Representative self-government is going out of style

The latest Hollywood salute to the joys of enlightened despotism is nothing new. They’ve been fantasizing about an Obama dictatorship since the first year of his presidency, and swooning over the idea of Wise Leaders With Total Power for a long time before that. Part of this is due to the romantic allure of the Great Man fantasy. What an amazing character the maximum leader must be – a man of incredible intellect, magnetic personality, boundless wisdom, and (almost invariably) superior physique! Gwyneth Paltrow claiming to have been struck speechless by Barack Obama’s beauty is no different than leftists of an earlier generation growing light-headed in the presence of Fidel Castro, or their grandparents swooning over the epic figure of Benito Mussolini, who reputedly broke a different horse every day, and a different woman every night.

More interesting than this comically dimwitted love affair with Great Men is the way leftist philosophy inevitably reduces to some form of despotism. It’s a logical progression that begins the moment one accepts the idea of activist government – a State whose mission is to engineer the best possible society, rather than impartially safeguarding the inalienable rights of each and every citizen. As soon as those rights become negotiable – as soon as the rich man has less claim upon the dollar in his hand than the poor man, as soon as government is empowered to level outcomes instead of protecting equal opportunities – the slide toward despotism begins. It can take a year, a decade, or a century, but eventually the same conclusion is reached: only one man with vast power can implement Utopia.

Sorry, kids, but the Left forgot to tell you that representative self-government is utterly incompatible with their ultimate destination.

Oh, you can still have votes and such. But your votes should serve primarily as a last-ditch check on the power of the enlightened despot. If he goes completely off the rails – if you’re totally unsatisfied with his leadership – why, you can vote him out of office. That keeps this racket all nice and legal, see. It’s “democracy,” not totalitarianism or fascism, because the people can replace the maximum leader. He can’t very well oppress the people if they can vote against him, right?

But as for this business of representative self-government, well, sorry, but the Republic has …read more    

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