Democracy without Morality
for Individuality is Despotism.
At a time when our own Prime Minister says that
IS NOT A NECESSARY ATTRIBUTE FOR POLITICIANS
while his close buddy across the
ocean is capitalising on his Victory, which was the result of the support of
the MORAL MAJORITY. We have also the recent acrid comment of the Home Secretary
with regard to Individualism.
look to the past to William Temple the then Archbishop of York and later
Archbishop of Canterbury who was enthroned on the 23rd April 1942 a
day most of us know as St. George’s Day and the birthday of our
greatest poet William Shakespeare, to reply with his 1927 Essay: -
ITS CLAIMS AND PERILS
Democracy was regarded by many English folk before the war
(1914-18) as something so established and assured that neither its
claims nor its perils received very much consideration.
tended to suppose that the most “advanced “ nations meaning, of course,
ourselves and those whose political constitutions most nearly resembled ours-
had adopted Democracy once and for all. and for all, and that the shear
pressure of the automatic Progress. In which so many then believed, would
gradually bring all countries into line.
war was hardly what was generally envisaged as part of the automatic Progress,
though it has brought (1927 - before the rise of Adolf Hitler) Germany
nearer to Democracy than it was; but it had destroyed Democracy in Italy, whose
citizens are liable to hail our General Strike or the financial and political
entanglement of France as signs that Democracy is dying in the two countries
that gave it birth.
Russia would have us believe that it has leapt from the rear to the van, and,
omitting the stage of Democracy, has established that socialised Republic for
which in other countries Democracy is the preparation. There is plainly some need to reconsider the case
for Democracy, and to take stock of the dangers that threaten it.
Nothing does so much damage to any human institution as to
make on behalf of it exaggerated claims.
Early enthusiasts for Democracy based it on two claims, neither of which
can be substantiated; one was that there resides by right in the People an
inherent sovereignty, the other was that the People is always right.
regards the first of these it has been said that all theories of sovereignty
break down which do not recognise that sovereignty as a real fact is always
correlative to actual loyalty.
sovereign can impose his (or its) will on a community except as far as that
community either by choice or by acquiescence or from fear assents to this.
despot who by force either exterminates his opponents or terrifies them into
submission appears to provide a refutation of this view; but in reality he
confirms it, for the force on which he relies consists of other men, usually
soldiers, ready to obey him.
Government rests in the last resort on consent; and this is the measure of
truth that resides in the belief that there is an inherent sovereignty in the
soon as we go beyond that, we are faced with insoluble difficulties. For who in the first place are the
People? In a country like ours, with
natural frontiers, the upholder of the sovereignty of the People may define his
sovereign as all inhabitants of the island of Great Britain, though even then
he will presumably have to limit these to citizens who are of age.
what would he do about Ireland? Or about Alsace-Lorraine before the (1914-18)
war? Or about India? And if he replies
that he does not offer a theory as an account of actual facts, but as a
statement of an ideal, we must answer that his ideal can only sound as an ideal
if it does perfectly co-ordinate the facts.
the French Revolution men believed in this dangerous nonsense fanatically. Wholesale lynching and indulgence of the
blood-lust by men and women lost to reason would be gravely described by saying
that the reason would be described by saying that the People had resumed its
sovereignty and had itself administered Justice. Indeed the most astonishing feature of the French Revolution is
the quantity of cant plainly believed by men who were accomplishing so vast a
Inherent sovereignty is an attribute of no human person
or collection of persons; it is an attribute only of the Moral Law, and of God
who is himself the Moral Law in personal form.
Only to God and to Right is an absolute allegiance due. Our earthly contrivances of Government are
makeshifts at the best.
to make a shift is necessary; and to believe that all the possible makeshifts
Democracy is the best. This, as need
hardly now be said, is not because the People (if you can once settle who they
are) is always right; the mob who carried out the September massacres in
1792 were a far proportion of “the People”; does anyone pretend that they were
“the People” seldom has a single mind or purpose. Democracy always means in effect the rule
of the majority. On what depends
the right of the majority to rule? Cynics say that we nowadays count heads to
save the trouble of breaking them. In a
battle the majority, other things (like courage and ammunition) being equal,
it that the two armies have decided to count the combatants and allot victory
to the greater number? That would be
very prudent on their part, but hardly the basis of that right in the majority
so distinguished. What is the basis of
the right, or in other words what makes it right that the law should be by the
it is not that the majority is always wise, or that the justest and most correct
opinions can always obtain most votes.
may indeed be sure that on most difficult questions, and on all novel
questions, the best opinion is held by a small minority. Perhaps it is true that though the majority
is pretty sure not to be quite right, it will be more often nearly right than
any particular minority would be. And
it is as far as it seems safe to go along this road in asserting the claims of
modest defence of Democracy is that the laws made by a majority are likely to
reflect public opinion sufficiently to be obeyed and enforced.
is also true; but it is a gross exaggeration, or rather perversion, of the
truth to say that obedience is due only to those laws about which we have been
directly and indirectly consulted.
obedience is due supremely to God and Right; secondarily it is due to the law
as being on the whole the embodiment of Right and as the bond of public order
on which, as a general rule. Public welfare depends.
authority of any given law does not depend on the assent of the citizens to
that particular enactment, but on their consent to the general constitution
whereby the legislature, whatever it is, is entitled to make laws. For the LAW, THOUGH MOST AUGUST, is not the
ultimate tribunal; OUR DUTY TO GOD, and even our duty to the State in its highest
interests, may require us to rebel against actual enactments of the State.
must therefore repudiate three frequent defences of Democracy: we must deny that there is any inherent
sovereignty in the People; we must deny that the People as a whole, or any
majority, is of necessity, or even probably right-vox populi is
no means identical with vox Dei; and we must deny that our
obligation to obey the Law is derived from our having a voice in making the law.
if all these impressive foundations of democratic doctrine are removed, is nothing
left except two meagre considerations set forth above, that a majority is more
likely to be nearly right than any particular minority, and that laws passed by
a majority are more likely to receive obedience and enforcement?
if this is all that can be said, a popular dictatorship may do as well as a
democracy and even better; for it will be more efficient. Is the type of
Government represented by the three names Napoleon, Lenin, Mussolini really as
good in itself as a representative Democracy?
We are convinced that it is not; but the grounds of that conviction lie
in another sphere than those, which we have considered hitherto.
have alluded to certain episodes in the French Revolution. The watchword of that volcanic upheaval was “Liberty,
Equality and Fraternity.” The last did not exercise any
very great influence, except perhaps in the cynical sense attributed to it by
M. Clemenceau when he said, “Fraternity is the oldest passion of
mankind: Cain and Abel, Cain and Abel.” But Liberty and Equality were ideals
passionately held. Unfortunately
they are incompatible, unless Equality is understood to mean
equality of opportunity; and then it becomes one form of Liberty.
early Republicans meant by Equality very much more than that: they meant the
spirit which expresses itself in the saying,” One man is as good
as another, and a great deal better too.” For ten
years, from 1789 till 1799, the struggles between Liberty and Equality
convulsed France, till Napoleon suppressed both together.
the whole, Equality had won the day.
It was entirely supreme under Robespierre, in the days of whose supremacy
Liberty counted for less than perhaps in any other period of European
the close of the Terror, Liberty has some scope, and Licence a great deal. But the Government of the Directory was too
feeble, and too corrupt to secure that public order which is the breath of
life to Liberty, so the fall of the tyrant was not the birth of Freedom.
the passion for Equality as shown in the Revolution and at many other times has
been a self-assertive passion. It has
not frequently appeared in the form of one who was rich becoming poor that
others through his poverty might be made rich; that passion is indeed divine
rather than human, and men receive it only from God; such a passion for
Equality on a large scale would heal the worst sicknesses of mankind.
there was none of this about the men who made the Revolution; with them it was
a claim of Tom, Dick, and Harry to be equals of the King, who was called for
the purpose Citizen Capet, though Capet was not his name.
such self-assertion little good could come.
Various gross evils were cleared away, and the space was left for reconstruction;
but the Revolution could not reconstruct until it threw up the genius who was
at once its child and master.
the Revolution, though its prophets were inconceivably muddle -headed, was
necessary; for there was something of priceless value for which the old regime
made no allowance-Liberty. More
and more clearly, as the years have passed by since the essence of the
Revolution was affirmed in the Oath of the Tennis Court, it becomes evident
that the deep unconscious clamour of men’s hearts was not for
Equality but for Liberty.
by Privilege in its most insolent form, they thought Equality was what they
wanted. It was not then; it is not
now; for it is not a reality.
Liberty they needed and all that hindered it had to go, because Liberty is
the political and social expression of the greatest reality in the world- the
spiritual personality in man.
is the root of Democracy. WE must find some way of
recognising that each individual citizen is no tool to be made use of for the
attainment of some prosperity in which he will not share, still less mere
cannon -fodder, but is a living personality, with mind and heart and will, who
can only be himself so far as he freely thinks and feels and plans. The root of Democracy is respect for
At this point Democracy closely touches Christianity,
which teaches the infinite worth of every individual.
Democracy is just one, almost certainly the fullest and
best way of showing respect for the individual in the political constitution;
majority rule is the one device for giving constitutional weight to the
judgment of the ordinary man.
justification is not that the majority is sure to be right, for it is much more
likely to be partly wrong; nor that it is efficient, for up to date that has
not been conspicuously true; but that it does honour to the ordinary citizen
and helps to develop his personality.
In short, its justification is its educational efficacy.
if the root and the value of Democracy are to be found in respect for the
individual, it is clear that Democracy itself, if it be perverted, may destroy
its own foundation and the purpose for which it exists. Human beings are not yet fully rational, and
instincts tend to sway them more powerfully than reason.
Democracy gives great opportunities for the herd - instinct; plainly also the
herd -instinct is destructive of that individuality for which individuality
exists. Here is a peril of the most
Democracy of necessity works through mass meetings, demonstrations, and other
machinery which inevitably calls the herd-instinct into full play and makes it
difficult for the individual to preserve his independence of feeling or
it is hard for the majority to show sympathy or even toleration to an individual
who takes a contrary view. It is no
easy matter foe one member of a trade union, for example, to defend the employing
class against what he thinks unjust accusations, which have just been received
with loud applause. In such case there
is great need for charity in the majority and courage in the dissentient
minority or individual.
if that courage and charity is not forthcoming, Democracy will have destroyed
itself; it will have crushed out the individuality, respect for which is its
life-blood, and it will give place to Bureaucracy or Despotism. Napoleon was the inevitable result of the
course taken by the French revolution.
That he was a genius made his despotism both brilliant and in the main
beneficent; but the despotism had to come.
this means that while Democracy may be the ideal form of constitution it makes
very special demands on the moral qualities of the citizens. It rests on respect for their
individuality; but unless they respond to that respect, it will itself crush
out their individuality and so destroy itself.
the danger is greatest in the working classes, who also stand to gain most by
the full establishment of Democracy on its own basis. The danger is the greatest here for two main reasons.
there is on the whole far more sense of a fight to be fought among working-
class people than among the salaried or shareholding classes. They feel a necessity to stand together if
they are to escape defeat and oppression.
And their past history gives warrant for this feeling. Consequently the herd-instinct tends to be
strongest in conflict.
besides this, the members of the working classes live far closer to one another
than do members of other classes; the good opinion of his neighbours matters
far more to a working man than to a well-to-do citizen who has some space in
his own house, opportunity to gather his chosen friends around him, and a motor
in which to escape to other scenery and other faces (1927) So it is
bound to be among the working class that Democracy is put to its supremest
it is to emerge from the test approved for a long period of activity, two
conditions must be fulfilled: First, there must be a great development
of working-class education-so great as to make the working classes zealous for
individuality; secondly, it must find its strength in spiritual power,
not in concern for material benefits.
whole forward movement of our social life turns on the development among the
great mass of the people of that kind of education which makes men eager both
to think for themselves and to appreciate the truth in any opinions from which
is something totally different from propaganda. There may quite well be a place for propaganda as well as
education; but is not the same thing. Those who are strong supporters of
propaganda among the working classes are chiefly people who wish to recruit an
army for the successful prosecution of the class-war; the object to be gained
is primarily a better organisation of the material side of life, and thereby
also a fuller realisation of human brotherhood.
a policy rests on a radically false psychology. No doubt the organisation of society has an immensely strong
suggestive influence, and is one of the main factors in the formation of
character. But it is only one; and
passions aroused for purposes of war cannot be laid to rest because the fight
the whole policy of this field is carried out, the instincts of pugnacity,
aroused to create the state of brotherhood, would begin to destroy it before it
was established; but even if it were established, its unity would be that of
the herd of animals, not the free fellowship of individual personalities.
must not, indeed, be supposed that it is only to the working classes that the
value of individuality needs to be preached.
There are those who sheepishly follow the Morning Post, just as
there are those who sheepishly follow the Daily Herald (1927) And
there is a political school of thought which deprecates the development of
individuality on aristocratic grounds, just as another deprecates it on
communistic grounds. But the
strength of Democracy is in the working classes, and if there its roots are
sapped, its decay must be rapid and ruinous.
second condition, besides the development of true education, is the reliance
upon the spiritual power. This is partly
because true spiritual interests are always a uniting force; the good things of
the spirit are such that the more one has, the more there is for others; so it
is with knowledge, appreciation of beauty, loyalty, courage, love. Joy and
it is also because, if humanity is to rise to the level of character requisite
for true Democracy, it must be by the infusion of the Grace of God, whose
universal and all-loving Fatherhood is the one true ground of that respect for
the personality of the ordinary man on which Democracy rests.
after all, should a triumphant majority respect the minority it has defeated at
the polls? Why should a Sovereign
People respect any rights in an individual who sets himself against it? Why should the State have regard to the
claims of a handful of citizens that make themselves a nuisance? There is only one reason; It is that these individuals
or little groups are, equally with other component units of the Sovereign People
itself, children of God.
if we want it, is the ground of that true and deep compatibility that exists
between Monarchy and Democracy. Here
also is the one inspiration of true Democracy and the one influence that can
keep it wholesome.
three tests it can be known whether Democracy is true to its own root principle: by the depth of its concern for
justice of individuals; by the scrupulous respect which it offers to whatever
can present itself in the name of individual conscience. Of these the last is the most vital of all. Society may have to protect itself against fanatical
faddists; but respect to the conscientious objector is, broadly speaking, a
hall-mark of true Democracy.
But if Society as a whole is to maintain such a
character, when its members are absorbed in the engrossing claims of politics,
business, industry, and the like, there must be a spiritual society interlaced
with the secular society keeping it true to its highest ideals. Here is the function of the Church in relation to public
main work now as always must be the conversion and sanctification of
individuals. On that everything
depends; if that goes, all goes.
the Church must also have its direct impact upon the ordered life of the
community-its politics, industry, and the rest. It will not pretend to export
knowledge, or settle technical disputes.
it will constantly affirm the spiritual principles which are involved in any
department of public life, and it will try to bring together in mutual good-will
those who are at variance, that together they may find some solution of their
all the Church will perpetually insist that no question touching human life is
ever merely secular, merely economic, merely material. All that touches human life is
fundamentally spiritual, and can only be rightly settled under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit.
may degenerate into mob rule, which is the worst of all tyrannies. But it is capable of being the political
expression of man’s nature as a free spiritual being. Nothing political in our generation matters quite so much as the
realisation of the spiritual roots of Democracy, and the determination to keep
them vigorous and strong.
task may be rendered difficult by historical circumstances, but in principle it
should not seem other than obvious. It is
no accident that Democracy in the modern sense-that is Democracy not
based on slavery-should have grown up only in Christian countries.
have seen the root of Democracy is respect for personality; and this is so truly
a Christian principle that it is from Christianity that our whole idea of
personality has sprung.
Professor Web has lately shown in his Gifford Lectures, this idea was gradually
formed out of the Christian teaching about God, and was then applied also to
Man because of his experienced personal fellowship with God.
is not the fact, as is commonly supposed, that man first reached the thought of
personality in Man and then transferred it to God; on the contrary, they first
reached this idea in their doctrine of God, as they formed this in the light of
Christ’s revelations. And then transferred it to man, whose personality they
felt to be guaranteed by his personal intercourse with the personal God.
course, the ancients were not without any conception of personality. Very much of that Christian conception of it,
which we inherit, comes from Plato and Aristotle. But the conception was so far incomplete, indistinct, and foreign
to ordinary thought that the ancients in fact had no word for it. The apprehension of it is a part of the
Christian enrichment of human thought and life.
this it is plain at once both that there is a close relationship in principle
between Christianity and Democracy, and that the Church can best discharge its
task of spiritualising Democracy by insisting on those elements in it which are
closest to its Christian root.
on one side the Church should steadily stand for the rights of personality in
preference to those of property when these two conflict. It will not indeed suppose that humane
sentiment can alter economic facts, and it will remember that respect for
economic laws is the best way to befriend those who are dependent on their
this will not hinder its protest against all that tends to reduce persons to
mere instruments of production. So
far as the Labour Movement (1927) is claiming a fuller recognition of the
rights of personality, the Church will be its ally.
the Church will also perpetually insist that personality in men is derivative,
not original, and only deserves the recognition claimed for it so far as it
recognises itself as dependent on the personality of God. Consequently its exercise must correspond
with the known character of God.
revelation, through which we know God as fully personal, also sets Him before
us as righteous self-sacrificing love. Now
what has mainly spoilt democratic movements in the past has been that they
rested on the assertion of rights rather than duties
And even where the rights asserted are true and just, the
assertion of them creates an ungodly, because unlovely, frame of mind.
whole notion of rights belongs to the world of claims and counterclaims, the
world below the level of fellowship.
But the notion of duties at once lifts us to that level, and
increasingly so as the divine spirit of love becomes the mainspring of our
performance of Duty.
is akin to Christianity; but Christianity is a great deal more than
Democracy. It lifts it to its true origin,
which is faith, not primarily in Man, but primarily in God, and in man because
he was made to be a child of God and a member of God’s family.
in Democracy itself needs to be changed in the process of its spiritualization;
but very much in most democrats must be changed. And only in the degree in which that change takes place, only
in the degree in which democrats put duty before rights and recognise the rights
of human personality are derived from its dependence on and relation to the
divine Personality, can Democracy become the ideal form of society or be
secured against the danger of degenerating into the worst.
altered-bolding used-comments in brackets]
* * *
MAGNA CARTA/ ****A
Constitution millions died for/****
Bill of Rights of 1688 - OUTLAWS EUROPEAN UNION/****Almost
everything which is most precious in our civilisation has come from small
We Must Remain A Christian Country/****England
or European Regions/Provinces-You Cannot have BOTH!/GOVERNMENT
Constitution-By It They Lived-For it They Died./****
BETRAYAL OF OUR NATION -CONSPIRATORS NAMED/****
Our Loyalty to our institutions and country/****Liberties
-Birthright of subjects of England/****WHAT
HISTORY TELLS US ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CONTINENT-Part 1-3/
Heritage of England is a Whole made up of Many Parts/****
The Lives and Reputation of our Ancient Island's Defenders of Freedom now at
basic Liberties and Freedoms - to be surrendered to a FOREIGN POWER/****TREASON
A CONSTITUTIONAL ANALYSIS by NORRIS Mc WHIRTER - Lest we Forget/****The
Truth About A Federal Europe-Parts1-4/****A
TIME TO MAKE A STAND/****COULD
ENGLAND SURVIVE OUTSIDE THE EU?-YES!/****The
Rotten Heart of Europe-by Bernard Connolly-Parts 1-4/****SAY
'NO' TO EUROPE! SAYS RODNEY ATKINSON/****So
You Thought You Were FREE/****Empires
have gone and most people in the world now live in Nation States said Lord Shore/****Freedom
of Speech-A Freedom which cannot be abused - is NOT WORTH HAVING/****MAKING
OF THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION/****England's
place in theUNION?/****ENGLISH
FREEDOM -WHY IT IS YOURS/****Our
Loyalty to our Institutions and Country/
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TREATY OF TREASON
WHO CARES ABOUT MORALITY