Thursday, August 25, 2016
“Resistance is Feudal”
“Resistance is Feudal”
by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
“It’s apparent to all discerning observers that the present state of affairs in the United States, as well as other Western nations, will not be able to continue for much longer. As our “leaders” continue to grow more and more out of touch and disconnected from increasingly large majorities within their respective citizenries, the prospect of collapse, or at least some pretty severe dislocations, in Western societies grows increasingly likely. Honestly, if the American and other Western governments stay on the path they are currently on, I don’t see how they can avoid facing severe fourth generation warfare (4GW) challenges from their own people, much less from the various foreign elements which they are busy importing. Western governments are busy delegitimizing themselves in the eyes of the core elements which make up the backbones of their nations, and they won’t be able to stand a full-on loss of legitimacy for very long.
The question which naturally arises is, “What will replace these governments once they fall?”
Many observers fear that the current “democratic” governments (which are essentially transitional in nature) will be replaced by heavy handed totalitarian regimes.This may be a defensible notion for many of the Western European nations which have largely been successful in disarming their own citizens. For the United States, I find this less likely to be the case, though the last grasping elements of the current politico-financial cabal may attempt to go that route. However, and in spite all of the various federal police forces and any help from UN “peacekeepers”, it is doubtful that FedGov would have the personnel resources to sustain the sort of attrition it would face for very long. This is doubly so considering that it is not altogether assured that the remaining portion of the US military would go along with FedGov attempts to establish a totalitarian state, especially if it means suppressing their fathers, brothers, and cousins back home in flyover country.
So it’s not likely that a breakdown of federal legitimacy and power in the US will lead to a successful imposition of the total state by force. However, we should also understand that those folks out there who think that such a collapse would inevitably lead to a “reset” back to the constitutional republic of Ted Cruz’s fantasies are laboring under a strong delusion. Collapse and dislocation won’t lead to a restoration of the pure constitutional republic of yore as founded in 1789. It’s increasingly apparent that it shouldn’t either.
While embodying many good ideas and serving as a worthwhile effort at self-government, the fact is that the Constitution suffers from some severe ideological defects that made its eventual negation practically inevitable. Though designed as an instrument for dividing power and restraining government, its “Enlightenment” origins meant that it would rest on a foundation which was inimical to these goals. The philosophical background from which the Constitution arose was one that assumed two essentially unproven and unprovable hypotheses: the inherent goodness of man and the primacy of reason in man’s intuitions. These fundamental bases always placed pure devotion to the Constitution in a somewhat precarious state vis-á-vis the concurrent claims to the Christian origins and foundation of the United States. These two currents– the Christian element arising from the Puritan foundation of New England followed by the spreading of evangelical, “enthusiastic” Christianity throughout the eastern seaboard by the Great Awakenings on one hand, and the Enlightenment, essentially rationalistic and deistic ideas underlying many of the assumptions made in the Constitution on the other hand– have always stood apart, even though many Americans have refused to recognize this and have tried to tie the two together intimately.
The problem with the Constitution, from a purely organizational standpoint, is that it lends itself far too easily to democratization. This democratization is a function of the inherent assumption that the people, from whom all power derives, according to Enlightenment theory, will act both nobly and reasonably. Yet, as American history has shown time and time again, neither of these have ever truly been substantiated. Indeed, American constitutional history since 1865 has been a tale of the steady march of democracy, with the attendant ability of the people to vote themselves largesse from the public treasury despite the detrimental financial, moral, and social effects this will always have.
Democracy is an inherently unworkable system of government. Many historians and political scientists make a fetish out of democracy, and laud the original Athenian democracy as an undiluted good in world history. This ignores, however, the serious issues which the Athenians’ contemporaries had with the democratic system of that polis and others like it; dissent which cannot merely be chalked up to envy or a lust for tyranny on the part of Athens’ enemies. Indeed, democracy’s classical critics tended to oppose that system of government specifically because it was dangerous and prone to abuse, instability, and unpredictable swings in behavior caused by the momentary passions of the ochloi, the masses. Let us not forget that it was the vaunted Athenian democracy which waged wars of aggression against its neighbors (including other democratic states like Syracuse), which murdered and enslaved nearly the entire population of Melos for refusing to pay a relatively small sum in tribute, and who eventually put to death Socrates, the father of classical-era philosophy, in a fit of childish pique from the masses.
Classical writers both Greek and Roman tended to divide the various types of government into three overall types of systems: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Depending on the particular writer, these types could be further subdivided in variants and mixed-mode systems. The intervening centuries have brought little substantial innovation to this system of classification, so it is the one I will use going forward.
Back to our question at hand– what is likely to happen should the United States collapse– we can see that democracy will most likely cease to be a going concern. Indeed, democracy is largely what created the problems that have led us to the point that we’re at. So the choice will be between one of the two other forms– monarchy or aristocracy.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t have strong forms of both of these existing in a polity at the same time. It has long been noted that the enemy of monarchy is a strong aristocracy. After all, the king cannot exercise plenary authority when a bunch of little kings are running around dispensing justice and maintaining private armies within their own domains. Either aristocrats are strong and the monarchy is weak (perhaps an elective or constitutionally limited form), or the monarch is strong and aristocrats are reduced to being courtiers, to ornaments at the king’s court. The most typical examples of this would be the gradual reduction of aristocratic independence in European states such as France and Spain which was necessary before absolute monarchies could exist.
It necessarily follows from this that aristocracy is what we can consider to be the “traditional” form of government, while strong, centralised monarchy is the innovation.
Even in ancient Greece, one of the first things that tyrants did when they usurped control over a polis was to drive out or otherwise destroy the prominent aristocratic families in the city. There is always the example of Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, who sent his servant to Miletus to find out the formula for success from that city’s tyrant, Thrasybulos. As Thrasybulos and the servant walked through a field of wheat, the tyrant said nothing, but would reach out and snap off the heads of wheat which stood out above the rest of the plants. The servant soon got the point– to be a successful monarchical ruler, you needed to cut down anybody else who stood out above the masses of the common people.
Now, many neoreactionaries support a return to a monarchy. I would tend to disagree with them, instead favoring a return to some form of oligarchic republicanism, which I believe provides the best mix of a rule of law system and the division of power among several competing members who balance out each other’s ambitions. What I would have in mind would be a division of power similar to the old pre-reform Roman republic, or perhaps what was seen in the Dutch or Venetian republics– a small group of oligarchs whose interests are bound up with the success of the nation and the common people as a whole (unlike today’s “aristocracy” in the West, whose interests are largely inimical to the people constituting the nations in which they exist). In such a system, these oligarchs guide the ship of state in such a way that the nation prospers, which necessarily placates the common people, without hazarding the nation to the vicissitudes of democracy. The state is subject neither to the whims of one unaccountable man, nor to the whims of millions of morons who are just smart enough to figure out which circle to push the pin through so as to vote themselves more welfare and other largesse.
All of this is important because whenever an empire (such as, say, the United States of America) falls apart, it almost always devolves into a patchwork of statelets which originated because of the efforts of local notables to restore order and to regain a measure of the legitimacy formerly enjoyed by the now-defunct empire. This pretty much means that an aristocratic system will arise.
History records numerous cases of this, only a few of which follow:
The collapse of major Egyptian dynasties would often lead to the restoration of independence to the various nomes up and down the Nile, which would have to then be reconquered before a new strong dynasty could be established.
The fall of various Mesopotamian empires would result in a new city becoming the centre of power, while the peripheral areas would fall away and regain independence, again requiring reconquest if a new empire was to be built.
When Alexander died, not only were large parts of his empire divided among the Diadochi, but many portions regained independence under native rulers or as free city-states with their own aristocratic rulers.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire saw statelets formed by various Germanic chieftains who occupied formerly Roman land, some of which eventually became the states of early medieval Western Europe. Notably, many native Roman notables also seized the opportunity to establish their own domains, especially in Brittany and wherever the Bagaudae were strong.
The fall of major Chinese dynasties would result in the rise of smaller, petty warring states vying for supremacy. Confucius lived in one such time, during the fall of the decrepit Zhou dynasty and the reassertion of the various Chinese dukedoms.
So how does this apply to our current situation once America (and perhaps the rest of the West) collapses? The first thing we need to understand is that, within the successor states to the United States, we will not likely see monarchy arise. Instead, we’ll see the country break up into component regions of various size and stability (some perhaps comprising multiples of the current states), under local aristocratic control. In Red areas, some pre-collapse legitimacy will remain because these states and localities were more successfully and legitimately governed. However, in most Blue areas, the trend toward their becoming complete basket cases– already quite evident– will continue and will contribute to their complete collapse and reorganization, barring any outside interference.
Culture is enduring and America’s culture is and always has been republican. As a result, it is likely that following an initial bout of local strongmanship in the less successful areas which will be put down by the better organized successors, the aristocracies that arise will not take the form of quasi-kings exercising absolute rule over smallish statelets. Rather, the aristocracies that arise will likely be highly-restrictive republican oligarchies, with the franchise being restricted to white males who meet some sort of stringent property qualification. Our culture will not allow for absolute rulers to exist for long; hopefully it will also not allow for the foolishness of democracy to replant itself either.
While there will be many who want to restore the old constitutional forms, in the event of a collapse, it will likely be very apparent to most of the survivors that the US Constitution of 1789 cannot be reinstated, at least not without heavy redaction. For instance, unlimited religious liberty, with its penchant for being used to defend those who abuse its protections so as to destroy us, will be one of the first things on the block. In its place, we’ll see Christianity– probably without preference for a specific denomination– become the de facto state religion, with tolerance being extended to minority religions who don’t actively seek to kill us. The judicial branch– long the font of injustice and arbitrary political gamesmanship at the behest of the SJWs and other left-wing groups– will likely also find itself so thoroughly reformed that it would no longer be recognizable as the Article III institution of the old Constitution.
Obviously, I am not claiming to be a prophet, to see the future before it happens. What I’ve written here are merely speculations, ones which I readily admit are tinctured with my own personal preferences of what I think ought to be (but which, as a result, I do think would be the most likely). One thing that I do think is pretty clear is that the current course of the West cannot hold forever, and that when it does fall apart, the product will not be the neoliberal “end of history,” it will not be more democracy and secularism and equalitarianism and all the rest. Rather, the future will be less democratic and more authoritarian. And this will perhaps correct many of the errors into which the West allowed itself to be led these recent decades.”
Hat tip to James Quinn,