A Post-Post-Politics

The post-politics of consensus infects the modern world of discourse, even with the recent rises of populism and the increasing inability to see legitimation flowing from a wide variety of peoples caught up in these post-political processes. Post-politics is the regimentation of democracy and the incrementalism of centralisation, constantly moving toward higher degrees of authority while trying to mask the naked political power that lies beneath. It is political violence wrapped in a velvet glove, that talks of the beneficence of taxation and the humanism of the state, anthropomorphising such structures as the innate figures of progress. When one questions the coercive nature of statism, a supporter of post-politics (normally self-identifying with the tribe of centrism) responds with the idea that consent is found through the ballot box. The state thus becomes the realisation of multiple wills, all heterogeneous but somehow homogenised when the vote has been counted. Such is supposedly accomplished with the range of quasi-state organisations, including independent regulatory authorities and forms of non-governmentalism, that are meant to represent ‘civil society’. Thus the state is in one sense decentralised, as certain tendencies are removed from the overt control of politicians. Yet the authority is continually centralised, as these auspices of power increase, never fully removed from the politics that originally created them. Independent central banks are not removed from the vagaries of politics, as they hold their belief systems and ideologies surrounding finance and regulation. QE itself can be seen as a purely ideological project, focused on a particular distribution of wealth. In fact all political bodies contain their own epistemic communities and distributional coalitions that are inherently political, holding interests that favour themselves in a zero-sum game of rentierism. Such is the reality of post-politics, the expansion of the state alongside its supposed depoliticisation and decentralisation.

The stupidity of this system of post-politics has been evident with the rise of national populism through its various electoral victories: Trump, Brexit and the explosion of alternative media. The organs of post-politics have been neutered rather effectively, either retreating into their electoral enclaves or attempting to recast politics as a form of expertism, that should not be fully under the whim of the masses. Its self-belief has been blown apart as they begin to realise that their positions are actually precarious, and thus responses are increasingly turning toward the recasting of politics, denuding its covert belief in the state. Such was Theresa May’s strategy with the recent UK general election, and look how that turned out.

Foundationally, the post-political consensus cannot cope with the crises of legitimation and polarisation it has brought forth. It has no answer to political violence between particular tribes, as with the ideological and political battles that emerged in the United States with the election of Trump. Post-politics is fundamentally about forging consensus around particular issues, declawing the state while maintaining its hegemony. It is a narrowed dialogic democracy, where major policies are off the table while those of lesser concern are talked about incessantly. It is meant to be anti-tribal, focusing on the importance of national power and an integrated international order. However, with this increase in political violence, an interesting current has taken over the centrists. While before they encouraged the strength of the polity, dissidents amongst their ranks now talk of secession, whether that be nascent London nationalism or Calexit. They’ve begun to talk in a tribal manner, beginning to recognise that they will never understand the concerns of a militia-member in Texas or a post-industrial worker in Pittsburgh. They no longer see democracy as the fundamental aim of their axiomatic positions, as they criticise the tyranny of the majority.

This is interesting precisely because its moves away from the conceptions of centralisation that normally inform centrist thought. Their thought is no longer regimented along the lines of a humanistic statism, as they recognise they’d rather not share the polity with other ideological currents. This then seems to be a post-post-politics, one that is more adhoc and flexible, that looks to exit and divorce rather than consensus and homogeneity. Thus out of the chaos of political violence has emerged a decentralist tendency amongst certain types who before would have disavowed it outright. As someone who follows a decentralist set of axioms, I want to see this situation exploited as best as possible.

Where there are movements for secession and breakaway, they should be encouraged no matter their starting foundations. This is why I’ve supported Scottish and Welsh nationalism despite its proclivities toward the most moronic forms of socialism and statism. The inevitability, as seen with SNP governance in Scotland, is that such new states will begin to have crises of their own, fomenting new movements and breakaway systems that further limit to scope of centralised political authority. Chaos will ensue, and new opportunities will flow from this creative destruction. Now this is not to say that actions in supporting these breakdowns shouldn’t be ameliorative. There should be forms of structure and institutionalism that allow for alternatives to develop and cultivate themselves. But this should be through forms of spontaneity and heterogeneity that are indefinable outside the moment of their creation. Attempting to plan chaos simply places ourselves back into that system of regimentation.

A post-post-politics is precisely the inverse of post-politics. It is flexible, adhoc and variable, born out of chaos and within the radical-reaction dialectic[1], that pushes through radical change through a variety of organic structures that have their basis in understanding past structures, such as those of feudalism and the petty commodity production of pre-capitalist Europe that favoured decentralised forms of ordering and governance. It is within the interstitiality of the modern world that this will grow, pushing against the universality of egalitarian politics and the levelling effects of the subsidised consumer society. It will not necessarily negate violence, as these forms of polarisation tend to lead to particular forms of violence, akin to clan-esque border skirmishes. However, the structuration of violence under the modern state and international order can be limited under these systems of flexible decentralisation and fragmentation, allowing for exodus from the superstructural base of power and legitimation. In its stead revolutionary potentials can be brought forth, from assassination markets to deal with the makeup of the existing political classes to forms of societal exclusion and widespread property norms to deal with degeneracy and enforce mutual forms of inclusion and exclusion akin to Hoppe’s conception of radical privatisation. In the modern world, “we have a society pervaded from top to bottom by contempt for the law. Government, business, labor, students, the military, the poor no less than the rich, outdo each other in breaking the rules and violating the ethics that society has established for its protection”[2]. An apt description, that points in the direction of decentralised and delineated political/societal violence. Frankly, I’m glad all these groups have contempt for the law (the law itself being a glorified form of centralised violence) as it means that they can genuinely balkanise into their constituent units, fragmenting away from centralisation toward a decentralist tendency of political debate, dialogue and engagement (both violent and non-violent).

Nick Land sums it up best: “The one thing I explicitly and strategically would want to impose is fragmentation. Everything else is in the tactical relation to that. Certain questions… are ultimately tactical questions. The only strategic question is how can you break apart, I would say specifically, the Anglosphere. Any kind of project that exceeds that becomes a form of universalist aggression in danger of neoconservative overreach”[3]. It is a world that is fragmentary, heterogeneous and decentralist in tendency.

[1] https://thelibertarianideal.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/a-politics-of-resistance/

[2] Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale, 2007, 422

[3] https://syntheticzero.net/2017/06/19/the-only-thing-i-would-impose-is-fragmentation-an-interview-with-nick-land/

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