The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama pronounced that we had arrived at “The End of History”, and that capitalism and liberal democracy would now be the only global system left. But when I look at Europe today, I see democracies under threat because of an elaborate Eurabian bureaucracy and Islamic fanaticism. I see countries unwilling or unable to defend themselves against massive immigration/colonization.
Has democracy become too soft to function? Have we arrived at “the End of Democracy” rather than “the End of History?” What are the strengths and weaknesses of democracy? Are there other challenges to it in the 21st century than there were in the 20th century, and if so, what are they? What are the necessary conditions for a democratic society to work? These are massive questions. I cannot do more than scratch the surface of them here, but I’d still like to make an attempt.
One possible challenge to democracy is the resurrection of its traditional enemies, such as Fascism or Communism. Communist activists rallied in June 2006 in Berlin to pledge allegiance to the establishment of a strong, national Communist party in Germany. Proclaiming their contempt for “neo-liberal Capitalism” and the major German political parties, they declared their commitment to a “Socialist society,” nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Maybe Communism never quite died. A new DDR Museum in Berlin caps a trend of “Ostalgie,” nostalgia for the former East Germany that went mainstream in 2003 with the sentimental international hit film “Goodbye Lenin.” Critics claim it is trivializing the brutality and the oppressive nature of the old regime. German Historical Museum spokesman Rudolf Trabold dismissed the project. “There’s really no need for this museum,” he fumed. “The focus is too narrow. It’s on the level of ‘Goodbye Lenin’ -- it’s filled with consumer goods from the DDR but there is no context. It’s sort of like saying, ‘Oh, wasn’t it all nice?’”
These “neo-Communists” obviously haven’t listened to the wise words of F.A. Hayek in The Road to Serfdom:
“Observer after observer, in spite of the contrary expectation with which he approached his subject, has been impressed with the extraordinary similarity in many respects of the conditions under “fascism” and “communism.” “Even communists must have been somewhat shaken by such testimonies as that of Mr. Max Eastman, Lenin’s old friend, who found himself compelled to admit that “instead of being better, Stalinism is worse than fascism, more ruthless, barbarous, unjust, immoral, anti-democratic, unredeemed by any hope or scruple,” and that it is “better described as superfascist” ; and when we find the same author recognising that “Stalinism is socialism, in the sense of being an inevitable although unforeseen political accompaniment of the nationalisation and collectivisation which he had relied upon as part of his plan for erecting a classless society,” his conclusion clearly achieves wider significance.”
“Neither good intentions nor efficiency of organisation can preserve decency in a system in which personal freedom and individual responsibility are destroyed.”
However, the challenge to liberal democracy can also come from new and more insidious threats. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute notes that “transnationalism” and “Multiculturalism” are presented as unstoppable forces of history, but in reality they are “ideological tools, championed by activist élites.” He suggests that the end of the Cold War has intensified an intracivilizational Western conflict between liberal democracy and transnational progressivism, between democrats and post-democrats. According to him, the EU “embodies transnational progressivism. Its governmental structure is post-democratic. It is unelected and, for the most part, unaccountable.”
Transnational progressivism is undemocratic and authoritarian to its core. It presupposes the rule of enlightened “experts” and élite groups over the ignorant masses, who are stupid and should not be permitted to make important decisions without supervision. Its goal is to establish a benign oligarchy, where power will reside within smaller groups which will conduct their affairs out of the public view. This line of thinking is nothing less than a frontal attack on all basic principles of freedom and democracy, disguised under a benevolent façade. It needs to be exposed as such. Transnational organizations such as the European Union are a throwback to the pre-democratic age.
One of the most serious challenges to democracy in the 21st century is the unprecedented pressure from migration, and the fact that certain groups can decide to permanently change the entire demographic make-up of a country without public debate and without public consent, by simply refraining from upholding its borders. It has been called “the greatest demographic experiment ever forced onto a people politically.”
In the UK, before Labour came to power, the number of people leaving Britain roughly balanced the number arriving. Then Tony Blair’s government “embarked on a policy that will totally change the nature of many of the communities in which we live without consulting any of us.” “Labour has never formally announced that it is committed to increasing immigration indefinitely. There was nothing about increasing immigration in Labour’s manifesto of 1997, or of 2001, or of 2005.” Still, although Mr Blair’s government has presided over a virtual explosion of immigration, Blair had the gall to accuse the rivalling Tories of exploiting the issue. He attacked the way the Tories had linked immigration with racism in campaign posters. “It is an attempt deliberately to exploit people’s fears, to suggest that for reasons of political correctness, those in power don’t dare deal with the issue,” he said.
Even in the USA, the most astonishing aspect of the immigration debate is that the élites “think they can override the clear and huge resistance of the American people.” As columnist Tony Blankley wrote, the Senate was prepared to “legislate into the teeth of the will of the American public.” Eight out of ten Americans wanted the borders closed to millions of illegal immigrants, yet nothing substantial has been done. There has to be a reason for this.
There is also in the USA a dangerous drive for granting full rights, even voting rights, to illegal immigrants. In the Nordic countries — Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark — foreign citizens, though not illegals, are allowed to vote in local elections. As Roger Scruton points out, Western civilization depends on an idea of citizenship that is not global at all, but rooted in territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty. A nation that refuses to differentiate between citizens and non-citizens cannot survive.
It is more than a little ironic that people calling for restrictions of immigration are denounced as “anti-democratic forces” when it is the other way around. The most fundamental democratic right of all must be to decide who should be allowed to move into your home. Freedom of speech and immigration control should not be outsourced to faceless bureaucrats in Brussels or the UN. The people should decide who should be allowed to settle in their country.
UN bureaucrats from Islamic countries are influencing how we should manage our immigration policies, even our freedom of speech. This comes on top of the maze of non-governmental organizations and self-appointed human rights groups at home and abroad, always interfering in anything we do to maintain our own borders. Put together, this means that Westerners are no longer allowed to decide who should settle in their countries. This is decided by national bureaucrats in collaboration with Leftist open-border activists and the transnational, Multicultural industry.
Muslim immigrants want to first infiltrate established political parties, to ensure VIP treatment of Muslims and to keep the floodgates open to new Muslims arriving, and later to establish parties of their own. So far, this strategy has shown some success. They have also been rather successful at spreading terror in the West and instilling “fear into the hearts of the enemies of Allah,” just as the Koran commands. As Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina and other former Muslims have warned against, there is more evidence of an Islamization of democracy in the West than of any spread of democracy in the Islamic world.
I have warned against the development of a pragmatic alliance between Western Leftists and Muslims. Third World immigrants in general, and Muslims in particular, vote overwhelmingly for Leftist parties. This means that by simply opening the gates for massive immigration, Socialists can be certain of a net gain in future elections. This is a critical flaw in our societies, one that could destroy the entire democratic system unless fixed.
It cannot be dismissed as Leftist parties being merely “naive.” After a narrow election victory, Italian Socialists in 2006 almost immediately embarked upon expanding immigration and granting citizenship to tens of thousands of Muslims already in the country. At this point, there had been bombings in Spain and the UK, serious Muslim riots in France, murders of Islam critics in Holland and international mayhem caused by a few cartoons in Denmark. Italian Socialists knew fully well that similar problems were bound to result from Muslim immigration to Italy, yet they still went ahead with it. This is treason, pure and simple. Treason disguised as tolerance.
Is democracy compatible with Multiculturalism? Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt thinks Multiculturalism can only work under authoritarian regimes, naming Singapore as an example. A people must have some shared bonds and a shared outlook on life. Multiculturalism will pit various groups against each other, creating a pattern of democratic Balkanization once the minority groups become large enough.
Indeed, there is a possibility of such a tribalization of democracy even without Multiculturalism, with women pitted against men, and young people against old people in ageing countries with strains on the working population. Maybe the only long-term solution to this is to reduce the size of the state and limit the reach of state interference. The bigger the size and power of the state, the more friction will be caused by competing for the spoils, and vice versa. The state should primarily be limited to protecting individuals from each other, taking care of national defence and upholding law and order.
We need to return to the principle of negative rights enshrined in the US Constitution - the freedom from tyranny and oppression - and away from the principle of positive rights - the “right” to a job provided by the state, for instance. The latter creates a lethal mentality of entitlement.
In the excellent magazine City Journal, Heather MacDonald examines some of the dilemmas posed by illegal immigration, first of all the lack of respect for the law. “Illegal-alien demonstrators put forward a novel theory of entitlement: because we are here, we have a right to be here. Protesters in Santa Ana, California, shouted: “We are here and we’re not going anywhere,” reports the Los Angeles Times.” She balks at the widespread contempt for American law contained in such defiant assertions. “Today’s international élites seek to dissolve “discriminatory” distinctions between citizens and non-citizens and to discredit border laws aiming to control the flow of migrants.” “Immigration liberalizers wield the threat of mass deportations as the only alternative to amnesty. The attrition strategy—relying on illegal aliens to leave voluntarily as their access to American benefits diminishes—would work just as effectively, without coercion.”
MacDonald also points out that illegal immigration has prompted a powerful grassroots democratic reaction, and thinks that the solution to this problem is to “prefer local decision makers over remote élites.” Indeed, this is the very foundation of democracy.
Thomas Sowell has hailed the legacy of thinker Eric Hoffer, and notes that “Hoffer’s strongest words were against the intellectuals.” “Eric Hoffer never bought the claims of intellectuals to be for the common man. “A ruling intelligentsia,” he said, “whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed and wasted at will.” “Implicit in much that they say and do is “the assumption that education readies a person for the task of reforming and reshaping humanity -- that is equips him to act as an engineer of souls and manufacturer of desirable human attributes.” “Hoffer called it ‘soul raping’ -- an apt term for what goes on in too many schools today, where half-educated teachers treat the classroom as a place for them to shape children’s attitudes and beliefs in a politically correct direction.”
F.A. Hayek described in the 1940s the practical problems with top-down planning:
There need be little difficulty in planning the economic life of a family, comparatively little in a small community. But as the scale increases, the amount of agreement on the order of ends decreases and the necessity to rely on force and compulsion grows. In a small community common views on the relative importance of the main tasks, agreed standards of value, will exist on a great many subjects. Bu their number will become less and less the wider we throw the net: and as there is less community of views, the necessity to rely on force and coercion increases… To imagine that the economic life of a vast area comprising many different people can be directed or planned by democratic procedure betrays a complete lack of awareness of the problems such planning would raise. Planning on an international scale, even more than is true on a national scale, cannot be anything but a naked rule of force, an imposition by a small group on all the rest of that sort of standard and employment which the planners think suitable for the rest.
He also stated that we shall not build civilization on the large scale, and that “on the whole there was more beauty and decency to be found in the life of the small peoples, and that among the large ones there was more happiness and content in proportion as they had avoided the deadly blight of centralisation. Least of all shall we preserve democracy or foster its growth if all the power and most of the decisions rest with an organisation far too big for the common man to survey or comprehend. Nowhere has democracy ever worked well without a great measure of local self-government, providing a school of political training for the people at large as much as for their future leaders. It is only where responsibility can be learnt and practised in affairs with which most people are familiar, where it is awareness of one’s neighbour rather than some theoretical knowledge of the needs of other people which guides action, that the ordinary man can take a real part in public affairs because they concern the world he knows. Where the scope of the political measures become so large that the necessary knowledge is almost exclusively possessed by the bureaucracy, the creative impulses of the private person must flag.”
What should we label such undemocratic, top-down planning? The Rule of Experts, or the Tyranny of Experts? Or what about the Rise of Transnational Anti-Democrats and Stealth Fascism? I have warned against “Stealth Socialism,” Marxism masquerading as something else. Perhaps we should also look out for “Stealth Fascism,” the authoritarian rule of a small group of individuals, hailing the glories of an invented past as the path to a powerful future. All possible only if we give up our freedoms in favor of their enlightened rule, of course.
The idea behind this Rule of Experts is that the world is too complex for “common people” to understand, and that enlightened despots or, in their own eyes, educated experts, should run things. There are several catches to this theory. First of all is the contempt for ordinary citizens we find among many self-appointed intellectuals and “experts.” This impulse is, in fact, probably one of the most important challenges to the democratic system. The irony is that these “élite” groups honestly think that anybody opposed to their policies are “anti-democratic forces” and warn against their “populism,” what others call the will of the people.
I know from personal experience that the ones championing Multiculturalism and mass-immigration have been élite groups and those sections of the general public with University education. Those without significant higher education, however, have been consistently skeptical of this project. And they were right. The logic behind “hate speech” laws is that the educated people should hold the uneducated “mob” and their destructive stupidity in check. But what if some of the most destructive stupidity resides in the most highly educated groups? Who are going to keep them from getting out of control, if they cannot be criticized or stopped?
Those spending years at abstract studies can sometimes become too removed from the harsh realities of everyday life to understand their more down-to-earth compatriots and appreciate their problems. What’s more dangerous is that they may not even care. Unfortunately, some “educated” persons like to come up with elaborate schemes for restructuring the entire society, and tend to view ordinary people as little more than ants, guinea pigs to be used and abused on the road to Utopia.
Another problem with the Rule of Experts idea is practical. Hayek warned already 60 years ago against the dangers of planning on an international basis. Yes, the world is a big, complex and fast-changing place, now during globalization more than ever. However, this is, in fact, a powerful argument against leaving experts to run our affairs. The changes are simply too complex for any one individual to comprehend. Modern men suffer from information overload, we simply have access to so much information that we cannot process everything and decide what’s important and what’s not. The downside to planning is the Law of Unforeseen Consequences. Society cannot function if run by an unrepresentative élite far removed from the issues at hand.
The European Union as it is today is probably one of the most powerful arguments against international planning there has ever been. The system is set up so that the élites shouldn’t have to be bothered with anything as prosaic as, say, the will of the people. However, does it also expose some flaws in the democratic system?
How could a few, selected people decide in back rooms to launch a huge project of the transformation of an entire continent, without being stopped or even have this Project acknowledged in public? Is democracy just a sham, an act where the general public is allowed to make minor decisions while powerful people move behind the scenes to make the most important decisions? Or is it the very set-up of such massive, transnational organizations such as the EU that moves power away from the people and into back rooms and the corridors of power? Is the creation of Eurabia an indication of democracy’s flaws, or an argument in favor of revitalizing it?
What happened to the ideal of investigative journalism, being of the side of the people and exposing abuse of power? There are people in the media who are criticizing the EU. Ironically, many of them are Socialists who think there is “too much capitalism” in the inner market. Leftists will, however, never criticize the worst aspects of it, the promotion of Multiculturalism, Muslim immigration and demonization of Israel and the United States, since these things fit their own, ideological agenda. European media are brimming with anti-Israeli and anti-American articles, yet hardly any of the mainstream journalists are writing about Eurabia or even mentioning the term. What happened to the free press? Was it merely an illusion, or did it get lost somewhere?
In Scandinavia at least, it is a well-documented fact, not a conspiracy theory, that journalists on average are much more left-leaning, politically, than the general populace. Fjordman has claimed that this may, in fact, have determined the outcome of the general elections in Norway in 2005, a very tight race eventually won by a narrow margin by the Leftist coalition. The fact that Leftist parties also got more than 80% of the votes of Muslims in the country may have contributed, too. Norway’s media coverage of the national elections revealed a desire for a ‘red-green’ government, said Professor Frank Aarebrot. “Most newspapers are what I would call politically correct. Much of the tone in the major Norwegian media is there.” Nearly 70 percent of journalists vote Labor (Ap), Socialist Left (SV) or Red Electoral Alliance (RV) according to a poll, and this is reflected in the press, Aarebrot said.
We thus have a situation where the media represents one of the major obstacles for the democratic system to work, instead of being one of its safety valves.
To sum it up, here are some suggested preconditions for a functioning, democratic system:
|1.||There has to be a demos, a people with the sense of being a people with shared interests. Multiculturalism and massive immigration without assimilation could severely damage this demos.|
|2.||There has to be a genuine debate about the issues that matter. This is now severely curtailed in many Western countries for a combination of reasons. Leftist activists are promoting formal and informal censorship of critical issues, and the media isn’t functioning as a counterweight to the political élites because, in many cases, the journalists are a part of these élites and share their political goals.|
|3.||There has to be a mental connection between those implementing policies and the people they are supposed to serve. And the general public must have a genuine possibility of removing those officials who are not following the popular will. With the growth of supranational institutions, there are now many people in the élite groups who feel little connection with the people or the nation states they are technically supposed to serve. Their people are just stepping stones to their international careers. They are anyway both physically and mentally so removed from ordinary people that they may not understand their concerns even if they cared about them, which they frequently don’t.|
|4.||No major presence of Muslims. Islam is toxic to a democratic society, for several reasons. One is the fear of physical attacks against anybody criticizing the Islamic agenda, thus destroying any possibility of a free, public discourse. Another is the resentment caused by Muslims asking for separate laws and “special treatment,” as well as the violence and harassment of non-Muslims which is always part and parcel of Jihad.|
|5.||The country must be able to control its own borders, and immigration must follow popular will. A nation that does not discriminate between citizens and non-citizens is destined to die.|
The scary thing is, when I look at this list, in Western Europe in particular hardly any of these necessary preconditions for a democracy are currently present. We are no longer citizens, we have become subjects, without genuine influence over the future of our countries and mere spectators to destinies others have chosen for us. We are citizens if we have genuine influence over what our tax money is spent on. We are subjects if we just pay taxes and somebody else decides what to do with this money, without consulting us on major issues.
What to do about this situation? Some possible remedies have been suggested by Anthony Browne: “Free speech could be protected with an equivalent of the first amendment in the US Constitution. The state should not try to censor or criminalise any speech unless it is a direct incitement to violence.” “The oligarchy of political correctors can be curbed by the introduction of direct democracy, such as the citizen’s initiatives so popular in the US. Within any legislative area, a binding referendum should be called on any proposal if supported by a certain percentage of the population, so long as the proposal doesn’t infringe the basic liberties of individuals, and is fiscally neutral (otherwise people always support tax-cutting measures).”
“Such citizen’s initiatives directly return power to the people, protecting them from being steam-rollered by an élite in hock to political correctness, for example on issues such as the right to defend yourself against intruders in the home, or curbing mass immigration.” “Citizens’ initiatives are likely to prove very popular and create a far more motivated, less passive and less easily patronised citizenry. Once practiced for a few years, it would be very difficult for a future politically correct government to unravel it, for fear of voter retribution.”
Browne is right: Political Correctness and ideological censorship need to be confronted head-on by getting rid of hate speech laws.
We need to re-establish national control with our borders and genuine, democratic control over immigration. If we have to withdraw from some of the international agreements favored by transnational progressivism, so be it. The situation as it is today simply isn’t sustainable. For Europeans in particular, it means scrapping the entire European Union in its present form, which is specifically designed to take power away from the people. Maybe it can be replaced by a free trade zone, but this must not include goals of completely abandoning national border controls.
Above all, we need to completely stop, and preferably reverse, Muslim immigration, as a significant Islamic presence is toxic to any democratic society.
It is difficult to see what to do about the media, except for simply refusing to buy and fund the most “politically correct” ones. People know they need to protect themselves against diseases. Maybe we need to protect ourselves against mental diseases, too.
We need a slogan: “Political Correctness is mental AIDS. Wear an intellectual condom. Use the blogosphere.”