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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The patricidal offspring of Liberalism

To quote Gonzaque de Reynold once again:

Democracy…will devour liberalism, whose child it is. Liberalism from the beginning on felt that it would have to be the victim. Liberalism is generous and therefore weak. Democracy is jealous and therefore strong.[1]

We have already discussed the ideology of Liberalism and its doctrines: free speech, equality, liberty, representative government, universal suffrage, rights, free markets, etc. We can interpret modern democracy as the offspring of Enlightenment Liberalism, for although democracy is only one possible realization of the Liberal ideals, democratism is the inevitable manifestation of its doctrines with respect to the popular mind. Unable to respect the moderation and limits with which the early Liberals hoped to circumscribe their principles (the American Founders, for example, spoke of a Republic and not a democracy), the people carry their slogans with blind acceleration to their extreme ends. We may live in a nominal Republic, but the modern man thinks and feels and acts in terms of democracy. Thus, we can speak of a deep-seated democratism regardless of the presence of a structural republicanism.

Democratism is at the same time Liberalism’s caricature and conclusion. It exaggerates and brings to completion the aforementioned ideals which the Founders, through a prudent inconsistency, chose to carry only so far. Where Jefferson thought that all men could be educated men, and that all educated men could be disciplined enough to vote rationally, it was only when Liberal-democratism had matured in the common mind that America finally attempted to educate all those men and send them to the voting booths. Jefferson was willing to do neither, for although his principles seemed to dictate this, he was an aristocrat at heart. He had no intention of giving votes to his own slaves.

It is clear by the way in which those early Liberals shunned democratism that they feared it; it is as though they sensed that it would be their undoing. Gouverneur Morris, Founding Father and so-called “Penman of the Constitution” wrote to Robert Walsh in 1811: “History, the parent of political science, had told them [the framers of America’s Constitution] that it was almost as vain to expect permanency from democracy as to construct a palace on the surface of the sea.”[2]

There is, in truth, not too much danger in having Liberal sentiments, and in the past there were many noblemen and monarchs who had them. What doomed modern civilization was the extension of these sentiments to all men everywhere, not only as an optimistic attitude entertained by a superior about his inferiors, which could be healthy in a nobleman, but as an opinion of every man, however inferior, about himself.

From the moment Liberal sentiments became the preconceived notions of every man about his own nobility, goodness, and intelligence, there was born Liberalism, which could not but produce the mentality of democratism, and which could only end in the death of the original, somewhat healthy, liberal sentimentality. Liberalism was originally generous, but it could remain generous only so long as it was directed from the nobility toward the world. When it became the attitude of all of humanity toward itself, it became suicidal.

[1] Gonzague de Reynold, L’Europe Tragique.

[2] Jared Sparks, The Life of Gouverneur Morris with Selections of His Correspondence (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1832), III, 263.

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