The Other McCain

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

‘Democracy’ Ruins Everything

Posted on | August 18, 2023 | Comments Off on ‘Democracy’ Ruins Everything

Last year, my son Jefferson was studying the Punic Wars — Hannibal, Cannae and all that — and in discussing it with me, remarked that at the time, slaves were about half the population of the city of Rome. These were white slaves, however, and the Roman Empire collapsed long ago, so there’s no “critical theory” or “systemic racism” angle to be exploited for political gain, which is why most people never contemplate the condition of Roman slaves. Of course, considering the general decline of education in this country, most Americans know next to nothing about ancient Rome, and in particular don’t understand the path by which Rome went from a Republic to an Empire. Julius Caesar was aligned with what was called the Populares (democratic) party in Roman politics, whereas Cicero was a leader of the Optimates (aristocratic) party. It was on behalf of “the people,” therefore, that Caesar assumed the dictatorship and, after his assassination led to civil war, it was Caesar’s ally Mark Antony who insisted on Cicero’s assassination.

Some scholarly readers will protest against my drastic oversimplification of this history — necessary for the sake of brevity — but my point is that (a) ancient Rome was not a democracy, and (b) it was the populares who, by their opposition to the senatorial voices of aristocratic tradition, helped pave the way toward the destruction of the Republic and the tyranny of imperial power. “Democracy” ruins everything.

The reason I put “democracy” inside scare-quotes is because the word has so many different meanings as to have almost no meaning at all, as Orwell famously observed: “In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning.” But in general it refers to a demand for equality, particularly in terms of representation in government, but also in economic terms — many people vote for Democrats simply because they hate and envy the rich, and expect Democrats to pursue policies to punish the rich (for the sake of equality), which is why you hear Joe Biden frequently inveighing against billionaires. Never mind that Biden himself is quite wealthy, or that billionaires are major contributors to the Democratic Party. The resentment of wealth, and a desire to punish the rich, have for decades been at the heart of the Democratic Party’s electoral appeal, so that this is what “democracy” really means to many Americans.

All of this is preamble to a discussion about what’s wrong with education in America. My friends know never to get me started on this subject because I can rant for hours about it. Instapundit today linked to a discussion of the subject by an anonymous Substacker, who discusses education in the context of fighting against a system of “managerial neoliberalism,” and uses that phrase in such a way as to indicate to the cognoscenti that the author is familiar with the work of Sam Francis.

Ah, my fellow Thought Criminals are everywhere nowadays! But to continue with the idea of how “democracy” ruins everything, my points is that the democratization of education — “equal opportunity,” subsidized by the taxpayers — is the true root of the problem. Once upon a time, young people were likely to get only so much education as their parents could afford to give them. Even when “free” public schools became the norm, it was not until well into the 20th century that a majority of Americans obtained a high-school diploma. Prior to the advent of the Welfare State (implemented via the New Deal) children of the poor often had to go to work to support their families. Such was the case for my wife’s maternal grandfather, whose father died when he was still quite young. There were no child labor laws to obstruct the boy in pursuing work, and this was sufficiently commonplace that he was far from the only 12-year-old working full-time in his West Virginia community.

Thanks to “democracy,” however, now we have school systems that spend $21,000 per student annually — and none of the students can do math or reading at grade level. But enough about Baltimore . . .

What is the purpose of education? This is where people have become badly confused. Supposedly, education is about obtaining the credentials necessary to a successful career — to make money, in other words — but this is almost exactly backward from what education was originally. Education was originally an aristocratic pursuit; as only the wealthy could afford to hire tutors, or to send their children to an academy, education belonged almost exclusively to the offspring of the well-to-do. The successful businessman or the prosperous farmer would pay to send his son to college, so that he might obtain some of the refinements of knowledge suitable to a gentleman, particularly in terms of preparing the young man for his role as a social and political leader of his community.

Many of America’s early leaders — e.g., Benjamin Franklin — had little or no formal education, but were autodidacts. What law school did Abraham Lincoln attend? None. He became a lawyer by “reading law” in a local attorney’s office. He never even got a high school diploma!

The influence of “democracy” on American education is simple: More schooling, less learning. Never before in human history have so many idiots obtained master’s degrees — thanks, “democracy”!

As I said, however, once I get started on this subject, I can rant for hours, but my daughter just informed me that she’d like me to stop typing — clickety-clack, clickety-clack — so that she can take a relaxing bath and go to bed without the noisy disturbance from my nearby office. So the readers will have to hash it out in the comments, and I’ll return to the topic again on some evening when my daughter isn’t around.



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