appoint Vidkun Quisling as Prime Minister by
the invading power. His Majesty told the Cabinet that he could not
comply with this request, and that he would rather abdicate. The
insufficiency of the formal, advisory, and reserve powers is though
illustrated by the fact that the Norwegian defense had decayed severely.
It is said that this was against the will of His Majesty. The formal
reserve powers have value in the sense that they can be used in
extreme situations. The advisory powers serve as a corrective in
a system where politicians come and go. We may miss them, the mentioned
regal powers, i.e., not the politicians, when they’re gone, as we
today miss the liberty we had before democracy came to haunt us.
As Henrik Ibsen said “evig eies kun det tapte," which would
translate into something like “eternally owned is only that which
is lost." Ibsen furthermore told us in “En folkefiende,"
translated as An
Enemy of the People:
har aldri retten p sin side, sier jeg! Det er en av disse samfunnslgne
som en fri, tenkende mann m gjre opprr imot. Hvem er det som
utgjr flertallet av beboerne i et land? Er det de kloke folk,
eller er det de dumme? Jeg tenker vi fr vre enige om at dumme
mennesker er til stede i en ganske forskrekkelig majoritet rundt
omkring p den hele vide jord. Men det kan da vel, for fanden,
aldri i evighet vre rett at de dumme skal herske over de kloke!
would translate into something like:
majority never has what is right on its side, I say! That is one
of these society lies which a free, thinking man must rebel against.
Who constitutes the majority of the inhabitants of a country?
Is it the wise, or the stupid? I think we can agree that stupid
people are present in a very terrible majority around the whole
wide earth. But it cannot, damnit, ever be right that the stupid
shall rule over the wise!
Ibsen continues speaking through his character of Dr. Tomas
har alltid retten.
would translate into something like:
minority has always what is right (on its side).
The last words of Dr. Stockmann are:
er den, ser I, at den sterkeste mann i verden, det er han som
str mest alene.
would translate into something like:
thing is, you see, that the strongest man in the world, that is
he who stands most alone.
When apologists for democracy defend democracy by referring
to everything else being much worse, they almost sound like parrots.
Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said in Liberty or Equality: “Yet we
can very well imagine a dinner given in a ‘modern democracy’ –
and not only a so-called ‘people's democracy’ of the Eastern pattern!
– in which all the men arrive in a black uniform (the tuxedo
or ‘tails’), all of them with clean-shaven faces, all of them uttering
in unison with parrot-like monotony the same identical political
and social clichs.”
told us that we will not have good governance before those govern
who do not want to govern. With this in mind it does not sound wise
to devise a system where the will to govern is almost a prerequisite
for those who govern. In this respect the accident of birth is perhaps
not such a bad idea as political correctness would have us believe.
Rivarol once said “The absolute ruler may be a Nero, but he is sometimes
Titus or Marcus Aurelius; the people is often Nero, and never Marcus
Aurelius.” (Liberty or Equality, E.M.R. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn).
Thomas Woodrow Wilson told us that “[l]iberty has never come
from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government.
The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history
of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power,
not the increase of it.” It is one of the many paradoxes of politics
that his crusade to make the world safe for democracy, something
from which the world actually should be made safe, introduced
an era of which one can say with little doubt is the one with most
unlimited governmental power in human history. At least he proved
his point; that liberty has never come from government.
MacKay wrote in 1841 in his catalog Extraordinary
Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. MacKay has
a chapter on the crusades. After quoting Paradise
Lost he says, “Every age has its peculiar folly." The
folly and delusion we face now is the concept of democracy as self-government.
Kuehnelt-Leddihn put it, we are always ruled, there is no escape.
Edmund Burke told us that “[t]he people never give up their liberties
but under some delusion.”
delusion that the great god Demos has brought upon us truly belongs
in the “good company” of the catalog of Charles MacKay. Let us hope
that the age of darkness soon will come to an end, that we can return
to reason, that we will see the lights lit in our lifetime, and
that people soon will rack their brains over the hopeless concept
of mass democracy.
K. Baltzersen [send him mail]
is a senior consultant of information technology in Oslo, Norway.