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)
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.
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)
[Go back to Chapters IV to IX]
(to be continued)