By Joseph V. Femia
Given the idea that democracy is a "good thing," the target of humankind, you may omit that "rule by way of the people" has been vehemently antagonistic by way of essentially the most exceptional thinkers within the Western culture. This booklet makes an attempt to wrestle collective amnesia through systematically exploring and comparing anti-democratic concept because the French Revolution.
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Additional resources for Against the Masses: Varieties of Anti-Democratic Thought since the French Revolution
Authority and obligation prosper in darkness. Some opinions must be adopted in the absence of any prior examination or rational justification. To behave properly, individuals need convictions, not puzzles. 53 Social order will never be maintained if we rely on reason and a non-existent ‘natural goodness’. This is why religion is so important in human civilizations. ‘Institutions are strong and durable to the degree that they are, so to speak, deified’—seen as reflecting the will and awesome power of the Divine Creator.
51 It is this interpretation of human nature, not his rejection of contract theory, that forces Maistre to conclude that inherited ways of life should be accepted unthinkingly, never be questioned. Only a fool, he believes, would deny the absolute necessity of a divinely sanctioned authority to punish wicked humanity and keep it under control. The will of the individual, always inclined towards evil, must be broken by overwhelming force. Where reverence for established institutions is effaced by scepticism or democratic 48 ‘Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism’, 115.
Unity of purpose made it seem ‘natural’ for decision-making power to be vested in a single ‘command centre’ (the brain, the pope, the king) whose aim was to maintain the integrity of the whole. Individuals developed neither the skills nor the attitudes required in the democratic arena. Wherever the organic conception of society is dominant, democracy as we know it would seem inappropriate, alien, and perhaps even unintelligible. It is clear, then, that democracy cannot simply be grafted onto a holistic, traditional society— a proposition confirmed by the experience of post-colonial Africa.