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How Democracy Degenerates into a Dictatorship

In our last post, in this important series of posts, we looked at the inferiority of bronze democracy to the silver rule of law and golden despotism. Whereas both despotism and the rule of law suppress the fallen nature of man in society, democracy actually crowns and enthrones it by handing over societal control to the unbridled passions of the majority. We also learned in our last issue that democracy is not the child of Christianity, as most Christians believe, but was born in a pagan society with the same motive that brought about the Fall of man and the failure of Babel’s ill-fated tower builders. It was inaugurated and advocated by the ancient Athenians in an attempt to unite themselves in an all-out effort to make a name for themselves, not to glorify the name of God, the purpose for which man was created.


In this post we will show how democracy, far from being the champion of individual rights and liberties, as it is proposed to be, is actually, as the Greek Philosopher Plato argued, the worst form of tyranny—the tyranny of the majority. Another ancient Greek, Thucydides, the famous Greek historian, argued that democracy inevitably degenerates into the “rule of the foremost man.” In other words, democratic majorities always end up endowing the most popular populist of their day with dictatorial powers to champion the people’s cause. Whether it is seen in majority rule or in the majority’s elected ruler, the end result of democracy is the same, tyranny!


As we showed in our last post, modern-day democracy must be traced back to Pericles, the ancient Greek statesman who was unquestionably the greatest orator of his day. His masterfully persuasive rhetoric, by which he could get his legislative preferences passed and all personally disapproved of bills defeated, resulted in his procuring, for all practical purposes, political control over ancient Athens. One of Pericles’ political opponents, a famous Greek wrestler, wryly complained of his foe’s formidable rhetorical skills. He said of Pericles, “Whenever I throw him, he argues that he was not thrown and convinces the very people who saw him fall.”


As Pericles proved, and the world has repeatedly witnessed ever since, democracy inevitably leads to a cult of personality around its elected leader. Therefore, the real power behind democracy is populism, the belief that the majority’s elected leader is the foremost champion of the rights of the people. With such a moniker penned on him by the electorate, a democracy’s elected leader can get away with practically anything he does, as long as it is done in the name of the people. History is replete with examples of democratically elected leaders who usurped autocratic rule over society under the ruse of doing so for the rights and good of the people. No better example can be pointed to than the French Revolution, in which Madame Roland, one of the original revolutionaries, lamented, before placing her head on the block of the guillotine, “Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!”


Ironically, the divine right of kings, the European political doctrine that once justified monarchical absolutism by asserting that kings derived their right to rule over men from God, is replaced in a pure democracy with the human bestowed right of mandated political power given to the populace’s elected premier. Although a democracy’s elected leader does not mount a throne and wear a crown, he exercises immense political power over society. As opposition to the king was once equated to opposition to God, opposition to a democratically elected leader is equated to opposition to the people. It is under this guise that a popular leader of a democracy is able to sway monarchical power over an adoring public, a public blinded by the stardust in their eyes to their elected leader’s encroachments upon their rights and liberties.


Plato, who taught democracy was the worst of all tyrannies—the tyranny of the majority—also taught that “democracy originates when the poor win.” According to Plato, the poor “take little interest in politics” and only come to the democratic assembly to get their share of the loot. “Their [elected] leaders,” Plato maintained, “deprive the rich of their property, give some to the masses, and keep the rest for themselves.” Plato furthered argued that this championing of the poor over the propertied inevitably leads to the people defecting from democracy and becoming a bloodthirsty mob, which blindly supports its leader, because he promises them the redistribution of wealth, in his carrying out of unlawful confiscations and executions. In the end, the people’s elected leader “becomes a wolf instead of a man— that is, a tyrant.”


Alcibiades, a famous Greek military commander and politician, once disparaged democracy as nothing more than “an acknowledged foolishness.” Alcibiades’ sentiments about democracy were shared by Plato, as well as Plato’s mentor Socrates. According to Plato, Socrates observed that Athenian democracy insisted upon experts when building a house or a ship. If someone without expertise tried to give advice in such matters, the Athenian assembly, “even if the person [was] very handsome and rich and noble,” would refuse to listen to them. Instead, they would “laugh and hoot” at them until they were “shouted down” and either voluntarily withdrew from the assembly or were forcefully expelled by “the sergeants-at-arms.” On the other hand, Socrates observed that when it came to the important matters of state anyone was allowed to speak—carpenter, tinker, cobbler, passenger and shipowner, rich and poor, noble and commoner—and nobody was ever rebuked “for trying to give advice when he had no knowledge and had not been taught.” 


It was Winston Churchill who famously said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Did you know that in early America voters in public elections were required to be property owners and taxpayers? Furthermore, they had to pass a poll test to prove they were informed enough to cast an informed ballot. Our country initially understood, what it has long since forgotten, that only invested and informed voters could be trusted with their hands on the rudder of our ship of state. Today, unlike yesterday, the vast majority of the American electorate is uninvested and ignorant. 


The ignorance of the average voter in America today is absolutely appalling. He or she knows absolutely nothing about American history, civics, or our Constitution. What’s worse is that the average voter in America today doesn’t care to know. They feel no need whatsoever to be smart in the voting booth. Instead, they punch their ballot strictly according to their own self-interest, regardless of how detrimental their vote may ultimately prove to be to national interests. Our present-day plight at the polls reminds me of the words of Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”


When it comes to being invested in our country, much of today’s electorate is the opposite. Instead of contributing to government, many voters today are on the government dole. Almost half of our present-day population is on government dependence. Soon the majority of American voters will be counting on government largesse for their livelihoods, which will result in their ballots being punched on the sole basis of continuing public assistance. All of this has led our nation to the brink of financial collapse, which Alexander Fraser Tytler predicted to be the inevitable fate of all democracies.


“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.” (Alexander Fraser Tytler)


No openminded present-day American can deny the truth of Plato’s philosophy about democracy and Tytler’s prediction of democracy’s inevitable collapse over loose fiscal policy. Our national debt is soon to top thirty trillion dollars. Unbeknownst to most Americans today, our federal government’s current annual tax revenue is insufficient to fund our present entitlement programs and to pay just the interest on our national debt. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that our financial house of cards is soon to collapse. The only question is: “What will happen when it does?” 


Is America, as Alexander Fraser Tytler predicted, on the fast track to a dictatorship? After all, we’ve already witnessed the usurpation of dictatorial powers in the past by American presidents during actual or apparent national crises. For instance, both Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt usurped autocratic power in violation of the rights and liberties of the American people. Wilson did it during War World I and Roosevelt did it during the Great Depression and World War II. In fact, in Roosevelt’s case, were it not for congressional opposition to his “New Deal” and the Supreme Court ruling it unconstitutional, we would have ceased to be a representative republic and been transformed into a socialist state under Roosevelt’s rule. It was this socialist scare under FDR, who amassed more and more popularity and power during four terms in the Oval Office, that led to the passage of the 22nd Amendment, which limits all future presidents to two terms. 


More recently, we’ve witnessed President George W. Bush not only suspend our right to privacy under the pretense of protecting us from terrorism, but also nationalize our banks and industry under the pretense of preventing economic collapse, during the 2007 credit crisis. As Bush claimed at the time, “I’m abandoning free-market principles to save the free-market system.” Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, not only perpetrated the government takeover of our healthcare, but also usurped unprecedented dictatorial powers during his presidency, by forcing his socialist agenda down our throats by executive fiat. 


In today’s America, tyranny is accelerating at an alarming rate. Our government, under the pretense of protecting us from a pandemic, has suspended our Constitution, revoked our constitutional rights and freedoms, locked down our economy, locked us up in our houses, shutdown our businesses, shutdown our workplaces, shutdown our schools, and shutdown our churches. If you add to our present pandemic panic attack our pending and inevitable financial collapse, it’s hard to imagine what dictatorial power our government will soon usurp over us. How much more of a tyrant will the occupant of the Oval Office become when a desperate nation desperately turns to him as its savior in an imminent economic crisis that the Great Depression will pale in comparison to? Truly, Alexander Fraser Tytler was right, our democratic form of government is soon to morph into a full-blown dictatorship? However, it won’t be a golden despotism, which restrains man’s sinful human nature, but a sadistic one that embodies, emboldens, and empowers man’s unbridled sinful passions. God help us!

Don Walton