May 11, 2019

The Twit and the Pendulum; declining Faith in democratic republicanism

Timothy Birdnow

Selwyn Duke takes a long hard look at the falling popularity of democracy and republicanism in an article at The New American.

Selwyn states:

Yet human virtue — which includes prudence (wisdom) — is in general quite lacking, which explains why good government is so elusive. Example: The short Bloomberg article previously cited contains the term swung/swing three times, as in "power has swung between ____________________” (two disparate entities). This brings to mind a profound passage from G.K. Chesterton’s 1911 book Alarms and Discursions:

The whole curse of the last century has been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole dignity of mankind. When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when he is dead that he swings. But whenever one meets modern thinkers (as one often does) progressing towards a madhouse, one always finds, on inquiry, that they have just had a splendid escape from another madhouse. Thus, hundreds of people become Socialists, not because they have tried Socialism and found it nice, but because they have tried Individualism and found it particularly nasty. Thus, many embrace Christian Science solely because they are quite sick of heathen science; they are so tired of believing that everything is matter that they will even take refuge in the revolting fable that everything is mind. Man ought to march somewhere. But modern man (in his sick reaction) is ready to march nowhere — so long as it is the Other End of Nowhere.

And so today we have the "swing voter,” who gives us Democrats one election and Republicans the next, economic-freedom proponents one year and socialists four years later. I’ve met people who voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984 because they "liked” him and then voted for quite antithetical Bill Clinton eight years later because they "liked” him.

It makes no sense, of course, except insofar as it accords with the phenomenon of human emotionalism. For good economic principles — limited regulation, low taxation, encouraging productivity, and the government basically staying out of the economy’s way — remain the same no matter the year. They remain the same, and valid, even if the economy happens to take a downturn while they’re in force, in just the same way that the principles of proper nutrition remain valid even if (for some reason) one suffers some health problems while adhering to them.

A word from Tim:

You know, the difference between what we used to be and Latin America was always the Constitution. We had Rule of Law, and some things couldn't be overturned by elections. They didn't. Of course, we have now overturned the Rule of Law with judicial overreach and bureaucratic edict, and now we are starting to have the same problems as Latin America. Representative government becomes crony kleptocracy when law is malleable.

Also, the American experience was tempered by a strong Christian ethic which acted as a stabilizing influence. Latin America never was as religious as the U.S., partly because it retained many of it's pagan beliefs with a Catholic culture plastered over it, and also because of the way Latin America was settled; the Spaniards who came were there entirely to get rich, not to actually create a nation. The U.S. was different, a place for people looking to be free to worship God in their own way. We came to colonize, they came to get loot. There is a greater amorality in the Latin countries as a result. Where there is amorality there is instability. Everyone figures their views are what matter. In a more religious society the Will of God comes first.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 09:24 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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