Beyond Democracy

Prophets like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn understood that the 20th century was the substance of which prophecy is made.  Its history is a poetic saga, the poetry written in God’s own fierce verse.  The first decade of the 21st century was inclined to look back at its immediate centennial predecessor with a degree of self-satisfaction amounting to smugness.  Beginning with the Great War almost 100 years ago and continuing through the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, the Third Reich, and World War II, the human race confronted the terrible inhumanity of man against man, faced it down, and from the experience learned the ultimate lesson mankind needed to learn: Never again!  We have suffered too much, and through suffering grown too aware, to repeat the past.  The 20th century was the century of mass murder, of criminality run rampant.  The 21st century will witness the ideal of global democracy fulfilled and the Rights of Man institutionalized.  How can the past be repeated since, heeding Santayana’s warning, we have learned from it and mended our ways?  In this context, the suggestion that Stalinism and Nazism represent the first crude attempts at the realization of a living tyrannical ideal that has haunted the minds and the imaginations of men since the Middle Ages and that continues to seek embodiment through softer and subtler means might seem gratuitously shocking, the ultimate Schadenfreude.

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