2: The World That Is No More.
3: The Prophets of Fascism. (Part 4B2).
4: The American Experiment in Liberty Has Failed.
America is a fascist country and so is every other- so we claimed in part A.
Now, we begin to set out our reasons as to why this is so.
(Because of the size of this section, we have decided to break it down into three smaller sub-sections.)
Without doubt, this is a claim that can be contested, debated and rejected with plenty of arguments to the contrary.
For one, a theory that purports to explain everything explains nothing; thus, the claim is meaningless.
In a sense, this is correct but in another sense it is not.
What’s wrong with the claim is that it glosses over many interesting differences and useful distinctions. For instance, it throws together both Communism and Progressivism along with what would be seen as the clear exemplars: Italian Fascism and German National Socialism.
Yet, in another sense, it does seem accurate to place all of these political systems in the same category.
To appreciate this point, one needs to change one’s perspective.
Consider, for instance, adopting the framework of a 13th Century Catholic philosopher; then, imagine reviewing, in fast forward, all the events of the subsequent 700 hundred years.
Again, obviously, we are painting with a “broad brush” here, but that is the point.
To mix metaphors for the third time, we are zooming out and taking a panoramic shot of the political landscape of the last millennia of Western Civilization.
The practical upshot of claiming that all modern political systems are fascist is that because it is such a strange, disconcerting – even appalling – claim, it stuns your interlocutor and makes them think things through from scratch.
A different way of describing what we mean by fascist is “totalitarian” or “democratic totalitarian”.
The term is intended to capture, not only an ideology that is all pervasive and encompassing of every aspect of life, but that this ideology is married to social and physical technology that allows the state to enslave, imprison, medicalise and militarise everyone depending on the needs of the state.
Crucially, what should be horrifying, but isn’t, is that the vast majority of people never think or feel that anything is fundamentally wrong with the scope and scale of the state.
Fascism, and all it entails, unlike a simple despotism, is brought about by the “people”, for the “people” (or so it might seem).
Some people do, of course, look upon the might of the Minotaur and tremble, but their outrage is narrow and their perspective is limited. Other people, outraged at some issue, will then go on and propose another outrage.
With some exceptions that wax and wane, the general mood is one apathy and indolence, punctuated by brief moments of fear and confusion and anger.
The modern state is a criminal enterprise and the daily outrages that make up its bread and butter would stir people to violent action.
But in place of violence, voting takes place instead.
Consider the following comparison.
Northern Ireland, for many decades, underwent a low-level civil war. Three players carried out violence – for different reasons. Firstly, there were Celts, secondly, there were Picts and thirdly there were Anglo-Saxons.
The warrior elements among the Celts, operating in the long tradition of Celtic resistance to Anglo-Saxon domination, carried out acts of violence that, finally, took out some the top players from among the pillars in the Saxon State: The monarchy, the military and the parliament.
The reasons for the Celts actions are long and detailed, but what motivated and sustained the violence from the 1960s to the 1990s was the claim that Celts were discriminated against, in both law and custom, by Picts, while the Anglo-Saxons turned a blind eye to the indignities.
All in all, the Celtic warriors killed Saxon knights, Pictish peasants and warriors and Anglo politicians.
Our purpose here is to simply draw attention to the fact that the Celts waged bloody war against the Anglo-Saxon state – and some still do.
Now, imagine if – IF – the Anglo-Saxons had decided to rape hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Celtic children, laughed about it, and then passed the Celtic children around the country like parcels.
What do you think the Celts would have done about that?
We can only imagine.
Yet, there has been such a rape.
But it was not Celtic children who were raped (the Anglo-Saxons would never have dared); the raping and torturing was done to low-born Anglo-Saxon peasant girls by high-born Anglo-Saxon priests.
Of course, the high-born priests did not do the raping themselves – they farmed it out to their mercenaries.
But what did the Anglo-Saxon peasants do? Did they act like Celtic peasants and warriors?
Because the Celtic peasants viewed the Saxons, their state and all its pomps, after long and bitter historical experience, as their enemy.
The Anglo-Saxon peasants, by contrast, either viewed the Saxon state as their friend and protector or didn’t think there were any difference between them, the state, and the priests who control it.
The Celts used to shout: “SS RUC!”
The Celts viewed the Saxon controlled Pictish police, the Saxon military and the Saxon state as their enemies, because they were in their lands: Celtic Lands.
The peasants of the past understood that when they saw an agent of the “state” (the taxman, the soldier,) it meant blood and taxes.
Medieval peasants understood the difference between predator and prey.
Modern peasants do not.
Medieval peasants had no illusions about their power, or their rights; they did not consider themselves “sovereign people”.
Modern peasants, however, are filled with all sorts of illusions about their power and their rights; they consider themselves “sovereign”, as if they were a state within a “state”.
2: The World That Is No More.
Our first source for re-framing our view of modern, mass politics and the state is from philosopher Frank Van Dun and his essay Uprooted Liberalism and Its Discontents (H/T to Michael Rothblatt who introduced me to this essay).
The goal here is to reflect upon the contrast between the pre-modern and modern theory and practice of the state. The essential, paradoxical, difference is the scope and scale of the modern state with its controlling, predatory tendencies and the fact that this is endorsed by the great mass of people. In other words, in a modern state, people are both slave and enslaver.
From the stateless Middle Ages to State-dominated Modernity
In the space of a thousand years, Latin Christendom refashioned a world of wandering tribes of hunters and gatherers into a civilization of farmers, traders, craftsmen and learned doctors, living in impressive fortresses and monasteries and in thriving towns, cities and ports connected by long-distance trade routes over land and sea.
Territorial states were difficult to establish in the medieval period because of the principle that political (essentially military) power rested on personal allegiances between freemen.
Thus, the feudal lord-vassal relationship was not a transitive relation: A vassal of a vassal of a lord was not the lord’s vassal, unless he had made himself a vassal of that lord. Even when a vassal was bound in law to provide armed assistance to the king, his vassals were not under an obligation to do so. This arrangement severely limited a king’s ability to raise large armies, if the majority of his subjects did not perceive his cause as just or in their own interests.
This fact is crisply illustrated in this scene from Game of Thrones.
In short, men were free if they could defend their freedom by fighting.
Medieval kingship had originated in a relationship of trust between the king and his people, but that trust was exploited by the kings when they discovered that power could be bought.
See our thoughts on power, pay and perks here.
They enthusiastically embraced Julius Caesar’s maxim, “With men take money; with money buy men.” Whenever trade expanded, the Crown moved to get a piece of the action. Imperial Rome was back, albeit on the much smaller scale of what would soon be called ‘the nation-state’.
By the 16 the century, kings were deeply involved in economic life by offering to commute feudal duties into money payments; and by selling exemptions from feudal duties, monopoly licenses and other privileges, honorary and vacant titles, and even offices, and attests of creditworthiness for use in foreign trade.
Alongside the old medieval nobility, which continued to resent the growing power of the monarch, new aristocrats appeared who owed their titles and estates to his favours.
In the next paragraph, we see the fulcrum of the transformation before us:
Eventually, the kings succeeded in enforcing systems of regular taxation, occasionally auctioning off tax-farming licenses to private companies. They discovered that they could use their rapidly expanding power to tax as collateral in negotiating loans with well-connected financiers, able and willing to divert savings from productive into political investments: expensive state-of-the-art weaponry such as heavy cannons and battleships; standing armies and police forces; and permanent bureaucratic, technocratic, military and police departments of the State with offices, garrisons and, at a later date, prisons throughout their kingdoms. If that was not enough, monarchs could, and many did, debauch the currency by abusing their traditional prerogative of minting coins.
Then, a few hundred years later, the “liberals” fearing the power of the “Leviathan” attempted to tame the beast.
Early 19th-century liberals (and the original Liberal parties and movements) embraced the Lockean proposal for taming the Leviathan State.
That proposal was at the heart of what became known as ‘classical liberalism’. Its medieval roots in the opposition to the rise of the State were all but forgotten. Nevertheless, among classical liberals, the medieval distrust of the State and aversion to taxes and coercive regulation of the daily life of private households lingered on. A century later, even those traces of the origins of liberalism began to fade into oblivion as liberals and others had become enamoured of Rousseau’s concept of the people’s collective autonomy, albeit modified to accommodate the Lockean idea of entrusting legislation to a representative body.
The new rage was “democracy”.
Uprooted Liberalism and Its Discontents Frank Dun.
The transformation is stunning and the reality, as opposed to historical fantasy, is that the state grew via war, bribery, extortion, murder and manipulation.
War made the state and the state made fascism because fascism makes for fighting.
The role that technology plays is, in contrast to some alternative theories, not essential, but auxiliary: technology simply allows the centralizing power to manipulate and militarise – on a mass scale – the minds and bodies of the masses.
The modern state is a machine and control of this machine is a matter of life and death. Elites, Essentials and Expendables are, therefore, compelled by the logic of the situation to compete for power and security.
The men, and their machines (political parties and ideologies) that are the best adapted to gain and maintain power will control this machine.
A monstrous machine. A Minotaur.
(In the next part, we examine a passage from Erik Von-Kuehenlt Leddhin’s Liberty or Equality; then, we turn our attention to America specifically, and examine the Founding Father’s arguments surrounding Imperium in Imperio in Bernard Bailyin’s Ideological Origins of the American Revolution.)