Marvelous post by Anthony Esolen on Democracy

Over at Crisis Magazine Esolen writes:

Democracy is dead.

I say so not because I have ceased to believe in it. I retain a half guilty affection for that worst of all forms of government, except for most of the rest. I say so because everyone else has ceased to believe in it.

Yesterday I asked my students what comes first to their minds when I say that some country is a democracy. Immediately they turned to two things. One was the machinery of elections. In a democracy, you get to vote. The other was freedom of speech, defined in a libertarian way, without regard to truth or to the good of any community. In a democracy, you get to spit venom.

So I asked them to turn to Chesterton’s discussion of democracy, in Orthodoxy. For Chesterton, democracy is not a system, and not the intellectual product of experts in political science. It is rather a deep human feeling, inchoate even in children. Its first principle is that “the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately.”

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