Democratic Enthusiasm

Here’s some very timely food for thought from C.S. Lewis:

A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they though mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government.  The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true.  And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure.  I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself.  I don’t deserve a share in the governing of a hen-roost, much less a nation.  Nor do most people–all the people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumors.  The real reason for democracy is just the reverse.  Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.  Aristotle said that some people were fit only to be slaves.  I do not contradict him.  But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

~C.S. Lewis, “Equality,” in Present Concerns (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1986)

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