Flailing Democracy by James Hithccock

Commentary

Flailing Democracy

Left-Right Populism versus American Elitism

The principal conservative argument against democracy is the claim that "the people"—ill-educated, vulnerable to mere emotion, susceptible to demagoguery—cannot be trusted. A well-governed state must depend on some kind of aristocracy to rise above such fatal weaknesses.

The flaw in that classical argument was identified by Winston Churchill in his paradoxical comment that "democracy is the worst of all systems, except for the others." History does not show that monarchies or oligarchies, to say nothing of dictatorships, are more just than democracies. Each has its flaws, which can eventually prove fatal. Sinful man cannot create a sinless society.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


James Hitchcock is Professor emeritus of History at St. Louis University in St. Louis. He and his late wife Helen have four daughters. His most recent book is the two-volume work, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more from the online archives

29.3—May/June 2016

The Master's Voice

Our Choice Is Obedience or Jesus as Anti-Christ by Anthony Esolen

33.2—March/April 2020

Christ Chapel at Hillsdale

An Architectural Sign of Mere Christianity by Michael Ward

33.1—January/February 2020

Do You Know Your Child’s Doctor?

The Politicization of Pediatrics in America by Alexander F. C. Webster

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00