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domingo, 15 de julio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff


Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter XX

Because Democracy is rarely democratic.

Once more, I do not deny what there can be of seductive in the democratic idea but I don't see that actual democracy fulfills its promises.

As a way to designate rulers, it is exposed to all kinds of electoral trickery: on one side of the Atlantic, the voting ballots are interpreted fallaciously; on the other, the dead are cynically made to vote. The time when, on the other side of the Mediterranean, the voting urns were filled before proceeding to carry out referendums is not long past. Even where no such excesses happen, the electoral campaign system, subsidized, and influenced by the media, falsifies all the facts; as regards electoral promises, we have to ask ourselves how can they still make impression on the voters: «I am a politician and, as a politician, I have the prerogative of lying any time I feel like it» would proclaim, without compunction, Charles Peacock, Bill Clinton's friend..

In the realm of ethics, democracy turns out to be profoundly disappointing. It does not tolerate any theory, any other form of living, that is not its own. It affects tolerance but does not tolerate anything other than itself. When, in a country such as France, 15% of the voters have an attitude it condemns, democracy banishes them after having modified the electoral legislation so that they cannot have any representation. When in a country such as Austria or Italy, a condemned party gets close to achieving power by perfectly democratic ways, you have to hear the resounding cries of disparagement shouted! With all discretion, it drowns the liberty of thinking differently from it. And when it has to transgress its own diktats, it doesn't hesitate to do so. Witness the colonial ventures of France and Great Britain. More recently, the American task force in Somalia, and NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia prove that democracies are perfectly capable of committing war crimes in the name of the rights of man.

As a system of government, democracy mocks itself at every instant. Any manifestation in the streets that obstructs circulation, any blocking of routes, any civil servant strike which prevents my free transit, are all profoundly anti-democratic, not only because they infringe upon my rights as a citizen, but because they authorize minorities to annoy the majority. It would seem evident that, in a democracy worth its name, each individual should have the means to express himself without annoying his neighbor.

Add to this the various tricks to which parliaments resort, to refrain from consulting the nation on major matters (such as the relinquishing of sovereignty or of traditional moral values, or the armed aggressions without declaration of war, or the punishments to inflict on rapers or murderers of children) and you can see that, in actuality, democracy is often nothing more than a simulation of democracy.

Chapter XXI

What could make us become a little more democratic.

Let us recapitulate

I am hardly democratic because the democratic ideal is a bit too insistently hammered upon us; because I am not convinced of the infallible excellency of the democratic means to elect rulers; because it does not seem to me realistic that the same system should have the same virtues in all times and places; because of the lot of the minorities which the majorities tend to squash; because the «democracy» term itself does not seem to me to have too clear a meaning; because the notion of «people» in the name of which democracy wants to impose itself, also does not seem clear to me; because in our times, the qualities of democracy are declaimed rather than demonstrated; because democracy, as is being practiced in our age has all of the failings of the most obscurantist of religions but none of its virtues; because the philosophy of the rights of man seems to me to be considerably inferior to that of his duties; because democracy is grounded on a confusion between the common good and the whims of the public; because it ineluctably leads to diverse forms of totalitarianism; because it gives preference to the principle of quantity over the principle of quality: because by preaching equality, it is necessarily entropic; because striving to impose its Utopias, gladly resorts to terror; because it is not a form conforming to nature; because I find it deleterious in terms of culture and civilization; because it does not work except on condition that it is abundantly sprinkled with antidemocratic principles; because the current mass media prevent all types of citizens exercise independent judgment: because it is false to pretend that there is no alternative to democracy; because democracy tends to renege of itself every time it has a chance to do so.

I anticipate the question that will not be lacking: «What do you propose as an alternative?»

Answering it is not a topic for this modest work. On the other hand, I have expressed which are the regimes that command my sympathy. Here, I believe I have demonstrated quite well that humankind very often found ways of governing itself which in no sense were democratic and yet, have founded great civilizations. Otherwise, I know of no industrial or commercial business which is governed democratically. I have never heard an orchestra conductor consult the drummer or even the first violin about how to interpret a symphony, nor a chef submit to the majority opinion of his assistants — and much less to that of his patrons — over how to prepare a sauce. And I do not see why the fate itself of our communities, that is, our own, should abide by methods which in other parts have demonstrated to be perfectly inept.

I am also against the contemporary tendency to believe that if one is Christian, one has to be democratic, under the pretext that Christian principles and democratic principles corroborate themselves on some points. Of course, they coincide in the respect due to man, but in no way on the ideal structure of society. Believe me, if good God had been democratic He would have made that known to us.

«Then?» it is insisted upon me, «if we agree with you; if we get disgusted with democracy as is presented to us today, which regime should we adopt?»

On my part, I am willing to become a democrat if the system of Henry Ford were to be adopted strictly.

«I favor a democracy» he writes in his autobiography «which gives everyone the same chance of succeeding...» (up to here everyone is in agreement) «according to each one's capacity.» And it is there where all modern democracies back away because, without saying it openly, what they do not accept, is that not all have the same capacity, and they have a reason for this, because accepting it, means sticking the fingers into the gear-train of hierarchy. As regards accepting, that different successes come to crown different capacities is, worse still, recognizing that it is fitting to the «best» to walk ahead of the rest.

But Henry Ford goes farther «I am against» he continues undaunted «that one which pretends to confer to the number the authority which corresponds to merit».

Merit opposed to number! Authority sanctioning merit! It seems to me, Mr. Ford, that you are not speaking of democracy here. Is it not rather a definition of aristocracy that which you are giving us.

The difficulty, in our system, will consist, of course, in recognizing the merit to which authority will be conferred. In business, in commerce, it can be measured with relative ease on the basis of profits. The world of politics is a lot more complex.

But, frankly, I am ever more certain that it is not in the voting urn.

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff


Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter XVIII

.. and that it can no longer work, absolutely.

In the beauty of its original conception, which I have no reason to negate, democracy, stripping it off of its populist, egalitarian and moralizing, resonances, definitely comes to tell us that it is good that the members of a given group elect their leaders, and that it is good that their leaders fulfill the mandate conferred to them; that is, that they respect the opinion of their mandators. Up to here, there is nothing to criticize, except that the mandators of a different candidate may, perhaps, not be wrong.

We have read the reservations I have made respecting a collective opinion. But I could even get to admit that, to the extent that it could be considered to be the algebraic sum of the different individual opinions, not only its existence but also its legitimacy may be defended. Even the press has played a relatively honorable role in this matter, inasmuch as there have been organs that preach the contrary of one or the other. But alas, all this has changed, contemporary mass media have not only taken up the illusory concept of public opinion, but it has become a laughing matter. A quasi-unanimity advances automatically, thanks to the procedures to manipulate the information which, according to the experts, are resisted by not more than 7% of the population. But what is called public opinion can no longer be a sincere and independent judgment. The immense majority of the public becomes fully impregnated with the uniform thinking sung to it on a daily basis by the different information and disinformation organs (which differ in nothing other than their name, and which hammer more or less the same thing in unison).

This needs to be looked at carefully:
  • in an authoritarian regime, you must obey authority, and you can think whatever you wish;
  • in a totalitarian regime, you can actually disobey authority, but it is indispensable to think what the regime thinks;
  • in a regime of absolute democracy, you no longer can think anything but what the authority thinks, and consequently, the notions of obedience or disobedience turn out to have been overcome. Something like this is what George Orwell had in mind when he depicted how his hero loved his torturer.

If democracy is a matter of opinion, the democratic mass media have made any democratic whim impossible.

Chapter XIX

Because we can elect nevertheless.

Current propaganda tends to make us believe that humankind has no option but to chose between democracy, the source of all good, and totalitarianism, the source of all evil.

This is false.

You can, of course, adhere to the theory according to which, in the course of history, all peoples have suffered under disastrous regimes, until, finally, the United States of America conceived an ideal constitution under which the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Greeks of the age of Pericles, the mandarins of China and the aborigines of Australia would have been much happier, and that now has to be imposed on all nations of the world, whether they want it or not.

You might as well display greater respect and curiosity, and note that to elect rulers, there are other ways which are not democratic. Please don't quote Churchill to me: «Democracy is the worst of regimes, excepting all the rest». The quip is a bit amusing, but it literally does not mean anything, A look at history is enough to see that other systems have been satisfactory.

Monarchy, more or less hereditary, opposite to democracy on the one side and to «tyranny» on the other (that is, to dictatorship), has been the most extended regime in the world over millennia. It was so popular, that the Hebrews themselves, despite the advice of their elders, demanded a king to «be like the rest of the world» (I Samuel, VIII:5). The importance of inheritance has frequently been decisive: in ancient Egypt, it was not enough to be a son of the pharaoh to aspire to reign, it was necessary to be a son of the pharaoh and of his sister. The United States strove considerably to make Hirohito, the 124th emperor of Japan, confess that he was not of a divine race. Albert Camus, scarcely suspect of being reactionary, defined true monarchists as «those who reconcile their true love for the people with their disgust for democratic forms».

Let's be specific: hereditary monarchy was not a way of electing rulers but rather a way to avoid having to elect the ruler, the first election having been made once and for all, be it by election among peers, be it by means of a singular combat, be it as a consequence of chance attributed to the divinity, and such election would perpetuate itself for two reasons: one, on the grounds that the presumed qualities of the chief would be inherited by his children; the other, proceeding from an elemental corroboration: the installation of a new chief always takes a lot of effort, costs money, and sometimes blood, that it is worthwhile saving.

Under the republic, the Romans elected two consuls who, in case of need, relinquished their place in favor of a single and temporary dictator who had to be a retired consul and who would designate one of the active consuls after casting lots among themselves.

Julius Caesar, patrician if there ever were any, let himself be dragged to power by the rabble, at the price of a civil war. After him, the Roman Empire resorted to the adoption system; that is, the designation of the chief by his predecessor. This system worked more or less well until the time it was replaced by the system of acclamation: the legions named then their favorite general, that way creating instability which finally lead the State to perdition.

In Poland, the elective monarchy was entirely in the hands of the nobility — to such a degree that the unfavorable vote of a single nobleman could make the election fail — and yet, it has known times of glory.

Various countries have lived under oligarchical systems which fulfilled their duty perfectly: not many complaints have been known in the Republics of Venice or of Genoa for having adopted such a system.

If the princedom gave deplorable results in Russia — as the country would find itself fractured every time a prince who wished to endow his descendants equitably died — Western fiefdom, with its organic articulations of feudal lords, vassals, and valvasors, put the foundation of the world in which we live.

Both under the «tyranny» as under the democracy, ancient Greeks used to designate close to a thousand of their magistrates casting lots, which had the merit of giving an opportunity to competence and virtue from time to time.

In all civilizations, voting has frequently been one of the ways of electing rulers, but it was ordinarily a vote reserved to peers, the tribe chiefs, the patriarchs, the warriors, who had demonstrated their worth. Hugh Capet was elevated to honors by lords who practically were his peers, and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire used to be chosen by hereditary electors.

The Pope is elected by a College of Cardinals who in turn has been designated by the Pope and elected from among bishops also named by a Pope. We are far from universal suffrage here.

Dictators who have grabbed power after a civil war, or simply after a war, or an intrigue, or a coup d'etat. have not always done a bad job, especially when compared with Hitler, elected in the most democratic way there is.

Generally, the ruling classes are recruited by heredity or by cooptation, very often by marriage, but their functions differ depending on the countries. French aristocracy was originally linked to the land; the Russian almost exclusively by its service to the Zar. A Portuguese nobleman who no longer has the means to «live nobly» loses his nobility.

All authority supposes the consent of those who recognize it, even if not based on a democracy. «I am your chief, I must follow you», a French official used to say, unconsciously echoing Burke: «Those who pretend to guide should in great measure follow. They should conform their proposals to the taste and talent and the character of those over which they wish to command». A French ambassador would become ecstatic about the ease with which Catherine the Great made herself be obeyed. She laughed: «I find out what they want to do and then I order it to them.»

If this is true, there is no authority which can be usurped for a long time, even when, for it to be legitimate the rulers do not depend on the whim of their subjects. Sometimes democracy guarantees this, but it also happens that it doesn't, at any rate, other systems do it as well as democracy.

(to be continued)

Go to chapters XX and XXI

Go back to Chapters XVI and XVII

domingo, 8 de julio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff


Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter XVI

For aesthetic reasons.

Certainly, the idea of democracy, this gloomy wasteland where 1=1=1=1 and so on to infinity, does not aesthetically seduce me.

I prefer more hierarchical, more colorful, more architectural structures.

But I just want to talk about the aesthetic balance of democracies as compared with other types of regimes.

Of course, I know quite well that those beautiful Greek temples were built in a period known as democratic, that there are far from negligible Swiss paintings and that the American skyscrapers could be considered works of art. But I cannot stop believing that art results from two things, on the one hand, it is a luxury and, on the other, it is a passionate search for truth. Now, modern democracy puritanically disapproves of luxury on the one hand and, on the other, considers that there is as much truth in democracy itself as humanity requires, with which it feels comfortable in the aesthetic domain.

Look at France, to which the Ancien Regime bequeathed the place Vendôme and the New one, Beaubourg; the Old one, the Palais-Royal; the New one, the Buren columns, the Old one. the Louvre, the New one, its pyramid. Compare the actions of the patrons of old and of the private «sponsors» or the public administrations of today.

Given that good taste, paraphrasing Descartes is the worst distributed thing in the world, it is also the least democratic.

Chapter XVII

Because democracy has never truly worked.

This assertion may sound surprising these days when it is commonly thought that it is the only viable system, but let us take a look at the great democracies in history.

Athenian democracy was based on slavery, each Athenian citizen had an average of about five slaves at his disposal. There was, certainly, equality among the citizens, but not among the inhabitants, since one-sixth of the population was the owner of the other five-sixths.

The Roman republic was not very democratic. The Senatus Populusque Romanus indicates that Rome conceived itself as a society of two rungs, the patricians and the plebeians, to which we must add a third one: the slaves, which by the third century had become so many that the plebeians were excused from working.

Certainly, Swiss democracy is the one which calls our admiration most, but it is a direct democracy, largely counterbalanced by the traditional structures of society, their cantons in particular. The Swiss who votes does it generally on matters of his incumbency and competence.

English democracy went through having been founded on the Carta Magna, exacted by force from John Lackland by the rebel barons somewhere around 1215. Its main articles guaranteed the rights of the fiefdoms and the privileges of the towns. Not until 1679, did habeas corpus begin to guarantee individual freedom. The progressive weakening of royal power was largely offset by a social structure, officially of two rungs — the House of Lords and the House of Commons — but in actuality, it had three rungs, the lords, the gentry that soon mixed with the high bourgeoisie, and the common people. On its part, the middle class was fractioned, from a social viewpoint, into three rungs: upper middle class, middle middle class, and lower middle class, with the upper classes at the top and the lower classes, in the plural, at the bottom. For as long as this backbone was maintained, Great Britain, in spite of the limits of its territory, remained a great nation, in which the notion of "gentleman", grounded, above everything, on a difference of race, then of class, then of culture, ensured the regulation of the ascending social flux.

In all this, monarchy used to play an essential symbolic role, though without true political responsibilities. When under pressure from the commons, kings began to make laws pell-mell, diluting in that manner the quality in the quantity, English society began to vacillate, with the results we all know. No matter that British legislation permitted the preservation of some great fortunes, which ensure a certain equilibrium in continuity for the country.

American democracy was founded by aristocrats like Jefferson and Hamilton, and it got pretty close to Washington being crowned king.

Since then, several factors, more social than political, have played a role in attenuating the defects of democracy:

  • the great families: for Americans, it is natural that presidents be close relatives of one another; that a president should nominate his brother to become a judge, that another one should appoint his wife to organize the public health services.
  • the great fortunes, for example, the major American embassies are systematically given out as political positions to those who have supported the electoral campaigns with their financing.
  • the great Ivy League universities: They form a traditional elite based on a common lifestyle, common convictions, and frequently marriages within that same group. 
  • the secret societies emanated from the large universities: their members share a good portion of political power.
  • the Protestant religious tradition, according to which all material success is perceived as a divine reward.
  • the unanimous respect of the Constitution as a sacred institution.
  • the election of the president by means of great electors.
  • the general acceptance of the different standards of living giving awe and respect to more or less notable professional successes, the salary of an employer, reaching up to five hundred times the salary of an employee.

And yet, it is true that the United States have made of democracy an absolute system which they intend to impose on all the world — a matter which, in turn, derives from a natural need for hegemony in a great nation, from a messianism inherited from the Puritans, and from the justified conviction that the spread of the democratic doctrine is good for the opening of new markets— though it must be noted, without mitigation of any kind, that the version of democracy that they destinate for export differs considerably from the domestic version.

In comparison, let´s see the history of the French democracy.

This one was, above anything, the exclusive work of the bourgeoisie. In the beginning, the so-called "lower" people did not benefit from it at all, serving only as cannon fodder for the armies of the Republic, then of the Empire, and then again of the Republic. As a consequence, and to the extent that the social ideas — which are not necessarily democratic — advanced undefeated, it became necessary to give up the censual suffrage, that aberration of greed, to make way to universal suffrage, that aberration of the intelligence. The properly popular forces boiled quietly since the French Revolution which, from their point of view, was crippled, and the bourgeoisie had no compunction in squashing them as soon as they showed their head, as in the Revolution of the Commoners in Paris. It could be seen clearly at the time of the Second World War and in the war in Algiers, that France was not reconciled with itself, which is not surprising, considering that France is the only country in the world that has a national holiday and a national anthem which celebrate division rather than union.

Meanwhile, in the span of two hundred years, the Constitution has been modified sixteen times, with its colonial adventures, one of the fundamental principles of democracy has been unabashedly violated, the sacrosanct «right of the peoples to self-determination», and not one statesman of consequence has come out of the urns. Democracy had confirmed some, such as Napoleon and De Gaulle, if you wish to consider them such, but not even one had accessed power by means of the electoral machine which, in France, has served for nothing other than distilling mediocrity, when not directly suppurating corruption.

I make no bones about it, I am «hardly» democratic and I, willingly, offer myself to remove the doubt. In Switzerland, I might, perhaps, have been passionately so, in the United States, somewhat, in France, never.

(to be continued)

Go to Chapters XVIII and XIX

Go back to Chapters XII through XV

domingo, 24 de junio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff

Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter XII

Because it rests on the frenzy of the number

Democracy is based on the number of voters, not on their qualification, both at the level of universal suffrage and at that of the diverse parliaments. Speaking of democracy, always, necessarily, by definition, is quantity what counts. This, to me, is scandalous.

In The Crisis of the Modern World, René Guénon wrote: «At the very bottom of the «democratic» idea is the idea that any individual is worth the same as any other, because they are numerically equal, And this is nonsense because you can never compare persons only from a numerical point of view». In the Commune of May 18, 1871, Georges Duchéne would get incensed with greater acidity: «The truth,.the law, the rights; justice, would depend on forty representatives who stand up versus twenty-two who remain seated».

It is not that the number is unimportant. If several specialists in some field get together to express their opinion on a given situation, let's suppose tacticians before a battle or physicians before a patient, it is justified to do what the majority of them agree. But at the moment where no competence in a field is required, it would be difficult to refute Burke: «It is said that twenty-four million should triumph over two hundred thousand. That would be correct if the constitution of the king were a problem of arithmetic». Well, it is not. Seneca got to say that «the opinion of the crowd is an indication of the worst». And Gandhi said, «multiplying error does not turn it into truth». In his naivete, Lamartine admitted that «universal suffrage is democracy itself». And there is where the problem lies.

Chapter XIII

Because it rests on the frenzy of equality.

Democracy is generally associated with the notions of liberty and equality, without considering that equality and liberty are inversely proportional, as Solzhenitsyn remarked in the talk he delivered at Luc-sur-Boulogne: Indeed, you cannot attain absolute equality without fully suppressing all liberty, and, inversely, all awarded liberty necessarily results in growing inequalities. But, let us suppose that, precisely, democracy's calling consists of reconciling these two ideals, preventing one from developing in detriment of the other. That would be a proper mission, and those that have attempted to accomplish this have not done all that bad, as we shall see later on.

Unfortunately, such case is rare.

Democracies ordinarily have no respect for liberty other than a tightly contingent affection. It suffices to label an adversary as «enemy of the people» or «social traitor» for the liberties of thought and expression to be immediately denied. «No freedom for the enemies of liberty» is an absolutist slogan, characteristic in the democratic mentality and which, on the other side, could be justified with the democrat telling the non-democrat: «If you don't want to apply my rules, leave the game and, in such case, I will put you in jail».. Now, in what, exactly, were enemies of liberty those peasants of la Vendee who wished to continue with their Masses said by their priests, who had not taken the Obligatory Oath? In what were enemies of liberty those Ukrainian peasants who wanted to keep their crops and their beasts? Because what happened to the ones and to the others is well known, which can be explained quite well if the masked slogan of «No liberty for the enemies of liberty» is replaced with the unmasked one «No liberty for the enemies of equality»

Also today, most democracies seem to systematically favor equality, with all the limitations of individual liberty that this entails. The number of laws, decrees, edicts, and administrative regulations which asphyxiate the State and politics is ever greater. And the fact that any European citizen lives now under a double subordination, the national and the European, multiplies the irritating traps with which the liberties of men and citizens are mutilated.

Worse, equality is imposed in an ever more despotic way.

Flaubert, the reactionary would write to socialist George Sand: «The great dream of democracy is to elevate the proletarian to the level of stupidity of the bourgeois». In part, the dream has become a reality.

It is true that the trick had partially been fulfilled in French democracy, for example, in that of the Third Republic, which had as a goal to elevate the proletarian to the level of the turquoise as regards prosperity and culture. But certainly, it is no longer the case. It would rather seem that the purpose of modern democracy is to lower the burgeons to the level of the proletarian; systematically leveling down, for example in everything referring to national education by reducing the level of the baccalaureate so that it can be awarded to a greater number of candidates, which cannot but have a positive demagogic effect. although from a cultural point of view it turns out to be negative, not to say the damage caused to the students themselves, systematically deceived about their own level of competence.

Montesquieu was not wrong in his The Spirit of the Laws when he said, «the love of democracy is that of equality».

Thus, given that human nature leans more frequently toward envy than toward generosity, the less favored classes are generally the ones which want to have democracy in the expectation of attenuating the differences which separate them from those classes considered higher, while the latter, having nothing to lose, strive to maintain the statu quo. These conflicts, which have more of "move off so I can put myself in your place" than of the class struggle which Marx envisioned; are perfectly natural, and even, to the extent that a vigilant State ensures their regulation, have a vital salutary effect, since they are not founded on the equality toward which they aim but on the inequality from which they proceed.

On the contrary, when a given threshold of fruitful inequality is exceeded, the egalitarian entropy starts playing its old tricks.

The progressive narrowing of the range of salaries and, under fiscal pressure, of that of taxes, is designed to seduce the masses, but it turns out to be catastrophic to the art of living in a nation. One cannot but rejoice at the advancing disappearance of a certain degree of misery, but should we congratulate ourselves of the impoverishment of the wealthy classes which, not too long ago, had the means to favor the arts, from cabinetmaking to the opera?

Should we not also be preoccupied about the formation of a Lumpenproletariat, typically contemporaneous, engendered from an equality as obligatory as it is Utopian? We have a greater quantity of people with bachelor degrees but more illiterate, less poor but more frequently on strike. On the other hand, there are abysmal gaps between an old graduate of a grande école and a recent university graduate. I don't know what can there be of salutary in such situation.

Chapter XIV

Because, from the «Enlightenment» to the «Torches» there is not but one step, as could be seen clearly in 1789.

Not all democracies are revolutionary; not all revolutions are democratic, even when Solzhenitsyn, in the same address of Lucs-sut-Boulogne, had ventured to say that all are evil. Without a doubt, the Helvetic Confederation is democratic but this arose from its independence and not from a revolution. The seditious American Revolution was not: it was its affirmation as a nation which felt ready to fly with its own wings. That these two declarations of independence should have been bloody does not at all excuse the suspicious relationship that democracy cultivates with the revolutionary syndrome.

He who says «democracy», says «human rights»; he who says «human rights», says «1789»; he who says «1789», says «Enlightenment».

But he who says «1789» also says «1793», carmagnole, guillotine, drownings, genocides, infernal columns, republican marriages, six hundred thousand dead, public murder of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Mme. Elisabeth, kidnapping and clandestine murder of the Duke of Enghien, in short «torch» because the road is short from the Enlightenment to the Terror, from the lights of the seditious philosophes to the torches supplied abundantly by the seditious patriots.

«The Revolution is one», said Clemenceau.

¡Oh, yes! all regimes have committed atrocities. From that of Saint Bartholomew's Day to the torture of Damiens, old France has not been free from them, and the Christian religion itself has sinned by the edge of the sword and the stakes made of resinated firewood. But democracy turned into the religion of the rights of man shines more and more as a cult of tolerance which advances toward the generalized practice of intolerance.

Its modern form is the International Criminal Court, instituted in the Hague without a UN mandate, less to judge criminals than to condemn anyone who has the honor of annoying the pseudo «international community» constituted paradoxically by 19 States out of a total 185 United Nations members

Chapter XV

Because democracy is contra-natura

I don't want to have a witness other than Jean Jacques Rousseau himself, who wrote The New Heloise: «If the term is taken with all the rigor of its meaning, never has a true democracy ever existed nor will it ever exist. It goes against the natural order that a majority should govern and a minority be governed»..

Not bad.

It is enough to watch a mutiny or a revolt to notice that their leaders are never elected but impose themselves by force. I foresee the objections: men are not animals (oh, well! almost never!) and man is a «being whose essence consists of contradicting nature, to dominate it in himself by his will and outside of himself by technology» (Hubert Saget, Ontologie et Biologie). Briefly, the role of democracy consists precisely in expurgating man from among the beasts —  the kingdom to which he naturally belongs — and teach him to live no more as a herd but as a troop.

Very well.

This does not deny the fact that, in every civilization, it is the minority — whichever way it may have been appointed, even if democratically— has always come from among the majority, and has always commanded, a matter which has never been agreeable to the democracy. No matter how much it dislikes it, the apparition of an aristocracy —be it of talent, of merit, of wealth, of inheritance, whether real or supposed— is a natural phenomenon; and it turns out that aristocracy is, by definition, a minority. To prevent this phenomenon from operating and to impose the government of the majority, a legislation founded on an abstract ideal becomes necessary but is frequently disproved by the reality of the facts. 

(To be continued)

lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff

Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter X

Because it rests on one of two postulates

Let us suppose for a moment that the term «people» means what some think it does, namely that each nation can be reduced to a common denominator to which a collective will can legitimately be perfectly assigned.

In such a case democracy rests on one of the two following postulates.
  • that people spontaneously desire goodness and, incidentally, their own good
  • that what the people desire is immediately turned into goodness
Per the first postulate, goodness is given in advance, and the people find it naturally thanks to an operation worthy of the Holy Spirit, but which is carried out without Him by the miracle of democracy. It suffices to do what the people want for everything to come out well; that is, for both virtue and prosperity to triumph at the same time. This is Rosseau's democracy.

Per the second postulate, everything the people want is good by definition. If the people want chaste customs, fine, if they want a general relaxation, that is also good. If they want peace, perfect, if they want war, perfect too. If they want to destroy all the rest of the nations, it is their right, if they want to destroy themselves, let it be. If they want, as Jean Madiran wrote, «to decree what is just and what is unjust, the good and the evil, forbid what is licit, obligate what is monstrous, and revise its constitution to such end, there is no legal, legitimate or democratic recourse against this popular will». This is modern democracy.

In the first hypothesis, the people discover goodness; in the second one, they define it. In the first one, we have embarked towards Utopia. In the second one, we have embarked towards Sodom.

To me, the first postulate seems naive, and the second one odious. But, unfortunately, it happens that by dint of the people identifying themselves with the first, they end up accepting the second.

The Roman saying Vox populi, vox Dei (of which the rosy pages of the Larousse give this juicy interpretation «Adage according to which the truth of a fact, or the justice of something is established on the basis of the unanimous agreement of the opinions of the masses» This adage permits us to wrap tightly the two postulates which interest us:
  • Vox Dei, vox populi: listening to the voice of the masses is sufficient for listening to the voice of God, who speaks through them. This is the first postulate.
  • Vox populi, vox Dei: the voice of the masses should be accepted as the voice of God. Said differently, the masses are God. This is the second postulate.
Swiss philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel wrote:«Democracy rests on this legal fiction by which the majority not only possess the strength but also the reason, which at the same time possess the wisdom and the right». A legal fiction, we would not be able to say it better.

Chapter XI

Because it is pregnant with totalitarianism.

It is fashionable to oppose democracy to totalitarianism.

This presupposes not only that the facts that Napoleon III had subjected the Second Empire to a plebiscite and that Adolph Hitler had been democratically elevated to Reichskanzler be kept in silence, but also this other much graver fact: that political totalitarianisms, as those we have recalled above, have always invoked the democratic ideals. Let us stress that neither monarchical nor aristocratic regimes have ever engendered totalitarianisms. For that, it has always been necessary to go first through the democratic stage. In France, before the Terror there was a July 14, and in Russia, there was a February before there was an October.

All in all, there are totalitarianisms, and there are totalitarianisms.

We have asked ourselves many times. given that the Nuremberg trials took place making jurisprudence, and given that an indelible reprobation was added to the National Socialist German Workers' Party, why was never a communist criminal ever tried? and why were personalities who openly proclaimed the Communist doctrine and their affiliation with the Communist Party were received everywhere, whether in the salons or in high places of democratic governments. However, the respective crimes of National Socialism and of Communism were numerically incommensurate, less than ten million in the case of the former, more than one hundred million in the latter.

This curious phenomenon can be explained, I believe, with the following analysis:

National Socialism was founded on two ideals, one of them more racist than nationalist; the other socialist, which is to say, democratic. These two ideals, the one and the other, lead to totalitarianism. To the extent that the stain of totalitarianism could be attributed to the nationalist ideal, which is not essentially democratic. it resulted possible for the democracies to condemn it and extirpate it. In spite of its democratic birth, there was no kinship between the ideal of the Third Reich and Western democracies.

Communism was founded on a single ideal, the ideal of democracy. But it is also true that every time Communism leads to a dictatorship, it invariably evolves into a tyranny and never into a democracy. The Communist structures with a party forming an elite and an all-powerful presidium, brought to memory rather the aristocratic and oligarchical structures; and nevertheless, the ideal remained «popular»: witness the servile regimes in the satellite countries of the USSR which called themselves «popular democratic republics» which was tantamount to repeating more or less the same thing three times. Being «popular», Communism cannot be entirely evil from the point of view of a democrat.

And that is not the worse part yet.

Democracy — when it no longer is a way of electing rulers — tends to the absolute. Absolutist monarchies have been reviled... and, well, let us talk about them! Racine, Louis XIV's historiographer, wrote without qualms: «Only God is absolute.» Monarchies always invoke principles higher than themselves: the divine right, the race, the tribe, the nation. If they have frequently been tyrannical in fact, they were never so in essence. In contrast, democracy is absolutist by definition, as witnessed by the well-known formula: «government of the people and for the people», adopted, for example, by the French Republic Constitution of 1958. on the topic of absolutist conceptions, there is nothing more similar to the perpetuum mobile, that aberration in physics.

In his Reflection on the Revolution in France, Burke is right in insisting on the dangers of this absolutism. «In a democracy,» he writes, «the majority of citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority [...] and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers of people and will be carried on with much greater fury than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single scepter. In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than in any other. Under a cruel prince, they have the balmy compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds; they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings: but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes, are deprived of all external consolation. They seem deserted by mankind, overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.» Prophetically, Burke goes further: «what an effectual instrument of despotism was to be found in that grand magazine of offensive weapons, the rights of men.»

History shows us that these totalitarian overflows of democracy are commonplace. In the name of the rights of man, the French Revolution ended up in the genocide of La Vendée. The wars of revolution were waged with the pretext of liberating the European peoples from despotism. African republican colonization pretended to contribute the benefits of democracy to presumed «savages». The Russian liberal revolutionaries of February 1917 made possible and logic the Bolshevik coup d état with its well-known consequences.

But what is interesting is not so much that a democratic totalitarianism can, in some cases, turn bloody, but that this same thing seems to be inevitably inscribed in the nature of its democratic absolutism itself.

By definition, democracy does not recognize limits.

True, for some time now, it seems to prefer sweeter methods of coercion, but this is nothing more than a matter of circumstance: the number of armed interventions of the United States in sovereign states would be less disquieting if it weren't for the fact that all of them were made in the name of democracy. Big animal, big appetite, it has always been that way, but if the wolf persuades the lamb that he, the wolf, has the obligation to strike him in order to teach him how to live democratically, and especially, if the lamb believes him, then the rights of man turn into «an effectual instrument of despotism.»

Maybe still more instructing is the domination, almost total in the West, of a diffuse ideology at times called Uniformity of Thought, at times the Politically Correct, at times the Thought-out-for-You and which, imitating Communist ideology, which made ample use of double talk, invented its own way of talking which some in France call langue de coton or woolen tongue.

The self-denominated spirits of the right have for a long time imagined that this ideology was teleguided by the propaganda and disinformation services of Communism. The fall of Communism has demonstrated that there was none of that: This ideology is an inherent and fatal part of democracy itself.

As such, it has infinite ramifications in all realms, but all emanate from a simple axiom: all authority which has not passed through the Caudine Forks of universal suffrage or that has not been delegated by an authority which has passed through the Caudine Forks of universal suffrage is illegitimate, immoral, intolerable, and ought to be fought against by all means, from suppression of liberty of thought to terror.

[Go back to Chapters IV to IX]

(to be continued)

lunes, 11 de junio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff

Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter IV

Because a majority should not be confused with a consensus.

Innocently or deliberately, proponents of democracy maintain a permanent confusion of the notions of majority and consensus. Phrases such as «France has decided that...» or «The Frenchmen have resolved to...» are deliberately contrary to the truth when such decisions have been taken by a majority of 51% of the voters. Since some proportion of abstentions and blank votes occur in any voting operation, it should be evident that, in fact, a 51% majority is in no way an actual majority, and much less a consensus,

This raises at least three questions. That it may be difficult to find the answers to them is no reason to excuse us from posing them.

In the first place, given that certain countries which boast of being democratic require a two thirds majority, not just one half of the votes plus one, for certain measures to be adopted, we can conclude that the notion of a relative majority actually exists, and on the other hand, since majorities in totalitarian countries could reach 99% of the votes — which arouses on the part of observers some legitimate suspicion about voting freedom — how can there be a proportion of votes which may legitimately be called a consensus, not just a majority?

In the second place, to the extent that a nation is a historical reality, at least as much as it is a geographical one, is it of justice that only the opinion of those citizens which happen to be alive at a given time, be the one that counts? Should not the wills of the founders of such nation and the interests of future citizens be also taken into consideration?. Even though it is undeniable that adapting to new circumstances is necessary as these arise, is there no flippancy in affirming that «France wants» such and such when it just wants it today, when yesterday it wanted just the opposite and when tomorrow it will want something different still?  Let me be clear here, I am not proposing to have the dead vote, nor the children yet to be born. I simply want to bring forward the confusion generated between the will of a millenary nation and an ephemeral, circumstantial majority.

In the third place, should we really believe as I have heard being claimed, that the soul of a democracy lies in the display of good will of the minority when it subordinates to the majority? The idea is not lacking in greatness, but, does it not, at least in certain cases, lack seriousness? That Louis XVI should have been condemned to death by a five-vote majority, that the Third Republic should have been established by a one-vote majority, that the Treaty of Maastricht (which was the equivalent of relinquishing sovereignty) should have been adopted in France by a 51% majority of the votes cast. does not inspire in me much confidence on the validity of these acts, even and especially from a democratic point of view.

Before decisions of grave consequences, is there no glibness in preferring the abstract theory defining what is a majority, over the concrete reality which offers divergent opinions?

Chapter V

Because of a matter of vocabulary

The meaning of the word democracy has evolved with the passage of time. Let's see the definitions given in some dictionaries:

Furetière, 1708: «Popular State; form of government where the people have all of the authority and in which sovereignty resides in the people, who makes the laws and decides everything, in which the people be consulted»

Boiste, 1836 «Sovereignty of the people, popular government (in the bad sense), popular despotism; subdivision of the tyranny among several citizens»

Littré, 1974 «Government in which the people exercise the sovereignty: Free and above all egalitarian society in which the popular element has a prevailing influence. State of society which excludes all constituted aristocracy except monarchy. Political regime in which the interest of the masses is favored or pretended to be favored. The democratic party, the democratic part of the nation.»

Nouveau Petit Larousse, 1917: «Government in which it is the people who exercise the sovereignty

Petit Robert, 1972. «Political doctrine according to which the sovereignty should belong to the citizens as a whole; political organization (frequently a republic) in which it is the citizens who exercise this sovereignty»

You can notice the slipping: from a «form of government» (Furetière), you first arrive at «sovereignty» (Boiste, Littré, Larousse) and finally to a «doctrine» (Robert). The examples provided bear witness to the same evolution, each time more favorable to the democratic idiosyncrasy.

Furetière adds: «Lycurgus compared democracy to a house in which there were as many masters as there were servants». 

Boiste reconciles Voltaire with Rousseau sharing the same skepticism for the opposite reasons: «A pure democracy is only fitting for the gods» (J.J. Rousseau). «Pure democracy is the despotism of the rabble» (Voltaire)

The Petit Larousse invokes Pericles, an a priori likable character who according to it «organized democracy in Athens»

The Petit Robert has no qualms about insuflating the reader with what he ought to think: «Democracy rests on the respect of freedom and the equality of citizens» In the meantime, what has occurred? A linguistic catastrophe. Democracy has lost its antonym «aristocracy» which has ceased to be «government of the best» to signify nothing more than a «superior social class»

Let´s go back to the same dictionaries to find the article on aristocracy.

Furetière: «Type of political government which rests on the principals of the state, be it on account of their nobility, or on account of their ability and integrity. In Venice, in Genoa and in Luca, it is only noblemen who govern by right of birth. But because of the laws of aristocracy in Lacedaemonia, virtue exclusively was considered,.and the right to govern depended upon 1) merit, 2) election. Ancient authors of Politics preferred aristocracy over any other form of government.

Boiste «Sovereignty of various noble or privileged men, government of the powerful, of the wealthy, nobility, privileged class, superiority of any kind (aristocracy of birth, of the wealthy, of the gifted)».

The Nouveau Petit Larousse of 1917 no longer sees in aristocracy anything other than the «Class of the nobility, of the privileged»

While that of 1972 defines it with greater precision as the «government exercised by the class of the nobles» before adding the current sense of «Class of the nobles, of the privileged», and while the Petit Robert also takes into consideration the old sense, the current use has practically forgotten that aristocracy originally meant the «government of the best».

The result of this game of pass-it-on is quite clear: democracy, government of the people for the people, is converted into an unavoidable and undeniably positive notion about which nothing but goodness can be thought. Its most spread and reviled in advance antonyms are totalitarianism and fascism, which turns out to be paradoxical since all twentieth-century totalitarianisms claimed to be governments of the people and for the people; that is, democratic

Chapter VI

Because of another matter of vocabulary.

Democracy is the government of the people. Be it by the people. Let us admit it. For the people. Better. But I do not know what the people be, what the devil is the people, and I believe that the confusion has been deliberately maintained by the partisans of democracy.

The confusion seems to be a triple one.

Before anything, it is numerical. I know what is one person, what are two, three, one thousand persons. But beginning at what number of persons do they get to become «the people»? And how can a more or less extended group of persons be assigned a collective face? Herein lies a sleight of hand operation consisting in substituting a quantity of different and quite real persons by a single, perfectly imaginary person. That is well seen in English, where the word people calls for a plural verb but nonetheless is perceived as singular. The American people feel that..., want to ..., have decided ....

Consequently, the confusion is social. Valéry is right in pointing out that «the word people ... designates the indistinct wholeness which one cannot find anywhere, as much as the majority of individuals as opposed to the restricted number of more fortunate or better-cultivated persons». The people is, as it may be more convenient, either the nation or the masses, and you never know of which of the two it is being talked about. Furetière had already specified in its article on Democracy that «in this sense, the term people is not the rabble but the whole body of all citizens» and de Flers and Caillvallet were not wrong in maliciously saying «democracy is the name we give to the masses every time we need them». These comings and goings between the idea that the «lower people» (or more kindly) the «common people» is different from the so-called upper classes, and the idea that these upper classes also form part of the people taken as a whole (which is not a serious matter considering that they are lesser in number) these comings and goings say I also allow all kinds of sleights of hand and substitutions.

All in all, there is a confusion between the relative and the absolute. Expressions such as «the people want» «the people decide» «the people are in favor of» properly signify nothing. It should be said: «the majority of citizens who have expressed their opinion have pronounced themselves in favor, have pronounced themselves against». But at the moment I have an opinion contrary to that of the majority, I feel the language is being abused when they say that the people (it goes without saying that they refer to all of the people, without exception) has this or that opinion but not mine. But I also belong to the people! The matter gets particularly obnoxious when «the people» is not more than 51% of the people, as we have seen in the chapter about majorities and consensus. When the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789 postulates that «Law is the expression of the general will» it is formulating a contradiction. There is no, there cannot be any, general will; at most, there is nothing more than majority wills.

Some words about «the opinion of the people» speciously called «public opinion» are appropriate here. In fact, no public opinion exists, or rather the expression should not exist, given that the sum of the individual opinion cannot conform a collective opinion. But, alas, the phenomena of rumor, of fashion, of mimicry, and the use that propaganda and disinformation make thereof to fabricate a fictitious collective opinion make individuals who boast of having their own mind adhere to it blindly for fear of appearing not to be solidary. In particular, the polling procedure tends to reinforce the opinions assigned «on the people» or rather rented, as nothing in this world is free.

In short. the notion of the people does not appear to be sufficiently defined as to want to rest a system of government on it.

Chapter VII

Because the concept of democracy rests on a petition of principle.

I can do nothing better in this chapter than quoting Jean Madiran, who wrote in Les Deux Démocraties «democracy is good because goodness is democracy, democracy is just because law is democracy, democracy goes in the direction of progress because progress consists of the development of democracy»



Chapter VIII

Because it is sought to be turned into a religion

Democracy, which was, let us recall, one way among many, of designating rulers, is presented to us as a kind of religion, even a religion of religions.

And it has the essential part of a religion, the pretension of monopolizing the truth. In a religion, this can be understood.

Without necessarily having the ambition of exterminating all those that are not Christian, or all those that do not practice the Christian religion exactly like us (regardless of the fact that we did not refrain too much from this over the centuries), we Christians believe that God is triune, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, that this is true, and that consequently all those who believe the opposite are wrong. (We believe this where it is supposed we should believe it: if we repudiate this belief, we cease to be Christian.)

On their part, Muslims believe there is no God but God, that he never had a son and that Mohammed is his prophet. If Christians are right, then Muslims are wrong, and vice-versa. We must add that Muslims have the duty to cut the throat of the infidel, whereas we Christians do not customarily do it other than for an excess of zeal, although the principle is the same; if they presume to have the monopoly of truth so do we.

If, as some claim these days, all religions are worth the same, then this is because they are not religions.

The monopolization of truth in politics, whether justified or not, is less understood; a minimum of this so much lauded tolerance by the supporters of democracy ought to be sufficient to admit that the different procedures to designate rulers should be equally worthy, especially if geography and history are taken into account. But here is where modern democracy strips bare its pretensions of attaining the status of a religion; it is no longer a sister of designating rulers, it has become a body of infallible and compulsory doctrine and has a catechism: the rights of man, and outside the rights of man there is no salvation.

Modern democracy possesses other notes indispensable for any religion:
  • A paradise, the liberal democratic nations, preferably with an Anglo-Saxon legislation.
  • A purgatory: the dictatorships of the left
  • A hell. the seditionist dictatorships of the right.
  • A regular clergy: the intellectuals in charge of adapting the Marxist theses to liberal societies.
  • A secular clergy: the journalists in charge of disseminating this doctrine.
  • Religious services: the great television programs
  • A tacit index, which forbids taking notice of any work the inspiration of which is considered reprehensible. This index becomes admirably efficacious under the form of a conspiracy of media silence, although sometimes a more draconian way is utilized, even though they do not yet end up in the stake, some books judged to be deficient from a democratic point of view are removed from school libraries, as happened in Saint-Ouen-L'Aumône.
  • An inquisition: No one has the right of expressing himself if he is not rightly aligned with the democratic religion, and if he nevertheless gets to do it he will pay the consequences. In this regard the media lynching to which Regis Debray was subjected in France (nobody would suspect him of not being democratic) just because he cast doubts about the legitimacy of the war crimes carried out by NATO in Yugoslavian territory in 1999.
  • Congregations for the propaganda of the faith: the offices of disinformation, the self-denominated «communication» or «public relations» desks
  • Sunday masses, and bishops who use sundry protection shields borrowed from the various NGOs or the UN.
  • Diverse forms of indulgences. generally granted to old communists.
  • A criminal law and courts charged with punishing anyone who dares put the official version of history in doubt.
  • And even troops charged with evangelizing the non-democrats «by means of iron or fire» We have seen it clearly when we witnessed nineteen democratic nations bombing a sovereign state with which they were not at war.
Today, a phrase such as «in the name of the rights of man» is spreading just as «In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost» had spread over many centuries. Maybe we have rescued the sense of the sacred, but I do not believe this is a sacred thing of any high grade.

Chapter IX

But in fact, it is idolatry.

Democracy lacks a factor which is essential to any religion, whether true or false: transcendence.

This transcendence may acquire any form one may wish, from metempsychosis to apocalypse, but in all cases, it supposes that man venerates something which is beyond man. And so? Say what you wish but the rights of man cannot go beyond man They are, by definition anthropocentric.

To me, and I say it straight to the point, the notion itself of «rights of man» constitutes a nonsense, not only because it rests on a postulate but because the postulate is badly expressed.

One can understand that a Patagon indian should have the rights granted to him by his Patagon chief, or that the French should have the rights which are guaranteed to him by his republican government or that a club member or patient in a hospital or a customer in a restaurant may have the rights guaranteed to him by such restaurant, such hospital or such club. But that man should have rights in the absolute, that he g|uarantees them to himself by means of newspaper declarations, whether national or international — a matter which customarily is of little worth — seems to me, sorry if I scandalize you, a giant joke.

Young children play this kind of games «You will be the Father and I will be the Mother» or «you will be the sailor and I will be the admiral». With a similar spirit, playful expressions such as «right to health» or «right to happiness».can be understood. Now, given that such expressions cannot prevent people to become unhappy or get sick, it doesn't seem to me that they may have the least shade of reality.

I take the Declaration of 1789 and ask myself about affirmations as the following:
  • «The end of society is the well being of everyone» What is the well being of everyone? Give me a definition that is not the aggregate of the well being of the individuals.
  • «All men are equal by nature» Really? the big ones, the small ones, the beautiful and the graceless?
  • «The law is the free and solemn expression of the general will» Alright. And what, if you please, is the general will?
  • «The crimes of the representatives and agents of the people in no case should remain unpunished. No one can pretend to be more inviolable than the rest of the citizens» It would be fine if this could be applied well, or if it could even be applied! Let us laugh, oh my contemporaries, you who do not swear but for immunity or amnesty!
I take the Universal Declaration of 1948 and read there that «all human beings should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood» Attention, they should! Are we talking of a right or of a duty? And, in name of what is such a duty established!
  • «No one shall be subjected to torture...» The future tense implied in the verb is touching. It reminds me of «you will be the father and I will be the mother»
  • «The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government» Once more, is it not too much to suppose that the people have a collective will?
  • «this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures» In other words, people have rights as long as the only way they chose to designate their rulers is Democracy. Is this not a prohibition of other forms of government rather than a right? Again, on account of what is this prohibition established?
  • «The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State» And if society favors the concubinage of pederasts, and if the State remunerates the makers of lesbians...?
I do not deny that some of the ideas supporting this gibberish have a certain seducing power, but to signify something, it seems to me they should be expressed in the form of concrete duties rather than abstract rights, and, on the other part, they should be founded on an authority beyond that of man´s, and never on humanity which is nothing but the aggregate of all men, now living, who have ever lived or who are called to live.

Dostoievsky had already said it «If God does not exist, then everything is permitted» And if men arrogate God´s right to say what is good and what is bad, nothing good can come out of it.

[Go back to Chapters I to III]

(To be continued)

[Go to Chapters X and XI]

lunes, 4 de junio de 2018

Why I am hardly democratic

by Vladimir Volkoff

Translated by Roberto Hope from the Spanish translation of
Pourquoi je suis moyennement démocrate. (éditions du Rocher, 2002)

Chapter I

Because of my spirit of contradiction
Yes, I admit it. If democracy were just one more system among others. if it were not imposed upon us as an evident and obligatory panacea, if it were seen in it nothing more than a way of electing rulers, I would be better disposed to find qualities in it.

Jean Dutourd asserts that virtue begins with a spirit of contradiction and I, on my part, add that such a spirit is necessary to conserve impartiality: it maintains love for independence of judgment, ensures the rebellion against everything gregarious and vulgar and, in short, constitutes something certainly more agreeable than submitting oneself to the fashions, to snobberies, to conformisms of any sort. I loathe the yes-men, the politically correct, without I — God forbid — being infected by the idolatry of rebellion.

If the scale tips too much to one side, my spontaneous reaction is to put some weight on the other pan.

Chapter II

Because even as a way of electing rulers, democracy is not all advantages.
As a system of designating rulers, democracy presents some evident advantages, which actually can be reduced to a single, though important, one: the acquiescence of the governed. No question of denying that herein lies a superiority over regimes where rulers are designated in other ways, such as birth, fortune, chance or merit.

But there is also no reason to disregard the practical disadvantages of this procedure.

In the first place, rulers designated by a majority of voices cannot, in any case, feel equally responsible with respect to the people who voted for them, as compared to those who voted for another candidate. In fact, if they sought the public welfare in opposition to the interests of their own faction we would not be wrong if we branded them ungrateful.

In the second place, to be designated by a majority, it is necessary to seduce voters, but it turns out to be quite questionable that the qualities necessary for the latter and those necessary to govern — which have something of an antinomy — can be found in the same individual. At the limit, you could say that he who has the most possibility of being elected is the one with the least possibility of being a good ruler.

In the third place, the sort of person desirable to be elected is not necessarily the one deserving the greatest degree of confidence on the part of voters. Aristotle was not wrong in saying that the demagogue and the courtesan belong to the same species.

Chapter III

Because climates, peoples, and times differ
Solon was once asked what was the best political regime. He retorted: For what people?

Indeed, a considerable dose of naiveté is necessary to imagine that an ideal political regime exists which is perfectly convenient for all peoples, for all ages and for all nations, or even that it turns to be for all peoples, at all times and places, the least bad of all systems. Taine was not wrong when he applied three coordinates to every event: race, environment and time.

In no way do I pretend to say that democracy is always bad. I readily recognize that, in certain circumstances, it can be more convenient than other systems. Saint Augustine was of the same opinion, as stated in his Treatise on free will, quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas "If a people is reasonable, serious, very vigilant in its defense of the common good, it is well to enact a law allowing such a people to appoint themselves their own magistrates to administer their public affairs. Nevertheless, if such people eventually degrade themselves, if their vote becomes something venal, if they hand the government over to scandalous or criminal persons, then it will be convenient to withdraw from them the faculty of conferring honors, and return to the judgment of a small group of good men."

In short, democracy is no panacea nor is it an antidote, there is no reason to condemn it or to canonize it a priori.

(To be continued)