Dictators are democrats, too

When liberals face something they don’t like they’ll most likely call it undemocratic or dictatorial. The supposition that the two are synonymous is, of course, a complete misunderstanding. If democracy means legitimization by the people, then most dictators throughout history have been stout democrats. The one thing Hitler was not was an aristocrat, and the same goes to Stalin, Mao, Kim Il-Sung, or Chávez, not to mention some more recent hillbillies. All those people led mass movements, workers’ parties, people’s republics, and the like, and this was not simply a play with words, but a conscious rejection of all elitism. What is more, they all seem to have been convinced that they were expressing the will of the people, and they were supported by them; which could in most cases even be true. After all, with some persuasion and promises a sufficient number of citizens may always be convinced to support anyone. “Sufficient” is a decidedly vague word here, for it refers to the fact that in democratic thought, it is never precisely determined how many citizens will actually “represent” the whole. As we have seen last month, not even the majority of the voters – not to mention the whole adult population – is needed in order to justify a democratic government. And before I am, too, called an elitist, let me remind you that practically all critics of today’s democracies (leftists not excluded) acknowledge that in today’s informational chaos more people may be misled than any time before in history. All this is not to say that there are no different levels of oppression, or that Nazi Germany was as democratic as today’s FGR. In some ways, it was more democratic. In some ways, it was less. But to criticize a country for not being democratic, and then for being an illiberal democracy only shows how confused the whole use of the term is. (See for example: Hungary is no longer a democracy.) Why not say “unfree”, “unjust”, “unlawful”, or even simply “bad”? Why stick to the awkward term of “democracy” used by so many dictators from the German Democratic Republic to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Who may well have been right in implying that democracy was just a subspecies of dictatorships?