I have already attempted to draw your attention to the philosophical roots of the looming crisis of the State, and wish to direct your further attention to the subject here. You are worldly men of action with precious little time for the luxury of reflection; as such, you may scorn philosophy as so much useless speculation, a fitting pursuit perhaps for some mousy ascetics in ivory towers far removed from the fray of practical affairs, but beneath the dignity of those tasked with getting things done in the real world. And I would readily concur, if there were nothing more to the liberal arts than that. But all practical action is informed by a philosophy. Contra the absurd “materialist” teachings of Karl Marx, the intellect regulates the actions of the physical body that acts, not the other way around; and the intellect, unable to rely on what is innate to it in affairs as complex as politics, is in turn regulated by a philosophy imbued in the intellect through outside learning.
And you have been, and continue to be, imbued with a philosophy that is well-defined even if not always altogether explicit. You have been flattered that you have been chosen to preside over the “end of history”, that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”, and so on along those lines. This species of flattery assumes that an invisible hand of Providence will, with all the inexorable certainty of physico-material laws of motion, place men and things in their order before the State the way gravity compels the planets to orbit around the Sun, leaving the Statesman free to usufruct from the State without assuming the grave and solemn obligations of sovereignty, and without need of the arts of governing. He need only command, and then indolently sit back and wait for the roast duck to fly into his mouth as the whole of social reality automatically and irresistibly conforms to his will, whatever it may be.
Where this philosophy is explicit enough to ground itself in the Western canon, it is often attributed to Hegel- but it seems to be a curiously impoverished Hegelianism. Hegel’s Great Man is called to act as the champion of History, and not merely the face or figurehead of wholly self-executing forces and processes. He is no feckless idler and picker of low-hanging fruit from the historical vine, but one who through some superlative and irreducibly individual excellence actively and heroically intervenes to bring about something that wouldn’t have just happened by itself, and couldn’t be brought to fruition by just anybody, any old way.
Likewise, when Hegel declared the modern State to be the culmination of the progress of Reason and human freedom, the State he had in mind was that of Prussia- a place whose culture inculcated in its administrators and Statesmen a painful self-awareness of the solemnity and gravity attached to their positions, and a legendary corresponding seriousness, sobriety, and iron self-discipline in their persons, upon which their social honour and perceived worthiness rested, and which they were accordingly mightily incentivized to keep up.
It is rather to Marx’s “materialist” re-imagining of the Hegelian conception of history that the image offered to you by the end-of-History thesis owes its true origins. In this conception, human agency, and, a fortiori, the skill-sets of leadership and Statecraft, are irrelevant; History is understood in terms of a mechanical, involuntary and unconscious interplay of technological and economic forces that inexorably impels men, independently of their will, towards the establishment of a cloud-cuckoo land in which self-administering technological means of production spit out free goods and services while individuals do as they like and the State “withers away”.
The image of the end-of-History, then, and of your role in it, is informed by Marx’s image of Communism- even if you, in turn, re-imagine the latter as “Liberal democracy” .
This Marxist conception of History does away with Great Men who play an indispensable active role in giving concrete shape to History, in favour of faceless masses altogether shaped by historical forces, and compelled to act by those forces in a purely mechanical way. It envisions a terminus of History where States, Statesmen, and Statecraft are rendered obsolete- since everybody, while free to do what they like, is mechanistically determined in their actions in such a way that each individual act is teleologically pre-harmonized with the needs of society, so that everybody automatically co-operates, whether they want to or not, and everything falls into place by itself.
Actually-existing Communism, in North America as elsewhere, does not and cannot realize the Utopian goal of altogether abolishing the State. But the Utopian image of a mechanistically autopoietic world in which nothing can go wrong, with all its constitutive assumptions, haunts the State and insidiously corrupts the theory and practice of politics, and indeed, the entire way of thinking of you, the governing classes. Things have reached the point where you are altogether no longer conscious of the true nature and purpose of the State, nor of your own proper role as its agents and functionaries, and don’t take any of that seriously in any case- since you have been insidiously induced to think that it all works out in the end, no matter what the State does, or how half-assed a job you do on its behalf. I notice, in fact, that in your parlance the very term, “the State”, seems unutterable: something indecorous, almost scatological, and always bowdlerized into some kind of euphemism (“Democracy”, “the Nation”, “the People”, etc.).
In this respect, the State in the full Hegelian sense of the term has indeed “withered away”. There is a State apparatus considered as a pure object, a brute instrumentality of monopolized physical coercion- but there is no State considered as a self-aware subject with an irreducible sui generis personality, ends, and prudence or rationality (raison d’état) of its own, and conscious of its mission as the Sovereign final source of authority. It is like a body without a mind of its own to will and order its actions. This demented State is accordingly debased and degraded into a mere plaything for a no less demented governing class with no clue as to what a State is or what it’s supposed to do, no self-consciousness of their own special dignity and duty as the State’s helmsmen, and- it should go without saying- a general attitude of light-in-the-loafers frivolity and lackadaisical, so-what insouciance where there ought to be grave, serious and severe Stoic gravitas. Consider:
-The State, by nature, as the universal authority of a society, is supposed to subsume in its unity the diversity of particular interests and factions of civil society; as the supreme final authority, it is supposed to transcend and tower over factional disputes so as to stand able to judge between the factions, settle their disputes, and restore their discord to harmony. But you cause the State to conspicuously take part in factional disputes between its subjects- for example, when the Prime Minister of Canada ostentatiously marches in Pride parades – with the result that the State effectively abdicates its universal authority in the process and abases itself to the status of just another special-interest advocacy, a mere social-movement organization among others.
You fail to see that, when you lower the State to the level of its subjects this way, you earn the State contempt from the favoured faction (which now thinks it is the boss of the State) and hatred from the disfavoured faction (which is made to feel cast out of the body politic as an untouchable caste and anti-national element). You not only fail in your duty to mitigate social conflict; you aggravate it. Indeed, by causing the State become party to a dispute it alone is legally competent to judge, but abdicates this authority in the very course of descending to the status of a litigant in the case, you have induced a state of civil war, even if no shots are fired; for the juridical definition of civil war is a social dispute with no common power able to authoritatively decide it. But I suppose you expect the disorder to auto-magically resolve itself without a shot-caller.
-The wise men of all the races, ages, and civilizations of Man hitherto agreed that a well-ordered society is like a human body, that the various social classes comprise the limbs and organs of that body, and that the State represents its principle of unity. But you have internalized Marx’s derisive and cynical characterization of the State as an engine of class conflict, an instrumentality for one class to exploit the others. You wittingly or not play the part of a Marxist caricature of the ruling class as oppressors of the lower classes- even though many of you fancy yourselves “Socialists”.
You unleash the most vicious dregs and beasts of the people against the most upright and hard-working sorts- and for no sound reason of State anybody can discern, but seemingly out of pure petty spite and self-aggrandizing contempt for the very people you ought by nature to protect and nurture as though they were your children, and you their loving parents. You openly despise the working classes and country people- the very backbone of the social body- as so many atavistic “rednecks” mired down in bigotry and superstition, and whose needs and concerns ought to be ignored as a matter of principle, and indeed formally censured wherever possible. You not only abandon them to sink into chronic unemployment intentionally induced by your trade policies, and thence, deprived of their proper dignity as workers, into indigence, criminality, drug addiction, and suicide- you tell them that they have brought it all on themselves, and that they either deserve to perish, or should be altogether exterminated through their replacement with migrants. Yet you think a deterministic invisible hand will somehow compel their ongoing allegiance, when you attempt to expel them from the social body and debase them to the status of chandala, lower in their own native land than illegal aliens; and you are genuinely taken aback to learn that they resent you for it, and no longer support you.
-Your faith that an automatic unconscious mechanism will just force the subjects to render allegiance and obedience to you the way iron shavings are drawn to a magnet has made you ignorant that allegiance must be earned, and of how it is earned:
- You no longer understand the nature of patronage, and of its importance in the upkeep of the social machinery of the State. In your greed, you hoard the spoils of the whole State and distribute it exclusively amongst a tiny clique of elite cronies, who make off with obscenely excessive amounts of cash while the average person is shut out and left to fend for himself. You are then seriously surprised when venerable political machines built by your predecessors suddenly fall apart, and their former cogs, the average people, abandon the Party and rally behind populist outsiders. Well- what did you think they would do, seeing as how you do absolutely nothing for them personally? Your predecessors, the old-school political bosses and machine politicians- they understood the importance of spreading the spoils of politics wide and thin, so that most everybody got something, no matter how small. They understood the importance, in politics, of creating personal obligation based on reciprocity– for men (and other social animals) naturally and gladly take up the cause of the one that takes care of them. But you do not think yourselves noble, and so the concept of noblesse oblige is lost on you.
- Plebeian classes everywhere, in the course of due submission to superiors, reserve to themselves some small privileges that allow them to distinguish their humble status from abject slavery in their own eyes. Successful lordship involves an art of identifying these privileges and respecting them; for the plebs willingly acquiesce to all sorts of impositions, no matter how burdensome, as long as that line isn’t crossed. But you are not lordly, but totalitarian; you try to control every aspect of the common man’s life without excepting any area, no matter how trivial. You let your SJWs relentlessly hector and harass the plebs in the exercise of their small pleasures and pursuits- and having tried, so-to-say, to take the bone from the mouth of the dog, you are astonished when he turns upon and bites you.
- You do not think yourselves noble; you don’t act like you are; and you don’t think you have to. You believe that legitimacy is conferred strictly by a ballot-box, and that personal qualities don’t enter into it once the votes have been tallied. You thus abandon the dignity that inheres in the nature of your position, and act in a low and vulgar manner every chance you get. Heads of State go out of their way to be seen making asses of themselves, marching in sex-themed parades while carrying a defaced caricature of the national flag while sticking a tongue out at the crowd, appearing in public side-by-side with celebrity criminals and slatterns…I could continue. Then out of nowhere a populist challenger appears- and it turns out, both given that vulgar theatrics inhere in the nature of populism, and that the challenger is a professionally experienced entertainer, that he’s a lot better at vulgarity and theatrics than you are. So you turn around and denounce him as a contemptible clown and dangerous demagogue, and try to play the very part of the patrician, rational, and responsible Statesman you hitherto disdained to play. Are you surprised that not everybody takes you seriously in these pretensions? That you can’t just clown around and then convincingly play the part of a Frederick the Great, of a Salazar? Stately dignity, once forfeited, is very hard to get back. The subjects no longer respect you- and why should they?
-You scorn religion as so much ridiculous pre-scientific superstition and ignorance. Fair enough; you are this-worldly and practical men. But, even as you think yourselves too worldly to care for your own souls, you are at once seemingly not worldly enough to be able to see that religion is indispensable to the functioning of the earthly State. The doyen of modern Statecraft, Machiavelli, held that:
Princes and commonwealths that would save themselves from growing corrupted, should before all things keep uncorrupted the rites and ceremonies of religion, and always hold them in reverence; since we can have no surer sign of the decay of a province than to see Divine worship held therein in contempt […] the rulers of kingdoms and commonwealths should maintain the foundations of the faith which they hold; since thus it will be easy for them to keep their country religious, and, consequently, virtuous and united. To which end they should countenance and further whatsoever tells in favour of religion, even should they think it untrue; and the wiser they are, and the better they are acquainted with natural causes, the more ought they to do so.
But you do whatever you can to drive religion of out of public life, and attempt to supplant it with “Progressive” political ideology. A rather odd choice for a regime that boasts of presiding over the end of History to make! Religion of any sort is a force for the conservation of the social order; as such it is practically made-to-order for the goal of bringing the course of history to a state of rest and equilibrium. But since you reckon that the desired state of equilibrium is automatically brought about by the irresistible workings of “material” forces, I suppose you see religion as superfluous, redundant, and irrelevant. The same reasoning leads you to view Progressive ideology as so much harmless pseudo-ritual cant that sounds good in speeches and mission-statements, but impotent to do any real damage. I submit that this is a grave mistake. Contra materialism, ideas matter in History, and in social life. Progressive ideology cannot help but undermine the good order of the State and disrupt the social equilibrium- since that is what it is designed to do. This ideology exhorts men to strive with all their might to disrupt and revolutionize social relations for the sake of doing so; it accordingly can never be satisfied today with the “progressive” change it realized yesterday; it thus can be counted upon to introduce social instability.
-Finally: all of these considerations concerning what a leader must do to earn the confidence of the people at home are pertinent to the effort to realize your crypto-imperial ambitions overseas. Furthermore, in these adventures success depends on taking into account the nature of traditional and local cultures that are not the same as your own. Liberalism is a culturally highly specific and localized phenomenon, not some human universal that suddenly springs forth once Western military intervention removes the oppressive dead weight of despotism and religion in order to liberate the inner American you are certain lurks within each and every member of the host population, the way Michelangelo said he set his sculptures free from the slabs of marble in which they were trapped.
The folly of this way of thinking has already been impressed upon you, the hard way- and yet you haven’t learned the lesson. You think of traditional cultures as atavistic and retarded, awaiting Enlightenment and the Hegelian aufhebung into the life of Reason, during which (forced) “evolutionary” process they will simply self-shed the features you deem irrational or obsolete the way a tadpole loses its tail and gills. I would submit that the traditional cultures you deride as pathological and “backwards” are in many (not all) ways more wholesome and rational than yours in that they conform more closely to human nature than “Liberal democracy”. But this is an academic point of order. Traditional cultures are a reality that must be taken into account if you want to successfully earn the confidence of their members:
- In traditional cultures, men chafe at the thought of taking orders from women and/or gay men. Forcing them to do so under duress will be taken as a grave indignity that won’t be forgotten in places that have not forgotten the meaning of manly honour, and the natural procedure for obtaining satisfaction against affronts to that honour. And forcing them under duress to hear lectures on the virtues of feminism and polymorphous perversion will only establish you as morally depraved in their eyes, and risk giving the personal vendetta the character of a holy crusade.
- In light of the latter point: a conqueror with no religion, who does not explicitly ground his authority in the Divine, in their eyes can only appear as a despot gone mad with power, not an Enlightened “liberator”. And a conqueror is exactly what you are- no matter how you style yourself for political PR purposes. The conquered are not your equals, and it follows that it disagrees with the nature of things to treat them as though they were- for by condescending to treat them as equals, you lower yourself to their level and raise them to yours. You appear weak– and human beings, by nature, become ungovernable in the face of perceived weak leadership (cf. the previous point on women and gay men).
- You may think, with Hegel, that political arrangements based on kinship and tribal allegiances further solidified by the reciprocal bond between patrons and clients, headed by an autocrat (chieftain, dictator, king, etc.), and consecrated by religion are barbaric, depraved, and nonsensical. But they think exactly the same of the Liberal democracy you try to impose on them!
And, based on the considerations I have outlined in this long letter, they may well be right to think it. Liberal democracy is not an emanation of pure Reason manifested in self-executing materialist form as so many physical processes given in the physical properties of non-human physical objects, which processes operate independently of all human will the way the physical laws of gravity tether us to the Earth whether we like it or not. If Liberal democracy really is the “end of history”, the dynamic process of achieving that end, and the static process of maintaining it at steady-state once it is achieved, can neither side-step nor trump the will, but must act through the will and with it, not against it. Hegel knew this; but the point was lost in Marx’s “materialist” delirium, and subsequently on you, the governing classes.
It is with respect to the will, considered as an independent causal mechanism in any determinate historical or other social process, that the intervention of the arts of governing indispensably comes into play. By winning the respect and confidence of the governed in your character, public presentation, and actions, and by taking care to see to it that temporal authority is underwritten by the Sacred authority of religion, you make your will their own, and secure willing and even enthusiastic obedience for yourselves.