Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous quote, written while touring America to inspect the relatively new republican system of government which he and many others erroneously call a ‘democracy’, that ‘The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money’, was astonishingly prescient. We can see today everywhere we look the results of what society becomes when the rest use their majority to oppress the best. The Frenchman was a diehard democrat and equalitarian, yet in his writings we can detect an acknowledgement that political systems based upon equality produce a lower form of culture and civilisation than aristocracies.
Tocqueville didn’t come up with that quote though, which is highly unfortunate. Tocqueville’s writings are peppered with such astute and penetrating observations when comparing formally hierarchical societies and informally hierarchical ones (like ours) that they would benefit all right-thinking men to read. Tocqueville’s animus was not so much against aristocracy per se, but rather what aristocracy had become by his own time. From Book Two of Democracy in America, Chapter XX: “The territorial aristocracy of former ages was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by usage, to come to the relief of its serving-men and to relieve their distresses. But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and debases the men who serve it and then abandons them to be supported by the charity of the public”. This is revealing. For Tocqueville it seems, aristocracy had degenerated over time. In the East, the understanding that all political systems degenerate is pretty much universally accepted. My view of history is that all things are cyclical; what may seem like a perfect political system to restore Western civilisation to us today will inevitably decline until it too becomes oppressive and tyrannical and is destroyed. Such is the pattern of history.
This is not deterministic or fatalistic, it is realistic. We are now living under a political paradigm which has been ascendant for about three centuries. It is no wonder then that all right-thinking men agree it needs to die. What exactly needs to die for the rebirth of civilisation, however, is a point of contention. Until quite recently, I was of the view that we needed to return to an earlier iteration of our current political system. Liberalism and socialism have been the thesis and antithesis of the modern dialectic. Our current political system in the West, which we could call democratic socialism, represents an almost complete fusion and completion of the dialectic (if there are any Hegel scholars reading this, please don’t quibble with my fuzzy language here). My view was that it was the infusion of socialism into the Western political system which was the cancer that needed removing. Advocates of classical liberalism (and they are legion) would agree on this. It is pretty much the bedrock of libertarianism and the Magic Piece of Paper theory of government so popular in the United States. After sometimes painful observation and reflection, I have come to the view that it is also entirely wrong.
Seeking to remove the ‘socialism’ from democratic socialism is like trying to return to an earlier stage of your metastatic bone cancer. You can’t replace your dead cells, your organs still won’t function properly and all you’ve done is buy yourself some time. This is because, as the title suggests, democracy always leads to socialism. Socialism (here an umbrella term for all the repugnant mutations of Marxism, Progressivism, Fabianism, Whiggism, etc.) will always emerge once the masses are given the vote. Limiting the vote to any particular demographic because they are considered morally superior or more responsible, such as landowning males or those over thirty, will always fail also. Over time the resolve of the chosen group will diminish and they will let all the miscreants back in again through the power of their vote.
We do not have to search for long in the historical record to see examples of when political systems descended into socialism once monarchy, feudalism, absolutism or some other form of formal hierarchical system was overthrown. Very early in the Roman Republic were the Secessions of the Plebs – instances when the entire lower order of Roman society left the city and held the patrician upper class hostage to demand political and economic improvements. By the first century AD, Roman society had devolved into Juvenal’s well-known state of bread and circuses and buying the support of the indolent mob was the accepted road to power. The parallels with today are clear. Time and again, and no matter how well-crafted and well-applied are Montesquieu’s divisions of power, political systems where the mob can vote plummet into catatonic socialist dystopia. If you hate socialism, if you hate parliamentary tyranny and indirect rule by banksters, you have to hate democracy.
We arrive then at an impasse. There is no way forward. Heraclitus and Plato identified this over two millennia ago – change and flux lead always to entropy, decay and dissolution. It is built into human nature and the fabric of reality itself. Rather than looking for the perfect political system therefore, a game which Western men have been playing since Plato, we should accept the nature of reality and instead busy ourselves reviving this moribund carcass of a civilisation. The cancer is everywhere and the prognosis is not good unless radical treatment is carried out. Whatever government system replaces this deadbeat cancer of modernity does not concern me, as long as government is so tiny I can barely see it and there is no voting involved. Not until the next time the cycle repeats, anyway.