Outside of the various hives on the modern Left, it is generally assumed that the natural progression of democracy is toward some form of dictatorship. What starts as a sensible idea by sensible people leads to an expansion of the franchise to include a majority of people, who are not sensible. This inevitably leads to instability. The system first breaks down into factionalism and then becomes both corrupt and inept. The solution is the man of will, who will cut through the process and impose order on the chaos.
This is why the Founders were steadfastly opposed to democracy. They knew their history and their political philosophy. They also understood human nature. It is also why both sides of the Progressive order have rewritten history to have the Civil War as the second founding. Ben Shapiro cannot sing the praises of democracy if the authority to which he is appealing was opposed to it and to him. It turns out that democracy not only corrupts the present it must corrupt the past in order to legitimize itself.
One the problems with social cycle theory is it seems to blinker people into thinking that history not only repeats itself, but does so exactly. In the case of modern America, people think we are far away from Caesarism, because we have yet to have a Sulla. In other words, they assume the ascent into authoritarianism will follow the exact same path as past shifts from republic to empire. If present events don’t exactly fit the old template, then American has yet to enter that cycle, so there is no fear for an America Caesar.
This is a mistake, of course, as history does not repeat itself like a reboot of an old television franchise. Instead, the general pattern is repeated, but within the context of the age, along a different timeline. In the case of America, Lincoln was the Marius phase while the New Deal was the Sulla phase. Instead of a social war between the two, one phase ran its course, setting the ground work for the other, which in turn set off the process leading to where we are now. There’s no Caesar, but we see the signs of Caesarism.
For example, look at the general uselessness of the Congress. One party, the Republicans, are the sock puppets of global interests. In theory they represent the white middle class, the only people willing to vote Republican, but they are wholly owned by global enterprise. The Democrats, on the other hand, represent the spiritual aspirations of the global class. They feed at the same trough as the Republicans, but serve the female side of the global elite. They are the yin to the GOP yang.
This collapse of legitimacy results in a Congress that does very little. Instead, it relies on the Executive to do what it asks. The vast federal bureaucracy that Trump is struggling to operate is the real government of America. The FBI sedition scandal is a good example of the contempt with which the New Class holds the political class. They have no fear of either party in Congress, as they know they are powerless. Proof of that is the parade of people lying to Congress and never facing the consequences.
It used to be that defying the will of Congress had serious risk. Contempt of Congress was a weapon that could be used to put someone in prison. The last person that angered the Congress enough with their lying was Rita Lavelle. That was back in the 1980’s and she served six months in prison for contempt. Since then, Congress has been noticeably less willing to throw its weight around, to the point where the oligarchs feel free to lie in extravagant ways in front of House committees. They hold Congress in contempt.
What we have today is rule by a surprisingly small number of people. At the top is the global pirate class that owns the media, technology and finance. Under them are the lesser elites that rule over the academy, mass media, politics and foreign policy. This is the New Class, an elite within the bureaucracy that has a free hand in running the state, as long as they don’t anger their paymasters. At most there are a few thousand people controlling a few million person bureaucracy that runs the global empire.
Further evidence of this is what has been happening with Trump. The real power, the New Class, operating the executive bureaucracy, has no respect for him, so they happily do what they must to undermine his agenda. Instead of begging Congress to its job, he needs to figure out how to use the weapon that is the vast executive branch. Perhaps he is figuring it out, but thus far he has been unable to come to terms with this reality. The next Democrat president will not make the same mistake.
The Bolshevik Revolution was supposed to end up in a dictatorship of the proletariat, but instead resulted in a largely urban dictatorship of the nomenklatura, a term, derived from the Latin nomenclatura, meaning a list of names. The suggestion was that it was hereditary, rather than meritorious. Trotsky referred to it as a caste, rather than a class, as it looked more like the old Tsarist order, rather than something new. The managerial state described by James Burnham, has evolved into a similar sort of ruling caste.
This may be why we are now seeing similar displays of power that were seen in the old Soviet Union. The banning of books, the suppression of speech, the use of internal exile to intimidate dissidents, these are all features of the Soviet system now present in modern America. It could also be the result of minoritarianism, as both the Soviets and modern American see a disproportionate number of people in this ruling caste that are not part of the majority population. Therefore, they rule in fear of demographics.
Another point of comparison is how authoritarian rule that comes after some form of popular political system, whether communism or liberal democracy, is that it has firm control of the cities, but far less control of the hinterlands. Despite the mythology, the Soviet system was never able to fully control its territory. The Bolsheviks were reduced to weaponizing neglect, in order to keep the rural areas pacified. The American opioid epidemic is serving a similar function for the American New Class.
Again, historical analogies are never precise. The patterns we are seeing in modern America could also compare to a number of other historical examples. What matters is the macro pattern, where democracy inevitably leads to some form of authoritarian rule, based in the urban areas. That’s where we are now in modern America. The illusion of democracy has disguised the deep contempt the ruling elite has for the people, but that contempt is becoming more obvious. At some point, they will simply stop pretending.