The People Reconsidered II

[continued from below]

What does all this have to do with political theory?

First, recall that all modern political theory is based on the “social contract,” which was a direct result of the English Civil War.  The “social contract” can’t exist without individuals.  I hope you’ll agree with me that in retrospect, that’s a serious flaw, but at the time it made sense, for the simple reason that all the individuals in England — that is, all the people whose opinions mattered, and thus whose buy-in was necessary for a legitimate government — were all assembled at Putney.

Cultural studies people love the word “encode.”  For normal people, it’s the Moonbat Signal — it’s the cue for all the wackos to come out of the woodwork, screaming about how The Lion King “encodes” fascism or some such.  But like everything academia craps out, there’s a nugget of truth in there, and it’s this: All functional groups share common assumptions, which show up in their language.  So when the boys at Putney, or at Philadelphia, started talking about the “rights” of “men,” they of course didn’t mean that their pronouncements applied to all humans.  “Encoded” in their language of rights were their assumptions about individuals: The “rights of Englishmen” meant “the rights of the people who are in this room right now, that said people can and will enforce at gunpoint.”

And there you have it: “Representative government” in a nutshell.  When the boys at Philadelphia pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to defending each others’ lives, liberties, and properties, they meant it.  But they also knew that, as the effective individuals in their societies, everyone else would follow along.  Joe Schmoe’s life, liberty, and property are secure, because he’s in George Washington’s community — because George Washington will go to the mattresses for George Washington’s life, liberty, and property, so Joe Schmoe will go to the mattresses for his….

….provided George Washington is there to lead him.  That’s the “social contract.”  A contract between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton is valid, because both men can, and will (and did) shed blood to enforce it.  Each man will kill, and risk death, on the other’s behalf.

So what happens, then, when there’s no George Washington?  When there are nothing but “individuals” in the modern sense — rootless, soulless, purposeless, useless bugmen who “exist” only through “social” media?  Again, please note that I’m not saying “there are no individuals in America.”  There are lots of them.  The problem is,

  • we don’t know who they are, so
  • they can’t possibly represent us, so
  • there is no “social contract” possible with them

even if we wanted one, which we clearly don’t.

“The people,” in short, don’t matter.  They never really did, but now we’re in a worst-of-all-worlds scenario, fetishizing “democracy” without the slightest understanding of what it is.  The individuals who rule us are not our “rulers,” on any political theory that makes sense…..

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4 thoughts on “The People Reconsidered II

  1. MBlanc46

    I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say, “We don’t know who they are”. Sure, we don’t know all their names, but we do know some of them. When every Rightist’s bete noir, George Soros, wants a couple of hundred demonstrators to turn out, they turn out. When the mayor of Portland tells the Portland police to stand down when Antifa run riot in the street, they stand down. That wacko dean at Oberlin said she could “turn the students loose” on that poor bakery, and she very probably could have done. On the other hand, when the windbags in Conservatism, Inc., say, “Thus-and-so has to happen”, thus-and-so never happens. And we’re even less influential than Conservatism, Inc. So, it seems to me that we know who the individuals are, by name or by description, but we simply don’t know what to do about them. Or, is there something that I’m missing?

    1. Pickle Rick

      Because we haven’t found our Samuel Adams or John Hancock or Patrick Henry or George Washington yet. We’re beginning to see the Committees of Correspondence in a nascent form, but the Sons of Liberty are far from the scene yet. It will take the modern versions of the Stamp Act, the clampdown on dissidents in real life and real repression when, (not if) the radical Bolshevik wing of the Democratic Party regains the executive power. Trump is the last peacetime president. The irrepressible conflict is coming. 2020 is 1860.

      1. MBlanc46

        Could be, PR, but if it’s 2020, it’s going to rise out of the ground ex nihilo, like those Mexican volcanoes. There’s certainly nothing that I see on the horizon that looks anything like serious resistance to the Left. Even on the electoral front, the cupboard looks bare. Trump’s presidency has provided cover for young nationalists and populists to step up and show some leadership in the Trump movement. The only guy that has taken advantage of the little bit of breathing room that Trump has provided is Tucker Carlson, and he’s nowt but a talking head, and one who could be decapitated in a heartbeat by Fox. Perhaps they’re out there. I hope that they show themselves soon.

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