Beyond National Socialism

Over drinks in the hotel lounge in the course of a scholarly meeting a year or so ago, I mentioned to a professor of political science and philosophy that I was writing a book on democracy.  “Can you give me an example of democracy in its perfect, most complete form?” he asked.

“National socialism,” I replied.  He took it well, considering that we barely knew each other, and listened with interest—though perhaps not with conviction—while I justified my answer to him.

In the past two centuries, democracy has followed two principal courses: the socialist one in Europe, and the nationalist one in the United States.  Put the two together, and you have national socialism, as in Germany in the 1930’s—democracy brought together in one piece and made a whole, as it were.  As the historian Roland Stromberg has noted, Germany in that decade was—assuming you were descended, off in the mists of history, from the Old Reich and an Aryan—a society of equals enjoying full social and political rights.  The point is, democracy need not have a liberal foundation for its basis.  Indeed, liberals have always tried to find a way around democracy, while working to destroy monarchy, hierarchy, institutionalized religion, prescriptive rights, and traditional morality in the name of “the people” and democratic...

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