Monday, May 15, 2006

The evolution of politics

Even if we have a notion of exploitation, a natural question is : what use is it ? Well, for one thing it helps us to understand how the system works and perpetuates itself. Another area where it is helpful is in exposing the false premises of historical change.

1. Human history starts with tribalism - as an extension of the structures already existing for other primates, who need to band together to defend themselves from predators. This need for social organization led, in turn, to the development of language and higher intelligence.

Tribalism is therefore not primarily a political construct but rather an organization borne out of necessity. And if you have a tribe, you need the alpha male to regulate the tribe's activities. But at this point there is no parasitic ruling class because parasites need pre-existing excess resources to exploit. Subsistence societies have no such excess resources.

2. As food production and metal working slowly progresses, you start to get excess resources. This permits the rise of a parasitic ruling class, which uses its brute strength to enforce its domination over groups of tribes, with the strongest at the top. This is your basic monarchy. In a monarchy, exploitation is privately owned (by the king or a very small corresponding ruling class).

Another thing that happens is the rise of knowledge and education. With this rise in education also comes a growing awareness of the concept of unfairness and exploitation. So you get the intuitive model, which I think can be easily described as : any concentration of power - be it political, economic, social - is exploitative.

So once this primitive understanding is arrived at, legitimacy is very difficult to achieve for a monarchy, because after all a monarchy is the most concentrated form of exploitation. You get a lot of rebellions, civil wars, coups, assassinations, and so on. This is how the symbiosis between the state and the church is formed. The church provides the justification for monarchic power (i.e. the king was chosen by the gods themselves, is a demi-god, etc), and the state provides the general control needed for religion to impose itself on an entire society.

So the desire arises for everyone to hold political power in some form, in order to counter the perceived exploitation. This leads to the downfall of monarchic beliefs and the rise of democracy - which had existed before - as a viable and more just alternative. Even though this is nonsense, it appears irrefutable to the person on the street, and therefore it wins out.

3. After WW1, you get the stronghold of democracy on the world. The democratic system is one where exploitation is not privately controlled, but rather socialized. While it is established with the naive intention of countering exploitation, it leads instead to its spreading. You end up not only with a bigger ruling class, but with the extension of toxic government intervention into social institutions.

... with the transition from personal (monarchical) to democratic (public) rule in particular, contrary to conventional wisdom, the decivilizing forces inherent in any form of government are systematically strengthened.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe, "Democracy : The God that Failed", p17
And the worst part is that democracy now makes this toxic ruling class look like a legitimate expression of the "will of the people", when in fact this extended ruling class has a whole set of new incentives which go completely against the interest of "the people", eventually completely taking over its "will". If you look at my list of exploiters, these are the segments of society that (apart from CEOs) are the most admired and revered. This is the perversion of the will of the people - making evil become good, force become peace, injustice become justice.

The ultimate goal is to create total equality of power, but this can only be achieved by a strong ruling class. Communism and fascism are, in this perspective, not freakish abnormalities but rather only extensions of the democratic assumptions. To quote Nock :
Many now believe that with the rise of the totalitarian State the world has entered upon a new era of barbarism. It has not. The totalitarian State is only the State; the kind of thing it does is only what the State has always done with unfailing regularity, if it had the power to do it, wherever and whenever its own aggrandizement made that kind of thing expedient. Give any State like power hereafter, and put it in like circumstances, and it will do precisely the same kind of thing.
Albert Jay Nock

People in democracies distrust capitalism. This can once again be explained by the implicit model of exploitation. Capitalism is based on voluntary trade, and in such a system the individuals who produce the most value will see the most trade of value with other people. Those who contribute the most to society rise to the top and gain a lot of power. This creates a concentration of power, which in the inherent model is exploitative. This means that no one who believes in democracy or its outgrowths can possibly understand capitalism. They live in a fantasy world where good is evil, production is degeneration, volutary trade is coercion, and poverty is virtue.

4. What will the future of political organization look like ? I think it's obvious that market anarchy is very unlikely to be the next step in this evolution. I am also rather realistic in that I think the ruling class and its exploitation will continue to expand. Even collapsed democratic systems in our time do not revert to something substantially different.

So we'd have to look at how democracies would lose their legitimacy, and the new beliefs that would emerge from that. My hypothesis would be that, as democratic structures become more and more global, there would be more and more complaints about the distance of power and the lack of accountability.

This may give rise to a community-based form of government. Such a system would be even worse than democracy, because the closer your oppressor lives from you, the more control he can yield over you. So I think there would be a tremendous opportunity for control, if the apparatus of government was concentrated at a very local level.

But once again, this is just a hypothesis. I actually have no idea on how democracy will actually lose its legitimacy. But the amount of propaganda being put out to prop up democracy tells me that such a day is not actually that far away.


Brandon said...

I think this is interesting. Still trying to digest it. I do believe that we can have some system of government that is egalitarian. I am a socialist. I do agree with your assessment of USSR style communism--it was just hypercapitalism. Interesting post am still thinking about it.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Wait--so we need to have some exploitation and some violence by a group of people against everyone else? How much is some?