It may as well have been written before President Trump even uttered a single word in Warsaw earlier this week, the Economist‘s panicked, hysterical, and un-bylined reflection on his speech that placed matters of identity, culture, faith and sovereignty over democracy.
“In Warsaw, America’s president barely mentions democracy,” the article’s sub-headline shrieks. For a magazine so fervently opposed to the results of the Brexit referendum (direct democracy in action), you could easily hurl accusations of hypocrisy at the magazine’s editors.
Instead, we should be more wary of the ongoing fetishisation of the idea of one-man-one-vote as some kind of be all and end all of Western civilization.
Firstly, in the grand scheme of all things European — and derivative nations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, etc — democracy is a relatively new concept. The cynic may well drop in this overused Churchill quote. Or this one. Again, too easy.
It strikes me as more important that we look at what the Economist is trying to achieve by declaring:
When George W. Bush visited Poland for his first presidential visit, in 2001, he referred to democracy 13 times. When Barack Obama spoke in Warsaw in 2014, he mentioned democracy nine times. For Mr Trump, once sufficed.
The tone conveys hostility, not just towards those who do not believe the West is typified by more than the ballot box, but also to those who believe history matters, tradition matters, nation states matter, and identity matters.
A refusal to deify democracy runs deeply contrary to the objectives of globalism, which explains the Economist’s petulance.
For decades we have watched, almost stunned into inaction, as our children are forced to learn that patriotism is racist, and history is to be altered at the whim of the loudest, shrieking, protesters.
Mine isn’t an anti-democracy argument either. Merely I want to reflect upon how the President struck the right balance between democracy and philosophy/history in his Warsaw speech.
But The Economist wants to give ahistorical progressivism — a tool often leveraged, even if not adhered to, by globalists — an intellectual underpinning. But there is no intelligence in this mantra. Quite the opposite.
The notion of putting democracy on a higher pedestal than tradition is anti-intellectual.
Conservatives and reactionaries are, today, less likely to be motivated by fear and emotion and more interested in learning lessons from the past that the left would rather ignore or rewrite.
Many mistake the Economist for a pro-free market capitalist paper. Untrue.
It favours corporatism and cronyism. It isn’t left or right per se. But it does favour the modern political centre-left, more interested in “internationalism”, more in favour of the political establishment than the everyman. Hence its risible backing of the pro-European Union Liberal Democrats at the British general election.
Curious, you might think then, that the magazine would side with the demos who elected President Donald J. Trump. Not so, either.
President Trump won because of the electoral college, a check on a more direct democracy, and one which the Economist has previously sought to undermine in its U.S.-election coverage. Heaven forfend we suggest a return to the Senate’s original role in not being a directly elected chamber either. That could really set their heads spinning.
It would be unfair however to state the paper misunderstands the idea of the tyranny of the majority. There have previously been printed warnings over referendums or ballot measures in the United States on their own pages. So what has changed since then, when in 2011, they published the following words:
…it is the “tyranny of the majority” that James Madison, a Founding Father, warned about. His reading of ancient history was that the direct democracy of Athens was erratic and short-lived, whereas republican Rome remained stable for much longer. He even worried about using the word “democracy” at all, lest citizens confuse its representative (ie, republican) form with its direct one. “Democracy never lasts long,” wrote John Adams, another Founding Father. Asked what government the federal constitution of 1787 had established, Benjamin Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
In a word: Trump.
In another word: populism.
Though JFK, Obama, and other centre-left politicians were swept into power on a populist wave, they represented the Wilsonian internationalism the Economist prefers. So they were okay. The same internationalism that loves democracy promotion abroad which led to the quagmire of the Iraq War: the reason we weren’t able to stablise Iraq post-invasion. Our newfound obsession with putting a tick in a box.
Again, no grasp or reflection of this from the Economist as it lambasts the President of the United States for focusing on political philosophy rather than fawning over a system of electing a government.
You couldn’t imagine editorialising such as: “The spectators, mainly conservative Catholics bused in from around the country and promised a free picnic at the defence ministry afterwards” under an Obama presidency. In fact, these are the same tactics the left uses at elections as well as for protests and marches all around the Western world.
Once more, hypocritically, the paper takes a dig at the recently democratically elected Polish government:
But the greatest reason for Poland’s government to be delighted with Mr Trump was what he did not mention: PiS’s undermining of democratic institutions to entrench its own power. The party has stuffed the civil service and the diplomatic corps with loyalists and has weakened the independence of the judiciary. It has transformed the national broadcaster into a mouthpiece of the state. Independent journalists face new restrictions. The European Commission has warned the government that its reforms pose “a systemic risk to the rule of law.”
Of course the (unelected, by the way) European Commission has said that. PiS has been steadfast in protecting Poland from the EU’s migration madness, as well as taking steps to reassert Polish sovereignty.
Never has the Economist mentioned how during the years the pro-establishment Civic Platform ruled, they too “stuffed the civil service and diplomatic corps with loyalists”. Their looting is one of the major reasons they lost to PiS in 2015.
The Economist wants to bash PiS and Trump; facts, philosophy, and even their own commitment to democracy be damned. If that means humiliating itself by performing anti-intellectual mid-air back flips in the process, it seems the editors are more than willing to do so.
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Breitbart London and tweets at @RaheemKassam