The Disintegration of Fractured Democracies
In America, the Fracturing results from the Economic System
Consider this paraphrased account of a famous nation's demise:
The death of the nation was both violent and natural. The fatal agents were the organic disorders of the system. The government had proven incapable of solving problems: it failed to preserve domestic order or an effective defense; it discovered no way of reconciling local autonomy with national stability and power; and its love of liberty failed to interfere with its passion for empire and war. The class struggle had become bitter beyond control and had turned democracy into a contest in legislative looting. The legislature degenerated into a mob, rejecting all restraint, voting itself every favor, and crushing initiative, industry, and thrift.
Education spread, but thinly; it stressed knowledge more than character and produced masses of half-educated people. The old problem of ethics and morals found no solution in religion, statesmanship, or philosophy. Religious superstition spread even while science reached its apogee. The growth of knowledge secularized morals, marriage, parentage, and law, and the pursuit of pleasure prevailed. Public games degenerated into professional contests; the people, who had once been athletic, now became spectators, content to witness rather than to do. Sexual morality was relaxed, and human life was portrayed as a round of triviality, seduction, and adultery. . . . The nation had destroyed itself; it died of its own tyrannous anarchy.
What nation do these paragraphs describe? It could be the
The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to [factions]. . . . Complaints are everywhere heard . . . that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and . . . rights. . . .
The latent causes of faction are . . . sown in the nature of man. . . . A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well . . . ; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. . . . But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. . . .
It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. . . .
The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS. . . .
By what means is this object attainable? . . .
Madison believed that "[A]s each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens . . . it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters." Unfortunately he was wrong, but he was right in writing that "Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. . . ."
When the number of contentious factions in a society becomes large, society becomes ungovernable; it literally implodes. All appearances indicate that the
Aside from the government's being paralyzed, violence is ubiquitous and uncontrollable and the incarcerated are routinely freed to make space for others. Worse, the judicial system often convicts the innocent. Many laws are routinely ignored by even those who are generally law abiding citizens. Religious and racial intolerance is prevalent and often justified by untrue historical claims often taught to students in "history" classes.
Primitive societies are unified by common ancestries and beliefs, but current "advanced" societies lack both. The claim is often made, however, that there are fundamental beliefs that underlie even "advanced" societies. Unfortunately, these claims are always made on some level of generality. For instance, some claim that
But the same is true of what are called "American values" or, as it is often put, "what
But how did this fracture come about? Many causes can be cited, but the ultimate cause is clear. The fracturing results from the economic system.
Think about it.
American society is fractured by differing religious groups, racial groups, groups based on national origin, political groups, and economic groups. Waves of immigration were and still are being fostered to provide needed labor for
Some Americans have a silly-putty view of human nature. They believe that persons who come to
Americans often reject ideas because they are termed "foreign." For instance, socialism to Americans is a foreign ideology, but, although it goes unacknowledged, so is capitalism. Adam Smith and David Ricardo, the grandfathers of
The fractiousness of these groups is fostered by
In the days immediately following September 11, 2001, the mainstream press touted
During the Revolutionary War, John Dickinson composed the Liberty Song. Its last stanza reads, "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; in so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, for heaven approves of each generous deed." Nations and the institutions they support fall unless governments, like decent men and women, exhibit compassion, generosity, and a concern for the welfare of real, living people. That's all that saving