Across every culture, ethnicity, religion and nationality, some small yet reliable percentage of the population are predatory psychos who, like moths to flame, are irresistibly drawn toward power. Hence we can think of desirable political systems as less about governing society at large, than about systemizing a means of preventing the worst of us from gaining too much control over everyone else.
And so the main benefits of democracy, I would argue, relate more to constraining potential tyrants than to choosing noble leaders. Democracy – insofar as it works as an error correcting social technology capable of pruning psychos from branches of power – does this through three primary functions. Firstly, it allows the public to remove political leaders without needing to resort to bloodshed. Secondly, this potential for removal incentivises elected officials, even if they are narcissistic and sadistic megalomaniacs, toward acting for the benefit of voters to some degree. Thirdly, it affords plebs like me who have no interest in becoming politically active a systematic means of helping power obsessed predators to keep one another in check.
Importantly, none of this is to say that truly admirable people with altruistic intentions toward being of service to their communities are not involved in politics. It is merely to suggest that such people are a bonus to society since all positions of power and tools of control are corruptible by predatory psychos. And what such a view of democratic politics also recognizes, with a certain pragmatic pessimism, is that positions and tools of power can be corrupting of typically good people since we all have the capacity for evil. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and all that.
Image credit: The Criminalization of Dissent (continued), by CJ Hopkins
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This realpolitik view of democracy – one which assumes the worst in aspiring leaders rather than naïvely gambling on the best – may be summarized as follows: vampiric monkeys clambering for the throne, in order to gain favour, will be incentivised toward acting in the interests of voters more than they otherwise would, and toward monitoring foul play by other monkeys. But herein lies the crux: for properly accountable democratic politics to work, voters require the ability to receive, produce, and share ideas and information which predatory politicians, and other vampiric elites, dislike.
There is, you see, no consent without dissent. A state is totalitarian, by definition, if there are certain questions we are not allowed to ask and certain views we are not allowed to express. If we cannot have the open inquiry and free exchange of ideas necessary for functional dissent, we cannot offer informed consent to policies, or to the all-too-human officials who make them. And without consent, we do not have democracy.
Quite concerningly, the capacity for democratically necessary dissent is under serious threat in Germany. Even artistic and satirical dissent. American playwright and essayist, CJ Hopkins, has “to decide whether to pay a fine of 3,600 Euros or go to German prison for 60 days.” After being issued this “punishment order”, Hopkins claimed that the “Germans are putting me on trial for my thoughtcrimes”. Allusion to Orwell’s dystopian touchstone is fully justified here. Yet according to Hopkins, unless someone is consuming alternative media and news sources, they may have no knowledge of such totalitarian thought policing taking place. Or maybe they do, and “think it’s just hunky-dory”:
“I won’t mince words. The folks who think it’s hunky-dory are totalitarians. They’re fascists. They applaud the crackdown on dissent. They applaud the criminalization of dissent. They applaud the censorship of political speech, of any speech they do not agree with. They want their political opponents in prison. They want everyone who disagrees with them punished. They want people who offend them cancelled. They want anyone who refuses to conform to their official ideology erased.”
Tyrants utilize villains and crises in order to justify expansions of power and control. “The whole aim of practical politics”, wrote H.L. Mencken, “is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” A prime example of German “practical politics” of late, is the investigation launched on Hopkins. Matt Taibbi described in Racket News how Hopkins “has been placed under investigation by a Berlin prosecutor for tweeting an image of his book, The Rise of the New Normal Reich. A scathing criticism of global pandemic policy, his cover features a white mask with a white swastika you have to squint to see”. Taibbi explains:
“According to German authorities, the author through this image is “disseminating propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization.” … the Nazi imagery in C.J.’s book is used to make a satirical point. … One thing The New Normal Reich is not is a celebration of Nazi imagery. Hopkins is taking current governments around the world that used the pandemic to assert sweeping power and comparing them to Nazi rule.”
By launching an investigation into a writer who compared aspects of extant political regimes to the totalitarian Nazism of the past, the German authorities have clearly proved his point. Darker still, and in a manner that is almost unbelievable, they have lent even more credence to the damning picture Hopkins has painted of them as “totalitarians”: the Berlin State Prosecutor has launched yet another investigation on him. His apparent crime? Hopkins is “officially accused of “relativizing” or “minimizing” the crimes of the Nazis … by republishing the two Tweets that I originally tweeted.” Hopkins has republished the images again, seen above, in explicit defiance of the prosecutors whom he sees as trying to bully him with “horseshit” charges in order to “crackdown on dissent”:
“Totalitarians, fascists, and other power freaks are essentially just glorified schoolyard bullies. They may cloak themselves in the mantle of the law, but their modus operandi is brute force. Beneath all the bullshit, their message is simple: “either do what we say, or we will hurt you.””
“What’s more dangerous than outlawing hate speech?”, asked Taibbi? “Giving someone the authority to define hate speech.” Martin Gurri in his book, The Revolt of the Public, wrote that “Hillary Clinton ran for president on a promise to keep the deplorables in their place. Angela Merkel clings to office to suppress the secret Nazi inside every German voter. Europe’s hate-speech laws ban conversations that are offensive to the elites.” Michael Shellenberger has suggested that Elites Manufacture Fake “Hate” Crisis As Pretext For Mass Spying, Blacklists, And Censorship. In particular, Shellenberger notes:
“Germany is leading the West into a totalitarian future. Currently, the government is investigating 8,500 cases of wrongspeech and, according to the New York Times, “more than 1,000 people have been charged or punished since 2018.” … The government has brought charges against citizens for mere insults. “The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics, and brought people in for questioning,” reports the Times. … “We are making it clear that anyone who posts hate messages must expect the police to be at the front door afterward,” said the head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office last year.”
In a manner which CJ’s case and Shellenberger’s reporting suggests to be dreadfully accurate, Eugyppius has wryly described the monocultural state of German democracy:
“Democracy is when you want what the late-stage liberal system wants to give you, and the system gives it to you. If you don’t want what the system wants to give you, your preferences are undemocratic and the system gives it to you anyway. You’re free to protest the things the system hates, but if you protest the system or any of its agenda, that’s undemocratic and you’ll be water cannoned to protect democracy. You’re free to believe in the principles espoused by late-stage liberal democratic politicians, but if you dispute them, you’re a danger to the free world and should be arrested.”
Given such totalitarian restrictions on freedom of expression in Germany, recent discussions about banning the surging AfD party are not really that surprising. Even before talks of actually banning the popular AfD, Deiter Stein had described in The European Conservative how “there is relentless persecution and repression of non-conforming opposition movements on the Right in Germany.” One can be pretty certain that (at least) some of these censors and political gatekeepers are themselves predatory psychos looking to destroy threats to their power. “The elites say they are defending democracy”, wrote Fraser Myers for Spiked. “But their aim is to put troublesome voters back in their box. Make no mistake, the real threat to German democracy comes not from the populist right, but from an increasingly authoritarian establishment.” Eugyppius plainly described how “German media and political establishment ponder whether to ban the political preferences of a fifth of the population”. He also described violence and intimidation against AfD members:
“On Friday night, the Augsburg AfD politician Andreas Jurca was beaten unconscious by immigrants in a targeted political attack, which left him with severe facial bruising and a broken ankle. . . . Hessen Antifa have also published the personal addresses of all AfD candidates for the state parliamentary elections in October. I doubt it is very easy to come by such information without help from the state.”
Between Orwellian speech policing, persecuting political parties, and thug violence against politicians with anti-establishment views, it isn’t hard to predict reciprocal radicalization in return. What happens if the AfD are banned, and even a small amount of the estimated 21% of Germany’s 83 million people who support them become radicalized in response to the “glorified schoolyard bullies” described by Hopkins? Desperate times have, after all, historically called for desperate measures. Nelson Mandela, for example, described why his South African ANC resorted to violent methods:
“We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and when the government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.”
Jacob Mchangama in his book, Free Speech, described Mandela’s explanation here as a “pressure-cooker theory in which peaceful dissent is the antithesis of violence. Only when free speech and peaceful protest is denied can violence be justified.”
An ominous reality to these moves by tyrannical German elites is that there likely exist politically disenfranchised “deplorables” who, if they feel the “democratic” system is so fully captured that peaceful means of achieving change are deemed futile, may resort to extremely unpleasant measures. Here the German establishment, with pressure-cooker totalitarianism, is creating the very monsters they have relentlessly presented as fearsome hobgoblins – perhaps intentionally since reactive radicalism will undoubtedly be used as justification for ever tighter totalitarian control. None of this bodes well for social stability or political freedom in what looks to be an increasingly dystopian Deutschland.
Ciarán O’Regan is an Irish physical culturalist and curious generalist. His Substack is Quarrelsome Life, his Twitter is @quarrelsomelife, and he co-hosts the Learning to Die Podcast with Dr Ian Dunican.