Published on American Thinker
by Enza Ferreri
I'm not sure how conservative Americans will view the recently-published book Democracy as a Neocon Trick (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) by Alexander Boot.
It’s a very unusual work, in that, whereas critics of America are generally on the Left end of the political spectrum and those on the Right tend to unquestionably defend the “land of the free”, this is a criticism of the US from a non-Leftist viewpoint, indeed from a traditional, conservative, Christian, pre-Enlightenment viewpoint.
I don’t agree with everything the author says about America, but he’s such a brilliant philosopher in so many respects that whatever he writes is worth exploring.
Born in Russia, Alexander Boot became a nuisance for the Soviet authorities. Pursued by the KGB, he emigrated to the USA in 1973 and then to Britain in 1988, where he now lives.
I've been reading his blog almost daily since I've discovered it almost two years ago. When I found it I thought I had struck intellectual gold. Then I started reading his books. We’ve become friends.
You don't find many thinkers these days with Boot’s ideas, so he needs an introduction.
For a long time I’ve been unhappy with the lack of a constructive alternative to the new Left’s program. Islam is a major problem, but it’s only a symptom. Why did the West throw its doors wide open to it? What’s the disease of which Islamisation, multiculturalism, political correctness and all our other social evils are symptoms?
Boot provides the general framework we need. It's not just a critique of Islam, or socialism, feminism, environmentalism, "gay rights", the European Union, unrestricted immigration, the welfare state, public education, nationalised healthcare, our degenerate culture and corrupt political system, although it is all of these things.
Through his lens we acquire an answer and a reason for all the many ways we have arrived at the present surreal situation in which we are overjoyed at the prospect of being subjugated by Islam, are not unduly bothered by our future extinction as a race and collapse as a civilisation or worried about turning our countries into Third World outposts and our cities into replicas of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We need to understand where we went wrong, at what point we lost our compass - totally. The ideas about how advanced, enlightened, developed, free and prosperous our Western society is were obviously largely based on false assumptions if it all leads to the current Alice-in-Wonderland reality and suicidal urge.
Alex Boot identifies the crucial moments of this gradual process as the Renaissance with its humanist philosophy replacing God with man, the Reformation making everyone his own priest and turning Christianity into a subjective experience, and the Enlightenment sowing the seeds of totalitarian thought conducing to socialism, egalitarianism and Marx.
It's difficult at first, after the prolonged indoctrination transforming history and philosophy into tools of propaganda, to come to terms with Boot’s ideas of the superiority of the Medieval over the modern world.
But once I got going, I could write about nothing else. Each book I’ve published since, though perfectly capable of standing on its own, is but another chapter in an ongoing attempt to ponder the shattered temple [of Western civilisation], to understand why it was destroyed and by whom… Each of my books focused on one aspect of modernity, be it culture, religion or economics. This one is about politics, which in today’s West is dominated by totemistic worship of a mythological ideal that is misleadingly called liberal democracy.This is how Boot sets the scene for his new book.
Democracy, he says, became deified. Like God, whose cult it has replaced, it's infallible and it cannot be questioned, only worshipped.
Boot is not opposed to democracy (in its etymological sense of rule by the people) but to unchecked democracy.
Among all systems of government that have existed, the one that most approaches Boot's ideal is Britain's historical constitutional monarchy.
"God, king and country" represents the Church, monarchy and Parliament.
In case of conflicts among them, the highest authority on earth remains the Church, accountable only to God.
The Parliament's division into two chambers is essential. The lower chamber, House of Commons, is the democratic part of the whole system. It’s elected by the people to represent their interests.
But it must be checked by other authorities: the monarch, whose power ultimately descends from God, and, in a fine balance between the monarch and the people, the upper chamber of Parliament, the hereditary House of Lords, composed of members of the aristocracy who, due to their historical ties to the land and territory, can be counted on to be able to go beyond their personal interest in favour of the public one. Importantly, their not being elected guarantees that they’re not corrupted and swayed by desire for votes.
This is why Boot views unfavourably the current moves to make the House of Lord more dependent on and controlled by elected politicians.
After what we've seen on both sides of the Pond, unelected power counterbalancing elected power seems the right solution.
Politicians’ giving people all they want even if it bankrupts the state and ruins the economy, namely an unsustainable welfare state epitomised by the free Obamaphone lady in the infamous video, is no less than a freebies-for-votes bribery exchange.
Not content with that, politicians have imported their own voters from other countries - Mexico and Central America to the US, Asia and Africa to Europe -, thus creating their made-to-measure electorate.
In the end, the "rule of the people" has become the final undoing of the people.
Boot is right on this. If this is not sufficient argument against democracy without proper checks and balances, I don't know what is. Unchecked democracy, not unlike communism, requires an unrealistic dose of trust in human beings.
A desirable measure would be to limit universal suffrage. Not allowing people who economically depend on the state to vote would reduce clientelism. Voting age should be increased.
Another point in Democracy as a Neocon Trick is that politically the West before the advent of the dreaded modernity comprised organic states that developed gradually, not through revolutions.
And, crucially, the central state had little power, which was taken over by the intermediary, local authorities like parish, guild, village commune, township and clan.
This reflects the relative importance that Christianity attributes to the state and the individual. The former is transient, the latter eternal. Christianity, therefore, has an intrinsic tendency to protect the freedom and dignity of the individual, with its spiritual value, against the power of the state.
What the Church called "subsidiarity" dominated the political scene: it was localism, the devolution of power to the lowest sensible level.
The West is synonymous with Christendom, it’s the part of the world that became Christian and built its entire civilisation on Christianity.
This polity centred around God. Its final purpose in every sphere, political, social, cultural, economic, aesthetic, was to make it as easy as possible for every individual to achieve salvation.
What about neocons, then?
Well, if democracy has become a religion (the American religion), and if Tocqueville - with his book Democracy in America (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) explaining what the new religion was about and extolling its virtues - is its St Paul, neocons are, according to Boot, its belligerent missionaries.
He thinks that worship of liberal democracy has today become an ill-advised messianic policy aggressively followed by many Western countries but especially the USA and, to a lesser degree, Britain. And neoconservatism is the political movement mostly responsible for this urge to export democracy to every corner of the world with whatever means.
He compares neocons to Trotsky and his followers, who, through the concept of "permanent revolution", wanted (and still want) to make the whole world communist.
For him neoconservatism is a misnomer, as the movement has much more in common with socialism than real conservatism. “Cryptosocialism” would be better.
Both reject with hostility two millennia of Christian civilisation and want to create paradise on earth, using violence as utopians do.
In fact, as the Marxist striving for the perfect society has proved to be the most tragic and catastrophic failure in mankind’s history, so the neocon-inspired American policies in the Middle East have replaced unsavoury but secular regimes with fanatical Islamic ones, and unleashed the violent potential of that part of the world that the necessary tyrannies of the likes of Saddam, Mubarak and Gaddafi kept under control. And neocons are still at it, wanting to transform Syria into another Iraq.
And it’s not finished. Blinded by the adoration of purely superficial resemblances of democracy, neocons have been tricked by Russia - Boot's not-so-beloved country of birth - into believing that democracy vanquished, history ended and Russia can be a potential ally of the West.
Maybe Boot is not to everyone’s taste. To some, his criticism of the country that, unlike Europe, is still strong on Christian faith will appear harsh and unwarranted.
But his message still offers a lot to reflect on. It’s obvious that we are light years away from where we’d like to be, and that all the promises of rational Enlightenment have materialised only, at most, in the techno-scientific sphere. Even the economy, where we thought we would be strong and which, in a Godless and material world, attracted most efforts, has turned out to be a house of cards.
We really need to approach our problems from a completely different angle, as Boot would put it not physical but metaphysical.