A popular setup for the cooking shows is a gameshow format in which the contestants are forced to cook a meal using the wrong ingredients. Maybe they have to compete for ingredients and all of them end up with a partial list of required items. Maybe they are given wacky items and tasked with making a traditional dish. The secret ingredient is aardvark noses and the dish is chicken cacciatore. The entertainment is in watching them solve the puzzle in amusing ways.
The underlying truth of these shows is that a dish is not just the sum of its ingredients or just the skill of the chef. The dishes that are famous in our culture are the combination of ingredients in the right proportions, assembled by people with the skill and cultural understanding to create the dish. A Spanish guy who grew up on paella knows how it is supposed to look and taste. He may be able to get the same effect using ingredients not traditionally used in the dish.
This is the truth of politics. The old line about politics, that it is the art of the possible, depends on the same set of assumptions. To get something passed through a legislature, you have to get a majority. Outside of symbolic items like momentary resolutions, this means finding a compromise that a majority can accept. Put another way, in order to get a bill passed the ingredients for it must exist. Then you need someone to assemble those ingredients into the final bill.
Strangely, when the subject moves up into meta politics and political philosophy, this understanding gets tossed away in favor of the blank sheet approach. It is just assumed that the remnants of today, after the collapse of course, will be easily swept away and a new system can be built from scratch. After the revolution, the winners will get to conjure from nothing a new political system. The facts and events that led to the great starting over are left out of the discussion.
This blank slate mentality infects the Left and Right. For the Left, the glorious future that is free of suffering and exploitation is otherwise undefined. In fact, its lack of specifics is the appeal. They just know they will be able to fish in the morning, hunt in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening and do critical theory at night. In other words, the glorious future can be what the believer wants it to be because the future will be free of all of the things that made the glorious future possible.
For the Right, this blank slate thinking imagines a do-over based on a fictional understanding of the past. The Founders, for example, assembled in Philadelphia to draft the Constitution, carrying loads of virgin parchment. They were going to start from scratch and create what they hoped would be their ideal republic. The American conservative imagines himself going back to that time, with the knowledge of today, to help tidy up the bits that have gone wrong.
Of course, the reality of the founding is something different. The Founders came together like the contestants on those cooking shows. They had a vague idea of what they wanted to make. They knew they had a limited set of ingredients. They also had the experience of the prior effort to create a national government. These were practical men focused on what was possible given the constraints of the age. They were not dreamers and idealist. They were wizened realists.
Left-wing people are incapable of thinking in these terms because what attracts them to the various subcultures on the Left is the desire to escape this fallen world. It is why facts and reason have no effect on their politics. Right-wing people, in contrast, are much more realistic about the human condition. They should be inclined to focus on what is possible, given the ingredients, than they are, which raises the question as to whether there even is a genuine Right.
Putting that aside, if one wants to imagine what comes next for America, the place to start is the ingredient list. Just as the Founders had to think first about what was possible with the ingredients at their disposal, the man of the Right in this age must first think hard about the ingredient list. What sort of civic life will be possible in America given the probable list of ingredients. There is some uncertainty on some of them, like technology, but others are better understood.
For example, there is no avoiding demographics. By the middle of this century, just a generation away, American will be a nonwhite society. That means that the people taking up positions of authority in two decades will have spent their entire lives as a minority in a society made by white people. Whatever civic life is possible will be one where Nick Fuentes and Ocasio-Cortez are typical. That is not a demographic for which the Founders designed the Constitution.
Is it possible to have a society with things like equality before the law when the society is composed of adversarial tribes? Of course, the idea of the individual being the building block is not going to hold up in a world where competing groups fight for the spoils of society. On the other hand, maybe there is a common ground in a fragmented, multiracial society around which to build a politics. What unifying set of understandings or beliefs could emerge in the society of the future?
There is also the possibility that civil society is impossible under the conditions that are shaping up at the moment. Immigration is a good example. America has no border as a practical matter, yet the public seems to be fine with it. Maybe that changes as the reality of this becomes clear to people. There has been some movement in the polling on immigration. On the other hand, the rulers are for open borders so that will be the policy until events force a change at the top.
That brings up the other important ingredient. The starting point for a new politics based in the reality of society is that it can only come after events lead to a replacement of the current elites with a new elite. How that happens will cast a long shadow over those tasked with shaping a new society. The Founders were certainly affected by their experience in the war against England. What will that conflagration look like and how will it impact the people who come after it?
An honest examination of the present trends says that two things are true about current politics and what comes next. One is that there is nothing to be done to arrest the current trends. It does not mean they will continue indefinitely, but that they will run their course to their logical end. The other assumption is that the ingredients available to build a civic society in the future will look nothing like the past. In fact, it is possible that a civil society as we understand it is not going to be possible.
The point of this exercise is that the past is not going to be terribly useful for the people tasked with creating a civil society in the future. Western man will soon find himself in the same situation as those cooking show contestants. Their training and skill at making traditional dishes is often a liability when they are handed bizarre ingredients like aardvark lips and bat testicles. The clean sheet of paper is in their mind, not the canvas on which they will create their masterpiece.
This is the next phase of dissident thinking. The critiques of this age and its causes is nearly complete. What must come next is acceptance that there will be no great restoration after the revolution. Instead, what comes next will start with the available ingredients and the experience of the failure of this age. That is a hard project but whoever shapes the future will first have started out with a plan for a future that lies within the possible, rather than fantasies of the past.
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