Note: The Taki post is up. This week the subject is another take on the subject of today’s post, just from a more serious angle. The Sunday Thoughts podcast is up behind the green door for subscribers.
Politics in a democracy not only devolve into theater, but they select for the sorts of people attracted to the theatrical. The reason for this is democracy is about winning the crowd, which rewards those best at winning the crowd. Inevitably, elite interests will invest in those who show the ability to stand in front the mobs and win them over without making too many promises. After all, if you need to bribe the crowd then why bother investing in a guy trying to win the crowd?
Of course, the best stage performers are the people who are extraordinarily high in extraversion and very low in agreeableness. This person loves being the center of attention and likes meeting new people. A good actor can light up a room full of strangers and come away energized by it. He will also be very low in empathy and see others as either competitors of victims to be exploited. Great performers tend to be horrible people when away from the stage.
This is what you get with democracy. It is rule by the sorts of people who run away to the circus because it is their best shot at a happy life. Liberal democracy is supposed to correct the defects of democracy by bounding the choices of the mob with a set of principles like equality before the law. In reality, these principle are turned into props by the performers to add moral weight to their performance. They are no long winning the crowd, but instead are leading them on a moral crusade.
This is why morality in a liberal democracy gets turned on its head. Society’s least principled people are elevated to the top of the moral hierarchy. Carny folk are made into the priestly class. Naturally, they warp public morality into that which best serves their interests as performers. Like all carny acts, the political class in a liberal democracy is always on the look out for a new act and new bit. The highest moral good becomes the new act that brings in the crowds.
This is why American politics is so shallow. The current gun grabbing show being staged in Washington is a good example. Like a reboot of a comic book franchise, the gun grabbers are performing fan service. They know the slobbering idiots will show up with their t-shirts and home made costumes. It is a low cost way for the performers to get a big audience. The only point of the gun grabbing act is to please this narrow market sector so the performers can get a quick payday.
One of the ironies of this system is the biggest clowns come from the wealthiest and poorest congressional sectors. The obvious example is Nancy Pelosi, who represents one of the richest and most progressive districts in the country. The people who live in her district are rich and presumably have serious responsibilities. Yet, in their politics they go for the most ridiculous and absurd. Their politics are not about serious matters, but about the gestures that control bourgeois life.
That is what liberal democracy becomes at it zenith. It is a form of escapism for the class wealthy enough to escape the consequences of bad government, but not so wealthy as to enter the ruling elite. These are the people who promote pointless nonsense like climate change and gun grabbing campaigns. At the same time, they refuse to even think about practical problems that haunt society. Fixing roads is for poor people, while fixing the climate is for special people.
Another side effect of liberal democracy is the race for novelty. In the 1990’s, the luxury opinion was homosexual marriage. That was the thing bourgeois simpletons waved around to signal their aloofness from practical politics. Since anyone can acquire these luxury opinions, we have quickly moved along the clown line to the point where major corporations are celebrating child molesters. When novelty is the highest moral principle, who has time to worry about the kids?
Some will argue that the circus of politics is an intentional creation by the usual suspects to conceal their grip on society. That is a form of escapism, like all conspiracy theories, to avoid the reality of liberal democracy. Elites do run society, but they do not run the circus of democracy. Their only role is to make sure the actors do not accidentally shoot one another with a prop gun. Otherwise, they let these frivolous freaks do their shows and keep the masses occupied.
This is the beauty of the system, when you think about it. If the only way to fix the system is to get a bigger crowd, that means all opposition must select for greater novelty and narcissism than what is currently on stage. The winners of every election end up with a bigger clown than what was on stage. The losers get the new clown as well, which means no matter the result, you get stuck with a clown. Elections are always heads they win, tails you lose.
Just as the solution to a drinking problem is not more drinking, the solution to democracy is never more democracy. The drunk can only begin to recover himself by quitting the booze. Similarly, a people can only recover from the rule by carny trash by exiting the theater of democracy. Usually, the drunk has to hit rock bottom before he has the will to conquer his addiction. Most likely the same applies to democracy. America will have to hit rock bottom before it abandons the clown-ocracy.
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