Nick Steves has posted this week’s reactionary roundup. He gave ‘Best of the Week’ to this essay by Mark Christensen, and it seems a good choice.
In the essay, Mr. Christensen quotes Mencius Moldbug:
All schools of libertarianism, whether Rothbardian or Randian or (nearly-stillborn) Nozickian, rest on the idea of limited government. Note the intrinsic absurdity of this concept. If some government is limited by its own volition, it can abandon these limits at any time. (Historical experience suggests that the “sacred-document” trick is of extremely limited utility in preventing it from doing so.) If the government is limited by some external power, it is not a government in the usual sense of the word, and we should direct our attention to the limiting power.
It is at this point that the libertarian typically reveals his inner democrat, and suggests that the sovereign power of the People will preserve liberty. First, this hasn’t exactly worked in practice. Second, true sovereignty demands actual military superiority, which may have existed in 1787 but has certainly gone missing since then. If the military of any modern country faced off against the rest of its population, each side being united, the former would win every time. And third, the State can escape this check quite easily, because it can indoctrinate its subjects to despise rebellion and love its motherly care.
Mr. Christensen continues:
The conclusion is simple: the nature of the state is that sovereignty is conserved. Due to its role as the central sovereign power, the state – or rather, the people who make it up – must develop a common set of normative values in order to operate. Because the state cannot brook opposition to its legitimacy to rule, it must therefore promote and inculcate these values in the population. Liberalism’s distinguishing feature – that it imposes no common good on its citizens – is revealed as a sham.
These are central reactionary ideas:
‣ That sovereignty always exists somewhere, and is conserved;
‣ That popular government, by slicing sovereignty into infinitesimals, makes possible its covert aggregation (by what Sir Henry Sumner Maine called “wire-pullers“) while creating a fiction, for the enfranchised multitudes, of owning a meaningful share of equably distributed sovereignty;
‣ That power is not, at bottom, physical in any way, but is rather a matter only of belief;
‣ That therefore politics, and power, are downstream, as Gramsci and the Frankfurt school understood all too well, from “metapolitics” — the laborious seeding of the culture with methodically inculcated values, and, where necessary, the uprooting of existing values to prepare the soil. (It is no coincidence, after all, that “cultivation”, “culture”, and “cult” all share the same Latin root cultus, which has, among its more familiar meanings, “worship” and “reverence”.)
Read Nick’s digest here.