Also, I want to see the next few days of yelling in the media about it, to see what new trajectories of public conversation emerge from it. Where our popular opinion seems to be going.
Specifically, think about everything I’ve written about Robert Nozick, Freidrich Hayek, and other elements of the libertarian tradition. Liberalism as politics today is in a weird, fallen, broken state.
Libertarian thinking is the last branch of liberal politics with any idealism or popular energy at all. Every other path of mainstream liberal politics is either hopelessly corrupt or is so wedded to muddling consensus thinking that it can’t deal with true challenges.
You know, like mainstream centrist political parties. Take the Democratic Party in America as an example of corruption. Their leadership is a self-absorbed closed circle of professional electioneers and party staffers.
The Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is so obsessed with their high-level power brokerage that their entire grassroots electoral machine has collapsed.
socially progressive values. But they’re turning away from all of the most meaningful reforms to the Canadian state that they promised. As well, they’re continuing the destructive fiscal and military policies of the Harper years.
Mainstream liberal political thinking also depends on a principle that can’t work as politics, especially in a volatile, dangerous time like the 2010s. That principle is reconciliation at all costs.
This is an idea I found at the heart of a book of essays by Chantal Mouffe, The Return of the Political. They were written over the 1990s, criticisms of mainstream liberal politics at a time when liberal capitalism was so triumphant in global politics that some called it the end of history itself.
The end of fundamental conflicts over the nature of the human project. We had settled on our human project, and it was called liberal democratic capitalism. Of course, that didn’t work out for many reasons. One of them is this fundamental flaw in the practical actions of liberal politicians.
The common joke today is that the far left is the side obsessed with political correctness, and that political correctness is nothing but the profusion of feathery technical talk, replacing more ordinary language for discussing race and gender. And the punchline is that all this is to avoid upsetting people.*
The irony is that this is what mainstream liberal political principles are all about. The principles that drove Bill Clinton and Tony Blair’s economic policy approaches – the “Third Way” between socialism and piracy capitalism which ended up enabling the worst piracy capitalism in human history.
Smooth away differences, goes the mainstream liberal philosophy. Split the world into the public realm of politics and the private realm of individual autonomy. Identify every piece of identity, ideology, and idealism that could conceivably cause conflict between people, then put it in that private realm.
Leave the public realm, where legitimate political discussions happen, to the topics where people generally agree. Here’s a typical example of good liberal public politics. Business is good, and while we can disagree over which policies make for a productive business environment, those technical differences over stuff like interest rates and securities law won’t ever become existential threats.
The decadent liberal politics of today is the pursuit of omni-partisan consensus. The only legitimate mainstream political voices become those who already agree on enough fundamental principles that conflict becomes impossible. But this isn’t peace and justice in society. It’s sweeping problems under the rug.
Never thought something as arcane and dull-as-shit as securities law would become an existential crisis in your society? How about when your securities laws that were produces of that omni-partisan consensus become the conditions for what was almost a global economic collapse? Like eight years ago.
|We democrats will need to engage, refute, and fight the ideas of radical|
nationalism. Which means we have to study radical nationalists, know
them better than they know themselves so we can learn best how to
defeat this force forever. If only I could find an English translation of
Aleksandr Dugin without ending up on a watch list. I only want to find
it so I can know our enemy.
All these movements fundamentally disagree with consensus liberalism because they refuse to accept its standards for consensus.
Nationalism refuses to accept that notions of ethnic identity have no place in politics. A huge wave of desperate war refugees puts the entire consensus about citizenship and who deserves the care of the state into question. Religious fundamentalism explicitly politicizes the demands of people’s divine laws.
Liberalism is bankrupt in the face of these problems. We can see that obviously now that all these problems have erupted throughout our society. So it’s interesting to read these essays from Mouffe and see her making these exact criticisms at the moment of liberalism’s apparent triumph.
What’s necessary are looking at how she discovered a liberalism that can actually take on our current challenges of extremism and justice that were embryonic 20 years ago.
I’m going to get into this idea over the next few posts.