Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Democratic antinomianism


One thing that the US and UK have in common is a sort of democratic antinomianism — a pervading sense that to the holy all things are holy, and to the inherently democratic all things are democratic. Thus they can spy on their populace, torture prisoners held indefinitely without trial, hold embarrassingly badly organised elections, and still be offended at the notion that anyone might have anything to lecture them about democracy. They can elect, or come close to electing, a comically unfit would-be ethnic-nationalist authoritarian strongman and still celebrate their constitutional order.

This is a reason why I feel particularly comfortable in Germany. Germans can be arrogant, on a personal and national level, but they have learned deep in their bones distrust of colourful demagogues.

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