01 October 2010

Article: On Democracy and Kings

John C. Médaille is the author of an article titled "On Democracy and Kings", which appeared on 15 September 2010 as the first of a series of articles in the fortnightly traditionalist Roman Catholic US newspaper "The Remnant" (43 [15]: no page numbers given).

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "[I]t is clear to me, especially in this late date of our democracy, that it enthrones the will of determined and well-financed minorities, that it dissolves the customs and traditions of the people, and that it has no concern for the future. And a king may indeed be a tyrant, but such is the exception rather than the rule. [...] A king, no less than a president, must consider the forces and interests in his kingdom. But a king is free to judge the justice of the arguments; a president is free only to count the votes. And while the president might attempt to engage in persuasion, in the end he himself can only be persuaded by power, that is, by whoever controls the votes, which is very likely to be the one who controls the money. A king may also be persuaded by power and money, but he is always free to be persuaded by justice. And even when a king is a tyrant, he is an identifiable tyrant; much worse is when a people live in a tyranny they may not name, a system where the forms of democracy serve as cover for the reality of tyranny. And that, I believe, is our situation today. [...]

"Modern democracy has come to mean, in preference to all other possible forms, electoral democracy [...]. Since this democracy is something we are willing to both kill and die for, it assumes the status of a religion, albeit a secular one. Like all religions, electoral democracy has its central sacrament, its central liturgy, and its central dogma; its sacrament is the secret ballot, its liturgy is the election campaign, and its dogma is that the election will represent the will of the people. But is this dogma true in any sense? [...] One might respond that it is the will of the people who cared enough to vote. However, that ignores the fact that there are people (like myself) who care enough not to vote; people who find no party acceptable, or worse, find that both parties are really the same party with cosmetic differences for the entertainment and manipulation of the public. [...] Further, we can ask if a bare majority is actually a sufficient margin for any really important decision, one that commits everyone to endorse serious and abiding actions. For example, should 51% be allowed to drag the rest into war? [...]

"[D]emocracies tend to erode traditions by pandering to current desires. [...] In abandoning the past, democracy also abandons the future. We pile the children with debts they cannot pay, wars they cannot win, obligations they cannot meet [...]. In truth, elections are markets with very high entry costs. [...] Indeed, in the 2008 elections, campaign costs were a staggering $5.3 billion, and that was just for the national races. There are very limited sources for that kind of money, and the political process must, perforce, be dominated by those sources. [...] And why is so much money needed? Because the political arts in a democracy are not the arts of deliberation and persuasion, which are relatively inexpensive, but are the arts of manipulation and propaganda, which are extremely costly. The appeal is almost never to the intelligence, but to raw passion and emotion. The path to power in a democracy, the surest way to ensure the loyalty of one's followers, is to exaggerate small differences into great 'issues.' [...]

"A thing is known by its proper limits, and a thing without limits becomes its own opposite. Thus democracy, sacralized and absolutized, becomes its own opposite, a thinly disguised oligarchy of power which uses all the arts of propaganda to convince the public that their votes matter. There is precedent for this. The Western Roman Empire maintained the Republican form and offices. Consul, quaestor, aedile, and tribune remained and there were hotly contested and highly expensive campaigns for these offices. The army still marched under the banner not of the emperor, but of the SPQR, 'The Senate and People of Rome.' But of course it was all a sham; real power lay with the emperor and with the army and the merchant/landowning classes whose interests he largely represented, while buying off the plebs with the world's largest welfare state. But at least the Romans could see their emperor, could know his name, could love him or hate him. We are not permitted to see our real rulers, and never permitted to name them. The democratic sham covers the oligarchic reality."

The second installment of the series, an article titled "A Real Catholic Monarchy", appeared in "The Remnant" on 30 September 2010 (43 [16]: no page numbers given).

Excerpt: "A modern bureaucrat, in the normal course of his day, exercises more power than a medieval king; the bureaucrat can, with a stroke of a pen, take away your business or your children, thereby making tyranny a sort of daily routine; the bureaucrat's writ does indeed run as law, as long as the proper forms are filled out ..."

The full text of this article is only accessible to subscribers of the paper (available in print or as e-edition).

I was not able to ascertain whether there will be further installments in future issues of "The Remnant".

John C. Médaille is Adjunct Instructor of Theology at the University of Dallas.

1 comment:

  1. The third part: http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-1015-medaille-monarchy.htm