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Anti-democratic thought refers to opposition to democracy. Anti-democratic thought is typically, though not always, associated with anti-egalitarianism. Important figures associated with anti-democratic thinking include Martin Heidegger, Hubert Lagardelle, Charles Maurras, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, and Elazar Menachem Shach. A variety of ideologies and political systems have opposed democracy including absolute monarchy, aristocracy, fascism, guardianship, and theocracy.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato rejected Athenian democracy on the basis that such democracies were anarchic societies without internal unity, that they followed citizens' impulses rather than pursuing the common good, that larger democracies are unable to allow a sufficient number of their citizens to have their voices heard, and that such democracies were typically run by fools. Plato attacked Athenian democracies for being essentially libertarian societies where anarchy is mistaken for freedom. The lack of coherent unity in Athenian democracy made Plato conclude that such democracies were a mere collection of individuals occupying a common space rather than a form of political organization. As a result, Plato accused such democracies of lacking rules outside where its citizens see fit and lacking leadership due to the notion of equality in Athenian democracy. Plato claimed that in Athenian democracy, individuals' pursuit of their own desires led to self-centredness and conflict rather than the pursuit of the common good. Due to the citizens being free to pursue their passions, Plato claimed that rational leadership was impossible in Athenian democracy as elected representatives served the citizens' passions. Plato claimed that the significance of the voice of the individual in an Athenian democracy depreciates as the population of the democracy increases.
Friedrich Nietzsche as an opponent of Christianity, saw western democracy as connected to it, claiming that "the democratic movement is Christianity's heir" and denounced the democratic man for being inherently unable to "feel any shame for being unable to rise above" his desire "to satisfy a host of petty wants through the calculation of long-term self-interest". Nietzsche claimed that in a democracy "[w]hen the individual's highest and strongest instincts break forth with a passion, driving him far and above the average, beyond the lowlands of the herd conscience", "the moral perspective now considers how harmful or harmless an opinion, an emotional state, a will, a talent is to the community, to equality". "Exalted, self-directed spirituality, a will to solitude, even great powers of reason are felt as a danger". "Morality in Europe today is herd animal morality".
Frs member of the Action française movement stated in a famous dictum "Democracy is evil, democracy is death". Maurras' concept of politique naturelle declared recognition of inescapable biological inequality and thereby natural hierarchies, and claimed that the individual is naturally subordinated to social collectivities such as the family, the society, and the state, which he claims are doomed to fail if based upon the "myth of equality" or "abstract liberty". Maurras criticized democracy as being a "government by numbers" in which quantity matters more over quality and prefers the worst over the best. Maurras denounced the principles of liberalism as described in The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and in Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as based upon the false assumption of liberty and the false assumption of equality. He claimed that the parliamentary system subordinates the national interest, or common good, to private interests of a parliament's representatives where only short-sighted interests of individuals prevail.
French revolutionary syndicalist Hubert Lagardelle claimed that French revolutionary syndicalism came to being as the result of "the reaction of the proletariat against democracy", which he claimed was "the popular form of bourgeois dominance". Lagardelle opposed democracy for its universalism, and believed in the necessity of class separation of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie, as democracy did not recognize the social differences between them.
A major scholarly attack on the basis of democracy was made by German-Italian political scientist Robert Michels who developed the mainstream political science theory of the iron law of oligarchy in 1911.1 Michels argued that oligarchy is inevitable as an "iron law" within any organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization and on the topic of democracy, Michels stated: "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy" and went on to state "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy."1 Michels stated that the official goal of democracy of eliminating elite rule was impossible, that democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and that elite rule, that he refers to as oligarchy, is inevitable.1 Michels had formerly been a Marxist but became drawn to the syndicalism of Sorel, Eduoard Berth, Arturo Labriola, and Enrico Leone and had become strongly opposed parliamentarian, legalistic, and bureaucratic socialism of social democracy and in contrast supported an activist, voluntarist, anti-parliamentarian socialism.2 Michels would later become a supporter of fascism upon Mussolini's rise to power in 1922, viewing fascism's goal to destroy liberal democracy in a sympathetic manner.3
Israeli politician Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach promoted Judaic law to be the natural governance for Jews and condemned democracy, he claimed that "Democracy as a machinery of lies, false notions, pursuit of narrow interests and deceit - as opposed to the Torah regime, which is based on seeking the ultimate truth". Shach criticized democracy for having no real goals, saying "The whole point of democracy is money. The one does what the other asks him to do in pursuit of his own interest, so as to be given what he himself asks for, and the whole purpose of the transaction is that each would get what they want".
- James L. Hyland. Democratic theory: the philosophical foundations. Manchester, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Manchester University Press ND, 1995. Pp. 247.
- Blamires, Cyprian, World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006) p. 418.
- Blamires, Cyprian, World Fascism: a Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006) p. 418-419.