The Subscendence of Politics

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.

10 thoughts on “The Subscendence of Politics

  1. Pingback: The Subscendence of Politics | Reaction Times

  2. “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.”

    The subscendence of the State to the level of one partisan among others in the very factional disputes it is supposed to transcend means that, strictly speaking, the war has already started, by definition of this same State’s own foundational theory. This is the predictable fruit of the enormous folly of allowing the parties of social disputes to appoint the judge of their own case in the Presidential election, but this is a digression. The question is to what extent the war, presently still prosecuted by regular juridico-political means, will spill over into uncontrolled physical violence. In this respect, the contemporaneous subscendence of American manhood into effeminacy, while deplorable and contrary to the nature of things, may prove a sociological boon for as long as it inhibits Americans from doing anything really terrible to one another in the course of the war.

  3. The robust manly virtues of any human group is the source of terrible abuses and also of the ultimate sacrifice and nobility.
    An effeminate human group is the source of the worst abuses, but not of exalted nobility of ideas or actions.

  4. For Kristor: War, said Herr von Clausewitz, is the continuation of politics by other means. Once politics has self-abolished, in the manner that you describe, what is left is war, whether anyone recognizes the fact or not. (PC, which belongs to the general subscendence, is the perverse anti-discipline of never noticing any facts or of denying that facts exist, should someone else notice them.) The Second Civil War began in the late 1960s. It is now accelerating.

    Concerning violence: It is mimetic, which is why in civilized societies violence is the monopoly of the state. We now see the state licensing the violence of “parties,” or rather, of certain parties, who become proxies for the state. No one, however, including the state, can unleash violence in one direction without provoking like violence in the other direction. The prospect is not a pretty one.

  5. For Kristor: Your “City” is a Latinate equivalent of the Greek polis. Polis is related to polemos, or war; but the polis is not internally at war with itself, rather it is organized to meet warlike aggression from other poleis, or to initiate aggression preemptively, when necessary. It is the ecumene or imperium that, subsuming the poleis, makes them factions in an involuntary union. Athens undid itself by attempting to subsume the other poleis in an Athenian hegemony. The Constitutional phrase “the several states” suggests that the Founders intended the thirteen republics and commonwealths to function like a loose association of poleis, but those poleis have long since been subsumed under a federal imperium: Hence the factionalization of politics – factionalization being the same as destruction.

    • Indeed, faction was one of the evils of civic life the Fathers were most concerned to prevent.

      Subsidiarity is the way to do it, for when powers are devolved to those who are actually best suited to wield them, the familiar society with its dense intricate stable web of loyalties, its common sense – sense, that is, to which men in common readily agree – and its high degree of coordination naturally and organically ensues, with little need for costly cumbersome erroneous command or control from on high. The Constitution was an ingenious attempt to institutionalize subsidiarity. It failed because it tried to dispense with authoritative noble rule and with humble base submission thereto (taking the order they engendered for granted as the natural order of things when in fact it was a survival from olden days), replacing them instead with bureaucratic or legal procedures. But *all* power is personal; is man to man. There’s no other way to do it. Bureaucracy can work to justice only as a formalization of such personal rule in immediate personal relations, that is asserted *and granted* by rites that pledge explicit fealty.

      True devolution of power can occur then only from honored lord to trusty vassal. Without lords or vassals, subsidiarity is forestalled: personal loyalty having been “superseded” by rules, no ruler can trust his subordinates, and so he must in all prudence gather all power and control unto himself, making every other man his effectual slave.

      Such is tyranny. It is not a stable social order. As we now see.

      Empires and confederations and alliances are nevertheless needful; nature abhors vacuums, so these niches *will* be filled. Best then simply and straightforwardly and openly and honestly to fill them. Go ahead and flesh out the hierarchy of oligarchs, and let them lord it over their lessers, and submit to their betters. Only thus will duties – which is to say, control, authority – devolve when and where possible to the lowest level of the hierarchy competent to their practical administration.

      You can’t devolve authority to subsidiaries where there is no true hierarchy to begin with.

      I.e., subsidiarity is possible only insofar as supersidiarity is fully and frankly instantiated.

      So, there can be such things as High Kings or Emperors (e.g., Charlemagne), with lesser Kings and Princes and Dukes their vassals – but only if they are in fact acknowledged as Kings – as, i.e., holy appointed to their offices in and by Justice, as the yarrow sticks or the dominoes are appointed by the Logos of all things to their truly oracular testimonies. Such true kings (even if wicked or foolish) will not usually do too much, or interfere much with the administration of their realms by their vassals. The hassle of doing so is just too great. And this their laissez faire, their trust of their subsidiaries (reciprocated, of course; so as to constitute the hierarchy in the first place), their vassals will redound downward to their own vassals. At the limit, the basest peasant then will find himself accounted by all the whole hierarchy the rightful lord of his own domain, and respected as a fellow citizen and relative.

      Courtesy – which is after all nothing more than happy and decorous agreement with the proper response to facts that is given in and by those facts – demands of the High King that he recognize the dignity of all his subjects in their proper domains, and love them accordingly. So then likewise for all men in the Great Chain of Being; in which love, that Chain first of all consists.

      Thus is faction avoided. It doesn’t often work out perfectly, of course, men being all fallen sinners. But unlike systems that reject the Logos, and the hierarchy of nobility, the Great Chain of Being that real acts must always express (despite whatever they might ostend to the contrary), it can, possibly, work out.

      The City may then, just may, cohere; so that then may politics proceed. Otherwise, there’s nothing but vendetta, feud, civil war howsoever civilly prosecuted.

      What we are up against then with the subscendence of politics as we had always understood it is on the one hand a rediscovery of the patriarchal hierarchy, and on the other of the patrimonial nation of which that patriarchal hierarchy is the ordering principle. The two go hand in hand: no patriarchal hierarchy, no nation; no nation, then no sort of familiar social order, and ergo no patriarchy.

  6. This is an excellent post Kristor. We have been running on the inertia of our inherited Greco-Christian culture for the last 200 years or so but that source has finally been exhausted. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

  7. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2016/06/12) - Social Matter

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