The End of Radicalism

In the middle of the 19th century, European politics was about the role of the monarchy, nationalism, democracy, capitalism and the emerging political consciousness of urban working classes. The latter is where communism found its opening. In America, politics was about slavery, sectionalism, the territories and protectionism. Monarchism was obviously not of any interest to Americans, but neither was communism. It is a good reminder that politics is always local to both time and place.

It does not always feel that way though. If you were a Frenchman in 1970, the big debates were about the same stuff as they were in the 1940’s. Sure, the Algerian question was a hot topic in the Fourth Republic and not so much in the Fifth Republic, but the ideological landscape was the same. Similarly, US politics settled into a center-left consensus after World War II and remained so throughout the Cold War. The topics changed from decade to decade, but the ideological landscape did not change very much.

I picked these two periods for a reason. The Revolutions of 1848, or the Springtime of Nations, was a time when old ideological frameworks were collapsing and new ones were emerging. The remaining feudal arrangements were being toppled in favor of nationalist arrangements.The post-war period a century later was a time when the new arrangements, the Pax Americana, were settling in across the West. The point being is that all epics have a start and a finish, with the former beginning in the latter.

It is generally assumed that we are living in an age where the old order is under pressure and new challengers are rising up to offer an alternative to the status quo. Is this just the the Pax Americana unraveling as the United States staggers along into decline as the world’s remaining super power? Are we seeing the emergence of a post-liberal consensus built around supra-national organizations controlled by global elites? If so, is the nationalist reaction just a rearguard action? Or is this the end of the liberal era entirely?

One thing seems clear and that is American Progressivism is dead as an ongoing ideological movement. The managerial class still uses the language and tactics of the Left, but they are fully committed to global capitalism. Hillary Clinton is the face of the Left and she is wholly owned by Wall Street. Her embrace of open borders cuts what is left of the cord linking Progressives with the labor movements out of which they grew in the prior century. A liberal from the 60’s, looking at the current Left, would be horrified.

The remaining radicals on the Left are just posers. These are the people who embrace things like structural racism, gender identity, sexism, climate change, and economic inequality. Guys like Ta-Nehisi Coates are just ornaments for managerial class types to decorate their cultural institutions. Since most of what these people say and write is nonsense, they can be indulged. Again, a Hillary Clinton can be seen with a copy of a Piketty book, on her way to give a speech at Goldman Sachs.

Similarly, the European Left is a dead man walking. The British Labour Party now looks like a comedy skit from Monty Python. The Lib-Dems have collapsed entirely. The two main British parties are the SNP and the Tories, both embrace technocracy. It is a similar story on the Continent as the the main stream parties, both Left and Right slowly fuse together in defense of Europe against the rise of nationalist parties. As in America, the European Left is married to global finance and managerial authoritarianism.

What the 19th century made clear is that constitutional monarchy was just a transition phase, from aristocratic rule to liberal rule. Something similar may be true about social democracy. The Left has always dreamed of one-world global socialism. Communism was always intended to obliterate national borders. Socialism, in its various national manifestations, may simply have been a transitional phase. Once the nations of the West are ruled by like minded technocrats, the next logical step is merger.

Alternatively, this could be the end phase of the radicalism born in the French Revolution. The rise of traditionalist, reactionaries and nationalists all over the West could be a classical liberal reaction to the restoration of a new aristocratic system of rule. Instead of a ruling elite selected by magic blood, the restored aristocracy will be a mandarin system based on the acquisition of credentials, only attainable by the sons and daughters of the managerial elite. Instead of inherited titles, they have legacy admissions to elite colleges.

This is all idle speculation, of course, but like the people of the mid-19th century, in the midst of the revolts, we are witnessing a great transition away from the old system to something new. The Left that has been a feature of the West, the cornerstone of the ruling consensus, is going away. Socialist economics are dead. Communism is a museum piece. National liberation, a staple of post-colonial radical politics in the last century, has been thrown down the memory hole. All that’s left of radicalism is nostalgia.

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Andy Texan
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The globalist currents of today look a lot like neo-feudalism. Medieval upper class based their legitimacy in a God given right. Our upper class base their legitimacy in extreme wealth gained by skimming government contracts and financial manipulations.

DiogenesLamp
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DiogenesLamp

Years ago I saw what I regarded as a profound statement:

“In 1776 the United States overthrew Aristocratic rule. Ever since the Aristocrats have been working to reestablish control.”

Communism always was a form of Monarchy/Aristocracy. They just lied about it.

stubb
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stubb

The obsession of the Left with identity over merit is quite medieval.

Chiron
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Chiron

My view of this is that mainstream political parties in the West and other places have been forced to adopt Neoliberal economics, especially after the 80s, the Bill Clinton “thir way” non-sense and so on.

The death of the EU would be a mortal blow to globalism, my dream is that after the end of the EU and NATO Belgium is split between France and Netherlands, the country only exist because Napoleon lost Waterloo and became home of globalist institutions that diminished continental European powers.

Member

Still slowly working my way through Arendt. She notes that prior to the French Revolution the word “revolution” implied a return to an older, more traditional way of doing things. A going back. The Copernican Revolution meant the cycle of the planets, not some new thing. When Lametrie (?) told Louis about the Bastille, Louis said it was a revolt, Lametrie replied no it’s a revolution. He had in mind that things would go back to the way things had been prior to the king’s great grandfather when provincial parlements would have to approve whatever the king proposed, not that… Read more »

Member

I have no idea where that “Skype” thing came from in my comment. “would” is the word I typed. Also, he murderd, not had murdered. He killed many many of his own after getting power.

Member

Made this comment elsewhere this morning, but it works for this piece as well: Come what may in the election, my hope is that Trump is the harbinger of the creation of a new political party along the lines of the Populists of yore. The Republican Party as a legitimate opposition has ceased to exist already, so if there is to be any opposition to control of legal tender by a private banking cabal, to unfettered immigration, to globalist excess, to excessive centralization and federal control, to a Supreme Court that has become a super-legislature, to a squandering of taxpayer… Read more »

alzaebo
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alzaebo

Can’t keep honest capitalism with an income tax.
Wouldn’t need things like loss carry-forward (I use it, a lot), crony debt leverage, or Fed Reserve ‘planning’ if government were a disinterested observer and measurement, not performance, were the goal.

The fantasy finally took over when FDR decided to include government spending as a part of GDP to hide the disastrous nosedive of WWII costs to the economy.

alzaebo
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alzaebo

Would the Grange be an appropriate populist model? A national bourgesoie power base of the latter 1800s

Severian
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Fascism is the coming thing. Not as in “Hillary / Trump is going to win the election, ha ha!” I mean the real thing. National Socialism. We’re living a soft form of it now — ask any “conservative,” True(tm) or otherwise, what his plans are to phase out Social Security. The fact is, living like ghetto/trailer trash is very appealing for the **majority** of our population; only the externals are different for the so-called middle class (except for the fact that the drug dealing/taking is being done at Starbucks and not on the corner, what’s the difference between urban SWPLs’… Read more »

Member

funny, “…like retired hunter-gatherers.”

Member

The model for the coming mandarin rule is organized crime. A global Mafia will run everything. Instead of The Five Families, it will be The Fifty Families. We will live by their leave. Politics and the rule of law will be a sham. The “presidents” of various countries will be puppets on strings, starting with Hilary.

alzaebo
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alzaebo

I see the same thing. The Family, nested mafias- we are seeing the natural expression of the deepest social instinct. ‘Ideology’ is monkey barking. Social signaling. Self programming. Our sound signals show the jockeying for position as we leap from branch to branch, trying for a higher branch. The supposed ‘truths’ are irrelevant; what is universal are the emotions we respond with. Do I hear the familiar hoots and calls of many allies- or am I surrounded by those stranger monkeys from that other tree? Humans organize the same style group structures with the same social mechanisms, everywhere, everywhen, with… Read more »

Member

Z-man, Douthat is plagiarizing you hardcore over at the NYT today. Which is to say he’s taking your premises about managerialism and conservatism and building his own mangled conclusions on top. Pretty entertaining.

Christopher S. Johns
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Christopher S. Johns

Douthat is such a doughy little cuck – really, if you just put a hipster beard on the Pillsbury dough boy. And has anyone ever actually seen him and Matty Yglesias in the same room together? http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/opinion/campaign-stops/what-the-rights-intellectuals-did-wrong.html?_r=0 Is this the piece you’re talking about? I read it yesterday and it’s laugh out loud ridiculous. Pudgy Ross would have you seriously believe that if only the beltway boys over at NR and WS had somehow found it in their hearts to take Trump and the people he represents seriously, then, by their gracious wisdom and guiding hand they could have purged… Read more »

Bucky Barkingham
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Bucky Barkingham

There are two forces at work which will dominate all others in Europe: the demographic death spiral of “traditional” Europeans and the ascent of Islam due to Muslim migration.

Solomon Honeypickle IV
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Solomon Honeypickle IV

Time for Rollerball!

Solomon Honeypickle IV
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Solomon Honeypickle IV

Without strong nationalism, the big countries will devolve into city states. That’s what’s next, not globalism.

Drake
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Drake

That would be nicer alternative even if it’s messy and violent.

Chiron
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Chiron

London, NYC, Los Angeles are already almost city-states, international cities disconnected from the rest of the country experience, if anything these city-states are gonna be the capital cities of the New Global Order.

Marina
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Marina

Bloomberg used to say he was in charge of the eighth largest army in the world: the NYPD. NYC already functions like a city state; I’ve long wondered why there’s no active secession/partition movement in New York state. Upstate and downstate are deeply, fundamentally different places.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Terrific book on the revolutions of 1848, appropriately titled 1848: https://www.amazon.com/1848-Year-Revolution-Mike-Rapport/dp/0465020674 In 1848 liberals died on the barricades for the cause of obtaining a written constitution to limit the power of the Monarchy. Ironic that less than 100 years later liberals in America started their concerted efforts to destroy the American constitution. The worm turns . . . Reverting to an older post, yesterday I had the ill fortune to catch David French interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air about the harassment he received from the nasty alt-right people on the Internet. French just can’t seem to resist climbing… Read more »

YIH
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YIH

”I had the ill fortune to catch David French interviewed by Terry Gross”
When the time comes for the dictionary entry for ‘cuckservative’ just insert his photo. I recommend the one with the pet African in the ‘backpack’ carrier.

Zeroh Tollrants
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Zeroh Tollrants

Only if French is holding a framed photo of Eric Erickson. Then, I’m totally on board. Or, printouts of his wife’s social media accounts, fawning over black men.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

World governments, whether led by the Church or by the Political Elite, have always failed, every time. They cannot control people at the local level, though a lot of butchery and burning neighborhoods to the ground goes on in the process (see the Middle East for a current example). But people are so easily fooled. They root for the Rebels at a Star Wars movie and then go vote for Darth Vader at the next election. At times, I believe the entire “socialization” process of our culture is a conscious effort to “dumb down” everyone, so that they will support… Read more »

thor47
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thor47

” They root for the Rebels at a Star Wars movie and then go vote for Darth Vader at the next election. ”

Brilliant line, Dutch. Two thumbs up!

Drake
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Drake

“So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause”

james wilson
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james wilson

In the progressive imagination all his thoughts are new and life began with his arrival. He believes himself to be the cure for the recurring plague infecting humanity. He has no idea that he is the plague. Tocqueville– “The unity, the universality, the omnipotence of society’s power, and the uniformity of its rules represent the outstanding feature of all the political systems invented in our day. They recur at the heart of the strangest utopias. The human mind still pursues these images even in its dreams. If the brilliant talkers and writers of that time were to return to life,… Read more »

Karl Hungus
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Karl Hungus
Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Wait a minute. I thought that if priests could marry real live women, then they wouldn’t be doing all of that weird stuff any more.

Solomon Honeypickle IV
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Solomon Honeypickle IV

hahaha, everyone knows priests don’t like women! funny, since they dress like women? go figure 😛

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

What comes next_? VERY interesting discussion. Supposing that Progressiveism was an attempt at priestly rule under their new/old religion: What happens in history when priestly rule collapses under accumulated errors created by the elemental mistake that really smart humans can attain the power and status of God Almighty_? Answer: Barbarian take-over or (slightly more hopefully given who the barbarians are these days) warlord rule establishing a new dynasty via defeating said barbarians after a period of chaos in which many peasants die. Better stock up even though that won’t be enough if you have the ‘bad luck’ to be in… Read more »

alzaebo
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alzaebo

Someday this shall all be one line in a book.
The Olympians must cast down the Titans, that they might take their place.
Ours may be, “the Green Vine strangled the Eagle”

notsothoreau
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notsothoreau

Don’t know if you read this blog, but you might check it out:

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/has-technology-stuck/#more-20809

Jim VA
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Jim VA

This post makes a common mistake. Let’s start with Marx. He was always wrong.The world is not about governments legitimizing parasites. The world is not about workers and oppressive capital. It is about the never ending human quest for self-actualization, which is only possible in a free society, versus oppressive, overarching totalitarianism in any form. Fascism is only a form of socialism / communism, which is only a form of totalitarianism. The easy test of any government is does it end up rewarding parasites, or does it seek to minimize them through culture and law? Any government striving to legitimize… Read more »

MSO
Guest
MSO

The dirt people rise up: “(CNN) — Seven people who were among the armed occupiers of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year were acquitted Thursday of charges related to the 41-day standoff”

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/27/us/oregon-standoff-ammon-bundy-acquittal/index.html