The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Errors of ‘Democracy’

Posted on | February 1, 2015 | 93 Comments

We are heirs of a tradition. Each of us is born into circumstances that were created by our parents, by our grandparents, by our ancestors, and by the civilization in which they lived. Human life existed before we were born and will continue after our deaths. As children we inherit the past. As parents we create the future. Wisdom requires us to understand ourselves as a single link in an infinite chain of human existence, rather than to imagine ourselves as free-floating atoms unconnected to others.

Popular ideas of “democracy” — the modernistic idolatry that speaks the language of “rights,” “choice” and “equality” — obscure the truth of human existence, trapping us in the present tense, isolating us as rootless individuals removed from the authentic traditions of our inheritance. Children are taught that the past is not merely useless, but actually harmful, because human history is nothing but a catalog of oppression, atrocities and victimhood. Thus, the modern child cannot be allowed to believe that his grandparents were wise or virtuous, that the great achievements of our civilization are worthy of respect.

The great idol of modernity is Progress. Everything that happened prior to today is “old-fashioned” and obsolete, and nothing is more obsolete than yesterday’s ideas. Whatever your parents or grandparents believed in 1980 or 1950 or 1920 is presumed to be wrong. Your ancestors were all racist sexist homophobes enslaved by patriarchal religious bigotry. Never mind that their beliefs enabled your ancestors to survive hardship that would be unimaginable for most Americans in the 21st century. In a remarkable span of six decades, America survived the Great Depression, triumphed in World War II and destroyed the Evil Empire of Soviet tyranny. Yet the American child today is taught to despise the values of the people who accomplished all that. The child cannot cherish his own inherited tradition or respect his own ancestors, and is instead commanded to bow down at the altar of Progress.

“To live for the moment is the prevailing passion — to live for yourself, not for your predecessors or posterity. We are fast losing the sense of historical continuity, the sense of belonging to a succession of generations originating in the past and stretching into the future. . . .
“Narcissism emerges as the typical form of character structure in a society that has lost interest in the future.”

Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979)

What has resulted from this modernistic idolatry of democratic Progress — the utopian fantasy of an imagined future where we all live in absolute equality, free of “old-fashioned” beliefs — is a sort of social epidemic of bipolar hysteria, in which minds unmoored from cultural tradition constantly shift between utter confusion and radical certainty. Anyone who paid close attention to the “Occupy” protests of 2011 saw evidence of what kind of disordered personalities this progressive epidemic has produced. Young people who were clearly incompetent to manage their own lives nevertheless felt themselves entitled to dictate to the rest of us how “society” must be changed so as to “empower” these mobs of emotional unstable misfits. Refusing to take responsibility for their own failures, the Occupiers believed they were supremely qualified to pass judgment on the “system” that served as an all-purpose scapegoat onto which they could externalize blame for their misfortunes.

Duke: The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.
Otto: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.
Duke: Yeah, but it still hurts.

Great art speaks great truths and the death of Duke in Repo Man is an under-appreciated highlight of 20th-century cinematic art. Whatever the authorial purpose behind Alex Cox’s 1984 cult classic, that scene speaks eternal truth. Duke and his girlfriend Debbie try to rob a liquor store, and Duke laughs in psychopathic glee as he points his pistol at one of the clerk: “I’m going to kill him! I’m going to kill him! I’m going to kill everybody!” Unfortunately for Duke, there is a thing called karma in the world, and when Duke is momentarily distracted, the store clerk gets his shotgun and fatally wounds Duke. Debbie responds by shooting the clerk dead and it is then that Duke’s death scene plays out. Breathing his last gasps and spitting up blood, Duke speaks his own epitaph, expressing the worldview of every worthless punk who ever lived: “I blame society.”

Irresponsible people always need a scapegoat to blame for their faults and failures. They can never be satisfied to let their own shortcomings or disappointments be blamed on bad luck. Other people may be unlucky — indeed, many millions are far more unfortunate in their circumstances than the punk — but bad luck won’t do for him. No, the punk must always have someone to blame. His own failures and the problems that he has caused for himself? Not his fault. Blame society.

A punk’s entire life is basically one long quest for revenge, an attempt to even the score with “society,” to get back at the people he blames for whatever it is that has made him unhappy or unsuccessful.

The Cult of Progress has spawned a Punk Generation of people with no system of values except intellectual abstractions — “democracy,” “rights,” “equality” and so forth. They have learned nothing of sturdy virtue, nothing of classic Stoicism, nothing of the Calvinist ethos of enduring life’s hardships with a spirit of reverent gratitude.

We are told that democracy is synonymous with freedom, but we see how a false belief in “equality” between the wise and foolish, between the evil and the good, must ultimately enslave us all.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
Romans 1:22 (KJV)



93 Responses to “The Errors of ‘Democracy’”

  1. Finrod Felagund
    February 1st, 2015 @ 10:06 pm

    There’s pretty much always been porn on the Internet. Before images and graphics were common there was ASCII porn.

  2. Finrod Felagund
    February 1st, 2015 @ 10:11 pm

    I regret that I have but one upvote to give this comment.

  3. RS
    February 1st, 2015 @ 10:40 pm

    All of which was facilitated by the federal government. I know. I was there and watched it happen.

    And you know what? No one has ever forced me to borrow money, certainly money I cannot afford to repay.

  4. Daniel Freeman
    February 1st, 2015 @ 10:51 pm

    I thought my point was clear: it’s better to know more than less, so it’s better to seek knowledge than not. Perhaps I didn’t understand yours.

  5. RS
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:09 pm

    . . . the neo-liberal economic order that has plunged us into this nightmare, and we’ll keep us there for the foreseeable future.

    And that “neo-liberal economic order” is defined how, precisely? Is that the one where everyone is remarkably well-off compared to the people in such enlightened paradises as, oh say, the Central African Republic? (Per Capital annual GDP $333.20 or less than one dollar per day per nose.)

    Congratulations! You’re part of the one percent! We’ll be sending CAR refugees to occupy your house. Better head to Walmart for some more chips.

  6. Jim R
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:17 pm

    Wrong on a couple of counts. First, the minor: I’m an X-er, not a boomer.

    As for the major: not really sure where I’m blaming the victims. Banks made very unwise loans at the behest of the federal government, run in large part by people who moved back and forth between the financial sector and the government / regulatory sector (Tax-cheat Timmy Geithner is perhaps the most high-level example). Those loans were made to increase the numbers of Americans who “own” their own homes, which looks great at election time but doesn’t consider the fact that loans have to be paid back, and the banks were (ahem) discouraged from doing their due diligence to identify those people and deny them loans.

    But, as I say, it’s easy to blame the banks. democrats are very happy when people do that as it hides the key roles that many of them, such as Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, and Andrew Cuomo, played in setting up the meltdown.

  7. RKae
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:22 pm

    Yeah, I’d really like to write a book on this; not a comment.

    Building a chemical plant takes smarts, but you can’t let the smarts stop there. Not being able to run it safely is dumb. (Same with Chernobyl, etc.) And the problem with scientific progress is the belief in the Professor from Gilligan’s Island: that if a guy is “a scientist” then he is “smart” and therefore won’t ever make a completely stupid screw-up in something very basic.

    The UC plant in Bhopal popped. Whatever the mistake was at any point along the way was the dumb move. So every dumb move is equal.

    I thought you were proffering the notion that the mistake “wasn’t science-based,” so the screw-up isn’t science’s fault. But it IS on science.

  8. RS
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

    . . .he banks were (ahem) discouraged from doing their due diligence to identify those people and deny them loans

    Understatement of the year. I read the regulations when they came down. There were veiled and not so veiled threats against those entities which wanted to maintain the old standards, i.e. 20% down payment, house payment, plus property tax (if any), plus insurance of no more than 28% of monthly income, with no more than 35% of monthly income including one’s house payment in debt service. Because the feds were guaranteeing the loans, retaining standards was deemed to be prima facie a discriminatory lending practice.

  9. Jim R
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

    Look, I admit to doing it myself, but give Joe Biden a break!


  10. RS
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:27 pm

    “Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority, and the tradition of elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgement, I am firmly of the opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874, On Campden Hill, Kinsington, and baptized according to the formularies of the Church of Englind in the little church of St. George opposite the large Waterworks that dominated that ridge.” — G.K. Chesterton.

  11. Jim R
    February 1st, 2015 @ 11:37 pm

    The business about guaranteeing the loans SHOULD have indicated to anybody with sense that trouble would quickly be brewing: why should banks have been at all careful when Uncle Sugar promised to basically cover any losses? Talk about a win-win situation! And why, too, should the mortgages not have served as the basis for securities? Again, they were backed by the full faith and credit of what was then the most solid credit risk in the world: the US government.

    It seems to me that the business of making loans is about minimizing risk. By guaranteeing the loans and eliminating the basic need for risk analysis, Uncle Sugar negated centuries of banking practice and experience, with predictable results.

  12. M. Thompson
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 2:37 am

    I don’t want to know any more here.

  13. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 3:36 am

    A funny thing in regard to the point about kids today (meaning any leftist under 99) having their heads filled with catchwords like “democracy” and “equality” is that the works of philosophers and great scientists and legal minds of an earlier era are frequently brought up in British TV programming, from sitcoms to the most serious event coverage. It wouldn’t be mentioned in passing if nobody in the society recognized certain names or famous ideas (kind of how we still do with Ben Franklin, at least).

    Try mentioning Bentham or Nietzsche or Feynmann in an American TV show and immediately you get people complaining. “Bunch of dead white guys.” “Looking down your nose at the lesser educated.” All kinds of complaints. Or they only bring it up to slam someone for knowing about them. Zero discussion.

  14. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 3:37 am

    We born, yo.

  15. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 3:54 am

    I never understood someone taking the time to move letters around to that extent. (Doing a signature line, sure, but p?0n?) On the one hand you had high-quality photos in “gentlemen’s” magazines, and on the computer, you had 16-bit graphics and ASCII art.

    If you’re gonna ogle, I know which one makes more sense to me.

  16. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 3:56 am

    Blame Al Gore.

    He invented the Internet.

    All an effort to release his second chakra.

  17. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 4:07 am

    And they are doing it again. I guess the first time was a mere fluke.

  18. Adobe_Walls
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 6:15 am

    ”Perhaps you’ll wake-up as social strife, and class divisions continue to grow, inevitably leading us to a complete collapse of the social order,”
    Now your just teasing us.

  19. kilo6
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 7:45 am

    Damn now you got me thinking about
    The Philosopher’s Song-

    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable,

    Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table,

    David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,

    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya ’bout the raising of the wrist,

    Socrates himself was permanently pissed…

    John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, with half a pint of shandy was particularly ill,

    Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day,

    Aristotle, Aristotle was a beggar for the bottle,

    Hobbes was fond of his dram,

    And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart, “I drink therefore I am.”

    Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;

    A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he’s pissed.

  20. RS
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 8:26 am

    Heh. Reminds me of a line from the movie Defiance. Two Jews have escaped the Germans and found refuge with the Bielski Partisans. One is an atheist “intellectual” while the other is a rabbi. The intellectual is pontificating about the philosophical case for the non-existence of God. The rabbi looks at him and says, “Ah, yes. Descartes. ‘You annoy me; therefore I exist.'”

  21. kilo6
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 8:29 am

    Even better example
    Philosophy football–

  22. Daniel Freeman
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 8:41 am

    Uh, no? That’s kind of weird.

  23. Daniel Freeman
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 8:50 am

    I submit that if not all is on science, then the rest is on philosophy. One way or another, it’s about knowledge and understanding.

  24. RS
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:04 am

    Speaking on behalf of my lovely, German spouse, that’s the only time the Greeks will beat the Germans in Fussball. [Insert Smiley Thing]

  25. Daniel O'Brien
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:04 am
  26. Jim R
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:08 am

    I see your point, though I suggest that industrialism is a net good as it allows for the rapid accumulation of wealth to allow its problems to be corrected. A poor agrarian nation can’t afford hospitals, much less clean air laws and the like.

  27. Jim R
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:12 am

    Wait-wait-wait a minute! Are you saying that they had actual JOBS??? Like, they had to show up at a place of business at a given time, do work that somebody was willing to pay for, and collected a paycheck for this? Really? Seriously? It can’t have been many.

    [walks away shaking head in disbelief]

  28. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:09 am

    Hah! Good one.

    Let’s see… I got it: Any fool know what you sayin’ dog, you ain’t sayin’ right.

  29. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:17 am

    I was thinking of that very one. First I’d ever heard of Wittgenstein was in a Monty Python sketch back when I was a college freshman.

    I loved the end where, “Marx was claiming he was offside.”

    But I saw several BBC/Lionheart shows over the past few weeks which were not comedies at all, and they still managed to drop in points from some of those philosophers in the dialogue.

  30. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:27 am

    It’s amazing to consider how Germany was the heart and soul of “Modern Philosophy” before the rise of Hitler.

  31. RS
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:41 am

    Never forget: Heidegger was a Nazi.

  32. The Sanity Inspector
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:46 am

    I kid you not. The op-ed columnist referred to a video of a load of young socialists in Madison, WI. One of them worked at a chain noodle restaurant, and complained to the interviewer about having to cook the noodles to the chain’s mandated recipe. Such mindless conformity was crrrrrrUSHing his free spirit, you see….

  33. Finrod Felagund
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:57 am

    There are programs out there that will take a graphical picture and render it in ASCII. I’m guessing that’s how ASCII pr0n mostly got created.

  34. Jim R
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

    Yeah, the whole “do what the boss says” can be a downer. On the other hand, “get a regular paycheck” is pretty cool. These IOWS types don’t seem to grasp that life is a trade-off.

  35. Quartermaster
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

    It’s OK. We won’t keep you waiting long.

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  37. eamonkelly
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

    Fear, loathing and the adulation of self; hallmarks of the modern man. Kinda glad the Jesuits took to beating something into me.

  38. DeadMessenger
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

    I completely understood what you said, K-Bob. You’ve got to learn to be more unintelligible if you’re going to go down that road. Unfortunately, without a near-fatal cranial electrotherapy accident, I don’t know how you’re going to do it.

  39. Daniel Freeman
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 6:17 pm

    I don’t care. I loved Being and Time. It was a question that I had pondered since puberty — and we’re all beings in time, so political affiliation is irrelevant to the question.

  40. K-Bob
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 10:29 pm

    “A mind is a terrible thing”

  41. DeadMessenger
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 11:21 pm

    So is the lack of one.

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