Written by Vladimir Moss





     By 1789, and especially after the first phase of the French revolution reduced the power of the French king to that of a constitutional monarch, liberalism was the most popular political theory among the educated classes of Europe. Liberalism in politics seemed the natural counterpart of reason and enlightenment in philosophy, morals and theology as a whole.


     The popularity of liberalism has remained strong to the present day. In spite of the shocks of the French revolution and other national revolutions in the nineteenth century, and the still greater shocks of the Russian revolution and the other communist and fascist revolutions in the twentieth, liberalism has retained its place as the leading political ideology. But how sound are its foundations in actual fact?


     Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) explained both the positive teaching of Orthodoxy on political authority and why, for the Orthodox, liberalism rests on shaky foundations: “In the Christian order, politics… was founded upon absolute truth… The principal providential form of government took in union with Christian Truth was the Orthodox Christian Empire, wherein sovereignty was vested in a Monarch, and authority proceeded from him downwards through a hierarchical social structure… On the other hand… a politics that rejects Christian Truth must acknowledge ‘the people’ as sovereign and understand authority as proceeding from below upwards, in a formally ‘egalitarian’ society. It is clear that one is the perfect inversion of the other; for they are opposed in their conceptions both of the source and of the end of government. Orthodox Christian Monarchy is government divinely established, and directed, ultimately, to the other world, government with the teaching of Christian Truth and the salvation of souls as its profoundest purpose; Nihilist rule - whose most fitting name… is Anarchy – is government established by men, and directed solely to this world, government which has no higher aim that earthly happiness.


     “The Liberal view of government, as one might suspect, is an attempt at compromise between these two irreconcilable ideas. In the 19th century this compromise took the form of ‘constitutional monarchies’, an attempt – again – to wed an old form to a new content; today the chief representatives of the Liberal idea are the ‘republics’ and ‘democracies’ of Western Europe and America, most of which preserve a rather precarious balance between the forces of authority and Revolution, while, while professing to believe in both.


     “It is of course impossible to believe in both with equal sincerity and fervor, and in fact no one has ever done so. Constitutional monarchs like Louis Philippe thought to do so by professing to rule ‘by the Grace of God and the will of the people’ – a formula whose two terms annul each other, a fact as evident to the Anarchist [Bakunin] as to the Monarchist.


     “Now a government is secure insofar as it has God for its foundation and His Will for its guide; but this, surely, is not a description of Liberal government. It is, in the Liberal view, the people who rule, and not God; God Himself is a ‘constitutional monarch’ Whose authority has been totally delegated to the people, and Whose function is entirely ceremonial. The Liberal believes in God with the same rhetorical fervor with which he believes in Heaven. The government erected upon such a faith is very little different, in principle, from a government erected upon total disbelief; and whatever its present residue of stability, it is clearly pointed in the direction of Anarchy.


     “A government must rule by the Grace of God or by the will of the people, it must believe in authority or in the Revolution; on these issues compromise is possible only in semblance, and only for a time. The Revolution, like the disbelief which has always accompanied it, cannot be stopped halfway; it is a force that, once awakened, will not rest until it ends in a totalitarian Kingdom of this world. The history of the last two centuries has proved nothing if not this. To appease the Revolution and offer it concessions, as Liberals have always done, thereby showing that they have no truth with which to oppose it, is perhaps to postpone, but not to prevent, the attainment of its end. And to oppose the radical Revolution with a Revolution of one’s own, whether it be ‘conservative’, ‘non-violent’, or ‘spiritual’, is not merely to reveal ignorance of the full scope and nature of the Revolution of our time, but to concede as well the first principle of the Revolution: that the old truth is no longer true, and a new truth must take its place.”[1]


     In order to study the difference between Orthodoxy and liberalism more deeply, let us examine the theories of two of the most famous liberal thinkers: the nineteenth-century philosopher, John Stuart Mill, and the twentieth-century political scientist, Francis Fukuyama.


A. Mill on Liberty


     Foreigners in the Victorian era were impressed by England’s political system because it seemed to combine freedom with stability, individualism with solidarity, power with prosperity (for the few), gradual extension of rights with traditional deference to title and rank, science and progress with morality and religion. And yet, as we have seen, the objective reasons for a revolution from below were, if anything, stronger in England than anywhere else; the poverty of the majority was worse; the contempt in which they were held by the rich minority greater. So why was England able to avoid the continual upheavals that we see in contemporary France and on the continent?


     One reason was undoubtedly that the rich minority were able to use the improved methods of communication, especially the railways, to concentrate the power of a greatly increased police force against troublemakers more quickly than on the continent. A second was the unprecedentedly large emigration to America and the White Dominions (in the case of Australia, of course, this “emigration” was compulsory), which served as a safety-valve to expel the desperately poor (or criminal). A third was that the rapidly increasing lower middle classes, though poor, already had more than their chains to lose, and so tended to support the existing system. They needed the patronage of the rich, and looked down on the proletarians below them, whose desperation they feared. The rich took this into account, and so were able to proceed more slowly than they might otherwise have done in the work of helping the poor, introducing just enough reforms to maintain stability.


     As Jacques Barzun writes: “This knack of judging when and how things must change without upsetting the apple cart was painfully acquired by the English over the centuries. They were long reputed the ungovernable people. But fatigue caught up at last and a well-rooted anti-intellectualism helped to keep changes unsystematic and under wraps. Forms, titles, décor remain while different actions occur beneath them; visual stability maintains confidence. It was the knack of rising above principle, the reward of shrewd inconsistency.”[2]


     This “knack” paid dividends (literally and metaphorically). The 1850s saw England at her peak from an external, material point of view. Her navies ruled the seas; her trade and industry was far greater than any other country’s (though America and Germany were catching up fast). And while liberalism was checked on the continent after 1848 as monarchy revived and the proletariat raged, in England it remained remarkably stable. It was to give a theoretical underpinning to this English variety of liberalism, that John Stuart Mill wrote his famous essay On Liberty, which remains to this day the most elegant and influential defence of English liberalism.


     Mill admired Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and so was a passionate opponent of “the tyranny of the majority”. To protect society against this tyranny he proposed a single “very simple” principle which would place a limit on the ability of the state to interfere in the life of the individual: “The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means to be used by physical force in the form of legal penalties or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of anyone or which it is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”[3]


     Mill asserted that this “Liberty Principle” or “Harm Principle” applied only to people in “the maturity of their faculties”, not to children or to “those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage.”[4] For “Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved through free and equal discussion”.[5]


     This qualification provided a neat justification for the spread of the British Empire among the pagan nations. And in general, in spite of the fact that Mill was concerned above all to protect the liberty of the individual against the tyranny of the majority and popular morality, his theory fitted in remarkably well with the prejudices of the majority in the England of his time. Thus the English prided themselves on their freedom of speech, and their giving refuge to political exiles of every kind, from Louis XVIII and Louis Napoleon to Herzen and Bakunin, Kossuth and Marx. No tyranny of the majority here!


     Thus Dostoyevsky described how a Member of Parliament, Sir Edward Watkins, welcomed Don Carlos to England: “Of course, he himself knew that the newly arrived guest was the leading actor in a bloody and fratricidal war; but by meeting him he thereby satisfied his patriotic pride and served England to the utmost of his ability. Extending his hand to a blood-stained tyrant, in the name of England, and as a member of Parliament, he told him, as it were: ‘You are a despot, a tyrant, and yet you came to the land of freedom to seek refuge in it. This could have been expected: England receives everybody and is not afraid to give refuge to anyone: entreé et sortie libres. Be welcome!’”[6]


     Mill provided a passionate defence of the widest possible freedom of thought and speech. “First,” he argued, ‘the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to suppress it, of course, deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion because they are sure that it is false is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.”[7]


     But this is not true: there is a difference between certainty and the assumption of infallibility. A man may consider himself to be a wretched sinner and prone to all kinds of errors, and yet be completely certain of some things. All true religious belief is of this kind – and much false religious belief also. For faith, according to the definition of the Apostle, is certainty in the existence of invisible realities (Hebrews 11.1); it is incompatible with the least doubt. But even if one is not completely certain about something, one may be sufficiently sure to act to censor what one considers a false opinion. Thus a government may not be completely certain that a certain drug has no serious side effects. But it may still act to ban it, and ban any propaganda in its favour, in the belief that the risks are sufficiently great to warrant such action. Mill may be able to accommodate this example with his “Harm Principle”, but not on the grounds that to exclude a certain opinion on the grounds that it is likely to be false amounts to a belief in one’s infallibility.


     Mill anticipates this objection: “Men and governments must act to the best of their ability. There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life. We may, and must assume our opinions to be true for the guidance of our own conduct; and it is assuming no more when we forbid bad men to pervert society by the propagation of opinions which we regard as false and pernicious.”[8]


     But Mill will have none of this; it is only by allowing our opinion to be contested by those who think otherwise, he argues, that we come to know whether it is really deserving of confidence, and hence whether the opposite opinion should be censored. “The most intolerant of churches, the Roman Catholic Church, even at the canonization of a saint admits, and listens patiently to, a ‘devil’s advocate’. The holiest of men, it appears, cannot be admitted to posthumous honours until all that the devil could say against him is known and weighed.”[9]


     In practice, this means that no opinion should ever be censored; “the lists have to be kept open” in case someone appears who will expose the flaw in the accepted “truth”. And this applies even if the dissenting opinion goes against one’s most treasured and vital convictions concerning God or morality.


     For “however positive anyone’s persuasion may be, not only of the falsity but of the pernicious consequences – not only of the pernicious consequences, but (to adopt expressions which I altogether condemn) the immorality and impiety of an opinion – yet if, in pursuance of that private judgement, though backed by the public judgement of his country or his contemporaries, he prevents the opinion from being heard in its defence, he assumes infallibility. And so far from the assumption being less objectionable or less dangerous because the opinion is called immoral or impious, this is the case of all others in which it is most fatal. These are exactly the occasions on which the men of one generation commit those dreadful mistakes which excite the astonishment and horror of posterity.”[10]


     And then Mill cites the examples of Socrates and Jesus Christ, who, though the most admirable of men, became the victims of the censoriousness of their generation.


     Mill’s most powerful argument in favour of complete liberty of speech – an argument expressed before him in More’s Utopia and Milton’s Areopagitica - is that it is only in an atmosphere of complete intellectual freedom that truth can be truly understood and become well rooted. “Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think. Not that it is solely, or chiefly, to form great thinkers that freedom of thinking is required. On the contrary, it is as much and even more indispensable to enable average human beings to attain the mental stature which they are capable of. There have been, and may again be, great individual thinkers in a general atmosphere of mental slavery. But there never has been, nor ever will be, in that atmosphere an intellectually active people.”[11]


     Mill goes on to cite the Reformation in Europe, the late eighteenth-century in France and the early nineteenth-century in Germany as admirable periods of intellectual freedom. “In each, an old mental despotism had been thrown off, and no new one had yet taken its place. The impulse given at these three periods has made Europe what it now is. Every single improvement which has taken place either in the human mind or in institutions may be traced distinctly to one or other of them.”[12]


     However, the citing of these three periods exposes the false assumptions of Mill’s argument. The Reformation was indeed an intellectually exciting period, when many of the abuses and falsehoods of the medieval period were exposed. But did it lead to a greater understanding of positive truth? By no means. Similarly, the late eighteenth century was the period in which the foundations of Church and State were so effectively undermined as to lead to the bloodiest revolution in history to that date, a revolution which most English liberals quite rightly abhorred. As to the early nineteenth century in Germany, its most dominant thinker was Hegel, who, as we shall see, constructed probably the most pompous and contradictory – indeed, strictly nonsensical - of all philosophical systems, which is considered, with some justice, to be an ancestor of both communism and fascism. As for the Anglo-Saxon world, in the one-and-a-half centuries since Mill’s time, although it has attained a still greater degree of freedom of thought and speech than prevailed in those three epochs. And yet it has been at the expense of the almost complete decay of traditional Christian belief and morality... Evidently, freedom does not necessarily lead to truth. Nor did the Truth incarnate ever claim that it would, declaring rather the reverse, namely, that “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8.32). And part of the truth consists in the sober recognition that men’s minds are fallen, and for much of the time do not even want the truth, so that if given complete freedom to say what they like, the result will be the falling away of society from truth into the abyss of destruction.


     As Timothy Snyder writes, interpreting the lessons of George Orwell’s 1984 for today’s mass democracies: “The core texts of liberal toleration, such as Milton’s Areopagitica and Mill’s On Liberty, take for granted that individuals will wish to know the truth. They contend that in the absence of censorship, truth will eventually emerge and be recognised as such. But even in democracies this may not always be true.”[13]


     Mill’s arguments in favour of complete freedom of expression rest on the assumption, as he freely admitted, that the men who are given this freedom are not children or barbarians. And yet the corruption of mind and heart we associate with the word “barbarian” is present in every single man; this is what we mean by the term “original sin”. And if men were not very often children in mind, the Apostle Paul would not have been forced to say: “Brethren, be not children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature” (I Corinthians 14.20).


     James Fitzjames Stephen, in his Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873) pointed to further important flaws in Mill’s argument. Liberty was like fire, he said; it could be used for good and ill; to assume otherwise was naïve and dangerous. It was by no means certain that full freedom from interference by others would lead to greater searching for truth; it could just as easily lead to idleness and lack of interest in social affairs.


     Moreover, writes Gertrude Himmelfarth, “what disturbed him about Mill’s doctrine was the possibility that its adoption would leave society impotent in those situations where there was a genuine need for social action. Implicit too was the possibility that the withdrawal of social sanctions against any particular belief or act would be interpreted as a sanctioning of that belief or act, a licence to do that which society could not prohibit.”[14]


     Stephen’s line of argument has been developed in our time by Lord Devlin in his essay entitled The Enforcement of Morals (1968). “The occasion for Devlin’s essay,” writes Himmelfarth, “was the Report of the Wolfenden Commission recommending the legalization of homosexuality between consenting adults. Against the Commission’s claim that private morality and immorality were ‘not the law’s business’, Devlin argued that ‘the suppression of vice is as much the law’s business as the suppression of subversive activities; it is not more possible to define a sphere of private morality than it is to define private subversive activity.”[15]


     As we know, the Wolfenden Commission’s recommendation with regard to homosexuality was accepted by the English parliament, which demonstrates the power – the highly destructive power – that the application of Mill’s Principle has acquired in our times, a power that Mill himself would probably have deplored. Indeed, a completely consistent application of the Principle would probably lead to the sweeping away of prohibitions against such activities as euthanasia and incest on the grounds that these are within the sphere of private morality or immorality and so of no concern to the State.


     Take the case of prostitution, which is already fully legal in most countries. “If prostitution,” asks Devlin is… not the law’s business, what concern has the law with the ponce or the brothel-keeper…? The Report recommends that the laws which make these activities criminal offences should be maintained… and brings them… under the heading of exploitation…. But in general a ponce exploits a prostitute no more than an impresario exploits an actress.”[16]


     Mill justifies the prohibition of certain acts, such as public decency, on the grounds that they “are a violation of good manners, … coming thus within the category of offences against others”.


     And yet, as Jonathan Wolff points out, it is difficult to see how such a prohibition can be justified on the basis of the Harm Principle alone. For “what harm does ‘public indecency’ do? After all, Mill insists that mere offence is no harm. Here Mill, without being explicit, seems to allow customary morality to override his adherence to the Liberty Principle. Few, perhaps, would criticize his choice of policy. But it is hard to see how he can render this consistent with his other views: indeed, he appears to make no serious attempt to do so. “Once we begin to consider examples of this kind we begin to understand that following Mill’s ‘once simple principle’ would lead to a society of a kind never seen before, and, perhaps, one which we would never wish to see…”[17]


     And so, while English liberalism of the Mills variety carefully sought to protect society both from the continental-style tyranny of one man, and from the American-style tyranny of the majority, it ended up delivering society into a series of tyrannies of the minorities, which is best exemplified by the European Human Rights Act that is devastating Christian faith and morality in contemporary Europe and Britain.


B. Fukuyama’s Thesis


     Let us now examine probably the best-known and best-articulated defence of liberalism that has appeared in the last twenty-five years, The End of History and the Last Man by the Harvard-trained political scientist Francis Fukuyama. In view of the fame of this thesis, any anti-modernist world-view, and in particular any truly coherent defence of our Orthodox Christian faith, must take into account what Fukuyama says and refute it, or, at any rate, show that his correct observations and analyses must lead to different conclusions from the ones he draws. What makes Fukuyama's thesis particularly interesting to Orthodox Christians is that it is possible for us to agree with 99% of his detailed argumentation while differing fundamentally from him in our final conclusions.


     Fukuyama's original article entitled "The End of History?" argued, as he summarized it in his book, "that liberal democracy represented 'the end point of mankind's ideological evolution' and 'the final form of human government,' and as such constituted 'the end of history'. That is, while earlier forms of government were characterized by grave defects and irrationalities that led to their eventual collapse, liberal democracy was arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions. This was not to say that today's stable democracies, like the United States, France, or Switzerland, were not without injustice or serious social problems. But these problems were ones of incomplete implementation of the twin principles of liberty and equality on which modern democracy is founded, rather than flaws in the principles themselves. While some present-day countries might fail to achieve stable liberal democracy, and others might lapse back into other, more primitive forms of rule like theocracy or military dictatorship, the ideal of liberal democracy could not be improved on."[18]


     Fukuyama's original article appeared in the summer of 1989, and it received rapid and dramatic support from the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe almost immediately after. Thus by 1991 the only major country outside the Islamic Middle East and Africa not to have become at least nominally democratic was Communist China - and cracks were appearing there as well. Not that Fukuyama predicted this outcome: as he honestly admits, only a few years before neither he nor the great majority of western political scientists had anticipated the fall of communism any time soon. Probably the only prominent writers to predict both the fall of communism and the nationalist conflicts and democratic regimes that followed it were Orthodox Christian ones such as Gennady Shimanov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, neither of whom was noted as being a champion of democracy. This is in itself should make us pause before trusting too much in Fukuyama's judgements about the future of the world and the end of history.


     Nevertheless, it must be admitted that at the present time History appears to be going his way. It is another question whether this direction is the best possible way, or whether it is possible to consider other possible outcomes to the historical process.


1. Reason, Desire and Thymos


     Why, according to Fukuyama, is History moving towards world-wide democracy? At the risk of over-simplifying what is a lengthy and sophisticated argument, we may summarise his answer under two headings: the logic of scientific advance, and the logic of human need, in particular the need for recognition. Let us look briefly at each of these.


     First, the survival of any modern State militarily and economically requires that science and technology be given free rein, which in turn requires the free dissemination of ideas and products both within and between States that only political and economic liberalism guarantees. "The scientific-technical elite required to run modern industrial economies would eventually demand greater political liberalization, because scientific inquiry can only proceed in an atmosphere of freedom and the open exchange of ideas. We saw earlier how the emergence of a large technocratic elite in the USSR and China created a certain bias in favor of markets and economic liberalization, since these were more in accord with the criteria of economic rationality. Here the argument is extended into the political realm: that scientific advance depends not only on freedom for scientific inquiry, but on a society and political system that are as a whole open to free debate and participation."[19] Nor can the advance of science be halted or reversed for an indefinite period. Even the destruction of civilization through a nuclear or ecological catastrophe, and the demand for a far more careful evaluation of the effects of science and technology such a catastrophe would elicit, would notalter this. For it is inconceivable that the principles of scientific method should be forgotten as long as humanity survives on the planet, and any State that eschewed the application of that method would be at an enormous disadvantage in the struggle for survival.


     Fukuyama admits that the logic of scientific advance and technological development does not by itself explain why most people in advanced, industrialized countries prefer democracy. "For if a country's goal is economic growth above all other considerations, the truly winning combination would appear to be neither liberal democracy nor socialism of either a Leninist or democratic variety, but the combination of liberal economics and authoritarian politics that some observers have labeled the 'bureaucratic authoritarian state,' or what we might term a 'market-oriented authoritarianism.'"[20]


     Interestingly, as an example of such a "winning combination" Fukuyama mentions "the Russia of Witte and Stolypin" - in other words, of Tsar Nicholas II...


     Since the logic of scientific advance is not sufficient in itself to explain why most people and States choose democracy, Fukuyama has resort to a second, more powerful argument based on a Platonic model of human nature. According to this model, there are three basic components of human nature: reason, desire and the force denoted by the almost untranslateable Greek word thymos. Reason is the handmaid of desire and thymos; it is that element which distinguishes us from the animals and enables the irrational forces of desire and thymos to be satisfied in the real world. Desire includes the basic needs for food, sleep, shelter and sex. Thymos is usually translated as "anger" or "courage"; but Fukuyama defines it as that desire which "desires the desire of other men, that is, to be wanted by others or to be recognized".[21]


     Now most liberal theorists in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, such as Hobbes, Locke and the founders of the American Constitution, have focused on desire as the fundamental force in human nature because on its satisfaction depends the survival of the human race itself. They have seen thymos, or the need for recognition, as an ambiguous force which should rather be suppressed than expressed; for it is thymos that leads to tyrannies, wars and all those conflicts which endanger "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". The American Constitution with its system of checks and balances was designed above all to prevent the emergence of tyranny, which is the clearest expression of what we may call "megalothymia". Indeed, for many the prime merit of democracy consists in its prevention of tyranny.


     A similar point of view was expressed by the Anglican writer, C.S. Lewis: "I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they are not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they're not true without looking further than myself. I don't deserve a share in governing a henroost, much less a nation. Nor do most people - all the people who believe in advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows..."[22]


     But this argument is deficient on both logical and historical grounds. Let us agree that Man is fallen. Why should giving very many fallen men a share in government reverse that fall? In moral and social life, two minuses do not make a plus. Democratic institutions may inhibit the rise of tyranny in the short term; but they also make it almost certain that democratic leaders will be accomplished demagogues prepared to do almost anything to please the electorate. One man's thymos may check the full expression of another's; but the combination of many contradictory wills can only lead to a compromise which is exceedingly unlikely to be the best decision for society as a whole. In fact, if wisdom in politics, as in everything else, comes from God, "it is much more natural to suppose," as Trostnikov says, "that divine enlightenment will descend upon the chosen soul of an Anointed One of God, as opposed to a million souls at once".[23]


     The Scripture does not say vox populi - vox Dei, but: "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever He will" (Proverbs 21.1).


     Lewis' Screwtape (an imaginative incarnation of the devil) writes: "Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won't. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle's question: whether 'democratic behaviour' means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.


     "You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the most enjoyable) of all human feelings... The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I'm as good as you. The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid, resounding lie.


     "Now, this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it - make it respectable and even laudable - by the incantatory use of the word democracy."[24]


     In another place Lewis admits that "monarchy is the channel through which all the vital elements of citizenship - loyalty, the consecration of secular life, the hierarchical principle, splendour, ceremony, continuity - still trickle down to irrigate the dustbowl of modern economic Statecraft".[25]


     In any case, has democracy really been such a defence against tyranny? Let us take the example of the first famous democracy, Athens. Athens had been ruled by Solon, one of the wisest and most benevolent of autocrats, who showed his superiority to personal ambition by retiring into voluntary exile at the height of his fame. Later, Athenian democracy was led by a good leader, Pericles. But by the end of the century Socrates, the state's most distinguished citizen, had been executed; Melos had been reduced and its population cruelly butchered; and a futile and morale-sapping war against Sparta had been lost.


     The lessons were not lost on the philosophers of the next century: Plato turned from democracy to the ideal of the philosopher-king; while Aristotle made the important distinction between "democratic behaviour" meaning "the behaviour that democracies like" and "democratic behaviour" meaning "the behaviour that will preserve a democracy" - the two usually do not coincide. The behaviour that democracies like is peaceful money-making and pleasure-seeking. The behaviour that will preserve a democracy is war and strict discipline, in which the rights of the individual must be subordinated to the will of the leader. Moreover, in order to attain democracy, the rights of individuals must be not only subordinated, but destroyed, sometimes on a massive scale. As Shakespeare put it in Julius Caesar (II, 1):


Ligarius. What's to do?

Brutus. A piece of work that will make sick men whole.

Ligarius. But are not some whole that we must make sick?


     Thus it is a striking fact that all the greatest tyrants of modern times have emerged on the back of violent democratic revolutions: Cromwell - of the English revolution; Napoleon - of the French revolution; Lenin - of the Russian revolution. And was not Hitler elected by the German democracy? Again, democracies have been quite prepared to throw whole peoples to the lions of tyranny for ephemeral gains. We think of the Helsinki Accords of 1975, by which the West legitimised the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe; or Taiwan's expulsion from the United Nations at the insistence of Red China.


     So thymos is an aspect of human nature that the Anglo-Saxon liberal tradition has difficulty in accommodating. Liberals approve of the use of thymos in overthrowing tyrannies, but are short of ideas on how to tame it within an existing democracy. Recognizing this weakness in the Anglo-Saxon model, Fukuyama turns to a consideration of the German idealist tradition, as represented by the philosopher Friedrich Hegel, who attributed a much more positive value to thymos.


     Hegel agreed with the Anglo-Saxons that democracy was the highest form of government, and therefore that the triumph of democracy - which for some reason he considered to have been attained by the tyrant Napoleon's victory at Jena in 1806 - was "the End of History". But democracy was the best, in Hegel's view, not simply because it attained the aim of self-preservation better than any other system, but also, and primarily, because it gave expression to thymos in the form of "isothymia" - that is, it allowed each citizen to express his thymos to an equal degree. For whereas in pre-democratic societies the satisfaction of thymos in one person led to the frustration of thymos for many more, thereby dividing the whole of society into one or a few masters and a great many slaves, as a result of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century the slaves overthrew their masters and achieved equal recognition in each other's eyes. Thus through the winning of universal human rights everyone, in effect, became a master.


     Hegel's philosophy was an explicit challenge to the Christian view of political freedom and slavery.


     Christians regard slavery as a secondary evil that could be turned into good if used for spiritual ends. "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant" (I Corinthians 7.22; Onesimus). So "live as free men, "yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God" (I Peter 2.16). St. Augustine developed this teaching, and asserted that if slaves “cannot get freedom from their masters, they can make their slavery into a kind of freedom, by performing this service not in deceitfulness and fear but in faithfulness and love, until injustice passes away and all dominion and human power are brought to nothing and God is all in all..."[26]


     But this doctrine offended Hegel's pride, his thymos. So without arguing in detail against it, he rejected it as unworthy of the dignity of man. And he rejected Anglo-Saxon liberalism for similar reasons, insofar as he saw placing self-preservation as the main aim of life and society as effete and degrading.


     Hegel would have agreed with Shakespeare's words in Hamlet, IV, 4):


What is a man,

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.[27]


The essence and glory of man consists in his love of glory and honour:


Rightly to be great

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honour's at the stake.


For the greatness of man lies in his transcendence of self-preservation, in his capacity for self-sacrifice. And this is a manifestation of thymos.


     Fukuyama develops the Hegelian critique of Anglo-Saxon liberalism as follows: "It is precisely the moral primacy accorded to self-preservation or comfortable self-preservation in the thought of Hobbes and Locke that leaves us unsatisfied. Beyond establishing rules for mutual self-preservation, liberal societies do not attempt to define any positive goals for their citizens or promote a particular way of lifeas superior or desirable to another. Whatever positive life may have has to be filled by the individual himself. That positive content can be a high one of public service and private generosity, or it can be a low one of selfish pleasure and personal meanness. The state as such is indifferent.Indeed, government is committed to the tolerance of different 'lifestyles', except when the exercise of one right impinges on another. In the absence of positive, 'higher' goals, what usually fills the vacuum at the heart of Lockean liberalism is the open-ended pursuit of wealth, now liberated from the traditional constraints of need and scarcity.


     "The limitations of the liberal view of man become more obvious if we consider liberal society's most typical product, a new type of individual who has subsequently come to be termed pejoratively as the bourgeois: the human being narrowly consumed with his own immediate self-preservation and material well-being, interested in the community around him only to the extent that it fosters or is a means of achieving his private good. Lockean man did not need to be public-spirited, patriotic or concerned for the welfare of those around him; rather, as Kant suggested, a liberal society could be made up of devils, provided they were rational [italics added]. It was not clear why the citizen of a liberal state, particularly in its Hobbesian variant, would ever serve in the army and risk his life for his country in war. For if the fundamental natural right was self-preservation of the individual, on what grounds could it ever be rational for an individual to die for his country rather than trying to run away with his money and family? Even in times of peace, Hobbesian or Lockean liberalism provided no reason why society's best men should choose public service and statesmanship over a private life of money-making. Indeed, it was not clear why Lockean man shold become active in the life of his community, be privately generous to the poor, or even make the sacrifices necessary to raise a family.


     "Beyond the practical question of whether one can create a viable society in which all public-spiritedness is missing, there is an even more important issue as to whether there was not something deeply contemptible about a man who cannot raise his sights higher than his own narrow self-interests and physical needs. Hegel's aristocratic master risking his life in a prestige battle is only the most extreme example of the human impulse to transcend merely natural or physical need. Is it not possible that the struggle for recognition reflects a longing for self-transcendence that lies at the root not only of the violence of the state of nature and of slavery, but also of the noble passions of patriotism, courage, generosity, and public spiritedness? Is recognition not somehow related to the entire moral side of man's nature, the part of man that finds satisfaction in the sacrifice of the narrow concerns of the body for an objective principle that lies beyond the body? By not rejecting the perspective of the master in favor of that of the slave, by identifying the master's struggle for recognition as somehow at the core of what is human, Hegel seeks to honor and preserve a certain moral dimension to human life that is entirely missing in the society conceived of by Hobbes and Locke. Hegel, in other words, understands man as a moral agent whose specific dignity is related to his inner freedom from physical or natural determination. It is this moral dimension, and the struggle to have it recognized, that is the motor driving the dialectical process of history."[28]


     Now to the Christian ear there is an inner contradiction in this critique. While agreeing that there is something profoundly repellent in the bourgeois liberal's selfish pursuit of comfortable self-preservation, we cannot agree that the struggle for recognition is anything other than a different, and still more dangerous, form of egoism. For what is self-transcending in the pure affirmation of self? Patriotism, courage and generosity are indeed noble passions, but if we attribute them to the simple need for recognition, are we not reducing acts of selflessness to disguised forms of selfishness?


     And so if Anglo-Saxon liberalism panders to the ignoble passion of lust, does not Hegelian liberalism pander to the satanic passion of pride?


     It follows from Fukuyama's analysis that the essential condition for the creation of a perfect or near-perfect society is the rational satisfaction both of desire and of thymos. But the satisfaction of thymos is the more problematic of the two requirements. For while the advance of science and open markets can be trusted to deliver the goods that desire - even the modern consumer's highly elastic and constantly changing desire - requires in sufficient quantities for all, it is a very tricky problem to satisfy everyone's thymos without letting any individual or group give expression to megalothymia.


     However, democracy has succeeded by replacing megalothymia by two things. "The first is a blossoming of the desiring part of the soul, which manifests itself as a thorough-going economization of life. This economization extends from the highest things to the lowest, from the states of Europe who seek not greatness and empire, but a more integrated European Community in 1992, to the college graduate who performs an internal cost-benefit analysis of the career options open to him or her. The second thing that remains in place of megalothymia is an all pervasive isothymia, that is, the desire to be recognized as the equal of other people."[29]


     In other words, democracy rests on the twin pillars of greed and pride: the rational (i.e. scientific) manipulation of greed developed without limit (for the richer the rich, the less poor, eventually, will be the poor, the so-called “trickle down” effect), and pride developed within a certain limit (the limit, that is, set by other people's pride). There are now no checks on fallen human nature except laws – the laws passed by fallen human beings - and the state’s apparatus of law-keeping. That may be preferable to lawlessness, as Solzhenitsyn pointed out in the 1970s, comparing the West with the Soviet Union; but it means that within the limits of the laws the grossest immorality is permitted.


     Truly a house built on sand!


2. Democracy and Nationalism


     Now there are two "thymotic" phenomena that will have to be controlled and neutralized if the democrat's ideal of a satisfied, isothymic citizenry is to be achieved: religion and nationalism.


     Nationalism is a threat because it implies that all men are not equal, which in turn implies that it is right and just for one group of men to dominate another. As Fukuyama admits, "Democracy is not particularly good at resolving disputes between different ethnic or national groups. The question of national sovereignty is inherently uncompromisable: it either belongs to one people or another - Armenians or Azerbaijanis, Lithuanians or Russians - and when different groups come into conflict there is seldom a way of splitting the difference through peaceful democratic compromise, as there is in the case of economic disputes. The Soviet Union could not become democratic and at the same time unitary, for there was no consensus among the Soviet Union's nationalities that they shared a common citizenship and identity. Democracy would only emerge on the basis of the country's breakup into smaller national entities. American democracy has done surprisingly well dealing with ethnic diversity, but that diversity has been contained within certain bounds: none of America's ethnic groups constitutes historical communities living on their traditional lands and speaking their own language, with a memory of past nationhood and sovereignty."[30]


     Since democracy cannot contain give expression to nationalism without contradicting its own egalitarian principles, it has to undermine it - not by force, of course, but in the democratic way, that is, by sweet reason and material inducements. However, sweet reason rarely works when passions run high and deep, so in the end the warring nations have to be bribed to keep the peace. This works up to a point, but experience shows that even economically advanced countries whose desire is near to being satisfied cannot control the eruption of thymotic nationalist passions. Thus "economic development has not weakened the sense of national identity among French Canadians in Quebec; indeed, their fear of homogenization into the dominant Anglophone culture has sharpened their desire to preserve their distinctness. To say that democracy is more functional in societies 'born equal' like the United States begs the question of how a nation gets there in the first place. Democracy, then, does not necessarily become more functional as societies become more complex and diverse. In fact, it fails precisely when the diversity of a society passes a certain limit."[31]


     In spite of this fact, the ideologues of democracy continue to believe that nationalism is a threat that can only be contained by building ever larger supra-national states. Thus the European Community was founded in 1956 on the premise that, besides the economic rewards to be reaped from the Union, it would prevent the recurrence of war between the European states in general and France and Germany in particular. Of course, the bloody breakdown of supra-national states such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia does not speak in support of this argument. But the democrats riposte by declaring that it is not supranationalism as such that was to blame for these breakdowns, but rather the communist system, which suppressed the thymotic aspirations of its citizens and so fuelled nationalism instead of sublimating it.


     So is the democratic model of supranationalism represented by the European Union solving the problem of nationalism? The evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Thus as the moment of the irreversible surrender of national sovereignties, i.e. monetary union, drew nearer, resistance stiffened in several countries, as witnessed by the majorities against it in many national polls. And as this resistance became stronger, so the sweet reason of the Eurocrats turned into the harsh language of threatened coercion. Thus the French Prime Minister proposed that those countries who decided not to join the monetary union (he had in mind especially Great Britain, the most sceptical of the Union's nation states) should be subject to economic penalties. And the German Chancellor said (again, his remarks were aimed particularly at Britain) that the result of a failure to unite in Europe would mean war. This is in spite of the fact that there had been no war or even threat of war in Western Europe for the past fifty years!


     So much for the "voluntary" union of states in the spirit of democracy and brotherhood! If you don't surrender your sovereignty, we will crush you! This is the language of nationalist hatred in supra-national guise, and it points to a central paradox or internal contradiction in democracy.


     The contradiction consists in the fact that while democracy prides itself on its spirit of peace and brotherhood between individuals and nations, the path to democracy, both within and between nations, actually involves an unparalleled destruction of personal and national life. For much has been said, and truly said, about the destructive power of nationalism; but much less about how it protects nations and cultures and people from destruction (as, for example, it protected the Orthodox nations of Eastern Europe from destruction under the Turkish yoke). Again, much has been said, and truly said, about how democracy creates a culture of peace which has prevented the occurrence of major wars between democratic states; much less about how democracy has drastically weakened the bonds created by societies other than the state, from the ethnic group and the church to the working men's club and the mother's union, with the result that, deprived of community identities, atomized, democratic man has found himself in a state of undeclared war against, or at any rate alienation from, his neighbour.


     This may explain why, at just the moment when democracies seem to have matured and solved all major internal contradictions and inequalities, new nationalisms are appearing - the Basque, Scottish and North Italian nationalisms, for example, in the modern European Union. For men must feel that they belong to a community, and not just to such an amorphous community as "the European Union", still less "the International Community". But to create a community means to create partitions - not hostile partitions, not impermeable partitions, but partitions nevertheless, partitions that show who is inside and who is outside the community, criteria of membership which not everyone will be able to meet. The resilience of nationalism in both its positive and negative modes is a sign of the perennial need for community, a need which democracy has abysmally failed to satisfy.


     However, while Fukuyama fully accepts the existence and seriousness of this lack in democratic society, he still seems to think that the most important and powerful sources of community life, religion and nationalism, are either already out or on the way out.


     Thus in an uncharacteristically bold and unqualified statement he declares that "contrary to those who at the time believed that religion was a necessary and permanent feature of the political landscape, liberalism vanquished religion in Europe [his italics]."[32]


     As for nationalism, he recognizes that this is likely to continue and even increase in some regions for some time yet. But in the end it, too, is destined to "wither away". Thus he considers the rise of nationalism in the highly cultured, democratic and economically advanced Germany of the 1920s and 30s to have been "the product of historically unique circumstances". "These conditions are not only not latent in most developed societies, but would be very hard (though not impossible) to duplicate in other societies in the future. Many of these circumstances, such as defeat in a long and brutal war and economic depression, are well known and potentially replicable in other countries. But others have to do with the special intellectual and cultural traditions of Germany at the time, its anti-materialism and emphasis on struggle and sacrifice, that made it very distinct from liberal France and England. These traditions, which were in no way 'modern', were tested by the wrenching social disruptions caused by Imperial Germany's hothouse industrialization before and after the Franco-Prussian War. It is possible to understand Nazism as another, albeit extreme, variant of the 'disease of the transition', a byproduct of the modernization process that was by no means a necessary component of modernity itself. None of this implies that a phenomenon like Nazism is now impossible because we have advanced socially beyond such a stage. It does suggest, however, that fascism is a pathological and extreme condition, by which one cannot judge modernity as a whole."[33]


     Pathological and extreme Nazism may be, but it cannot be dismissed as simply an ugly but easily excised wart on the superbly toned body of Modernity. Hitler was elected in a democratic manner, and Nazism was the product of one of the fundamental internal contradictions of democracy, the fact that while promising fraternity, it nevertheless atomizes, alienates and in many other ways pulverizes the "brothers", making them feel that life is a jungle in which every man is essentially alone. Sovietism was also a product of democracy, and an exposure of another of its internal contradictions - that between freedom and equality. These "deviations" to the right and left do not point to the righteousness of a supposed "royal way" in between. Rather, they are symptoms, warning signs pointing to the inner pathological nature of the ideal they both professed and to which they both owed their existence.


     The European Union gives as its main justification the avoidance of those nationalistic wars, especially between France and Germany, which have so disfigured the region's history. But even if France and Germany are friends now, most of the old nationalisms show no sign of dying. Moreover, the crisis in the Eurozone has reanimated traditional antipathy towards the most powerful state in it, Germany. For pious exhortations are as useless in the faith of nationalist fervour as exhortations to chastity in the face of aroused lust. In both cases grace is required to give power to the word.


     The problem is that when the grace that holds apparent opposites in balance is absent, it is very easy for a nation, as for an individual person, to swing from one extreme to the other, as the history of the twentieth century, characterised by lurches from nationalist Fascism to internationalist Communism shows.


     Late in the nineteenth century Constantine Leontiev saw that the nationalism of the states of Europe could lead to a no less dangerous internationalist abolition of states “... A state grouping according to tribes and nations is… nothing other than the preparation - striking in its force and vividness - for the transition to a cosmopolitan state, first a pan-European one, and then, perhaps, a global one, too! This is terrible! But still more terrible, in my opinion, is that fact that so far in Russia nobody has seen this or wants to understand it...”[34] “A grouping of states according to pure nationalities will lead European man very quickly to the dominion of internationalism.”[35]


3. Democracy and Religion


     The second threat to democracy, according to Fukuyama, is religion. Religion is a threat because it postulates the existence of absolute truths and values that conflict with the democratic lie that it doesn't matter what you believe because one man's beliefs are as good and valid as any other's. That is why, as the Russian Slavophile Alexei Khomyakov pointed out, religion always declines under democracies.


     Fukuyama writes: “Like nationalism, there is no inherent conflict between religion and liberal democracy, except at the point where religion ceases to be tolerant or egalitarian."[36] It is not surprising, therefore, that the flowering of liberal democracy should have coincided with the flowering of the ecumenical movement in religion, and that England, the birthplace of liberal democracy, should also have supplied, in the form of the Anglican Church, the model and motor for the creation of the World Council of Churches. For ecumenism is, in essence, the application of the principles of liberal democracy to religious belief.


    Paradoxically, Fukuyama, following Hegel, recognizes that the idea of the unique moral worth of every human being, which is at the root of the idea of human rights, is Christian in origin. For, according to the Christian view, "people who are manifestly unequal in terms of beauty, talent, intelligence, or skill, are nonetheless equal insofar as they are moral agents. The homeliest and most awkward orphan can have a more beautiful soul in the eyes of God than the most talented pianist or the most brilliant physicist. Christianity's contribution, then, to the historical process was to make clear to the slave this vision of human freedom, and to define for him in what sense all men could be understood to have dignity. The Christian God recognizes all human beings universally, recognizes their individual human worth and dignity. The Kingdom of Heaven, in other words, presents the prospect of a world in which the isothymia of every man - though not the megalothymia of the vainglorious - will be satisfied."[37]


     Leaving aside for the moment the question whether this is an accurate representation of the Christian understanding of freedom and equality, we may note that, however useful this idea has been in bringing the slave to a sense of his own dignity, it has to be rejected by the democrat because it actually reconciles him with his chains rather than spurring him to throw them off. For Christianity, as Hegel - and, it would seem, Fukuyama, too - believes, is ultimately an ideology of slaves, whatever its usefulness as a stepping stone to the last ideology, the ideology of truly free men, Democracy. If the slaves are actually to become free, they must not be inhibited by the ideas of the will of God (which, by definition, is of greater authority than "the will of the people") and of the Kingdom of Heaven (which, by definition, cannot be the kingdom of this world). The Christian virtues of patience and humility must also go, and for very much the same reason. For the revolution needs proud men, greedy men, impatient men, not ascetic hermits - even if, after the revolution, they have to limit their pride and impatience, if not their greed, for the sake of the stability of democracy.


     But this last point leads Fukuyama to a still more important admission: that religion is useful, perhaps even necessary, to democratic society even after the revolution. For "the emergence and durability of a society embodying rational recognition appears to require the survival of certain forms of irrational recognition."[38]


     One example of such a survival is the "Protestant work-ethic", which is the recognition that work has a value in and of itself, regardless of its material rewards.


     The problem for the democrats is that the thymotic passions which were necessary to overthrow the aristocratic masters and create democratic society tend to fade away when the victory has been won but the fruits of the victory still have to be consolidated and defended. It is a profound and important paradox that men are much more likely to give their lives for unelected hereditary monarchs than for elected presidents or prime ministers, even though they consider the latter more "legitimate" than the former. The reason for this is that very powerful religious and patriotic emotions attach to hereditary monarchs that do not attach to democratic leaders precisely because, whether consciously or unconsciously, they are perceived to be kings not by the will of the people, but by the will of God, Whose will the people recognizes to be more sacred than its own will.


     Fukuyama struggles bravely with this ultimately intractable problem: "The liberal state growing out of the tradition of Hobbes and Locke engages in a protracted struggle with its own people. It seeks to homogenize their variegated traditional cultures and to teach them to calculate instead their own long-term self-interest. In place of an organic moral community with its own language of 'good and evil', one had to learn a new set of democratic values: to be 'participant', 'rational', 'secular', 'mobile', 'empathetic', and 'tolerant'. These new democratic values were initially not values at all in the sense of defining the final human virtue or good. They were conceived as having a purely instrumental function, habits that one had to acquire if one was to live successfully in a peaceful and prosperous liberal society. It was for this reason that Nietzsche called the state the 'coldest of all cold monsters' that destroyed peoples and their cultures by hanging 'a thousand appetites' in front of them.


     "For democracy to work, however, citizens of democratic states must forget the instrumental roots of their values, and develop a certain irrational thymotic pride in their political system and way of life. That is, they must come to love democracy not because it is necessarily better than the alternatives, but because it is theirs. Moreover, they must cease to see values like 'tolerance' as merely a means to an end; tolerance in democratic societies becomes the defining virtue. Development of this kind of pride in democracy, or the assimilation of democratic values into the citizen's sense of his own self, is what is meant by the creation of a 'democratic' or 'civic culture'. Such a culture is critical to the long-term health and stability of democracies, since no real-world society can long survive based on rational calculation and desire alone."[39]


     Quite so; but is it rational to believe that telling the people that "they must come to love democracy not because it is necessarily better than the alternatives, but because it is theirs" is going to fire them more than the ideas of Islamic Jihad or "The Mystic Union of the Aryan race"? Is not loving an ideology just because it is my ideology the ultimate irrationality? Is not an ideology - any ideology - that appeals to a Being greater than itself going to have greater emotional appeal than such infantile narcissism? Moreover, the "purer" a democracy, the more serious the problem of injecting warmth into "the coldest of all cold monsters". For what "democratic" or "civic culture" can replace, even from a purely psychological point of view, full-blooded religion - believing in absolute truths and values that are not just projections of our desires?


     Fukuyama discusses at some length how democratic society allows its megalothymic citizens to harmlessly "let off steam" - that is, excess thymos - through such activities as entrepreneurialism, competitive sport, intellectual and artistic achievement, ecological crusading and voluntary service in non-democratic societies. He has much less to say about how thymos is to be generated in relation to the central values and symbols of democratic society when that society is becoming - in this respect, at any rate - distinctly anaemic and "microthymic". Why, for example, should I go to war to make the world safe for democracy? To defend the good of "tolerance" against the evil of "intolerance"? But why shouldn't my "enemy" be intolerant if he wants to? Doesn't tolerance itself declare that one man's values are just as good as any other's? Why should I kill him just because, by an accident of birth, he hasn't reached my level of ecumenical consciousness and remains mired in the fanaticism of the pre-millenial, non-democratic age?..


     The fact is that whereas democracy wages war on "bigoted", "intolerant", "inegalitarian" religion, it desperately needs some such religion itself.


4. The Dialectics of Democracy


     In the last section of his book, entitled "The Last Man", Fukuyama examines two threats to the survival of democracy, one from the left of the political spectrum and one from the right.


     From the left comes the challenge constituted by the never-ending demand for equality based on an ever-increasing list of supposed inequalities. "Already, forms of inequality such as racism, sexism, and homophobia have displaced the traditional class issue for the Left on contemporary college campuses. Once the principle of equal recognition of each person's human dignity - the satisfaction of their isothymia - is established, there is no guarantee that people will continue to accept the existence of natural or necessary residual forms of inequality. The fact that nature distributes capabilities unequally is not particularly just. Just because the present generation accepts this kind of inequality as either natural or necessary does not mean that it will be accepted as such in the future...


     "The passion for equal recognition - isothymia - does not necessarily diminish with the achievement of greater de facto equality and material abundance, but may actually be stimulated by it...


     "Today in democratic America there is a host of people who devote their lives to the total and complete elimination of any vestiges of inequality, making sure that no little girl should have to pay more to have her locks cut than a little boy, that no Boy Scout troop be closed to homosexual scoutmasters, that no building be built without a concrete wheelchair going up to the front door. These passions exist in American society because of, and not despite, the smallness of its actual remaining inequalities..."[40]


     The proliferation of new "rights", many of them "ambiguous in their social content and mutually contradictory", threatens to dissolve the whole of society in a boiling sea of resentment. Hierarchy has all but disappeared. Anyone can now refuse obedience to, or take to court, anyone else - even children their parents. Bitter nationalisms re-emerge even in "the melting pot of the nations" as Afro-Americans go back to their roots in order to assert their difference from the dominant race. The very concept of degrees of excellence as something quite independent of race or sex is swept aside as, for example, Shakespeare's claim to pre-eminence in literature is rejected because he is he had the unfair advantage of being "white, male and Anglo-Saxon".


     Fukuyama rightly points out that the doctrine of rights springs directly from an understanding of what man is. But the egalitarian and scientific revolutions undermine the Christian concept of man which the founders of liberalism, both Anglo-Saxon and German, took for granted, denying that there is any essential difference between man and nature because "man is simply a more organized and rational form of slime". It follows that essential human rights should be accorded also to the higher animals, like monkeys and dolphins, who can suffer pain as we do and are supposedly no less intelligent.[41]


     "But the argument will not stop there. For how does one distinguish between higher and lower animals? Who can determine what in nature suffers, and to what degree? Indeed, why should the ability to experience pain, or the possession of higher intelligence, become a title to superior worth?[42] In the end, why does man have more dignity than any part of the natural world, from the most humble rock to the most distant star? Why should insects, bacteria, intestinal parasites, and HIV viruses not have rights equal to those of human beings?"[43]


     The paradox is that this new understanding of life, human and sub-human, is in fact very similar to that of Hinduism, which has evolved, in the form of the Indian caste system, probably the most stubbornly inegalitarian society in history!


     Fukuyama concludes his examination of the challenge from the Left: "The extension of the principle of equality to apply not just to human beings but to non-human creation as well may today sound bizarre, but it is implied in our current impasse in thinking through the question: What is man? If we truly believe that he is not capable of moral choice or the autonomous use of reason, if he can be understood entirely in terms of the sub-human, then it is not only possible but inevitable that rights will gradually be extended to animals and other natural beings as well as men. The liberal concept of an equal and universal humanity with a specifically human dignity will be attacked both from above and below: by those who asset that certain group identities are more important than the quality of being human, and by those who believe that being human constitutes nothing distinctive against the non-human. The intellectual impasse in which modern relativism has left us does not permit us to answer either of these attacks definitively, and therefore does not permit defense of liberal rights traditionally understood..."[44]


     Fukuyama goes on to examine "a still greater and ultimately more serious threat" coming from the Right. This amounts to the accusation that when democratic man has won all his universal human rights, and become totally free and equal, he will be, to put it crudely, a worthless nonentity.


     For individuals striving for something that is purer and higher are more likely to arise "in societies dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal. Democratic societies, dedicated to the opposite proposition, tend to promote a belief in the equality of all lifestyles and values. They do not tell their citizens how they should live, or what will make them happy, virtuous, or great. Instead, they cultivate the virtue of toleration, which becomes the chief virtue in democratic societies. And if men are unable to affirm that any particular way of life is superior to another, then they will fall back on the affirmation of life itself, that is, the body, its needs, and fears. While not all souls may be equally virtuous or talented, all bodies can suffer; hence democratic societies will tend to be compassionate and raise to the first order of concern the question of preventing the body from suffering. It is not an accident that people in democratic societies are preoccupied with material gain and live in an economic world devoted to the satisfaction of the myriad small needs of the body. According to Nietzsche, the last man has 'left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth.'


     "'One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.


     "'No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.'


     "It becomes particularly difficult for people in democratic societies to take questions with real moral content seriously in public life. Morality involves a distinction between better and worse, good and bad, which seems to violate the democratic principle of tolerance. It is for this reason that the last man becomes concerned above all for his own personal health and safety, because it is uncontroversial. In America today, we feel entitled to criticize another person's smoking habits, but not his or her religious beliefs or moral behavior. For Americans, the health of their bodies - what they eat and drink, the exercise they get, the shape they are in - has become a far greater obsession than the moral questions that tormented their forbears."[45]


     "Modern education… stimulates a certain tendency towards relativism, that is, the doctrine that all horizons and value systems are relative to their time and place, and that none are true but reflect the prejudices or interests of those who advance them. The doctrine that says that there is no privileged perspective dovetails very nicely with democratic man's desire to believe that his way of life is just as good as any other. Relativism in this context does not lead to the liberation of the great or strong, but of the mediocre, who were now told that they had nothing of which to be ashamed. The slave at the beginning of history declined to risk his life in the bloody battle because he was instinctively fearful. The last man at the end of history knows better than to risk his life for a cause, because he recognizes that history was full of pointless battles in which men fought over whether they should be Christian or Muslim, Protestant or Catholic, German or French. The loyalties that drove men to desperate acts of courage and sacrifice were proven by subsequent history to be silly prejudices. Men with modern educations are content to sit at home, congratulating themselves on their broadmindedness and lack of fanaticism. As Nietzsche's Zarathustra says of them, 'For thus you speak: "Real are we entirely, and without belief or superstition.' Thus you stick out your chests - but alas, they are hollow!'"[46]


     "A dog is content to sleep in the sun all day provided he is fed, because he is not dissatisfied with what he is. He does not worry that other dogs are doing better than him, or that his career as a dog has stagnated, or that dogs are being oppressed in a distant part of the world. If man reaches a society in which he has succeeded in abolishing injustice, his life will come to resemble that of the dog. Human life, then, involves a curious paradox: it seems to require injustice, for the struggle against injustice is what calls forth what is highest in man."[47]


     For a man is in fact more than a dog or a log. Even when all his desires have been satisfied, and even when all injustice has been eradicated, he wants, not to sleep, but to act. For he has a free will that depends on nothing outside itself…


     The basis of this irrational freedom was described by Dostoyevsky's underground man as: "one's own free, unrestrained choice, one's own whim, be it the wildest, one's own fancy, sometimes worked up to a frenzy... And where did these sages pick up the idea that man must have something which they feel is a normal and virtuous set of wishes? What makes them think that man's will must be reasonable and in accordance with his own interests? All man actually needs is independent will, at all costs and whatever the consequences..."[48]


     Here we come to the root of the democratic dilemma. Democracy's raison d'être is the liberation of the human will, first through the satisfaction of his most basic desires, and then through the satisfaction of every other person's desires to an equal extent. But the problem is that the will, thus satisfied, has only just begun to manifest itself. For the will is not essentially a will to anything - not a will not to eat, not a will to power; it is simply will tout court. "I will, therefore I am. And if anyone else wills otherwise, to hell with him! (And if I myself will otherwise, to hell with me!)"


      So perhaps war (and suicide) must be permitted in the society whose purpose is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Of course, this was not the Founding Fathers' intention. They were reasonable men. But perhaps they did not pursue their reasoning through to its logical conclusion. Perhaps they did not understand that those bloody Roman dictators were not stupid when they defined the desires of the mob as panem et circenses - bread and circuses, in which "circuses" had without fail to include some gladiatorial murder.


     Hegel, unlike the Anglo-Saxons, did have a place for violence and war in his system - not war for war's sake, but war for democracy's sake. "A liberal democracy that could fight a short and decisive war every generation or so to defend its own liberty and independence would be far healthier and more satisfied than one that experienced nothing but continuous peace. Hegel's view of war reflects a common experience of combat: for while men suffer horribly and are seldom as frightened and miserable, their experience if they survive has the tendency of putting all things in a certain perspective."[49]


     But for men who believe in nothing beyond themselves, whether democracy or any other value, there is nothing ennobling or purifying about war. It simply debases them still further. That has been the fate of those Russian soldiers, who, on returning from the war in Chechnya, continue the war in mindless murders of their own people. For such men, war has become an end in itself. In a world in which all objective values have been radically undermined, killing is the only way they have to prove to themselves that they exist, that they, at any rate, can make an objective difference to their surroundings.


     For "supposing", continues Fukuyama, "that the world has become 'filled up', so to speak, with liberal democracies, such that there exist no tyranny and oppression worthy of the name against which to struggle? Experience suggests that if men cannot struggle on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier generation, then they will struggle against the just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: for they cannot imagine living in a world without struggle. And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and prosperity, and against that democracy."[50]


     As examples of this phenomenon, Fukuyama cites the évènements in France in 1968, and the scenes of patriotic pro-war enthusiasm repeated in Paris, Petrograd, London, and Vienna in August, 1914. And yet there is a much better example much closer to home - the crime that has become such a universal phenomenon in modern democracies from London to Johannesburg, from Bangkok to Sao Paolo, from Washington to Moscow. It is as if Dostoyevsky's underground man has now become a whole class - the underclass of the metropolitan octopuses, whose tentacles extend ever wider and deeper into the major institutions and government itself.


     Democratic man, unable to free himself from the shackles of democratic thought, superficially ascribes the causes of crime to poverty or unemployment, to a lack of education or a lack of rights. But most modern criminals are not hungry, nor are they struggling for rights. There is no need as such in most modern crime, no idealism, however misguided. Their only need is to kill and to rape and to steal - not for the sake of revenge, or sex, or money, but just for their own sake. And their only ideal is to express their own, "independent will, at all costs and whatever the consequences".


     Thus the logical consequence of the attainment of full democracy is nihilism, the universal war of every man against every man, for the sake of no man and no thing. For "modern thought raises no barriers to a future nihilistic war against liberal democracy on the part of those brought up in its bosom. Relativism - the doctrine that maintains that all value are merely relative and which attacks all 'privileged perspectives' - must ultimately end up undermining democratic and tolerant values as well."[51]


     Fukuyama should have concluded his superbly consistent argument at this point, saying: "Democracy is doomed; we must find some other truths and values - absolute truths and values, or we shall all perish in a morass of relativism and nihilism." But at this point the limitations of his democratic education - or is it just American optimism? - lead him to make his only act of mauvaise foi. Like a Shostakovich symphony, which, after plumbing the depths of tragic despair, must perforce have a bombastic finale, Fukuyama declares his faith that democracy will win out in the end, if only because all other systems are dead or in the process of dying. And in an aptly American metaphor he compares the progress of democracy to a wagon train that, having crossed the Rockies in a raging blizzard and having withstood all the assaults of wild Indians and howling coyotes, comes to rest in - smog-filled, drug-addicted, crime-infested Los Angeles?… Only in the very last sentence does he - very tentatively, as if fearing to have his head shot off by a last Indian sniper - recover himself somewhat and look over the parapet of democracy's last stand: "Nor can we in the final analysis know, provided a majority of the wagons eventually reach the same town, whether their occupants, having looked around a bit at their new surroundings, will not find them inadequate and set their eyes on a new and more distant journey..."[52]




     At the time of writing, liberal democracy appears to have triumphed over all other politico-economic systems. It has survived the socialist and fascist revolutions of the period 1789-1945, has won the Cold War, and even appears to be on the point of “turning” the last and most powerful survival of the revolutionary ethos, Communist China. But Fukuyama, an avid supporter of democracy, still has his doubts – even if these doubts are overridden by his conviction that democracy represents “the end of history”, the final, and best, politico-economic system.


     The basic doubt can be expressed as follows: can a system built, not on the eradication, but on the exploitation and rational management of man’s fallen passions, and not on absolute truth, but on the relativisation of all opinions through the ballot box, bring lasting peace and prosperity?


     In a sense there is no competition; for the only system that is radically different from liberal democracy, Orthodox Autocracy, sets itself a quite different goal: not peace and prosperity in this life, but the salvation of the soul in the next. Even if it could be proved that liberal democracy satisfied the earthly needs of men better than Orthodox Autocracy, this is no way invalidates Autocracy, insofar as the true subjects of Autocracy would gladly exchange happiness and prosperity in this life for salvation in the next. For while the purpose of democracy is the fullest satisfaction of man’s fallen nature, the purpose of Autocracy is the creation of the political and social conditions maximally conducive to the recreation of man’s original, unfallen nature in the image of Christ. Democracy seeks satisfaction, but Autocracy – salvation.


     But it may be doubted whether liberal democracy will achieve its own stated ends. The cult of reason and liberalism, wrote the former revolutionary L.A. Tikhomirov, “very much wants to establish worldly prosperity, it very much wants to make people happy, but it will achieve nothing, because it approaches the problem from the wrong end.


     “It may appear strange that people who think only of earthly prosperity, and who put their whole soul into realising it, attain only disillusionment and exhaustion. People who, on the contrary, are immersed in cares about the invisible life beyond the grave, attain here, on earth, results constituting the highest examples yet known on earth of personal and social development! However, this strangeness is self-explanatory. The point is that man is by his nature precisely the kind of being that Christianity understands him to be by faith; the aims of life that are indicated to him by faith are precisely the kind of aims that he has in reality, and not the kind that reason divorced from faith delineates. Therefore in educating a man in accordance with the Orthodox world-view, we conduct his education correctly, and thence we get results that are good not only in that which is most important [salvation] (which unbelievers do not worry about), but also in that which is secondary (which is the only thing they set their heart on). In losing faith, and therefore ceasing to worry about the most important thing, people lost the possibility of developing man in accordance with his true nature, and so they get distorted results in earthly life, too.”[53]


     Thus even the most perfectly functioning democracy will ultimately fail in its purpose, for the simple reason that while man is fallen, he is not completely fallen, he is still made in the image of God, so that even when all his fallen desires have been satisfied there will still be an unsatisfied longing for something higher. “Happiness” – the supreme “right” of man, according to the American Constitution – is unattainable as long as only our own, and not other people’s happiness, our own glory, and not God’s glory, is the goal; and even if attained on earth, it will only be brief and bring inevitable ennui; for it will immediately stimulate a desire for the infinitely greater happiness of heaven, eternal joy in God. The revolutionary age that followed the age of reason highlighted this truth, albeit in a perverted, demonic way; for it showed that there is more in heaven and earth and in the soul of man – far greater heights, as well as far more abysmal depths - than was ever dreamt of in the complacent psychology of the liberal philosophers.


March 2/15, 1996; revised April 5/18, 2000 and October 21 / November 3, 2013.

[1] Rose, Nihilism, Fr. Seraphim Rose Foundation, 1994, pp. 28-30.

[2] Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present, New York: Perennial, 2000, p. 529.

[3] Mill, On Liberty, London: Penguin Classics, 1974, pp. 68-69.

[4] Mill, On Liberty, p. 69.

[5] Mill, On Liberty, p. 69.

[6]Dostoyevsky, The Diary of a Writer, 1876, London: Cassell, part I, trans. Boris Brasol, pp. 262-263.

[7] Mill, On Liberty, p. 77.

[8] Mill, On Liberty, p. 79.

[9] Mill, On Liberty, p. 81.

[10] Mill, On Liberty, p. 84.

[11] Mill, On Liberty, p. 91.

[12] Mill, On Liberty, p. 96.

[13] Snyder, “War is Peace”, Prospect, November, 2004, p. 33.

[14] Himmelfarth, in Mill, On Liberty, p. 40.

[15] Himmelfarth, in Mill, On Liberty, p. 41.

[16] Devlin, in Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 141.

[17] Wolff, op. cit., pp. 140-141. For the difficulties created for Mills’ theory by public indecency, see several articles in Philosophy Now, issue 76, November-December, 2009.

[18] Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1992, p. xi.

[19] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 117.

[20] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 123.

[21] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 146.

[22] Lewis, “Equality”, The Spectator, CLXXI (27 August, 1943), p. 192; The Business of Heaven, London: Collins, 1984, p. 186.

[23] Trostnikov, V.N. "The Role and Place of the Baptism of Rus in the European Spiritual Process of the Second Millenium of Christian History", Orthodox Life, vol. 39, № 3, May-June, 1989, p. 34.

[24]Lewis, op. cit., pp. 190-191.

[25]Lewis, "Myth and Fact", in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology, edited by Walter Hopper, Fount Paperbacks, 1979.

[26] St. Augustine, The City of God, XIX, 15; translated by Maurice Wiles and Mark Santer, Documents in Early Christian Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp. 241-242.

[27] Shakespeare was the favourite author of the German idealists. But a careful reading of his plays demonstrates that he was no democrat, but rather a convinced defender of the hierarchical order in society. See Richard II and Henry V.

[28] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 160-161.

[29] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 190.

[30] Fukuyama, op. cit, p. 119.

[31] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 121.

[32] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 271.

[33] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 129.

[34] Leontiev, "Tribal Politics as a Weapon of Global Revolution", letter 2. Constantine Leontiev, Selected Works, edited and with an introductory article by I.N. Smirnov, Moscow, 1993, p. 314.

[35] Leontiev, "On Political and Cultural Nationalism", letter 3, op. cit., p. 363.

[36] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 216. Italics added.

[37] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 197.

[38] Fukuyma, op. cit., p. 207.

[39] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 214-215.

[40]Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 294, 295.

[41] On December 27, 1995, British Television (Channel 4) screened "The Great Ape Trial", a quasi-legal debate on the question whether apes should have human rights - that is, the rights to life, liberty and freedom from torture. Evidence was heard from a variety of academic "experts" from around the world who spoke about the apes' similarity or otherwise to human beings in tool-using and making, language, social relations, emotionality, and genetic makeup. The conclusion reached by the "jury" (with the exception of a journalist from The Catholic Herald) was that apes should indeed have human rights since they belong to "a community of equals" with us.

[42]This point has been developed by Joanna Bourke, Professor of History at London University, in What It Means to be Human, London: Virago, 2011.

[43] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 297-298.

[44] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 298.

[45] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 305-306.

[46] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 306-307.

[47] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 311.

[48] Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, New York: Signet Classics.

[49] Fukuyama, op. cit., pp. 329-30.

[50] Fukuyama, op. cit, p. 330.

[51] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 332.

[52] Fukuyama, op. cit., p. 339.

[53]Tikhomirov, “Dukhovenstvo i obshchestvo v sovremennom religioznom dvizhenii” (“The Clergy and Society in the Contemporary Religious Movement”), in Khristianstvo i Politika (Christianity and Politics), Moscow, 1999, pp. 30-31.

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