20150616

AUTOCRACY

Back in 1918, David Starr Jordan explained, "Democracy is not merely government by the people. It is the recognition of the welfare of the people as the purpose for which government exists. The purpose involves individual freedom, individual obedience to the laws or agreements which save freedom from anarchy, with justice as the final aim of both freedom and obedience. In democracy the minority bows to the will of the majority, but not to its opinions. It is essential to freedom that personal opinion should be safe-guarded, for it is the backbone of democracy...Hence a democracy can not suppress adverse opinions by force – only by conciliation and argument. When a minority represents folly (madness), it soon evaporates in free air. Under forcible repression, folly becomes dangerous. Suppression of thought and speech is the discredited weapon of autocracy." 

Outside Westminster Congregational Church in April 1918, Dr. Jordan told the congregation an autocracy was a drastic form of government as opposed to a democracy and relied on 3 things: 

1. force - an autocracy could not exist without an army at the disposal of the autocrat and a foreign war was the remedy for internal disturbance. In short, "Abolish force and you abolish autocracy." 

2. intrigue - every autocracy had had its intrigue, with its agents everywhere. That the state church was merely a branch of politics. 

3. superstition - the ability to believe something that was not true. 

George Sokolsky pointed out in 1953, "Governments, like individuals, seek legitimacy, if it is possible. Even governments which are the products of revolution desire a continuing relationship with the past, once the revolution and the attendant reign of terror are over. Respectability requires not only a due regard for national traditions but a nexus (connection) with the historic past of the nation. It was this sense of relationships which so impressed (Charles-Maurice de) Talleyrand and impelled Napoleon (Bonaparte) to cast aside his wife, Josephine, and to marry into the Hapsburgs, which thus made his progeny (offspring), if not himself, the legitimate ruler of France. He married into regal respectability. The same motive dominated the thinking of the Holy Alliance after the Conference of Vienna in 1815.

"Even in China, where the people were accustomed to changes in dynasties, several of them of non-Chinese origin, legitimacy played so great a role that Sun Yat-sen changed the capital from Peking to Nanking because the North refused to acknowledge him. After his death he was defied by public opinion. Thereupon, Chiang Kai-shek established himself as Sun Yat-sen's heir and ruled the country with that sanction. Even Mao Tze-tung finds it advantageous to use Madame Sun Yat-sen in his government because it gives his regime an aura of legitimacy.

"(Vladimir) Lenin and (Leon) Trotsky founded the Soviet state as a revolutionary act, based upon the will of a minority, accompanied by a devastating terror. Civil war and foreign intervention provided a justification for the terror, as they had for the French revolutionists who eventually succumbed to Napoleon. The Lenin regime was alien, based upon the concepts of a German philosopher, Karl Marx. However, as the years passed, the pull of tradition was so great that autocracy rather than dictatorship of the proletariat (the working class) reasserted itself. Autocracy is an indigenous Russian concept of government.

"Ivan the Terrible is a Russian prototype of ruler and he became (Josef) Stalin's hero. Thus Stalin departed from the Marxist-Leninist ideas of government and restored the normal Russian method, autocracy. But Stalin needed legitimacy which Lenin never tried to establish. Stalin created a god – Lenin. Everything he did was in the name of Lenin. Stalin killed Trotsky and most of the old Bolsheviks, purging millions of persons, in order to leave no possibility of a challebge to his right to be an autocrat.

"Yet, it was not until World War II that Stalin, the hated, became Stalin the author of victor. In an autocracy, the only legitimate method of change can be an inheritance. Stalin had re-established autocracy but failed to produce a method of inheritance. He could not pass the government to his son; he chose his closest associates, (Georgy) Malenkov, (Lavrentiy) Beria and (Vyacheslav) Molotov. But in an autocracy, as in a democracy, the head of the state cannot be a committee. Stalin must have known that because he was one of a committee of 3, (Lev) Kamenev, (Grigory) Zinoviev and Stalin who succeeded to Lenin's power. Stalin killed Kamenev and Zinoviev and restored the czarist autocracy. It took Stalin 12 years to become an autocrat…This seems clear from Russian history: autocracy is the normal political concept of the Russians and whoever can be the autocrat will take over."

David Lawrence wrote in 1965, "Basically, mankind would prefer to live at peace, but the indulgences of ambitious individuals who get possession of the reins of government lead to the frictions that bring on bloodshed. Autocracy has been responsible for 2 world wars in (the 20th) century, and it has also been the cause of many other wars in previous history. The autocracy of the Kaiser in 1914 precipitated the First World War. The autocracy of (Adolf) Hitler – joined by the autocracy of Stalin – started the Second World War in 1939. Today (in 1965) an autocracy prevails in Red China. It is tied in with another autocracy in the Soviet Union where the Communist Party alone chooses the country's leaders.

"The discipline imposed by autocratic minds makes the whole process a triumph of conspiring cliques. This is by no means representative of the people's wishes, for no free elections with opposing tickets of candidates are permitted. Autocracy is at the root of the troubles in Latin America. Men, more or less capable but often masters of intrigue, become dictators and use international policies and internal crises to force obedience as parliaments and congresses are subservient to selfish interests.

"Autocracy is springing up throughout Africa. Groups of well-educated but unscrupulous individuals have converted some of the former European colonies into small 'republics' in which one-man government has emerged. Many small countries have been given independence, but the trend is toward autocracy or oligarchy – not democracy.

"Autocracy reigns also in the Middle East – for instance, in Egypt, where (Gamal Abdel) Nasser has held sway for a long time. The true democracies are few in number. They are confronted in Europe by puppet regimes under the control of the Moscow government. Small wonder there are so many threats of war. Free peoples don't rule the world today (in 1965) – autocracies do.

"In the face of such a disarray and a situation comparable to the times when tyrannical tribal chieftains held sway, what has the free world done to alleviate such conditions? The United States and some other countries have tried by altruistic grants as well as by commercial ventures in the backward regions to help advance the cause of modern civilization. But basically the power of autocracies suddenly to attack neighboring coutries remains. It breeds constant supicion and fear of invasion. How can the small countries be protected and their freedom be assured? If they all had educated and honest leaders to run their governments, the story might be different, but even then their could be no safety unless outside governments refrained from engaging in subversive tactics and terrorism."

In an address in Chicago back in October 1923, David Lloyd George did not mince words, "Russia threw over democracy a few months after starting the experiment. Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and now (in 1923) Germany is talking about a dictatorship. Democracy is in peril. In peril 5 years after the greatest triumph democracy has ever had (World War I). Why is democracy more sure, safer? It is slower to begin, it does not bring its forces into action in the way perhaps an autocracy does, but in a struggle it is the heart that tells, and democracy sustains the heart, and what happens is that democratic institutions alone can produce and train men that are able to appeal to nations to rise to those heights of sacrifice which are the last citadels of freedom in all lands. Now (in 1923), when democracy is in danger, when I can see the throne of democracy tumbling in one land after another, here (the United States) you have a land of democracy. Britain is the land of democracy, and France, I believe, will stand by democracy and whatever happens these 3 great lands together will stand against this wave of autocracy which seems to be sweeping over the world."

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