Or, if the temptation is totalitarianism, the temptee is us. (We won't delve into the identity of the tempter behind the temptation today.)
Not all are equally vulnerable to the temptation, for "conservative totalitarian" is a contradiction in terms, being that we believe in the freedom of individual over and above the state, while the left believes in the power of the state over and above the individual (because the individual is likely to abuse his freedom and not want what the left wants him to want). It's a question of the locus of power. In the words of the Aphorist, As the State grows, the individual shrinks.
Speaking of aphorisms, let's begin with a quip from St. Thomas that could generate reams of commentary:
Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do.
Now, there is no man -- or no humanness -- in the absence of the Ought. The worst man nevertheless feels there are things he ought to do. It's just that, in reality, he oughtn't do them.
I know it's early in the morning for Godwin's Law, but Hitler obviously felt he ought to murder all Jews, just as the Soviet Union was under the imperative that it ought to liquidate all class enemies. Members of ISIS feel they ought to kill anyone who isn't, just as Antifa goons feel they ought to bring violence upon those with misgivings about liberal fascism. And so on.
The Ought is very much like any other drive or instinct. Just as, say, sexual desire has its proper object, so too does the Ought have its.
You will have no doubt noticed that a central feature of the left is the insistence that there is no such thing as on objective or disinterested Ought -- that there is no Ought built into the nature of things. Which is why they believe a man can be a woman, or marry a man, or even wear a man bun. You are not permitted to point out that these are things a proper man ought not do.
The irony, or course, is that the left is essentially saying that you ought not ought: or else! There is a word for this. I know there is, because I made it up: totolerantarianism. It ultimately reduces to absolute relativity enforced by absolute power; or in other words, the Lie backed by Force.
Which is why Thomas can say that "Moral virtue presupposes knowledge," because if you don't know what IS, then you will have no idea what to DO. If you really think that men and women are interchangeable, then you will literally have no idea that members of the same sex cannot "marry."
The name for truth-in-action is prudence. Which is why prudence is the pre-eminent virtue: "Without prudence," there can be no "discipline, or moderation, or any moral virtue." Which ultimately means that the Ought is again rooted in something prior: the IS. Thus, "All sins are opposed to prudence, just as all virtues are ruled by prudence."
Now, the left is the very essence of imprudence; which is another way of saying that it is always intemperate. Anyone can turn on their television and see images of leftists behaving intemperately. Why? Because they are out there on the street doing things they ought not do, because their Ought is completely screwed up, bearing no relationship to what IS.
With that little preface out of the way, let's return to the Demon in Democracy. The best chapter by far is called Ideology. Looks like I highlighted nearly every sentence. Let's find out why.
Wait. I think I know: if the Ought ought to be conformed to the IS, the left makes the fundamental error of conforming the Ought to Ideology. Deviation from the latter constitutes thought-crime, punishable by anything from banishment to job loss to murder. Marx is a jealous god!
Here is a timeless passage about the left:
Contrary to what most of us think, prevailing opinions, theories, and convictions that we consider timeless and self-evident are neither timeless nor self-evident, but are the product of economic and political arrangements peculiar to a specific phase of historical development. Whoever thinks otherwise and claims he speaks from a non-committed absolutist perspective is cheating himself, failing to notice that his supposedly disinterested consciousness has been fabricated by material conditions.
There it is, in all its vulgar glory: there is no truth, and we are its prophets!
Now, what conservatism wishes to conserve first and foremost are precisely those timeless and self-evident truths which the left insists don't exist. Rather, they say that these so-called truths are just pretexts for a naked power grab.
Which brings to mind Goebbels' advice to always accuse the other side of that which you are guilty. Certainly the fascists of Antifa have taken this to heart, but this is simply what the left does, every time.
As a matter of fact -- speaking of timeless truths -- the book begins with a comment by Dostoyevsky to the effect that
I have found from many observations that our liberals are incapable of allowing anyone to have his own convictions and immediately answer their opponent with abuse or something worse.
Something worse, like bottles of urine.
And again the crude trick: the left promulgates timeless truths about how there are no timeless truths to a human animal who is simply a product of history. Wha'?
There is no truth to the left's ideas. But they more than make up for this with their perverse power. The left's ideas "vaulted to unprecedented popularity," largely because they provide "a most convenient tool in political conflicts," allowing one to discredit "one's opponent without entering into substantive argument."
Quite simply, without slander there would be no left left. Think of the attempts thus far to slander President Trump: treason, misogyny, Islamophobe, racist, anti-Semite. Thus far nothing has stuck. Next up: tax cuts for the wealthy!
We'll leave off with another timeless truth about the left: "Ideology is always inherently simplistic and simplifying as its function is instrumental, not descriptive." With leftist ideology you always know what to do: identify and slander enemies. Physically assaulting them is just ideology by other means.