Be a Democrat not because people are good, but because people can’t be trusted

Article: Brain Pickings – C.S. Lewis on Equality and Our Core Misconception About Democracy

C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and Christian thinker wrote the following decades ago, but it could not be more relevant today:

“I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure… The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

He continues:

“I do not think that equality is one of those things (like wisdom or happiness) which are good simply in themselves and for their own sakes. I think it is in the same class as medicine, which is good because we are ill, or clothes which are good because we are no longer innocent… Legal and economic equality are absolutely necessary remedies for the Fall, and protection against cruelty.”

C.S. Lewis’ analogy of saying medicine is good and necessary only because there is illness, then also makes sense as to why gender equality is good and necessary because of the sickness of misogyny, BLM is good and necessary because of the sickness of systemic racism, universal healthcare and a living minimum wage is good and necessary because of the sickness of the systems that perpetuate income inequality. It is a logical and moral argument for the need for social and progressive action.

C.S. Lewis, Present Concerns – A Compelling Collection of Timely, Journalistic Essays

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