This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Power as a necessary condition for humane governance

“The absolute ruler may be a Nero, but he is sometimes Titus or Marcus Aurelius; the people is often Nero, and never Marcus Aurelius.”

~ Antoine de Rivarol

That democratic movements tend to show more animalistic and violent tendencies is a point given far too little attention, and which could be easily proven by a study of persecutions carried out since the modern liberal regimes came into existence. Connecting the two significant examples of American history and the French Revolution, A.J. Nock observed:

The American mob’s grim reputation for sheer anthropoid savagery is equaled only by that of the revolutionary mobs of Paris. At the outset of the German Government’s movement against the Jews, an American visitor asked Herr Hitler why he was making it so ruthless. The Reichskanzler replied that he had got the idea from us. Americans, he said, are the great rope and lamppost artists of the world, known of all men as such. He was using the same methods against the Jews that we used against the loyalists of ‘76, the Indians, the Chinese on the Western coast, the Negroes, the Mexicans, the—every helpless people in fact whom we had ever chanced to find underfoot.[1]

And so it seems that Rivarol’s point was simply that, while it has been proven that the mob can do at least as much irrational violence as any absolute monarchy, often more, it remains to be proven that the mob can, through universal suffrage or any other means, produce figures such as St. Louis, Charlemagne, or Empress Maria Teresa—all products of hierarchical and authoritative institutions. Likewise, if we turn to the religious realm and apply the principle, we can see that the democratism of the Protestant movement has resulted in quite a few Christian leaders of mediocre influence (if we judge not by their momentary popularity but by their historical significance), but has produced no theologian or political character of the stature of Leo the Great, a Pius XII, or a John Paul II. Men will continue to speak of the great popes for hundreds of years—yet in a generation no one will care about Joel Osteen. Always and everywhere, we are reminded that the answer to evil is not the prideful denial of hierarchy or the cowardly attempt to deny the exercise of any worldly power, for both are necessities for higher human development and can only be denied at the cost of retarding human possibilities, limiting them to their lowest level; and we must remember always that at the lowest level the greatest evils are still possible.

[1] A. J. Nock, “The Jewish Problem in America,” Atlantic Monthly, June, 1941.

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