Posted on June 13, 2018

Who Threatens Democracy?

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, June 13, 2018

According to the mainstream media, the world order may be on the brink of collapse. Time and the Financial Times are warning that the rise of a populist government in Italy is the latest crisis for “liberal democracy.” The upcoming Bilderberg Group meeting of American and European political and media elites is coincidentally meeting in Italy to discuss such things as “European populism” and “fake news.” In the New York Times, political scientists Michael Albertus and Victor Menaldo claim that democracy is in “shambles” in Italy, Poland, and Hungary. Political commentator Ivan Krastev writes in Foreign Affairs that what is happening in Eastern Europe is “particularly dangerous” because it is “an authoritarianism born within the framework of democracy itself.”

Some suggest that Russian support is behind the rise of this dissident bloc in Europe. The regime of Vladimir Putin has become a hate symbol for many journalists ever since the election of Donald Trump. Newsweek has even published an article called “The Plot Against Europe: Putin, Hungary, and Russia’s New Iron Curtain.”

Is all this a threat to democracy or are liberal journalists angry because people they don’t like are winning elections? Populist victories in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and other countries are not a “defeat” for democracy, but the fruits of democracy. As Douglas Murray recently wrote in the British Spectator, it never seems to occur to the leaders of the European Union or to many journalists that people such as Mr. Orbán or his voters may be right about a few things. “Instead, the people who vote the wrong way are subjected to the new playbook of accusations, including (but not limited to) ‘Russia, populist, nationalist, racist, Cambridge Analytica,’ ” he wrote, adding that it was the EU that has a “democracy problem.”

Some may respond that “democracy” does not simply mean majority rule, but includes institutions designed to protect minorities and serve as a check on government. For example, Dalibor Rohac in Foreign Policy called the leadership of Czechia, Hungary, and Poland “authoritarian” because of their alleged “shared belief that large popular mandates entitle them to do anything they please.” Of course, what most Western commentators find especially shocking about “anything they please” is the refusal to admit non-white immigrants, but they also claim to find institutional threats to democracy that go beyond any particular policy. It is fashionable to worry about Viktor Orbán’s restrictions on George Soros’s non-governmental organizations and Poland’s attempt to remove communists from the judiciary.

There are two obvious replies to this. First, why do liberal journalists never complain about heavy restrictions on freedom of speech in the so-called “democratic” nations of United Kingdom, France, and Germany? When British activist Tommy Robinson went to prison, the media were initially ordered not even to report it. Germany has passed legislation to censor anti-migrant politicians. Many European countries forbid questioning details of the Holocaust. If the United States is supposed to sanction “authoritarian” European leaders, as some reporters urge, it should start with Theresa May or Angela Merkel.

What is happening in Eastern Europe also raises the question of the meaning of democracy. While unrestricted majority rule is dangerous, so too is rule by a minority, especially in governments ostensibly legitimized by the consent of the governed. The current European migrant crisis was unleashed by Angela Merkel’s terrible decision to welcome migrants into Europe. She has spent the last few years trying to force European governments that never supported her decision to accept large numbers of migrants. The country that has arguably suffered worst is Italy, with the not unsurprising result that Italians have put in power a new interior minister who is promising to “send them home.” The only surprise is that the reaction took so long and was peaceful.

Northern League leader Matteo Salvini during a demonstration against migrants and refugees. (Credit Image: © Procopio/Fotogramma/Ropi via ZUMA Press)

The people of the West never asked for demographic transformation. Its consequences have been so vast that it raises the question of what “self-government” or “democracy” even mean if suicidal policies can be imposed on a population. Even in the face of overwhelming media support for mass immigration, a majority of Europeans polled across ten countries in 2017 want complete bans on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. Such bans would reflect the will of the people; they would be democratic. But such policies are all but unthinkable in most “democracies.”

The will of the people is likewise thwarted in the United States. California has been almost entirely transformed against the wishes of its citizens as expressed in 1994’s Proposition 187, which would have denied many government benefits to illegal immigrants and would have discouraged mass immigration. A judge simply tossed out the referendum, and the state government refused to appeal. Mr. Rohac may believe that majorities should not be able to do “anything they please,” but the reality in the West is that a minority is doing “everything they please,” imposing unwelcome change. To call this “democratic” is Orwellian.

The effect of many Western government actions, particularly that of Angela Merkel’s Germany, will be to replace their nations’ populations with foreigners. This is not rule “by the people,” but, as Peter Brimelow of has often observed, “electing a new people.” Indeed, given the all but unanimous media support for mass immigration, it is remarkable that voters in Eastern and Central Europe have elected nationalist governments. If anything, even these elections understate support for nationalism.

Governments in Germany and the European Union aren’t grounded in the sovereignty of the people but function like something akin to a hostile occupation. In Eastern and Central Europe, the people actually rule. If America must defend “democratic values” globally, as liberals urge, it should stand with the East. Instead, liberals support democracies that flout the will of the people and denounce ones that embody it.