Demos and Kratos
Two words that brought together, bring untold fear to proponents of other political systems. It is the contention of Francis Dupuis-Déri, professor of Political Science and specialist of social movements. In two of his books, one called “Agoraphobie” and “Démocratie: Histoire politique d’un mot”, he seems to have a central argument, that of a fear of the people, particularly the self-managed people, by the elites. I could not immediately position myself to say that this is the truth, but it would appear that at least on the surface, the elites have a certain skepticism toward democracy and particularly the people.
The demos appears to be this cattle that must be led around by a shepherd and if that shepherd is missing, the demos will stampede its way through the country-side, demolishing all in its path. Athens is particularly a part of their scorn toward democracy, particularly direct democracy. Yet, they, by the same breath, claim to be working for the people. They are servant to the people, who are sovereign above all – theoretically, of course. Yet, how can they serve those whom they detest? Is it like the office worker who secretly wishes he could set his boss on fire?
If such is the case, how can we expect the people to believe in the servitude of an elite who hold them with the utmost contempt? To ask this question is to answer it. As many protagonists of the republican political system claim that its strengh is in its agglomeration and balance of three major systems:
- Monarchy (rule of one)
- Aristocracy (rule of few)
- Democracy (rule of many)
By pitting these three against eachother in a balanced threshold that none can traverse, Republicans have the ideal political system for the Occidental society and for ALL societies. Their models are present in the philosophies of Aristotle and Cicero, the cities of Sparta and Rome. This is done of course to divide the various powers and to bring the people as far away from power as possible. In fact, it is understood by them who hold Parliament seats that the people should seek good leaders to be able to concentrate on their own lives and the pride of country, so they can be sent to die for its preservation.
The demos, then, becomes a tool of the two other forms of power: The Monarch and the Aristocrats. Doubly enslaved by this dynamic, the people are given the impression of being free by laws that allow them to vote, to demonstrate and to own things that they once could not. Yet, when in the 17th century, english citizens create a petition demanding for reforms, the British Parliament of then burns the proposals, esteeming that the people should not ask them their attention unless they have clearly failed in their duties.
It should bring suspicion to anyone reading this blog as to how exactly an unthinking people, hidden from political affairs, might know that the aristocrats in parliament have failed them other than by their own admittance? Let me remind you: They believe the people to be more of a danger to society than anything else in government. Therefore, the intent here is that once they will have been caught red-handed, there is nothing they can do anyway and the harm has been done.
A one-way communication like this is meant to preserve power where it profits those who conceive of it. The legislator becomes this god-like being that creates laws that work for the benefit of the people, with their consent being fabricated through well-meaning speeches. Fast forward to today, and this same system, the Republic, claims to be the steadfast champion of Democracy? The very system which its forefathers threatened would bring nothing but savagery and blood?
Cattle, Herd, Tribe or Sovereign?
To me, what this all says is that for millenia, sooth-sayers, philosophers, theocratic leaders, politicians, ideologues have all been working for one project and one project alone: The one system which will rule us all. The Demos being some kind of vicious beast that must be quelled yet never sleeps for long, trying to find ways to delay this is why revolutions keep happening in a cyclical manner. When ruled, the people inevitably go on a revolution. The only difference, historically, is the speed at which these transitions occur. At once, the Demos has been considered a cattle, a herd, a tribe and a sovereign.
What is true is that when the Demos feels it has been cheated by the power in place, it will try to get that power back through violent means. Revolutions are an inevitability of power by the few. The people, ultimately, is the majority of the cattle, the herd, the tribe and it is truly Sovereign. It can be despotic, it can be kind, cruel, positive, negative, lukewarm, hot-headed… We are a people, this is a trait that exists deeply within us. To try to work against this has been the greatest sin we have committed against ourselves, politically speaking. For if you work against the people, you work against yourself.
History provides plenty of cases for this, and a power by the few to keep the cattle, the herd, the tribe or the Sovereign at bay is like a mountain in the middle of a raging storm: Erosion eats at its coast, until nothing is left of it but the vestiges of its grandeur. To then use the Mountain as an example of fortitude is mistaken. One should not expect to build a home in the middle of raging storms and demand that Mother Nature stay its hand.
While the Mountain has sustained millions of years of erosion, the ocean has clearly demonstrated that it does not wish it to be there, yet it remains. Inevitably, the mountain will crumble, its sediments absorbed by the ocean, and nothing of it shall remain, like dust in the wind. Keeping the people in quarantine, yet doing nothing to fix that which would threaten our existence is directly correlating with the violence that revolutions cause.
“Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad should be considered a madness unto itself…”
These words by Blaise Pascal sum up my philosophical understanding of the various ways that the kratos is expressed. Our expectations toward specific ruling methodologies are offset by one constance: the Demos is never far behind. No matter how badly we seek to eliminate its influence, its existence in sheer numbers is what causes it to eventually fight back when it senses injustice, whether it be real or imagined. Irrationality can only be fixed by rationality, and what the Republicans thought would bring their doom (citizens participating in equal proportion to politics as they do) is simply a constance, an inevitability of political theory.
Like gravity unto the pendulum, the Demos shifts the political momentum back and forth. This only ceases when we stop trying to push the Demos in either direction or when the Demos dies. Is it not time that the Demos cease to look for Messianic leaders and instead to itself in order to rule itself, instead of being ruled? Let not one man dictate how we should rule ourselves, discuss this amongst yourselves and if one man or woman or homosexual or minority or any other of the plurality of identities that exist in the human race should go unheard… Let them speak, for Demos is not just one of us.
It is all of us.