If it’s anything at all democracy has to be a kind of self rule.

Yes people ruling but people ruling themselves not others,  And that’s what we forever have not recognized, let alone understood. The original Greek only confused the issue, by placing people rule, democrat along side of the aristocrat or autocrat. As such it was easy to reject people rule or democrat as being no rule at all. No one ever realized that this should always have been interpreted as something entirely different, rule by oneself of oneself.

It might even be best to find another name for democracy, something which suggests rule over oneself, not rule over others.   For autocrats have always seized upon democracy and used it for their own selfish purposes. History, and in particular the past 200 years or so, provide no end of examples of this.

And herein lies the threat to democracy that Donald Trump represents. Rule over others he knows all about, too much so in fact and that is why his occupancy of the Oval Office is worrying to us. He has never learned what it means, doesn’t have an idea as to what it might mean if he were to rule himself, limit his tweets, keep himself in check, and most of listen to all those with whom he would have his way and bully, the Salvadorans he would deport, the hundred thousands of children he would use as bargaining chips in his pursuit of completing a « deal » and so many others.

Neither the Republican majority nor Trump himself have ever understood the true meaning of democracy. The president? Rule of self?  No way, that’s a joke!

Thomas Mann understood all this, although in his own words, when he wrote in “The Coming Victory Of Democracy”

“Democracy, whatever may be its conception of humanity, has only the best of intentions toward it. Democracy wishes to elevate mankind, to teach it to think, to set it free. It seeks to remove from culture the stamp of privilege and disseminate it among all the people. And in this sense democracy aims at  Education. And education, at its best, hasn’t that always meant the obtainment of self-knowledge?”

And  he went on to say, “education is an optimistic and humane concept; and respect for humanity is inseparable from it. Hostile to mankind and contemptuous of it is the opposing concept called propaganda, which in the hands of the dictators is the principal means of keeping themselves in power.”

So yes democracy understood in this way makes Trump’s presidency a threat no less than that of any ruling autocrat.


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