GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

May 11, 2016

Proper Politics

Filed under: GA — adam @ 11:39 am

The reason why there is such a thing as politics, which we might define as “consequential disagreements” (that is, disagreements whose settlement is imposed on all parties), is uncertainty about property. There must be some certainty about property for there to be politics, which means that politics is only possible at a certain level of civilization; but there is not complete certainty, which means that politics indicates a still “civilizing” community. Property simply means recognized physical control over things that only one person could control, starting with one’s body. A completely ritual order, which sets rules concerning the use of all things, bodies included, has no property, even if it must have, here and there, elements of property (in shared tasks each person must have some specialized delegation, implying relative control over objects; the food one is placing in one’s mouth, the space one takes up, etc.).

There is uncertainty over property because the various property owners must acknowledge one another’s property—if I don’t accept where you have drawn your property line, or don’t think you should be allowed to do things I don’t approve of in your home, then I don’t acknowledge your property; or, at least, I only do so within limits; hence the uncertainty. The greater consensus there is within the community regarding the terms under which each acknowledges the property rights of the other, the less uncertainty and the less politics, because what, then, would there be to consequentially disagree about?

The traditional solution to uncertainty regarding property is the state—the state settles the uncertainty, in a more or less rule governed and orderly manner. The state, though emerges out of the monarchy, which itself capped perhaps the most certain property regime imaginable: the king owned either more land than everyone else, or owned everything; in the latter case there is no uncertainty, and in the former the king’s own power depends upon a high level of certainty, which protects his property above all. But the monarchy left too many without property, and when the various pre-property “elements” were sufficiently distributed among the propertyless, the system of property became too uncertain. The monarchy, in a more or less revolutionary manner, transitioned into what we now know as the state, in which the lesser propertied must acknowledge the property of others, most of whom have more, some of whom have much more, than themselves, in order for property to attain the needed degree of certainty. In modern society and democracy in particular, property is held at the pleasure of the lesser propertied.

Modern politics, then, is about what concessions must be extracted from the more propertied in order to persuade the lesser propertied to buy in. These categories don’t remain static—it is in the nature of the private property system to generate wealth, and hence more property, so that the lesser propertied often become more propertied and the more even more, sometimes much more. These changes affect the negotiations over the buy in of the less propertied. The state mediates these negotiations, and brokers compromises that erode property in various ways: employers, for example, can be forced to pay their employees specified amounts; employees, on the other hand, are forced to allow the state to extract a portion of their wages for broader social insurance purposes. This eats into the property rights of both, but facilitates reciprocal recognition of the other’s property. Political struggles then become concerned with the terms of those compromises, which keeps property uncertain, but, as long as the system works, not uncertain enough to lead any significant party to withdraw recognition.

The more certain property, the more disciplined the community—this is a maxim that implies reciprocal causality. The more certain property is, the more discipline will be a means of acquiring more of it and holding it more securely; the more disciplined members of the community become, the more they will insist on enhanced certainty. This “conservative” politics emerges in response to the leftist politics that finds it advantageous to keep unsettling property, to make the uses and distribution of property more and more open to debate and state intervention, and does so by denying the connection between discipline and property. This is an extremely reliable marker of the left: they will always want to make some use of property which is presently certain less certain, and they will do so by attacking the assumption that the certainty of use corresponds to the consensual interactions of a disciplined, civilized community. No, the left insists—some property owner, no matter how marginal, does not recognize others’ property in their current form on the fraudulent grounds of being less disciplined, and this insistence entails a more or less successful attempt to hold the entire community hostage to that one hold-out, or group of hold-outs.

The persistence of the left in leveraging the need for property recognition inevitably leads to the question, on the part of the majority of more or less contented property owners, of whose recognition we need, and why? In other words, hostage taking in the name of some minority who rejects not only the current uses of property but the very terms on which our respective uses of our own property are negotiated, must lead to questions regarding the boundaries of the community. Would it be more or less costly to simply cut the complainants loose? Since the state is predicated upon the inclusion of all present members and upon preserving the rules of future inclusion, and benefits from these ongoing negotiations, especially the intractable ones (because only the state could hold together these incompatibles, making it indispensable), the state makes such cutting loose prohibitively expensive. But this just raises the possibility of a cost-benefit analysis of the state, at least in its current form. That also raises the stakes, so such considerations only emerge if the pirateering of the left becomes intolerable. Obviously, the whole point of this discussion is to consider what happens if that is the case.

A substantial portion of the community—it need not be a majority, just enough so that the current community would no longer, in any meaningful sense, exist without it—must decide that its relation to the state must be dramatically reformed because the state no longer guarantees the needed degree of property certainty. The state, this one or some replacement, must lower the threshold for allowing complaints over the use of one’s property. Property must be made more certain. There will be disagreements—and therefore politics—amongst this portion regarding how certain is certain enough, how much short-term uncertainty is to be accepted in exchange for what probability of longer-term certainty. This portion must start to define itself as a community in terms underived from those given by the state: its members must carry on their politics “realistically,” rather than “nominally,” to reference the medieval epistemological dispute, which is to say no longer as citizens of the state but as… what, exactly?

The question is, once the process of recognition intrinsic to certainty in property can no longer be fobbed off onto legal procedures and political machinations, what means of ensuring such certainty can be invented or restored? The answer seems to me obvious: markers of trust and respect that had become secondary to or even prohibited by state enforcement of a kind of simulated trust and respect must be put in place. These will be markers of similarity in forms of discipline, which means similarity in family forms, in forms of shared decision making, in language, in manners, in criteria of “politeness,” in assumptions about rights to self-defense, and so on. The more acute the crisis the more markers will be multiplied: if you really need to trust others a lot, a couple of these markers will not be enough: you might insist on all of them. This means that those who have only a few or a couple of such markers will be excluded, and will either join with the state or splinter off into other groups—there may be attempts to retain them, simply in order to find strength in numbers, but with the kind of strength we are talking about here—sustained, civilization preserving strength—numbers become less important. The more markers are insisted upon, the more you can rely on meta-markers, i.e., markers that indicate that a particular person is highly likely to share your assumptions regarding work, property, sexual values, means of social interaction, education, and so one, and can hence be relied upon to engage with you in reciprocal recognition, ensuring the certainty, of, your property.

The conclusion is clear: as long as the left continues (and why shouldn’t they?) to double down on taking civilizational prerequisites hostage in the name of continually unsettling property so as to increase the value of its hostages and thereby further unsettle property… opposition to the left on the part of the dwindling majority will tend to take ethnic and racial forms—i.e., white solidarity. There are a lot of ways in which that could play out, prior to and following reconstruction of state/society relations, and various ways in which inclusion and exclusion in whiteness can be defined, various ways in which non-whites could ally with and/or co-exist peacefully with whites, but the basic tendency is, I think, indisputable, and we should all be prepared to develop terms of engagement with it. It may be possible to imagine resisting the left on the terms of the existing state-property configuration, but the fact that only those already transitioning to a race realist position seem at all inclined to refuse the left’s ransoms makes this more of a fantasy—indeed, the conservatives have responded to the alt-right anti-victimary race realists as leftists, i.e., by pointing and shrieking. Those who take the war against the SJWs as the primary political task, then, will find it necessary to expose, systematically, the gap between nominal citizenship (and the legal and political apparatuses defining it) and real markers of civilizational reliability. It is a primary strategy of the left to exacerbate that gap, because the formal criteria for ascertaining rights can be enforced by the state in the face of markers of reliability; the counter-strategy is to expose the resulting entitlements as deliberate repudiations of even gestures of reliability.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress