Monday, March 25, 2019

Commentary: 'The Life and Death of American Democracy' by Graham Seibert

Democracy became extremely appealing in Europe after the success of the American experiment, notwithstanding the disasters accompanying the French Revolution.

America was sui generis.  Founded on a new continent by people brave enough to cross the ocean on frail wooden boats. People who had the intelligence and courage to fight the indigenous people and conquer a new land.  They brought with them the legacy of England's common law, a workable set of institutions.

In addition to an intelligent and motivated founding population, the United States generally enjoyed a high level of homogeneity. The diversity that Benjamin Franklin lamented was that of Germans, who are by history and blood very closely related to the English themselves.

Early America was small enough that people knew each other and knew their representatives. There were under four million people at the founding.

Those were considerable advantages – small, homogeneous, and intelligent. Michael Woodley of Menie makes a strong argument in "At Our Wits' End" that the intelligence of European peoples in general peaked right about that time, and the downward slide has been accelerating ever since.

A democracy purports to seek "the common good." Each individual must be willing to concede a bit of individual resource and sovereignty in order to build a strong and productive collective.

"The common good" is a kind of deferred gratification. Psychometricians find a strong correlation between intelligence and deferred gratification. Smarter children will take two candy bars later rather than one now. In previous eras we were smart enough to realize the benefits of sacrificing for the common good. Moreover, we were sufficiently homogeneous that we could readily equate the common good with our own good.

The common man was generally law-abiding, not because the law was so rigorously enforced, but because each individual sensed that he benefited from overall adherence to the law. Edmund Burke made the case very well.

This has all changed radically in our age. The big democracies, and the United States in particular, are not whatsoever homogeneous. Most citizens feel racial or ethnic identities more strongly than their national identity. Adherence to the law is a matter of fear of the law, which has been increasingly strongly enforced. Moreover, the law is selectively enforced. Those who accept it – the traditional white majorities – are held to stricter account than minorities. There are neighborhoods in large American cities, and "no go" zones in European cities, in which the state is reluctant to assert its power over the citizenry.  And, as has been amply demonstrated recently, elites such as the Clintons can absolutely ignore the law.

This is the recipe for the decay of democracy. People are becoming stupider for all the reasons that Woodley of Menie cites.  Intelligence is hereditary.  Smart people are not having as many children as the less able and immigrants are not as smart on average as the native populations. In the final analysis, they are no longer willing to accept delayed gratification. They cannot accept that society's goods are distributed according to a person's talents, and dim people do not realize that they are simply not that talented. They have nothing in common with the people whose possessions they covet, and which they would redistribute through their voting majority.

Modern democracies do not function at all like the American Republic of 1789. The people are not as talented and their political power is not tempered by a hierarchy of echelons of government that would serve to suppress the demand for immediate gratification. Instead, there is a mass electorate that is swayed by the media. The electorate is not intelligent enough to understand the issues.  They vote on emotional issues such as abortion and gun control, and politicians use the media to sway them this way and that. Politicians are forced to lie in order to get elected. They have little respect for the voter, nor should they.

Democracy has devolved into an oligarchy of rich people and the media. Rich people increasingly appreciate the value of owning the media, so these two have become conflated. Wealth is highly correlated with intelligence, and it must be observed that the most intelligent segment of the population, the Jews, while making up no more than 2% of the people account for half of the richest people in the country and 50% of the donations to the Democratic party – and 25% to the Republicans.  They have immense power over politicians and public opinion.

The Jews have a several millennium history as a separate people.  They have historically tended to the interests of their people rather than whatever nation-state they happen to inhabit at a given point in time. A testament to their power is the vigor with which they are able to suppress writers who point this out. The English translation of Solzhenitsyn's last book, "200 Years Together", about the history of the Jews in Russia has simply been made unavailable.

The oligarchies that control America and Western Europe are not whatsoever aligned with the peoples of those countries. In countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Russia, in which political groups have come together to contest the financial power of the prevailing oligarchy, such groups find themselves under constant attack by the media and by the political entities such as the European Union that remain under control.

Democracy, as pioneered by the Americans, is not working well anywhere in the world. The open question is what will replace it. The logical answer would be some sort of system of nobility that is aligned with the interests of the people. None, however, seem to be emerging.  The oligarchies that exist do not fit that description and seem very unlikely to embrace the interests of the common people.

At the time of the American Revolution, the outcome might have been foreseen. People had been writing about representative government for some time. The American Revolution had the support of several English and continental philosophers, as well as a considerable number of the British population.  Our revolution was really an evolution.

Times such as we are now living in, however, are extremely unpredictable. The French and Russian revolutions, and later the Soviet Union itself, spiraled out of control. While the existing political arrangements were obviously untenable, it could not be projected what would follow their collapse. That is the situation which the world finds itself today. The current regime of uncontrolled immigration, ballooning debt, a lack of belief in religion, state, or even institutions such as family, will lead to a collapse. Something will arise Phoenix-like from the ashes, but it would be foolhardy to attempt to predict what.

It will be tumultuous – there is no doubt on that score. The personal virtues that have sustained people through hard times before will no doubt be called upon once more. Jack Donovan (The Way of Men) cites the four cardinal virtues of men: strength, courage, mastery and loyalty. All have been denigrated in these of feet, populist times. Those who resisted this dissipation, and raise their children to be strong individuals – German Mensch, Russian chelovek - will see their bloodlines prosper.

We of the West may go onto the dustbin of history, swept aside by the sheer numbers of Muslims and Africans, or we may survive in isolated countries and communities.  Whatever form the transition takes, it will be a matter of generations.  We cannot prepare as individuals, but must elaborate plans to see our children and grandchildren through the chaos to come.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Graham H. Seibert. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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