zondag 8 juni 2008

Against democracy

I've been thinking about democracy, and decided I don't like it. Democracy has made it impossible to light up in a bar, caused Finland to not win this year's Eurovision Song festival and brought Hitler to power. But more seriously, the supposed superiority of democratic government is a bit of a sacred cow in the West. Few people think of possible alternatives, and the main question seems to be whether to impose democracy on deviant states elsewhere through bombing them back to the stone age or imposing sanctions and boycotts on them.

Truthfully, I think that the more people involved in the making of any policy decision, the worse the decision will tend to work out. More specifically, democracy and individual rights do not always mesh well - especially in a society paralyzed with fear of terrorism, alcohol, passive smoking, etc. Chesterton's quote on idolatry ( (...) committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.) comes a lot to mind nowadays. And most seriously, no democracy can really cope with policy alternatives that really call into question the foundations of the state or the national economy. The Weimar republic was a democracy confronted with serious policy alternatives. And in the current absence of genuine ideological discussion, European democracies at least seem overly focused on nannyistic micromanaging of citizen's lives, fending off imaginary threats to safety and security, etc.

I've been looking for a new political home, and have been reading up on National Anarchism - a far-right version of classical anarchism mainly associated with Troy Southgate, a political nomad on the British far-right fringe. The basic idea seems to be the substitution of the modern state by self-determining communities (villages, city-states) with a moral regime, ideological underpinning and ethnic structure of their own choosing. There's a lot to intensely dislike about National Anarchism. First of all, the perennial racism (National Anarchists are big on "racial separatism", which entails that the communal structure of future society would be ethnically segregated) and the anti-semitism. And in as far as National Anarchists seem interested in religion, they are interested in the wrong kind - namely, paganism and the mystical as opposed to the prophetic side of Christianity.

This said, Left-wing anarchists seem to be under the delusion that people will tend to egalitarianism, common ownership, equality between the sexes, ethnic diversity and mixing, if you just let them. Socialism without the Stalinist jackboot. I simply don't think this will work. Every time you put more than two people together, they will tend to define themselves against a common perceived enemy. And tend to prefer the company of those of similar cultural background (note that I do not speak of race, or ethnicity. It's quite possible for multi-ethnic societies to work if endowed with some kind of common cultural foundation or idea). Aside from this, I'm not so sure any more of the ideal is even desirable. Quite regardless of whether the anarchist/socialist ideal of common ownership of the means of production can work, I'm finding my universalism (the idea that humans, created in the image of God, are all endowed with some universal rights, intrinsic worth, etc.) chafing against my conviction that cultural diversity is valuable for its own sake, and that any advancement of universal rights in a community must come from within that community rather than imposed from the outside.

At least the National-Anarchists seem to take self-determination seriously. Just a pity that they see nefarious Jews everywhere, and seem to be enamoured with a hopelessly static and stifling blood and soil mysticism.

The political solution I favour instead is a return to the system of government of the Dutch Republic (1581-1747). See, in modern European monarchies the monarch is essentially a figurehead with the state being a de facto republic. An exception is England at least before a few years back, when the House of Lords had serious power. But the conservative, unifying, galvanizing function of the monarch in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden is a bit of a joke. Mind you, there is no serious republicanism in any of these countries. People are attached to the monarchy. But they are attached to the monarchy for sentimental and gossip-loving reasons, not because the monarch has any viability left as a living embodiment of the nation. Belgium is happily falling apart regardless of the monarchy, and in the Netherlands the monarchy seems powerless to prevent the rapid loss of legitimacy of the political system in the eyes of the people. So, I suggest that things should be precisely turned around. Instead of a de facto republic with a de jure monarchy, we need a de facto monarchy in a de jure republic - exactly like the Dutch republic, with the powerful position of the Prince/Stadholder assigned to the Princes of Orange. The consequence would be that the Stadholder would actually function as a "living symbol" of the nation because he would actually exert power.

But better even, the Prince/Stadholder and the republican authorities would be perpetually at each other's throats, jealously guarding and expanding their own privileges at the costs of another. This would keep them too busy to seriously mess with the citizens' private lives, which would make the country a haven of liberty. As in many ways the Dutch Republic was - attracting international luminaries from Descartes to Linnaeus (granted, there was the imprisonment and expulsion of Hugo Grotius, but that was a single case). As governments have an inborn tendency to expand in undesirable directions, the best solution is to provide them with a perfect check on expansion - another, competing government.

So, long live the House of Orange and the Republic of the Netherlands! Rise, Prince William Alexander, and march on The Hague to liberate your long-suffering people from the oppressive regents! Rally your citizen militias, cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, to guard your ancient privileges against the Prince! And leave us all to our own affairs.

3 opmerkingen:

Bay Area National Anarchist zei

What a lame triad against pagans and identitarians. National Anarchism is no a far right group so go jump in a lake. Neither is it defined exclusively by Troy Southgate.

Merlijn de Smit zei

Oh, come on. I'll grant you that calling National Anarchism "far-right" was careless (in that "left" and "right" have lost much of their meaning anyway) but the National Anarchist current seems to be brimming with figures who previously made a career in groups commonly known as "far-right". Now, it's positive that people like Southgate (and I'm aware NA isn't exclusively defined by him but he is an extremely interesting figure) or Tim Mudde from the Netherlands now prefer to regard themselves as National Anarchists. But even if National Anarchism is just about as incompatible with Fascism or big-state authoritarianism as any anarchism is, there's still the weird focus with race and Jews.

With regards to "identitarianism", I've no use for the emphasis on biological race, hostility to racial mixing, etc. among National Anarchists. I've no use for biological race as a concept. On the surface, it seems rather crassly materialist to me. Another thing would be to re-interpret race in some kind of spiritual sense as Evola did but then I would be merely dead against it (seeing as the notion of man - all men - created in the image of God is rather central to me, and even if it does not imply equality, it at least should imply an absence of racial hostility. Racism is just another, if very poisonous, expression of fallenness and alienation between people).

I've been arguing in this blog that at least in the West, we lack the sense of purpose underlying our culture previously provided by Christianity, national identities and even political currents such as socialism. A revitalization of national and cultural identities would be a good thing. But identities, to me, are dynamic concepts, they rise and fall and are re-formed again, they are not connected to essentialist qualities such as race, blood and the like.

Paganism is not all bad (aside from being, well, wrong about God and Jesus and all). There's something quite positive in the notion in Paganism and paganized versions of Christianity of the transcendent in the here-and-now, the cyclical movement of seasons, etc. It's a good antidote to the modern alienation between us and the rest of nature. But it lacks the (for me) essential notion of Christianity of seeing the transcendent (as the Kingdom of God) partially deferred to the future, which makes it an enormously powerful criticism of the current condition of man and a source of hope. It also means that Christianity can never be wholly co-opted and encapsulated by an existing social, political and religious order. It always points to a beyond, to a state of how things should be and are not. Which is a dynamism which I fear is lost when, in connection with nature mysticism etc., the focus is put exclusively on the "here-and-now".

IlĂ­on zei

"Oh, come on. I'll grant you that calling National Anarchism "far-right" was careless (in that "left" and "right" have lost much of their meaning anyway) but the National Anarchist current seems to be brimming with figures who previously made a career in groups commonly known as "far-right"."

They were know as "far-right" because "leftists" ... who, after all, have controlled public debate for generations ... decreed them to be "far-right." Not in any principled way, but simply becasue they could.

The defining characteristics of "leftism" are primarily hatred of the individual human being, and hatred of what exists. Thus, "leftists" are always for collectivism and "change."