Polemics & Exchanges

Erase Publica

It is impossible not to agree with Chilton Williamson, Jr.’s deep insight into the nature of modern democracies (“Contradiction and Collapse,” What’s Wrong With the World, September), all the more as it is enhanced by clear and rigorous phrasing.

I have, however, an issue—maybe only semantic—with his initial assertion that there may be such a thing as a democracy run by an elite concerned with and informed about public matters.  This issue happens to be one I had years ago with my philosopher father about a book he wrote, whose title included the term “aristocratic democracy.”

I have nothing against a society ruled by “a citizenry independent enough to be able to form fair, balanced and informed opinions concerning public matters.”  The only thing is that I would by no means call such a society a democracy, nor by the same token believe in the possibility of a “constitutional” democracy.  The Federalists were no democrats.  They saw democracy as a threat they had to contain since they could not suppress it, and the whole Constitution of the United States, I think, was intended to be a bulwark against the rule of the mob, which is true democracy.  I am tempted to suspect that is exactly what Mr. Williamson actually thinks, since he mentions...

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