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).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

General remarks

“The cause of democracy’s stupidities is confidence in the anonymous citizen; and the cause of its crimes is the anonymous citizen’s confidence in himself.”

~ Nicolás Gómez Dávila

“For monarchy to work, one man must be wise. For democracy to work, a majority of the people must be wise. Which is more likely?”

~ Charles Maurras

Tell the average American that political parties are toxic, and you may get a nod of tentative agreement. Suggest that voter misinformation is a serious impediment to functional government, and you may again find some common ground. But if you then suggest that these problems are rooted in the very nature of democracy, then you will meet, and best, a confused stare and the sound of crickets.

Here in the age of freethinking individualism, we are led to believe that no doctrine is beyond doubt and no person beyond criticism. Our government officials are readily disrespected, or at least viewed with suspicion. Even in the most patriotic social circles, even amongst the ‘good ole boys’, we aren’t surprised to hear talk about shooting the President if he is not the candidate these ‘patriots’ voted for. In our democracy, then, we are willing to call everything into question—except democracy itself. The ideal of democratic government, we treat as dogma—in fact it might be the only dogma we have.

The purpose of this section is not to paint a picture of democracy as always, everywhere, and in every form, an evil. It is rather to offer criticism of it—to round out the picture—because if we cannot acknowledge the weaknesses of our own system, then we render ourselves incapable of facing any problems that might be rooted in the system itself; and indeed it turns out that, after some honest reflection, most of our contemporary problems are of just that nature.

Democracy is only bad, or only becomes bad, when it is built around a misguided idea of what it means to be human, and when it becomes so revered that it escapes all forms of critical reflection. At that point, it becomes what we could describe as a superstition, because a superstition is an activity or belief that continues even when those who practice it no longer understand its nature, purpose, beginning, or limits.

The traditional world was not necessarily set against democracy.  It simply believed that such a system did not provide the most effective means for achieving peace, supporting personal autonomy, and facilitating the pursuit of the good life. In the medieval period, the preference was for monarchy. At other times, aristocracy was the norm. Always there were elements of democratic thought incorporated into the system, insofar as this was practicable.

Modern regimes, on the other hand, hold democracy in highest regard. Furthermore, we hold every other possible political system in disgust, and in this way we are much more rigid and narrow than our ancestors, since they made efforts to compare, discern, and synthesize positive aspects from all political forms.

Thus, if we single out democracy for critique, it is not so much because the traditional world had no room for it, or because we consider it an unqualified evil, but because the Liberal world where we live today seems to have room for it and nothing else. The modern Liberal-Democratic world is intolerant to an unprecedented degree when it comes to political options, and this narrowness is disturbing. If we can figure out why we have settled into this dogmatic insistence on the democratic ideal as the only ideal worth considering, then we will have learned something.

A second reason to engage in a study such as this, even though the first alone is sufficient justification, is that if you cannot take seriously any alternative point of view other than your own, then you are a bigot. A Western Christian who cannot imagine a sincere Hindu, one who takes his own religion as seriously as any saint, a Hindu who loves truth and who is therefore deserving of respect as a fellow pilgrim seeking after God—then this Christian is a bigot. In the same way, the Westerner who cannot imagine a monarchy without automatically inferring backwardness, tyranny, ignorance, and injustice, is blind both to the insufficiencies of his beloved democracy and to the strengths of the various alternatives.

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