The Triumph of Socialism Over Liberal Democracy

Over the 19th and 20th-centuries, liberal democracy and free market capitalism together raised the West from the poverty and backwardness that had characterised it, to the level of wellbeing and technological development that distinguish it today.

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socialism

Throughout recorded history, Western societies have been ruled by an elite minority of the population, with the majority excluded from all power. Authoritarian minority rule prevailed right up to the effective end of feudalism in the 19th century, and was characteristic even of Ancient Athens, where democracy is popularly understood to have originated. In 6th century Athens, political sovereignty vested in free male citizens only. All females, non-citizens, and slaves – the great majority of inhabitants – were excluded from power.

Liberalism

By the late 18th century, however, a combination of factors in the West resulted in the widespread moral rejection of the concept of minority rule, and the French and American Revolutions effectively brought it to an end. The development of the scientific method in Europe over the previous 300 years played the major role in this process. It did so by leading people gradually, through its scientific and technological successes, to a preference for secular, rather than spiritual and supernatural explanations of phenomena.

As a consequence, over time the spiritual claims of access to a higher moral authority, on which all forms of minority rule, such as monarchy, are based, increasingly lost credibility.

The subsequent rejection of minority rule led, understandably, to some conflict as to what political system should be instituted in place of it, that would secure the mass’s newfound freedom.

By the 19th century, the opposition to minority rule had found rational expression in the purely secular political ideology of classical liberalism. This pragmatic and highly individualistic philosophy, recognising the vulnerability of the new anti-authoritarian political concept, strongly advocated the necessary acceptance and tolerance of the difference and diversity of opinion among people, as a prerequisite for the concept’s survival. To secure and maintain maximum personal freedom for the individual, it further advocated the necessity for small and limited government, the constitutional protection of the individual’s fundamental political rights, regular free elections, and the rule of law, among other things.

In respect of the economy, classical liberalism had from the late 18th-century supported the new and highly productive free market capitalism against the old mercantilist feudal economy.

Over the 19th and 20th-centuries, liberal democracy and free market capitalism together raised the West from the poverty and backwardness that had characterised it, to the level of wellbeing and technological development that distinguish it today. This was achieved essentially through the creativity released by the maximisation of individual freedom, and the opportunity to express that freedom economically, made available to each individual in society by the new political and free market economic dispensation.

By the 20thcentury, classical liberalism had come also to advocate an expanded democratic concept of the political equality of all humans, including females, thus creating the modern Western liberal democratic form of government. This was realised fully only in 1971, when the vote was finally granted to females in Switzerland, the last country in Europe to do so.

The combination of classical liberalism and democracy was the most logical alternative to the concept of minority rule, holding that henceforth all people were to be held as morally equal, and political power, or sovereignty, was to be vested equally in each and every individual, rather than in one particular individual (such as a dictator, monarch, or pharaoh) or one particular group of people (such as an aristocracy, a religious order, or a superior caste). The people were to rule themselves, and organise socially in a just, civilised, and productive manner, rather than being ruled and controlled by some self-serving elite.

Like classical liberalism itself, liberal democracy was secular and highly individualistic, in contrast to the collectivist, authoritarian, and faith-based nature of minority rule.

Socialism

The only significant other Western political ideology to develop in the 19th century, following the collapse of feudalism, was socialism.

While using the term “democratic” to describe itself, it was in fact authoritarian, with its fundamental objective being spiritual rather than secular. Its aim, after the collapse of feudalism, was not to maximise the new-found individual freedom, but rather, through the mass political acceptance and implementation of its dogma, to create an ideal and highly moral society on earth.

This society would supposedly be egalitarian, and free of the imperfections that socialists believed had hitherto alienated humanity from itself, preventing it from attaining complete harmony and happiness. To the socialists, innate human characteristics, such as greed and low empathy, were perceived as spiritual failures, rather than as normal, if negative, behavioural defects, and society had to be reordered economically so that such defects were eliminated, before humanity could live harmoniously.

Rather than proposing positive ways and means of enhancing the political freedom and the standard of living that classical liberalism and free market capitalism had brought post-feudal society, the socialists instead focussed on the negative, deploring the greed and the material inequality that capitalism encouraged and tolerated. They completely ignored the infinitely greater inequality and the poverty that it had rescued Western society from, and were of course ignorant of the collectivist nightmare that socialism’s ultimate objective, communism, was to bring those societies that fell under its moralistic spell in the 20th century.

Socialism shares many of the characteristics of religion, despite socialists’ attempts to accommodate it to the secularity that was increasingly overtaking religious belief in the 19th century, by designating it as “scientific socialism”.  People’s innate desire to give precedence to the spiritual over the secular, as most are predisposed to, was assisted by this obfuscating designation.

From the political viewpoint, socialism is simply another, rationalised form of authoritarian minority rule, seeking to secure power once again for a select, controlling minority that dogmatically believes it knows what is best for all of society. Anyone who opposes socialism is deemed to be not simply factually wrong, but in moral error, and therefore in a state of sin.

In contrast, classical liberalism is a pragmatic political ideology that accepts the obvious imperfections in human nature as being inherent and natural, and as something that have to be taken into account when establishing the form that government should be given, rather than as qualities that can be eliminated from human society.

Triumph of socialism over liberal democracy

Despite liberal democracy’s extraordinary success from about the year 1800 in maximising individual human freedom and wellbeing, the innate human collective predisposition towards spirituality and mysticism that had facilitated minority rule for all of previous human history, once again appears currently to be prevailing over the West’s brief experiment with rationality.

From as early as about 1900, Western society started abandoning the secular, pragmatic, laissez faire, and highly individualistic classical liberal political and economic principles that had been the source of its extraordinary political and material success.  Via the collectivist concept of the welfare state, and with the professed spiritual objective of creating a socially just, egalitarian society, the mystical and putatively benevolent socialist worldview has gradually come to replace the secular liberal democratic ethos in the Western public mind.

While popularly viewed as a progressive step towards a higher level of civilisation, the process is indicative rather of a return to minority rule, being characterised by the spiritual and moralistic type of thinking that has historically facilitated the control of society by one minority group or the other.

As a purely secular political ideology, liberal democracy views morality as an evolutionary product of the human mind. Socialism, on the other hand, as a spiritually-motivated political ideology, views morality not simply as an evolutionary product of the human mind, but as an objective spiritual existence transcending humanity, much as Christians view it.

The relevant difference between the first two conceptions, is that in the case of the liberal democratic conception, anyone who violates a moral code has committed a human moral wrong. In the socialist conception, they have done far more than this, and have committed a wrong that violates not just secular human moral values, but supposedly objective and transcendent spiritual values, as implied by socialist ideologues. They are not simply in moral error, but in a spiritual state of sin. They cannot simply be forgiven by other mortals, but have somehow to seek spiritual redemption.

The current Critical Race Theory (CRT) conception of racism illustrates this mystical way of thinking well.

The various forms of minority rule have in the past been justified morally by those in authority by means of a faith-based belief system that supposedly derives its moral authority from a non-secular and transcendent moral code, of which the ruling elite is mystically aware. Liberal democracy, on the other hand, is an anomaly in regard to morality, viewing it as being fully secular.

Since it appeared in the late 1700s, however, liberal democracy has been shadowed in the public mind, and through the centuries, by the regressive and mystical spectre of socialism, and by related forms of spiritual collectivism such as communism, neo-Marxism, fascism, and now CRT. In contrast to the positive attitude of individualistic liberal democracy, each of the collectivist ideologies is, like the religions, founded on a negative belief that, spiritually, there is something seriously wrong with society, that can be corrected only by the application of the ruling minority’s particular moral dogma.

It would seem that humans are not yet entirely comfortable with the implications of unmitigated secularity. They clearly need to believe in something spiritual that seemingly transcends their incomprehensible humanity, regardless of its improbability, and the cost to their individual freedom.

With the demise of liberal democracy, it remains to be seen exactly what form the coming iteration of minority rule will take.

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2 comments

  1. Rory Short Reply

    Spirituality and science are not opposed to one and other. Religion because it dogmatises spirituality tends to fall foul of science.

    Both science and spirituality share a common objective, the truth. Science uses the scientific method in it’s pursuit of truth. Spirituality uses intuition in it’s search for truth. I’m a Quaker and we base our spirituality on the experience that we share in our silent meetings for worship. Meetings for Worship require participants to share absolutely no dogma, they just have to enter the collective silence with an open heart and mind and see what happens for them.

  2. Johan Reply

    This is the pot calling the kettle black. Liberalism is no less dogmatic or spiritual than its bastard child socialism. It never ended minority rule, only created a new more opaque system of minority rule.


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