Democracy and Liberty
In Two Volumes
Publication Year: 2012
Democracy and Libertyis the most thorough manual of conservative politics produced during the nineteenth century.
— Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind
"When democracy turns, as it often does, into a corrupt plutocracy, both national decadence and social revolution are being prepared." So wrote the Irish-born historian, W. E. H. Lecky (1838–1903) in this devastating assault on mass democracy.
Lecky spoke for the landed gentry and the upper middle classes of late Victorian England when he warned his countrymen that an unfettered democracy would destroy the balance of interests in the community and thereby undermine the Constitution.
"A tendency to democracy," said Lecky, "does not mean a tendency to parliamentary government, or even a tendency toward greater liberty." Indeed, the type of democracy emerging in Britain seemed to be the rudiment of socialism.
Published by: Liberty Fund
Volume I - Cover
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The veil of sentimentality long ago settled snugly over the 1890s, which have come to be regarded as dear, dead days of innocence, of straw boaters and bicycles built for two—a time so utterly unlike the depraved present as to horrify sensitive consciences. ...
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Many years ago, when I was deeply immersed in the History of England in the Eighteenth Century, I remember being struck by a saying of my old and illustrious friend, Mr. W. R. Greg, that he could not understand the state of mind of a man who, when so many questions of burning and absorbing interest were rising around him, ...
Chapter 1. English Representative Government in the Eighteenth Century
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The most remarkable political characteristic of the latter part of the nineteenth century has unquestionably been the complete displacement of the centre of power in free governments, and the accompanying changes in the prevailing theories about the principles on which representative government should be based. ...
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The power given in England to a simple majority of a single Parliament to change, with the assent of the Crown, any portion of the Constitution is not a common thing among free nations. Italy and Hungary, it is true, appear in this respect to stand on the same basis as England. ...
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I do not think that any one who seriously considers the force and universality of the movement of our generation in the direction of democracy can doubt that this conception of government will necessarily, at least for a considerable time, dominate in all civilised countries, ...
Chapter 4. Aristocracies and Upper Chambers
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Of all the forms of government that are possible among mankind, I do not know any which is likely to be worse than the government of a single omnipotent democratic Chamber. It is at least as susceptible as an individual despot to the temptations that grow out of the possession of an uncontrolled power, ...
Chapter 5. Nationalities
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The effects of democracy on the liberty of the world are not only to be traced in the changes that are passing over the governments and constitutions of the different nations, and in the wide fields of religious, intellectual, social, and industrial life; they are also powerfully felt in international arrangements, ...
Chapter 6. Democracy and Religious Liberty
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There are few subjects upon which mankind in different ages and countries have differed more widely than in their conceptions of liberty, and in the kinds of liberty which they principally value and desire. Even in our own day, and among civilised nations, these differences are enormously great. ...
Volume II - Title Page, Copyright
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Chapter 6 (continued)
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There is one other subject connected with religious liberty that is likely to occupy a large share in the attention of the democracies of the future. It is the position and the aggressive policy of the Catholic Church. ...
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In the discussion of legal limitations of natural liberty some confusion is due to the fact that theological, moral and utilitarian considerations often enter in combination among the reasons for legislation, and the proportionate weight which is attached to these several elements varies greatly in different ages and with different classes. ...
Chapter 8. Socialism
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In any forecast that may be attempted of the probable influence of democracy in the world, a foremost place must be given to its relations to labour questions, and especially to those socialist theories which, during the last twenty years, have acquired a vastly extended influence on political speculation and political action. ...
Chapter 9. Labor Questions
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It would be hardly possible that the immense extension of Socialism which has taken place, in all parts of the civilised globe, within the last twenty-five years, and the immense change that has been effected in the balance of political power in England by the Acts of 1867 and 1884, should not have powerfully stimulated English Socialism. ...
Chapter 10. Woman Questions
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There is one other class of questions connected with the democratic movement in Europe which has during the last few decades risen rapidly in prominence, and which, though it has been incidentally touched upon in several of the preceding chapters, requires a somewhat fuller examination. ...
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William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903), Irish historian and essayist, was born near Dublin, educated at Kingstown, Armagh, and Cheltenham College and graduated B.A. in 1859 and M.A. in 1863 from Trinity College, Dublin. ...
Page Count: 1034
Publication Year: 2012