"Zeal for the Rights of the People"

The man on the white horse, an ever popular trope in romance and fantasy. Always and ever motivated by the conviction the common man is a hapless fool in need of vigilant care. The common need the elite to ward them and guide them. To discipline them when they get rambunctious, and chide them when they speak out of turn. Without proper leaders properly bred, properly educated, and properly installed upon the throne the proles would riot and rapine and bring the whole edifice down in heaps of crumbling stone.

It's a control freak wet dream.

The elites fear true democracy not because it means they lose control, but because they think it means we won't need them anymore. Thing is, we've never needed them. Thing is, the current situation is only an illusion created by them and inculcated in us. We need leaders, but it isn't necessarily them.

Posted by Alan Kellogg at May 20, 2007 7:16 AM


I agree with your comment except the part about "true democracy". That will inevitably lead to socialism.

The Founders wanted nothing to do with democracy, which is why they created a constitutional republic.

Today, it just drives me up the wall when I hear "Republicans" prattle on about "democracy".

I have come to believe that the 17th Amendment is even more evil than the 16th.

Posted by rickl at May 20, 2007 10:14 PM

Alan, I am not much of a fan of the elites, and particularly the current set. That said, mob rule a la French Revolution ain't the answer either. In a limited government, neither the elites nor the commons can get out of control. What we have now is not limited government btw. One reason for the corruption that exists in our politics is that there is so much government to sell. Reduce the size and influence of government, and we're all better off.

Posted by RKV at May 21, 2007 4:30 AM


What mob rule? The elites seek to constrain the voice of the common man to lessen the chance that they'll lose power. The problem lies not with the holding of power, it lies in the holding of power without responsibility. Once you render a man immune to the consequences of his action is when you open the door to corruption.

The Parisian mob 'ran riot' not because they held power, but because they saw no reason to restrain their use of that power. In addition, their new leaders played them like a fine violin. They were swayed and suaded by men who used them like a pimp uses a five dollar whore. They replaced a despot with a band of tyrants, and they paid the price for it.

The American experiment enacted checks and balances in the hopes of preventing just this sort of thing. So far it's mostly worked, though people have gamed it to the point it bids fair to fail. When you hear of the first airport riot is when you'll now people have gotten fed up with how things are being handled now.

I have greater faith in people than you apparently do. I'm fairly certain that people will mostly do the right thing if you convince them it is the right thing and in their best interest to do it. But, you won't do it if you treat them like thoughtless, heedless fools.

Once a city man went out to a farm to hire a mule. An agreement was soon reached, and with the mule on a lead he started back into town. The mule didn't budge.

The city slicker tried pulling. He tried pushing. He even tried whacking the mule across the face with a two-by-four (worked for the fellow in the other version of this story after all).

Then, once he was exhausted, the farmer came up and whispered in the mule's ear. At which point the mule headed off to town with his short term master in tow.

As the city feller trotted off behind the mule he shouted to the farmer, "What did you say to him?"

The farmer shouted back, "He just needed a few things explained."

Posted by Alan Kellogg at May 21, 2007 11:59 AM

Hamilton had in mind not some Marxist workers' paradise or the French Revolution, which hadn't happened yet, but Athens under Kleon and Hyperbolus. And he was right, insofar as the evidence of his time led to a conclusion.

It will be up to some future generation of historians to see whether America fell into the same trap 1862-1913 or whether we proved to be some sort of exception.

Posted by Callimachus at May 22, 2007 2:04 PM