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Alfred de Grazia:



A STRIKING FEATURE of life in a democracy is that so many people in it suspect their fellow citizens of undermining democracy. Every imaginable value is proposed and attacked; every group has its own platform of values. It seems obvious that no one's claim to know democracy can be considered valid. All the more reason, therefore, that one should be astonished at another feature of life in a democracy-the fact that most people, unperturbed by the implication of their suspicions, believe democracy to be a single set of beliefs with which everyone in the society agrees or ought to agree.

This remarkable contradiction in attitudes gives us a clue on how to proceed with the discussion of democracy. First, we shall elaborate upon the inconsistencies of political theorists, showing that great philosophers have differed about what is good for man and about what human nature is like. We shall show furthermore how a horde of propagandists continually obscures the proper study of democracy. These steps, constituting the first section of this chapter, should establish how the wish almost always hovers in the thought. They should also prepare us to expect close relationships between what men believe are the important facts of life and what they believe are the important moral principles of life.

The second section of the chapter will describe the social and economic conditions that prevail generally in democracies. No attempt will be made to find a consistent set of moral principles that explain the conduct of the people in such societies. Rather the actual social setting of such societies will be described.

In the third section of the chapter we shall ask whether there is a consistent ethical system of democracy. We shall find that instead of there being one absolute democracy, there are four major moral positions of democracy that, although they are in some ways mutually antagonistic, do provide the basis for thought and action in democratic societies.

Finally, an eclectic theory that considers democracy as an equilibrium of the four moral positions will be presented. When all these tasks are completed, we shall be able to understand the problem of democracy better, and, as a token of this understanding, we should be able to explain the riddle of why men dwelling in a democratic state hold the democracy of their fellows in distrust and yet claim democracy to be a single belief system.



Whose values ought to prevail? Whose liberties and whose policies are the best? Whose liberties and policies shall be frustrated? Political theory, in so far as it discusses what is good or bad about human conduct, gives many answers. One may follow the advice of Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Spinoza, Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, or some other philosopher, or even the exhortations of a Hitler or Stalin. These men, and many others, do not agree on what is good for man. Plato, for example, believed the community ought to assign each person his life work and train him for it. Contrariwise, Adam Smith thought that the individual is best assigned to his life work through satisfying whatever happens to be the market demand for his skill at a point in time. Smith would forbid the community from ruling the division of labor by legislation.

Though writers differ on what is good for men, there are schools or species of morality, the members of which agree more with each other than with those outside their group. Thus Plato and T. H. Green subscribe to a different moralorder than that of Machiavelli and Hobbes or that of Aristotle and Locke. One of the major tasks of political scientists specializing in the history of ideas and theory is to discover these major species and explain their similarities and differences. This task forms a great branch of political theory.


Another great branch of political theory is devoted to a description of what men are like, what they want, what is possible. These theorists do not ask moral questions. They ask what are the facts of political life? Whose liberties can prevail? To whom might liberty possibly be consigned, and whose interests could possibly be defeated? We do not know now, nor will we know for some time to come, the answer to these factual questions.

Nor have political scientists of the past been in agreement on the answer to these questions. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, for example, wrote their masterpieces about the same time, the middle and later seventeenth century. In the realm of morality, the two men differed greatly. Locke declared himself in favor of private, individual freedom, Hobbes in favor of authoritative control over many individual actions. The two men also put forward antagonistic theories to explain human nature. Locke thought men were naturally co-operative, social, and reasonable. Hobbes thought men were naturally in a state of conflict that made their lives "nasty, brutish, and short" until the coming of governmental authority. On the basis of his theory, Locke believed certain rights could be maintained without the intervention of government; such rights were life, liberty, and property. On the other hand, Hobbes was convinced that, so far as liberty was possible, it was only possible in a regime with enough authority and power to keep order.

There was not enough evidence then, and there seems not to be enough today, to declare that either position is correct or incorrect. We are entitled to be suspicious, under such circumstances, of both men, for, where the facts are not agreed upon, often the partial facts that support our own deep desires (frequently hidden from ourselves) are emphasized to bolster our own moral beliefs.

To put the case in other terms, so long as Chinese, Africans, Russians, Europeans, and Americans do not agree that the same "facts" exist, we must view through narrowed eyes any theory purportedly based on "human nature." There is no agreement either on what is good for man or on what man is like. So human discourse on either level is likely to be treacherous.


Unfortunately for the student of democratic theory, most
writers on democracy muff the opportunity to set forth those
facts about political behavior and political values which his
tory and other social sciences have handed down to us. Most writers, it seems, join unrestrainedly the ranks of propagandists as soon as they begin to discuss political values. The vast literature on democracy, consequently, is filled with slapdash logic and incredible contradictions.

If we read for logic and evidence, rather than for fervid agreement, we observe that an extraordinary process occurs repeatedly. For example, a writer is moved to broadcast his democratic sentiments and writes a book or article to commemorate the urge. He declares in the text that individual rights are sacred, persuading his readers that his "principle" is correct by citing some individual "right" with which the readers agree enthusiastically. Thus, he might write: "A man has the right to the privacy of his home against pilfering officials and snooping police."

Soon afterwards, he declaims on the rights of minorities, holding that "men must be allowed to speak openly and freely against the government." Again the reading audience applauds. Then in another place, the writer will soar high in praise of the virtues of the common man and of the majority of men. He will cite the London cockney in the air raids, and the popular majorities of Fiorello La Guardia, the scourge of Tammany Hall. At this, his readers give rousing cheers.

Democracy, for them, is now complete: it gives complete freedom to the individual to work out his life plans; it allows the minority to have its liberties; and it permits the majority of commen men to govern.

But what we have in this type of argumentation is not a proof that principles of democracy may be discovered, or that these principles are consistent, or that such principles are practical. The argument relies mostly on simple emotional agreement on particular sentiments, masquerading as principles.

To show this fact, let us suppose that our writer is slightly mad and out of touch with his audience. Each time he states a "principle," he gives a different example. When he lauds individual rights, he says, by way of illustration, that "every man has a right to enslave his family and conceal stolen property in the privacy of his home." This would make his audience fidget, of course. Ignoring their reactions, however, be goes on to state the next "principle," the rights of minorities. He proclaims that unions have the right to choose the people with whom they must work; they ought to be able to discriminate against unskilled persons, persons of different race, sex, or nationality, and people who disagree with the union leadership's policies. His audience now reads his words in ominous calm.

Then he states his third principle, having to do with the great virtue of the common man and with the rightness of the majority. He cites the American Colonial mobs that rioted against smallpox vaccination, the great repute of Napoleon among the mass of Frenchmen, and the fact that the enlightened Swiss voters chose to inflict penalties, in a referendum many years ago, on persons practicing Judaism. Practically his whole audience deserts him at this point, regarding his sentiments, if not his principles, as abominable.

These examples are by way of saying that the vast bulk of writings and other expressions on the subject of democracy (and anti-democracy) are propaganda, and might be praised or attacked for being good or bad propaganda for achieving the goals of the writer or speaker. There is little science in them. By using examples that please the audience as proof of certain principles, the writers are able to acquire a reputation for profound thought, logical method, and scholarship. All particular likes, although one like may contradict a hundred different likes in practice, are collected and called democracy. All particular dislikes, whether they belong together or not, are heaped up and called by a horrid word.

In all humility, and realizing that it is impossible not to be sometimes a sinner, we must recognize the problem for what it is. If nonscientific thoughts and words about democracy and anti-democracy were stilled by some mighty and just hand, a vast silence would settle over the universe of politics. Hardly a pen would be put to hand, hardly a word spoken, so little have 2,500 years of logic and scientific method affected the social ideas and political practices of mankind.


This indictment that history reads to politics must not be understood to mean that logic and scientific procedures can tell what "democracy" really ought to be. Nor does the presence of logic and scientific method mean that democracy is also present. Men may be dominated, propagandized, coerced, and manipulated by the use of scientific procedures into subscribing to authority of many kinds. An increased use of science will only clarify the values that men hold, reduce the confusions of thought that emerge in politics, and decrease the waste in energies and resources as men move from their present position to the liberties they visualize.


Far below the everyday use of science as the slave of man's will, lies the problem of the relation between what knowledge man is capable of and what he wants. Some problems of science are so much a part of man's basic thought processes that they have the effect of turning men's desires in certain directions. Conversely, men's basic desires condition these root problems of science. The study of this relationship is one of the most profound problems of philosophy.

Our glimpse of past thinking has shown two general ways in which scientific and ethical problems are related. In one way, men most often assert as fact what they want to believe wherever the evidence on the point at issue is inconclusive. The wish is father to the "fact." In another way, the facts that are universally agreed to will be used by men to support their own temperament and values. An optimist will find that the incomplete facts in a situation bear out his theory about mankind's eternal progress. A pessimist will fit the same facts into a theory of man's approaching doom.

Consequently, we may expect arguments about what is good to be closely associated with arguments about what is true in fact. Indeed, no two political writers ever pursued the same method, agreed on the same facts, and then disagreed radically on what was the good life.



The preceding discussion permits us, for the time being, to put aside the search for a systematic set of moral principles that may be called the democratic belief-system, and to turn our attention to another approach to the study of democracy. Democracy may be studied as a distinctive social setting. Under certain conditions, there have come into being governments that have been called democratic either because the societies termed themselves democracies or because their actions conformed to a given definition of democracy. Several of the candidates for these honors would be ancient Athens, late republican Rome, medieval Florence, Switzerland over several centuries, France and England over most of the last century and a half, and the United States.

It is not easy to discover what is common to these societies. Not only do several of them differ in many of their institutions, but the members within any one of them also differ in many ways. Certainly Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles, and Aristides held strikingly different moral principles in democratic Athens. And so did Sulla, Cicero, Catiline, Pompey, and Julius Caesar in Rome. Nor need we more than mention the differences among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, John L. Lewis, James Farley, and Huey Long. Probably all of these men, though controversial figures, have either regarded themselves as democrats or have been regarded by thousands of fellow citizens as democrats. Yet there probably exists no single, debatable issue in relation to which all of them would hold to the same position.

On the other hand, the societies in which these men lived or live would qualify for the title of democracy, because certain social and economic conditions prevailed in them that do not prevail in undemocratic societies. We will now enumerate and will subsequently define seven of the most significant conditions for democracy. These are (1) general freedom of action and speech; (2) strong attempts to uplift the common people; (3) constitutionalism and dispersal of political controls; (4) relatively high social and political mobility; (5) relatively high level of personal discontent; (6) undervaluation of the qualities of political leaders; (7) emphasis on education and economic measures, instead of force, as instruments of authority. There are perhaps other indices that signify the presence of democracy, but these seven indices seem most significant and most closely connected with the political process. Any state that possesses these conditions will be called democratic, according to our method of analysis. We will now discuss each of these conditions individually.


Widespread freedom of action and speech is a primary criterion of democracy. Democracies often have punished men for their opinions and have prevented a full freedom of political action. But, on the whole, there seems to be little reason to doubt that democratic societies are more hospitable to, and give a wider scope to, criticism of the government, organization for political purposes, and the exercise of individual and group pressures on the state. Since we are dealing with a general freedom and believe this general criterion to be the important one, we are not impressed with particular deviations in individual cases. That is, democracies often restrict the freedoms of a few individuals to speak and act the way they desire; and one may not gainsay such persons for feeling bitter against the democratic societies in which they find themselves. But these occasional violations of the general conditions do not make democracy the same as despotism. The police, the ministers, the mob, and the politicians of nineteenth-century France often encroached upon freedom of speech and action, but, nevertheless, freedom then was a much more general condition than it was before the Revolution of 1789.


The second condition found in democracies is a strong concern for the mass of people. Democracy without the "people" is inconceivable. Both the political critics of democratic societies and the leading members of democratic societies are preoccupied with the role of the common man. The debate over bettering his standard of living and his intellectual and moral attainments consumes a large volume of political energy. We need not consider whether the common people of democratic societies are better fed or more cultured than those of other societies to agree with the fact that the common man is zealously spoken for and his support eagerly solicited in democratic societies. No one dare question that government ought to be for the people. A great deal of economic, moral, and social effort is directed at increasing equalities of all kinds and inhibiting any inequalities that many people see fit to be concerned about.

We are speaking of a general condition. Numerous men disagree with this "populism" and act overtly or surreptitiously against it. But they are at least slightly out of tune with their society. No democratic society can be confused with a nondemocratic society when the relative strength of the "uplifting" force in each society is known. Even a charismatic mass movement of the Nazi type, originating as it did from several problems of the pre-existing democratic society, turned more and more away from slogans referring to the betterment of the masses and towards slogans exalting sacrifices for the nation and the leaders. In the Soviet Union, the uplift theory has been in cold storage for a generation; "appeasement" of the common man has given way continually to the demands of industrializing the country and fighting wars.


The third general condition of democracies concerns the way in which their institutions are related to each other. The amount of power possessed by any single institution is limited by a separation of powers, in fact, even if not in theory, and the level of juridical defense, as it has been described in Chapter 2 of Volume II, is high. That "it is difficult to get things done in a democracy," is a common allegation of democracy's foes and the frequent complaint of its friends. The legislatures impede the executives; the executives intervene in the economy; the courts hinder the legislatures; the civilians prevent the free operation of the military; the parties fight one another over principles, or simply fight "on principle"; and local interests and jurisdictions have autonomy or passively resist the central authorities. Even when a separation of powers does not exist in their constitutions, democracies are famous for their turbulent politics. Athenian politics were incomprehensible to the Spartans; American politics similarly baffle the Russians, who have what is called by the communists "democratic centralism," that is, an inconsiderable separation of powers and a shadow of juridical defense.


The fourth condition of democracy is high social and political mobility. The people who are proud of class distinctions and live by them are a minority in democracies. They establish small islands on the society pages of the newspapers and in certain professions and even in local areas. But they are a backwash to the greater flood that is composed of men and women who occupy their social and political position "on good behavior," so to speak. Class in a democracy tends to be a statistical and acquired status, much as we described the condition of the social classes in America in Chapter Three. Men move up and down the social ladder within a single generation; if they achieve high status before death, they consider themselves fortunate if their sons and daughters maintain that status; if they remain lowly or descend from previous heights of prestige, income, and opportunities, they console themselves with the thought that they have not bequeathed a severe handicap to their children.

In the sphere of politics proper, the politists in a democracy do not come from a single class or group. They are not a homogeneous body. They are subject to the same ups and downs as members of the social classes in general. Political status, even more than social status, is statistical and acquired. Certain types succeed more in politics than others, for example, lawyers in America and orators in France, but the characteristics of these types are not class characteristics. They are functional and psychological characteristics.

So, on the whole, a relatively high degree of freedom of opportunity may be said to be a condition of democratic societies. One must make an exception to this generalization in the case of revolutionary societies that are rarely democratic but usually have high social and political mobility, as in the Soviet Union. If communism continues in Russia for another generation, we may expect social mobility to decline there at a rapid rate because of other conditions there that are undemocratic.


Intense social competition has its effects on the personality and is related to our fifth criterion of democracy, the high level of personal discontent. A kind of rootlessness is common in democratic societies. Making one's own way in society, rather than depending upon the position one has inherited, is likely to cause tension and anxiety. One often seems to be passing through life on a steep and narrow path between the pinnacle of social success and the abyss of social failure. There is a constant and direct pressure on the individual in a democratic society to "improve" himself, to "educate" himself, to acquire new wants.

In addition to these direct effects of the relatively classless society on the individual, a general sense of insecurity, coming from the whole political organization of the society, is likely to affect many individuals. Practically no institution or belief in the society is beyond attack; the comfortable sense of knowing exactly what to believe and how to act, which exists in a totalitarian society or a purely conservative society, is absent for the most part in a democracy. Sometimes the condition of rootlessness may be transformed into a moral principle, as in America, where a great many teachers believe their mission is to "shock" their students by adopting a beliefshattering position; this is called "stirring them up" or "making them think" and is based on the somewhat unreliable theory that anxiety is the parent of intelligence. The theory is not too reliable, because over-anxiety is the sire of irrationality.

Still, it is true that a certain complexity of mind and character is necessary if a person is to dwell in sympathy with democracy. Greater understanding, passive if not active, is required of a democratic citizen than of the citizen or subject of a nondemocratic state. At the same time, democratic politics with its multiple and contradictory beliefs and its changing institutions and officers demands a sturdiness of mind not required in other societies. The problem thus emerges of obtaining at the same time a higher intellectual average and a lower anxiety threshold among democratic citizens. Educational and psychological theory is presently incapable of dealing with this problem; nevertheless there is a widespread appreciation of its significance, expressed directly or indirectly in hundreds of books and lectures by commentators such as Reinhold Neibuhr, Margaret Mead, Erich Fromm, John Dewey, Harold D. Lasswell, T. S. Eliot, Elton Mayo, Sebastian de Grazia, and Nevitt Sanford. Needless to say, the problem is part of the everyday work and writings of hundreds of educational psychologists in America.


An undervaluation of leadership is our sixth condition of democracies. Leaders of democracies have always complained that they are not listened to, they are not followed, they are not credited with intelligence, and they are not trusted. They might quote with some bitterness the witticism that " a statesman is a dead politician." A large part of the public, on the other hand, assails the alleged double-dealing, hypocrisy, demagoguery, and incompetence of their leaders. Because of this condition, as welt as others, democracy presents a spectacle that is often held in contempt by foreign societies and even by many of its own people. The derision with which the politics of a democracy are received abroad is only exceeded by the laughter constantly accorded them at home. Yet it is probable that this condition is an inescapable one; a democracy in which the political leadership is regarded with profound respect, is harkened to, and is obeyed with great confidence is unthinkable.

Whether this condition is a grave weakness or indirectly a source of some greater strength depends on the circumstances in a particular case; in some ways it causes errors and defeats; in others it prevents blunders and disasters. Such a discussion is not the task of this section, but we may indicate that here too, as with personal discontent, there often arises a competition for influence between two subfactors in a general criterion of democracy. Is the decline in morale, occasioned by mutual recriminations, of greater effect and importance than the exaggerations in thought and action committed by leaders that are insensitive to public opinion?


Our seventh condition of the democratic way of life is the emphasis on education and economic measures as instruments of authority and the diminished belief in, or use of, force. The tendency of a democratic government is to exhaust psychological and economic pressures before resorting to force to carry out its policies. Punishment by "re-education" and economic deprivations is favored over corporal punishment.

This reluctance to use force where force may be used legitimately is another occasion for the critics of democracy, inside and outside the country, to cry that democracy is weak. To such men it appears that force ought to be invoked whenever the government is obviously "right" and wherever force is likely to be "efficient." But these words "right" and "efficient" are deceptive. The government may have such a "right" in one sense, since it is empowered to use force. But a large part of the population may be against force and may dislike its use even where it would bring prompt and "efficient" results. Breaking an illegal strike by force may be "efficient," then, only in the sense that the strike will be broken; to the strikers and to a good part of the population, strikebreaking is not "efficient" because no act is efficient that violates their expectations of what the government ought to do in such circumstances. This part of the people put force down as a technique of last resort and are badly disappointed when the government reverses the order of expectations by skipping persuasion and economic measures and moving directly into the use of force. The illegal strike of railroad yard workers in the United States in the weeks before Christmas, 1950, illustrates perfectly these points. The government could legally have employed force. Instead, speeding up the usual process, because war shipments to Korea and Christmas shipments were being held up, the government pushed its intervention for an economic settlement and privately and publicly exhorted the workers "to do their patriotic duty." The strikers returned to work, as could have been expected, just before force was due to be employed.

Other consequences of a more fundamental sort follow the affinity of democracies for education and propaganda. The naked use of force and economic pressures leave little room for scientific thought to develop. A society that seeks peaceful psychological adjustments of human relations may invite the most absurd waste of time and energy in propaganda; but it does keep the door to factual investigation open. It allows man to introduce some rational demonstration into political conflict; and if rational demonstration may stifle or settle conflict to everyone's satisfaction, this condition of a democracy seems important. Democratic societies, through their emphasis on discussion, can maximize whatever abilities men may have to find and achieve common aims. Even though most citizens of democracy may be incapable of using, or unwilling to use, the delicate instruments of communications for anything but the mastery or destruction of their fellows, yet, once engrossed in the democratic process, they must be subjected to at least some element of scientific or rational communication.


The seven criteria of the social setting of democracy have been described and several absentees may be noted. The first absentee is a systematic set of beliefs adhered to by all; we have already explained why we do not consider it among the most important criteria and we shall have more to say about it later on in the chapter. Also absent are the many criteria of any social order-as we have described them throughout this book-the community, the public, politists, leaders, "good" men, "bad" men, government functions, legislatures, political parties, courts, and so on. These criteria are not unique to democracies. Therefore they will not help us discriminate between democratic and undemocratic societies.

But one criterion, often employed by writers, deserves special attention; that is the criterion of economic wellbeing. It is asserted frequently that unless a country is wellto-do, it cannot afford to be democratic. That is, it cannot be poor and at the same time support our seven conditions of democracy. This theory depends on the theory of economic determinism, which in its most strict and proper sense says that the struggle for bare subsistence will influence politics.

To take an example of this theory at work, we may inquire what happens when a country has a great excess of population to the extent that some of its people are starving at all times. Overpopulation in proportion to available resources causes great insecurity, physical and psychological, among the people of a country. These conditions may affect adversely several of the conditions for democracy in the following ways. The intended beneficial results of free speech and free action are deprived of meaning. Hopelessness about uplifting the mass of people occurs. The complex institutions of democratic government appear a useless luxury to people who are obsessed with their basic needs. Social mobility is reduced as the masses go hungry and a privileged few live in social isolation. The level of personal anxiety is increased far beyond the normal level. The dislike of politicians reaches hysterical proportions. And, finally, accumulated anxieties and hatreds are vented on domestic and foreign enemies with force and violence. In other words, economic distress of wide scope and deep impact tends to disable the conditions of democracy all along the line. Undemocratic conditions begin to be substituted for democratic ones. Ultimately the whole structure of democracy may collapse. That these events occur cannot be denied.

Does this lengthy illustration of how national poverty affects democracy mean that the seven conditions of democracy are ultimately determined by the subsistence level of economic well-being? In a broad and indirect sense, yes.

For our purposes here, however, in telling how to identify a democracy, poverty and wealth will not discriminate ordinarily between despotisms and democracies. The poor Scots of the sixteenth century were as democratic as the wealthier English. The poor American frontiersmen were more democratic than the wealthier Americans of the Eastern seaboard. The French under the democratic Third Republic were poorer than the Germans under the Kaiser. It would therefore be imprudent to assert that anything but the most extreme poverty prohibits a democratic society. A dish of hot oatmeal is enough to start a democrat on his way. Thereafter, increases in material wants are combinations of economic, political, and social motives that occur under any form of government.

Economic determinism is most clearly and convincingly at work when severe and widespread economic distress afflicts a community. So-called "economic determinants," as the Marxists habitually use the phrase, most often include not only economic motives, but also motives of social status, if they are ends, and of the struggle for power, if they are means. In these respects, the theory of economic determinism might be better understood as "the theory of invidious comparisons." Thus, the fight for gold or the ambitious drive to own and operate a business are types of competition for a higher status or more power in the community relative to the other members of the community. It is a mistake to accept the verbal rationalization that one strives for status or power only in order to have champagne and breast of guinea hen under glass on the table. It would seem that we have here a "social determinant (status)" and a "political determinant proper (power)" that are at least as influential as the pure economic determinant in molding the form of any society. And, in fact, if one re-examines the seven conditions of democracy described above, one will find these motives more actively displayed than the economic. In any event, all these motives are found in all societies. Only in impoverished and wretched societies, does economic need determine that democracy cannot exist.

We conclude, then, that for the purpose of identifying the democratic condition of life we need not go beyond the second-level symptoms incorporated in the seven stated conditions. If we go too far into the levels of causality, we should have a massive job of tracing the infinite roots of society. They would ramify intricately through human motives of all kinds. That task is certainly an important one, and our chapters on political behavior have been dedicated in part to it.



Thus far, this chapter has made two chief points. The first was that no clear agreement on what is good or what is true can be found among writers or men at large. The second point was that several criteria can nevertheless be employed to distinguish societies that are democratic from societies that are not. We will now see whether we can abstract from the mass of thoughts and actions relevant to the subject of democracy one or more consistent viewpoints.

It seems that we can demonstrate that four such viewpoints exist. In exploring each of them we shall learn why there is no general agreement on a pure democratic belief-system, and why, nevertheless, each one of these moral positions is essential to the democratic condition of life. These four viewpoints or moral positions of democracy occur together, plague one another, support one another. How this mysterious equilibrium of the four moral positions is attained is described in the last section of the chapter, where it is shown that democracy is an eclectic whole rather than a unified and consistent whole. And it is this confused and contradictory combination that provides us with the theoretical interpretation of the condition of democracy described in the section just completed.


As we venture into the theoretical task of isolating the moral positions that are expressed in thought and action, we ought to repeat a warning advanced elsewhere in this work, notably in the discussion of legitimacy, political parties, and electoral behavior. That is, that although the concepts we are about to extract are unreal they are nevertheless useful. For instance, when we talk about the "conservative" moral position of a man, we do not mean that the man is purely conservative or always conservative, and when we talk about the conservative moral position in democracy we do not mean that there is exactly one quarter of democratic societies that is composed of purely conservative people. We have in mind rather a great number of ideas and actions that seem to have the same motivation and character (that is, conservative), that such ideas and actions are often concentrated in some men (conservatives) to the partial exclusion of opposing ideas and actions, and that the cumulative effect of these things makes the total society different (more conservative) from other societies.

The technique used here is somewhat akin to the theoretical technique used by a detective in bunting an unknown culprit. The detective may have a hard job ahead with few clues and an inadequate description. However he is more fortunate than we, because he is hunting a reality-an actual criminal. Our approach more closely resembles that of the bacteriologist who is studying invisible viruses. He manipulates in many ways the area in which he has reason to believe they exist and watches what happens to the things he introduces into the area. Then he constructs an "unreal" description of the viruses, which he sends off to fellow scientists elsewhere. By comparing their notes on virus areas with his he will arrive at a theory of viruses. However, his theory may conflict with that of the other scientists because the findings of all scientists do not agree and because there may be disagreements among them as to how to frame the theory. One scientist, for example, may declare that the theory of viruses should be framed in chemical terms, another may prefer biological terms. In the end, however, the findings accumulate and help enrich the theories, and the theories compete for the prize of greatest utility-utility being defined as the extent to which the theory helps find out new things about viruses, the extent to which the theory is simple, and the extent to which the theory can be used to manufacture a medicine against certain kinds of viruses. Any theory of this type is "unreal," in the natural as well as in the social sciences. To a scientist the value of a theory lies in its utility. One must ask himself, therefore, in the pages to follow, whether we have a useful theory of democracy.


The four moral systems, which we are about to describe as they operate in democracies, operate in all societies. For considerations of space and importance, however, we shall discuss the four positions principally as they function in the democratic environment. The four moral positions are the egalitarian, the conservative, the elite, and the relativist. As they function democratically, they are called: egalitarian democracy; conservative democracy; elitist democracy; and relativist democracy.


Egalitarian democracy seeks to know what people want and to give it to them. It is called egalitarian because it does not pretend to judge the goodness or badness of individual wants; whatever people want is good, and all men's wants are to be equally valued. The big problems of politics, according to this theory, are to find out what people want and how to get those wants expressed quickly in political policy. If this theory were carried to the extreme, egalitarian democracy would have as its goal the discovery of the wishes of some 2,000,000,000 people and of the means of realizing them all on equal terms. Furthermore, we must remember that each one of these individuals has many desires, and the desires vary in intensity and change constantly.


Now obviously, posing the problem of satisfying wants in this extreme form is unjust to reality, for no man is such a fool as to try to solve such a problem, granted the desirability of the egalitarian principle. If human nature were different from what it is, something like egalitarian principles could be carried out by science. That is, if all men were alike in their nature and their wants, we could at least understand the scope of the problem and have some success in saying to what extent it might be solved. Or even if all men were by nature divided into two groups, each having one end in life and no other, then we still might conceivably define the possibilities inherent in the situation, preparatory to applying the egalitarian solution of satisfying each group equally. If one group were composed of men who wanted only to extend Soviet rule over the whole world, and the other were composed of men who wanted only to see the Kremlin razed to the ground, and absolutely no other end made a particle of difference to either group, then our problem of analysis would be much simplified. We could analyze the potentialities in the situation as neatly as Dr. Neumann has depicted mathematically the complete possibilities of success for each player in a two-handed game of poker. How to explain the necessary distribution of results and satisfy the people involved would be a grave difficulty, however, for the egalitarian umpires.

About the closest that political science has come to finding a situation in which wants are simplified and hence can be interpreted with some completeness is when nationalism has run rampant, as in Nazi Germany. "Everything," Hitler scribbled once in a jail cell, "from the baby's first storybook to the last newspaper, theatre, cinema . . . will be put to this end . . . until the brain of the tiniest child is penetrated by the glowing prayer: Almighty God, bless our weapons again . . . bless our battle." And Hitler did have some success in instilling in the German people a desire for the power of the German state at home and abroad that largely superseded any other motive, although other motives were not and cannot be completely obliterated. Still, such a strong motive does permit us to analyze Nazi behavior more easily than the political behavior of a democratic society.

Another example of a simple motivation being successfully pursued is found in Machiavelli's The Prince. It is no coincidence that this book has long stood as a classic work in political science. For Machiavelli did something much like the process of reducing the problem we are discussing here; he assumed only one motive, the pursuit of power, and traced the way to its achievement, disregarding other conflicting motives, like the leader's desire for virtue or wealth. From his work we gain two clear conclusions: firstly, science can teach brigands as well as parsons; secondly, the simpler the value desired, the easier it is to build a science for achieving it.

But, in fact, nature is not so generous as to provide egalitarian-directed political scientists with such simple problems. The differences in the values held by human beings, and in the intensity with which they are held, are for all practical purposes infinite. Infinite difficulties face a political science that first must discover everyone's values and then calculate how they can be realized. Only by making general and imperfect categories out of a multitude of observations of human motives and behavior can we cope with the myriad human desires. The egalitarian democrats, then, must concede the minimum necessity of working only with desires that people generally rather than individually have. One of the grave defects of philosophers like Paine and Rousseau was that they spoke of the generality of mankind as if individuals who composed the generality were all alike.

If they admit men are different, the egalitarians must depend on social science to an undreamed of extent. Conceivably a representative sample of the whole population of the world must be studied to obtain the world's values, and then these values must be reduced to the number of individual differences that can be legislated upon. Science must resort to modes and averages in this matter as in so many others. Modal values and average wishes must be the currency of political discourse. Legislation (and this means state intervention) is imperatively demanded because the only way the whole process of realizing egalitarian desires can be achieved is by a general statement proclaiming what must be the stipulated mode of behavior for realizing the modal value.

Yet, though the law and the science be ultra-scientific, they can never cope with the full complexity of the problem legislated upon. Every mode and average hides individual differences. And since the theory of egalitarian democracy never obtained permission to dismiss individual differences in desires, it must admit that the mode or average is a concession to practicability and will not achieve the perfect egalitarianism. And, since their individual wants will differ to a lesser or greater extent from the summary indices, most people will have to look for other ways of satisfying their desires.


The fact that the egalitarian position is impossible to fulfill except by using averages that most fit the population whose desires are to be followed is only one of the moral compromises egalitarians must make. In addition, the egalitarian not only must compel his supporters to accept less or more benefits than what they actually desire, but he must compel the people to accept even the solution that fits their needs exactly. This compulsion invariably introduces all the problems of political means to what was originally conceived of as a clear goal. That is, to compel people means domination, psychological manipulation, economic manipulation, and physical coercion in varying amounts. The choice and extent of use of each weapon can make the policy of securing equal respect for all as disturbing morally as the pursuit of any other value. The moral position behind this policy is no easier than that involved in the pursuit of any other political value. The "voice of the people" is not only difficult to hear and interpret, but its judgments also are almost always so complex as to keep those who wish to satisfy the people in a constant moral quandary.

The "voice of the people" is likely to be a clamor for two, three, or a hundred desires that conflict, rather than to exist as shadings of the same desire. The politician must then decide what part of the people he wishes to follow. The "majority" has been the most popular answer to this problem. So the majority principle has come to be venerated among egalitarian spokesmen as the best index of the proper course of conduct. The majority strikes off the best mode or average; the minority must be impelled by the various political instruments to submit. Without the majority principle, or something much like it-a public opinion poll, for example-egalitarianism is lost. Yet some people will lose by the application of the majority principle, so egalitarianism is still removed from its perfect theoretical extreme, that of achieving the total collectivity of individual desires.


In history, the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Jefferson, and innumerable less admired and less important figures exemplify the egalitarian position in democratic thought and action. Some of its common beliefs may be enumerated. All men are declared to be born free and equal. All the rights of government come from the mass of people and may be taken back upon demand. Government should be so far as possible that of the people themselves. It should be as close to the town-meeting form of government as possible. The people are the best judge of what concerns them.

Universal suffrage is demanded by egalitarians as a means of expressing powerfully the desires of the collectivity. Frequent elections are favored. The majority principle is adhered to almost to the exclusion of other structural principles of government. All individuals should have the same power, offices should be open to all, representatives should be immediately responsible to the majority.

Thomas Jefferson's definition of the term "republic" gives us a general picture of this form of thought:

Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say, purely and simply, it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less republican, in proportion as it has in its composition more or less of this ingredient of the direct action of the citizens. Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township.

The first shade from this pure element, which, like that of pure vital air, cannot sustain life of itself, would be where the powers of the government, being divided, should be exercised each by representatives chosen either pro hac vice, or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of expressing the will of their constituents. This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure republic, which is practicable on a large scale of county or population. And we have examples of it in some of our state constitutions, which, if not poisoned by priest-craft, would prove its excellence over all mixtures with other elements; and, with only equal doses of poison, would still be the best.

Other shades of republicanism may be found in other forms of government, where the executive, judiciary and legislative functions, and the different branches of the latter, are chosen by the people more or less directly, for longer terms of years, or for life, or made hereditary; or where there are mixtures of authorities, some dependent on, and others independent of the people. The further the departure from direct and constant control by the citizens, the less has the government of the ingredient of republicanism . . . . [1]

This very important side of Thomas Jefferson, illustrated in the preceding passage, made his name renowned among the advocates of the equality of all men. He had, however, many ideas inconsistent with these principles and often acted, as all men do, contrary to them, but, in general, he earned his fame by his persistent search for the beliefs of the masses and his endeavors to devise a scheme of government that would embody those beliefs.


The second moral position found in a democracy may be termed "conservative democracy." Its origins were hinted at in the previous discussion. There it was stated that science had little possibility of discovering or fulfilling mankind's many desires. While the egalitarian democrats remain optimistic in the face of this condition, the conservative democrats assume a pessimistic role. They are inclined to preserve what is desirable about their present lot and not to risk their present situation for a future one. To them it seems that there exist always far more varied and excessive wants than can possibly be satisfied. The task of government is to reduce wants, rather than to uncover and exalt them. If the people want bathtubs and books and cannot have both, they must be convinced that either baths or books are harmful.


The utility of social science, then, to the conservative, is to provide ways of repressing the exuberant growth of new desires and of eliminating demands already present among the population. Again social policy, this time conservative policy, has problems in common with social science. In many kinds of problems studied by social scientists, the solution can only be obtained if the number of demands in the situation being studied are kept to a minimum or if the number of demands are reduced. Thus the social scientist will try to limit his subject of study at any one time to one of manageable proportions-asmall group rather than a large, a simple group rather than a complex one, a static situation rather than a changing situation, and so forth-all in the interests of science. But his motives are the same as those of the conservative who, in the realm of social policy, feels incompetent to handle the needs of a human group in which everyone wants a variety of things at the same tine but in which social policy is too haphazard a skill to satisfy all the demands.

Both social scientists and conservatives, however, find the problem of reducing wants to manageable proportions a difficult one. It is quite a trick to stem a flood of wants or to reduce existing wants. Many features of society, completely beyond our control at the present time, contribute to an increase in wants. In consequence, they contribute also to the complexity of the total problem of satisfying wants. Social change has some of the qualities of a self-agitator: change creates demands ,or needs for even more change. Anyone who wishes to turn back the clock of technology encounters great resistance. Thus the Amishmen of Ohio, a conservative and tightly-knit religious sect, are strongly opposed to automobiles and similar "gadgets," but they could not force a member to use a horse and buggy when he required a car periodically to drive his ailing child to a doctor situated some distance away from his farm. In George Orwell's novel, 1984, the conservative one-party state had to rewrite history constantly, at extravagant expense, to reconcile its people to a retrograde material standard of living.

Still, severe repression, especially when conducted in the name of some nationalistic frenzy, can reduce and stop the accumulation of wants of a people, as the experience of some European countries in this century evidences. Whole nations have to a large extent forgotten, and hardly miss, the advantages and goods of an earlier period. Nazi Germany threw all the machinery of the totalitarian state into such a campaign to reduce and concentrate the values of its people and achieved considerable success. The Germans were forced in a hundred ways to forget the abundant days before World War I and even the relative abundance of the republican period from 1919 to 1932.


These examples have been presented to show how fundamental and universal is the conservative position. It is safe to say that anybody who has ever had experience in politics or human relations in general has had to employ the conservative idea at some point in his activities. Like the egalitarian idea, which is always present, both as a method in the study of human relations and as an ethical demand, but which is especially and predominantly present among certain men, the conservative idea must be present everywhere, but yet can be strong and even predominant among certain men and societies.

As it enters the field of practical political issues, the conservative idea often takes the form of a demand for preserving tradition, seeking to prevent the present from divorcing itself from the past. It affirms that some of the most pressing problems of a democracy emerge from the difficulty of adjusting a society to continuous change. The conservatives look beyond the immediate satisfaction of a want and ask wearily whether this satisfaction will not produce in turn a number of new wants, few of which can be satisfied by the machinery of government.

Among the illustrious advocates of such a position are Edmund Burke, the great conservative politician and orator of eighteenth-century England, and Henry Adams of the United States. Others are Brooks Adams, Ortega y Gassett, and Roberto Michels. A number of recent psychologists, especially those inclined toward psychoanalysis, dwell on this "reactionary" method of handling the problems of democracy. Thus, William James (not at all a psychoanalytic psychologist) defines contentment as the ratio of aspirations to achievement; when aspirations got out of hand no achievement could satisfy the individual. And Erich Fromm, psychoanalytically trained, wrote a book called Escape From Freedom, the theme of which has to do with man's liberties outstripping his psychological capacity for using his liberties.


The works of Edmund Burke paint an authentic portrait of conservatism. In one place, Burke sets up a doctrine of the "prescriptive" constitution, the government of law that is so good because it has grown, rather than been rashly created; it is the work of many generations, each one of which added something to it. He is always wary of social reform, fearing that it will aggravate the conditions that it is supposed to correct. He is suspicious of the effects of reason in overturning custom and precedent, holding true "reason" to be the proven good effects of past generations. He warns that a concession to reformers often paves the way for increasing and incessant demands for more reform, and holds that the end result of reform is naked egalitarianism ("plain French democracy," he calls it), subject to the most extreme palpitations at the slightest fever of the popular imagination.

More precisely, Burke objects to the demand that representatives be closely controlled by their constituents, maintaining that true representation is a sympathetic independence; it is often better without actual election, for "it possesses most of its advantages, and is free from many of its inconveniences; it corrects the irregularities in the literal representation, when the shifting current of human affairs, or the acting of public interests in different ways, carry it obliquely from its first line of direction." Only so much popular control and expression is desired, he declares, as will prevent the government becoming a complete oligarchy or a ruthless despotism.

Caution should be the watchword of policy, he believes; political plans rarely produce the effects intended. Furthermore, the analysis of political evils is often unscientific, for people demand more elections to prevent evils caused by elections; they demand equality to remedy problems caused by the demand for equality; they demand controls over representatives when they cannot show that the evils they attack are caused by the lack of controlled representatives. Thus Burke assumes a position congenial to conservative democratic thought and action-reducing, on the scientific side, the hopelessly complex welter of demands to manageable proportions, and, on the ethical side, affirming the great good of what has been attained, the great good of the status quo, the great good of the objectives that can be certainly attained.


In order to understand the third moral position of democracy let us suppose that, instead of concerning ourselves exclusively with what people wanted, we decided that certain things were best for them. The "best values" would be the criteria for setting up a society, and the function of social science would be to provide the means for introducing a maximum of these best values to the people for whom they are intended. Legislation would be then, as Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and others declared it ought to be, for the "common good" and the "best interests" of people, as the common good and best interests appeared to the leaders of the community. The common good might be also what people wanted, but it might be not so, either; the criterion is what they "ought to have."

This moral position rests on the aristocratic or elite principle, for only the smaller part of the population can be conceivably in a position to bear such beneficent principles; otherwise if everyone shared them, we would have simple egalitarianism, with all men seeing their version of the good, seeking it, and finding it.


Elitism, to a certain degree, like egalitarianism and conservatism, is an inescapable attitude in science. At the same time, it is a paramount desire among many men, a guiding motive in their lives. Let us see how these two things come about.

First, one may turn to the inescapable presence of elitism in science. Science must have problems for study. Problems for study are infinite in number, save as men select only certain problems as worthy of study. In this selection both the natural scientist and the social scientist are conditioned by all the influences that make up a culture. The scientist's problems are set for him by his culture. The solutions that emerge from his work will project and emphasize some trend of the culture already present to greater or less degree. He will be a contributor to a current. His answers will be partial (both literally a "portion" and broadly "biased") to the culture. In that sense he is expounding limited values, not purely "objective" reality. In an egalitarian society, science will tend to study problems of universal wants (but it will be forced to select modal wants); in a conservative society science will tend to study problems of minimum needs and social controls; and in an elitist or aristocratic society science will tend to study how to foster ideas and practices conforming to the predominant beliefs as to what is good for the society.


Other concomitants of the scientific process increase the elitism of science. A hypothesis may be both an ethical one and a factual one: that is, the scientist, in setting up his problem may study how a certain situation is developing or he may study how to bring about a future desired situation. He may be seeking, for example, what will be the distribution of wealth ten years hence, or he may be seeking how to bring about a particular desired distribution of wealth ten years hence. It is a reputable, though not completely established, axiom of scientific method that the man who knows what he wants to learn will have a better chance of finding it out than the man who is just puttering with his data in the hope of turning something up. Similarly the man who posits specific goals is likely to come up with a formula for achieving those goals while a man who has no idea of a future desirable situation will fail to depict with any reliability any future situations at all.


This thought process also favors the man of few and simple objectives in politics-it is a blessing to the elitist (he who is clear about what is good for other people) and is something of a handicap to the man who would like to take into consideration not only what he himself thinks is good for others but also what other people think is good for themselves.

It has often been remarked that aristocracies have filled the pages of history. Individuals and groups of men, knowing what they wanted, have been able to achieve their goals. Men who have tried to know what everyone wanted and have endeavored to accomplish those things, tripped over their own inadequacies. So rule on behalf of the few has prospered historically because it has been more possible than rule on behalf of the many.


Of course, most of the values exalted in governments by the few have been nothing that most men would boast about; the lions and the foxes, Pareto tells us in hundreds of pages, succeeded in filling history with the triumphs of selfish violence and selfish cunning. The humanitarians and moral philosophers have been ineffectual, bogged down by their preoccupations with the needs of others and the absence of any plausible, scientific schemes for fulfilling those needs. Furthermore, the elites of history, while pursuing their own principle, have also employed the conservative principle, consigning to the masses a minimum of food, shelter, and peace; by stupefaction from abuse and by deliberate policies, the masses learned to expect little and demand less.

But even the implacable pursuit of the elite principle guarantees nothing. Human engineering, even aimed at the simple domination of a few, has never been fully a science. Certainly one elite can be more skillful than another. The inefficiency of the despotic Austro-Hungarian Empire pales besides the competence of the Hungarian Communists of today. The Nazis showed the Kaiser some undreamed of ways of employing social science to regiment the population. The most fanatic religious inquisitors of the reformation period might marvel at how the Russians use psychology in extracting confessions from opponents of their regime. Nevertheless, social science is still a babe in arms, no matter who is suckling it. History, as Pareto also said, is a "graveyard of aristocracies." What can be done by one group of leaders can also be done by a group of rebels. Changing conditions produce internal revolution. One ruling group is carried away and another replaces it. If the masses are apathetic at the bottom, they do not care who is at the top. So, at the top, the "law" of the jungle prevails. Attention to one's own demands or to those of a small group diverts attention from maintaining the support of other parts of the population. This causes the regime to become vulnerable and hastens its downfall.


Oligarchies, aristocracies, and elites-vast in numberhave not always produced the same consequences. Many men, of elitist bent, have been concerned primarily with the well-being of the masses. They may have been convinced of the uselessness of finding out what the masses desire, because they regard the values of the chosen few as most worthwhile; they would rather know what "are"' the highest ends of man and seek to create a state that might embrace them; but it is unlikely that they would be complete oligarchs or tyrants so long as their definition of the good of the whole people was something more than a rationalization of their personal wants. If Plato had been Thrasymachus, who believed "might was right," he would have written his Republic as Machiavelli wrote The Prince. But he refused to accept Thrasymachus' declarations about right being whatever the powerful said it was, and went to great pains to distribute justice in his ideal society according to what was fitting and best for each individual, from the most humble worker to the philosopher kings.

Other elitists are Aristotle, Aquinas, Calvin, the American Puritans, T. H. Green of the English idealist philosophers, and John Stuart Mill, an apostate from the egalitarianism of Jeremy Bentham. Of these thinkers, John Stuart Mill is especially interesting because, although his writings differ both in method and detail from those of Plato, he too is essentially concerned with getting the right kind of leadership, the kind that knows how to use intelligence and science to distribute the results of just legislation throughout the population. Mill's great contributions to political science developed by way of his inquiry into how governmental institutions could be based on reasoned and impartial judgment of the national interest. He was intensely concerned with the mechanics of governing according to the knowledge and ideals of an enlightened few. But the values he sought to inculcate by his methods were not the same as those springing from the egoistic assumptions about politics that fostered the ideas of Thrasymachus and Machiavelli.


The fourth moral position, commonly found in democracy, produces democrats whom we may call relativists. The relativists say that it is quite impossible to determine now or in the foreseeable future either what men want or what is good for men. Furthermore, by negative implication, they foresee no possibility of controlling the increase of demands in a culture. They are sceptics about human effort and the knowledge on which such effort is allegedly based. They are somewhat in the position of the Greek cynic, Gorgias, who claimed that nothing existed, if it did exist we could not know it, and if we knew it we could not communicate it to others. The result of true cynicism, as we observe it among the Greek Sophists or in the Venetian gentleman of Voltaire's Candide or among one's cynical friends, is a disinterested tolerance in questions of values.


A bit of history can shed light on the connection between cynical tolerance and democratic relativism. Mercantile and trading societies that depend on money have been especially productive of both cynical tolerance and democratic relativism. Money, we readily observe in our own times, "can buy anything." It is a neutral intermediary among individuals: it serves any master; it reflects no history and promises nothing specific for the future. People of all beliefs, occupations, and statuses thrive in a society dominated by a money economy. The culture of a money society is suffused with variegated purposes and private affairs. None of these culture traits can be true to a significant extent of a society dominated by the egalitarian, conservative, or elitist principle. It is no accident that the most extreme proponents of the use of the money nexus as the only regulator of human relations were practically anarchists in their political views. Such were Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, and William Graham Sumner.


The most prominent advocates of the relativist position have historically been identified with the interests of the commercial classes. Witness the view of society held by James Madison (one of the most brilliant exponents of the theory of relativist democracy)

A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interest forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.

The only remedy is to enlarge the sphere, and thereby divide the community into so great a number of interests and parties, that in the first place a majority will not be likely at the same moment to have a common interest, separate from that of the whole or of the minority; and in the second place, that in case they should have such an interest, they may not be able to unite in the pursuit of it.

Thus, the Madisonians saw the political process as a vacillating, bargaining arrangement, now giving a little here and there, but never succumbing conclusively to one faction or majority. As Madison would have it, no part of society, minor or major, can claim to know the good of the wholedemocracy is an end result of conflict. In fact, Madison comes closer than any other democratic theorist to that eclectic theory which we shall use later on to describe democracy as a whole. He falls short in two respects: first, he tends towards elitism and sometimes tries to declare what is absolutely good for the country-something his theory of factionalism would contradict; second, he does not realize the essential role of conservative, elitist, and egalitarian beliefs in making up the total democratic equilibrium, because he believes democracy could exist without "fanaticism," without people who are sure of their convictions.

Holding that society is composed of diverse and conflicting elements and that men seek their own interests (the political version of Adam Smith's economic theory), the relativist position then maintains that the task of the politician is to adjust one interest or party to the others. He is a compromiser, a broker whose commission is the preservation of the peace and the public applause proceeding therefrom.

The theory seeks to cripple the majority, to render it incapable of drastic action. It approves the separation of powers. It does not consider men rational in political matters. In the words of its foremost protagonist in contemporary writing, T. V. Smith: "Legislatures are the readiest exemplars of the process of compromise. This is a humble but honorable view of the democratic process. Nothing is to be gained by not being realistic . . . . Legislation is, as William James suggested of democracy as such, a business in which you do something, then wait to see who hollers, and then relieve the hollering as best you can to see who else hollers." Obviously, following the instructions of the constituency becomes impossible: in the first place, majorities seldom occur; in the second place, carrying out the will of the majority would destroy representative government by goading minorities to open conflict.


In addition, to the relativists political planning on a large scale seems too risky, because political behavior is unpredictable, and because such planning implies a stability at the basis of government that is presumptuous. The facts, according to the relativists, show that politics is a flux of competition and change. Since the interests and wishes of any large number of people are imponderable, and since no elite can judge the good of others, egalitarianism and elitism alike are impossible. That impossibility alone would make them unjust to the relativists. But they are also temperamentally averse to subjecting themselves or others to fixed beliefs.



These four strains of democratic thought, when they operate in a democratic way, are in no way self-sufficient. Each leans on the others for intellectual and political sustenance. For example, thoughts very much like those of Burke have been presented by anti-democrats, pure oligarchs. But Burke himself said that his ideas must be rooted in an appreciation of the need for representing all of the people and for thinking of the future of the national interest in legislating. Jefferson's egalitarian thinking was conditioned by a delicate respect for minority rights which inclined his egalitarianism towards what we shall call the democratic complex. On the other hand, Marx wrote in isolation from the democratic complex, except that he derived from the Rousseau tradition some of the egalitarian democratic ideas. Lacking connections with democratic supports, his ideas were loosed onto the revolutionary currents of nineteenth-century Europe. The ideas of Madison and T. V. Smith, hollow vessels of tolerance by themselves, rely very strongly on filling that is provided by other democratic sources. It is notable how Italian fascist theory cited American pragmatism in its support, alleging that "whatever works is good." Thus did relativism abet anti-democracy when it was isolated from the plural democratic equilibrium.

And the elitist democrats speak often of responsibility - responsible power, responsible administration, and responsible leadership. They are obsessed, one might gather, with the necessity for tying the acts of the elite with the needs of the masses. It is remarkable that English Fabian Socialism, which on paper seems perhaps less egalitarian than Russian communism, appears more generally democratic than communism as it operates through the Labour Party government of England. One may surmise that the Fabians, whose egalitarian ideals were suffused by the reformist idealism of Mill and other nineteenth-century elite thinkers, grew accordingly different from the revolutionary brand of Marxism. Egalitarian democracy, never a pure form of thought or action anywhere, was embraced in Russia by doctrines of despotism and other descendants of Czarist institutions.


The delineation of these four moral positions that operate in a democracy tells us other facts, not ordinarily associated with the philosophical position of democracy. We have an inkling now of why democracy is so often thought to be a confused philosophy, even by its supporters. Democracy is, indeed, confused. It is indeterminate. It leads to all sorts of compromises, hypocrisies, and double talk, essentially because the democratic complex as a whole is based on contradictory premises and interests. It is a balance of forces, any one of which alone would tear it apart if the others were greatly weakened. It is like the atom, an equilibrium of great forces that display none of their potential destructiveness so long as they are held together. Other forms of society, based on a clearer principle, say of pure oligarchy, or of pure equality, can be more clearly understood and can produce more startling and clear results. But no one who is our kind of eclectic democrat could call such societies democracies.


From this apparent confusion, which we prefer to call an equilibrium of contradictory forces, come other interesting results. Applied democracy is the most difficult of all sciences. Since no factor in the problem of value analysis, as related above, is excluded from consideration, democratic theory must consider the consequences of any particular social action to each and every value. Again we recall Machiavelli in illustrating this point. It is significant that his book, The Prince, is far better known than his Discourses. The Prince was political science treating primarily of the dependencies of the egocentric variable-the desire of one man for mastery of the state, for power. The Discourses were political science dealing with the dependencies of the several major satisfactions sought in a republic. When the number of independent but interdependent variables is increased in a complex problem, the problem is much more difficult to solve. So The Prince was an astonishing success at subjecting human behavior to the one independent variable of the prince's power drive, while the Discourses did not achieve the same success with the varied needs of the people.


This vast difficulty in building a science of and for a democracy has a paradoxical effect: it stimulates science, especially social science. America today leads the world in public opinion research, attitude testing, mental measurement, and human engineering in general. More empirical work in social science has been done in America than in all the rest of the world before the twentieth century-even though the logic, purpose, meaning, and success of a good part of it may be seriously challenged. But apart from this country, we see in Athens, in the Renaissance Italian cities, in western Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries much the same flowering of social science. We may conjecture that the complex equilibrium of democracy, especially as it is preoccupied with the individual needs of masses of people, fosters the development of the scientific method in human relations. This thesis remains to be explored and developed by the historians of science, who have concerned themselves more with the origins of natural science and not enough with the origins of social science.


We can conclude, if we accept the foregoing as the most likely interpretation of democracy and its effects, that in a sense democracy is a whole. It is not a unitary whole. It is an eclectic whole composed of a complex of ideas and practices that attempt to say what people want and to give it to them, to say what is good for people and to give that to them, to restrain the tendency of unforeseen wants and efUects from unbalancing the equilibrium, and to allow the various ideas free play.

The varieties of democracy are the true foundation of a separation of powers. Polybius long ago thought that the reason for the success of the Roman Republic was its balance. This balance, he theorized, emerged from certain institutions of the Romans-Senate, consuls, and plebeian assemblies. Subsequent political scientists identified the "separation of powers" with certain institutions-bicameralism, an independent judiciary, town meetings, a separate executive branch, and so on. By our theory, the separation of powers rests on ideological conditions that are deeper than the aforesaid formal institutions. The separation of powers is an expression of the existnce of an equilibrium of psychological forces, represented in the ideologies and actions of men, each force depending on the position and existence of the other forces. None would produce the same society at all, if it operated by itself.

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