Democracy is Too Important to be Left to the Demos

Many thanks to JLH for translating this short piece from Nicolaus Fest’s website:

Berlin Elections: Regression to the Clan

September 30, 2016

POST-DEMOCRACY. A concept allegedly coined in 2004 by social scientist Colin Crouch. It means a creeping undoing of democratic structures. To be sure, the distribution of power among administration, parliament and states is maintained. In actuality, however, deals between the party elites have been made beforehand. And the voters’ influence is further marginalized by voting lists. Even candidates deselected in the voting could be sure of getting a position somewhere, whether in Strasbourg or Brussels. So elections — the nub of the democratic process — as well as the work of parliament and of the opposition have all been devalued from within. The arrogance of the chancellor ordering the opening of the border in 2015 after the parliamentary debate, is paradigmatic of this process. But the parliament had already abdicated in the decision about the bailout fund.

Not only does the parliament lack parliamentarians, but democracy has a deficiency of democrats. That is obvious at least in the Berlin state election. Many voters appear to regard this democratic activity more as a formalistic ritual than as political decision-making.

The results can hardly be explained any other way. Ca. 70% of voters voted for parties that are responsible for Berlin’s misery: GREEN. CDU, SPD and LINKE. Under their control, as attested by the leftist Tagesspiegel, the capital — at the state and district level — has become a failed state. The schools are poor, as is the condition of the streets. The urban train and streetcar system is widely out of service in the winter. After ten years of construction, the BER airport is not yet in service. Criminal clans control large areas. The drug scene is eating ever deeper into districts that had once been orderly. The administration functions in fits and starts and even the simplest functions, such providing information, vehicle transfer papers or registrations, take months. Since the immigration of violent groups, the number of break-ins and attacks on women rises from year to year.

But all of this does not bother the voters. They, too, have long since been in post-democracy mode. They seem unaware that democratic voting only functions if the voters are prepared to punish mismanagement. Tribal solidarity — i.e., the election of completely incompetent administrators only because they come from the same barnyard — represents pre- or post-democratic regression to clannishness. Voting is done on the basis of loyalty, not to keep harm away from the country, oneself or one’s neighbors.

That is poison for a democracy — a path to African conditions. The completely de-politicized election posters of SPD, GREEN and CDU rely on incantations instead of a recitation of facts — as atavistic societies rely on drumming to the kraal. The violent attacks on posters and representatives of AfD as well as the disinterested reaction of the established parties comport with this. Where the only concern is the preservation of clan interests, general democratic rules play no part. The sole decider is family/party. Berlin’s problem is not just the Lebanese or Kurdish clans. More fateful, socially and politically, are the people in the leading offices — supported by their post-democratic tribes.

Back to the Berlin election. Let us recall the media reactions to Brexit. The tenor of many commentaries was that democracy is too important to be left to the people. There were pleas for annulment, an instant new referendum, the splitting off of Scotland. You see, the British voters had not comprehended the magnitude of their decision. They were stupid, uninformed, ignorant; had sinned against the future of their country. Those who like to insult voters could say something similar of the Berliners, and more justly. At any rate, the disaster here has already taken pace. In the case of Brexit, it had been questionable and only prognosticated. But nothing in the newspapers.

9 thoughts on “Democracy is Too Important to be Left to the Demos

  1. I lived in Germany in the 1960’s. Berlin was known as a left wing hellhole. So now it is 50 years later and it is a left wing hellhole.

    I am utterly shocked to hear this.

  2. Did ya guys see the vid on Vlad of the Beziers mayor dishing it out at the talking heads? Priceless, for his fearlessness, and for the look at these media whores who sit there sniggering, laughing and winking when he is talking about the urgent problems of his town. Complete disconnect.

    Beziers. Isn’t that the Languedoc town where the Catholic commander said, kill them all, God will sort it out? (in response to the objection from his soldiers that the town contained many good catholics, besides the “heretics.”)

  3. Democracy can take a number of forms. I first ran into the term “totalitarian democracy” in an essay by Caroline Glick. She used it to describe Norway’s form of government. I was blown away by the term since it described so well the devolution of our western forms of government.

    “Totalitarian democracy” next popped up in what has become one of my go-to reference works, a 2o14 book by Fred Siegel —

    The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class

    One of the professional reviewers wrote this (and bear in mind that Trump’s candidacy wasn’t even a gleam in his own eye when this was written):

    “The roots of American liberalism are not compassion but snobbery. So argues historian Fred Siegel in The Revolt Against the Masses. Siegel traces the development of liberalism from the cultural critics of the post WWI years to the gentry liberals today, and he shows how the common thread is scorn for middle-class Americans and for America itself. This is a stunningly original—and convincing—book.”

    Sounds like Hillary Hussein’s permanent sneer about us deplorables, no?
    Siegel referenced his mention of the term; it originated in the 1950s with an Israeli writer, Talmon, who critiqued Rousseau’s trouble-making ideas.

    The wiki on Tot Dem is excellent; even the sidebar is informative.

    The intro:

    Talmon’s 1952 book The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy discusses the transformation of a state in which traditional values and articles of faith shape the role of government into one in which social utility takes absolute precedence. His work is a criticism of the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Swiss philosopher whose ideas influenced the French Revolution. In The Social Contract, Rousseau contends that the interests of the individual and the state are one and the same, and it is the state’s responsibility to implement the “general will”.
    The political neologism “messianic democracy” also derives from Talmon’s introduction to this work:
    Indeed, from the vantage point of the mid twentieth century the history of the last hundred and fifty years looks like a systematic preparation for the headlong collision between empirical and liberal democracy on the one hand, and totalitarian Messianic democracy on the other, in which the world crisis of to-day consists. [1]
    In a similar vein, Herbert Marcuse, in his 1964 book One-Dimensional Man, describes a society in which, in his words, “…liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination. … Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves…”[6]

    Once H. Hussein is firmly planted in the Oval Office it is crucial to know your own place in this system. But given the level of Scots-Irish DNA in America’s history, this “snobbery” so beloved by our rulers, will be put to the test. Hillary promised Erdogan she’d “shame and blame and isolate” the troublemakers – what she did to that hapless film-maker to cover her dereliction at Benghazi is a portent of things to come.

    Let’s hope the blue-collar billionaire wins in November. Things might not change much but his victory will make our shackles seem lighter…

      • There are at least two wikis on Talmon. The one I cited on Totalitarian Democracy, and another that is based on the breadth of his work. I suggest reading either one to comprehend the whole. As I recall, on the sidebar of the first wiki is some good information on various kinds of government, with a breakdown of democracies in particular.

        We’re moving beyond our republican form of government in the US: right now it’s crony capitalism (that’s why the concerted push against Trump) but we’ll be an oligarchy soon – rather like Russia but without a strong man permitted to rule. They’re still fighting over the spoils too much to permit an orderly move to the next stage.

    • Another is ‘Participatory Totalitarianism’. Can’t beat it for the number of syllables.

    • Check out a book called “Inverted Totalitarianism”

      Lots of great points, even if the editing is sloppy.

  4. I reiterate previously made point.
    human communities are inherently hierarchical.

    as socium progresses from archais types of organization, the balance between hierarchy-forming forces changes.

    namely, one can count several such agents –
    – physical violence
    – intimidation by threat of violence or exclusion – blackmail
    – mythology based brainwashing
    – rejection of violence, free choice, trust, well informed decision-making,

    that balance defines anthropological model.

    “democracy” is simply a tool used to implement and operate a model, e.g. shift it in less damaging way.

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