Why does the worst always rule in a democracy?

“Ad punctum terre medium…. ponderosa cuncta tendere naturaliter”.
(Rolandinus, Chronicle, XII,8)

It is a fact that in all democratic regimes is repeated constantly, regularly and almost never without exception. All the so-called representatives of the people, as well as government representatives, ministerial representatives and all that could be called the apparatus of power, are invariably of very low human quality, distinguished at best by ignorance and incompetence or in most cases by intrinsic noxiousness, wickedness and systematic bad faith.

A sedimentation of extravagant spontaneity in a sort of great receptacle where the worst antisocial scoundrels converge, formed by businessmen, swindlers, braggarts, more or less habitual criminals, inappropriate, histrionics, mentally handicapped, and schemers of all kinds: a true “State in the State”, a small republic, not “of Letters” but of criminal pathology.

This “gravitational attraction” of the scum towards the top of the state is by no means accidental and has in itself something inevitable, almost mathematical, that makes us guess the existence of well-defined principles yet to be discovered and interpreted.

According to an unfair cliché, the political class would be the mirror of the nation: a consoling and justifying banality that must be totally rejected, because it is false and ungenerous with those who daily put in value their qualities, building, designing and acting to obtain excellent results at a personal, professional and collective level. Anyone with a minimum of experience can easily verify that, in addition to the many excellent individuals, there are also many associations in the economic, scientific and cultural fields, real men and women who, against all odds, make merits on the national and international scene, despite the fact that they are often hindered by politics.

But then, why can’t we promote a political class worthy of respect? The old criticism that democracy is a government of mediocrities has never convinced us. The reverse selection that takes place is too precise, almost scientific, to be random, but it is not even the product of human choice, because in such a case there should be a margin of error anyway. Undoubtedly there is something else, some kind of natural law that has not yet been fully clarified, which acts in these contexts even without the knowledge of the protagonists.

To explain ourselves better, we must take a step back, far back, and go back to the times of the ancient democracy of Athens (the only one, however, that has the right to bear this name). This institution, direct heir of the gentile polis, reached its apogee and its eternal glory as long as it was able to maintain its aristocratic backbone, trying to transfer the heroic ideal to the civic ideal.

It was a matter of ennobling the people rather than democratizing the aristocracy. Citizenship was a privilege, it was not automatic and permanent, all the tests and duties to which the citizen was subjected were aimed at creating a human type capable of commanding and obeying with the same spirit, with the same capacity, never for individualism and always for the higher interests of the community. But this ideal model quickly decayed, vulgarizing and degrading in the demagogic cacophony and confusion of the amorphous masses.

Democratic degeneration is clearly expressed by Aristophanes in his comedy The Knights (424 B.C.), a not too metaphorical representation of the last years of Athenian political life. In the government (in theatrical fiction as in reality), more and more evil individuals succeed each other in a race towards baseness and vulgarity. The character of Paphlagon, one of the servants of old Demos, is in fact the master of the house, and imposes his will on the other inhabitants of the house (we recognize in him the figure of Cleon, the first Athenian political leader who does not belong to a family of the ancient nobility). He hides oracular readings that speak of the future of the city: those who rule can only be replaced by increasingly worse individuals. His adversaries, after discovering this prediction, set out to find an antagonist to defeat Paphlagon, finding him in a delicatessen, a “shameless and miserable servant in the square”, who has everything necessary to become the leader of the people: “a dreadful voice, an ignoble birth and street manners”. Metaphorically speaking, Aristophanes’ prophecy merely acknowledges events that have already taken place during these years: after the death of Pericles, much lesser figures will be imposed, first the rag merchant Eucrates, then the cattle merchant Lysicles, “who will hold power until a more infamous one arrives,” i.e. Cleon himself.

In fact, here it is theorized about a decadence that is almost a natural necessity, a physical law, similar to that which regulates the fall of bodies and which is inevitable in its development, can only lead to the end of the institutions and the model of life of the polis .

This law of gravitational fall is, in our opinion, the best explanation of the very low human level of all democratic representatives, a level that is constantly deteriorating at an accelerated rate. René Guénon was already aware of this and linked democratism with weight, not only from a strictly material point of view, but also from a “metaphysical” point of view. According to his analysis, the tendency to decrease weight – which Samkhya philosophy calls tamas and which can also be equated with ignorance and darkness – “creates in the being an ever-increasing limitation, which at the same time goes in the direction of multiplicity, represented here by an ever-increasing density.” (1)

A symbolic fall lower and lower, towards that center of the Earth, that point towards which every body tends (according to Dante’s expression “to which weights tend everywhere”) (2).

But nowadays we have an anomaly, because the fall goes “upward” and no longer “downward”: but this happens only in a relative sense, because of an error of perspective that leads us to see things from an inverted point of view.

We are currently living in a so-called “upside-down world”. If we look at it from this perspective, everything makes sense, because if the social pyramid is inverted, the ascent is nothing but a fall, and the one at the top is “meritoriously” so, but only by virtue of this reversal, as in the carnival and New Year’s Eve festivities (in all traditional cultures, since the Babylonians), where the whole order has been reversed and the vilest members of the population can ascend to positions of command, exercising sovereignty, even if only for a short time, (there are many illustrations of the “world turned upside down” in modern times, with episodes such as servants commanding the master, pupils reprimanding the masters, heaven instead of earth, etc. ).

Now we can understand why this selection in politics is so precise and infallible, responding to a law not only physical, but hyperphysical, which is not affected by error and hardly admits exceptions (the best, or least bad, specimens that have acceded to power in a democratic regime have always done so unnaturally, by an act of force).

To convince oneself of this, one can also add the traditional parallelism between the tamas tendency (heaviness, grayness, obscurity) and the outcasts, the untouchables, the marginalized, who find satisfaction in what others reject. The outcast, according to Frithjof Schuon, is a subject who “constitutes a definite type who normally lives on the margins of society” and who usually has “something ambiguous, unbalanced, sometimes simian and protean, which makes him capable of everything and nothing”, “acrobat, actor, executioner”, protagonist of “any illicit or sinister activity”, attitudes that also make him similar to certain saints, but only “by inverse analogy, of course”. (3)

What is above is reflected in what is below, as a plausible but distorted reflection that only allows us to glimpse, and negatively, the true reality of the model to follow.

by Renzo Giorgetti

1 R. Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, Mediterranee, Rome, 1972, p.110.

2 Inferno, XXXIV 111.

3 F. Schuon, Caste e Razze , Editions under the banner of Veltro, Parma, 1979, p.13.


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