Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics

Liberal Democracy as a Comprehensive Doctrine

French Revolution“Similarly, in a liberal democracy everyone knows – and only a fool or a fanatic can deny – that schools have to become more and more liberal and democratic for the same reasons. Again, this inevitable process requires that the state, the law, and public opinion harshly counteract against all stragglers – those who are trying to put a stick in the spokes of progress, dreamers who imagine that in the twenty-first century we can return to the school as it existed in the nineteenth, pests who want to build an old-time museum in the forward-rushing world. And so on, and so forth. Similar reasoning can be applied to churches, communities, associations.

As a result, liberal democracy has become an all-permeating system. There is no, or in any case, cannot be, any segment of reality that would be arguably and acceptably non-liberal democratic. Whatever happens in school must follow the same pattern as in politics, in politics the same pattern as in art, and in art the same pattern as in the economy: the same problems, the same mechanism, the same type of thinking, the same language, the same habits. Just as in real socialism, so in real democracy it is difficult to find some nondoctrinal slice of the world, a nondoctrinal image, narrative, tone, or thought

In a way, liberal democracy presents a somewhat more insidious ideological mystification than communism. Under communism it was clear that communism was to prevail in every cell of social life, and that the Communist Party was empowered with the instruments of brutal coercion and propaganda to get the job done. Under liberal democracy such official guardians of constitutional doctrine do not exist, which, paradoxically, makes the overarching nature of the system less tangible, but at the same time more profound and difficult to reverse. It is the people themselves who have eventually come to accept, often on a preintellectual level, that eliminating the institutions incompatible with liberal-democratic principles constitutes a wise and necessary step.

Forty years ago, at the time when the period of liberal-democratic monopoly was fast approaching, Daniel Bell, one of the popular social writers, set forth the thesis that a modern society is characterized by the disjunction of three realms: social, economic, and political. They develop – so he claimed – at different rates, have different dynamics and purposes, and are subject to different mechanisms and influences. This image of structural diversity that Bell saw coming was attractive, or rather would have been attractive if true. But the opposite happened. No disjunction occurred. Rather, everything came to be joined under the liberal-democratic formula: the economy, the politics and society, and – as it turns out – culture.”

– Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy – 

– Lucas G. Westman

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  1. Pingback: Socratic Catholic Archive IN PROGRESS | Defense for the Hope

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