Sunday, 2 October 2011

No obituary yet for politics

In a seminal essay back in 1969, published in Playboy, at that time a publication of some intellectual and literary weight illustrated with photographs of naked women, Karl Hess announced the Death of Politics. Like Fukuyama's misjudged pronounciation of the End of History in 1989, it was premature. History and politics both roll on, inseparable adjuncts of the nature of human society, and will continue to do so whether or not the current Party political structures in the UK survive into the next decade. The lacklustre and irrelevant pantomimes of the Party conferences suggest the end may be near, but as yet there is no clear alternative forming in the mists. 

The revolution of the 1960s has been described as a failure for anarcho-libertarian laisez-faire capitalism; the old forms emerged, authoritarian, corporatist central Statism looked like it had won. I'm not so sure. Just as John the Baptist emerged  "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" so the 1960s set out out the agenda for a future political change; the Baptist was not the Messiah, nor the 60s the Revolution. Hess was remarkably prescient in a number of areas; on corporatism:-
Big business in America today and for some years has been openly at war with competition and, thus, at war with laissez-faire capitalism. Big business supports a form of state capitalism in which government and big business act as partners. Criticism of this statist bent of big business comes more often from the left than from the right these days, and this is another factor making it difficult to tell the players apart. John Kenneth Galbraith, for instance, has most recently taken big business to task for its anticompetitive mentality. The right, meantime, blissfully defends big business as though it had not, in fact, become just the sort of bureaucratic, authoritarian force that rightists reflexively attack when it is governmental.
The left's attack on corporate capitalism is, when examined, an attack on economic forms possible only in collusion between authoritarian government and bureaucratized, nonentrepreneurial business. It is unfortunate that many New Leftists are so uncritical as to accept this premise as indicating that all forms of capitalism are bad, so that full state ownership is the only alternative. This thinking has its mirror image on the right.
And this remarkable observation on Watts that could equally well apply to London 2011-
Riots in modern America must be broken down into component parts. They are not all simple looting and violence against life and property. They are also directed against the prevailing violence of the state — the sort of ongoing civic violence that permits regular police supervision of everyday life in some neighborhoods, the rules and regulations that inhibit absolutely free trading, the public schools that serve the visions of bureaucracy rather than the varieties of individual people. There is violence also by those who simply want to shoot their way into political power otherwise denied them. Conservatives seem to think that greater state police power is the answer. Liberals seem to think that more preferential state welfare power is the answer. Power, power, power.
Except for ordinary looters — for whom the answer must be to stop them as you would any other thief — the real answer to rioting must lie elsewhere. It must lie in the abandonment, not the extension, of state power — state power that oppresses people, state power that tempts people. To cite one strong example: The white stores in many black neighborhoods, which are said to cause such dissatisfaction and envy, have a special unrealized advantage thanks to state power. In a very poor neighborhood there may be many with the natural ability to open a retail store, but it is much less likely that these people would also have the ability to meet all the state and city regulations, governing everything from cleanliness to bookkeeping, which very often comprise the marginal difference between going into business or staying out. In a real laissez-faire society, the local entrepreneur, with whom the neighbors might prefer to deal, could go openly into business — selling marijuana, whiskey, numbers, slips, books, food or medical advice from the trunk of his car. He could forget about ledgers, forms and reports and simply get on with the business of business, rather than the business of bureaucracy. Allowing ghetto dwellers to compete on their own terms, rather than someone else's, should prove a more satisfying and practical solution to ghetto problems than either rampages or restrictions.
Don't expect changes to be sudden or dramatic. Look at how things are changing in Greece, in which the reaction of the people to the overbearing intrusion of the State is simply to eschew the State, finding ways of trading and exchanging that avoid tax, and simply ignoring the abjurations of the State. Remember that the exercise of all authority must be consensual as it applies to the majority; coercive authority can only be exercised upon a deviant minority. Once the majority reject the authority of the State, it's as dead as a Dodo, a hollow vessel, a paper tiger. 

Let's hope the UK meets the challenge creatively not destructfully, and that in all the mess we don't forget the works of mercy and our obligations to each other. 


Anonymous said...

Your contention that… "as yet there is no clear alternative forming in the mists…", is just not accurate Raedwald. Although the mists have been artificially thickened by the MSM and particularly the BBC, there is a perfectly clear and acceptable model building across the EU member states.

Parties like the UKIP here, have their counterparts in other places, like Finland, the Netherlands and elsewhere. They are deliberately misquoted and bad-mouthed by the MSM and the current crop of (so-called) leaders, but the message is clear.

They are anti-fascist, and they believe that sovereignty is a "bottom up" concept… It begins with the individual, then the family, then the street and on to the village, town, county and finally to the nation, and most of it is done for love, rather than ca$h.

Fascism is a tool of internationalist governments and NGO's, they tie themselves to big business and lord it over ordinary folk, and they get away with it, but as you rightly say/quote, there is nothing laisez-faire about this, it is just another form of parental socialism. I do not accept your contention that the right is defending it… I cite Ron Paul in this instance, in fact the left goes out of its way to try to crush movements like his.

Many people know that the UKIP alone amongst UK political parties, is against the EU (the European level daddy of fascism), even though it defers to the IMF, Greenpeace, the UN etc., but not so many understand that it has a policy of introducing Swiss style direct democracy.

The Swiss model is derided by the MSM as being on the lunatic side of populism, and the Swiss federal government itself resents the power that has been invested in and exercised by the people, often in the face of what is considered to be distasteful. The reality of course, is that it reflects the tribal nature of the people that inhabit the world.

So, whether the UKIP tendency will manifest itself as a UKIP government, or whether some canny politicians in the old parties, will pick up on this and run with it, or something new emerges, is a moot point. Maybe it will be Richard North's rather simpler Referism model, I don't know, but currently the UKIP is the front runner here.

Nick Drew said...

that is one great piece of writing

(you knew that Playboy stash would come in useful one day ...)

actually, Greece is a lot more problematic than "simply ignoring the abjurations of the State" - the slavic mafias are moving in to exploit the situation & we may have a truly failed state before long, EU membership and all

(I may write abt this shortly)

Greg Tingey said...

A remarkably clear piece.
I fully agree that the conventional "left" and conventional "right" of politics plainly haven't a clue.

There is also the libertarian/authoritarian split, as usually displayed by "The Political Compass"
They also have a fascinating test" which usuallly gives VERY interesting results - please try it - I startled myself when I took it!

Nick Drew has a a very valid point, that the ultra-libertarians often ignore.
A completely libertarian "state" is no state at all, it is an anarchy, or Socially a "State of Nature" in which:
In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Anonymous said...

Quote: Once the majority reject the authority of the State, it's as dead as a Dodo, a hollow vessel, a paper tiger.

The classic case is East Europe prior to the fall of the Iron curtain. A few weeks before that fall, I visited it. It was quite obvious that the people had rejected the state, and treated it with derision. I had the feeling that just like a living body protects itself from an invader by forming a tough cyst around it, so the people had formed a barrier to the state. It was clear that the end was nigh.

We are approaching that state. The signs are there

1. Contempt for politicians and their self-serving process.

2. Derisive and corrosive humour against politicians behaviour, and even their intelligence.

3. Warnings of a time of reckoning.