Thursday, March 14, 2019

"What If Politics Can't Fix What's Broken?"


Charles Hugh Smith asks the question.

The unspoken assumption of the modern era is that politics can fix whatever is broken: whatever is broken in society or the economy can be fixed by some political policy or political process-- becoming more inclusionary, seeking non-partisan middle ground, etc.

What if this assumption is flat-out wrong? What if politics is incapable of fixing what's broken?

. . .

This is of course heresy of the highest order, for a belief in the supremacy of politics is the secular religion of our era. The orthodoxy is: there is no problem that can't be solved with a political policy: a tax cut, a new tax, a new incentive, a broader definition of criminality, and so on.

What if the status quo is failing for reasons that are beyond the reach of politics? Politics assumes that tweaking incentives and disincentives via rewards and punishments, centralizing control of assets and income streams and manipulating the issuance of currency and interest rates can fix any and every problem.

The limits of politics are the limits of government. In the present era, all government seeks to further centralize power and capital because the era's quasi-religious belief is that centralization is the solution to everything.

This is of course false. Centralization works until it becomes the problem, at which point further centralization of power and capital only speeds system-wide failure.

. . .

Government can't rescue a status quo which is failing due to negative return on investment (ROI), gross inefficiencies, the loss of trust in corrupt institutions , and all the other ills that are intrinsic to centralization of power and capital.

As a result, the greater the government's power, the greater the polarization as the self-serving elites seek to protect their share of the pie as the pie shrinks. Each camp becomes increasingly extreme, and compromise is recognized as a process that erodes every camp's power and income.

. . .

This is the politics of decline and collapse.

There's more at the link.

I think Mr. Smith has a point.  One can illustrate it by recalling Bismarck's famous remark that "Politics is the art of the possible".  If political progress becomes impossible, due to entrenched interests that each insist on their own self-aggrandizement at the expense of all the others, then politics itself - political discourse, free and fair elections, and the like - is, in practical terms, no longer possible.  Once politics is no longer possible, what takes its place?  Throughout history, the answer has all too frequently been civil (and sometimes military) conflict.  Therein lies civil war.

May God spare us from that in these increasingly dis-United States, and in all the other nations where entrenched special interests are trying to have their way over all the others at any cost.  For a good current example of that, see formerly Great Britain, where the will of the people (the Brexit referendum) is being blocked at every turn by the "remainers", who think they know better than the people what Britain - or, rather, what they - need.

(Clearly, the "remainers" haven't heeded another prescient warning from Bismarck:  "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made".  By exposing their shenanigans to the light of day, they've lost a great deal of credibility, despite all their protestations of wanting to do what's best for Britain.)

Peter

10 comments:

McChuck said...

Politics is war by other means.

White Christians must come to realize that they are a special interest group, and must fight tooth and nail for their survival as a people, a culture, a nation.

The Lab Manager said...

I'm going to be more than happy to round up leftist and send them to a concentration camp. These people need to be physically removed from society. A good number of them sadly profess to have 'education' which makes them all that much worse. Almost everyone of them is a parasite and they need the productive rural/conservative America more than we need them. And when they go the happy camps, it is imperative to fill them with all that 'duh-versity' they allegedly crave. Yeah, I hate these people already. And plenty of others on Team R that deserve the same fate.

C. G. R. said...

I'm afraid things are not as clear cut as you guys formulate - the Brits want to leave the EU but maintain the advantages of a single common market. The principles of the single common market are "free movement of goods, capital, services and labor" but they just want the first three without the last. That's pretty unfair especially considering they already had a privileged position in the Union (see the UK rebate for example).
The Brits definitely have the right of self determination and freedom of choice, but that doesn't mean the rest of the EU are going to continue to play their game. Sorry, but the UK have grown accustomed to push their interests before the rest of the EU members and the EU had a hell of a job getting somehow reasonable results from the UK. Now they don't need to play along anymore and the UK is slowly realizing they don't have a strong negotiation position anymore and short term they are going to loose a lot from the Brexit. If managed properly they may win mid- and long term, but that's a risky proposition in the current economic climate.
Don't get me wrong, I think that although the original idea of an European Confederation, as formulated by Winston Churchill was a nice idea, what we have now is a massive bureaucracy which increases government and regimentation. But there (still) is some good out of this chaos, and the single common market is one of these things.
Anyway, the Brits need to remember that "you are free to make your own decisions, but you are not free from the consequences of your decisions".

McChuck said...

CGR - When goods move from one country to another, that is trade. When people move from one country to another, that is migration and war.

These two things are fundamentally different.

Nate Winchester said...

Jonah Goldberg has talked about a similar idea multiple times over the years and I agree. Many problems government can't fix, it can only make things worse. Stable families, fathers raising their kids, a robots & healthy civil society, these will fix far more of our problems than any policy.

Jonah sums it all up as: government can't love you.

In relation to your post, I'd sum it up as: government can't fix the soul.

Will Brown said...

I see your Prussian, and raise you another:

"War is politics by other means."

I think the important lesson to be had here is that politics is always the answer, no matter what the question is or who's asking. Given the state of our current crop of politicos, it's probably inevitable that we will go to a "one person, one vote, until someone runs out of ammo" system of governance - for a very iffy value of that word. Needless to say, among the first group of casualties will be the cops, all of them (and probably the fire fighters too if LA '92 is any example) since they are our political enforcers, and in a devolution into pure democracy that makes them everyone's primary initial target.

No matter how that works out, it won't be any value of "good".

MadMcAl said...

McChuck

Trade is not necessarily free movement of goods. At least not in the way it is defined by the EU.
The common market is an enormous advantage, as it guarantees fee movement of goods (along with the rest) without ANY controls.
It allows the EU to act on international trade as an single entity with a market greater than the US.
But for that there have to be rules.
And one of the rules (that the members of the EU agreed on) is that movement of people between the member states is also unrestricted.
That has actually helped the Brits more than they want to believe. They got a workforce for the jobs they don't want to do for any price (meaning without these workers from eastern Europe they wouldn't get done at all, regardless how much they pay), while they export their pensioners at the cost of the hosting countries.
Now the Brexiters want to have all the advantages of the common market (relatively cheap imports, uncomplicated trade with the other EU members) without accepting the common EU rules and laws, and without accepting the costs for doing that.
And of course they are outraged that the rest of EU does not agree to that.

Will said...

MadMcAl:

I laugh when I hear people spouting this worn-out shibboleth: "They got a workforce for the jobs they don't want to do for any price...". That's just bullshit. It translates to "I'm not willing to pay a reasonable wage for this, so I'll import desperate people from an incompatible culture so I make more money". That way lies the death of a nation. You merely have to look at history to see the results of this bit of stupidity. In fact, the US is well on it's way to becoming THE historical example of it.

Pensioners (retirees) typically are spending money they saved, or retirement benefits, or both. Most countries are happy to get the income, and some restrict them to living in areas designated for outsiders, and/or don't allow them to own land. They generally have little influence or impact on the "host" nation.

C. G. R. said...

This whole polemic on cheap labor vs local workforce protection is always going to be there, and it relies on facts supporting both sides. Just look on the UK farmers' dependency on seasonal workers for specific crops as an argument for free workforce migration, and the complaints of IT consultants in the financial sector complaining of loosing projects to lower bids to "imported" specialists from Eastern Europe or India.
Personally I think the farmers have much more to complain than the consultants, but that's for the Brits to decide.
As for the thesis "when people move from one country to another, that is migration and war", it's not really the case here, is it? The single common market is in place on a smaller scale since before the EU and the workforce free movement hasn't been a problem inside the common market.
I'm afraid the Brits couldn't be bothered to play by the same rules as all the other members and refused to play any longer, but realized that this decision bared them from free access to the playground and all the nice toys. Now they are worrying because they don't have a plan on how to get to other cheap playgrounds...

McChuck said...

Ireland was conquered by the English after the Irish invited them in. Then they simply never left.

The Romans invited the starving Goths into the empire. The Goths went on to sack and burn Rome.

Let those with eyes, see. Let those with ears, listen.