Introduction to The End of Democracy
Democracy is not just a political system. It is much more, and its nature approaches that of the gods if we consider with how much respect it is treated and with what devotion it is honored. The idolatrous character of democracy is clearly seen in the absolute refusal to question it in any way. Since the end of the last world war , the Western mentality has been as though traumatized by the experience of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes, in the face of which democracy has been presented as the unique means of safeguarding civilization and human dignity. Fundamental political criticism, the kind that questions political systems and their principles, is not applied to democracy, which is held as an essential good without which nothing is certain but chaos, oppression, and misery.
Today no one is disturbed to hear about the United States wanting to institute democracy in the countries of the world where it intervenes militarily. We smile perhaps at the pretext, but not at the principle. We do not think twice about the incongruity of the matter since democracy is seen as the political system of man. It is presented as an unshakable truth or an irreversible acquisition of humanity. It is synonymous with progress. It passes as necessary and beneficial in all cultures and all parts of the world. It would be the universal political system, the final outcome of mankind’s long political journey. Because of this, it escapes all questioning and its foundations appear infallibly true.
Is this not to forget that democracy is, after all, only a human invention? It is the fruit of philosophical thought and the result of historical circumstances. It therefore carries a certain risk of error. We can live in the conviction that humanity progresses unceasingly and that what is more recent is likely better than what was before—a conviction on which the contemporary mindset is largely based—but we should still not forget that every human invention is fallible and thus liable to criticism. To hold the contrary is foolish or pretentious.
Besides, it is contrary to progress. Progress can only exist when we are convinced we can do better and that things can be perfected. How is it, then, we became convinced we could do no better than democracy?
It is therefore not only permissible but also necessary to critique democracy. True democrats, if they are to be found, cannot be offended by this because they themselves champion freedom of expression as a fundamental right. True democrats bow before the majority opinion, not because it is true, but for the sole reason that it has the backing of numbers. Because of this, they should refrain from rejecting any opinion as being false, immoral , or scandalous. They should regard any opinion, even a minority one, as a potentially acceptable opinion, an opinion only needing the support of the masses to be accepted and respected. Such an attitude would be consistent with the principles of democracy.
But true democrats are quite rare. There exist in democracy opinions for which you incur definitive censure. There are even some for which you are thrown into prison. Democracy, like any other system, fights tooth and nail to defend its foundations. It mercilessly crushes those who threaten it, and declares, with the coolest self-assurance, that it is on the side of good.
To challenge such a conviction requires a serious argument which, as a lever, can shake and then topple over the bulk of the edifice. A perhaps overblown confidence in human reason enables us to think that when principles are shown to be false, that it is easy for any honest observer to detach himself from them and to take up again the search for truth. For what should we expect of erroneous principles, if not a deviating praxis? All of this would be very easy, of course, if democracy was only a political system. In its particular case, however, we come up against a considerable dose of the irrational. It is placed above reason. Its truthfulness stands outside of any proof or demonstration. It is reputed to be true, independently of reason, and what is more serious, independently of human nature.
With that being said, the objective of this work is simply to confront democracy, its principles and its practice, with the demands of good sense, justice, and nature. It is a modest objective. It is not a question here of elaborating on a new political system—even if we are able to make out the contours of it through the critique of democracy—for such an aim is very unwise and makes one particularly vulnerable. A democrat who is driven into a corner (which happens very quickly since no one is prepared to defend what is reputed as unassailable) easily says, “What do you then propose instead?”
This is the trap one must not fall into. It is necessary first to question the principles and expose the deviating praxis in what one today calls “democracy.” It is necessary first, through a detached and rational examination of democracy’s vices, to work up to the conclusion that a better system is certainly possible. This patient and methodical approach does not allow the smugness of the opponent to intimidate. Challenging democracy, a system universally practiced, defended, and honored, is a risky undertaking most of our contemporaries will consider utter foolishness and the beginning of lunacy.
Yet it is precisely the foolishness and lunacy of the democratic system that must be exposed. The critique of democracy is an act of confidence in man’s rational nature. It is to uncover the delusion and deception of which humanity—the Western world in particular—has been the victim since the time of the French Revolution and even earlier.
Thus, what you are going to read presents at each moment the two facets of democracy: the delusion and the deception. The delusion consists in believing that a political system which is unrealistic, artificial, and directly at odds with human nature could contribute to mankind’s happiness. Because it claimed to be rooted in lofty principles, the democratic ideal had to be true and good, regardless of any rational observation to the contrary. This delusion has accompanied all democratic and democratically derived systems up to the present day.
Then, there is the deception, because this delusion has veiled the fraud and sordid machinations of those who have exploited democracy to serve their particular interests. The two elements are inseparable and have been found side by side from the beginning of democratic ideas up until democracy’s everyday practice in our own time.
To speak of the end of democracy does not therefore have as an objective, as one might expect, to worry and alert consciences in order to try at all costs to save it. Democracy has been a system in perpetual degradation. It has participated in the decline of the Western world, being both its cause and its fellow traveler. It is a factor of “decivilization,” and it leaves in its wake disappointed and politically immature peoples. Behind the screen of its rituals, it consolidates oligarchic totalitarian regimes which shall one day surprise—indeed, this day has already come—peoples who believed themselves free.