Angelo Codevilla: Living With Politics as War

Codevilla's article at American Greatness argues that it's too late to make peace with the Left and that a counter-march through the institutions would be pointless. He argues for creating a strong separate conservative culture that would replace the Left-dominated institutions. He talks about boycotts, state nullification of federal laws, replacing universities, etc. It's a good article, although I don't know how far I agree with it. In the very long run, pushing for more balance at currently-Left-dominated institutions may be productive.

There are some specific recommendations he makes that I'd like to post about later, but it's a good read whether I get around to that or not.


Grim said...

I've been trying to talk people out of the 'politics as war' view for years, but more and more insist on it. War is a lot uglier than they think it is, and if we can't find a way to make it work there will be a lot of regret on their side as well as our own. It would be wiser, as well as more worthy, if we could accommodate each other.

douglas said...

The problem with that view, as I see it, is that the leftist ideology requires being 'at war' with those you merely disagree with.

It's been said before- you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

Once that's the path we're on, well, you fight wars to win- period. you don't tie your hands behind your back with rules the other side isn't observing (generally speaking- there may be some specific exceptions).

When the American left was mainly classical liberal, or even classical liberal with a bit of leftist thrown in, we could have 'politics-as-not-war', but once they got far enough to the left that Sanders had wide support and political correctness had essentially run amok, that was it- they had made it such that 'politics-as-war' was on. The only thing left to do is fight it.

Tom said...

Well, Codevilla still seems to be using it as a metaphor, or at least no more than the "cold civil war" sense of it.

I am also opposed to a hot civil war or insurgency. I think federalism is the answer, and I think that's Codevilla's overarching goal: Force the left to accept a return to real federalism.

I am pessimistic about the possibility, but maybe that's just the information sources I pay attention to. What do you think the odds really are?

douglas said...

I think that's about the best we can hope for, absent a big swing in political views back toward the right.

I have seen some signs that the generation coming up now may be moving that way. For instance, the popularity of Jordan Peterson. He seems mainly to be restating the old wisdom, the 'copybook headings' for a new generation who can see that the current popular 'wisdom' isn't. It gives one hope.

Grim said...

I've been talking to them about it for fourteen years, ever since the 2004 elections. The conversations have yet to win a convert to the idea. The problem is that they are convinced that their view of justice is in fact Justice, and allowing us to continue to live according to our ideals is accepting Injustice as a permanent feature of society. Their model for everything is the Civil Rights movement, in which the South (and Red America in the analogy to the present) was forced at literal gunpoint to 'evolve,' as they say. (Evolution is random and pointless, attaining its effects mostly by its failures dying off; but in the lingo of the Left evolution is directional, just as history is said to have an arc even though they have disposed of the metaphysical role of the God who would have provided it.)

Abortion is a good example. I view abortion as usually morally wrong (with a clear exception for cases in which the mother's life and the child's will both be lost otherwise; and a less clear exception for cases in which the mother or the child might die otherwise), and more than that, I think that their own views of good and evil ought to compel them to agree. The usual analysis of evil on the left is that evil is something like 'treating another as if they were not a full human being.' By this they mean that you are exploiting another human being for your own purposes, which entails (they think) a denial of their humanity to a greater or lesser degree. But abortion is the clearest possible example of that: literally denying that this human being is a 'person,' and thus not 'fully human'; and thus disposable at the will of another if she decides that is the best way to fulfill her own purposes.

Yet on the Left's view, abortion is not only treated as non-evil but access to abortion is treated as a necessary good. Any particular abortion may be regrettable (or not, if the child had Downs syndrome or something); but making sure that every woman can abort any child at will is a political necessity. Restrictions on abortion in Red America are treated as an affront to Justice that requires Federal intervention to force our compliance.

This year, firearms have clearly ascended into that plane. They've moved on from 'these particularly scary guns shouldn't exist' to 'repeal the 2nd Amendment and disarm Red America.' This is said to be necessary because gun control in Chicago or DC can't work as long as guns aren't controlled in Indiana or Virginia -- in fact, everywhere.

There is also sometimes a discussion of viewing low-tax Red states as engaging in unfair competition practices with high-tax Blue states, which is supposed to harm workers and the poor by limiting their benefits. This, again, is a Justice issue that justifies compulsion. We must all submit to high taxes and obsessive regulation.

They're moving in the direction of war. Codevilla is certainly right about that. The Federalist approach is one I prefer, but so far no one has listened to it.

Tom said...

More's the pity. I was hoping for a more optimistic report.

Maybe if they keep losing elections and it threatens their way of life, they'll come to see the wisdom of federalism.