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The main critiques of liberal democratic model

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: 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 believes in God with the same rhetorical fervor with which he believes in Heaven.

Democracy: Liberalism and Its Critics

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. 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 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 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 the main critiques of liberal democratic model maintain stability.

As Jacques Barzun writes: 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.

It was the knack of rising above principle, the reward of shrewd inconsistency. The 1850s saw England at her peak from an external, material point of view. 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.

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.

  1. And yet it has been at the expense of the almost complete decay of traditional Christian belief and morality... For faith, according to the definition of the Apostle, is certainty in the existence of invisible realities Hebrews 11.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Nor do most people - all the people who believe in advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours.

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 the main critiques of liberal democratic model 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. 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. No tyranny of the majority here!

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: This could have been expected: England receives everybody and is not afraid to give refuge to anyone: Those who desire to suppress it, of course, deny its truth; but they are not infallible.

Vladimir Moss – Orthodox Christianity Author

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. 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. 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 anticipates this objection: 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.

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. 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.

  • Whatever positive life may have has to be filled by the individual himself;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • They were long reputed the ungovernable people;
  • 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.

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. 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. The Reformation was indeed an intellectually exciting period, when many of the abuses and falsehoods of the medieval period were exposed.

  • So why was England able to avoid the continual upheavals that we see in contemporary France and on the continent?
  • Moreover, in order to attain democracy, the rights of individuals must be not only subordinated, but destroyed, sometimes on a massive scale;
  • 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;
  • And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure;
  • Cromwell - of the English revolution; Napoleon - of the French revolution; Lenin - of the Russian revolution;
  • A piece of work that will make sick men whole.

But did it lead to a greater understanding of positive truth? 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.

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. 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. And if men were not very often children in mind, the Apostle Paul would not have been forced to say: 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 the main critiques of liberal democratic model of interest in social affairs.

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.

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. 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. 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. 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: 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.

Fukuyama's original article entitled "The End of History?

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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. 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: 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 the main critiques of liberal democratic model this direction is the best possible way, or whether it is possible to consider other possible outcomes to the historical process. Reason, Desire and Thymos Why, according to Fukuyama, is History moving towards world-wide democracy?

  • The Report recommends that the laws which make these activities criminal offences should be maintained… and brings them… under the heading of exploitation…;
  • 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;
  • England receives everybody and is not afraid to give refuge to anyone;
  • So "live as free men, "yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God" I Peter 2;
  • Let us look briefly at each of these.

At the risk of over-simplifying what is a lengthy and sophisticated argument, we may summarise his answer under two headings: 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.

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: