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C.S. Lewis on Equality and Democracy

on April 12, 2015

CS_Lewis

from “The Screwtape Letters”

Screwtape, “a very experienced Devil”:

” . . . democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting . . .And of course is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated . . . that all men are equal. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction . . . the most degrading . . . of all human feelings. . . The feeling which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you . . .

“No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did . . . The claim to equality . . .is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

“And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation . . . No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food . . . ‘They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.’

” . . .The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it — make it respectable and even laudable — by the incantatory use of the word democratic.

“Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labor more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level.

” . . . Meanwhile, as a delightful by-product, the few (fewer every day) who will not be made Normal and Regular and Like Folks and Integrated intend to become in reality the prigs and cranks which the rabble would in any case have believed them to be.

” . . . What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence — moral, cultural, social, or intellectual . . . Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals.

” . . . dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic.’

” . . . All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish . . .As an English politician remarked not long ago, ‘A democracy does not want great men.’

“. . . And what we must realize is that ‘democracy’ in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being like Folks, Togetherness) is the finest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth.

“For ‘democracy’ or the ‘democratic spirit’ (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of sub-literates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first hint of criticism. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be. For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible.

” . . . If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?

” . . .I’m as good as you is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies.”

1961

54 years later, C.S. Lewis’ prophetic words have been fulfilled in the United States of America.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

2015

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One response to “C.S. Lewis on Equality and Democracy

  1. I agree……every man is equal is in practice not a very good concept. Everyone is not equally hardworking. Opportunities are not same for everyone. Sometimes to bring equality, government suppresses the more “able” crowd to rise up the less able crowd…… even if they don’t actually need it and got other means to improve their condition.
    That’s the reason communism didn’t work.
    Rather to make democracy really successful, we should aim for equality of opportunities. That way……outcomes’ll be based on one’s own credibility.

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