Towards increased understanding

According to another of these young ladies of my acquaintance, after listening to one of my diatribes against democracy, “You have to work with the system you have.” (We were taking a smoking break, outside a media studio.)

I admit this sounds refreshingly tautological. For if you were not working with the system you have, you would be working with a system you have not, and then where would you be? Surely, in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Yet, for generations of leftists, liberals, and progressives, this has proved the more effective political strategy — to subvert the system, systematically, by means both fair and foul; indeed by any method that works, and foul works quicker than fair — until it comes to resemble the system in their dreams.

Or more specifically, their nightmares — their “reforms” of the system itself having produced, fairly consistently, the opposite of what they had anticipated. (Look at the middle of any large American city, long governed by progressive Democrats: Detroit, for instance; or Baltimore.) And so they are fated to continue subverting, and subverting; and our society fated to become ever more “complex.”

My diatribe was (and remains) directed to accommodating this background “fact” — using that word as I like to use others, in their “traditional” meanings. In this case an adaptation into English of the Latin term factum: a past participle from facere, “to do,” used as a substantive. It refers not to some isolated statistic, or other particle of selective empirical data, but to something that has occurred, has happened, has been accomplished, is true and real, and by inference, complete.

Only in the Enlightenment was it split down, as it were, into sub-molecular pieces; and only in post-modernity has Humpty Dumpty been put together again in a new and unusual order — so that facts, today, are not the same as facts, yesterday. We now have “facts” that, while lies, are “politically correct.”

Nature has this power of re-assembling herself, that is the bane of post-modern life. She refuses to remain disassembled. She snaps back together, in the course of which — to be as vulgar as possible — she bites one in the ass. She may be able to handle “complexity,” but men cannot. Men only think they can, when they are drugged by their own vanity; in the end, more simply, we fail and we die. And that is a fact: then, now, and in the foreseeable future.

To my mind, our task on the side of Reaction, is not to propose alternative complex remedies, but to unpack and discard the “solutions” we have already tried, in schemes to override human nature; because they don’t work, and can’t. I cannot think how this unpacking could be done without increasing human freedom; without letting the atoms of our atomized society shift for themselves. We could do this politically, by gradually walking back almost everything that has required legislation over the last century or more; or we can wait for nature to do it for us, suddenly.

But democracy, as we can surely see by now, ain’t gonna unpack nothin’. The politician who proposes to disassemble not nature, but our administrative machine, is not going to get past the primaries. Paradoxically, he will be accused, then quickly convicted, of being “unrealistic,” and “negative.” The “realistic” and “positive” types will be proposing new ways to improve the machine, for the benefit of targeted political consumers. He will have new policies, to fix the old policies — the ones that “didn’t work.”

An article recently, in WaPo or somewhere, noted that the two dominant political parties in those Natted States Merica seemed not to be referring to the same country. Republicans and Democrats were addressing not only different audiences, but different topics. Each considered the other to be out to lunch, when I think, really, both are. Though I must add that I think the Democrats have been out to lunch longer.

The writer was biased to the Democrats, as one could expect, but in the journalistic manner, he was pretending to be “objective.” Here is the nugget I scratched down:

“Economic and family issues such as college affordability, the minimum wage, executive compensation, early child care and paid sick days that have formed the foundation of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns have largely been absent in the Republican discussion.”

Yairs. … Each of these items being (to my mind) none of any government’s business. Each purposefully invading the sphere of private, voluntary, human interaction, to impose the Procrustean “one size fits all.” And we all vote on the size that Procrustes has selected. The size that fits us best, as consumers.

Once we understand that the government is like a very large business (leaving aside questions of profitability), we also see that the modern voter makes choices like a shopper. He is looking for deals, and brands, and is demonstrably swayed by “coolness” factors through venal mass advertising.

The message that, “You must cease to behave as a consumer,” let alone Christ’s, “Give up all you have and follow me,” is not going to sell; at least, not to consumers. Conversion happens; but it does not sell.

I’m not saying give up, to democracy enthusiasts like that young lady, with her commendably rightwing, anti-bureaucatic, and socially conservative, pro-life views. I’m just saying, understand that you are going to lose.