Saturday, March 13, 2010

Isabel Paterson on Democracy

But democracy is a collective term; it describes the aggregate as a whole, and assumes that the right and authority reside in the whole, though derived from the adult condition of the individuals comprised. Then it must be supposed that at an unknown moment by an unknown sanction and for no reason whatever such right and authority was irrevocably transferred from the individuals to a group which is nothing but a numerical sum, or particles merged into mass. The authority then is not in any part, nor is any part of it in any part of the mass.

Thus democracy resolves into pure process, and even the process is fictitious, for individuals cannot actually merge, though a group can exercise the function of mass for a given purpose at a given time, by inaction, a negative. The fictitious process imagined as operating in democracy is of a physical and mathematical and non-moral order, beginning with an arbitrary number delimited by accident of residence or descent. (…)

But the American axiom asserted political equality as a corollary of the inalienable right of every man to liberty. Democracy was inadmissible because it must deny that right and lapse into despotism, as it has always done. It does so abstractly, by its own logical contradiction; and in practice because logic is a statement of sequence. It is not liberty and equality that are incompatible, but liberty and democracy.

The distinction is that between a principle and a process; the confusion arises from an unwarrantable identification of a negative proposition with a positive. It is falsely assumed that when the claim of the few to command the many is refuted, the converse claim of the many to command the individual is proved. This is quite untenable except in strictly materialistic terms; and in those terms, right must be ruled out altogether. Right as a concept is necessarily opposed to force j otherwise the word is meaningless. (…)

But in reason, if one man has no right to command all other men—the expedient of despotism—neither has he any right to command even one other man nor yet have ten men, or a million, the right to command even one other man, for ten times nothing is nothing, and a million times nothing is nothing.

The material objection to democracy is that it has no structure, the practical defect corresponding to the moral defect. Gravity determines the movements of an aggregation of separate particles over a given surface - with every disturbance each particle is subject to the discontinuous hazard of chance - if a number of them move together under the same impulsion, it is as dislocated mass. Active difference of opinion in democracy is either the detachment of a particle or dislocated mass. As Madison said, "it affords no remedy for the evils of faction." Faction is fragmentary mass, the several fragments being thrown into collision by whatever force occasioned the cleavage.

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