Monday, 29 February 2016

IN DEFENCE OF STATISM


"Every anarchist is a baffled dictator" ~ Benito Mussolini
My esteemed colleague Andy Nowicki has just penned an interesting piece denouncing certain perceived proclivities in the motivations of members of the Alt-Right in distancing themselves from Libertarianism. His article "In Defence of Anti-Statism" draws attention to two factors that supposedly drive anti-Libertarian tendencies in the Alt-Right, namely a wish to signal "intellectual maturity" and a desire to bluster about the up-side of authoritarianism. In particular, he takes issue with the notion that some people want to rule.

These observations are sure to prove controversial as many of the best and brightest on the Alt-Right found their way here over the loose and shifting sands of the Libertarian desert. I expect triggering aplenty and the rustling of jimmies.

I have not yet dared to read the comment thread, but I can imagine that Andy’s views in this article will instantly be coupled with the charges of cucking that greeted his latest Nameless Podcast and our joint podcast on Roosh, in which he took issue with the concept of "Our Women" – a concept that I believe is the merest expression of health in a social animal like man.

As a ninja master of passive aggressive contrarianism (and a Catholic), Andy will thrive on this disturbance in the Alt-Right Force, and will only grow stronger the more he is opposed, so I have no wish to do so – and accordingly will switch off my light saber. Instead I will defeat his evil Sith powers by re-framing the fundamental notions that he is addressing in a larger context.

It will always be easy to score a few points by taking down unworthy power-hungry sociopaths, and Andy has eked out quite a niche in that department. Also, what's not to like about implying that freedom is good. A negative value like "freedom" will always be popular because it allows us to amplify our own egos. This has been especially true in the more individualistic parts of the World, i.e. the West, and White America in particular. But beyond that cosseted zone, the effective appeal of "freedom" tails off dramatically and is usually outweighed by various forms of groupism, starting with gangsterism and tribalism, and extending to Islamism, nationalism, and other forms of statism.

This is because, outside the West and especially the cozy, ocean-girded Anglosphere, people have had to club together in some quite intense ways just to get by. Statism is the highest evolution of this collective "will to power" (or survival), and in its quest for power has even opposed and crushed "lower" forms of groupism, as French nationalism overrode regional identities, and Kemalism and Baathism sought to override Islamic identity, at least before the West threw a spanner in the works.

Of course, people in the Anglosphere have had to club together too in the past. But this was always on a much less intense level than groups in Continental Europe and the Far East. The Anglosphere, thanks to the accident of its history has always been able to indulge go-your-own-way, individualistic notions. But, observed over time, and evening out the fluctuations, even here there has been a steady trend towards greater and greater statism – even when we haven't needed it.

Conservatives in the Anglosphere retain the naive notion – rather like Dugin does in Russia – that Liberalism somehow defeated the heaviest incarnations of statism, namely Fascism and Communism. This is essentially a form of historical illiteracy, as America was only able to build up its enormous economic power in the 19th-century because it did not have to conscript a large part of its young male population and invest a large portion of its GDP on military expenditure. As "New Europe," America used First World technology in a Third World setting, and accordingly reaped the full benefits, while Old Europe bore all the costs in interstate rivalry – and, in the case of Britain, protecting America's sea lanes (Canada providing a useful hostage).

Then, when Old Europe got round to creating even more potent statist systems in Communism and Fascism, systems that on their own could crush Anglo-Liberalism, they fortuitously turned on each other and ripped their immediate opponents' guts out. America’s predominance after WWII was essentially a fluke, and even then it could only maintain its power by becoming more statist and relying on the rise of other statist powers, like Communist China and Social Democratic Europe to counterbalance and contain Soviet Communism.

The amalgam of Western Liberalism with Buckleyite and Keynesian statism created an entity that could produce the products of statism – a larger and more sophisticated military, space power, propaganda, psy-ops, etc. – better than the Soviet Union. Much of this was also due to the fact that the West, along with its allies, was much bigger than the Soviet Union in terms of population and economy to begin with.

The ultimate security given to the West by the oceans (which negated the Soviet Union’s trump card of the Red Army), combined with its ability to bear the rising costs of the Cold War and to project increasing soft power, enabled it to bear down the increasingly inefficient and uninspired statism of the Soviet Union. But rather than the triumph of liberty, the victory of the West in the Cold War was actually a win for a bigger if less intense statism.

Always ask, "Liberty for what?"
The period following the collapse of the Soviet Union was the optimum period for reversing this process and for dismantling statism, as there was a much reduced threat to the West. But that proved impossible because the degree of statism that America and the West had accepted had so skewed the economy and established so many vested interests that it was politically impossible to shrink the state back. It was in this interglacial in an otherwise groupist and statist history of humanity that dainty and exotic movements like Paleoconservatism and Libertarianism briefly flowered, the former as a retrogressive system of signalling decontextualized morality and the latter as an aspirant system of signalling decontextualized intelligence.

But, as we once more plough into the harsh snows of an encroaching groupist world, silly Libertarian notions will inevitably be thrown to the increasingly icy winds. In short, the future will belong to whichever group can best pursue its collective interests, which will, of course, involve protecting "their women."

In his article Andy says:
"I see no reason to promote any vision of statism, and every reason to promote defiance against all who claim an arbitrary stake of authority over one's ability to live according to the dictates of one’s conscience, or freely associate with whom one chooses."
Such sentiments appeal to something in all of us, but ignore political and socio-economic context, and, more importantly, quickly fly out of the window when the expediencies of power enter the room.

But this is not a simple dichotomy between power and morality that I suspect Andy and others would like to view it as. Morality has utility for power, just as power has utility for morality. Power that incorporates a degree of morality within its framework is stronger, while morality without any power is doomed. There is only so much "rendering unto" God or Caeser that either of them can stand.

The truth is that the world Andy refers to in the above quote from his article is ultimately dependent on our ability to engage in violence across a wide spectrum, whenever that world is threatened. This ability to engage in violence, however, will mean that we will not be able to afford the unilateral disarmament offered by Libertarianism or other decontextualized systems in the face of the groupist and statist threats we will inevitably face from others.


 

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