The End of an Era

[Prof. Paul Eidelberg]

Summary ... We are approaching the end of an era. Democracy and communism have both proven they do not work. All objective truth is being destroyed before our eyes. Soon the Kingdom of God will be established in our midst.

We are approaching the end of an era. Politics and democracy have entered their terminal stage. Party government has become nothing more than a struggle for power, and parliaments are but arenas for self-aggrandizement. This was inevitable. It was inevitable because, in its modern conception, democracy separated politics from morality. As a consequence, individual egoism was bound to supplant family and communal values.

Democracy has fulfilled its historical function. Its two cardinal principles, freedom and equality, liberated the acquisitive instincts, facilitated the conquest of nature, alleviated widespread toil and poverty, and opened the door to talents. But while men and women in democratic countries enjoy unprecedented freedom and equality as well as material abundance, a frightful number find their lives lonely and meaningless. The reason is not far to seek: democracy is the dissolver of ideologies, of traditional beliefs and values which alone can endow people with a sense of solidarity and purpose.

The decency and civility still visible in contemporary democracy have nothing to do with democracy itself. They derive from the morality of the Bible and the urbanity of Greek philosophy.. Neither democratic equality nor democratic freedom provides any moral standards as to how man should live. What is there about democratic equality that would prompt a person to defer to wisdom or to show respect for teachers or parents? What is there about democratic freedom that would prompt him to restrain his passions, to be kind, honest, or just?

Today more and more people are beginning to see that democracy is in a state of decline. Advanced democracies have succumbed to the reign of quantity over quality, of opinion polls over truth. Spin has become the norm of politics. Centralized government and bureaucracy have eviscerated personal responsibility and civic mindedness. The masses vote every few years and then relapse into servitude, stupefied by the tube.

Actually, there is no such thing as democracy—not in the modern world. The language of democracy is nothing but a fig-leaf for self-serving elites steeped in decay.

The decay will become even more evident as Eastern European nations, liberated from Soviet tyranny, discover that democracy will not solve basic human problems, which are moral. Indeed, the collapse of the Soviet Union was soon followed by an anti-politics movement among Eastern European intellectuals. The problem confronting mankind, as former Czech president Vaclav Havel said, transcends politics or the political system: Mankind must overcome its unauthentic existence. Men and nations need to break the chain of lies, to live in truth and to exhibit honest concern for others.

Democratic politics is still politics, is still devoid of honesty. Corruption and deviousness on the part of public officials is rampant. Democratic governments cannot overcome horrendous crime rates, drug addiction, pornography, sexual perversions, mental disorders, broken families, and the decline of intellectual standards. Democratic hedonism fuels these maladies.

Meanwhile, multiculturalism in the universities is destroying all notions of objective truth. This presages the end of Western civilization (which accounts for the resurgence of Islam). How can one readily teach Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, at Stanford University, when half of the undergraduates are Asiatic?

With the decline of Communism, no one can take Marx seriously, even though Marxism, in diluted form, continues to influence Western politics. As for Christianity, its doctrine of separation of church and state precludes its having architectonic significance on contemporary society.

Enter Israel. Despite its grotesque political system, Israel's rebirth in 1948 provides the national foundation for the universal recognition of the Torah as the paradigm of how man should live. Even now we behold a renascence in Jewish philosophy as well as a convergence of science and Torah that surpasses the works of the great Jewish philosophers of previous ages.

It is in this light that we are to understand why the nations are trying to truncate and destroy Israel. Subliminally, they know and fear that their modes of thought and ways of life have no intrinsic validity.

The same may be said of Israel's secular parties. Those of the Left—if one can speak of a "Left" when there is no serious "Right"—those of the Left, I was saying, represent the dregs of Western civilization. Although they control all the levers of power in Israel, they are actually powerless. Witness how they have yielded to Arab barbarism despite the awesome power of the Israel Defense Forces.

As for Israel's religious parties, they have succumbed to the politics and leveling tendencies of democracy. But so it must be as Israel approaches the end of this era.

Despite its present degradation, Israel will survive its turncoats and tormentors, as it has for more than two millennia. The Jewish people have a Covenant with God, and "God is not a man that He should deceive, nor mortal that He should change His mind."

[ Published: January 16, 2006 ]

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