Quote note (#243)

Andrew Sullivan (in the early stages of a piece that is certain to draw a lot of attention):

Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.” […] This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. …

There was a time, not so long ago, when people used to chatter about ‘late capitalism’ — but now it’s 2016.

May 2, 2016admin 21 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

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21 Responses to this entry

  • Quote note (#243) | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Quote note (#243) […]

    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 4:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable.

    It’s entropy in triumph. Too many options = paralysis = zero value to any higher choice over the lower. Same way the Soviets went out, and the Romans, and Greeks. Same symptoms, including multiculturalism, sexual tolerance, domination by merchants, etc.

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    R. Reply:

    Soviets?

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 4:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • grey enlightenment Says:

    Ross, Slate.com, Andrew and the rest of the ‘contrarian mainstream’ are on the vanguard of the recent backlash against democracy. More and more people, both those and the left and right, are realizing what we already knew: democracy doesn’t work. Originally people were skeptical about Middle East democracy, but now such skepticism has spread to American democracy too.

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    RxFerret Reply:

    Many, though, on both left and right will try to replace that Democracy with Totalitarianism. It’s up to us to ensure people know that Democracy and Totalitarianism are two sides of the same populist coin.

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    Ananda H. Reply:

    Sullivan doesn’t do enough to explore the left sidedness of this. Like most of his colleagues, he chalks all Trump-related violence and unrest up as being Trump’s own fault, the mere consequence of his rhetoric, betraying little appreciation for the fact that the Democratic party’s brand of PC mandatory equality of outcome identity politics is fomenting a neo-Maoist mentality just as if not more disconnected from reality and willing to employ force to silence opponents as Trumpism.

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    John Reply:

    > More and more people, both those and the left and right, are realizing what we already knew: democracy doesn’t work.

    The answer is not so much that “democracy doesn’t work”, it is that democracy “inevitably breaks”. And contained within that is the view of “civilization as process” with early and late stage democracy incurring radically different results.

    NRx has contributed a body of theory on “civilizational alchemy” that amounts to an ideology of truth. As its proponents have no realistic ambition to seize power (only “become worthy” in some cases) it is inoculated against the curse of mass appeal, which hones ideologies to function as tools of power that hack psycho-emotional systems, engineered to invigorate and control, not for explanatory power.

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    Brett Stevens Reply:

    More and more people, both those and the left and right, are realizing what we already knew: democracy doesn’t work.

    The real Red/Black pill is in realizing why it doesn’t work. It makes sense to shout it loud and proud (and frequently) however that liberal democracy is a failure.

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 5:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • smg Says:

    To me this looks like battlefield prep on the left for President Trump when all people of conscience will be forced into civil disobedience to resist the collapse of civil society at the hands of the Trumpenfrer and his Brownshirts. This is what they’ll tell themselves as they read Democracy-The God that Failed and engage in brave acts in sanctuary cities and burn down Starbucks in Seattle. It’s all good. They’ll set a standard for resistance to the federal government, the executive branch specifically, that will be repeated by the right during the next election cycle (if there is one) when Hillary finally wins. More divisiveness, more polarization – secession.

    The most recent poll has Trump up 2 points over Clinton in a general election. The left is going full retard but they’ll need a little intellectualism to rationalize it. Trump winning moves us along nicely. I have no hope that he’ll be able to ‘build the wall’ but am quite enthusiastic about his ability to turn the Cathedral into raving lunatics. Fun. Another financial crisis, which seems inevitable, would be the cherry on top the sundae, as today Porto Rico defaults and Detroit’s teachers strike.

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 6:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • AnomalyUK Says:

    “There was a time, not so long ago, when people used to chatter about ‘late capitalism’”

    Sullivan in fact talks about both here:

    “late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate”.

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    John Reply:

    It should be obvious that late stage capitalism and late stage democracy are opposite sides of a single coin.

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    Brett Stevens Reply:

    “Late capitalism” is Left-speak for “Late empire” but they do not want to admit the failing of their grand vision, so they scapegoat capitalism much like the 14/88 types scapegoat Jews. It’s a new way of blaming “The Rich™” for the failings of mob rule.

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 7:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hosswire Says:

    It’s so amusing to see a rich white gay man leap to the defense of Muslim & Mexican immigrants. I’m sure they would gladly do the same for him.

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 8:45 pm Reply | Quote
  • frank Says:

    “But elites still matter in a democracy. They matter not because they are democracy’s enemy but because they provide the critical ingredient to save democracy from itself. The political Establishment may be battered and demoralized, deferential to the algorithms of the web and to the monosyllables of a gifted demagogue, but this is not the time to give up on America’s near-unique and stabilizing blend of democracy and elite responsibility. The country has endured far harsher times than the present without succumbing to rank demagoguery; it avoided the fascism that destroyed Europe; it has channeled extraordinary outpourings of democratic energy into constitutional order. It seems shocking to argue that we need elites in this democratic age — especially with vast inequalities of wealth and elite failures all around us. But we need them precisely to protect this precious democracy from its own destabilizing excesses.”

    “Guys Cathedral is a good mind-control apparatus; it has a proven track-record. Don’t flush this marvelous piece of machinery down the drain. Guys? Guys!? … Ok Moldy, we’ll take the deal… on one condition… we’ll call neocameralism democracy.”

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    John Reply:

    > America’s near-unique and stabilizing blend of democracy and elite responsibility.

    “elite responsibility”

    …my sides….

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 10:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Cristina Says:

    Sullivan explains that, yes, democracy inevitably engenders tyranny, but its expansion is an “unmitigated advance”.
    He also says that the elites have the archangelic mission of saving this thing called democracy from the claws of the tyrant.
    He didn’t clarify why the degenerate system deserves their salvific action, though.

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    Brett Stevens Reply:

    He also says that the elites have the archangelic mission of saving this thing called democracy from the claws of the tyrant.

    We must keep the great Left-leaning horde together, so another futile mission is needed which separates out those who are non-Leftist for elimination. Soon only Leftists will remain, and then the power structure will be safe at least until it collapses.

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    Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 11:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    Sullivan doesn’t understand the first thing about the Greeks. The state of utter licentiousness he describes has absolutely nothing to do with life in Ancient Athens or the few other democratic Greek poleis. The Athenian voters were yeomen to a man: Landowners, soldiers, [at least outwardly] dedicated to their religion and customs, of sound mind and body, and all had the iron discpline and courage which the phalanx and ancient maritime travel demanded. They were also unusually warlike and ambitious, even by the standards of their time. What Sullivan describes actually resembles nothing so much as the slow decline of Imperial Rome — for e.g. The Satyricon of Petronius — but his account is doubtless too extreme even for that!

    Also, it’s not only Plato. As I noted on Spandrell’s blog a couple of weeks ago, Aristotle also warned against Democracy, and explicitly noted that it leads to tyranny. “The greatest number of tyrants have arisen as leaders of the people (demagogoi), so to speak, having won confidence by slandering the notables.” (Politics 1310b14)

    Warnings against democracy have doubtless been written by forgotten philosophers still more ancient, on clay tablets, in cuneiform or linear B.

    If the Ancients are unanimous about anything, it is that democracy is a terrible thing.

    But Sullivan can be summed up: “The decline of our enervated and decadent Democracy will lead to a Tyrant in Trump!” This is nonsense. If the US is a democracy, and if democracy is a good thing, (both of which statements are contentious to say the least!) then we must at least admit that Trump has shown more consideration for the democratic process, and the will of the voters, than any other candidate. He’s not a tyrant — he’s a Tammany Hall NY democrat! He hearkens back to populist politicians from before the Progressive Era. This is what scares fools like Sullivan — that the will of the people is not aligned with their own, and that Trump is on the side of the people.

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    Posted on May 3rd, 2016 at 3:12 am Reply | Quote
  • pyrrhus Says:

    Democracy works all right as long as it isn’t overly democratic….when only male land holders or gentry were allowed to vote, society was protected from the worst manias. The immediate consequence of extending the franchise to all women was a rapid buildup of the authoritarian welfare State, which was totally predictable. Extending the vote to 18 year olds was just icing on the cake….

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    John Hannon Reply:

    The Scots have now put a cherry on the icing by lowering the voting age to 16 –

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EH1G4EwljM

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    Posted on May 3rd, 2016 at 5:05 am Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    Democracy is Infantry or Looting. In 2500 years none have found another way.

    Only those who risk their lives for it should have any political power, if we’re going to have a broad franchise risk of life should be the test.

    Which it always was and will be again.

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    Posted on May 3rd, 2016 at 12:59 pm Reply | Quote

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