Democracy is Finished

While I was away, and as time permitted, I entertained myself by musing on the fate of democracy.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’ve also come to a conclusion of sorts. It’s over.  It seems to have returned to where it first began.

You might suggest, on the contrary, that this post-modern (or, post-Enlightenment, post-democratic) recidivism or backsliding into an earlier stage of social and political development could also be interpreted as a renewal — a return to the roots, as it were; or a “back to basics” tendency that will precede a revival and regeneration of the democratic spirit and public-mindedness.

Unfortunately, I see nothing currently on our horizon that would suggest that. Quite the contrary, in fact. We seem to be heading into a new Dark Age. And assuming we survive it, it could be of some duration. Max Horkheimer once referred to it as such as “The Eclipse of Reason“.  But many others have also been warning of a new “Dark Age Ahead”, to borrow the title of  Jane Jacobs’ last book before she passed away.

So… to answer my own question put in the last post “Can the Light of Consciousness Go Out?”, I guess my answer would have to be — “yes”.

I just finished reading Juan Cole’s blog on “How to Create a Dictatorship“, and could add a few points of my own to his.  But I’ll save those for another time.

Rene Guenon, in his Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times suggested that we are passing through the final stages of the Kali-Yuga — the last (and usually shortest) of four stages of an historical cycle, although this is controversial.

But more on this later.




16 responses to “Democracy is Finished”

  1. xraymike79 says :

    Reblogged this on Collapse of Industrial Civilization and commented:
    I was reading about the creepy Corporate State incident with David Miranda here:

    What particularly gave me pause was the following excerpt:
    “They even asked me about the protests in Brazil, why people were unhappy and who I knew in the government,” said Miranda.
    This tells me that the power elite are all on edge right now. Brazil was supposed to be one of the BRIC countries that “benefited” from economic growth in recent times, yet the social unrest is not confined to the backwaters of America’s Empire in the oil-cursed Middle East. The cost of daily essentials is becoming too much for the average person in Brazil.
    Numerous environmental and socio-economic tipping points are converging, inevitably leading to social disintegration on a global scale. And it doesn’t help that neoliberal capitalism is accumulating the global wealth into fewer and fewer hands. This situation is what I was referring to in my previous post when I called it a “deadly game of musical chairs.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      My recent experience, talking with people I know on the West Coast, was the basis of my conclusion. Not only did they not have a sniff of a clue what was happening, they had no interest in even knowing what was happening, nor a shred of curiousity about it.

      It brings to mind that etching by Goya — “The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters”

      And that brings to mind William Blake’s remark in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,

      ‘The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.’

      Blake and Goya: and If Max Horkheimer is right in his Eclipse of Reason and Gebser is right about our present “deficient rationality” in his Ever-Present Origin, then this is what we have to look forward to.

      Thanks for reposting.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    “So… to answer my own question put in the last post “Can the Light of Consciousness Go Out?”, I guess my answer would have to be — “yes”.”

    But that goes against some of the conclusions we’ve agreed on here on The Chrysalis. Conclusions such as that “death” is only a point of transition, not an end point. Also that we cannot determine when and where “consciousness” originates. That is, consciousness has always been there. Therefore, it will be even more impossible to conceive that the light of consciousness might go out and reach the point of nothingness. Physical embodiment is only one activity that consciousness gets engaged in.

    Regarding Juan Cole’s piece….there’s no doubt that we are abusing Mother Earth and misusing its resources. But “destroying the earth” isn’t within our capabilities. I mean we can make the planet uninhabitable for everyone by nuking it out. But that’s just destroying ourselves, not the earth.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’m using “consciousness” in a specific sense here — as “knowing”, which is the original meaning of the word, con-scire. We might distinguish between awareness and consciousness in that sense.

      A parallel might be the case of Narcissus. Narcissus was aware, but he wasn’t conscious. (This sounds like a contradiction, but then we are very self-contradictory creatures). Narcissus was “aware” in the sense that he reacted to the image in the reflecting pool. He was not conscious, however, that the image in the reflecting pool was his own projection. He died never knowing that it was a mere image and mirage.

      What we have presently is very similar. We have a facade of democracy — an image, a mirage — not the reality of it. But the cracks in the facade are growing, and they are revealing behind the image, the mirage, the facade that the reality is very different from the mass perception and the rhetoric.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Thank you, Scott, for the clarification. That helps me get my head around the meaning of your comment. I agree that the light of ego-consciousness can go out. And also the distinction you draw between “awareness” and “consciousness” is important to understand your meaning of the question and the answer to it.

        Democracy, as I understand it now, has always been about how much noise from the masses is the elite class willing to tolerate. In the West, those thresholds are higher than other populated regions. Nevertheless, the elite everywhere have become elite because of their willingness to act unethically and take advantage of others. And so they will always have their secrets. And when someone tries to mess with that, the democracy ends right there.

        • Scott Preston says :

          As of right now, even though it hasn’t been posted a full 24 hours yet, “Democracy is Finished” has become the most viewed post ever, in either the old Dark Age Blog or the Chrysalis. That is somewhat surprising to me, but it is probably thanks to xraymike79’s reblog.

  3. srosesmith says :

    I take Scott to mean that the light of consciousness via our present human form on Earth may be doomed — by us — and go out. Not that the Light of Consciousness in any larger sense could “go out.”

  4. buz painter says :

    Morris Berman describes it well in his book “Why America Failed”. To an old “Peak Oiler” it was strange to see how this whole experiment can come apart without the help of energy shortages and climate change. It means that we don’t have a chance.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thanks for the comment buz painter. I’m familiar with Berman’s work and was in contact with him at one time.

      I came across this article today by Robert Jensen, “Rationally speaking, we are all apocalyptic now” ( ) by way of an article in the Guardian on the same theme entitled “Are you ready to embrace the apocalypse?” ( ). Then I realised that most of the authors I have cited in the former Dark Age Blog or the present Chrysalis were all “apocalyptics”, if that is a proper word — Nietzsche, Jean Gebser, Rene Guenon, Morris Berman, Jane Jacobs, Erich Kahler, etc.

      By “apocalyptic” I mean, they all anticipate some sort of impeding catastrophe or cataclysm, but in the true sense of “apocalypse”, they all see it as a necessary counterpart to a new “revelation”. For Gebser, it is the prelude to the integral consciousness. For Nietzsche, his “two centuries of nihilism” are needed as a bridge to the transhuman/overman. For Erich Kahler (in The Tower and the Abyss) it is the impending breakdown and destruction of the “human form” (ie, the modern ego consciousness structure), but its mutation into something else not yet known. Apocalypse, of course, means “disclosure” or “unveiling”. William Blake also belongs to the apocalyptics in that sense. Apocalypse is destructive only because the truth, when finally revealed, is “shattering”.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Might add, Mr. Buz, that I fault Mr. Berman for being overly Americo-centric in his critiques — Dark Ages America, Twilight of American Culture (those two I’ve read); Why America Failed (which I haven’t read).

        Mr. Berman must surely realise that the degeneracy of the Modern Era encompasses far more than America? Jean Gebser was Austrian, Nietzsche was German, Erich Kahler was Chzech, Rene Guenon was French. Mr. Berman is in error if he thinks the decay of the Modern Era is a distinctly American phenomena.

        I understand, though, his reasoning, even if it is a little faulty. The promise of the European Enlightenment reached its apogee outside Europe — in America. America was the ultimate beneficiary of the modernising revolutions — the Protestant Reformation, English Civil War, French Revolution — and set the tone and rhythm for the further articulation of that Era. I use the term “reached” in the past tense, of course. Berman’s disappointment and disillusionment, however, is not different from the disappointment and disillusionment of all those intellectuals who believed in the Enlightenment promise of an ‘Age of Reason’ and “the infinite perfectibility of man” (Condorcet’s phrase) that attended the shock of the First and Second World Wars, the rise of fascism and Nazism. It knocked the stuffing out of the intelligentsia.

        Why focus on America’s ills? While Berman’s analysis is true, it is nonetheless truer that the problems today are universal and planetary in scope. In the global era, our fate is that we all must hang together or we will hang together indeed — if you get my drift.

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