Posted by: Roberto Hope
June 9, 2014


Conference by Dr. Julián Gil de Sagredo
Taken from www.
Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Hope

Dear friends, I am going to talk to you about democracy as a source of subversion, and I will focus my topic on the doctrinal plane from three points of view. the theological, the philosophical and the political.

Democracy, from a theoretical standpoint presents different aspects for the theologian, the philosopher and the politician. But if theology, philosophy and political science are assembled in a unitary synthesis, with a common foundation, it can then be noted that these diverse approaches are linked together by way of causality, in a man­ner such that the premises in the theological order determine in certain sense the logical consequences in the philosophical order, and these, in turn, determine like­wise its pertinent derivations of a political nature. Let us try to demonstrate our point:

Democracy from a theological viewpoint:

It may seem strange to approach from a theological viewpoint a matter so political as is democracy. Remembering, however, with Donoso Cortés, that “the great political problems always involve a theological problem”, I dare try to discover the internal relationships linking the two aspects, the theological and the political. And for that pur­pose nothing better than to delve into the intimate essence of democracy.

Aristotle says that “democracy had its origin in the belief that, being all men equal in some aspects, they were equal in all”. This belief, with time, transformed democracy into a kind of political fashion; political fashion which now is claimed by all states, but which can only be boasted by those which, as Louis Salleron remarked with a touch of irony, “proclaim themselves demo­cra­tic with the approval of the United States and Russia” . It is quite true that the verdict of both powers merit little respect, since, nowadays, all proclaim themselves to be democrat­ic: communists and anti-communists, socialists and anti-socialists, monarchists and republicans, lefts, centers, civilized rights and uncivilized ones, and woe to him who does not prostrate himself kneeling before such an overreaching goddess! he will instantly fall fulminated by her thunderous lightning, as an “ultra”, an “immobilist”, an “extremist”, a “totalitarian”!

I, on my part, do not question the charms of democracy. It may be the hidden manna which, at dawn, as hap­pened at the Sinai desert, yields a mysterious nectar which pleases the taste of all palates. It may be the “uni­versal panacea”, the “yellow ointment”, the “abracadabra”, the “philosopher’s stone” which solves all problems and remedies all evil.

What is certain, however, is that, if we look at its external forms of expression, we see that democracy breeds obscenity, ordinariness, filth and vulgarity at all levels, and, which is worse, if we look at the internal forms of thought, we will notice that, along with democracy, comes confusion, disconcert and disorientation, in ideas, in judgment and in doctrine.

It follows that, the more people try to define the concept of democracy with exactitude, the more such concept appears to be ambiguous, equivocal and multifarious. You may know that a doctoral dissertation presented at the University of Oslo some years ago, picks up about three hundred definitions of democracy. Analyzing, how­ever, the common concept underlying all those definitions, it can be proven that their center of gravity is the con­cept of “liberty”. Depending on the meaning and content we attach to this word, we will get a particular kind of “democracy”.

The possibility may exist   ̶ then ̶   for a unique kind of democracy to be found, which could, hypothetically, pre­sent itself without its natural incoherence, but it is evident that no credence is deserved by a term such as “demo­cra­cy”, the conceptual multiformity of which allows for the indiscriminate traffic of all kinds of mental com­modities.

For that reason, while admitting the possibility of finding a democracy which could present itself without its natu­ral incoherence   ̶ which conformed with right reason ̶   we insist that what is characteristic of democracy, as what is characteristic of liberalism, from which it derives, is not the concept of “liberty” but the ideological hegemo­ny of “liberty”; the expression of “liberty” as an absolute value, as a supreme category which pays no homage to any other. The exaltation of free man as the center and axis of the universe, in a word, anthropocentrism.

Secondly, as regardless of its political, social and economic derivatives, democracy has a marked character of theological significance, since it implies, in its very same concept of liberty, a seed of rebellion against God. Seed of rebellion which shows in the plans of its promoters, when they present it and spread it as though it were the universal religion of modern times. Religion containing as dogma, its “faith in man”, and as ritual, “universal suffrage”, exclusive source of power and sovereignty.

Democracy is preached as a value transcending the person and society in all their dimensions, as the mark which impresses character, not only in politics, but in all manifestations of human spirit, education, culture, science, economy, art, love; what is intended   ̶ in a word ̶   is to create something sacred, untouchable, dogmatic, at a universal scale; in such a way that it will get to substitute for God as the ultimate explanation of the meaning of life. That is why Donoso Cortés fittingly said that “democracy is the human echo of the rebellion of the fallen angel”. Such echo is reflected in the antithesis formulated by the liberal doctrine against the Word of God. The Gospel of Saint John, chapter eight, verse thirty two says: “Truth shall make you free”, in other words: truth engenders liberty; words which liberalism casts inverted: “liberty engenders truth”. And, as effects participate in their causes, and liberty is personal, subjective, variable; the “truth” which it fabricates and contrives will have those same characteristics. It will, therefore, not be objective, but subjective; not absolute, but relative; not immutable, but variable; not “the truth”, but “my truth”“your truth”“his truth”. That way, the intellective facul­ty becomes subordinated to the volitive, understanding subordinated to will, light to darkness, objective order to the subjective: We have attained relativism and with relativism, scepticism. This is the corrosive, devastating origin of liberalism, the multifarious expression of which is democracy.

Its effects are denounced by the same Donoso Cortés in the following terms: “just as the Word of God, when rightfully interpreted, is the only one capable of giving life, so will also that same word, when disfigured or wrongly interpreted become capable of producing death”. Remember, for instance, the transformation of sacred concepts operated by ecclesiastic progressivism. Our Savior is transformed into a “liberator of the proletariat”; salvation of the soul, transformed into “liberation from economic servitude”; charity   ̶ a theological virtue ̶   into “human love” and philanthropy; Christ’s spiritual reign into a “temporal and earthly kingdom”; theocentrism into “anthropo­centrism”. So, in disfiguring, in inverting the meaning of Jesus Christ’s words, in founding truth on liberty and not liberty on truth, death of the real objective order is produced and, as a consequence, death in the political, social and economic order. There you have democracy from a theological viewpoint. The rebellion of liberty against truth, rebellion of man against God. Let us now look at democracy from the philosophical viewpoint.

Democracy from a philosophical point of view

This subversion, of a theological sign, which places liberty ahead of truth, engenders, as a consequence, a second subversion, which could be called philosophical, by which virtue puts man’s liberty ahead of those laws or principles which conform his own nature. Yea, the two-pole conception of man, which binds him with God as his ultimate end and binds him with society as an intermediary and instrumental end, gets distorted in its indivi­dual projection by Luther and Descartes, who inspired liberalism, and in its social projection by Hobbes and Rous­seau, who made liberalism happen.

Let us see how:
Luther makes man independent of God because, in the binomial of salvation, will-grace —binomial which defin­itively resolves man’s destiny for eternity, he subtracts will from grace, making exclusively the latter responsible for salvation and granting the former such autonomy as proceeds from free examination. The first step has been taken, human will is autonomous.

Descartes makes understanding independent from the work of God, from God’s creation, inasmuch as from the binomial of truth adequatio rei ad intellectus, he subtracts understanding from objective reality, since intelligence does not reach truth by subjecting it to reality but by creating it, fabricating it. Taken this second step: not only the will but also the intellect becomes autonomous, it dictates its own laws. We find ourselves, then, before man’s absolute autonomy, intellectual and volitive. We have thus attained liberalism’s first dogma: “liberty”. But, at the same time, we have detached man from his proper end, verum as regards his understanding, bonum as regards his will and, since a person’s end individuates the person as regards his acts, we have deprived the person from his authentic individual dimension.

That is how you can explain that a king, such as Juan Carlos, being a Catholic in private, promulgated and published an impious and atheistic constitution. And that, ministers who proclaim themselves to be Catholic such as Cavero and Landelino Lavilla, should submit to the Congress of Deputies, a divorce law which infringes upon Divine and natural law. Thus, with a Catholic king, with Catholic ministers, an anti-catholic society and an anti-Catholic State began to be shaped. Such are the genialities of Maritain, a mind as subtle as contradictory. Converted from protestantism, he never finished assimilating Christianity, returning always to the roots from which he sprung.

Let us lastly examine democracy from a political view­point.

Democracy from a political point of view:

Even though philosophers say that “ab absurdo sequitur quodlibet”, and so that “error is not consistent with itself”, we must admit —nevertheless— that a certain logical coherence exists between errors; in this case between the theological, the philosophical and the political errors.

Since liberalism, in placing liberty before truth in the theological order, deforms the hierarchy of ends of human nature itself in the philosophical order, it also deforms, as a consequence, the natural structure of society in the political order. From this disorder comes the confrontation promoted by liberalism against the spontaneous structural framing of social forces which constitute the political structure of society according to the order estab­lished by God because He is nature’s Creator. Established order which, to prevent on the one hand the excesses of individual liberty and on the other the excesses of authority, put between them, by society’s natural evolution, certain buffering cushions called “intermediary bodies”.

These natural social ropes placed between the State and the individual, between the giant and the dwarf , which pre­vent the frontal collision with one another, interpose those barriers which protect the person, making it immune to the abuse of those in power. The impact, then, of state action does not fall on the social molecules as a deluge which ravages and destroys, but as still water, canalized through those intermediary institutions which it must cross, which have the role of filters to clear it and soften it. It is not so easy, then, for a totalitarian state to atomize the people, or in a liberal state, where individual liberties turn into licentiousness and anarchy, to under­mine the foundations of authority, because between them are interposed, in the one case as in the other, those contention embankments which constitute the natural social corporate bodies.

For this reason, the intermediary bodies and the social order are two concepts so closely bound together that a natural social order is not possible without intermediary bodies. An artificial social order —result of compulsion— may be possible without them. Nor can there be intermediary bodies except within a range, between its two extremes, its opposite ends, where these bodies can develop their existence. Thus, the society with no interme­diary bodies, as promoted by liberalism, the democratic society of universal suffrage, of political parties, of man-as-number, of individuals as votes, is an invertebrate, inorganic, flattened society, dispersed into individual atoms, in amorphous crowds; it is a society diluted in a de-personalized mass, easy prey to demagogy, to con­front it to power, as well as easy prey to fraud and deceit, to exploit it from positions of power.

And in such a de-personalized and inorganic society which nullifies all possibility of hierarchical structuring through intermediary bodies, economic liberalism finds the proper field to develop its doctrinal postulates. Postulates which, by inverting the scale of social values established by Saint Augustine in de Libero Arbitrio, book first, chapter fifteen, it not only impregnates human life with a materialistic sense, but it ends up reducing to economics the ultimate explanatory reason for man, as though a person were substantially homo economicus rather than homo rationalis.

Liberal economics, based on the principle of “solve et coagula”: dissolve and coagulate; that is, first de-personal­ize and then massify, promotes the uprooting of man from its familial and social medium, detaching him from the bonds that used to protect him, leaving him defenseless, without personality and without responsibility, and in this way it incorporates him without resistance into an amorphous mass which it can manipulate at discretion.

Such economic liberalism, such democracy, which raises profitability as the supreme criterion of its doctrine, condemns in the name of such sovereign criterion, the small family farm, the small factory or shop, the small grocery store, the small market, all of which are drowned, asphyxiated, by the huge agricultural and forestry concerns, by the great industrial complexes, by the great department stores, the large supermarkets and the huge hypermarkets. In the name of that sovereign criterion, family homestead and small landholdings are eliminated, the mass of salaried persons is swelled, idolatrous cult is rendered to production and to work. In the name of such sovereign criterion, anonymous, liberal capitalism is created, which detaches capital from the hands of its owners and casts it in the anonymity of the great financial powers, national and multinational. They are the inventors of industrial society and its indispensable support: “the society of consumption”, as the sole categories which divide the social body into producers and consumers.

To this sad role of producer or consumer gets human dignity to be degraded. Such is, in the final instance, the liberty hawked by liberal economy; and so is the road left clear and expeditious to impose its monopoly and tyranny over the mass of producers and consumers.

And —finally— in the name of such criterion, anonymous capitalism is transformed into speculative capitalism, money industry for the sake of money, with which everything is bought and everything is conquered, including the State itself, which is the final goal. In that way, economic power is confused with political power, and totalitarianism sets in, the ultimate consequence of liberal principles. A consequence, equally ultimate, of a disorder the root of which rests on the exaltation of liberty outside its limits.

This limitation which in the theological order comports the alienation with respect to God, in the philosophical order the alienation with respect to man, and in the political order the alienation with respect to society. From the theological disorder, the philosophical disorder follows, and from this the political disorder; three consecutive failures: theological, philosophical and political. Three eloquent proofs that give evidence of: first, the rebellion against God; second, the rebellion against God´s law in man; third, the rebellion against God´s law in society. Eloquent proofs which determine and demonstrate how liberalism, how democracy which is its reflection, cons­titute the basis and foundation of its subversion.

The ideas that I have just exposed do not remain in the stratosphere of thought, but are dynamic, tend to become reality, to descend to the social field, to wrap themselves in flesh and bones, and once they have penetrated society and have acquired sufficient maturity, are the ones which bring about, in fact, the great cata­clysms, the great national and international revolutions… but this could be the object of another conference: the demonstration that democracy not only in the doctrinal plane, but in the actual and social plane is a well­spring of subversion.

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  1. Roberto – thank you for this translation. I plan to digest it later. I see the name Donoso Cortés. I appreciated his book, and agree it is a good point from which to start this subject.

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