The paleoconservative thinker, Sam Francis, developed the concept of anarcho- tyranny, which is when the state tyrannically regulates citizens’ lives yet is unable or unwilling to perform the basics of rule. For example, the government put speed cameras and red-light cameras up, in order to catch small violations, but if your car gets stolen, the cops will not bother looking for it. The tyranny is the micromanagement of the good citizens while driving. The anarchy is ignoring the car thieves.
It is a great framing because it is both true and easily validated. It is one of those observations that reminds us that conservatism was not always a collection of toadies and flunkies validating the latest Progressive fads. The Right used to have smart and thoughtful men genuinely concerned with the direction of Western society. They also had the courage to honestly examine what was happening. In other words, the current crisis did not sneak up on us like the fog.
Putting that aside, the paleos focused mainly on the management side of things with regards to anarcho-tyranny. Police departments are an easy example, but a similar process happened with regulatory agencies, large corporations, the academy, and the mass media. In fact, they saw these as tectonic plates of the ruling class that were slowly converging. Of course, this is what has happened. All of the power centers are occupied with the same sorts of people.
Something similar seems to have happened to the political class. It used to be that politicians spent a lot of time pretending to know the issues so they could connect with their voters. The old expression was that all politics were local. What that mean was the politicians needed to spend time among their voters, discussing the issues that concerned them. This was especially true of representative. Congressman put a heavy emphasis on being back in their districts.
You do not have to go back to far when it was rare for a politician to talk about big ideas or abstract concepts. Presidents, when giving national speeches would blather on about the meaning of America or the importance of patriotism. The rest stuck to things like making the roads better, fixing up the schools and helping business. The Democrats would talk about worker rights, in the context of higher wages. The Republicans would talk about less regulation so business could succeed.
In the 1990’s, a common thing was the town hall meeting, which was not really a town hall meeting. It was an expression for when the representative would show up in his district and take questions from his voters. This was the chance for the politician to show how much he cared about the local issues. The way he did that was by having a detailed knowledge of the facts. If someone asked about the roads, he knew all the bills and bond issues related to road repair.
This is no longer the case. In fact, the last time you are likely see your representative in person is when they are running as a challenger. Once they win office, they become an avatar on-line and on television. They never venture out among the people and the old town hall idea no longer exists. For a while they did conference calls, but now they are staged Zoom sessions with actors asking questions. In fact, Congress could now be doing its thing on a sound stage in Hollywood and no one would know.
On top of that, the avatars now talk in riddles. They lurch from one emotional crisis to the next, speaking about it in a creepy overwrought language. Minor misstatements are described as “horrendous” and “terrifying.” The primary feature of our politics now is that every ant is an elephant, and no one dares speak about the herd of elephants standing in the room. Anarcho-tyranny in politics results in emotionally charged drama over abstract concepts and ruthless ignorance of anything specific.
This is one reason the political class flew into a panic when Trump came along in the 2016 election. For all his bombast, he was talking about real things in practical terms that actually matter to people. When he spoke of immigration, he talked about rapists crossing the border and illegal aliens killing citizens. Trade was about China ripping off the country and reducing wages in the process. Trump was a throwback to the old-style politicians and that terrorized the current politicians.
This is something else the paleos touched on, but never fully explored. The managerial state not only becomes self-serving as it matures, but it also becomes inward looking, a self-contained culture. Once it becomes class-aware, as we are seeing today, it becomes rapidly insular. The dual purposes are the moral signifiers inside the system and maintaining the barrier between those inside and those outside. These work in concert to further isolate the system from the general society.
This is why our politicians sound increasingly deranged. Not sounding like normal people is very important inside the system. Who they are is not us, so they are constantly looking for ways to signal that to one another. This is why they are now barricading themselves into a green zone in Washington. Most likely, this will begin to happen at the state level. Americans will be ruled by pod people living and operating inside special zones guarded by razor wire and armed men.
The last phase of anarcho-tyranny may turn out to look something like colonial occupation, where the people in charge live in fortified towns. They use their control of the system to maintain the illusion of power, but in reality, it is all just a very expensive drama that has no practical impact, beyond the cost. The practical aspects of life are handled by corporations and ad hoc associations. Managerialism brings us full circle to a firm of feudalism with material excess.
A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.
Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.
The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.
Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link. If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb. Just email them directly to book at firstname.lastname@example.org.