The false assumptions of "democracy" - by Anthony Ludovici - PDF (1921)

The false assumptions of "democracy"

The false assumptions of "democracy"

Excerpt from the author preface:

The Great War has left the world, and particularly poor old battered Europe, with many a high ideal shattered and many a respected principle destroyed. 

Not only the beliefs of our grandfathers, but also the convictions of our fathers, seem now old- fashioned and no longer seaworthy. Certainly an old era is dead ; but has a new era been born ? A new era suggests new ideals, new leading principles ; it suggests a breastful of new and stout convictions. Have we of this dawning era any new ideals or principles ? 

Have we any new and stout convictions ? It seems as if we had been plunged into this new world unclothed. True enough, millions have doffed their khaki ; but the citizen clothing they have donned in ex- change — is it all make-believe, all eye-wash ? Are we really naked ?

 At all events, before we can possibly tell where we are, or how we stand, the most necessary preliminary step would seem to be a general stock-taking of our ideals, principles and convictions — a re-definition of the big words that once led us, and of the great phrases with which we were once inspired. Only then, only when this re- definition shall have been accomplished, does it seem possible that we shall be able to clothe ourselves in the ideology of our new and brightly illuminated age. This book is a modest attempt at this spade work of redefinition. 

It does not pretend to be either exhaustive or expert. It takes up just a few of the old words and phrases, and by re-examining them in the new light, hopes rather to point the way than to cover the whole distance to the destination. Alarming sounds fill the air. 

There are wars and rumours of wars wherever you turn. Indeed, there are rumours abroad and at home of the worst kind of war, the cruellest and most devastating kind of war — civil war. Can it be possible that a good deal of this threat of civil war arises from the very need which this book under- takes however imperfectly to supply ? Can it be possible that revolution and even Bol- shevism may arise out of this need for a re-definition of terms ? 

At all events, even if this need is only a small contributory cause, it is serious enough and cannot be lightly passed over. It is for fear lest this need may be some- thing more serious than a small contributory cause, that the author has suggested the remedy of re-definition outlined both in pre- cept and example in this book. I
f his pioneer effort, however limited in range, may lead others to produce more thorough examples of his method, he will consider that his pains have been more than adequately repaid.

" Babble, babble ; our old England may go down in babble at last." Tennyson (Lochsley Hall — Sixty Yeats After). Nothing on earth leads more certainly to disunion than a division of tongues. When it became necessary to disperse the iniquitous builders of the Tower of Babel, we know the expedient to which the Lord resorted, and how effective it proved to be. But whereas unity is a desirable condition, and a common tongue is one of the most potent means of realising it, people not infrequently forget that a common tongue presupposes a common uniform culture. It depends upon a common view of human life and the world. 

This common culture provides the frame, so to speak, to the design of life, in which every word of a language fits like a piece of mosaic. Remove the frame, disturb the arrangement, and the odd pieces of mosaic fall all about you and lose their significance and their necessary association. They can be used only as — missiles.

Whatever weight the usual arguments against the Middle Ages may possess, at least this is plain, that in mediaeval times a common culture prevailed among the leading nations of Europe. Indeed, if we wished to sum up the effect of the Middle Ages in one sentence, we could not express ourselves more clearly than by saying, that in those days the leaders of men attempted to convert Europe into a single nation. 

This effort, though only partially successful, at least led to the magnificent result that most men, of what nation soever, under- stood one another — understood one another particularly in their use of abstract or general terms. For that is the test. In the end the names of things remain. 

The words representing common objects are usually as permanent as those objects themselves. Fashion may destroy the object and thus render the word obsolete ; but for hundreds of years none will dispute the proper conno- tation of the word " chair," " table," " basket," for instance ; while in the realm of abstract and general terms such severe fluc- tuations may have taken place as to make the same word mean something different to each generation.

  • Author: Anthony Mario Ludovici MBE was a British philosopher, sociologist, social critic and polyglot book details :
  • Publication date: 1921
  • Company: London : Heath, Cranton

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