Re: Image comments for Ron Paul..... A Re-Founding Father
Bourgeois Democracy, Bourgeois Elitism
The second irony is that, while Jefferson extolled the yeoman and the notion of a yeoman-based society, he firmly believed that such yeomen had to be led and headed by members of more elite strata, intellectually and economically—of which Jefferson himself was a representative. And here is an irony within this irony, so to speak: With regard to “Jeffersonian democrats”—this applies to bourgeois-democrats more generally, but in particular to those who uphold and extol Jefferson and his ideas and ideals as the model of a great society, even if it has yet to be fully achieved—many of them are among those who are very quick to attack communists, and in particular Lenin and his work What Is To Be Done?, for alleged elitism! How often have we heard them say things like: “Communists like Lenin think that the masses are too stupid to know what’s good for them! They think these masses have to have elite intellectuals ordering them about and telling them what’s good for them, since they’re too stupid to know what they really want and need—that’s what the communist view is, that’s what Lenin was arguing in What Is To Be Done?”
Here, I don’t have time to go into all the ways in which that is a gross distortion of what Lenin was actually arguing in What Is To Be Done?. But the fact is that the essence of what he’s arguing there is the opposite of these accusations: He is insisting on both the ability and the necessity for the masses to understand the basic dynamics of objective reality, and of human society in particular, in order to consciously struggle to transform society, to make revolution with the final aim of bringing a communist world into being. He is emphasizing that this is the only way that such a radical transformation of society can actually come about. And, yes, he is insisting that the masses need a vanguard to lead them in this struggle—a vanguard whose purpose is precisely to enable the masses themselves to make revolution, and not to substitute for them (or attempt to substitute for them) in doing that.
So here’s “the irony within the irony”: Many of these Jeffersonian (bourgeois) democrats never tire of hurling the charge of “elitism” against communism, and against Lenin in particular, and yet their hero and model Thomas Jefferson was himself a firm believer in the idea that the common people needed an economic and intellectual elite to guide them to the virtuous society. This is the logic Jefferson would have followed, if he had actually tried to bring such a society into being—which he did not.
from Jeffersonian Democracy
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