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Notes on Populism, Elitism, & Democracy

Posted By Greg Johnson On September 4, 2012 @ 4:58 am In North American New Right | Comments Disabled



2,974 words

German translation here [2]

Is democracy a good system from the perspective of racially-conscious whites?

(1) When both the United States and North Korea describe themselves as democracies, it is safe to conclude that “democracy” means close to everything and next to nothing. For my purpose, I will define democracy as the idea that the power to make political decisions should reside with the “many.”

By the “many,” I mean more than a minority, but less than everybody. A society can be ruled by one man, a few men, or many men. But it cannot be ruled by all men, since in every society there will be at least some people who cannot be allowed to exercise political power, e.g., minors, the insane, criminals, etc.

(2) Most White Nationalists are strongly inclined towards elitism, even though the opinions of the majority on such questions as economic nationalism and non-white immigration are far more sensible than those of the ruling elites who are imposing globalization and race-replacement on the people. If white societies were truly democratic on these issues, we would be a lot better off. But, although today’s so-called democracies could be improved by being more democratic, that is hardly an argument for democracy as such.

(3) I would like to argue that democracy, defined as placing political sovereignty in the hands of the many, is not a good system for racially conscious whites, or anybody else for that matter. To make my case, however, I must distinguish democracy, plain and simple, from two good ideas that are so similar to democracy that they are often confused with it.

(4) The first good idea mistaken for democracy is what I shall call “populism,” or the principle of popular sovereignty, or the principle of the common good. I define this principle as the idea that government is legitimate only if it serves the common good of a people.

In his Politics, Aristotle makes this principle the highest law and the criterion for distinguishing between good and bad forms of government. When a single man rules for the common good, we have monarchy. When he rules for his own private good, we have tyranny. When the few rule for the common good, we have aristocracy. When the few rule for their private and factional interests, we have oligarchy. When the many rule for the common good, we have what Aristotle calls “polity.” When the many rule for their private and factional interests, we have democracy.

Yes, for Aristotle democracy is by definition a bad form of government. But he believes that “polity”—popular government for the common good—is at least conceivable.

The idea that the common good is the proper aim of politics is often mistaken for democracy, but they are not the same thing. The common good can be served by one man, the few, or the many. Furthermore, it is an open question as to which group—the one, the few, or the many—is most capable of securing the good of all.

White Nationalists are, of course, racial populists. We believe that the only legitimate regime is one that secures the existence of our people and a future for white children.

(For more on Aristotle, see my essay “Introduction to Aristotle’s Politics,” Part 1 [3] and Part 2 [4].)

(5) The second good idea that is often mistaken for democracy is a so-called “mixed” regime that has a democratic element. For instance, the United States has a mixed constitution with elements of monarchy (the President), aristocracy (the Supreme Court and the Senate before it was popularly elected), and democracy (the House of Representatives). Representative democracy itself is a hybrid system, since the many appoint one man or a few to represent their interests. Virtually every European society today has a mixed constitution with monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic elements, as did ancient Rome and Sparta (which was technically not monarchical, since it had two kings at the same time).

In his Politics, Aristotle argues that a mixed regime is more likely to secure the common good than an unmixed one. In an unmixed regime, the one, the few, or the many are liable to pursue their factional interests at the expense of the commonweal, simply because the other elements of society are not empowered to resist them. In a mixed regime, all three groups are sufficiently empowered to resist the attempts of the others to serve their interests at the expense of the common good. Yes, Aristotle was the first theorist of “checks and balances.”

In an unmixed regime, we have to depend on the virtue of the rulers, since their selfishness can lead society to ruin. In a mixed regime, we do not have to depend entirely on the virtue of the rulers, since the one, the few, and the many all take part in rule, and even when their virtue fails them, they will still oppose the selfishness of the other factions out of selfish motives of their own.

Thus Aristotle long anticipated Machiavelli’s critique of ancient political theory, namely that it was too dependent on human virtue. Aristotle would, however, reject the idea of modern political theorists that a good society can arise out of base motives. A good society can only be the product of virtuous statesmen, although he would grant that base motives can be harnessed to preserve the products of virtue, even when virtue occasionally nods.

(6) Why is democracy, pure and simple, a bad system? Simply because men are unequal.

To understand and pursue the common good, statesmen need certain moral and intellectual virtues: wisdom, intelligence, courage, justice, self-control, etc. But these virtues are not evenly distributed in the population. Thus it is very unlikely that the majority, by deliberating together, will ever hit on policies that are conducive to the common good (or even their own factional interests, for that matter).

Nor would majorities working together be able to enact and sustain such policies over the long run.

Moreover, the many cannot even be trusted to elect superior individuals to represent their interests, since they tend to fall for the bribes and flattery of slick and unscrupulous demagogues.

(7) If the majority do not have the necessary virtues to serve the common good, then the only question is whether rule by one man (monarchy) or a few men (aristocracy) is best suited to serve the common good.

If virtue is the sole criterion for rulership, then monarchy is the best system only under extraordinary and highly unlikely circumstances. For a monarch would have to be superlative in a whole range of virtues that are seldom combined in a single individual, and even more seldom combined to a superlative degree.

Aristocracies can draw upon a whole range of men of consummate virtue: the wisest sages, the most stirring orators, the most cunning strategists, the bravest warriors. Only a god could possess all of these virtues at the same time. If one could find such a god-king, that would be the best of all systems of government. For he would combine all the virtues necessary for wise decisions with the power to actually decide.

But it is folly to repose all one’s hope in a miracle. Thus aristocracy is a better system than monarchy, because only real regimes can serve the common good.

Furthermore, all existing monarchies are actually aristocracies in practice, for if a king is to rule well, he must of necessity select advisors, delegate powers, and thus create “peers.”

(8) However, aristocracy also has its limits. The main problem of aristocracy is that whenever power is exercised by groups, they must deliberate, and their deliberations must be able to produce decisions. Ideally, these decisions should be the wisest possible. But sometimes any decision, even a reckless one, is preferable to no decision at all.

There are many procedures to terminate deliberation and force a decision. One can put a time limit on discussion. One can put matters to a vote. One can even leave it up to the toss of a coin. But in such cases, human beings are essentially abdicating their responsibility to an impersonal system.

But if one needs more than just a decision, if one needs accountability for decisions, and if one needs an executor of decisions, then one needs a person who can decide. This is particularly the case during an emergency such as a war or a time of constitutional crisis when the existing laws and institutions prove themselves inadequate.

In the end, one cannot be governed merely by laws and institutions. Legislators cannot envision and provide for every future possibility. Thus there will always be circumstances where individuals have to make decisions in the face of novel circumstances.

And even if legislators could foresee every possible circumstance, one still needs individuals to apply the laws. And the application of laws cannot simply be governed by a higher set of laws, for how would one apply them? One cannot appeal to a third set of laws, for those laws also need to be applied. In short, the idea of general rules to govern the application of general rules leads to an infinite regress.

The only way out of that regress is to recognize another kind of intelligence, which can judge the applicability of general rules to particular circumstances. This is the faculty of judgment. But if judgment cannot be reduced to abstract general rules and incarnated in law books, it must be incarnated in a particular individual, the judge, who has the intellect to understand the general rules, the vision to apprehend and the tact to appreciate concrete circumstances, and the insight to apply the former to the latter.

Judgment is required on all levels of a system, from traffic courts to matters of life and death for the entire nation. Thus even the most exalted and refined aristocracy has need of a monarch: someone who has the responsibility and the power to exercise judgment in exceptional situations regarding the destiny of the nation as a whole.

Aristocracy by necessity is driven to embrace monarchy just as monarchy is driven by necessity to embrace aristocracy. Aristocracy is the best principle in normal circumstances, monarchy in emergency situations. In normal circumstances, the monarch should take his throne and preside over deliberations but give maximum latitude to aristocratic rule to ensure the most intelligent possible decisions. In emergencies, the aristocracy should give maximum support to the monarch to help him, and them, and the body politic, to weather the storm.

(9) But although the few are far more likely to be able to discern and execute policies conducive to the commonweal, once they have power, how can we be sure they will actually do so?

To answer this, we must face a difficult fact: a White Nationalist society will never happen unless we can assemble an elite of extraordinary individuals who create it and endow it with sound institutions. Since such a society can only be created by an elite, it must, of necessity, be led by it. So, again, how can we insure that such an elite, once installed, actually pursues the common good?

The answer is twofold. First, one must structure the elite so that it can perpetuate and improve itself. Second, one must structure the system as a whole so that the many have the power to keep the elite serving the common good rather than its own factional interests.

(10) Although White Nationalists have a strong tendency to hereditarianism, hereditary aristocracy and monarchy are not the best systems, because there is a strong random factor in heredity that makes it possible for superior parents to have inferior children and inferior parents to have superior children.

Thus if we are to be ruled by the best, we need ways to (a) recruit and promote the best children of the masses to elite positions, and (b) identify and demote the inferior children of elites to stations that better suit them.

Elite parents will quite naturally love their children more than the common good. They will give their children every advantage of their station. Thus a well-governed society needs to take active measures to negate these advantages and to cultivate and promote geniuses from humbler circumstances.

One of the best ways to do this is a rigorous and entirely public education system, as opposed to the present mixed public-private system which is designed to perpetuate the current corrupt elites while smothering or co-opting their potential rivals from humbler circumstances.

The best institutional model for a White Nationalist society is the Catholic Church, which is ruled by a non-hereditary aristocracy which it recruits and promotes from its own ranks, and which elects a monarch from among the aristocracy.

Another useful model is the Venetian system. Although Venice was ruled by a commercial elite, it maintained an aristocratic rather than a merely oligarchical form of government by promoting to and demoting from the ruling stratum based on merit. Venice also had an elective form of monarchy, like the Papacy and other Italian city states, such as Genoa.

Of course a White Nationalist society will be founded neither by a priestly nor a commercial aristocracy.

For the Old Right [5], a White Nationalist society would be founded by a martial/political aristocracy, which would more closely resemble the knightly orders of the Middle Ages or another militant order, the Jesuits, both of which were models for Himmler’s SS.

The New Right [5] seeks to create a White Nationalist society by dethroning the current hegemony [6] of anti-white ideas and instituting a counter-hegemony of pro-white ideas, propagating this hegemony through the educational system and culture and colonizing the entire political spectrum with a range of pro-white options.

The vehicle for creating and perpetuating white hegemony is an intellectual and spiritual aristocracy, organized as a non-hierarchical network that can penetrate, subvert, and control all existing institutions that shape consciousness and culture.

Such an intellectual and spiritual aristocracy need not worry about exercising power, so long as it sufficiently shapes the consciousness of those who do, which is merely to say that the New Right is a metapolitical rather than political movement. Politics is guided from afar by metapolitics.

But a society sufficiently penetrated by New Right metapolitics would take on the form of a mixed regime with an aristocratic/monarchical leadership. Of course, most white societies already have that essential system, albeit in more or less degenerated forms. Thus New Right metapolitics aims at pouring a new, racially-conscious spirit into the existing institutional bottles.

(11) Recall that the two good ideas that are often called democracy are (a) the populist principle that a system is just only if it serves the common good, and (b) the mixed regime with monarchical, aristocratic, and popular elements.

With that in mind, we can raise the question: Do monarchy and aristocracy have need of a popular element? The answer is: Yes. If monarchy and aristocracy are to serve the common good, the people need to be empowered to constrain them.

But what form can this popular element take, given the obvious failure of representative democracy?

First, representative democracy can be improved by increasing the quality and decreasing the quantity of the electorate. One could limit votes to heads of households, property owners, or the gainfully employed. One could raise the minimum voting age. One could institute educational and public service requirements. One could give extra votes to the highly intelligent. In short, a democracy is more likely to elect an aristocracy if the aristocratic principle is used to determine the electorate.

Second, since democracy works best in small, homogeneous communities, one should adopt the principle of “subsidiarity,” meaning that any issue should be handled by the authority that is smallest, least-centralized, and closest to the “grass roots,” as long as it is capable of dealing with the problem effectively. Subsidiarity would allow deliberative, “direct” democracy and also improve representative democracy, since the smaller the community, the more accountable the elected representatives.

Third, although the many are less qualified to frame and execute national policies than the few, the people are acutely aware of damaging policies, such as free trade and race-replacement immigration.

Thus the people or their representatives should have the power to veto legislation that is inimical to the common good. The people should also have the power to depose public officials, including judges, who are inimical to the public good.

To prevent the people and demagogues from abusing these processes, they should, of course, be confined to extraordinary circumstances. They could, for instance, be carried out by calling special elections, referenda, or plebiscites.

Fourth, the people should also be able to propose and impose legislation of their own through ballot initiatives and special elections. Again, to prevent abuse, these would have to be confined to extraordinary circumstances.

Fifth, to keep the elites honest, the Ancient Greeks gave the people the power to audit public accounts.

A little imagination could expand this list further. None of these measures would impede honest servants of the common good. But they would provide powerful deterrents to corruption.

* * *

The powers that be have invested a great deal in promoting the value of diversity, even while pursuing policies that systematically destroy it. This has played into the hands of the New Right, since we are the true defenders of human biological and cultural diversity.

In a similar manner, the establishment has invested a great deal into making an idol of democracy, even as they ignore the will of the people and trample the common good.

This can redound to the New Right’s benefit as well, for although we are frank and unapologetic elitists, we can argue in all honesty that we represent “true democracy,” or what is true in democracy, namely the principle of the common good and the idea that, in the name of the common good, the people must be empowered to resist the corruption of elites.


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URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/09/notes-on-populism-elitism-and-democracy/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/demosthenes.jpg

[2] here: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/11/anmerkungen-zu-populismus-elitismus-und-demokratie/

[3] Part 1: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/06/introduction-to-aristotles-politics-part-1/

[4] Part 2: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/06/introduction-to-aristotles-politics-part-2/

[5] Old Right: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/05/new-right-vs-old-right/

[6] hegemony: http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/08/hegemony/

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