nation in conflict
tendency of society
to human blindness
C.S. Lewis explains how a democracy comes in an end in the short essay, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” (1959), first published as an article in the Saturday Evening Post.
The ‘Toast” is a sequel to the Screwtape Letters.
Lewis writes, presenting the views of those managing Hell, that:
“We, in Hell, would welcome the disappearance of democracy in the strict sense of that word, the political arrangement so called.
Like all forms of government, it often works to our advantage, but on the whole less often than other forms.
And what we must realize is that “democracy” in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being Like Folks, Togetherness) is the fittest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth.
For “democracy” or the “democratic spirit” (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first sign of criticism.
And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be.
For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.
The democracies were surprised lately when they found that Russia had got ahead of them in science.
What a delicious specimen of human blindness!
If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?
It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy.
You would almost wonder that even humans don’t see it themselves.”
Except for the word, “almost.”
I wonder why even humans don’t see it themselves.
Governments fall back on bread and circuses for one reason.
Bread and circuses work.