Politics – the abstract discourse upon how best to order the City – can proceed only within the City itself, and among its citizens: men who have taken personal responsibility for its welfare and defense, pledging their lives thereto, and thus in extremis to each other. It can proceed then only when there is a City in the first place: when the City itself is coherent; when, in other words, essentially all the citizens have the same basic ideas about what is fair and right, so that the matter of political discourse is concerned with how best to achieve it. Its foreconditions are widespread adherence to a common cult – i.e., to a common understanding of what is good and proper and just – and a common native tongue, the moral terms of which, as shared from the cradle, are therefore transparently clear to everyone, so that conversation can proceed.
Politics requires social cohesion in service to a common purpose: the survival and prosperity of a people. Where there is no people, or where a people cannot apprehend itself as such, or therefore recognize each other as familiars who share common ultimate interests, politics is utterly forestalled.
Societies that have no politics have only intrigue, nothing more: plots, conspiracies, boot licking, assassinations, bribes, corruption, vendetta, and so forth, aimed not at some shared vision of the ideal common good but only at getting what can be got for one’s own family and tribe.
We don’t have a coherent society anymore. So, politics is over, almost. It has been dying for 50 years; soon it will be altogether dead, everywhere but in the smallest most isolated hamlets. Are there any such, in the age of the internet?
This is the meaning of the phase change so clear in American politics this election year, in which of a sudden the venerable pieties of public discourse simply no longer pertain. Lots of people wish they still pertained, of course: the Clinton campaign, the Republican Establishment, much of the mainstream media.
But they just don’t. That was then. This is now.
Politics is being replaced by the procedure that will as mature furnish the basis of its eventual future renascence: the formation of a tribe, of a common cult and homogeneous nation. What was once politics in America is devolving into something more basic, and – most likely – much less civil, much bloodier. It is the subscendence of politics. It is, i.e., the verge of war.
But it is also the soft reboot of the West, and of her politics. This is not to say that the system will reboot successfully, purged of its stubs and haltings, and running again smoothly and as it was meant to do. The soft reboot may not work. We may get the blue screen of death. In that case, a hard reboot will be needful.