a bitter melon

Domination Politics: Buchanan and The Alt-Right

It is apparent that the political consensus is shifting. Bedrock principles such as equal rights, due process, accountability and democratic legitimacy are no longer self-evident. In the West and elsewhere, it appears as if a kind of fatigue has crept into the sphere of political debate, a kind of weariness with the moral imperatives that flow from fairness, equality, and human rights.

It is possible to argue that this weariness is caused by a sense of socio-economical stagnation. That people have lost patience with the mostly procedural concerns of liberal democracy, because it has failed to deliver widespread stability, security and social progress.

But a new book by Nancy MacLean argues that this failure to deliver widespread progress is intentional, part of a comprehensive ideological program to delegitimize and destroy the government and democratic legitimacy.

George Monbiot for the Guardian:

The Guardian -- A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy (Jul 19, 2017)

It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century. To read Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, is to see what was previously invisible [...]

In one respect, Buchanan was right: there is an inherent conflict between what he called “economic freedom” and political liberty. Complete freedom for billionaires means poverty, insecurity, pollution and collapsing public services for everyone else. Because we will not vote for this, it can be delivered only through deception and authoritarian control. The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both.

Buchanan’s programme is a prescription for totalitarian capitalism. And his disciples have only begun to implement it. But at least, thanks to MacLean’s discoveries, we can now apprehend the agenda. One of the first rules of politics is, know your enemy. We’re getting there.

Interview with MacLean:

Slate -- What Is the Far Right’s Endgame? A Society That Suppresses the Majority (Jun 22, 2017)

Nancy MacLean, author of an intellectual biography of James McGill Buchanan, explains how this little-known libertarian’s work is influencing modern-day politics [...]

And by the mid-1970s [Buchanan] concluded that that was impossible, and that there was no way that poor people would ever agree … there was no way that people who were not wealthy, who were not large property owners, would agree to the kind of rules he was proposing. So that was a very dark work. It was called The Limits of Liberty. He actually said in that work that the only hope might be despotism [...]

We are at a crucial moment in our history, and we will not get another chance, by this cause’s own telling. They say again and again that this is going to be permanent, and they’re very close to victory. So I think we need to be really clear-eyed about understanding this and reaching out to one another without panic.

It is impossible to read this and not think of the rise of neo-reactionary / dark enlightenment / white supremacist thought.

These are all starkly elitist, anti-egalitarian modes of thought, connected by the belief that it is natural, and therefore proper, for one person or group to dominate another person or gorup. They venerate the ability of the strong to trample the weak.

What they forget is that it is the moral duty of the strong to protect the weak:

Code of Hammurabi -- Preamble (1754 BC)

When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

See also:

KPFA Radio -- Two Brothers Who Shaped Post-WWII U.S. Foreign Policy (Jul 3, 2017)

On today's show, host Mitch Jeserich interviews Stephen Kinzer, national cultural correspondent for the New York Times, about his book "The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War." The brothers controlled both the overt and covert operations of U.S. foreign policy in the 50's: one was Secretary of State and one was the head of the CIA. Jeserich and Kinzer discuss these influential but often forgotten figures.

ADL -- From Alt Right to Alt Lite: Naming the Hate (Jul 18, 2017)