Conclusions, Part 11 to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Democracy"
"Faced with these choices between the hard and the soft, the normal propensity of democratic governments is to please the largest number of voters. The pressure of the electorate is normally for the soft side of the equations. That is why governments are unable to cope with reality when elected assemblies and mass opinions become decisive in the state, when there are no statesmen to resist the inclination of the voters and there are only politicians to excite and exploit them.Much is asked of democracy: for while by definition no one within a democracy is to have special privileges; it, as a system, is to accommodate all groups of people, no matter how unalike they may be, one to the other. It may be that democracy can only work where the great mass of people are alike, or at least striving to be alike. This may be the reason why, through the years, democracy has worked so well in countries such as Canada and the United States. Historically, the United States (and Canada as well) was the great melting pot where newcomers came: -- their wish was to be American and to raise their children as Americans. However, there are now signs that democracy in our countries, as a system, is breaking down. More and more, it seems, there are groups, particularly in Canada, which arise and are no longer content to strive to stay in the common middle and share common ideals, but rather they diverge; and, this divergence, unfortunately, has been supported by government action in a combined effort to hold and promote distinctiveness of these existing and emerging groups.
There is then a general tendency to be drawn downward, as by the force of gravity, towards insolvency, towards the insecurity of factionalism, towards the erosion of liberty, and towards hyperbolic wars." (Walter Lippmann, pp. 45-6.)
Thus, democracy, as past experience will demonstrate, works only where the population shares, fundamentally, the same goals and aspirations. Historically, God and country have been the two banners under which the great masses could proudly stand; but, in a modern society, God and country mean less and less, while, at the same time, the goals and aspirations of various groups increase and diverge. It maybe that democracy is, and, indeed, has always been, unworkable; but we must continue to hold the ideal high and see to it that its trappings are securely fixed in place as, well -- as a bulwark, such as it is, against tyrannical rule.12
The reality is that we are forever fixed with an oligarchy (government of the few) masquerading as a democracy. The purpose of the ruling few is to execute its constitutional functions, which, because democracy is unworkable, should be tightly circumscribed. The ideal of democracy is to be promoted, as it has been, to the rulers and the ruled, as a sacred icon; never mind that it cannot be used to put a society into action, to pass laws, and never mind that it will rarely cast up honest and wise leaders; it is, in the final analysis, a system that will routinely and inexpensively rotate those in charge; a manner of bloodlessly changing the guard.
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]