A Disillusioned World

Democracy has meant so many things over the past 2,500 years that it is really impossible to make any comprehensive statement about it that applies to all of its usages.  The historical record shows that what people called democratic government and democratic society existed for millennia before the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th (some say 17th) century.  That does not alter the fact that modern democracy and industrialism are inextricably interrelated and mutually dependent: the twin pillars of the Western world in the modern age.  It has been plain for a couple of decades now that the West is confronting still another in a series of crises that have occurred over the past hundred years, each one of which has put its ultimate survival in doubt.  The present crisis has political, economic, social, and religious elements, all of them related to the inadequacy of the two institutions on which our present world stands: mass democracy and industrialism.

It was Karl Marx who popularized the term contradictions, as in “the contradictions of capitalism.”  Two results followed from this.  The first is that contradiction became a suspect, if not discredited, concept on the political center and on the right, which correctly perceived it as an example of vulgar pseudo-intellectualism, as well as a false historical insight.  Yet it...

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