Make America Think Again
I recently read an interview with the French philosopher, Frédéric Worms, regarding his book, The Maladies of Democracy, in which he states that the dangers of the modern world derive from people's desire for or acceptance of more authoritarian governments, which they believe can mobilize and defend its citizens from terrorism etc.
While I agree that this tendency is manifesting, I found Professor Worm's defense of democracy to be superficial. Professor Worms writes, "Le danger le plus virulent du moment, celui qui nourrit tous les autres, c’est sans doute la démagogie.” “The most virulent danger of the moment, that which feeds all the others, is without doubt the demagoguery."
Ironically, this article contains a bit of ‘démagogie.’ And it exemplifies, more than solves, the problems of democracy. The author does not give evidence from history or political science to demonstrate that democracy is the best possible form of government. He assumes it to be true. He characterizes other political systems by pointing out their worst qualities, whereas he claims that the bad qualities of democracy are mere aberrations to be removed, as one pulls weeds from a beautiful garden.
He does not address the ultimate consequence of democracy: government chosen by the most ignorant members of society, who form the majority in almost every society. After all, intellectuals of Europe and America are now fighting against populism. But the very word ‘populism’ comes from ‘people’!
The author demonstrates, unknowingly, this contradiction, when he says that in other forms of government, someone decides for the people—but in democracy the people decide. He then says the problem today is that people do not follow their professors and instead come to their own conclusions.
What intellectuals decry as ‘populism’ is simply people making their own choices. Of course, people in general are not highly educated, seldom understand all the issues, and often make poor choices.
So the author does not want real democracy. Rather he wants professor-ocracy, disguised as democracy. It shows that the Vedic varna system is not simply wrong, which it must be if democracy is always right.
H.D. Goswami received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University and has taught as a visiting professor at UCLA, the Graduate Theological Union, and the University of Florida. His latest book, A Comprehensive Guide to Bhagavad-gita, is available for purchase HERE.