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A Depoliticized Future

A Depoliticized Future
Photo by Aditya Joshi / Unsplash

There is a common critique of liberalism that runs something like this. All human existence is political. Liberalism attempts to ‘paper over’ the political nature of society. Therefore liberalism denies the basic facts of human nature.

I agree with this argument. However, I believe that it is often based on incorrect assumptions about the ‘scope’ of politics. To move forward as a civilization, we must return to a depoliticized society.

First, we must define our terms. According to Carl Schmitt, politics is not about a debate or issue but about friends and enemies. People collectivize and form a polity to preserve a certain culture or way of life. The people united to support a culture are friends, and those with mutually exclusive goals are enemies. When these camps form, politics arise. Enemies are not those who disagree about a future course of action for a civilization, but those who seek to destroy it.

Liberalism is described by its proponents as the solution to politics. Liberalism promised to ‘solve’ politics through two vectors. First by extending the franchise and making every member of a polity a decision maker. Second by shifting the political debate from philosophical and moral questions to economic ones.

In an as yet unreleased episode of my show, CJ Engel summed up this dynamic perfectly.

The liberal goal in the 20th century was to transcend politics. Or to leave politics in the past. This idea is that we have to clash with other group interests and only one can win out was considered medieval, outdated, and archaic, something that we no longer need because we're at the zenith of history. Liberal democracy was the final achievement of political man. As the last men in the 20th century  we could transcend politics.

This idea has utterly failed. What we realized was that politics is core to man, that there are groups of friends that you need to be fighting with for your way of life because there are enemies out there who seek to instill their vision of the world. That vision of the world is mutually exclusive with your own. You cannot have both of these. What happens when your friends lay down their swords because they're committed to liberalism, while your enemies are picking up guns because they're not committed to liberalism, which group do you think is going to win?

This is a point that Auron McIntyre makes, he got that from James Burnham. He  gave us an analogy of a crab that was taking off its shell. When he took off his shell, he was no longer protected. He was completely naked before all of his sea enemies on the ocean floor during that transition from one shell. He could be devoured . That's what liberalism is. It's this taking off of our protective layer. All the things that were important for the protection of Western political life were taken off in this grand quest toward a liberal society.

What happened during that time was not that we overcame politics, but that politics devoured us. The Left completely took advantage of that. The Left doesn't care about individual rights. It doesn't care about the right to free speech. It doesn't care about any of those things. But we conservatives have been relocated to using the old rhetoric of liberalism to fight back against the revolutionary left. And it's not working.

Liberalism attempted to restrain tyranny by wildly distributing power. This took the form of the franchise, where large and larger segments of the population. The idea was to wildly distribute power so as to prevent centralization and tyranny.

Paradoxically, Liberalism increased the power and reach of the state. In the medieval world, where most people had no formalized political power, armies were small and conscription was limited. Battles were held between small bands of men. Most forces were built around a hard core of professional soldiers with limited peasant levies. Likewise, because usury was limited belligerents had reality small sums of money to fund their armies.

However, once the entire nation was a part of the political process, they also became involved in conflict. The French Republic formed a massive conscript army almost as soon as the revolution occurred. With political involvement came the  Levee en mass.

The Liberal Era has been the bloodiest and most fractious in human history. On the world stage, we saw wars of extermination where millions perished. However the conflict has not been limited to international conflicts. This same disunion has been replicated at home.

The logic was sound upon first inspection. Conflicts over moral claims are bloody. Take for example the 30 years war. This conflict claimed between 4-8 million lives and was the result of irreconcilable differences between Protestants and Catholics in central Europe. Liberalism sought to avoid these types of conflicts by making religion a private affair. These claims about the nature of authority and the source of ultimate truth were relegated to private discussions. Politics became ‘smaller’ and more focused on trade. Instead of a life-and-death struggle, liberal politics is described as a marketplace of ideas. Political factions ‘market’ their proposals to an enfranchised population. Every citizen can choose between different competing options.

A functional society depends on people sharing core similarities. Politics is a basic fact of existence. However, there is a significant difference between external politics, a situation where society is made up of friends and those outside are enemies, and internal politics, where society is gripped by struggle at every level.

Politics is a fundamental part of human nature. Aristotle defined man as a political animal. The Liberal attempt to remove politics from life was futile. However, there is a significant difference between how society interacts with politics. We should strive to return to an order where politics exists between polities instead of within them. This is an impossible goal to fully achieve. There have always been factions of ambitious men. However, when we look at our ancestors we see men who lived in a more harmonious and unified culture. This is not utopia. It is how all normal, and healthy societies have worked.

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