Postmodern Political Theory

Modern political theory rests on the Social Contract.  We all got this in grade school, so there’s no need to belabor it, but it’s important to remember the underlying assumptions:

  • Social Contract theory is designed to legitimize a Modern State; that is, a State that can only defend its people with firearms.  The main driver is technology.  The Premodern State was legitimized by God (the “divine right of kings” or some such), and that worked fine when wars were small, seasonal, and fought mainly by a warrior caste… but Modern wars are large, year-round, and fought mainly by militia.
  • A militia system requires some kind of representative government — call it “democracy” for convenience — in order to function effectively.  This in turn requires ideology.  See the Putney Debates for details.  (A militia system without ideology is Roman-style warlordism — each individual commander negotiating the payoff with his troops; what civil government there is, is always subsumed by the need to keep the army happy).  Here again, the English Civil War is the model — Parliament’s troops were ideologically sound, which explains both their military effectiveness and their legendary brutality, especially in Ireland.
  • This entails that, as the citizen’s primary duty is to help defend the realm, therefore only those capable of defending the realm are citizens.  Specific legal doctrines evolved to support this — couverture for women, minority for children.  (Old men who couldn’t physically fight paid taxes to support those who could).

All of these flow logically.  But Social Contract theory made one more assumption, all the more powerful for being unstated:

  • Social contracts are only valid between close kin.  No one would argue that wars between States are unjust because they break the social contract, even if we are all “kin” in some sense (all brothers in Christ, for example), and even though the State’s security is put at (at least theoretical) risk during wartime.  Borders were remarkably porous in the Early Modern period — if, say, an Englishman wanted to go live in the Netherlands, he just went there, bought a house, and went about his day.  No red tape, no paperwork, no official sign-off from anybody.  But that didn’t make him Dutch, so when England and the Netherlands had one of their frequent little wars, his life and goods were at considerable risk.  Put simply but not unfairly, that Englishman could never be Dutch, even if he lived there, spoke the language, and was utterly opposed to the policies of his “native” country.  He might think of himself as basically Dutch, but he wasn’t — he was covered by the English social contract, not the Dutch one, his own opinions and even actions notwithstanding.

The problem is, we no longer live in a Modern State.  We live in a Postmodern one.

Again, the main driver is technology.  We don’t operate under a militia system, because we can’t, as we learned at great cost in the Civil War.  Even 19th century armies were too technologically complex for weekend warriors to handle.  This is why conscription in the World Wars was “for the duration” — “nine-week wonders” can be thrown into combat knowing the basics, but they’ll take appalling losses… after which the survivors become the hardened professionals with which modern wars are won.

And, of course, we’re well past mass conscription in any case.  A main-force clash between, say, the US and China would end with the loser shooting off tactical nukes as it retreats, which would either end the war right there, or escalate it into a full-on ICBM exchange….

… either that, or any attempt at mass conscription would reveal what we all instinctively know to be true — we can’t draft a functional army, because our draft pool is made up of noodle-armed soybois, grunting savages, lardass neckbeards, and girls.  What if they held a war and nobody came?  Try drafting Millennials and you’ll find out, Moonbeam.

Which brings us around full circle.  What is a State for, then, if it’s not to provide for its citizens’ physical security?  We all know that “democracy” fails in practice — had The People been consulted at any point in the last 75 years, the United States would still be a White, Christian nation, safe behind our seas, far from whatever barbarities they were practicing in Europe and Asia.  Instead, we’re ruled by Hawaiian Judges.  But given the changes in technology, it would seem that the Social Contract itself no longer applies, even in theory — in a world with nuclear weapons, in a country that’s so rich even our “poor” people die of heart disease, what can we, the governed, possibly be consenting to?

I propose that the answer to “what is the State for?” is: Cultural security.

It’s quite clear that the combination of technology and democracy are lethal to human culture.  Left to our own devices, minus the evolutionary pressures that got us here in the first place, humans will choose lotus-eating.  We have over 100 years’ evidence for this.  The hot new artists of 1911, all classically trained, with the full panoply of human cultural achievement from which to draw, gave us Modern Art — futurism, brutalism, stream-of-consciousness, and the rest.  Google up Der Blaue Reiter — that’s the best Modern Art can do.  Max Nordau was right — our evolutionary success has thrown evolution into reverse.  What will the culture of Ingsoc be like?  Imagine Miley Cyrus twerking on a human face, forever.  Unless we stop it.

Will this entail a loss of some freedoms?  Of course.  But we’ve seen what people do with freedom.  It’s not the proles’ freedom we have to worry about, since they give that up without a second thought.  So long as they have their Soma, they’re fine.  It’s the freedom of the just-smart-enough-to-be-dangerous that we have to curtail.  They want to burn down the world because they’re bored, just like Modern “artists” did.  Getting “sent down to the countryside,” Mao-style, would do Soros, Bill Kristol, et al a powerful world of good.  Technology and democracy got us here; only technology and authoritarianism will get us out.

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8 thoughts on “Postmodern Political Theory

  1. MBlanc46

    1) There can never again be a military draft in the US (and probably Western Europe) because the feminists would demand that women be drafted. And most women (quite rightly) would refuse. 2) What the Left thinks that the state is for is to control every aspect of human life. 3) It’s a shame that you can’t warm up to modernist art because, although much of it is dreck (as is much of traditional art), some of it is delightful (including some Blue Rider).

  2. WOPR

    My theory is that any modern war will quickly devolve into a 1950’s style contest. All of that fancy electronic gear is going to be taken off of the board by EMP weapons. I figure every major power has them. On top of that, the GPS and commsats are going to get wiped out.

    Would that then escalate into a serious nuclear exchange? I’m not sure. More likely is that a major modern war shatters the major powers internally. We seem to be heading towards the disintegration cycle of things.

    1. Rod1963

      I don’t see it going nuclear.

      If we messed with Russia or China they’d simply send up a rocket loaded full of steel BB’s into low Earth orbit path of the GPS sats. Release the BB’s and cripple the GPS system for the world.

      Russia gave NATO a taste of this recently when they easily “jammed” GPS signals in a recent NATO wargame and sort of side lined it.

      What this means is terrifying:
      * Nationwide electrical grid collapse because it depends on GPS timing signals to sync up everything properly. Worse we don’t have a substitute for timing signals because it’s getting shut off.

      * International monetary transactions cease because of loss of same said signals.

      * Military weapons like drones, JDAM’s, cruise missiles stop working since they depend on those for guidance. Same for aircraft and Navy ships. There are work arounds for most but they aren’t easy.

      * Within 24 hours our high tech military would ground to a halt and with the U.S. offline we could not support any military effort.

      1. Pickle Rick

        The only “war” the United States is prepared and willing to fight, but not win, are the current crop of shithole countries we are fighting that lack a powerful patron.

        The new volunteer military, literally feminized and emasculated, and over reliant on technology as crutches to hide the rot, knows it cannot fight a conventional war against any opponent that is willing to take casualties while inflicting a blood price in return.

        There’s only one arrow in our quiver-air power- and that can, and will, be rendered ineffective. Our vaunted military superiority is a paper tiger. There no will to use it for the purposes it was originally created for. There’s an entire Marine division 30 miles from Tijuana, and not one of them is defending the border.

        1. Severian Post author

          It DID strike me, quite forcefully, that Tijuana is right next to San Diego, the Gateway to the Pacific, the home of not just Camp Pendleton, but some air bases, some SEAL training stuff, not to mention an entire fleet with aircraft carriers and whatnot…. just one of those “migrants” on the PLA payroll could alter the balance of forces in the Pacific.

          And yet, here we are. Gosh, it’s great to be a 21st century American, isn’t it? The Federales and the Tijuana Police — that’s the police force of Tijuana, fucking M-E-X-I-C-O — are far more determined, and competent, than the United States military. I’m almost to the point of welcoming our new Han Chinese overlords. Sure, it’ll suck, but the schadenfreude will be off the charts. You think Whitey is bad, Moonbeam? Wait until you get a taste of life under guys who think King Leopold’s Ghost is a how-to manual.

  3. Skedastic Racket

    The kin part is one of those things I think is a major driver behind white collapse as a society. How many siblings does the average white person have? 1, maybe 2 in the last 3 generations?
    The sense of belonging really gets left unfulfilled if there is no family to belong to. No wonder people seek belonging in corporate life and socially constructed ephemera. The family they grew up in was empty.

  4. Frip

    Severian: “We all know that “democracy” fails in practice — had The People been consulted at any point in the last 75 years, the United States would still be a White, Christian nation, safe behind our seas, far from whatever barbarities they were practicing in Europe and Asia. Instead, we’re ruled by Hawaiian Judges.”

    Had to stop there. Too funny. Yet depressing. Man o man it’s been one sad day.

  5. Al from da Nort

    What if WWI and the cultural rot of 100+ years ago had a common cause, namely elite degeneration, and were not cause and effect as postulated in the conventional wisdom. My evidence for this flight of fancy is that it is pretty obvious that great art was produced for most of history under hands-on elite patronage *spending their own money*. It was a prestige good in competition with peers.

    All of a sudden art turns to crap shortly *before* WWI, not just immediately afterwards. Why_?

    And the elite of the West craft an international system that could not be maintained by their own next generation, hence WWI. Why_?

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