The Death of Democracy
by El Inglés
A Question About One of Our Foremost Democracies
The legislative branch of the United States federal government is divided, as are many such institutions, into an upper and a lower house. The lower house, the House of Representatives (Congress), currently has 435 members, with each state having a number proportional to its population. The upper house, the Senate, has 100 members, with each state having two senators. Why the seats in the two houses should be apportioned differently is an interesting question, whose seemingly innocuous answer is of great significance.
Seats in the lower house being distributed amongst the states on the basis of population is an intuitively obvious arrangement: 10 times the population, 10 times the amount of influence in Congress. This requires no particular explanation. It is the structure of the Senate that requires that. Why should the smallest of states have the same influence in the Senate as the largest? Given that the structures of the Congress and the Senate were devised at the same time by the same people, why should a principle considered sound for Congress not have been applied to the Senate?
In effect, Congress considers individuals to be equal and insists that each of their votes is weighted identically, whereas the Senate considers states to be equal and ensures that each of them has identical influence, quite irrespective of their populations. This means that states with small populations such as Maryland have, on net balance, disproportionately great political power and that states with large populations, such as California, have disproportionately little political power. Now, this is clearly somewhat undemocratic in at least some sense of the term. So how did it come to be the case at all?
What Is Democracy?
Upon reflection, it appears to this author that the following definition of democracy is rather a good one: democracy is an organizational mechanism for allowing parties a) with divergent interests, but who b) wish to function as part of the same polity, to reconcile the divergent interests in a) to such a degree that b) becomes possible. Having defined democracy in this fashion as a mechanism, I am forced to conclude that it is a means, not an end, and that it therefore possesses no more intrinsic moral value than a truck or a pair of scissors, themselves devices for achieving certain ends. This point, probably contentious for many, will be explored in greater detail throughout the rest of the essay. It is helpful, in this vein, to observe the sheer variety of organizations that are not organized democratically. Militaries, government bureaucracies, corporations, NGOs, families, sports teams - the list goes on and on. If democracy is intrinsically morally superior to other decision-making systems, are we to conclude that all these organizational types are immoral because they do not use it?
I do not mean here to do down democracy. The point is simply that all mechanisms, be they physical or organizational in nature, have only a finite ability to accomplish their goals and that, when the challenges they face are too great, they will fail. More obviously, they will also fail to do things that they were never designed to do at all.
Consider a society in which everybody agrees with everybody about everything, in which there is simply no disagreement at all. Democracy is not only not required by such a society, it is meaningless in such a society. Any conceivable decision-maker or set of decision-makers drawn from the population will arrive at exactly the same conclusion in response to any and all issues. It makes no difference, therefore, how these decision-makers are selected or how they are held accountable for what they do (which they will not need to be, as everyone will always agree with whatever decisions they make). Democracy has no advantages, moral or otherwise, over an absolute dictatorship in such a society.
If we start to introduce disagreement into this society, what happens? At first, not much. When only minor disagreements exist, most policies will be very close to what most people approve of most of the time, and citizens will be able to grin and bear those policies that are not to their liking. However, if we start to introduce major, deep-rooted disagreements on matters of great importance, then decision-making mechanisms and the selection of decision-makers start to assume crucial importance. If the absolute despot who was tolerated when agreement was complete is still in place, he is going to start encountering difficulties when this consensus collapses, and his opponents will simply no longer have any reason to accept his previously unquestioned power. Only now does democracy start to present itself as a decision-making mechanism worth the time and energy it requires. In fact, it now starts to look indispensable, for how else can people live in peace and prosperity with each other if they feel that the interests of others are being prioritized over their own?
We see that democracy is only meaningful in, and only possesses any utility in, the context of disagreement. Moving from complete agreement out into the uncharted wilds of gradually increasing disagreement, the utility of democracy becomes more and more apparent. However, unhappily for us, this relationship is not a linear one. On the contrary, as disagreement increases, democracy’s utility passes through a maximum, and starts to head towards zero. Eventually its utility will become negative, which is to say that it will a) fail to enable people to live in peace and prosperity, and b) hold them together in a state of conflict, in a single polity, when they would be better going their separate ways. Of course, if they do eventually go their separate ways and become independent, then any new polities may again decide to conduct themselves democratically, with all the benefits this tends to result in. The point I wish to make here is simply that democracy stretched out to breaking point to hold together mutually antipathetic groups is worse than useless. One could, in principle, squash (politically speaking) all five Scandinavian countries together into a single democratic country. But what would be the point? The status of these five countries as separate countries despite their similarities and very strong historic and cultural links suggests that even relatively minor divergences of interests are best handled by independence.
A Closer Look At the Functioning of a Democracy
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I would like to consider here how democracies operate from a very particular point of view. I am not interested in the relative strengths and weaknesses of representative vs. direct democracy, or proportional representation vs. first-past-the-post systems such as we have in the UK. Rather, I am interested in the natures (zero-sum, positive-sum, or negative-sum) of the games that the multitudinous players in any real democracy engage in. To oversimplify for a moment: people participate, and continue to participate, in democratic politics because they consider it to be in their interests (individual or group), to do so. They do not do so because of some morally elevated commitment to the wonder-that-is-democracy. When times are good, they may think that that is what they are doing. But they are mistaken.
A healthy democracy is one in which two things are true: a) interactions between different constituencies within the polity are positive-sum in the long term, and b) participation in the democratic polity is positive-sum for all constituencies in the long term. These conditions are crucial to an understanding of democracy, so we will explore them with a concrete example of a simple game.
Let us imagine a coin-tossing game played between two people, A and B. A coin is tossed. If it comes up heads, A wins 10 pounds and B loses 5, if it comes up tails, the result is reversed with B winning 10 pounds and A losing 5 pounds. However the coin lands, there is a net gain of 5 pounds between the two players, which means the game is positive-sum. This satisfies the first of the two conditions for a healthy democracy, that interactions are positive-sum in the long-term.
What of the second condition? Are interactions positive-sum for all players in the long term? They most certainly will be in the coin is a normal coin. Both A and B will win half of all games, with every two games resulting, on average, in a win and a loss and a net gain of 5 pounds. However, if B can replace the coin with a two-headed coin and contrive to call heads every time, then the game, though still positive-sum, will result in an unbroken string of benefits for B and costs for A. Assuming A is not so dense as to fail to notice this, he will quickly decide that he must do one of two things: a) reintroduce an unbiased coin, or b) quit the game. There is no first-principles moral argument that could convince him that he should stay in the game as it is. Why should he? Is he a slave, to sacrifice himself for the benefit of B?
This is democracy in a nutshell. The democratic process, whatever its exact manifestation in a given case, is an attempt to ensure that the players in the game can all be kept in a democratic ‘sweet spot’ in which both conditions above are met. If they are met for all players in a particular democratic game, it can be expected to continue in an amicable fashion until such time as these conditions change. Note that it is not necessary for all players to benefit equally, a point to which we must return later when we answer the question we posed earlier about the structure of the United States Senate.
It is a simple matter to stitch together the two threads we have introduced so far: 1) democracy as a reconciling of divergent interests between parties who wish to live together, and 2) democracy as the maintenance of participating parties in a positive-sum sweet spot. Consider the following: If I think the minimum wage should go up by 50p and you think it should go down by 50p, then we have a divergence of interests. If the issue is decided through a referendum, we will have reconciled our divergent interests through democratic means. It is crucial to understand exactly what this means. The referendum is a zero-sum game; if you win, I lose. However, let us say that I am confident that it has been conducted fairly, and that I will sometimes be on the winning side in future contests. Let us also say that I do not begrudge you your victory, nor does it represent catastrophic damage to me or my way of life. Furthermore, our ability to amicably resolve disputes in this manner sets the stage for further productive and peaceful cooperation between us, which is a huge benefit for us both quite irrespective of the result of the referendum itself. This creates benefits for us both, with my benefit outweighing my loss in the referendum, thereby creating what is a positive-sum game for all players in the long-term. The referendum is zero-sum, discrete, and what I will call local, while the entire background game of democratic politics of which it is a part is positive-sum in general, positive-sum for all participants, open-ended, and what I will call global.
From this example, we can see that our two seemingly distinct concepts of what democracy-as-mechanism is are simply two ways of describing the same thing. Now that we understand this, we can start to consider more rigorously when and why democracy will start to run into difficulty.
The Connecticut Compromise
I left unanswered above the question of exactly why the upper and lower houses of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government are structured the way they are. Now we are in a position to understand. The answer lies in the Connecticut Compromise, hammered out at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, which sought to provide a more permanent constitutional basis for the United States than existed at the time.
The Connecticut Compromise was just that; it was a compromise between the larger and the smaller states over the nature of the U.S. constitution. It was not an attempt to create some theoretically pure and unsullied democratic polity that some alien super-intelligence could admire in all its perfection. It was not an attempt to realize democracy-as-ideal, which is what the common, reflexive notion of democracy always concerns itself with. It was an attempt, and an extremely successful one at that, to implement democracy-as-mechanism, which is to say democracy as a mechanism for reconciling the divergent interests of disparate constituencies by keeping them all in a democratic sweet spot.
The problem collectively facing the states in 1787 was as follows: implementing a ‘pure’ democratic system in which number of seats in the federal legislature was proportional to population would create a situation in which the smaller states (such as Delaware) would have virtually no influence at all. Though technically democratic, the resulting system could hardly be expected to be one favorable to Delaware, as essentially all decisions would be made by representatives of other states who had no particular reason to care about the interests of Delaware. This being the case, why should Delaware agree? The theoretical purity of the democracy so created would have no utility from the perspective of Delaware. Accordingly, unless we believe that the Delawareans had some sort of moral obligation to spend the rest of eternity as the doormat of the larger states, we must conclude that there would be no reason for them to accept such a system. And indeed they did not.
This ‘pure’ system was known as the Virginia Plan. The smaller states at the convention responded with the New Jersey Plan, which proposed to create a single house, with representation split equally among the states, each having the same number of seats. At this, the larger states baulked. If Virginia had, say, 20 times the population of Delaware, how could it settle for equal political influence in the single legislative house? How could individual Virginians? Each Delaware voter would have, proportionately, 20 times more influence than each Virginia voter, which could hardly serve the interests of Virginia voters. Such a system would be grossly unfair.
In response to this impasse emerged the Connecticut Compromise, in which the larger and smaller states effectively split the difference. There would be two houses, a lower house in which seats were distributed on the basis of population, and an upper house in which each state had equal representation, with each house having certain unique powers. This brilliant fudge has allowed the United States to boast one of the longest records of continuous democratic government in the world (we will sidestep the U.S. Civil War here out of deference for the sensibilities of our American cousins). However, the vote of a Delawarean is still worth, on net balance, more than that of a Virginian in determining the make-up of the two houses of the legislature. Is this not undemocratic in some sense of the term?
The answer is clearly yes, if one is concerned with democracy-as-ideal. But if one is concerned with democracy-as-mechanism, it is not obvious that this should be so. In terms of the local game between larger and smaller states, the smaller states won. Relative to population, Delaware has proportional influence in Congress, but disproportionate influence in the Senate. Virginia has proportional influence in Congress and disproportionately little influence in the Senate, and has therefore suffered a defeat of a sort. However, in the global game, both states have enjoyed the massive, long-term benefits of being part of a strong, politically unified state with a consensual politics and all the benefits that derive therefrom, resulting in all states being winners on net balance. Perhaps Delaware did ‘win’ in some sense. But the Connecticut Compromise kept all the players in the democratic sweet spot, and they are all, at least in this regard, still in it today.
We start now to see the problem with democracy-as-ideal. There is simply no reason to believe that, in any given case, a system created to implement democracy-as-ideal (however any given individual conceives of it) will even come close to implementing democracy-as-mechanism, and it is democracy-as-mechanism that allows democracy to work. Delaware was simply not morally obliged to sacrifice its interests to further those of Virginia. If Virginia wanted Delaware on board, then it had to give something up. This is real democracy. I can insist that Denmark and Pakistan should form a single democratic state with the Pakistanis winning every single election and referendum, and that the Danes are evil and undemocratic if they disagree. But unless the Danes are simply the dogs and slaves of the Pakistanis, there is no reason for them to accept this, however perfect a democracy some third party might believe would thereby be created.
Democracy-As-Mechanism and Tribalism
Democratic politics faces certain classic and acknowledged problems such as short-termism, slowness in decision-making, and the capturing of policy-making influence by special interests as described by public choice theorists. Ignoring these particular problems, I will continue to cut my own slice through this topic and ask how powerful democracy-as-mechanism is at accomplishing the goals implicit in our two (equivalent) definitions; reconciling divergent interests and keeping all constituencies in a democratic sweet spot.
Imagine we have two uninhabited tropical islands, and 2 million people to be distributed on them to create two separate countries. One million of these people belong to group X and one million to group Y. Groups X and Y are racially, culturally, religiously distinct, with quite different levels of technological, political, and economic achievement. We would like each of our two countries-to-be to operate on the basis of an amicable, democratic politics. This being the case, how should we divide our 2 million people up? Should we put half of each group on each island, thoroughly mixing up X and Y? Or should we keep the groups intact, putting X on one island and Y on the other?
If democracy-as-mechanism were infinitely good at doing what it is supposed to do, it would make very little difference how we split them up. However, I believe that no intellectually serious person could believe that to be true. We are fairly obviously going to improve our chances of having prosperous, functional societies if we put all of A on one island and all of B on another. Does this require explanation?
This brief thought experiment impresses upon us the limitations of democracy-as-mechanism. Reconciling divergent interests is obviously going to become more problematic the greater the divergence in question and the larger the sub-populations belonging to the divergent constituencies. Democracy-as-mechanism is not a magic wand, and there is no reason to believe that all divergences can be resolved in some amicable fashion, or that all, or even a majority, of constituencies in a democratic polity can be kept in the democratic sweet spot at any given time. This is why democracy-as-mechanism has the greatest potential to work well when the divergence of interests in a polity is minor, and the democratic sweet spot commensurately large.
The best way to maximize the chances of this being the case is to ensure that the population of the polity is indeed a demos, a group of people who feel themselves, on the basis of shared ethnicity, religion, language, culture, history, and narrative, to be a single people. I do not wish to romanticize such groups. There is no guarantee whatsoever that a polity inhabited by a demos will be prosperous, peaceful, or even democratic. The ever-present possibility of political, class, and economic strife should remind us that there is no panacea with respect to the human tendency towards division and conflict. My point is simply that many potential sources of strife are absent in a country-with-demos (such as, until recently, Denmark) that are worryingly prevalent in a country-without-demos (such as India), and that the task of would-be democrats in the former is proportionately easier than in the latter.
Note that this point is widely made and not considered controversial when the legacy of, for example, European imperialism in Africa is being discussed. Our unfortunate historical habit of splitting up huge chunks of territory by drawing lines on a map with a ruler has, we are told, created great difficulties for the states that have come into being as a consequence. Tribal groups have been thrust together and ripped apart at random, creating polities that, though supposed to operate democratically, have no chance of doing so in any meaningful way due to their lack of a demos. Taking mutually antipathetic peoples with no overarching civic identity, weak or strong, and expecting to reconcile their divergent interests with any set of policies at all seems absurd. Surely there will be no sweet spot at all on the democratic tennis racket, with all its strokes clunking the ball wildly out of court?
I am not qualified to form a conclusion as to the extent to which this problem is actually responsible for Africa’s troubles with democratic politics (and also not sure that African tribes are contiguous and concentrated enough to have their own states at all, though that is a separate matter). But it seems plausible that it is a very serious problem for these relatively young and fragile states, and theoretical considerations and the empirical evidence both suggest that it is so.
Why then, does this unobjectionable and relatively ‘right on’ argument (Africa’s problems were caused by the white man) become so politically radioactive when it is applied to European politics? Why is it that people who would be the most inclined to accept such an argument in the context of Africa will not accept it in the context of Europe? The reason is that the same idea cuts across two different taboos in completely different directions. For some, it is taboo to suggest that Africa’s problems are anything but the work of the white man, and such people will also be inclined to adhere to the taboo which states that the presence in Europe of ever-larger numbers of Third World peoples, most of them disproportionately criminal, parasitic, and ideologically subversive, can only be a blessing for the Europeans. Thus the schizophrenic conclusions, which make clear the unhappiness of the non-empirical mind.
For my own part, both political developments in Africa and in Europe (and, for that matter, everywhere else) are strongly suggestive of the weakness of democracy-as-mechanism in the face of disparate tribal actors in the same polity. With the same underlying dynamics, we would expect to see the same emerging problems. Are we not all human?
Third-World Tribalism in European Democracies
It is clear to even the most casual observer of human affairs that our species has a tendency to division and strife. I do not suggest that this is the totality of what human beings are; nor am I blind to the great cooperative efforts that we are capable of making. I simply claim here that any large grouping of human beings will find that it contains distinct constituencies whose interests are divergent and not always easily reconciled. Political stability and positive-sum interactions can hardly be taken for granted in any human context.
Sadly, their absence can be taken for granted under circumstances that are now prevalent throughout Europe. If an economically and technologically advanced country whose people enjoy access to great financial and social capital (capital they themselves created) starts to populate itself with racially, culturally, religiously, linguistically different people who hail from decrepit, miserable societies with little in the way of any sort of civilizational achievement at all, at a stroke a situation will be created in which democracy-as-mechanism will be incapable of reconciling the interests of all groups or maintaining all players in any sort of democratic sweet spot at all.
It will be intuitively obvious to anyone suffering from the contamination of untrammeled third-world immigration that this is so, but it is important to understand exactly why. The situation is clearest with respect to Muslims, so let us consider the influx of Somalis into Sweden. I must preemptively discount here the predictable objection that I am ignoring the huge ‘cultural enrichment’ enjoyed by the Swedes as a consequence of their rapidly-growing population of child-mutilators and tax-eaters. I would like to keep the discussion serious, and even the most mindless multicultural zealot will eventually realize that gang rape does not enrich its victims.
Every single interaction between Swedes and Somalis in Sweden is at best a zero-sum game, bar none. The enormity of the error the Swedes have committed in allowing Somalis into their country, the sheer mind-numbing magnitude of it, becomes clear when we consider this point carefully. Economically speaking, the Somalis are a huge drain, both in the sense of the direct transfers made to them and the costs of their crime and dysfunctionality. Their horrendous crime rates are part of a game which is zero-sum at best and negative-sum at worst. Simply by virtue of being in Sweden, the Somalis enjoy access to a degree of social capital that their compatriots will never, ever create in their ‘country’ of origin, social capital which has in effect been transferred to them from the Swedes, who now enjoy less due to the crime, pathology, and psychopathology the Somalis have brought with them.
This is bad enough. But even more terrifying is the fact that Sweden is slowly handing political influence to these people in the form of the franchise. Many Somalis are doubtless too far from the Swedish mainstream to consider voting, and others disqualified from doing so due to criminal records. Nonetheless, as the community grows larger and more organized, it will start to corral its votes more effectively. What can the Somali community be expected to vote for in Sweden? Why, the same things that any tribal and dependent population will always vote for: more welfare payments, more immigration from its country of origin, and more political concessions and ‘sensitivity’. Every single one of these things will represent a continuation of the zero-sum games already mentioned. And the ongoing immigration and higher birth rates of the colonizers will simply guarantee that the scale and severity of these games increase with time.
Note that each of these interactions is what I earlier called local. Strictly speaking, even a situation as hideous as this could keep the Swedes in the democratic sweet spot if there were some global interaction which was massively positive sum, with huge compensating benefits for the Swedes. But the exact opposite is in fact the case. Across Europe, mass immigration of hostile and subversive Muslim peoples is shattering the confidence Europeans hold in their elected representatives and political systems, destroying their sense of being in control of their own historic territories, and filling them with justifiable dread for what the future may hold. Muslims and Europeans are not exactly Delaware and Virginia, embarking on the great historical enterprise of building the United States of America together. All the global games are negative-sum in the long term for the Swedes, making Somali immigration an unmitigated catastrophe for them.
There is no democratic sweet spot between the Swedes and the Somalis. Nor will there ever be. The only remaining questions are how exactly things will get bad, and how bad exactly things will get. Democracy-as-mechanism is no more useful in reconciling the divergent interests in this system than a hammer is for sawing a piece of wood in two. If the Swedes had taken in large numbers of, say, South Koreans, who have proved to be model immigrants in the U.S., then the democratic sweet spot would have been large and easy to stay within. But they decided to be ‘compassionate’ with the world’s most degenerate people, and hurl their country out of a 10th-story window in the process. They may not have hit the ground yet, but they are approaching it fast. People who look at the massive influx of Somalis, Iraqis, and other Third World peoples into Sweden and see a happy ending for anyone should explain their reasoning.
The Death of Democracy
Needless to say, the franchise has been extended to alien and hostile peoples in European countries because this is the ‘right’ thing to do. By and large, universal suffrage is accepted in a completely reflexive fashion in the West today. It is one of the most important pillars of democracy-as-ideal as usually conceived. But as we have already established in detail, democracy-as-ideal is not what enables democratic polities to function and prosper. Only democracy-as-mechanism can do that.
Universal suffrage has worked thus far in the West because it has had a useful role to play in the democracy-as-mechanism that evolved to suit the political needs of Western countries. Smeared out to include alien, hostile, and tribal peoples, it will eventually force democracy-as-mechanism to fail. One cannot simply let political influence bleed away to civilizational incompetents who will suck all the marrow out of the bones of a country and then cry for seconds when the carcass is dry. The presence of parasitic Muslim peoples in Europe is an existential problem in its own right. Extending the franchise will simply hasten the death of the status quo, and democracy with it. When though, can we expect it to die?
It is important to understand that, though the status quo is being destroyed by the presence of Muslims, they will not be the ones who finally put a stake through its heart. Their presence destroys it, but they benefit from its continued existence, and will therefore try to maintain it. It will be the rage of Europeans that destroys it, so it will only be destroyed when a sufficiently intense rage exists. If the status quo is still in place, we must ask ourselves why a sufficiently powerful rage has not yet swept it away. There are several reasons for this, which we will consider in turn.
1. Costs per Person
The accumulated per-capita financial and social capital of European countries are, by and large, so huge that there is a great deal of ‘slack’ in the system. By this I mean that a fairly substantial degradation of that capital can take place before things will really start to bite on a personal level. We can be sure, even given the atrocious game structure between Swedes and Somalis as outlined above, that the Swedish people, on average, still enjoy a very high standard of living, even interspersed as their lives may now be with the occasional to-them-inexplicable piece of ‘cultural enrichment’. The withdrawal of the franchise from hostile Muslim aliens is the last thing on their mental horizons. The losers of a string of zero-sum games though they may be, they have still not suffered enough to want to change the system.
2. Switching Costs
The sheer scale of the upheaval that would be required to politically marginalize Muslim fifth columnists and devise a permanent solution to the problem they pose would be so vast that even many who understand the nature of the difficulties will tend to shy away from it. The unacceptability of a given state of affairs is not a guarantee that it will be changed. Just as an unacceptable utilities account (water, electricity, etc.) may go unchanged for some time due to the time and effort that would be involved in changing it (the switching costs, to use the technical term), unacceptable political developments will also go unchallenged for some time due to the costs that reforming the system would require. The costs of allowing the status quo to continue will have to become more severe than one might otherwise expect before a switch will occur.
3. Moral Intimidation
The initial response to criticisms of democracy-as-ideal on the part of a) those who really believe in it, and b) those who simply consider it to work to their advantage, will be to assert that the franchise is a fundamental right of all in a healthy democracy, and that it is fundamentally immoral to suggest taking it away from part of the population. As already explained, this is an assertion of the primacy of democracy-as-ideal, which will, in the long term, only ensure that democracy-as-mechanism fails. Intellectually serious people who propose to defend their countries against foreign invasion and infiltration will pay it little heed. But we are not all equally robust in the face of this moral intimidation, and its ability to cow and silence otherwise concerned individuals is considerable. Having your car incinerated by an Arab is annoying. But for many, being called a racist is a fate worse than death. I do not understand why such charges concern people one way or the other, but that they do is a reality that cannot be ignored.
4. Belief in a Turnaround
Lastly and most pathetically, we have hope and its eternal springing. Maybe ‘they’ (meaning the political class which created the problem) will now solve the problem. Perhaps the Somalis in Sweden will refrain from engaging in their usual criminal antics and perfect quantum computing technology instead. Perhaps the Iraqis will abandon the raping and molesting of Swedish girls and prove (or disprove) Riemann’s Hypothesis, thereby contributing to the general edification of mankind. Well, perhaps they will. But they seem to be getting everything they want out of Sweden already, despite their not-inconsiderable savagery and dysfunctionality. Why try to improve on a winning formula? A turnaround remains unlikely, but as long as people hold out for one, the rejection of democracy as it is currently constituted will not take place.
Readers may wonder why I decided to write such a pessimistic essay. After all, I have identified a problem without suggesting that there is much of anything to be done about it.
The scale of the collapse awaiting us in Europe is so vast, and the measures that we will be required to take so severe, that we should be asking ourselves right now what, if anything, can be salvaged of democracy on the other side. It is a sad truth that the existential crisis that Europe has brought onto itself in the form of Islam has not been ameliorated in the slightest bit by democracy as practiced there in the last sixty years. Enlightened dictatorship has rarely looked better.
Whether democracy, in the very long term, is a good idea or not is a question that will be asked more and more frequently in Europe as the crisis worsens. A committed democrat myself, I would like to suggest here that democracy is still just about viable if it is understood rather than romanticized. The latter task seems to have been taken care of already; this essay is my attempt to carry out the former.