Thursday, August 2, 2018

The habits, ideas, and passions of the time must lend themselves to the committal of violent and unjust acts

From The Recollections by Alexis de Tocqueville. His remembrances of the events surrounding the February Revolution in France in 1848. The French, having difficulty reconciling the grubby reality of democracy with the conceptual purity of the noble ideal, have always lurched between periods of popular anarchy and periods of repressive autocracy or oligarchy.

de Tocqueville has a couple of comments on page 132 that seem to echo some of the events of today.
As the party which held the reins of government saw its candidates rejected one after the other, it displayed great vexation and rage, complaining now sadly and now rudely of the electors, whom it treated as ignorant, ungrateful blockheads, and enemies of their own good; it lost its temper with the whole nation.
That sure sounds like the reaction of the clerisy to the election of 2016. "Basket of deplorables" is a pretty close equivalent of "ignorant, ungrateful blockheads." Surely Trump Derangement Syndrome is the modern equivalent of "great vexation and rage." And "complaining now sadly and now rudely of the electors" is surely reflective of the efforts to subvert the Electoral College and the lamentations of the ignorance of the electorate, voting "against their own interests" as the clerisy imagined.

We are still trying to understand what went wrong in the past few years when intelligence agencies were coopted to sustain political parties, where due process was skirted when it served a political end, when private citizen information was strategically leaked to serve the interests of the establishment clerisy and when the establishment members of the main parties became so disappointed in the failure of citizens to appreciate the depredations of the clerisy.

But de Tocqueville understood. He saw it all in 1848.
The demagogues of 1848 did not think of this scheme; they showed themselves much clumsier than their predecessors, but no less dishonest, for they were as violent and unjust in their desires as the others in their acts. Only, to commit violent and unjust acts, it is not enough for a government to have the will, or even the power; the habits, ideas, and passions of the time must lend themselves to the committal of them.
How else to explain the abandonment of basic freedoms and rights, the violence of Antifa, the shaming and doxxing by the demagogues. The clerisy do not have the principles and virtues to lead a nation, only the habits, ideas, and passions of the time which lend themselves to the committal of violent and unjust acts.

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