On Ryszard Legutko

Ryszard Legutko is a Polish philosopher and politician. His book, recently translated into English, ‘The Demon in Democracy‘ provides a useful perspective on current American politics.
which begins with:

One can look at the affinities between communism and liberal democracy from both a narrower and a wider prospect. The narrower point of view may lead us to a sad conclusion that the modern Western world never really understood quite correctly the communist experience and if it did, it never took seriously the lessons that followed from it. When looked at more broadly, the examination of those affinities may give grounds for a conclusion more daring, namely, that the two regimes stem from the same root, or, more precisely, from the same, not particularly good, inclination of the modern man, persistently revealing itself under different political circumstances. This is assuredly not the only disquieting inclination the modern man has given in to, bearing in mind the bloody history of Europe and America in the last centuries. But the story of the relationship between communism and liberal democracy is of particular importance, as it is about the systems which were hailed and sincerely believed to be the greatest hopes of mankind. The story is thus not only about politics, but, indirectly, about the aspirations and dreams of the modern man.

The book argued that the modern man who was the inspiring force of the two political systems was a mediocrity, not by nature, but, so to speak, by design, and from the beginning was expected to be indifferent to great moral challenges and unaware of the danger of a moral fall. Such was, more or less, a picture which the early modern thinkers created – mostly in opposition to the classical and Christian views of human nature – and which, within a few centuries, managed to overcome virtually all of its competitors. Both regimes imagined man as a creature of common qualities whose commonness made him perceive the world through his own narrow vision and therefore naturally inclined to reduce art, ideas, education – contrary to the old view which had attributed to them an elevating power – to his own dimensions.

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