In his book The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukyama argued that humanity has reached the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the triumph of Western liberal democracy. This does not mean stuff stopped happening, just that the evolution of political thought had reached an end-point, where liberal democracy was the best we could muster. All the alternatives had been explored and tried only to fall short of what liberal democracy could provide materially and morally.
There is a lot to be said for and against Fukyama’s claims and whether he is even the first person to make this argument. Alexandre Kojève made similar arguments from a Marxist perspective in the middle of the last century. Given the trajectory of liberal democracy since Fukyama’s book, Kojève has the better claim. Regardless, there is no doubting that the West has gone a down a cul-de-sac of sorts intellectually. Whatever comes after liberal democracy, we cannot imagine it.
This dead end is most obvious in fringe politics. This debate the other day between an anarchist, a Marxist, and some flavors of fascism is a good example. The debate itself is puerile and stupid, but it is illustrative of the state of the fringe. Rather than debating novel ideas as alternatives to the current orthodoxy, they shout at one another about archaic ideas that have no salience in the modern age. The far Left and far Right these days just engage in a form of live action role playing.
Fascism and Marxism are as relevant as the free silver movement, but for people unhappy with the status quo, and hoping to seem edgy and dangerous, they are the only options. Classical liberalism is what suburban dads embrace when they are unhappy with the status quo, while mom can throw in with the gynocracy. The middle-class radicals are left to embrace old ideas that never had much purchase in America and have not been popular in Europe for close to a century now.
One common item to both sides of this fringe debate is the unspoken agreement that the current order is unacceptable. Their critiques of liberal democracy fall into one of two categories. On the one side, the claim is the system does not adequately provide for the material comfort of the people and the wrong people benefit. The other side mostly focuses on the wrong people benefiting, but largely agree that the system does not adequately provide for the materially well-being of the people.
Strangely, the race angle is mostly a prop, a fig leaf to disguise the fact that both sides largely agree with one another. Both sides agree that socialism is the right economic model and both sides agree that the bankers and corporate executives are the bogeyman in this drama. The neo-Marxists, however, make a big deal of being anti-racist, despite all of them being white, while the neo-Fascist make a big deal of being racist and anti-Semitic. Race is mostly a costume for both sides.
There is another element to this neo-revanchism we see in fringe politics and that is the strong desire to start over. Having reached the end of the tournament and being relegated to the loser bracket, the various teams in fringe politics now seek to start the tournament over again. It’s why the Left side calls themselves anti-Fascists and the Right side embraces the Fascist aesthetic. It allows both sides to believe they can start the process over again and this time, get a better result.
That’s why both sides were hoping the virus panic would destroy the economy and usher in a great depression. The Right-side imagines people taking wheelbarrows full of cash to buy food. The Left side imagines working men being entertained by folk singers after they hear a speech by the local communist cadre. There is the assumption that if the whole liberal democratic order fails, we just rewind the clock and begin the process over again, but this time with a different result.
Another angle to this neo-revanchism is a new romanticism among younger white males for a return to a what they imagine was a more honorable and possibly heroic way of living as political actors. They want to be poet-warriors, who read political philosophy and fight the enemies of their cause. The neo-Marxists kit themselves out as beatniks and repeat lines they picked up movies about prior left-wing movements. The neo-fascists embrace Nazi iconography and language.
Richard Spencer tapped into this romanticism with his Faustian man act. Prior to his ascension as the face of the alt-right, he busied himself writing banal paleocon essays about current events. Then he started doing videos and speeches about how it was the destiny of European man to conquer and rule. He threw in enough literary references to pass himself off as a philosopher. A lot of young white men fell for it, because they dreamed of going back to a more honorable and heroic age.
Of course, this type of fringe politics is almost exclusively male. In fact, the reason for so much interest and energy in fringe politics in general is that mainstream politics is almost completely feminine now. Both sides of the liberal democratic order are dominated by harpies and schoolmarms. There’s simply no place for a normal male in conventional politics, so normal males are filtering into antiquarian politics. For many, this is just a better version of the video game of life.
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