Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grand Duke sniffs at democracy

November 20, 1928

Grand Duke Alexander of Russia gave an interview to reporters at his New York hotel.  He told the reporters that he was "more democratic than they were," reports the Los Angeles Times.  The reporters responded by asking why a "lecturer against materialism should be staying at one of the city's smartest hotels."
One of the reporters asked if the "vicissitudes of the years had altered his opinion of democracy?"
"I do not see a shade of democracy about you," was the Grand Duke's response.  The reporter asked for a more specific response, but the Grand Duke look baffled.
"It is hard to say, but I consider myself more democratic than you.  I am shocked at the way Americans treat their inferiors, or persons whom they consider inferior, their employees, their servants."
He does not hold the same view "toward other peoples?"
"No, I do not mean that. I like the pride you have as American citizens.  It may go too far, but it is a form of patriotism. Now I confess that I do not really understand what pure democracy can be or how it can exist in the world we inhabit for it implies universal equality and that is absurd. But there is such a thing as democratic intercourse with all people.
"Americans are more showy and plutocratic in Europe than they were before the war," declared the Grand Duke.
"You have become tremendously rich, and of course, people with money like to spend it.  Still, I believe that Americans are more capable of understanding my ideas. They have not the old tradition to combat they can better grasp the significance of new forms of life."
Regarding the situation in Russia, the Grand Duke said a change in government depends upon "how long the people's patience will last."

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