Thursday, September 8, 2022

Emily B. Finley's "The Ideology of Democratism"

Emily B. Finley holds a PhD in Politics from The Catholic University of America and a BA in Classics from Trinity University (San Antonio, TX).

She applied the Page 99 Test to her new book, The Ideology of Democratism, and reported the following:
Page 99 is curiously representative of The Ideology of Democratism as a whole. Analyzing the political thought of one of the twentieth century’s most influential Catholic philosophers, Jacques Maritain, this page captures some of the major themes of the book as a whole. Maritain is regarded as one of the West’s champions of popular rule, but, like other “democratists,” his understanding of democracy is one that obviates the need to consult the actual people. From page 99:
Maritain’s vision of global governance overlooks the historical reality of the libido dominandi and of local resistance to dictates from faraway places. What Maritain fails to realize, his critic Kolnai argues, is that “a wholesale dethronement of power by a stroke of a pen . . . directly invites the despotic rule of one massive totalitarian power claiming to determine the lives of men, without stopping short at individual rights or Church autonomy, on behalf of their general and identical ‘liberty,’ so as to make the concerted unity of their ‘wills’ fully manifest and valid.”82 In other words, seeking to eliminate power for the sake of liberty only creates a situation ripe for totalitarian “liberty” of the Rousseauean variety. People will be “forced to be free” under the democratist general will.
The Ideology of Democratism contends that the Social Contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau nearly lays the blueprint for our modern, imaginative conception of democracy. While pretending to treat the people as sovereign, this new understanding of democracy that I label democratism, conceives of an abstract General Will in the place of the actual historical desires of the people. It necessarily requires the direction and guidance of a knowing elite for the unfolding of this “democracy.” Maritain is one example of a philosopher-planner who would do away with historically evolved norms in order to allow a more “democratic” way of life to unfold—according to his designs. The paradox of democratism is that its rational schemes for liberation and equality result concretely in the greater concentration of power into the hands of the few at the expense of the people.
Learn more about The Ideology of Democratism at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue