As we noted yesterday, the United States is organized under the Enlightenment myth, and the Enlightenment’s assumptions — blank slate equalism, Reason — are false.* Man is not the Rational Animal; Man is the Occasionally Reasoning Monkey.
So: Human society doesn’t result from a “social contract” between autonomous individuals. Thomas Hobbes gave us that idea, and as much as I love him, he’s wrong — there’s a social contract, all right, but it’s both broader and simpler than he suggests. The Hobbesian state of nature is a war of all groups against all groups, and the terms of the contract, when you get down to it, are: Submit, or be wiped out to the last man. Since most groups don’t choose Masada, they get absorbed into the conqueror’s group.
Which sets the stage for inter-societal conflict. In pretty much every way that matters, human culture is inter-social conflict — the tensions between groups battling it out for dominance over limited resources produces all art, all philosophy, all politics, all religion. (Yes, even religion. Marx was right about that, too, may he roast in hell — religious conflicts, too, are power struggles among contending elites, as proven by their results. No Torquemada, Luther, Cromwell, etc. ever retires quietly to the monastery after imposing his vision on society, does he?) “Contending classes,” as Gumplowicz called them, organize around a myth that lets them challenge the current elite and their organizing myth.**
The American and French Revolutions are a good example. Both are children of the Puritan Revolution in England, in which the dominant class’s organizing myth of “divine right” was successfully challenged by the contending class’s myth of “universal rights.”*** Now codified as “The Enlightenment,” universal rights theory worked better to organize and motivate larger numbers of people to rebel against their sovereign…. and to consolidate the Revolutionaries’ power once they’d won. This is the pattern in all revolutions, most certainly including our own.**** Problem is, all organizing myths are, you know, myths — eventually they’re exposed as fakes. The Enlightenment’s blank-slate equalism is as obviously, farcically false as the old Divine Right of Kings. Not too many folks are ready to die for it these days.
These days, of course, the reality of inter-social conflict is obvious. We call our contending classes “races,” and it’s obvious they’re engaged in a war of all against all. It’s equally obvious that our political system, based as it is upon the old-and-busted Enlightenment myth, can’t handle naked racial conflict.
So it won’t.
A new organizing myth will arise, because it has to. One that sanctions naked racial self-aggrandizement, based on a different — more realistic, because more true to the science we all fucking love — conception of man. And it just so happens that we have an old myth that fits the bill exactly… but nobody knows that it’s old, because what “everybody knows” about Fascism is wrong.
Part III soon.
*Nothing here is original to me, by the way. Most of it comes, as I recently found out, from an obscure Austrian thinker named Ludwig Gumplowicz. Not much of his stuff is available in English, but A. James Gregor lays it all out in detail in The Ideology of Fascism. It’s also pretty much standard-issue Social Darwinism (which, like every other good idea from the 19th century, pretty much means the opposite of what “everybody knows” it means. Thanks, American educational system!).
**You can call an organizing myth an “ideology” if that makes you feel better, but it’s still a myth.
*** Social contract theory comes from the English Civil War. Hobbes and Locke needed to explain the disorder. Hobbes, who lived through the Civil War, wanted to craft a political system which would prevent another round of horror. Locke, who kinda liked the horrors of the Civil War, wanted to justify what he saw as a precursor to the new dawn of liberty in the Glorious Revolution.
****Which is why it’s so fun hearing Lefties cite the Founding Fathers as an example of “resistance” to “tyranny” these days. Among professional historians, “everybody knows” that the American Revolution was fundamentally a conservative revolution, wherein the Founders — you know, those white male slave owning patriarchal gun nuts — rebelled to preserve their privileges that were being threatened by George III and his mercantile system.