Democracies, Demagogues and Dictators

Many of us might have assumed that the worst examples of dictators and dictatorships ended with the conclusion of the World War in its two phases, and in regard to the developed nations of the world, we would be right—except that the current period seems to be one in which leaders with dictatorial proclivities again seem to be rising to power in a number of places. In several nations that have long considered themselves functioning democracies, leaders with a propensity to concentrate power—either within their particular party or simply within themselves—have been chosen by a portion of the population sizeable enough to dominate their democracies. The old-fashioned need to engineer a coup d’etat has given way to more subtle manipulations of “the system”, aided by the vulnerabilities of modern media and its uncanny influence on public opinion. Just as significantly, they have been aided by the nature of modern life in which many people feel overwhelmed by the availability of information and lack the tools of critical thinking to evaluate what they are reading and being told, as well as by an increasing tendency, again aided by modern media, to focus on their personal lives and to create and stay within theirs own bubble, their personal silos.

The esoteric teachings given in the writings of Alice Bailey point out that much of this current situation is a manifestation of the evolutionary sweep of the divine Plan and humanity’s present stage within that Plan. As many of us know, we are on the verge of entering a new age, governed by the energies that pour through Aquarius, and which are heightened by the polar opposite of Aquarius, Leo, and their interplay. “It is because of this fact that you have the appearance of the dictators in different countries at this time”, Alice Bailey wrote, “and it is because of this face also that in this present cycle (the ante-chamber of the New Age) you have the pronounced attitude of dictators—an attitude which is so often ignored but which has real value”, she said. Surprisingly, she wrote that the nature of this increasing polarisation is that it’s leading to a synthesis of the national life, aims and intentions.

This perspective may come as a shock unless we stand back and try to recognise the effects of this polarisation as they are manifesting in human societies. Perhaps one especially powerful aspect of polarisation is that it brings a clarifying, revelatory power in its wake. Points of difference are noted, sides are taken, and opinions finely honed. This can increase the cleavages and add to the pain and anxiety that many people of goodwill with a basic belief in the one humanity feel, but the cleavage may well be not only inevitable but self-healing, in time. In this sense, dictators can possibly serve as catalysts for testing the values of their people. Especially in this age of mass-education, worldwide media, and the spread of democracy, there is less and less excuse for claiming powerlessness and its cohorts, passivity and apathy. As the well known observation puts it, “In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.”

As Alice Bailey expressed it, “Blame not the personalities involved or the men who produce these events before which we stand bewildered and appalled. They are only the product of the past and the victims of the present time….They are the embodiment of the personality of humanity. Blame yourselves, therefore, for what is today transpiring and seek not to evade responsibility by placing it upon the shoulders of spectacular men or any statesmen, dictator or upon any group. Look not to one person or to one group and accuse them of causing the present world condition. Look not also to any one person or group to bring liberation or to find a solution of the world problem. That is for humanity itself to do. Humanity must take action and will do so, when the right time comes.”

What we must do instead, she wrote, is to recognise joint responsibility, joint mistakes, past errors of judgment, wrong attitudes, and the deeply entrenched selfishness, materialism, and separateness that have driven human aspirations for so many eons. We are living with the age-old accumulation of those attitudes now, when the residue of an old age is all that remains of that cycle of growth, yet the new opportunities of the incoming age are just beginning to evoke the aspiration of responsive members of humanity. This suggests that perhaps we should cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the revelation of the cleavages we see—between spiritual and material values, and between the differences of race, culture, religion and language which are so visible on the outer, but only the outer, levels of human experience, seem increasingly to be dividing us one from another. The pain of witnessing these cleavages can generate the will to transcend them through love, willingness to forgive and to ask forgiveness, to understand, if not agree with, even the most alien perspectives.

Just as in the case of each individual human being, every nation has its lower, material aspects and its higher, spiritual destiny. What underlies the present times may well be a battle for the soul of humanity. If so, sacrifice is demanded of every thinking, caring citizen. Particularly is this the task expected of those who seek to be of service to their community and the larger society. To sense the compelling spiritual note seeking expression through that society, old assumptions of the rightness of one’s personal opinions and views, which reflect one’s own environment and therefore are inevitably limited in scope, must give way to a broadening of consciousness inclusive enough to take in the hopes, fears and intentions of those whose lives might have followed a different path than ours. For this to happen, all constituent parts have to claim their rights and responsibilities as a true community—a fellowship in which a true democracy can arise and make dictatorships a future impossibility.



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