Sunday , July 14 2024

2084: The Interregnum and the post-Liberal World

The world stands at the ‘Interregnum’ of modern history. We are at a precipice of a convergence of analogous threats; the majority of which have been self-inflicted. The threats go to the root of questioning key axiomatic principles of science. Innate qualities moulded by thousands of years of genetic tradition have been abandoned by post-modern conceptions of ‘acquired’ behaviourist thinking. This abandonment of scientific thinking occurs, however, within the realms of a ‘rational’ post -Enlightenment moral axis which posits ideas which are anti-human and anti-species. The humanitarian axis, so coveted during this current liberal phase of civilisation, has produced a catastrophic ‘pot pourri’ of thought; its antecedents being Rousseau and Marx and ideas which go against the natural sciences. The consequences for the west have been a ‘domestication’ of the population; this is where populations become genetically ‘weakened’ through phylogenetic interaction with the environment. The modern liberal world has continued an assault on tradition and innateness, rendering a ‘softening’ of western man. This has far reaching consequences in that it weakens abilities to fight existential threats (whether internal or external). These stem also from a mistaken belief in liberal universalist ideologies; that the liberal one is superior and exportable, liberalism being a successor to Christianity. Rather, in the spirit of Jakob von Uexkull’s ‘ Umwelt’ – civilisations exist independently and have their own ‘significant environment’, their own lived experience. Innate aspects produce a distinct notion of good and evil; this is founded on genetic adaptation to the environment rather than Christian morality. Therefore, the mechanism, analogous to cells fighting disease, enabled human groups to counteract threats to the group, to fight internal threats, institute a hierarchy and order to stop aggression. Liberal societies have evolved from ‘cultural’ entities to ‘civilisational’ ones- cultural countries look inward to tradition, to community, to ritual. Civilisational states, the likes of the UK, France, the US, for example, are exporting their conceptions of rationalism and embody ideas such as globalised culture, trade and trans-global elites. Therefore the ‘Interregnum’ of the present; the convergence of the world to materialism, the precarity of ‘resource’ wars, and the rise of ‘Panopticon’ (Bentham’s circular prison of the nineteenth century) states in Russia and China, are the precursors to a profound shift in the ‘telos’ of the post Enlightenment world. Orwell’s prophetic 1984 is already upon us. Kant, in his essay ‘Perpetual Peace’ maintained that peace could only come about by one of two ways- human reason or insight or massive catastrophes, wars which offer humanity no other choice but to desist. We have jettisoned the first possibility due to irrational materialism and ecology limits, through global capitalism. Western man, by usurping his environment, by failing egalitarianism, has weakened ideas of tradition, community. The sacred individual, the atomisation of man and the uprooting of humanity will lead to the catastrophic alignment of technology and materialism and to perpetual war.

In ‘The Twilight of the Idols’ Nietzsche cautioned on the deleterious qualities of liberal values:

“Liberal institutions cease from being liberal the moment they are soundly established; once this is attained no more grievous and more thorough enemies of freedom exist than liberal institutions! One knows of course what they bring about: they undermine the Will to Power, they are the levelling of mountain and valley exalted to a morality, they make people small, cowardly and pleasure loving-by means of them the gregarious animal invariably triumphs. Liberalism, or in plain English, the transformation of mankind into cattle.”

Now, at this point of the ‘Interregnum’ we face a profound, almost pathological, self hate amongst liberal states. This has its progenitors in Rousseau’s ‘social contract’ and Kant’s ‘categories’; the attempt to impose on instinct the abstract nature of reason. This was the legacy of the Enlightenment assault on metaphysics, spirit and nation. Through the nineteenth century liberalism and egalitarianism proceeded to infantilise man; through utilitarianism, protestant morality. Europeans become alienated, atomised individuals, a move necessary for industrialisation and advanced capitalism, but this phylogenetic equilibrium between man’s innate structure and ‘environment’ has been damaged. Homo sapiens, placed into an environment of ‘individual terror’ become deformed, nihilistic. The liberal credo preaches then a universalist, global message in the twentieth century, as if we have indeed found the ‘end of history’. The modern world offers no escape for humanity for history has become one of linear ‘progress’- historicism allows no jumping off point, unlike traditional circular or seasonal civilisation, no respite from the horrors or wars. The implications, illustrated as early as the 1950’s by Burnham in ‘Suicide of the West’, have greater and greater risk, as the Panopticon states bypass liberalism and embrace authoritarian Caesarism, Spengler’s final stage in the decline of civilisation. The current conflicts with Russia and China are symptomatic of the dilemma facing the Occident; shackled in Plato’s cave of reason. The weakness of liberal elites, and the demise of the elder statesman has resulted in a paralysis of policy wherein liberal states attempt to react to aggression with liberal gestures, by sanctions, by UN declarations, through proxy wars. There is a ‘fatal tepidness’ in the west. Konrad Lorenz, in 1940, remarked that ‘In the prehistoric period of humanity, selection for hardness, heroism, social utility etc, was solely achieved by hostile external factors. Today, this role must be taken up by a human organisation’. Man has ‘delegated’ freedom, choice, even history to the accumulative ‘trahison de clercs’ of modern elites. Liberalism develops a hyper- sensitivity to pain; materialist culture becomes a fatal boredom, real joy replaced by the instantaneous gratification of technology. This weakness and passivity, erroneous at once to the individual, has also dramatic consequences for the group. The group, personified in the nation state, becomes a victim to fifth columns at home and tyrannies abroad. Natural selection leads to adaptation wherein the organism incorporates data from the natural environment. It is, however, at the group level of selection that structures and institutions, states etc are formed. Humans are hard-wired to protect and account for group preference- but erosion of the phylogenetic environment by individualism has forced modern man into inertia. This group mechanism becomes filtered down by erroneous individualism in the external environment. This is why the notion of ‘individualism’ is contradictory to the pursuing of legitimate state interest and nationhood.

It was Rousseau who idealised the state of nature- that paradisical human epoch where man lived at peace until the introduction of civilisation. This attitude, which inhabits Marxism, Structuralism, The Frankfurt School, remains prevalent, for example, in Rutger Bregman’s ‘Humankind’. It remains the default position of western journalism from the Guardian to CNN. It is this lily-livered melancholy which is at the heart of the current foreign policy debacles and which pose the greatest existential threat to the west. It is the same ideological blindness which perverts the notions of biological sex or argues that males can reproduce. It was the same ideological fetishism which, in the Soviet Union, promoted imbeciles to the top echelons of science, for since Stalin was ‘The Engineer of Human Souls’, behaviourism and the ability to ‘construct’ the environment, and therefore man, was the only ideology in town. This miasma of deceit is now running amok in western universities, institutions and corporations.

Liberal exponents of foreign policy in the twentieth century reflected this myopic understanding of evolution/innateness. This, combined with globalised theory and neo-liberal economic thinking has placed mankind on the existential precipice. The precursors to these fallacies date back to the nineteenth century when John Stuart Mill described the new colonisations as ‘outdoor relief’ for the upper classes. Norman Angell in his 1909 ‘The Great Illusion’ forecast that the internationalisation of trade, division of labour would make war obsolete and militarism unprofitable. However what Angell failed to see was the economic concept of scarcity, especially in key resources. Therefore, conquest can result as a feature of ‘asset protection’. These are situations which can result in traditional war i.e. Ukraine or economic war, as in the Chinese economic diaspora in Asia and Africa. Joseph Schumpeter in the 1950s put forward the idea that capitalism itself rendered states peaceful and opposed to imperialism. This indeed may have been the case when the champions of industry were the traditional aristocrats or mercantile class. But now, the nature of global transnational elites threatens the legitimacy of states- for the liberal elites move money cross border; their interests anti-national. Now, the economic interdependence of states, rather than being a beacon of peace, is now a harbinger of war. It is no mere coincidence that all of the world’s great empires were forged, not through doves, but through the mendacity of hawks. The British Empire was (rightly or wrongly) ‘perceived’ as, like Napoleon’s France, as exporting its values of liberating philanthropy or revolution. These Empires persisted as they turned force into obligation, in that the new citizens had a sense of mission, of benefit, rather than a mere extraction of surplus value (as in modern globalisation). Therefore, once the solidifying glues of nation, of tradition, of culture become extraneous, the state loses the concept of the political, to imitate Carl Schmitt’s definition.

The strategic consequences of liberalism as a foreign policy result in a naivety and under politicised reasoning; liberal foreign policy stems from a universalist and infant like belief in the ‘correctness’ of liberal democracy, its institutions and economic model. It was the historian AJP Taylor who said we never learn anything from history, but this repeated amnesia stems from a type of ‘atrophy’ which occurs as civilisations crash and burn, forgetting the credos and methods which made them successful. It is not as if we haven’t dealt with the Russians or the Chinese before- but to put the likes of Liz Truss or Joe Biden at the table, rather than Metternich or Talleyrand, is akin to arriving at the gunfight with a turtle dove to hand. In the 1970s the Chinese President Deng warned Kissinger that the Soviet’s would never be bound by agreements; but we systematically attempt to ‘bargain’ with Mephistopheles, despite their ritual breaking of contract. We know, through the Chinese 5th century military genius Sun Tzu that the ‘political’ and ‘psychological’ are key attributes of successful Chinese war. The Chinese, through millennia, placed great emphasis on intelligence and espionage, yet today, the west allows the Chinese to walk into every echelon of US and British institutions. It is the effete liberal philosophy which is incapable of defending the state from internal and external threats. There is the quite bizarre picture of MI5 recruiting on the basis of gender and ethnicity. However, ultimately, through the very nature of representative democracy, the west is caught playing the ‘short game’. Our horizons are short, we want immediate gratification, it is the ‘society of the spectacle’ which bores of interest overnight. How long will it be before the Ukraine is forgotten and they will say of Zelensky- “wasn’t he a comedian?”

2084 is the end game for humanity. Having not heeded the warnings of totalitarian threats the west has facilitated the growth and strength of the panopticon states. By entering a resource dependent globalised world the ecology of existential limits has been met. The ‘Faustian’ west, having entered a pact with Mephistopheles, becomes surrounded by him. The Chinese game ‘Wei Qi’ resembles the western counterpart ‘Chess’ but any method is superficial for the Chinese. To play Wei Qi requires patience, it requires the implementation of the ‘long game’. Chess is the game of Clausewitzian total victory where the king is destroyed in a quick, decisive battle. In Wei Qi the players seek a slow, relative advantage through a long campaign. To win at Wei Qi one needs to become the master of strategic encirclement. In this can be seen the long game of Chinese policy, through Mao and industrialisation, through commerce, the encirclement of the enemy, through Asia, Africa, through a new Silk Road. The Orient has ‘ridden the tiger’ of the Occident, and, like a great hunter, waits for the enemy to tire, to burn itself out from its stage of decadence.

About Brian Bolger

Brian Patrick Bolger studied at the LSE. He has taught political philosophy and applied linguistics in Universities across Europe. His articles have appeared in 'The National Interest', 'The Montreal Review', 'The European Conservative' ,The Salisbury Review, ‘The Village’, ‘New English Review’, ‘The Burkean’ , ‘The Daily Globe’, ‘ American Thinker’, ‘Philosophy Now’. His new book, 'Coronavirus and the Strange Death of Truth', is now available in the UK and U.S.

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