web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



American Democracy as Masquerade

Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres

“The crowd,” observed the Danish philosopher Sören Kierkegaard, “is untruth.” In every land, capable governance and personal success are finely nurtured by individuality. Today, the crowd-man or crowd-woman rules unopposed, supreme and unchallenged, in America.

There are accessible reasons. Our democracy now rests on the sovereignty of unqualified persons. A retrograde authority, these crowd-men and crowd-women have “slipped back,” in the words of Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, “through the wings, and on to the age-old stage of civilization.”

This incremental and largely unnoticed “slippage” into the mass – a phenomenon also recognized by the Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel – has tangible consequences. Most plainly, no country so fearful of independent thought, so fervidly torn between its deafening public proclamations of exceptionalism and the twisting estrangements of its people, can take itself seriously as a still-advancing civilization. Nor can it realistically aspire, at least without certain proper and prior reversals of personal growth, to restore a dignified grace upon itself.

Once upon a time in America, every barely-attentive adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline. Today, at a very different historical moment, at an acquiescent national juncture when the whole riddle of human destiny has been reduced to vulgar and degrading entertainments – when the Kardashians and Honey Boo-Boo have casually supplanted the Western Canon – virtually no one can recognize The Decline of the West.

Deeply frightened and repelled by the demanding expectations of genuine learning, we Americans proceed blindly, in stubbornly reassuring lockstep with entire legions of others who lack vision, and who, like us, are exhausted from the ascendant rhythms of personal forfeiture.

Now fully accustomed to surrender as persons, we eagerly devour our once enviable convictions, not from any genuine hunger for learning or virtue but from a viscerally crude and utterly basic instinct. This primal inclination is not comparable to any mythic or heroic human struggles for redemption. Rather, it can be likened to what animates the legendary worm in the fruit.

No society, even “exceptional” ones, can coexist with a “crowd” that masquerades as a democracy. Unless we should finally become willing to oppose the shrill mass, a living solvent of conformance and mediocrity, we Americans will continue to find too little air to breathe.

For now, confusing the statutory right to vote with a real democracy, we Americans shrivel helplessly into an ever more joyless and lonely crowd. Within this abjectly hapless “bundling” of souls, a term used by the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, our citizens will seek further comfort and consolation, not in any worthwhile patterns of growth but in a shamelessly aggressive and deliriously common illiteracy.

Every mass society, we may learn insightfully from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, loves to chant in chorus. Unsurprisingly, “we the people” continue to seek a comforting resonance in banal slogans, raw commerce, and blatantly empty witticisms. Oddly enough, this always-boisterous search for an elusive happiness, amid convulsive shrieking and stark imitation, would be less perilous, if it did not proceed, at its very heart, from a bewildering ailment.

What is this malady? In other words, what is our true pathology?

At the most critical “illness” levels of national despair, politics and government have become pretty much beside the point.

In this battered land of clichéd wisdom, copycat violence, “knockout games,” and dreary profanity, there remains, at bottom, a recalcitrant and metastasizing sickness of the soul. Ironically, our national debility of personal surrender to multitudes lurks unhidden, most notably in its conspicuous hatreds of intellect, individualism, and learning.

Alas,” observed T.S. Eliot, in a still-unheeded warning, “Our dried voices, when we whisper together, are quiet and meaningless.

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “American Democracy as Masquerade”

  1. It's sad that every election, there are campaigns to "get out the vote" or "rock the vote" with no direction telling potential voters that it's their obligation as conscious voters to educate themselves before voting. In their desire to win elections, America's political parties prefer voters to be ignorant to get into office and apathetic to stay in office, but eventually, we'll get a real monster in office that knows how to take advantage of the drones that are programmed to chant in unison. "The cattle are branded. They bed down behind gates. Trading sky and horizon for safety and grain."

  2. Sadly I agree R.Locust. Worldwide to the end time,and our Creator is not going to hold back .We our on the verge of a Nuc. final WW111. Watch and Pray.This WILL
    come to pass in our generation.Seek Truth in this deceived world. Find inner peace, help and guidance is there. ASK, ask-seek-knock.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres
Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Louis Rene Beres

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

An undifferentiated or across-the-board commitment to nuclear ambiguity could prove harmful to Israel’s’s overall security.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/american-democracy-as-masquerade/2014/01/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: