Democracy vs. Law and Order

I said: In discussing the rise of absolute monarchies at the end of the Middle Ages, UCLA historian Eugen Weber says that most people welcomed them because they were thought to guarantee law and order.  Eugen Weber doubts that there is such an attachment to democracy.  Gene Franklin comments: I have been re-reading the Federalist Papers and find it most interesting that the first set of these is directed toward the argument that the new Union proposed by the constitution will guarantee security. In Number 8 Publius states that "Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of National conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates."

In discussing the rise of absolute monarchies at the end of the Middle Ages, UCLA historian Eugen Weber said that most people welcomed them because they were thought to guarantee law and order. Jon Kofas objects:
Considering that demography in western civlization did not exist before John Gaunt (1620-1674), and really it was not until Gregory King (1648-1712) that we have much by way of a complete picture on population, how can any historian claim to know that mosy people at the end of the High Middle Ages embraced absolutism, while most people today do not have a similar attachment to "democracy?" Moreover, is it not true that it was the propertied classes who valued "law and order" much more than the majority who had no property? Finally, the generic concept of "democracy" means something very different to different people not just in different countries around the world, but even within the same country.

RH: Eugen Weber is a careful historian, but Jon raises a good question- I can find little about John Gaunt, but Gregory King is much better known.  Here is a summary of what the Britannica says about him: English genealogist, engraver, and statistician, best known for his Natural and Political Observations and Conclusions upon the State and Condition of England, 1696, first published in 1801, which gives the best available picture of England's population and wealth at the end of the 17th century. A man of remarkable versatility, he edited the Book of Roads, for which he supervised the engravings (executing several himself), assisted in the drawing of the map of London, and constructed the map of Westminster.

Robert Whealey discusses democracy and national security:  In 1783 the United States was surrounded by three empires, The British, French and Spanish.  When Adams and Jefferson died in 1826, they were surprised that the US had lasted as long as it had. National Security as described in the _Federalist Papers_ had no connection to the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. American democratic values peaked either in 1945 or 1973; and there is plenty of evidence for both dates.  That is still a very open debate.

Since 1973 there has been no expansion of individual rights.  Since 1980, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have used the slogan of "national security" to pretend that the U.S. is threatened by some foreign enemy.  Then under the name of National Security, they sent troops abroad to take over some weak nation Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  The neo-colonialists do not need territory.  They need air and sea bases and the money to bribe of some satellite government. As Paul Kennedy of Yale says, the U.S. has over-reached it real power base.  The US does not have enough competent bureaucrats in Washington to preserve democracy, the industrial base, or the environment in the 50 states,let alone to ability to run the Middle East.

Johnson and Nixon tried to create a satellite state in South Vietnam and failed. The money  ran out first before the fire power.

Since 1975, the CIA, Pentagon, etc fine tuned their "national security" plans for the present occupations in the Middle East. Again the money is beginning to run out.

I predict a dark future for the survival of the little democracy still left in the U.S.  As Ben Franklin put it, if somebody gives up freedom for security, he will loose both.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: June 11, 2005