Saturday, November 11, 2006

The death of democracy

The congressional elections in the US are finished. The Dutch parliamentary elections are coming up. Time for some thoughts on the matter. I often feel uncomfortable with democracy. The way I've seen it in operation it often seems to work against Christianity. Having said that I also admit to feeling a bit uneasy with this uncomfortableness. It's politically incorrect to have qualms about democracy. So I did some thinking on it and here is my analysis, or rather, here I offer my musings.

There are basically two kinds of democray in the West historically speaking. When democracy was first conceptualized it was embedded in a framework of absolute morals. There was a foundational belief in a transcendental moral good. This democracy operated with fixed moral guidelines that were not to be altered. The subject matter of democracy concerned itself with the practical gouvernance of the state with the means of these moral principles. The application or consequential structuring of society by these principles was what democracy was all about instead of relying on the whims and fancies of a potentially immoral monarch. Democracy had as its aim to bring morality back at the center.

The other kind of democracy which has developed during the first half of the 20th century has made morality subject to the democratic process. It is a form of democracy which ultimately has its roots in naturalism or a materialistic view of the universe in which morality is relative and situational. In the first one there is no discussion whatsoever about truth, morality, the intrinsic value of the human being andsoforth as they are seen as fixed by a transcedental source. In the second basically everything is up for grabs as soon as the majority of the public is ready for it.

The second form of democracy has become a platform for the naturalistic ideology and thus has transformed itself into a battleground for opposing worldviews: the theistic Judeo-Christian worldview versus a relativistic worldview.

It needs to be said that the reason why the 2nd form of democracy could come into existence lies in the fact that the first one already lived on borrowed capital. I.e. its foundational principles were based on an optimistic epistemology that characterized much of the Enlightenment. The epistemological despair so central to post-modernism has introduced moral relativism in the political arena.

Now given this fundamental change from the first form of democracy to the second, from working within the parameters of a fixed moral framework to an extension of the democratic process to the realm of ethics and morality, one would expect a considerable amount of discussion going on about the difference beween worldviews. That is a discussion between a worldview of moral absolutes and one that holds to moral relativism. What we see instead is a tremendous degree of confusion and hardly any discussion if at all on this all important topic. Rather we find pro lifers pitched against pro choicers, environmentalists against those who oppose environmental measures. Politicians reiterate their points of view in a cloud of unknowing.

What are the consequences of this shift in democracy? First of all politics has become utterly boring if not trivial. Most political statements are merely statements in mid-air and are not part of a thought system built from the ground up. They talk well, these politicians, but they are blind guiding the blind. Moreover most of the political views expounded, however different they may seem to be from each other, are often part and parcel of the same underlying worldview based on moral relativism. I haven't met a politician willing to think through the consequences of his naturalistic worldview, or consciously basing his political agenda on such a worldview.

Secondly democracy is bound to collapse sooner or later. If not by the insurmountable worldwide threats like terrorism or environmental hazard then by the increased corruption and moral decay in the West. In any case with morality being made subject to the democratic process it is the majority in our nations that will decide on the ethical course that we take. The majority as of old will only want 'bread and games'. To be entertained is the higest good. Democracy thus becomes descriptive of a civilization's moral decay. Eventually these democracies will lead to annihilation or turn into dicatorships. Democracy has turned on itself.

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