This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Democratization of law

 “It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny…Although the political liberty of this country is greater than that of nearly every other civilized nation, its personal liberty is said to be less. In other words, men are thought to be more under the control of extra-legal authorities and to defer more to those around them, in pursuing even their lawful and innocent occupations, than in almost every other country…It is not difficult to trace the causes of such a state of things, but the evil is none the less because it is satisfactorily explained.”

~ James Fenimore Cooper[1]

Enamored with the idea that majority opinion will be right a majority of the time about the majority of the issues—or else how could anyone consciously adhere to majority rule?—the democratic mind tends, consciously or not, to start to associate truth and justice themselves with the opinion of the majority.

Thomas Jefferson is sometimes falsely quoted as having said “I would rather be judged by twelve farmers than twelve scholars.”[2] The quote is spurious, but it does accurately express the present sentiment of many Americans. What else could explain the construction of that most insane of all institutions—trial by one’s peers?

What madness would lead men to try and solve the most difficult criminal cases by pulling twelve amateurs—mechanics, grocers, carpenters, and housewives—off the street and forcing them to hear legal arguments they don’t understand and then have them present the verdict?

We live in an age when it is unacceptable to suggest that judgments ought to be carried out by persons whose vocation is specifically to judge, while the more admirable notion in the popular mind is that the judge ought sit quietly and wait to affirm whatever nonsense is produced by the proletariat, whom, out of necessity more than negligence, know very little about the law, which is always becoming more complex and mystifying. The idea of being tried by a jury of peers should be terrifying, not comforting.

[1] James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat (New York: Knopf, 1931), pp. 64, 141-42.

[2] Pundits such as Glenn Beck have made the reference on television, although it is uncertain who first invented the saying.

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