Archive for February 24th, 2013

Next Stage of the Slide

As a prophet of the unfolding calamity, Angelo Codevilla has always been handicapped by his touching faith in ‘the people’. The ‘country class’ was already demonstrably unworthy of Goldwater in 1964. Things are far worse today.

As a guide to the next step in the crack-up, however, there are few better guides, and his latest ruminations on the disintegration of the American party system are highly convincing. The death of the Republican Party is a much-deserved necessary way-stage to pretty much anything, whatever one’s sense of the way. As always, the insightful commentary of Richard Fernandez on the topic is not to be missed.

Between even the sharpest conservative analysis, and anything that would pass muster amongst reactionaries, a daunting gulf yawns. As Codevilla muses in the new Forbes piece:

Representation is the distinguishing feature of democratic government. To be represented, to trust that one’s own identity and interests are secure and advocated in high places, is to be part of the polity. In practice, any democratic government’s claim to the obedience of citizens depends on the extent to which voters feel they are party to the polity. No one doubts that the absence, loss, or perversion of that function divides the polity sharply between rulers and ruled.

The confusion between legitimate republican government and political representation (‘democracy’) has been the disaster of modern history. Until this error is thoroughly purged from statecraft, reason will belong with kings.

ADDED: Sickness unto death

February 24, 2013admin 35 Comments »
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Shelter of the Pyramid

Moldbug’s ‘Royalism’ (or Carlylean reaction) rests upon the proposition that the Misesian catallactic order is, like Newtonian mechanics, true only as a special case within a more general system of principles.

He writes:

Here is the Carlylean roadmap for the Misesian goal. Spontaneous order, also known as freedom, is the highest level of a political pyramid of needs. These needs are: peace, security, law, and freedom. To advance order, always work for the next step – without skipping steps. In a state of war, advance toward peace; in a state of insecurity, advance toward security; in a state of security, advance toward law; in a state of law, advance toward freedom.

Alexander Hamilton (Federalist #8) pursues a closely related argument, in reverse:

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for their repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.

This pyramidal schema is ‘neat’, but by no means unproblematic. Like any hierarchical structure operating within a complex, reflexive field, it invites strange loops which scramble its apparently coherent order. Even accepting, as realism dictates, that war exists at the most basic level of social possibility, so that military survival grounds all  ‘higher’ elaborations, can we be entirely confident that catallactic forces are neatly confined to the realm of pacific and sophisticated civilian intercourse? Does not this mode of analysis lead to exactly the opposite conclusion? Self-organizing networks are tough, and perhaps supremely tough.

There is nothing obvious or uncontroversial about the model of the market order as a fragile flower, blossoming late, and precariously, within a hot-house constructed upon very different principles. The pact is already catallactic, and who is to say — at least, without a prolonged fight — that it is subordinate, in principle, to a more primordial assertion of order. Subordination is complex, and conflicted, and although the Pyramid certainly has a case, the trial of reality is not easily predictable. An ultimate (or basic) fanged freedom is eminently thinkable.  (Isn’t that what the Second Amendment argument is about?)

February 24, 2013admin 7 Comments »
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