The Huns And Vandals Within
Recently, I have had the pleasure of re-reading Russell Kirk’s opus, The Conservative Mind, drinking it in small doses of a few pages up to a dozen at a single sitting. I’m about forty-percent of the way through it and just started the chapter Liberal Conservatives: Macaulay, Cooper, Tocqueville.
Mr. Kirk begins Section 2 with a quote from a letter Lord Macaulay wrote on 23 May 1857 to the American author Harry S. Randall, who had written the Life Of Jefferson.
The quote, as presented, reads as follows:
…I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both.
In Europe, where the population is dense, the effect of such institutions would be almost instantaneous. …Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish.
I suspect Mr. Kirk shortened the quote because his goal was merely to provide a quick taste of the man’s thinking before the author launched into a more detailed description of the Lord’s philosophy.
This is the full quote:
Dear Sir: You are surprised to learn that I have not a high opinion of Mr. JEFFERSON, and I am surprised at your surprise. I am certain that I never wrote a line, and that I never, in Parliament, in conversation, or even on the hustings — a place where it is the fashion to court the populace — uttered a word indicating an opinion that the supreme authority in a State ought to be intrusted to the majority of citizens told by the head; in other words, to the poorest and most ignorant part of society. I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both.
In Europe, where the population is dense, the effect of such institutions would be almost instantaneous. What happened lately in France is an example. In 1848 a pure Democracy was established there. During a short time there was reason to expect a general spoliation, a national bankruptcy, a new partition of the soil, a maximum of prices, a ruinous load of taxation laid on the rich for the purpose of supporting the poor in idleness. Such a system would, in twenty years, have made France as poor and barbarous as France of the Carlovingians. Happily the danger was averted; and now there is a despotism, a silent tribune, an enslaved Press. Liberty is gone; but civilization has been saved. I have not the smallest doubt that, if we had a purely Democratic Government here, the effect would be the same. Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish.
While Lord Macaulay was certainly more open to reform, he was no Radical. He had more in common with our Classical Liberals than with the Left, which he feared, as you can see by his deep distaste for Democracy and Egalitarianism.
The full letter by Lord Macaulay may be read here and I highly recommend reading it. While the predictions he makes did not quite come true, he most certainly understood where America was heading. He got some of the details wrong, but he understood the demonic spirit that was rising here.
I was struck by this line above: ‘Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish’.
The latter, of course, has not happened here. In fact, while it seemed to many that the Left In America had finally gotten over their total and absolute hatred of the U.S. Armed Forces, we have seen in recent weeks that they most certainly have not. Obama and his Royal Court and his camp followers are determined to destroy the American Military Culture that has successfully guarded our freedom and liberties since 1775.
As for the former prediction in that sentence: Lord Macaulay got the details wrong but correctly described the spirit. As it turns out, the poor and the rich have joined together and are plundering those who reside in-between — the productive people, those Americans who are the fiercest defenders of freedom, liberty, tradition, and Morality — and, as they go from victory to victory, our Civilization is dying a slow death.
The condition of The West right now is grave. The patient’s odds of surviving are not good.
Democracy has come, good and hard.
We let that demonic spirit in and it is imperative that we perform an exorcism if we are to have any hope of seeing freedom and liberty live on, of just basically surviving.
A restoration of that spirit that animated men like Lord Macaulay and Edmund Burke and John Adams and George Washington is needed to solve The Present Crisis.
…Either some Caesar or Napoleon will seize the reins of government with a strong hand; or your Republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was in the fifth; with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals, who ravaged the Roman Empire, came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your country by your own institutions.