A Smashing Conquest

The historian emeritus has recently published Downloading Democracy in The National Interest. I hope this article becomes required reading at least for all political bloggers. This is how it begins:

The common addiction to general words or concepts tends to produce mind blockers or reality distorters. As Clive James has put it, “verbal cleverness, unless its limitations are clearly and continuously seen by its possessors, is an unbeatable way of blurring reality until nothing can be seen at all.”

“Democracy” is high on the list of blur-begetters–not a weasel word so much as a huge rampaging Kodiak bear of a word.

And here’s the bit relevant to what I said in the previous post:

Another aspect of premature “democracy” is the adulation of what used to be and might still be called “the city mob” (noted by Aristotle as ochlocracy). In France, of course, in the 1790s, a spate of ideologues turned to the Paris mob, in riot after riot, until the 18th Brumaire, Napoleon’s coup of 1799. The ploy was that, as A. E. Housman put it, a capital city with far fewer inhabitants could decide the fate of the country’s millions.


  1. Nice! We need more than one perspective on the orange revolution, city mob works for me.

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