DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
Democracy and civilization are to each other as subjective is to objective. They are related to and depend upon each other. They are as cause is to result. They are man and the environment which he makes.
Democracy is the representative government which the people themselves elect to govern, to whom the people give authority and power to govern, and the representatives are, or should be held, responsible to the people for what they do in government.
Civilization is the change made by man from natural and primitive environment to the political and social and physical structure by industry, manufacture, trade; by education, invention, discovery; and by the arts, sciences and literature. These are the outward and visible expressions toward civilization of the inward development of man as he advances toward democracy—Self-government.
Civilization is a social development, inwardly as well as outwardly, by which human beings are led through gradual civilizing processes, from civilized stages of barbarous ignorance or ferocity, brutal cruelty, savage customs and uncontrolled passions, and, by relative humanized stages of education, to have good manners, to be respectful, considerate, cultured and refined and strengthened.
The present stage in social development is not more than a half way stage toward civilization; it is still theoretical and outward, not yet practical and inward, civilization. Human beings have only an outward veneer or gloss of culture; they are not inwardly cultured and refined and strengthened. This is shown by the prisons, the law courts, the police force in towns and cities to prevent or hold in check murder, robbery, rape and general disorder. And it is still more glaringly shown by the present crisis, in which peoples and their governments have turned invention, science, and industry into the manufacture of ammunitions and machines of death for the conquest of the lands of other peoples, and are compelling those others to engage in wars for self-defence, or to be exterminated. While there can be wars for conquest and such savagery, we are not civilized. Brute force will not acknowledge moral power until moral power conquers brute force. Force must be met with force and the savages conquered and convinced that their brute force must by them be changed into moral power of rightness, that inward power of rightness and reason is greater than the outward force of might.
The outward despotism of the senses has been the law that brute force of might is right. Might is brute law, the law of the jungle. As long as man is ruled by the brute that is in him he will submit to brute might, to the outward brute. When man rules the brute in him, man will teach the brute; and the brute will learn that right is might. While the brute in man rules by might, the brute fears the man and the man fears the brute. When the man rules the brute by right, man has no fear of the brute and the brute trusts and is governed by the man.
Brute force of might has been the immediate cause of death and destruction to civilizations, because man has not trusted in his moral power of right to conquer the brute force of might. Might is not right until right is known to be might. In the past, man has compromised his moral power of right with the brute force of might. Expediency has always been the compromise. Expediency is always in favor of the outward senses, and brute force has continued to rule. Man is destined to rule the brute in him. There cannot be any compromise between man and the brute if man is to rule, and also no compromise between man law and brute law. It is high time to proclaim and maintain that the moral power of the law is right, and that brute force of might must surrender to and be governed by the power of right.
When the representatives of the democracies refuse for the sake of expediency to compromise, then all men will of necessity be compelled to declare themselves to themselves. When a sufficient number of the people in all nations declare for the law of right and hold true to the law of right, the brute force of the dictators will be overwhelmed and must surrender. Then the people may be free to choose by inward culture (self-control) to become civilized, and strive onward in the advance toward civilization.
The United States of America is the land for the establishment of real democracy, real civilization. Real civilization is not for the culture of a race or an age, nor for the exploitation of other lands and peoples who will live and die and be forgotten, as civilizations of the past have lived and died and are forgotten. A civilization is the expression of the ideals and the thinking of those who make it what it is, outwardly and inwardly. Civilizations of the past have been founded and reared on the murder and bloodshed and subjugation or slavery of the peoples on whose lands the civilizations are built.
History stretches from the present into the illimitable dim and forgotten past, as the glorified and fading record of the achievements of the conquered and their conquerors, who were in turn conquered by later murdering warrior-heroes. The law of might of brute force has been the law of life and death by which the peoples and civilizations of the past have lived and died.
That has been the past, at the end of which we stand unless we of the present so continue. And we of the present must in time fade into what will become our past unless we of the present begin to convert our thinking from lawlessness and murder and drunkenness and death, to regenerate our bodies for the eternal now. The Eternal is not a wishful fancy, a poetic dream, or a pious thought. The Eternal ever is—through and untouched by the continuity of the beginnings and the ends of the periods of time.
While the immortal Doer in every human body continues to be self-hypnotized and to dream on in the flow of time under the spell of the senses, its inseparable Thinker and Knower are in the everlasting Eternal. They let their self-exiled part dream on, through birth and death of the senses, until it wills to think of itself and free itself from the prison of the senses, and to know and to be and to act its part for the Eternal—as the conscious Doer of its very own Thinker and Knower, while in the physical body. This is the ideal for the establishment of real civilization and for the conscious Doer in every human body, when it understands what it is and will fit itself and its body for the work.
Real civilization is not only for ourselves and our children and our children’s children and for the life and death by the generations of our people through a period or an age, as has been the custom to live and to die, but, civilization is for permanence, to continue through all flowing time, to afford opportunity for birth and death and life for those who will follow the custom to live and to die; and it will also afford the opportunity for those who will not to die, but to live—to carry on their work by reconstituting their bodies, from bodies of death into everlasting bodies of immortal youth. That is the ideal of the Civilization of Permanence, which will be the expression of the thinking of Doers in human bodies. It is the right of each one to choose his purpose. And each one who has a purpose will respect the purpose chosen by each other one.
It has been stated that about the time the Constitution of the United States was made and ratified, it was considered by some of the wisest men to be a “Great Experiment” in government. The government has lived a hundred and fifty years and is said to be the oldest of the most important governments in the world. The experiment has proved that it has not been a failure. We are thankful for the democracy we have. We will be more thankful when we make it a better democracy than it is. But we will not be satisfied until we make it a real, a true Democracy. The greatest Intelligences could not or would not develop a democracy for us. There is reason beyond doubt or experiment that any government that is not brought about by the will of the people is not democracy.
In the course of civilization, as soon as the people grow out of the slave state and child state and desire independence and responsibility, a democracy is possible—but not before. Reason shows that no government can continue if it is only for one or a few or for a minority, but that it can continue as a government if it is for the greater number of the people. Every government ever created is dead, is dying or is doomed to die, unless it is government by the will and in the interest of all the people as one people. Such a government cannot be a ready made miracle and descend from the sky.
The fundamentals of American democracy are excellent, but the preferences and prejudices and ungoverned weaknesses of the people prevent the practice of the fundamentals. No one or only a few are to be blamed for the mistakes of the past, but all should be blamed if they continue the mistakes. The mistakes can be corrected by all who begin to discipline themselves by self-control of weaknesses and outbursts of passion, not by suppression but by control, self-control and direction, so that each one will be developing his feelings and desires in his body into a real democratic self-government.
Now is the time for bringing into existence a real, a genuine democracy, the only government that can inaugurate the civilization of true democracy. Thus it will continue through the ages because it will be based and continue on the principles of truth, of identity and knowledge, of rightness and reason as law and justice, of feeling and desire as beauty and power, like the self-government by the Knowers of the Eternal who are in the Eternal, and who are The Government of the Worlds, in the Realm of Permanence, under the Supreme Intelligence of the Universe.
In the civilization of Permanence brought into or made manifest in the human world, each of the people will have opportunity for achievement and progress: to achieve what is desired and to be what one wills to be in the arts and sciences, to constantly progress in capacity to be conscious in successively higher degrees of being conscious, to be conscious of and as what one is, and be conscious of things as things are.
And the opportunity for each one of you to choose and to seek your own happiness by being what you make yourself to be, is to practice self-control and self-government until you are self-controlled and self-governed. In doing that you will have established self-government in your own body, and will thus be one of the people who will have government of the people, by the people, and in the interest of all the people as one people—a true, a real democracy: Self-government.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.