The disturbing degeneration of democracy

Published in Expansión

The power-seekers who flatter the people or those who view democracy as a goddess to be idolized and not as a simple political system that is only a means to an end (liberty) and not an end in itself, consider it blasphemous to criticize the outcome of an election (“vox populi, vox Dei,” they say, using the Latin expression). It’s not my case. If the individual makes mistakes, how can the masses not make them? Sometimes the judgment on the mistake can only be made after the fact (once the consequences are known), but there are times when the a priori evidence is so obvious that it invites a deeper reflection, starting from the confusion between democracy and freedom. At the end of the article I will use the last Spanish general elections as an example.

Isaiah Berlin already warned us in 1958 (and before him Aristotle, Mill, Tocqueville or Constant) that “there is no necessary connection between individual freedom and democratic government”, since the latter “can, in fact, deprive the citizen of a great number of freedoms”. If democracy is reduced to limited political freedom but at the same time oppresses the individual through suffocating taxation that is close to a robbery, demands a myriad of licenses and permits granted arbitrarily and with indefinite delay by an omnipotent and omnipresent bureaucracy, and generalizes outrageous prohibitions of all kinds and limitations on freedom of expression, opinion and conscience (see the tyrannical imposition of political correctness, such as gender ideology, “climate change” or in Spain the law of historical memory), does the individual really enjoy more personal freedom than in earlier periods of history? It is true that one of the reasons why democracy does not necessarily imply progress or freedom lies in its fragility, given that its correct functioning requires many conditions: it demands, for example, a society with moral standards (which also expects them in its powerholders), a citizenship independent of power, formed and attentive to the traps of propaganda, an effective separation of powers, the rule of law and media that respect the truth. But, above all, it demands limiting the power of the rulers, since when the State and its oligarchy are endowed with a power as immense as that granted by the Welfare State (thanks to the astute alibi of the public services) democracy is gradually transformed into a tyranny (“the real oppression lies in the mere fact of the accumulation of power, wherever it may be”), ruled by the worst. In fact, the degeneration of democracy described by Aristotle seems to describe Western Welfare States, which have turned election campaigns into vote-buying auctions and corrupted the citizen with the belief that living off other people’s money is a right and that it is possible to dissociate freedom from responsibility. Thus, accustomed to being bribed with public money, citizens who hand over the responsibility for their lives to increasingly totalitarian States become their slaves, zoo animals who are content to receive once every four years a few pats on the back and a few sweets from their tamer before returning to their cage. This disturbing decline in democracy that we see all around the world reflects increasingly childish societies, easy prey to the propaganda campaigns of the power-seekers, degraded by the loss of moral references and by the constant adulation of demagogues.

Roughly 2,600 years ago, Solon, one of Greece’s seven wise men, was called upon by the people to restore law and order after a turbulent period of social and territorial tensions. Solon restored the rule of law by remaking the laws with wisdom, justice, and independence. He then called on the Athenians to uphold the rule of law he had created and, at the height of his fame, withdrew into voluntary exile to avoid the temptation of power and the constant pressure to change his own laws. When he returned ten years later he found that the mob wanted to hand over power to the tyrant Peisistratos, a demagogue who enjoyed great popularity. Plutarch tells us that Solon “knew how to see his nature and was the first to foresee his insidious ideas”, and he severely admonished his Athenian fellow citizens: “You get seduced by the tongue of a man of artifice, but you do not look, attentive, at his conduct. Taken individually each of you is a sly old fox, but taken together you’re just a herd of fools”. Human nature has not changed: demagogues know that the individual might be sensible but the masses are fickle and easily manipulated, and that flattering words or a reassuring statement of intent can make people forget a powerholder’s recent actions, even when the latter strongly oppose the former. Power junkies also know that the vote is often ignorant and emotional, thoughtless and frivolous, attentive only to an effective last-minute slogan, and they take advantage of the incredibly short memory of the masses.

Let us take as an example the last general elections in Spain. If it were not for Solon’s argument, how to understand that the socialist reservists have come obediently, with Pavlovian conditioning, to support a candidate whose only program is himself and who has shown that he does not feel necessarily subject to moral or legal boundaries at all? Do his voters accept shameless and persistent deception as a rule of conduct, normalize the support of the party that formerly supported Basque-Marxist terrorism and accept to discredit the Supreme Court allowing the Catalan separatists to be above the law and walk away unscathed? Do they applaud the regime change plan that de-legitimizes our current system of freedoms of the Constitution of 1978? Accustomed to signing as his own what others write, President-elect Sanchez was able to propose a really Communist budget drafted and sealed by his Bolivarian partners of Podemos. Do his voters believe that the best thing for Spain is the economic recipe applied by Chavez and Maduro to ruin Venezuela in less than a generation?

And how to understand that many center-right Popular Party voters have fallen into the trap of the so-called “useful vote” hoax despite it being just a rudimentary electoral tactic aimed at keeping the party’s business open and saving the job of its zigzagging leader? Finally, how to understand that after witnessing the Bolivarian communists rule Venezuela for years, with the result of the catastrophic destruction of that country (hunger and death, immense corruption and lack of medicines), one in seven Spaniards continues to vote for the ultra-leftist Bolivarian communists of Podemos who are the Spanish branch of that desolate banana dictatorship? Yes, now they seem to be in crisis, but how is it possible that this party has not been unmasked and denounced from the beginning instead of being hoisted by the short-sighted party interests of the Popular Party and the enthusiastic support of ignorant and indoctrinated journalists?

In Spain the elections have shown a country perplexed and without self-esteem, which does not respect itself but which, on the contrary, having lost its identity, questions itself constantly. And, above all, they reflect the success of the Himalayas of falsehoods fabricated on the Spanish Second republic, the Civil War and Franco’s regime that constitute the underpinning of the pernicious and uncontested cultural hegemony of the left, which automatically transforms the “right” into a threat and the “left” into a virtuous savior (against overwhelming historical evidence). If we don’t stand by the truth, the poisonous fruit of these lies will be the disintegration of our nation, one of the oldest in the world, its gradual impoverishment and the loss of our freedom. Do not dismiss the threat as an exaggeration, for history is riddled with nations that destroyed themselves amid the joy of the masses.

Fernando del Pino Calvo-Sotelo

www.fpcs.es

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