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Ryszard Legutko lived and suffered under communism for decades — and he fought in the Polish anti-communist movement to abolish it. Having lived for two decades under a liberal democracy, however, he has discovered that these two political systems have a lot more in common than one might think. They both stem from the same historical roots in early modernity, and accept similar prescriptions about history, society, religion, politics, culture, and human nature.
In The Demon in Democracy, Legutko explores the shared objectives between these two political systems, and explains how liberal democracy has over time lurched toward the same goals as communism, albeit without Soviet-style brutality.
Both systems, says Legutko, reduce human nature to that of the common man, who is led to believe himself liberated from the obligations of the past. Both the communist man and the liberal democratic man refuse to admit that there exists anything of value to which they have pledged their loyalty. And both systems refuse to undertake any critical evaluation of their ideological prejudices.
Christianity — the last great force
“By rejecting Christianity — after having marginalized the classical heritage — Europe, and indeed, the entire West not only slides into cultural aridity, a process noticeable for some time, but also falls under the smothering monopoly of one ideology whose uniformity is being cleverly concealed by the deafening rhetoric of diversity that has been pouring into people’s minds at all occasions and in all contexts.
Christianity is the last great force that offers a viable alternative to the tediousness of liberal-democratic anthropology. In this respect it is closer to the classical rather than the modern view of human nature. With Christianity being driven out of the main tract, the liberal-democratic man — unchallenged and totally secure in his rule — will become a sole master of today’s imagination, apodictically determining the boundaries of human nature and, at the very outset, disavowing everything that dares to reach beyond his narrow perspective. The only thing he will be capable of doing is occasional, albeit capricious generosity in tolerating some form of dissidence at the far peripheries of his empire. Without a strong competitor the liberal-democratic man will reign over human aspirations like a tyrant. There will be no one who would dare or be ready, in compliance with the existing rules, to call his reign into question; the rules that exist do not permit such extravagant acts, and a supposition that there might be other rules has long since been discarded as absurd.”