Defining Democracy

By Taki Theodoracopulos

Spectator, September 16, 2006

I liked what the late King of Tonga had to say about democracy: "The solutions provided by majority rule are not acceptable to certain segments of the population." Smart king, and the first man to pole-vault ten feet as a 14-year-old in 1932, an island record. In 1976 he set another record by weighing in at 460 lbs, making Edward VII look like a Bataan death-march survivor. His mother, Queen Salote, was also gargantuan, and was the butt of an apocryphal story when she was driven in an open carriage during Queen Elizabeth�s coronation in 1953. It was claimed that Princess Margaret asked who the little man sitting next to Queen Salote was, and that NoŽl Coward had answered, "That, Ma'am, is her lunch."

It sounds good, but highly unlikely. I would have thought Princess Margaret herself was riding in a carriage, and that Sir NoŽl, as back then he was not, would not have been in proximity. Yet I've heard the joke told countless times by people who swear they heard it from the horse's mouth. Be that as it may, I like Queen Salote and King Taufa'ahau Tupou very much. Democracy is now being used by neocon nincompoops to bludgeon people. The glories of global democracy are presented by ignoramuses like the Kristols and the Podhoretzes as a foil against war. But it seems to me that Britain was a democracy when it plotted to go to war against Germany early in the 20th century, as were the United States when they invaded the Philippines near the turn of the last century. Athens, of course, bragged about her democracy but went ahead and slaughtered all the men of Melos and sold their women and children into slavery when Melos refused to join the Athenian Empire.

Mind you, not all democratic people are as bloodthirsty as my ancestors, but democracy has become a catchword for waging aggressive war, as in Iraq, for example. To question the wisdom of imposing liberty and democracy on people who might not want it does not enter the mind of many Americans, lobotomised as they are by too many hamburgers, television ads and the worst education money can buy. Here's another fat man on democracy: "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but, after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or not. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. It works the same in every country." That was the then recently thinned-down Hermann Goering speaking at his trial after the war.

America is now more of an imperial plutocracy than a real democracy. Money gets one elected, and special interests are the ones with the moolah. The rest think they're living in a democracy and when things don't turn out the way they want they eat giant hamburgers and watch more TV. The other thing which I find intriguing is the fact that if Mexico, whose traditions go back to Europe, has not succeeded in establishing democratic capitalism in the past 200 years, does anyone in their right mind believe it can be done in Eyraq? These jerks must really think we're all as dumb as Bush, and probably we are. Cuddly old Goering had it right. It is a simple matter to drag people into war.

That's why the King of Tonga was an honest man. He told it the way he saw it. Real democracy exists only in Switzerland, but if that small country joins the EU, it will become like the rest. A country of seven million pretending to have the right to choose. Plato, too, didn't think much of it. "Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a kind of equality to equals." But back to the King of Tonga and the politically incorrect joke. I hope some bore does not take me to task like they have poor old Boris. After all, I only repeated it as an apocryphal one. The truth is I was brought up to believe people in Africa cooked each other in big stoves, but now I know this isn't so.

Boris Johnson, a classical scholar, should not have made the same mistake I've made all these years. Especially about Papua New Guinea. And while I'm at it, I hope Andrew Gimson's book on Boris sinks without trace, which I'm afraid it won't. He's done the dirty on Boris and then some. At least the ex-sainted one has a sex life, which is more than I can say for the creeps who write about those who do.