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Friday, July 8, 2011

Reading List: Demonic

Coulter, Ann. Demonic. New York: Crown Forum, 2011. ISBN 978-0-307-35348-1.
The author has a well-deserved reputation as thriving on controversy and not hesitating to incite her intellectual adversaries to paroxysms of spittle-spewing rage by patiently demonstrating their hypocrisy and irrationality. In the present volume, we have something substantially different from Coulter's earlier work. Drawing upon Gustave Le Bon's 1895 classic The Crowd, Coulter traces the behaviour of mobs and their influence upon societies and history from classical times to the present day.

The leaders of the American revolution and founders of the American republic were steeped in the history of mob behaviour in ancient Greece and Rome, and how it ultimately led to the downfall of consensual self-government in both of these polities. They were acutely aware that many of their contemporaries, in particular Montesquieu, argued that self-governance was not possible on a scale larger than that of a city-state. The structure devised for the new republic in North America was deliberately crafted to channel the enthusiasms of the citizenry into considered actions by a distributed set of institutions which set ambition against ambition in the interest of stability, protection of individual liberty, and defence of civil society against the will of a moment's majority.

By contrast to the American Secession from the British Empire (I deem it a secession since the main issue at dispute was the sovereignty of the King and Parliament over the colonies—after the conclusion of the conflict, the newly-independent colonies continued to govern themselves much as before, under the tradition of English common law), the French Revolution a few years later was a mob unleashed against the institutions of a society. In two well crafted chapters Coulter sketches the tragic and tawdry history of that episode which is often known to people today only from romantic accounts which elide the absurdity, collective insanity, and rivers of blood occasioned by the actual events. (For more details, see Citizens [October 2004], which is cited here as a source.)

The French Revolution was the prototype of all the mob revolutions which followed. Whether they called themselves Bolsheviks, Nazis, Maoists, or Khmer Rouge, their goal was to create heaven on Earth and if the flawed humans they hoped to forge into their bright shining utopia were unworthy, well then certainly killing off enough of those recalcitrant dissenters would do the trick.

Bringing this home to America, Coulter argues that although mob politics is hardly new to America, for the first time it is approaching a tipping point in having a near majority which pays no Federal income tax and whose net income consists of transfer payments from others. Further, the mob is embodied in an institution, the Democratic party, which, with its enablers in the legacy media, academia, labour unions, ethnic grievance groups, and other constituencies, is not only able to turn out the vote but also to bring mobs into the street whenever it doesn't get its way through the institutions of self-governance. As the (bare) majority of productive citizens attempt to stem the slide into the abyss, they will be pitted against the mob, aroused by the Democrat political apparatus, supported by the legacy media (which covers up their offences, while accusing orderly citizens defending their rights of imagined crimes), and left undefended by “law enforcement”, which has been captured by “public employee unions” which are an integral part of the mob.

Coulter focuses primarily on the U.S., but the phenomenon she describes is global in scope: one need only see the news from Athens, London, Madrid, Paris, or any number of less visible venues to see the savage beast of the mob baring its teeth against the cowering guardians of civilisation. Until decent, productive people who, just two generations ago, had the self-confidence not only to assume the progress to which they were the heirs would continue into the indefinite future but, just for a lark, go and visit the Moon, see the mob for what it is, the enemy, and deal with it appropriately, the entire heritage of civilisation will remain in peril.

Posted at July 8, 2011 23:29