Democracy according to Screwtape…

“Use the word purely as an incantation….It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition…to a factual belief that all men are equal. As a resultyou can use the word democracy to sanctionthe most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelingsthat which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you….You thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good solid, resounding lie. I don’t mean merely…that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself….What it expresses is…the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept. And therefore resents…every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food: ‘Here is someone who…says he doesn’t like hot dogs—thinks himself too good for them, no doubt….If they were honest-to-God all-right Joes they’d be like me. They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.’
“Now, this useful phenomenon isby no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years….Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others….You can sanction it…by the incantory use of the worddemocratic….Those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all….Those who come…nearer to a full humanity actually draw back from it for fear of being undemocratic. [C S Lewis – Screwtape Proposes a Toast]

Advertisements