Democratic Leadership

All organisation requires leadership, including democracy, a circumstance which complicates the relation between leadership and the people. Jefferson developed the concept of a 'natural aristocracy of virtue and talent' as opposed to hereditary aristocracy in this context. Whereas right wing American leaders wanted to replace the British monarchy by an American monarchy, radical leaders such as Jefferson and Thomas Paine sought to establish democracy. Jefferson considered these differences fundamental to politics in general: 'Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two classes 1) those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes 2) those who identify with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them therefore liberals and serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, republicans and federalists, aristocrats and democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still, and pursue the same object. The last appellation of aristocrats and democrats is the true one, expressing the essence of all.'

In America these differences more or less coincided with the distinctions between radicalism and conservatism. Jefferson sought to empower the ordinary people; conservatives led by Alexander Hamilton sought to restrict power to the higher classes. The unity of the American revolutionary aristocracy was strained to breaking point by these differences. Freemasonry is at the heart of these difficulties: although it played a leading role in the revolution the narrowly aristocratic, self selecting tendency of this conspiratorial fraternity exerted a restricting influence on democratic progress, and on the American constitution. Slavery was one focus of these differences, but it also affected other, fundamental questions. Jefferson, effectively excluded from the constitutional convention, endorsed its findings only after the Bill of Rights was accepted as amendments. These differences found continued expression in the opposition between radicalism and conservatism that has characterised all subsequent political systems based on the American model, termed 'representative democracy.' With various exceptions, its relatively narrow parameters have given rise to two party political systems. European conservatism at first considered such systems to be prone to hidden forms of monopolistic control and a vehicle for factional, and in particular, Jewish intrigue. These suspicions later found extreme expression in the ideology of fascism, which denounced democracy as being in itself intrinsically fraudulent. American radicalism however was the original opponent of secret factionalism. The American Antimasonic Party claimed with some justification to be the true heir to Jefferson's legacy.

The American revolution did not fulfil all the aspirations of its radical supporters. Jefferson and Paine looked to Athenian democracy as the example towards which political reform should develop, in which the chief form of election, as in most republican constitutions that had existed until 1776, was sortition - election by random selection, as with juries. Sortition however was all but eliminated from the US constitution by conservative forces. Madison, who played a centrist role between Jefferson and Hamilton, misrepresented Athenian democracy in the constitutional convention proceedings in regard to its merits in containing factional influences. As S.E. Finer notes, Madison's claims that Greek 'pure' democracy can offer 'no cure for the mischiefs of faction' are not only '... demonstrably false. Not merely false: they are contre-verities' (History of Government, 1998, Vol 1, p362). What Madison's (possibly Masonic) motives were in this deception is not clear but its result was to exclude sortition from the constitution in all areas save for the right to trial by jury later insisted upon by Jefferson, despite the fact that the Articles of Confederation - the first US constitution - had incorporated sortition at the highest levels of interstate authority. The self evident truth that sortition can prevent secret factionalism was in this way restricted in application, as were also the basic truths of common sense in regard to hereditary wealth. Jefferson and Paine had agreed on a further 'self evident truth' in this regard: that 'the earth belongs to the living.' If it is plain to common sense that the dead should not have dominion over the living, as Paine maintained, then it follows inherited wealth and the constitution should be subject to redistribution and review by each succeeding generation. Jefferson actually suggested a nineteen-year cycle of review to this purpose. These proposals were not acceptable to the Right and so were shelved - indefinitely, as it turned out.

A further limitation in the early development of American democracy concerns payment for citizen participation. In Athenian democracy the ordinary citizen could earn half a day's wage for taking part in city assembly meetings. In the American republic this practice was ignored in favour of the idea that political participation is best left to the leisured aristocracy, who did not require payment. The Masonic grandmaster Andrew Jackson later supplanted this distorted, aristocratic conception of political impartiality by the unabashed pursuit of votes by factions for financial gain: those factions which win elections are able to staff lucrative government posts with their own supporters. At best intrinsically partisan, at worst plainly corrupt, this system has been adopted in all representative democracies. Although, therefore, slavery has been abolished, the role of sortition, payment for citizen participation and hereditary wealth in American society have still not been addressed in ways consistent with the aspirations of the founding fathers. Integral to these limitations has been the evolving struggle between aristocratic and democratic tendencies. In America these differences more or less coincided with the distinctions between radicalism and conservatism within the revolutionary movement. In France, however, these distinctions were more problematic, and underlay both defeat of the French revolution and the emergence of totalitarianism.

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