Total Posts:18|Showing Posts:1-18
Jump to topic:

The Clash of Our Era

NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 12:38:56 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
The End of History and the Last Man (1992) is the title of Francis Fukuyama's seminal work on the implications of the end of the Cold War. Contrary to popular opinion it is not about history coming to an end or of us being the last men standing. Rather, this regards the collision of two politico-philosophical visions.

The first term, the end of history, is Kojeve's (via Hegel). It denotes the formation of the universal homogeneous state (UHS), the condition in which the struggle for equal recognition between men has been finalized. This was the moment at which Hegel saw Napoleon, the "World Spirit on horseback," defeat Prussia and subsequently incorporate the principles of the French Revolution into the state. As such, the UHS (in theory) embodies a reciprocal recognition of its members, irrespective of race, gender, class, etc. In sum, men without rights struggled to form the UHS where all are universally recognized as equals.

This coincides with the advent of the Last Men, the lazy, dormant "men without chests" who, as explicated by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil, constitute squeamish "slaves of the democratic taste." The Last Man does not fight for his recognition; he has already won it. Nietzsche considers this a violation of human dignity in its highest form, as the unique and superior individual is deprived of his value. In both cases of injustice -- be it the struggle of men without rights (Hegel) or unique individuals (Nietzsche) -- a certain spiritedness is evoked. "Human life," Fukuyama notes, "seems to require injustice, for the struggle against injustice calls forth what is highest in man."

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, liberal democracy became the only socioeconomic order surviving the Enlightenment. But, as Fukuyama points out, this was by no means a cause for celebration. It merely spelled the end of a historic movement initiated by the Enlightenment. As liberal societies turned inward, the collision between the primordial and the modern came into full view:
1. tightly knit, organic communities against the egalitarian UHS;
2. the ancient and aristocratic desire for splendor and excess against the rationale for equal distribution;
3. volatility and risk against safety measures and prohibitions; and so on.

In liberal democracy we see these antagonisms as, on the one hand, fierce competition and unequal outcome; on the other, equalization of outcome and institutionalization of economic redistribution. With this in mind, how does contemporary liberal democracy survive without eventually coming apart at the seams? And, if there is an alternative, which is the preferred medicine: reform, reaction, or revolution?
keithprosser
Posts: 1,936
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 2:55:23 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
I think the date - 1992 - is signficant. It is just after the end of the 'cold war' and reflects how certain intellectuals reacted to events such the collapse of Russia and the fall of the Berlin wall (1998). Their mistake was to imagine what is stated in the OP:
"With the collapse of the Soviet Union, liberal democracy became the only socioeconomic order surviving the Enlightenment "

Without opposition the only pressures on liberal democracy could be internal ones, causing it "to eventually coming apart at the seams".

In 1998 the 'clash of our era' would be identified as everybody as between comminism/captalism. In 2016 we have a choice of clashes to identify as 'THE clash'.

One wonders if Fukuyama would write in 2016 what he wrote in the pre- '9-11 world' of 1998. In fact liberal democracy is probably more under threat in 2016 than it was in 1992, but the perceived enemy is not communism but theocracy.

Or rather what threatens liberal democrary is how the necessarily imperfect institutions of liberal democracy react to that perceived threat by becoming even less democratic and more authoritarian. When the French - who embraced toplessness - legislate for what is acceptable to wear on the beach then it clear we are becoming not only innured to curtailments of freedom but welcoming of it.

I do not think the issue is whether we choose "reform, reaction, or revolution?". Reform occurs continually, reaction is always a force and revolutions happen or they don't happen. There are no long term plans in human affairs, just a sequence of short term expedients and accidents with unconsidered long term consequences, even if those consequences are inevitable (such as simply running out of oil). While pundits theorise by extrapolating a straigh line from the recent past into the far future, 'events, dear boy, events' render the meaningfulness of doing that little more useful than consulting a crystal ball.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 4:12:16 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 2:55:23 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I think the date - 1992 - is signficant.
I should have qualified that further. Fukuyama's book was an elaboration of an essay he wrote in 1989, called "The End of History?" (http://www.wesjones.com...). The essay, however, did not contain the Nietzschean element that Fukuyama developed in the book. The Clash, as such, is Nietzsche v. Hegel (primordial nature v. modern culture).

It is just after the end of the 'cold war' and reflects how certain intellectuals reacted to events such the collapse of Russia and the fall of the Berlin wall (1998). Their mistake was to imagine what is stated in the OP:
"With the collapse of the Soviet Union, liberal democracy became the only socioeconomic order surviving the Enlightenment "

Without opposition the only pressures on liberal democracy could be internal ones, causing it "to eventually coming apart at the seams".
But that's the thing about liberalism, as opposed to contemporary liberal democracy (which includes institutions, social contract, etc.). Liberalism, the socioeconomic post-Enlightenment paradigm, is what Hegel would have determined "bad infinity": the endless negation that never reaches its final state (negation of negation). Liberalism continuously negates authority (state, church, family, business monopolies, etc.) without ever passing over into a new paradigm.

One wonders if Fukuyama would write in 2016 what he wrote in the pre- '9-11 world' of 1998. In fact liberal democracy is probably more under threat in 2016 than it was in 1992, but the perceived enemy is not communism but theocracy.
I disagree. And Fukuyama stood by his analysis, embracing the European Union as the most developed form of the UHS.

Islamism was the backdrop of the Islamic society's own ancient, aristocratic contingent (the Nietzschean factor). It emerged in Afghanistan as a result of superpower warfare in 1979, when Jimmy Carter formed a reactionary anti-Soviet coalition (which then metastasized over the decades). Or when Carter stopped propping up the Shah of Iran in 1979, allowing the reaction (misnomered "revolution" to tie itself to Soviet cash) to take hold of society.

Military dictatorships held Islamic societies in the Middle East and North Africa in a tight grip throughout the Cold War. But as there is now no longer a superpower vested in propping up dictators, Islamic societies are facing that same clash as we are: premodernity v. UHS.

Or rather what threatens liberal democrary is how the necessarily imperfect institutions of liberal democracy react to that perceived threat by becoming even less democratic and more authoritarian.
Identifying the decay of institutions as a threat to liberal democracy shows me that you value the UHS higher than the antagonistic forces. That is Fukuyama's own stance, especially in his latest book Political Order and Political Decay (2014).

When the French - who embraced toplessness - legislate for what is acceptable to wear on the beach then it clear we are becoming not only innured to curtailments of freedom but welcoming of it.
And that is the Nietzschean aspect, the reaction. The French, as many other Europeans, are beginning to value their organic, ethnically homogeneous communities to a greater extent, rejecting egalitarian principles, most significantly when it concerns non-whites and non-Europeans.

Brexit is yet another symptom of the reaction, where the idea of the organic community was allowed to take precedence over the UHS superstate. Another example is the spreading popularity of local-community voting and direct democracy over the legislature of representative democracy.

I do not think the issue is whether we choose "reform, reaction, or revolution?". Reform occurs continually, reaction is always a force and revolutions happen or they don't happen.
That's a very thoughtful response. (And yes, "occur[ring] continually" without elevating into a new paradigm is precisely what I meant by bad infinity above.) I also imagine that you favor a strengthening of institutions as a part of that reform package.

There are no long term plans in human affairs, just a sequence of short term expedients and accidents with unconsidered long term consequences, even if those consequences are inevitable (such as simply running out of oil). While pundits theorise by extrapolating a straigh line from the recent past into the far future, 'events, dear boy, events' render the meaningfulness of doing that little more useful than consulting a crystal ball.
A measured reply. Thank you for your input.
keithprosser
Posts: 1,936
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 4:30:57 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
Not having read Fukuyama, I am still not clear about the relationship between UHSs and liberal democracies. Are they the same thing, in opposition or could it be either?
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 5:16:28 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 4:30:57 PM, keithprosser wrote:
Not having read Fukuyama, I am still not clear about the relationship between UHSs and liberal democracies. Are they the same thing, in opposition or could it be either?
No. Liberal democracy is the socioeconomic form that Western nation-states have evolved into following the inception of the Enlightenment, including all of its contradictions.

The universal homogeneous state (UHS) was first developed, according to Kojeve (via Hegel), as Napoleon incorporated the values of the (Rousseauan) French Revolution into the military rule that defined his polity. Equal before the law and under a secular order the citizenry was bestowed with both duties (conscription) and positive rights (welfare, health care, etc. as opposed to liberalism's negative rights). Therefore, the UHS isn't necessarily a democracy but an institutional order of (in theory) equal citizens. In that regard, de Gaulle's France is as good an example as Ataturk's Turkey or Bismarck's Prussia.
sdavio
Posts: 1,798
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 7:00:55 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 12:38:56 PM, NHN wrote:
This coincides with the advent of the Last Men, the lazy, dormant "men without chests" who, as explicated by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil, constitute squeamish "slaves of the democratic taste." The Last Man does not fight for his recognition; he has already won it. Nietzsche considers this a violation of human dignity in its highest form, as the unique and superior individual is deprived of his value. In both cases of injustice -- be it the struggle of men without rights (Hegel) or unique individuals (Nietzsche) -- a certain spiritedness is evoked. "Human life," Fukuyama notes, "seems to require injustice, for the struggle against injustice calls forth what is highest in man."

Where the struggle is one between the universal right and the individual, it could be easy forget the common root of both these formulations, which is the intervention of reality - the external object, and the coextensive concept of property (attribution), which allows the universal to appear around the individual instance, and the individual to be seized out of the universal. Without such a concept, without keeping our eye on the ground upon which anything else grows, we end up with so many rationalizations for the principle of might makes right - analogous to solipsism in epistemology. Political views which are built around some particular framework which must be saved in order to kindle human meaning are regressive - they seek to build a bias into the organization of society in abstract, which can only be an imposition of might since actions undertaken with one's own property cannot be assimilated to some pre-established equilibrium unless by operation of a greater force (leviathan) which holds it in place. This runs parallel to another nostalgic appeal, which makes reference to something like our "intuitions" or our "inherent human spirit" or something, and takes form as a kind of "moderatism" which does not engage with broader principles, but formulates the approach to problem-solving in a way which takes on each problem simply by way of whatever responses appear readily to hand in the situation in which the problem manifests. This much only constitutes another apology for the operation of power, basically making the operation more comfortable and systematically removing points of friction which could interrupt its progress.

If there is a "clash of our era" I would basically call it the above: the conflict between the two rationalisations of might makes right; the assimilation of property claims into a particular manifest image (eg, the nuclear family within a sovereign state) and alternatively the reduction of Man to his bare spirit, the expansion of a grid of organized power which allows each maximum comfort while being robbed of any ability to change things at a more wide-ranging level. However, behind this clash there is a third element, which interrupts this disagreement at all times while operating behind it, which is the factor of the scheme of attributions which takes place basically in reality - it is the imposition of the real external object which all reactionary philosophies are predicated upon but also operate in opposition to. The recognition of this element is the only horizon for a genuine alternative to some variant of fatalism / might makes right, since the assimilation of the imposition of the object to another element in the interplay of forces is the unacceptable Nietzschian-phenomenological move which I argue leads to a kind of performative inability to proceed. It's schizophrenia / perversion reified into philosophical principle.

I don't think the disagreement can in any way be characterized as the "conservative" right versus the "progressive" left in any deep way, since the left is generally motivated just as deeply by a sense of regressive nostalgia - by dreams of the reduction of the externalizing possible future. "I think the fight in this country is, [not left versus right, but] corruption versus not corruption, extremist versus regular." - In an interview, Jon Stewart expresses his idea of how problems are to be solved: by a linear model of society, where the "regular" is maintained against the "extreme" and thus any strains of "corruption" in the system (deterioration of the apparatus of control) are made unable to progress; the possibility of an "extreme" change in the structure of society is precluded. The imposition of reality can in this view become regularized - it becomes no longer an interruption of the normal structures of repetition around which philosophers like Heidegger and N. build their analogies of "homeliness" "eternal return" "readiness to hand" and so on. It is the dream of a subjective experience in which the object never arrives as a genuine Other. What else is this but, in its most distilled form, a statement of conservatism? Obama says in his interview with Marc Maron: "I'm less interested in having an ideological conversation, than I am [in] looking at what has worked in the past, and applying it, and scaling up."
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 9:24:11 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 7:00:55 PM, sdavio wrote:
Where the struggle is one between the universal right and the individual, it could be easy forget the common root of both these formulations, which is the intervention of reality - the external object, and the coextensive concept of property (attribution), which allows the universal to appear around the individual instance, and the individual to be seized out of the universal. Without such a concept, without keeping our eye on the ground upon which anything else grows, we end up with so many rationalizations for the principle of might makes right - analogous to solipsism in epistemology. Political views which are built around some particular framework which must be saved in order to kindle human meaning are regressive - they seek to build a bias into the organization of society in abstract, which can only be an imposition of might since actions undertaken with one's own property cannot be assimilated to some pre-established equilibrium unless by operation of a greater force (leviathan) which holds it in place.
Agreed. That is (partly) why I relied on Fukuyama to underscore the post-Cold War consensus among Western foreign policy elites.

If there is a "clash of our era" I would basically call it the above: the conflict between the two rationalisations of might makes right; the assimilation of property claims into a particular manifest image (eg, the nuclear family within a sovereign state) and alternatively the reduction of Man to his bare spirit, the expansion of a grid of organized power which allows each maximum comfort while being robbed of any ability to change things at a more wide-ranging level.
That was more or less the condition I was attempting to portray. In Hegelese, the Enlightenment's background of "bad infinity" (a negative movement that never reaches the negation of negation) functions so as to undermine existing power structures (family, church, state, etc.). It takes place within the setting of a universal homogeneous state (UHS), the legitimate seat of power since 1806 and an evolution of the Westphalian nation-state, with all its institutions and bureaucracies. Embedded therein is the counter-movement: the longing for a sense of fellowship of the select in an organic community.

The condition -- as you put it, of "being robbed of any ability to change things" -- is precisely this gridlock between premodernity and the UHS playing out against the backdrop of the Enlightenment/liberal paradigm. The main difference between the American condition and the European is that Americans, since Reagan, have emphasized reaction. Europe, by contrast, has developed a supranational UHS. But the currents may be turning as post-Bush U.S. has opted to further strengthen health care and equal rights. Meanwhile, a fragmenting Europe is now reemphasizing ethnic identity and organic communities.

However, behind this clash there is a third element, which interrupts this disagreement at all times while operating behind it, which is the factor of the scheme of attributions which takes place basically in reality - it is the imposition of the real external object which all reactionary philosophies are predicated upon but also operate in opposition to. The recognition of this element is the only horizon for a genuine alternative to some variant of fatalism / might makes right, since the assimilation of the imposition of the object to another element in the interplay of forces is the unacceptable Nietzschian-phenomenological move which I argue leads to a kind of performative inability to proceed. It's schizophrenia / perversion reified into philosophical principle.
Quoth Bartleby, "I'd prefer not to." Thinking as an alternative to action/the confirmation of existing forces. I welcome it.

I don't think the disagreement can in any way be characterized as the "conservative" right versus the "progressive" left in any deep way [...]
The left-right struggle died with the 20th century. It doesn't even make sense in a contemporary context. For instance, property is no longer a question of being private or common but shared.

In an interview, Jon Stewart expresses his idea of how problems are to be solved: by a linear model of society, where the "regular" is maintained against the "extreme" and thus any strains of "corruption" in the system (deterioration of the apparatus of control) are made unable to progress; the possibility of an "extreme" change in the structure of society is precluded. The imposition of reality can in this view become regularized - it becomes no longer an interruption of the normal structures of repetition around which philosophers like Heidegger and N. build their analogies of "homeliness" "eternal return" "readiness to hand" and so on. It is the dream of a subjective experience in which the object never arrives as a genuine Other. What else is this but, in its most distilled form, a statement of conservatism?
The term conservative is tricky because it precludes a Whiggish notion of historical progress. Conservatives are difficult to pin down as they create eclectic ideational landscapes and cherry-pick the elements they wish to keep for future generations. But they differ from action-oriented liberals in the sense that they open a space for reaction, particularly individual excellence and the normative power of organic communities.

In the model Fukuyama presents, there is no progressive-conservative distinction but degrees of institutional authority against organic and aristocratic reaction. And considering the American electoral system, which is close to the British first-past-the-post system, it appears as though Stewart wants to sustain the limited influence of organic communities. In sum, his vision would be a more authoritarian UHS. Liberals always want to "work things out."

Obama says in his interview with Marc Maron: "I'm less interested in having an ideological conversation, than I am [in] looking at what has worked in the past, and applying it, and scaling up."
Claiming to be above ideology is ideology par excellence. Only deluded liberals speak like this. As Terry Eagleton defines it: an ideology consists of "ideas which help to legitimate a dominant political power" while also signifying an "action-oriented set of beliefs." Obama's statement fits these descriptions to a tee.
someloser
Posts: 1,377
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/29/2016 10:19:08 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
Extremely interesting thread. I'll have to revisit Fukuyama's work sometime.
Ego sum qui sum. Deus lo vult.

"America is ungovernable; those who served the revolution have plowed the sea." - Simon Bolivar

"A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a nation's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again." - George Bernard Shaw
wuliheron
Posts: 105
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 1:07:56 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/29/2016 12:38:56 PM, NHN wrote:
In liberal democracy we see these antagonisms as, on the one hand, fierce competition and unequal outcome; on the other, equalization of outcome and institutionalization of economic redistribution. With this in mind, how does contemporary liberal democracy survive without eventually coming apart at the seams? And, if there is an alternative, which is the preferred medicine: reform, reaction, or revolution?

Some media wit noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union freedom became more expensive. That's a simple example of how in any capitalist democracy people have to buy their freedom. In ten years of asking if anyone even knows the simple distinction between a democracy and a lynch mob I have yet to hear the correct answer from even academics, but they certainly all understand the concept of buying your freedom. Words are cheap and by all accounts the American voting system is so gerrymandered and congressional lobbying so heavy calling anything free these days is just another sales pitch.
sdavio
Posts: 1,798
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 5:34:38 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 1:07:56 AM, wuliheron wrote:
At 8/29/2016 12:38:56 PM, NHN wrote:
In liberal democracy we see these antagonisms as, on the one hand, fierce competition and unequal outcome; on the other, equalization of outcome and institutionalization of economic redistribution. With this in mind, how does contemporary liberal democracy survive without eventually coming apart at the seams? And, if there is an alternative, which is the preferred medicine: reform, reaction, or revolution?

Some media wit noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union freedom became more expensive. That's a simple example of how in any capitalist democracy people have to buy their freedom. In ten years of asking if anyone even knows the simple distinction between a democracy and a lynch mob I have yet to hear the correct answer from even academics, but they certainly all understand the concept of buying your freedom. Words are cheap and by all accounts the American voting system is so gerrymandered and congressional lobbying so heavy calling anything free these days is just another sales pitch.

There's no abstract political form you can overlay onto society absent particular property distinctions without it becoming distilled, in the last analysis, into some form of might makes right. This is clear simply by way of the fact that building an "ought" into our analysis of society is, in so many words, another way of saying we're building a bias into our interpretation of it. And any bias, enacted as pure abstraction, will of course by definition be swayed by whatever power looms in that context. The only true alternative to might-worship, however, could be seen as a sort of democracy of opportunity, insofar as the mere recognition of property allocations as they are revealed in particular situations, allows for objects otherwise neutral to become realized as powers. The intrusion of a new object as a force cannot be assimilated to any scheme of might making right except by a perverse rereading which only reinterprets deviations from its own perspective as covert realizations of itself - like the character who imprisons the world by locking themselves up.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
keithprosser
Posts: 1,936
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 6:00:16 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
In ten years of asking if anyone even knows the simple distinction between a democracy and a lynch mob I have yet to hear the correct answer from even academics,

What is the correct answer?
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 9:21:42 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 1:07:56 AM, wuliheron wrote:
Some media wit noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union freedom became more expensive.
Speaking in the Berlinian sense, I am led to wonder whether you mean freedoms of the positive (freedom to ...) or negative (freedom from ...) category? The Soviet Union constituted a crushingly overpowering UHS with extensive positive freedoms but none of the other kind.

If your question relates to positive freedoms (education, welfare, health care, etc.), the cost increases are directly related to the sophistication and expansion of each respective industry.

If, however, the question relates to negative freedoms or to national sovereignty, then I would welcome further elaboration.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 9:47:18 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 6:00:16 AM, keithprosser wrote:
In ten years of asking if anyone even knows the simple distinction between a democracy and a lynch mob I have yet to hear the correct answer from even academics,
What is the correct answer?
As we are Westerners living in Western society, democracy denotes the element of popular influence embedded in the backdrop of liberalism/the Enlightenment paradigm (the bad infinity of the breakdown of power structures) and the UHS. What makes elections suitable in a liberal democracy is that they do not become a power of their own to antagonize these two elements, which sustain citizens' freedoms (negative and positive respectively).

Mob rule is the reaction of the majority, which may consist of one large organic community or of a unity of organic communities coalescing against minorities. Today, to grant the reaction legitimacy, it is often given the moniker "direct democracy." Binding referendums (i.e., popular command) are also another version of this reaction.
wuliheron
Posts: 105
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 4:00:34 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 9:47:18 AM, NHN wrote:
At 8/30/2016 6:00:16 AM, keithprosser wrote:
In ten years of asking if anyone even knows the simple distinction between a democracy and a lynch mob I have yet to hear the correct answer from even academics,
What is the correct answer?
As we are Westerners living in Western society, democracy denotes the element of popular influence embedded in the backdrop of liberalism/the Enlightenment paradigm (the bad infinity of the breakdown of power structures) and the UHS. What makes elections suitable in a liberal democracy is that they do not become a power of their own to antagonize these two elements, which sustain citizens' freedoms (negative and positive respectively).

Mob rule is the reaction of the majority, which may consist of one large organic community or of a unity of organic communities coalescing against minorities. Today, to grant the reaction legitimacy, it is often given the moniker "direct democracy." Binding referendums (i.e., popular command) are also another version of this reaction.

The term liberal democracy has no demonstrable meaning if you cannot distinguish it from a lynch mob. The simple distinction is, of course, that democracies require the cooperation of minorities. Not all of them all the time, of course, but without a significant amount of support from minorities what you have is war and revolution with the civil war being a good example. The minority simply refused to cooperate and to say the north and south constituted a functional democracy is a joke in bad taste.

The fact Americans cannot even distinguish between a lynch mob and a democracy explains why they keep voting in national elections despite the entire system being gerrymandered to death and the bankers now routinely handing congress long lists of everything they want. A twenty year study by Princeton university concluded that no matter who was elected only the top 10% of the wealthiest ever got anything they wanted. If American voter turnout dropped any lower in the US both major political parties would have to start insisting that democracy is no longer defined as government of the people, by the people, and for the people..
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/30/2016 6:19:03 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 4:00:34 PM, wuliheron wrote:
The term liberal democracy has no demonstrable meaning if you cannot distinguish it from a lynch mob.
I did qualify it. I held liberal democracy in view of the backdrop/interface that is the Enlightenment paradigm. You seem to take it for granted.

The simple distinction is, of course, that democracies require the cooperation of minorities. Not all of them all the time, of course, but without a significant amount of support from minorities what you have is war and revolution with the civil war being a good example. The minority simply refused to cooperate and to say the north and south constituted a functional democracy is a joke in bad taste.
The American Civil War cannot be reduced to a conflict of democratic partisanship. The reform-minded establishment North sought to place America within the Enlightenment paradigm. The reactionary South, by contrast, sought to maintain the 17th century socio-politico-economic order of masters and slaves. War turned out to be the only way to resolve that conflict.

The fact Americans cannot even distinguish between a lynch mob and a democracy explains why they keep voting in national elections despite the entire system being gerrymandered to death and the bankers now routinely handing congress long lists of everything they want. A twenty year study by Princeton university concluded that no matter who was elected only the top 10% of the wealthiest ever got anything they wanted.
Statistically, things aren't going south (http://www.vox.com...).

But I want to hear more about that deadlock. What, more precisely, do you believe democracy is in place to achieve?
wuliheron
Posts: 105
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/31/2016 1:25:22 AM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/30/2016 6:19:03 PM, NHN wrote:
At 8/30/2016 4:00:34 PM, wuliheron wrote:
The term liberal democracy has no demonstrable meaning if you cannot distinguish it from a lynch mob.
I did qualify it. I held liberal democracy in view of the backdrop/interface that is the Enlightenment paradigm. You seem to take it for granted.

The simple distinction is, of course, that democracies require the cooperation of minorities. Not all of them all the time, of course, but without a significant amount of support from minorities what you have is war and revolution with the civil war being a good example. The minority simply refused to cooperate and to say the north and south constituted a functional democracy is a joke in bad taste.
The American Civil War cannot be reduced to a conflict of democratic partisanship. The reform-minded establishment North sought to place America within the Enlightenment paradigm. The reactionary South, by contrast, sought to maintain the 17th century socio-politico-economic order of masters and slaves. War turned out to be the only way to resolve that conflict.

The fact Americans cannot even distinguish between a lynch mob and a democracy explains why they keep voting in national elections despite the entire system being gerrymandered to death and the bankers now routinely handing congress long lists of everything they want. A twenty year study by Princeton university concluded that no matter who was elected only the top 10% of the wealthiest ever got anything they wanted.
Statistically, things aren't going south (http://www.vox.com...).

But I want to hear more about that deadlock. What, more precisely, do you believe democracy is in place to achieve?

The Enlightenment was academia cutting a new deal with religion which has more economic implications than those of government. They killed Socrates merely for asking questions and telling lame jokes repeatedly. For teaching peasants how to defend themselves against those with money and higher education. The industries of the north wanted to make money and war with the south was the easy answer.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
8/31/2016 10:28:47 PM
Posted: 3 months ago
At 8/31/2016 1:25:22 AM, wuliheron wrote:
The Enlightenment was academia cutting a new deal with religion which has more economic implications than those of government. They killed Socrates merely for asking questions and telling lame jokes repeatedly. For teaching peasants how to defend themselves against those with money and higher education.
Socrates offended the gods of the polis, the sacred order of ancient Athens. Such crimes result in death -- as capital punishment by an individual or declarations of war by a people. But in spite of his death Socrates won the war -- first through Plato and his Akademeia, then through Aristotle in the guise of medieval Christianity. By winning this war, reason became a lodestar in Western thinking. The Enlightenment just happens to be its last stage, where thinking turns on itself and delegitimizes the hierarchical and authoritarian aspects, however foundational, of Socrates/Plato and Aristotle as well.

The industries of the north wanted to make money and war with the south was the easy answer.
The North and the South went to war because the South's concept of government stood in violation of the North's concept of government, and vice versa. The Constitution was a temporary and untenable compromise between two opposite orders -- one founded on the Enlightenment and equal rights, the other on the pre- or counter-Enlightenment order of masters and slaves in aristocratic society. These two cannot function under the same overlapping order -- only a war can separate them.

But I miss something in your reply. I want to know more about the perceived deadlock in our current political predicament. I would also like to see explained what democracy is expected to do.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/10/2016 2:17:14 PM
Posted: 1 month ago
Followup:
On October 8, Ross Douthat at the New York Times addressed this clash in his Saturday column. That is to say, the inertia and civil war of pre-liberal (or pre-Enlightenment) forces against post-liberal developments in the absence of pressure from an outside ideology (fascism, Marxism-Leninism, etc.).

The Western system -- liberal, democratic, capitalist -- has been essentially unchallenged from the inside for decades, its ideological rivals discredited or tamed. Marxists retreated to academic fastnesses, fascists to online message boards, and Western Christianity accepted pluralism and abandoned throne-and-altar dreams.

The liberal system"s weak spots did not go away. It delivered peace and order and prosperity, but it attenuated pre-liberal forces -- tribal, familial, religious -- that speak more deeply than consumer capitalism to basic human needs: the craving for honor, the yearning for community, the desire for metaphysical hope.
[...]

http://www.nytimes.com...

Several pre-Enlightenment movements have emerged coeval with the Trump campaign, Brexit, Le Pen, and others. And beyond the scatterbrained alt-right hipsters of America, there is a brand of transhumanist techno-reactionaries -- Peter Thiel, Hans-Hermann Hoppe -- who are looking for "regime change at home," i.e., to merge monarchic, anti-egalitarian rule with modern-day technocracy. In other words, the reactionary right is now competing with the populist Corbyn-Sanders-Tsipras left for the formation of the increasingly bureaucratic-technocratic Universal Homogeneous State.

With that in mind, Douthat's column shows us that Fukuyama's work remains the leading historical framework and narrative to best describe the present dynamic.