“‘Committing Sociology’ After Trump’s Election” was the provocative title of a session of the Canadian Sociological Association 52nd Annual Conference. Here is the statement of purpose of the session:
The goal of this session is to have a critical discussion of the role sociologists can play in an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance. […] The goal of the session is to have a dynamic discussion of issues and the roles sociology and sociologists can play in navigating them. It is also to see if a network of sociologists can and should be formed to challenge the rise of non-sociological times.
The language strongly suggests Leftist political commitments on the part of the panelists, and the reference to “an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance” seems to allude to the rise of the new dissenting Right. What’s really remarkable here, though, is the suggestion that the rise of the new politics of the Right, which found partial expression in the election of Trump, is a harbinger of “non-sociological times”. This idea seems worth discussing at some length.
The reference to “committing sociology” as though that were implicitly some kind of offense originated with a quip made by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative) in a speech a few years back. The Harper Government in both word and deed was an ideal-type of the so-called “neo-Conservative” tendency on the Right since around the time of Reagan through to the election of Trump. For the neo-Cons, the workings of Modern society, and the ends of State policy, boil down to two central variables: economics, specifically trade, and security. Force and economics thus serve as the master gauges of social order and the health of State and society. The supreme ends of State policy are accordingly to remove all barriers to the free flow of economic goods, services, and personnel within and between National borders, and to bring down State-monopolized physical violence on various domestic criminals, terrorists, and foreign belligerents in a swift, certain, and severe manner.
The economic co-dependencies created by elaborated transnational networks of free trade, combined, with deterrence, incapacitation, and physical destruction for those who can’t or won’t play nice and get with the economics programme, for the neo-Cons is fully adequate to supply social solidarity and order. Non-economic and non-military “social issues” were accordingly dismissed as trivial, potentially divisive, and not worth worrying about. Religion, the neo-Cons agreed in private, was probably beneficial, but best seen as a matter of personal taste, and morality as something that can’t be legislated or easily made to figure into public policy in any case, what with the brazen judicial activists that commandeer Canada’s law courts and, armed with the power to review legislative acts against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the 1982 Constitution, have a sui generis veto on National legislation. And it goes without saying that the neo-Cons wouldn’t hear a word against the economics or security programme on “social” grounds (e.g. middle-class wage stagnation, erosion of jobs due to transnational outsourcing and associated social problems such as drug abuse, suicide, and criminality that follow, criminal-justice policies that fail to take these and other root causes of crime into account). In fact, that was the very definition of “committing sociology”.
Neo-Con times, then, are “non-sociological times” indeed. But the Trump election was an avowed and resounding vote of non-confidence in the neo-Con programme. The Trump election was a weather-vane of a shift in the winds of the Right, which have blown in a set of new paradigms for thinking about politics and society, and united in their disparate ends and agendas by an explosion of sociological consciousness not seen on the Right in North America since perhaps the high era of Social Credit and Catholic social politics before the post-War period.
Those who cut their eye-teeth on the likes of Austrian economics ten or fifteen years back have moved far beyond the analytical limits of the utilitarian framework and the facile solution to every social problem in terms of getting Big Government off our backs and leaving it to Smith’s invisible hand to automatically harmonize the private interests of individuals with the policy interests of the State and forge organic solidarities within and between Nations through the operation of the law of comparative advantage, while the State prudently limits itself to enforcing contracts and seeing to the military defense of the Nation. They are trying to perceive those aspects of life that lie outside the field of vision of the force-economics binocular- namely, Man’s specifically and irreducibly social being. They have come to question the view of individuals as homogeneous, interchangeable, and isolate utility-maximizing machines endowed with rights derived from a fictive “state of Nature” in which all social relations are abstracted away as a methodological first principle, held to take shape only posterior to a putative “social contract” that binds the hitherto asocial individuals together, and only through the media of self-interested economic exchange and common subjection to the coercive power of positive law. In their rebellion against the poverty of these economic and juridical abstractions, they strive to piece together the concrete existence of the individual as a social animal compelled by its very Nature, and not just rewards and punishments, to seek out and affiliate with others.
This social animal does not coldly calculate a utility-function and form society as though some sort of group-insurance plan. He is rather born into society- more precisely, a particular society, to which he is tied by bands of belonging in the form of shared descent, territory, memory, language, tradition, religion, and rule, and through sentiments of loyalty and solidarity that transcend utilitarian considerations (Ibn Khaldun’s asabiyyah). Far from annihilating the individual, this social experience gives the individual the tools he needs to come to consciousness of himself as a unique individual different from others- namely, an identity. The individual qua juridico-economic abstraction thus acquires substantive existence as a flesh-and-blood human being who is a member of a given tribe with a given set of ancestors of his own, whose biological sex is recognized in its mutually-exclusive specificity, who has a given status and corresponding set of rights and obligations, and who is subject to a religious and a political authority that govern him and others like him alone, and not an undifferentiated mass encompassing all mankind. Thus the socializing process is also an individualizing process that produces and respects differences, and organizes differences in an articulated and internally-differentiated social system itself individualized with respect to other social systems.
Let’s contrast this inherently sociological current in politics to its nemesis. The latter strives to efface every aforementioned dimension of social belonging and personal identity and lump every individual into one big boundless mass, differentiated only in terms of technical specialization in the capitalist production process and by a proliferation of sexual and other “identities” shorn of their social substance and freely adopted and then discarded at will by consumers as though so many shifting vagaries of fashion. The social ties of shared descent, territory, memory, language, tradition, religion, and rule are progressively delegitimized by a relentless campaign of propaganda, homogenizing consumerist monoculture, and not least of all, coercive government action including military conquest (“regime change”). Meanwhile, asabiyyah is derided as so much ridiculously obsolete superstition, dull-witted provincialism, and mental pathology that stunts and “oppresses” the individual (and indeed, in Canada and Europe, is also a serious criminal offense if publicly expressed). Each particular society is progressively stripped of its boundary-maintaining capacity and slurred into the others- and since only particular societies exist, this means that society itself is becoming an endangered species.
This de-differentiated and de-socialized global mass is to be presided over by a new elite, mostly ultra-wealthy Whites of European and above, all, North American origin and residence, but who claim to have attained, by means of an unspecified secular Gnosis, to a higher plane of being as the pure abstract essence of Humanity stripped of all existential accidents in the form of race, ethnicity, sex, class, and other identitarian social attributes. These Universal Persons, since they transcend all merely social particularities and accidents in their elevated and transfigured being, presume on those grounds to be the natural governing caste of the global anti-society and the model for all the future “citizens of the world” to conform whether they like it or not.
Finally, it goes without saying that the architects and aspiring new Emperor-Priests of this global anti-society- just like the neo-Cons, who are a social subset among them- hope that solidarity and order for the anti-society will be exclusively supplied by (you guessed it) free trade and military intervention. This will no longer be a matter of policy choice as every other possible form of social solidarity will have been delegitimized, eroded, or destroyed.
As professional sociologists, you will readily perceive in this a scientifically preposterous and utterly unsustainable fantasy or, better yet, delirium of Power; nothing more than the long-obsolete pre-sociological image of the Hobbesian Leviathan writ large, and if implemented likely to result in something very much like the asocial “war of all against all” that haunted Hobbes’ nightmares.
You are in a hard-earned position to know better- but if you speak out against this phenomenon on its own terrain, are you likely to be heard, or would you just be dismissed with prejudice for “committing sociology”? N.B. this terrain encompasses the University as we know it (itself an ideological apparatus of the globalizing elite, or, in the jargon of the new Right, an organ of “the Cathedral”), and for that matter the main stream of the political Left that has been progressively appended to the machinery of globalism by means of the enormous patronage the latter is able to dispense. The so-called “Left” of the present, bound up as it is in the globalist machine, has no more use for the discipline of sociology than the neo-Cons. Its model citizen who, inter alia:
- picks and chooses identities the way shoppers choose clothes in the mirror
- is encouraged to be radically anomic, alienated, and de-racinated, affiliated only with ad-hoc “communities” on the Internet on a strictly voluntary, no-strings-attached basis
- is encouraged to forego marriage and parenthood, as one of the only positions of social authority truly accessible to most everybody, in pursuit of a career-track to the boardroom accessible to an almost statistically-unmeasurable privileged few, and
- whose personal journey to “empowerment” and “equality” is measured exclusively in terms of a metric of money and this-worldy achievement , the way the old Calvinists determined membership in the Elect
is nothing more than the pure creature of non-sociological utilitarian thought.
Globalist anti-societalism, in any case, has no use for scientific sociology, because it has no use for social-science discourse of any kind. It has its own discourses in the form of mission-statements, branding, press releases, speeches, soundbytes, and memes; and the buzzwords and slogans that adorn these are doxa, eternal Truths revealed in the secular Gnosis, not, Heaven forbid, hypotheses to be tested within margins of error however small, and, worst of all, exposed to the possibility of falsification- the highest degree of the offense of committing sociology!
You are professional women and men, many of whom are academics, and hence you enjoy hard-won professional and doctoral autonomy; I do not presume to tell you your business. Rather, I want to put forward some sociological propositions with an associated praxis. I have said that the globalists have no use for you; and I offer as evidence by way of demonstration that, when the globalist Harper Government slashed your finding during its tenure, no fraction of globalists Left, Right, or Centrist vigorously came to your defense. The opponents of the globalist oppressors on the new dissident Right, however, very much do want and need your expertise. We who are trying to devise more human alternatives to the dehumanizing mechanical planetary Leviathan that threatens to destroy society and individual alike are in fact already working on what has been called a “full reboot of the social sciences” in an intellectual underground outside of the institutional orbit and gaze of the University. As necessity births invention, the social and political exigencies of the day have given rise to what, I dare say, is nothing less than a golden renaissance of sociological thought- one that, since it takes place in a public-spirited volunteer milieu animated by camaraderie, has thus far avoided the fragmentation, factionalism, and rivalries that have plagued so much above-ground sociology for so long. You have asked “if a network of sociologists can and should be formed to challenge the rise of non-sociological times”. Some of us have done it already. We come from a diversity of professional and academic backgrounds, and accordingly challenge non-sociological times with a heterodox paradigm and a heterodox canon, always in the course of being expanded, and which have gone off well-worn sociological paths while remaining fully faithful to both sociology’s original epistemic intent and its practical raison d’etre in devising viable solutions to the urgent existential problems faced by Humanity right now.
The new underground canon includes many figures that were marginalized in academic sociology from the outset or over time, including: Ibn Khaldun, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Pitirim Sorokin, Robert Michels, Nietzsche, Karl Ludwig von Haller, the Hindu prophecies of the Kali Yuga, Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola, Georges Dumezil, Eric Voegelin, Thomas Carlyle, and of course the greatest synthetic intellect of the century thus far, Mencius Moldbug. All of these thinkers are being given new life and new readings.
The “new” paradigm is really a restoration of the old one, purified of the detours of postmodernism and other ill-advised experiments, fads, and fashions of the post-War period. A society is seen as an articulated system of human action, a sui generis phenomenon that is neither an emanation of disembodied ideas, nor mechanistically determined in its workings by unconscious biological processes or the physical properties of the non-human physical environment. Rather societies, appear, change, and disappear according to laws proper to society itself, considered as an irreducible theoretical object. The motor principle of social dynamics is located in the workings of power structures (power relations being considered as an indispensable constant feature of any conceivable society), which can be more or less secure, more in less in keeping with the requisites of both human nature and the social hierarchies they institute and regulate, and accordingly can either contain conflict between the units and substructures of the social system, fail to do so, or positively produce it. An important variable here is the ability of institutionalized authority (State, Church, etc.) to effectively prescribe and enforce norms and rules appropriate to the regulation of human social relations (many of which are by nature and necessity asymmetric), with pathology and dysfunction following in event of failure (cf. Durkheimian anomie). Unique to the new paradigm is a general hypothesis that divided power is intrinsically insecure and always at risk of setting into motion a course of social conflict that guarantees partial or total erosion of institutionalized authority, leading to breakdowns of social control of a more or less severe character.
Finally, the new paradigm vigorously rejects positivism and the rigid fact/value distinction through the idea of GNON (God of Nature or Nature), which holds (without vitiating the distinction between the prescriptive and the descriptive for analytical purposes) that what is pernicious to society is immoral, and that what is immoral is pernicious to society. This move frees social science from having to disingenuously conceal its value-judgments under pretense of “objectivity”, but without reducing science to so much apologetics and propaganda for a politico-moral agenda given in advance of the science.
If any of this piques your interest, I urge you, the professional sociologists, to consider defecting to our side. By “defecting”, I don’t of course mean resigning your posts, which would be unreasonable, indeed insane- one’s gotta eat after, all- and nor do I mean “send me or somebody else money”. The thing to do right now is to defect mentally, in the comfort of your home or office with the security of online anonymity. Check out things on offer here, and other like-minded underground blogs and E-zines. The worst that could happen is getting a fresh perspective that can help you unlock your own work even if your commitments do not change a whit.