War has blighted the security and happiness of humanity from time immemorial, but when two hundred years ago the colonies in North America broke away from British rule and established the United States, it was seen as a hopeful promise for the peoples of the world. A new democracy had been launched wherein all (or at least, the majority) were deemed to be created equal in respect of their rights, and were citizens and not subjects, in a land of self-confident individualism, which was not only free of the hereditary-based authoritarianism of the Old World, but more significantly, seemed destined to live at peace with the great nation states beyond their frontiers.
It was a nation where government was minimised to ensure freedom in the spheres of commerce, religion, and private life, but the ideals of universal concord were not so easily to be achieved by either the efforts of this new people, or by the world at large. The good intentions of humanity were soon found to clash with the psychology and social realities of human interaction.
The democratic instinct is not necessarily a universal attribute of humanity. Our minds may be attracted to the ideals of justice, equity, and freedom, but another sinister tendency, the lapse into authoritarianism, or the longing for the charismatic, sets up an opposing force in the body politic. There is an inseparable divide between the practicality of democracy and the triumph of captivating leadership. True freedom and the Superman cannot coexist within society.
The lesson of history is that power too often attracts the wrong kind of candidate. Democracy too often mutates into the rule of demagogues, and that in turn leads to conflict and war. It is well to remember that Hitler rose to supreme leadership via the democratic process. This book looks at the careers of infamous psychopaths who eventually seized the leadership of their countries. It examines the reasons for seeking high office, and considers the stresses inherent in political leadership which may lead to disaster for entire regions or even on a global scale.
The book presents the democratic model in its ideal form as the Palace of Crystal, and shows how modern democracies fall short of the ideal, beguiled by the cult of personality. The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Charisma degrades the democratic ideal and weakens the democratic bastion against war.
|Product dimensions:||6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.55(d)|