A Political Philosophy Wrapped in a Rant

This piece is really about the DMV not shining in comparison with the free market -- a point against which none of us are likely to argue -- but it is framed in an interesting account of the state.
[B]anditry frequently degenerates into a protection racket, a relatively modest tax on criminal enterprises and non-criminal enterprises alike. Protection rackets have their own challenges: For one thing, you actually do have to provide some protection, mainly from other predators like you. Over the years, economic success and administrative demands eventually transform bands of roving bandits into bands of stationary bandits. One popular theory of the state — one that is pretty well-supported by the historical evidence in the European context — is that this is where governments come from: protection rackets that survive for a long enough period of time that they take on a patina of legitimacy. At some point, Romulus-and-Remus stories are invented to explain that the local Mafiosi have not only historical roots but divine sanction.
Cf. Aristotle's account:
The family is the association established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants, and the members of it are called by Charondas 'companions of the cupboard,' and by Epimenides the Cretan, 'companions of the manger.' But when several families are united, and the association aims at something more than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be formed is the village. And the most natural form of the village appears to be that of a colony from the family, composed of the children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the same milk.'...

When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best.
I would say that there is a sense in which both are true for America, for example: the frontier was settled by families who came together in marriages and formed ever-stronger communities (Aristotle), with very limited support from a distant government that claimed authority and the right to tax (Williamson). The American Revolution is the elimination of the 'stationary bandits' by the Aristotelian states that had formed on the frontier. So we began in the right way, surely.

And yet here we are.

We need a better account, one that does not look for the evil as bred in the bone, but one that recognizes the evil as a corruption of what was once healthy. It won't lie in the traditional analyses of what went wrong with America -- not in slavery or racism, I mean, for America has proceeded against those evils as resolutely through its history as any diverse nation is likely to do. It is, rather, a turning away from the favoring of the small Aristotelian cells of natural government in favor of a stronger, alien state. It is, likewise, about the turning away from the natural producer of the smaller Aristotelian governments -- the family, and those brotherhoods of table and church that Aristotle describes later in the Politics:
It is clear then that a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families and aggregations of families in well-being, for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life. Such a community can only be established among those who live in the same place and intermarry. Hence arise in cities family connections, brotherhoods, common sacrifices, amusements which draw men together. But these are created by friendship, for the will to live together is friendship. The end of the state is the good life, and these are the means towards it. And the state is the union of families and villages in a perfect and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honorable life.
I suppose we might say that it is a turning away from the natural toward the artificial, but that wouldn't do for Aristotle: he thought it was the purpose of art to bring to fulfillment and perfection that which nature had, for whatever reason, left incomplete or imperfect.

Perhaps it is a good place to begin an inquiry, in any case. There are levels of government and forms of governance that, if it were all to disappear tomorrow, we families would move to come together and re-establish. These levels and forms are healthy. What more?

1 comment:

Ymar Sakar said...

The whole point of the Southern Plantation system was to use slaves as property in order to ensure aristocratic families could always lord it over the mass of normal poor white families, politically, economically, spiritually.

Of course it won't come from the traditional view of that. The traditional view is wrong, and the other one, the Leftist view, is also wrong.

The North did not end slavery 2.0 and the Left is responsible for continuing Slavery 2.0 and refining it into Slavery 3.0, so what they have to say is meaningless.

What got Reconstructed wasn't the South, but American history over why slavery existed and who benefited.