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After Tocqueville: The Promise and Failure of Democracy Hardcover – September 1, 2012
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About the Author
Chilton Williamson Jr. is the author of The Conservative Bookshelf and several other books. A senior editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, he has contributed to Harpers, the New Republic, the American Spectator, the American Conservative, and many other publications. He and his wife live in Wyoming.
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His book is a profound and fascinating blend of prophetic insights from Tocqueville on the advantages and disadvantages of democracy which correspond to observations and insights from some learned contemporary scholars, namely, Jacques Ellul and Bertrand de Jouvenel, with whose writings I am very familiar, and with some other profound writers on the idea and reality of democracy.
For example, here at pages 209-210 is Williamson on democracy, the Russian people, and Mr. Putin, today:
"Democrats looked for great things from Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, though optimism was greater among Westerners than the Russian people, who have learned over centuries that pessimism is the highest form of realism. Two decades after the restoration of the historical Russia, democracy is no more realistic a prospect there than than the restoration of the Romanovs. If any people has autocracy embedded in its DNA, that people is the Russians. Culture is destiny, and Russian culture is finally not that of European Russia -- the Russia of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, and Solzhenitsyn -- but the Russia of the East. American Cold Warriors expected the Russian masses to accept "democracy" and "freedom" once the triumphant Western powers liberated them from the tyranny of the communist state. In fact, no such thing has happened, and no such thing is likely to happen....
In the postdemocratic world, a noisy minority will always be around to agitate on behalf of "freedom," "democracy," and "human rights," as it does in Russia today. [watch the Pussy Riot interview video below] Nevertheless, the Russian majority is, as the 2012 elections showed, prepared to settle for the corporate national authoritarian government that Vladimir Putin has fashioned during his two terms as president and his prime ministerial tenure under President Dmitry Medvedev -- and now is fashioning as president again. In Putin's Russia, where nostalgia for the Stalinist regime lingers, political and economic power are one and the same thing, as they were under the czars."
Finally, Democratic observers will recall that the Russian punk rock band, Pussy Riot, were recently convicted and imprisoned for protesting the rule of President Putin. In this fascinating current interview, we learn that one member will be transferred to one of the still-open prisons of the Gulag. We also are told that "there is no democracy in Russia today. [...]