The Problem of Democracy
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The Problem of Democracy is the first of Alain de Benoist's book-length political works to appear in English. It presents the complexity and depth which underlies all of de Benoist's work and which is often neglected by those who seek to dismiss him by oversimplifying or distorting his arguments. De Benoist shows how democracy is, contrary to what some critics have claimed, something which has been a part of our civilisation from the beginning. The problem, he says, is not the notion of democracy in itself, but rather the current understanding of the term which, instead of empowering the individual, reduces him to little more than a cog in a machine over which he has no control, and in which the direction is set by politicians with little genuine accountability. De Benoist proposes that effective democracy would mean a return to an understanding of citizenship as being tied to one's belonging to a specific political community based on shared values and common historical ties, while doing away with the liberal notion of the delegation of sovereignty to elected representatives. The type of government which is called for is thus a return to the form of government widely understood in Antiquity, but which now seems to us to be a revolutionary notion. This is the first in a series of volumes by Alain de Benoist which will be translated and published by Arktos.
case with many ‘experts’ hiding behind flowery and vague sentences, often in an attempt to conceal their substantial ignorance. De Benoist puts his description of democracy into a larger perspective and he observes its genealogy from a linguistic, historical and sociological perspective. The value of this book lies in the fact that it demystifies or ‘deconstructs’ the contemporary verbiage surrounding the notion of democracy. It helps us to realise how our own conceptualisation of democracy has
democracy’, George Orwell observed. This is nothing new. Already in 1849, Guizot had written, ‘Such is the power of the word Democracy, that no party or government dares to raise its head, or believes its own existence possible, if it does not bear that word inscribed on its banner’. This is truer today than ever before. Not everyone today is democratic, but everyone purports to be: there is not a single dictatorship that does not claim to possess a democratic spirit. The Communist
(and which one may imagine includes safeguarding the stability of the ruling system)? But if the former right excludes the latter, is there not a great risk of freedom of expression only benefiting those from whom the ruling system has nothing to fear, severely limiting the political choices open to the ‘sovereign people’? Besides, in the name of what may it be argued that the present system is so excellent that we have the duty not to try and change it? In the Federal Republic of Germany,
what happened instead: the working class has not come into power at all — and certainly not through elections. Rousseau proved more of a realist concerning the English system of which Montesquieu was so fond. He observed, ‘The English people thinks it is free; it is greatly mistaken, it is free only during the election of Members of Parliament; as soon as they are elected, it is enslaved, it is nothing. The use it makes of its freedom during the brief moments it has it fully warrants its losing
limited by the means at the disposal of other competing powers. The democratic game is rigged. In 1968, Richard Nixon’s victory in the U.S. elections cost the Republican Party 29 million dollars, and Ronald Reagan’s in 1984 cost over 40 million (about 25 million of which was spent on television and radio advertising). Serge-Christophe Kolm sums up the situation with the following bitter formula: ‘The surest way of getting elected with the majority of votes is to start by gaining the majority of