The People’s Choice?·
Democracy is a term used often and loosely in the modern West.
The ‘movement’ or ‘desire’ of a People to gain control of ‘government’ [i.e. system, form, or technics], and put that government into their own hands, seems always to be connected with, or to follow on the heels of, a failure of some ‘aristocratic form of government’ whose sole duty it was to protect their closely connected tribe, state, or nation [i.e. race-culture] but, in its failure to protect and uphold that selfsame race-culture, fell from grace in the sight and perceptions of their People – their race-culture. It also points to the value placed on Tradition, for if the people have been quiet, peaceful, yes, even happy, then that ‘particular’ form of technic which has led that people was ‘good’ in the only way that one may rationally judge it. No matter what that technic is called. If their happiness was changed to anxiousness, or fear, trepidation and hopelessness then, one is only honest when he claims that the ‘promises’ of his leaders or government has gone unfulfilled.
As stated before, it is the prime purpose of any form of government to ‘secure the survival of the culture and people which, in fact, had created it’ and formed its technics through long millennia. The antecedents of the West is not, unlike the Modern would have us believe, from the Levantine, Africa, or the Orient proper, but from our own root and stock. Nowhere is this illustration of greater insight than that of the historic democratic movement in England and France.
Liberalism may be assigned to the former, Rationalism to the latter.
In the West today, the ‘synthesis’ has been to combine the two: Liberalism+Rationalism=Democracy. All three deny the existence of an ‘aristocracy’ – at least in principle – which provided that all who belonged to the ‘culture-class’ had social value in relation to their peers, above that of the common man. This equated the ‘social’ with the ‘political’. The synthesis of ‘liberalism’ and ‘rationalism’ did essentially the same thing; ‘democracy’ simply placed the ‘social-class’ at the mercy of the political. This was, and is, simply a new political ascendancy. It is the ‘aristocracy’ of the Modern. The ‘old values’ now, conveniently, replaced with his.
Democracy is not an ‘equality’ of form or, necessarily, of law. Equality equates with ‘opportunity’. The leveling of all class distinction, social value and the like, is not what the ‘idea’ of democracy was originally intended to convey. Indeed, as a part of the rhythm of cyclic evolution, democracy is always in flux, with its goals ever changing and adapting itself to each and every occasion. The cycle of democracy reads thus: Revolution/Consolidation/Imperialism, then back again. Yet, this is still only part of the democratic tradition – not the ‘tradition’ of Napoleon, he was a true democrat – but of the ‘democracy of the mass’. It can be argued with some validity that this was good, for it forced the ‘mass’ to choose sides, as was the plan of one of its antecedents – Solon – who expected men with a ‘democratic choice’ to participate actively [!] in such a system. However, such is not generally the case. The mass, without real leadership, usually allow others to mold their own opinions being bereft, as it were, of any real goal or ‘world view’; if such exists in the majority, they lack the will or ability to articulate it. This, of course, is human nature; the mass will always give the ‘power of choice’ to someone else’s vision.
Most people, given a sedentary lifestyle, peace, accumulation of wealth, and the various studies of higher learning, will become, with time, used to such comfort, in extremis, thereby becoming sheep, corralled easily, and sheared when needed; a circumstance not very independent, or likely to achieve any lasting character which would make them stand out for emulation. We would generally call this ‘group’ cowardly indeed. In this context, as with all governments, democracy seeks that political control over its social order with which it need to lead. When this happens, the mass is afforded that much sought after panacea of democracy: each man is the same as his fellows, with no distinction made between the two; no distinction based upon ‘breed’, or ‘intellectual achievement’, or any other consideration.Y The ‘aristocracy’ of the Modern reigns supreme.
The history of ‘aristocracy’, proper, is quite different. We in the West, specifically of this northern continent, do not like any form of aristocracy – after all, was not our very birth delivered ‘caesarian’ from this very Mother? It nevertheless holds true, that for thousands of years, specifically, it has been this type of ruling body, either through some form of heredity or selection [i.e. election], which has lasted for the longest periods. Think of Venice, for instance – a thousand years – and of Egypt – three thousand!
If this form of ‘technics’ has lasted long therefore, is it not thereby entirely justified if one infers from the evidence that this form of technic has maintained the confidence and loyalty of the race-culture? Conversely, history has shown that Aristocracies have failed, and given place, finally, to democracies. However, what exactly does this say? What ‘rule of thumb’ can be measured in this constant? Does this not mean, like anything else, [including democracy], that this or that system was worn out; that its technics were fixed, thereby resting in a state of ‘static control’? That this or that system was decadent? Is this incidental, or simply the ‘way-sign- of senility? It most certainly does not prove, one way or the other, that any one system is better or worse than the other: only its effects are judged good or bad. It does not prove in any way that an ‘aristocracy’ vs. ‘democracy’ is better than its opposite. The ruling body of any race-culture is elite, no matter what system employed to keep those who rule in power. It is, and will remain, no matter what system is employed, the intelligent, vigorous, and most gifted of the ‘organic strata’ [i.e. those of its blood] of persons who make up a Folk, that will form the core of any system of its race-culture. The race-culture naturally leans in this direction when it is healthy – no matter what the race-culture. It relies upon itself, and to those that are an organic part of itself. It is this strata that has ‘de jure ‘ right to lead, but is not always that strata that does lead. Let us expand on this subject risking, perhaps, the valued attention to this premise so far:
Dualistically, nature has always considered systems and forms to be ‘one’ or the ‘other’. There is ‘white/black’, there is ‘sun/moon’, there is ‘sky/earth’; there is ‘male/female’ and ‘sunrise/sunset’ terms which, until recently, held distinctions, which the Modern, seemingly, is unable to grasp. He thinks in terms of grey, of the multiplicity of ‘possibilities’, the ‘minutiae’ of reasoning become absurd. Aristocracy, as a ‘form’, admits a ‘duality’, insofar as one can see a ‘top and bottom’, leaders and followers.
If it be honestly admitted, elites of one type or another, like cream, rise to the top; in the ancient past of our Western culture, this point is self-evident. But here one must put aside the ‘better known’ aspect of what is the common usage of ‘elite’, or ‘aristocratic’, especially if one limits himself to a ‘standard’ definition, and delve a little deeper.
In the ancient West, it was not material wealth, its martial skill, or even its priestly castes, which made, or rather, created a sense of elitism. Our pursuit here is at once deeper, and metaphysical. At once psychic, those of our ancient past, regardless of the level or caste in which one was born, was the sacred ability to ‘initiate’, to be initiated, to ‘ritually initiate’ that person or persons into a particular caste. It was the ‘rite of passage’ proper, placing emphasis on the religious implications and metaphysical forms in which an individual now ‘sensed’ that this initiation had claimed him forever; that his service was now blessed according to his role in life. Practiced for so long, it became ‘institutional’, and was at the very heart and fabric of the West. In the world of Tradition, nothing was more sacred than the spiritual influences that the ‘rite’ could influence through its ‘action’ [i.e. through the ‘ritual’ itself]. The Brahmans of India, for instance, even though scattered throughout its country could, nevertheless, command such respect, almost reverence, enjoying a ‘prestige’ greater than any tyrant or ruler, because they had attained that ‘interconnection’ with the spiritual that the masses had not.
In Greece, China, and Rome the ‘patrician’ class, the nobility, the ‘aristocrats’, were characterized by possession of knowledge and practice of initiatory rites that were connected to the ‘divine’ power emanating from the founder of a particular Family. This, in turn, was passed down through, and into, the progeny of future generations. It is this ‘supernatural’ element, which, essentially, became the foundation of the ‘idea’ of aristocracy, as well as legitimate royalty. What constituted legitimate ‘aristocracy’ was not merely biological, not only blood or racial selection, but also ‘sacred traditions’. In Germanic and Northern races, as well as the Far East in the ancient classical world, the feeling was the same. Blood was a part, but the main part perhaps, was the ‘second birth’, that element of mystical significance, which separated a ‘divine’ from a ‘non-divine’, hence it was that the plebeians of Rome would never attain the status of the patrician not because of blood, but because the plebes were denied the ‘rite of passage’ in a ‘ritualized sense’. This may not strike the casual student of history as important, but if one were to compare its ‘universal’ brother, the ‘church’, then one can readily understand the mystical importance of ‘baptism’, which at once ‘transforms’ the individual, and ‘secures’ a relationship with God himself. One may trivialize this ‘rite’, as not all are Christians, but they would do so at their peril, since it ‘lives’ in the hearts and minds of millions. It is in the above context that one must look to the origin of the ‘aristocracy’ of the past. Like the plebeians of Rome, it was their ‘lack’ of cult which separated them from the patrician nobility; the same can be said of the ‘christian cult’ vis a vis, the non-christian by way of baptism.
In the Teutonic nations we find this ‘metaphysical’ tradition, insofar as the ‘chief’ was, at the same time, both ‘priest and king’. Not only this, but a claim of ‘divine’ parentage was the coup de grace amongst his people. This set him apart from all other ‘families’ since he was gifted with ‘divine’ characteristics. Even when compared to a military leader, who was always looked to with admiration, loyalty, and reverence because of his selfless sacrifice in battle for folk and tribe, it was the ‘class’ of priest/kings which held ultimate sway, going so far as to ‘initiate’ themselves if need be. This process was hardly for the weak however, and included isolation, trials of life and death; outside of this, a ‘person’ was considered [as] a member of the ‘women and children’ until, and not before, he had passed through his initiation. This included the king himself. Aristocracy came from the ‘rite’ of ‘male passage’ from one level into the next, without it, he was of the herd.
In our modern time, aristocracy, like royalty, has merely taken on the more ‘secular’ and ‘political’ manifestations of the ‘mystical’. The origins of Aristocracy and Royalty were based on ‘character’, ‘race’, ‘honour’, ‘valor’, and ‘faithfulness’ [noblesse’ d’ epee, and on, noblesse de coeur]. Much later, these criterions were discarded, as was the privileges of ‘blood and tradition’. Whether or not this quality is lacking in our modern age is, at this moment, not the point, what is the point is the ‘structure’ and ‘form’ of the aristocrat; how, and for what reason the aristocrat existed at all.
It was not the ‘intellectuality’ of peers, but of its ‘spirituality’, which made this class so predominant. It was never a matter of ‘knowing the law’, or how technical a class of men could be, but rather the ‘spiritual’ trust and direction ‘within’. In an attenuated form, the Knightly Orders of Nobility continued ‘tradition’ proper through its initiations and rituals, one but considers the Teutonic Knights, Knights Templar, the Order of St. John, just to name a few, and created warriors who were both ‘priest and king’, and served as judicial, martial, and ecclesiastical leaders: in short, this was an ‘aristocracy’ based on the ancient laws of the West. Tradition, Honour, valor, and sacrifice were all part of a ‘great’ tradition which, when entered, made them ‘just that much more mighty’ than the common man. These men, indeed, were uncommon.
The aristocracy of the past, that is, the ‘elites’ who the people looked to for leadership, were special; they were special as a class; and they were special because of the seriousness required as part of an ‘overall’ duty to those who were entrusted, in a ‘sacred’ sense, to their care. In modern times, when the West was coerced into disassociating the temporal authority from the spiritual authority, and instead replaced it ‘solely’ with the electoral, thereby allowing the sacred ‘institutions’ to be open to ‘inferior’ types, and the lower social strata, it opened the door to the modern ‘impure’ aristocracy of money. As time progressed, oligarchies, royal hangers-on, and the like turned more to the whims of the modern demos, the mass; no longer was the natural ‘aristocrat’ a trusted and competent leader. Greece, Rome, and now in our modern technics do we see the effects of these descending phases of senility.
Aristocracies are a natural phenomenon. All cultures, in their own way, host both the leaders and followers of the recurring generations. The point herein espoused is that equality is an illusion, and that ‘all’ societies have their elite. In our ‘modern’ aristocracies, we look to the ‘kings’ of Industry, Oil, and commerce instead of Blood and Spirit. The ‘aristocracy’ of wealth may do good things, may provide jobs and the like, but they lack ‘spirit’, and most will agree that these men are in ‘business’ and would laugh if they were asked to conceive of ‘business’ as sacred or spiritual. Wealth is not what concerns us here, but the areas in which this sense, not of ‘duty’ or ‘sense of honour’, or even ‘obliges’ is not the purview of the merchant class, therefore, to consider as a ‘class’, the monied classes as more that mere purveyors of ‘exchange’, then we must look to others as our ‘sacred leaders’ in some other class. Utilitarian democracy lacks the ‘warrior’ sense of ‘faithfulness and honour’; it is replaced with a material and economic character which implies directly that personal convenience and material interest belongs to the merchant and not to the ‘aristocratic’. Aristocracy has given way to the plutocrat; the banker has become larger in life, than the warrior. How we view the relationships between our leaders and ourselves is what will mark the once and future West.
[excerpt Rise of The West/copyright Frank L. DeSilva]
- · See discourse of Socrates and Thrasymachas – The Republic – Book I. Cf. Classic Club Series, Walter&Black, pg. 233-53.
Y There is some merit to the allegations by some, that modern democracy has become the ‘new’ communism of the present age. The ‘egalitarianism’ of Karl Marx, for instance, or Lenin’s political dictums concerning ‘aristocracy’ and ‘monarchy’ included the ‘democratic’ ideal of the ‘masses’ which, taken to the extreme, ushered in the enslavement of the very mass the communists claimed to speak for. Laws of an extremely excessive nature ‘forced’ the mass to accept the ‘leveling’ of their society in the name of ‘progress’. No Hereditary or Traditional institutions were allowed to remain, since it was ‘through these selfsame institutions’ that the ‘people’ had been denied ‘choices’ of their own; to be sure, the decadence of the existing leadership was obvious, and cannot be discounted as reasons for such wide-spread discontent, but to replace the old with democracies of the mob, is to say that the only prescription necessary for an ailment is poison.
The Dialectics of Hegel [George Wilhelm Frederich Hegel, born 1770, Germany] was essentially in opposition to the ‘marxist/lenninist’ doctrine but, nevertheless, was studied by the revolutionist of both the Menshevik party and the Bolsheviks in Russia were not the logical dynamics of ‘negation’ and ‘knowledge’. Hegel was fascinated by the works of Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, and Goethe and by the revolution of France. Modern philosophy, culture, and society seemed to Hegel fraught with contradictions and tensions [the ‘struggle’ in ‘natural law’], such as those between the ‘subject’ and ‘object’ of knowledge, mind and nature, ‘self’ and ‘other’ [inner and outer man], freedom and authority, knowledge and faith, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Hegel’s main philosophical project was to take these contradictions and tensions and interpret them as part of a comprehensive, evolving, rational unity that, in different contexts, he called “the absolute idea” or “absolute knowledge”.
According to Hegel, the main characteristic of this unity was that it evolved through and manifested itself in contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of reality – consciousness, history, philosophy, art, nature, society – leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts of a larger, evolutionary whole. This whole is mental because it is the mind, which is able to comprehend all of these phases and sub-parts as steps in its own process of comprehension. It is rational because the same, underlying, logical, developmental order underlies every domain of reality and is ultimately the order of self-conscious rational thought, although only in the later stages of development does it come to full self-consciousness. The rational, self-conscious whole is not a thing or being that lies outside of other existing things or minds. Rather, it comes to completion only in the philosophical comprehension of individual existing human minds who, through their own understanding, bring this developmental process to an understanding of itself.