In it, Screwtape, a senior demon, gives advice to his rather bumbling nephew, a novice demon, on how he may more effectively damn a human soul:
Here’s his deliciously evil advice about corrupting the idea of democracy:
“Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle’s question: whether ‘democratic behaviour’ means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.
You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated.”
“You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelings… The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you. The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good solid, resounding lie.”
Hmm... Maybe my theatrical life is not over quite yet...