Monday, August 6, 2018

democracy, consent and false consciousness

One of the arguments that supporters of democracy can always be relied upon to wheel out is that legitimate government requires the consent of the governed, and that only democracy can truly provide this.

To a certain extent it is true that government requires the consent of the governed, but actually this is the case even in undemocratic systems. Any regime, whether it be an absolutist monarchy or a military dictatorship or a liberal democracy, will find its survival threatened if it loses touch with the will of the majority, or even of a substantial proportion, of the people. That’s why kings sometimes lose their crowns, dictatorships sometimes get overthrown. A revolution can be seen as the withdrawal of the consent of the governed.

Do democracies reflect the will of the people more certainly than other regimes? Superficially the answer might appear to be yes. The problem is that the various systems  of representative or parliamentary democracy all have one thing in common - they are designed to prevent the will of the people from being expressed. They are designed to manipulate the popular will rather than to reflect it. Deception is their stock in trade. They are based on lies. They are corrupt and the corruption is inherent. While they may claim that their supposedly democratically elected governments serve the people in reality the government is the master of the people rather than the servant.

All political systems are in the final analysis based on force or the threat of force and in most cases this is quite open and honest. The characteristic feature of democratic systems is that by preference power is exerted by manipulation rather than overt force. The problem is the dishonesty and the hypocrisy and the fact that you end up with a system thoroughly permeated by dishonesty and hypocrisy. It’s actually less healthy than a system based on straightforward force. And in any case it’s an illusion - in a democracy the iron fist might be concealed by the velvet glove but the iron fist is always there.

This raises the question of false consciousness. At this point you’re going to start groaning and muttering that he’s resorting to tired old marxist slogans. Up until a few years ago I would have agreed with you. I would have said the whole idea was typical marxist nonsense. The last few years have changed my mind. It’s now obvious that public opinion is whatever opinion the public is told to hold. If the media and the teachers tell people that black is white and up is down most people will accept that. If they’re told that homosexual marriage is just like a real marriage they’ll accept it. If they’re told that they love diversity they’ll accept it. It all seems pretty much like false consciousness to me.

I’ve seen the results of our modern education system in action, in young people with whom I have a family connection. They’re zombies. They believe whatever their teachers tell them. They have no doubts. They question nothing. If the teacher says he’s holding up five fingers he must be holding up five fingers. Orwell was wrong. You don’t need violence or the threat of violence or even coercion to turn people into slaves. People will turn themselves into slaves because they’re terrified of not conforming.

Democracy is based on the concept of encouraging people to turn themselves into slaves. It’s based on teaching people to embrace lies. That’s just the way democracy is.

4 comments:

  1. Agreed, but why do tou think this has happened here and now? What prevented it in other times and place s?

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    1. Agreed, but why do you think this has happened here and now?

      I think we're dealing with poisons - democracy, mass media, public education - that act very very slowly. Back in the 1960s it was possible to believe that everything was fine. It wasn't fine, but the symptoms were still mild and we were able to convince ourselves that the system would self-correct.

      What prevented it in other times and place s?

      Urbanisation makes it all worse. Urbanisation dissolves the traditional social bonds. There were very few societies in the past that did have large-scale urbanisation but when they did they had problems. Rome became a huge city and the concentration of population there presumably contributed to the instability and degeneracy of their society.

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  2. @DfD

    You already know what I think! I'm just interested in your explanations. I'd agree with the first list as contributory (especially mass media) - although they are too many and the idea is too vague to be sure or to do anything about; Not so sure about cites - there is the counter-example of Constantinople, and probably others from the Far East.

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    1. I'd agree with the first list as contributory (especially mass media) - although they are too many and the idea is too vague to be sure or to do anything about;

      The question is whether there things are inherently destructive, or only destructive when combined with something else. Mass media has been catastrophic because it's been controlled by people who are hostile to western Christian civilisation. That was allowed to happen because mass media emerged at the same time as toxic doctrines like democracy and liberalism. There was nobody with the will and the power to stop the media from being concentrated in the hands of those who wished to destroy us.

      Suppose the Chinese had invented moving pictures and television back in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. Would the government of Imperial China have allowed these new technologies to be used to undermine their own society? Could they have prevented that from happening? Or suppose moving pictures and television had ben invented in the Ottoman Empire. Would the Ottomans have allowed the new mass media to destroy Ottoman civilsation?

      Without liberalism and democracy is it possible that mass media could actually be a good thing? Or at least relatively benign?

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