It is generally assumed that liberal forms of government like parliamentary democracies and representative republics are middle-class in nature. That is, they require a strong and stable middle-class to come into existence, but they also foster the growth of a strong and stable middle-class. Because the bourgeois are conservative by nature, unwilling to risk their peace and prosperity, liberal democracies will tend to resist radical social experiments or take on great risks, like wars of conquest.
Of course, the history of popular government in the West strongly argues against those theoretical assertions. Not only has the West been racked by war, the peace that has existed for the last three generations is due to the imposition of empire. The Pax Americana is the result of the decades long stand-off with Bolshevik radicals and the final triumph of the American financial empire. In other words, the results of liberal democracy seem to be the opposite of what is predicted.
In fairness, one could argue that the last century of war and radicalism were part of the birthing pains of liberal democracy. Prior to the Great War, the West was still largely dominated by hereditary empires. Radicalism was the result of the prior age, born in the Industrial Revolution under the age of kings. The great competition for what would follow hereditary rule was the industrial wars and the subsequent ideological war, which was ultimately won by bourgeois liberal democracy.
This is the underlying assumption of Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man. The final triumph of the American empire of the Russian empire was not just the end of the Cold War. It was “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” He has since revised his opinion on the matter, in light of current ructions, but it is an argument you still hear from time to time.
It does not matter how you frame it, as the West is now dominated by liberal democracy and the bourgeois sensibilities that supposedly support it. Look around the political classes of the West and you will not find exceptional men. In fact, much of Europe is now run by frumpy middle-class women. What is remarkable about the ruling classes of the West is not their mediocrity, but their uniformity. Every politician says the same things and behaves the same way in office. It’s rule by automata.
The horror that has gripped Washington for the last three years is not about policy disputes with Donald Trump. It is mostly about style. Trump is garish and flamboyant in his words and deeds. He is not a man with bourgeois sensibilities. Instead, his tastes range toward the crude and the base. The bourgeois hatred of Trump is all about the aesthetic. He’s not one of them and he is not respectful of their thing, so they see him as a threat, a foreign object that must be expelled from the body politic.
Of course, this smug, bourgeois elitism is not limited to Trump. It has become an article of faith in Washington and throughout the ruling capitals of the West, that the hoi polloi is the enemy of democracy. The great caper to rig the 2016 presidential election was as much about thwarting the will of his voters as the man himself. Today, the political class in Washington is proudly undermining the basics of democratic order in the name of democracy. Something similar is happening to Boris Johnson in Britain.
Washington politics is now an endless squabble between mediocrities over trivial matters that distinguish one from the other. Because these people all fall within a very narrow band of general talent, what makes one stand apart from the other is little things that would normally be overlooked. In order to avoid that, they amplify these trivial issues and endlessly pick at one another’s small distinguishing features. The result is endless hairsplitting and backstabbing over persona slights and insults.
It turns out that bourgeois government looks a lot like everything else in bourgeois society, in that it is debate about how many mediocrities can dance on a pin. The reason for this is the great middle is not all that great. If we use the standard of IQ studies and say the average IQ in America is 100, that is the pole around which bourgeois society is twisted. The closer one gets to that number, the more representative of the whole. By definition, the middle-class is mediocre.
Further, the people who fall about one standard deviation above the middle are going to be the people who dominate the cognitive fields like law, polices, the media and the academy. That’s an even narrower band of people. Relative to one another, they are even more mediocre. Walk around a college campus and you are surrounded by people who never met a risk they did not take. The same is true in the political class. What’s remarkable is the near total lack of accomplishment outside of politics.
Critics of democracy generally point to the stupid getting access to the ballot as the main flaw of democratic systems. If for example, America only allowed males to vote, the political center would be somewhere to the right of Ted Cruz. If whites were the only vote, something similar would result. The argument from those very bad people who make such arguments is that we have 30% of the population not built to operate a Western style democracy. As a result, the system must fail.
Whatever truth there is to that, the reason for those conditions, for stupid people getting the vote and foreign people imported to vote, is the bourgeois political class, supposedly operating from middle-class sensibilities, made that choice. The decision to expand ballot access was not done by the king or the oligarchy. That was the work of middle-class people supporting members of their class in political office. The same can be said of open borders, where bourgeois demands for cheap labor rule the day.
The fact is, a precondition for a middle-class is an elite that will impose order and discipline that allows for the growth of a middle-class. The bourgeois was never intended to rule, rather they were built to serve. Put them in charge and you get what one would expect by putting the inmates in charge of the asylum. The resulting bedlam always requires a strong hand to restore order. This is why authoritarianism always seems to follow every foolish experiment with democratic rule.
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