Ilana Mercer, October 17, 2003

Our leaders lie about many things, not least that we waged war on Iraq in “self-defense.” But they don’t lie when they boast about America being a democracy. This is true: We were once a Federal Republic – now we are a centralized democracy. But while the founding idea of a republic was beautiful, the reality of a democracy is repugnant.


To the founding fathers, a republic meant the division, as opposed to the concentration, of government power, explains Pulitzer-Prize winning author Felix Morley in “Freedom and Federalism.”


Madison, in fact, denounced democracy as “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” That’s because in a democracy, the power of the central government isn’t curtailed.


If we were still a republic, it would not matter who got the vote, because there would be very few issues left to the adjudication of a national majority.


In contemporary terms, the American Federal Republic was “rightist” by its nature. Why? Because it was constitutionally based on decentralization and devolution of powers, with the national government retaining only limited and clearly delimited authority.


Political democracy, on the other hand, is a “leftist” idea. Why? Because it inevitably leads to a massive consolidation of power, centralized especially in the national government.


Democracy, like leftism, is un-American. It is, in fact, a foreign pollutant that wafted over the Atlantic from the French Revolution. And like a wild weed, it took root in the republic’s soil, growing out of control.


The essence of democracy is the idea that there exists a common will, a “national purpose,” and that this general will ought to be implemented by a powerful ruler. These ideas are decidedly anti-republican (lower-case “r”), anti-individualistic and thus un-American.


The (real) Right prefers society – namely, voluntary associations and private contracts. The Left favors the state – that is, coercion and control in the service of a common, collectivist decree. The Right is about individualism; the Left is about statism. The Right, for instance, believes that religious institutions and the family have the responsibility to convey morals and ethics; the Left insists that the state has the duty to instill a uniform set of precepts, by force.


Considering that there is hardly an aspect of human life that the government doesn’t meddle in – marriage, marijuana, Microsoft, you name it – we have to concede that now we are guided by the Left’s idea of the “common will.” Like it or not, we are all democrats now.


A European by the name of Jean Jacques Rousseau invented this notion of the “General Will,” to be implemented through an all-powerful state. No wonder Voltaire, a very smart philosopher, said that Rousseau is to philosophers as the ape is to man.


Still, that ape’s ideas animated the blood-drenched French and the Russian revolutions. Early Americans were undeniably influenced by Rousseau, as well. There was, noted Morley, some admiration in America for the manner in which the common democratic will found expression in revolutionary France. The influx of Marxist ideas much later from Europe further cemented America’s ideological immolation.


Yes, Rousseau is alive and well in the American democracy of our time, more so than Madison or Jefferson. And although, over the centuries, his ideas have been attenuated like bacteria in a vaccination – they, nevertheless, remain just as virulent.


Thus when syndicated radio talk-show host Dennis Prager writes that “the Left regards America as morally inferior to many European societies,” he is absolutely right. Still under the spell of Rousseau and Marx, the American Left is decidedly un-American, for its collectivism is European-bred, and alien to the American system.


Mr. Prager also wrote that “the Left believes that ‘war is not the answer.’ The Right believes that war is often the only answer to governmental evil.” A closer look, though, reveals that very many democrats (small and large “d”) signed on to Mr. Bush’s neoconservative war. Madeleine Albright herself has expressed no aversion in principle to the idea of America democratizing the planet. Ditto for her ex-boss, Bill Clinton.


If political democracy is un-American to begin with, how then can the promotion of an un-American system through the un-American centralization of government power be anything but a betrayal of the Idea of America?


The Left craves unlimited government power; the Right traditionally doesn’t. Going to war to spread ersatz American ideas is thus a Leftist crusade, because it is predicated on a consolidation of and growth in government power.


As the Old Rightist Felix Morley so magnificently stated, “The effort to differentiate politically between proponents of Warfare and of Welfare,” and to “make the former a ‘Conservative’ and the latter a ‘Liberal’ position is unsatisfactory.” He concluded: “Opposition to what George Washington called ‘overgrown military establishments’ is in fact the traditional American attitude,” precisely because – as Washington put it – an overgrown military establishment is “particularly hostile to republican liberty.”


And that’s un-American.



October 17, 2003

CATEGORIES: Democracy, Foreign Policy, Founding Fathers, Left-liberalism, Socialism