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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)

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