Democracy is finished. It is over, destroyed, kicked to death by the brute votes of 17.4 million ignorant Brexiteers and 62.9 million American fascists. Who says? Why, everyone that matters, of course. As an article in the Huffington Post expressed it: “The election of Donald Trump, and the result of Britain’s recent EU Referendum have called democracy into question. How can a just political system produce such bizarre results?”

Nor is it just the old Huff-Puff having a fit of the vapours. Throughout the bien-pensant commentariat the Grande Peur has spread like wildfire. “Why elections are bad for democracy” (The Guardian); “‘Brexit’ and the Risks of Democracy” (The New York Times); “Trump’s Challenge to American Democracy” (The New Yorker); and several rain forests more of panic-stricken disillusionment.

Even at headline level, however, a schism can be discerned between those paleoliberals who see democracy as something precious imperilled by populism (i.e. giving the vile plebs a say in public affairs) and the more advanced uberliberals who blame democracy for subverting the great monopolist project designed permanently to exclude alternative views from a public square governed by axiomatic liberalism.   

Common to both schools is a baffled, enraged sense of entitlement: given that rule by anyone other than ourselves is illegitimate, how can it be possible we are no longer in power? This sense of entitlement, on both sides of the Atlantic, was cultivated during recent decades in the favourable climate of ideological hermaphroditism as parties developed a covert across-the-aisle unanimity that enabled the political class to impose its orthodoxy on the electorate. That orthodoxy was liberalism.

In Britain, where the origins of consensus politics dated from 1965 and the abolition of capital punishment against the wishes of the public, the liberal ratchet tightened in the post-1997 period when the Conservatives, happily freed from the constraints of political convictions, went spectacularly native in the New Britain. If you were appalled by Labour’s ban on hunting, you could vote Conservative and get same-sex marriage. Above all, you could get the European Union. As late as last June’s referendum, only one party (UKIP) supported Brexit.

In America, although the consensus was less far advanced, the Republican establishment alienated its grassroots by its failure, in office, to implement a conservative agenda. It should not be forgotten that the Tea Party, the much-derided but spectacularly successful grassroots movement that laid the ground for the Trump tsunami, began as a protest, not against Barack Obama but against George W Bush.

The most egregious aspect of all the liberal garment-rending and gnashing of teeth that is currently going on is that, in purblind arrogance, the defeated oligarchists have confused two entirely different entities. They have conflated Democracy with Liberalism. Democracy is a political system; liberalism is an ideology. Because they long ago persuaded themselves that the sole legitimate expression of democracy was their own agenda, liberals have lost sight of the fact that democracy is irreducibly pluralist. Its philosophy, purpose and mechanisms are all predicated on a pluralist polity which it is designed to moderate.

To assert that objective reality is not to elevate democracy to an ideal. It originated in states with a slave economy, so it can hardly be equated as it so often, absurdly, is with freedom. Nor does it automatically imply a widespread devolution of power: originally it envisaged a minority suffrage. It was intended to operate in small city-states, where it enjoyed its most successful implementation. The corollary of that is that it was never designed to serve today’s mass electorates, with which it is a bad fit.

The most prescient interpreter of democracy and its flaws was the Austrian political scientist Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn who, as early as 1952, in his classic work Liberty or Equality, predicted from historical experience the political problems of today. He insisted that democracy induced a drive to achieve the chimera of equality – an unnatural state that can only be imposed by force – and so inevitably led to totalitarianism. A glance at current media reports of court cases under the “hate crime” laws imposed by liberal ideologues illustrates the accuracy of that forecast.

Those Orwellian prosecutions under the tyranny of political correctness (a notion incompatible with pluralism) presage the imminent demise of liberalism. For if democracy is looking frayed at the edges and approaching its sell-by date, liberalism is in much worse, probably terminal, condition. On issues such as global warming and gender ideology it has even abandoned the longstanding progressive identification with science. The essence of the liberal psychosis is not, as liberals pretend, to control one’s own life, but to control the lives of everyone else. The denial of that privilege, post-Brexit and post-Trump victory, has driven the Entitled Ones to a demented state.

On both sides of the Atlantic, recently cashiered liberals, frenzied to experience even a phantasm of power, are abusing all the mechanisms of government available to them within democratic systems predicated on the understanding that opposition politicians would refrain from employing them vexatiously. Are we seriously to believe that either Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton would have countenanced the notion of a district judge dictating foreign policy and security measures to the President of the United States, at a time of crisis?

Or that three judges of the British High Court should abuse their position to set in train a series of political obstructions to the declared will of the British people in the largest vote in history? In both Britain and America the continuing viability of democracy, at least in the medium term, hinges on the quashing of judicial activism. It is axiomatically unconstitutional for the interpreters of the law to usurp the rights of the makers of that law – as well as of the population at large.

The more the deluded liberals rant like King Lear and obstruct democratic processes, the more they will alienate themselves from the public and accelerate their demise. Liberalism is on the critical list worldwide. Democracy looks relatively more robust, but no political system – feudalism, absolute monarchy, parliamentary democracy – endures forever, though each entertains the contemporary illusion of permanence. It is not political blasphemy but informed realism to suggest we must start contemplating new systems of government to replace our present tired dispensation, always with the enhancement of freedom and the common good as indispensable priorities.