History and Historiography

The Tories against democracy: During the last Depression a group of Conservatives seriously considered dictatorship

November 11, 2020

As America’s election grinds, still contested, to a close, the entire gruelling spectacle can be seen, depending on your standpoint, as either a validation of the concept of electoral democracy or the very opposite.

The waning attachment to democracy, not just among the expanding civilisation-states of Eurasia but also among the West’s own electorate, inspires much anguished analysis in the West. Yet it is striking to remember that even here, in the Mother of Parliaments, ambivalence over this question has been a political constant throughout our history, at least on the Right.

In 1929, the conservative journalist William Sanderson published the book Statecraft: a Treatise on the Concerns of our Sovereign Lord the King, aiming to radically reshape Tory thought and help do away with democracy altogether. Sanderson, founder of the secretive, anti-democratic and neo-feudalist English Mistery organisation, was at the centre of a small circle of radical conservative journalists, popular historians and Tory activists and politicians unhappy at the drift of Britain’s interwar politics.

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