The Art of Politics

Given other times and other circumstances, I would probably subscribe to the kind of conservatism espoused in the American Conservative Magazine. The magazine describes itself as the “home of independent and intelligent conservatism”, and I agree. They have published some very eloquent and articulate articles concerning the problems of capitalism and Late Modernity.

I appreciate that the editors describe it as the home of “intelligent conservatism” and not “principled conservatism,” which is that all too typically unintelligent and debased form of conservatism that is the current home of the unscrupulous — scoundrels, rogues, and scammers, who all insist on being perceived as “principled” precisely because it is vulgar and unintelligent (much like those persistent Nigerian spammers who appeal to your greed and your “faith in God” simultaneously to help them in their money-laundering schemes). And it is precisely because the mainstream “new” conservatism in Late Modernity is diseased, decadent, and reactionary and the home only of political spam, that the conservatism of The American Conservative must be dissenting and contrary, and describe itself as being “independent” and “intelligent”.

Read, for example, former GOP analyst Mike Lofgren’s very fine article about “The Revolt of the Rich“, and you might think you were actually reading Naomi Klein (or, for that matter, this blog). We are in essential agreement about the crisis. Where we differ lies in what the appropriate response to the situation might be.

As mentioned, given other times and other circumstances I could subscribe to that kind of conservatism. I am quite sympathetic to it. But these are not those times and not those circumstances. The time for the conservative virtue of patient “prudence” has long passed. The need for change has now become urgent.

To my mind, the essential issue of politics was raised in the most unlikely of places — in Castaneda’s apprenticeship as a sorcerer to his teacher don Juan. Don Juan once remarked on Castaneda’s lack of sense of appropriate timing: “you rush when you should wait; and you wait when you should rush”.

But is that not the essential political problem? “You rush when you should wait” is often the deficiency of the impatient and imprudent progressive or revolutionary; and “you wait when you should rush” is the disease of the overly hesitant and over-prudence of the conservative and the reactionary. In essential terms, don Juan is saying that “Western man’s” sense of time and timing is askew, in the sense of being, respectively, “too soon” or “too late”.

The art of politics is, then, the art of acting at the right time, neither too soon nor too late. If I have chosen, instead, the revolutionary option, it is because the clock is ticking down on us. We are facing the abyss. And in the present circumstances “he who hesitates is lost” is, indeed, the societal problem of our contemporary decadent variety of mainstream conservatism.

So, the best description of my own brand of politics would have to be “counter-reactionary”, as Rosenstock-Huessy also once described his own approach. To cling to “precedent” where there is no precedent for these unprecedented times we now live in is to be reactionary. Creativity and imagination are required of us. Clinging to antique, obsolete and decayed models which are no longer relevant will not help us survive into the future. We definitely need to learn from them, yes. But learn from them precisely to emancipate ourselves from them.

With insight comes liberation.


12 responses to “The Art of Politics”

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    An excellent essay supplemented with an excellent article, “Revolt of the Rich.”

    “If I have chosen, instead, the revolutionary option, it is because the clock is ticking down on us. We are facing the abyss.”

    Yes, and the revolutionary options should entail these very simple to follow steps:

    1. Never purchase anything unless it is absolutely necessary.

    2. Don not borrow money no matter how much you like that house, that car, or that other item. Forgo it until you have enough cash to buy the necessary things. Rent if you must, carpool if you must, or ride the bicycle if the weather permits it, but live within your means wherever you are.

    3. Exit the equity markets to the extent that it is in your power. Don’t go back even if it rains diamonds and gold. It’s not your pocket size that matters, but the quality and direction of your thoughts and emotions.

    4. Learn as many crafts as possible: (carpentry, sewing and tailoring, making shoes, etc.)

    5. Grow and cultivate your own food if possible.

    Here are my favorite excerpts from the article: “Revolt of the Rich”:

    “……particularly with the collapsing parliamentary systems of contemporary Europe [in 1929].”

    This was no accident that it was accomplished in less than 400 years, and it was orchestrated by the same Money Changers that have now brought the Middle East to its knees, dragging it through the slaughterhouse, and it is the same ancient force that “has seized the policy-making apparatus in Washington” in less than 200 years.

    The key, and in my opinion the most valuable statement in that entire article, is:

    “The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves.”

    Indeed. That remark comes as close as it gets to my lived experiences.

    And I also agree with the author, Mike Lofgren, about his remark that:

    “Since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below.”

    Indeed, again. Since the time of the Babylonia, the Money Changers (Lofgren calls them “super-rich” which is the name of the same group in the 21st century) have known that their main enemy are those “from below.” That’s exactly why we see the development of events that have promulgated mass exodus in many countries in the Middle East. With the native populations debased, dislodged, and turned into refugees, these same countries will be ready to be re-settled with people loyal to Money Changers. Not to mention the instability that refugees bring to the countries they settle in.

    This “revolt from below” is inevitable.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, everyone should know a craft, even if it’s only calligraphy.

      I’m glad I found Lofgren’s article from Monbiot’s piece. I’m very much in agreement with it, although where Lofgren speaks of the assets of the “nation state’ being stripped, I’ve written (in the Austerity Fraud) instead about the pillaging of the “commonwealth”. Essentially the same thing, but I think “commonwealth” is more meaningful than “nation state”.

      The so-called “Tea Party” is a joke, hardly “revolt from below”, but an “astroturf” (not “grassroots”) movement sponsored by the super-rich. Pawns in a chess game only.

      The Koch Brothers (who are behind the Tea Party) are also big players in Canada, and are (wait for it) the largest foreign lease holders of Alberta’s oilsands (it’s not the Chinese or Exxon).

      There’s Mr. Harper’s connection — not only is he from Alberta, he’s been a shill for Big Oil (so-called “Ethical Oil”, a front group) and his anti-climate change stance and using Revenue Canada to attack anti-oil sands and environmental groups opposed to the oil sands or pipelines serves the Koch Bros very well.

      Lofgren and Monbiot are quite right.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        I don’t think I ever paid much attention to understanding the real meaning of the “commonwealth” if it were not for the essays you wrote on politics. The “commonwealth” is more meaningful because, in my view, it doesn’t have any of the negative stigmas that might be associated with “nation state” (nationalism?)

        The astroturf versus grassroots is a terrific analogy. Although I have to admit that I often don’t follow the politics very closely (for example, I can only name less than half a dozen of the 2016 presidential candidates), but even at its inception, the Tea Party quickly alienated a lot of folks. They seem to be the right wing of the right wingers.

        Here in the United States, we have this stupid cap on income tax which I think doesn’t tax income above $120,000 or so. Combine that with the breaks that the likes of Koch brothers get, and we are unnecessarily driving this country into debt to the point it is not certain if social security and medicare will remain solvent beyond 30 years or so. The only solution that has been given serious thought is to raise the retirement age even more to 70. I hate to see that, not so much because people will have to work longer, but because it will be extremely difficult for the younger generations to find empty stable positions to fill.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          Sorry…….I meant say “I can only name fewer than [not less than] half a dozen of the 2016 presidential candidates.”

  2. Scott Preston says :

    I might also add that basically “Tea” and what is called Harper’s “Base” are much the same, and probably somewhat the same as UKip in the UK. All “astroturf” movements behind which lurks the Big Money Interest.

    When Occupy arose, the right was concerned that it might draw off support from Tea. Their paid hucksters and propagandists went to work to prevent that, to ridicule, sow doubt and derision…

    Luntz was also an adviser to the Conservative Party of Canada, and some in the conservative press in Canada appeared to learn a few propaganda tricks from him also (I detected his handiwork in the writing of some journalists of the conservative National Post, who are, as far as I’m concerned self-implicated in journalistic malpractice).

    So, it comes full circle, doesn’t it? Propaganda or “perception management” is a very potent technology, and very pernicious. It doesn’t come, though, without a cost in terms of “blowback” effects.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’ll give you an example of Luntz’s handiwork, as reflected in the columnist (and neo-con lawyer) Tasha Kheiriddin, who often appears in the Nasty Post. Classic propaganda and perception management.. The example is taken from Bourrie’s “Kill the Messengers”

      “For the Liberal terms ‘medicare’ and ‘public health care’, substitute ‘state health care monopoly’; for the Liberal ‘social services’, substitute ‘government programs’; for the Liberal ‘investing tax dollars’, substitute ‘spending taxpayers’ money’; for the Liberal ‘budget surplus’, substitute ‘amount Canadians were over-taxed'”. (quoted p. 306 in Bourrie)

      This is the politics of insincerity, the politics of duplicity. Another example,

      Lorne Gunter is another Nasty Post columnist. A few years back, he wrote a column raging against the Liberals for the deceitful practice of only paying “lip-service” to the environmental problem, while doing nothing. Yet only a few months earlier, Mr. Gunter had advised the Conservative Party to pay “lip-service” to the environment in order to win votes.

      That’s duplicity; that’s insincerity. That’s journalistic malpractice, as far as I’m concerned. Apparently what is “deceit” and duplicity when it comes to Liberals, isn’t deceit and duplicity when practiced by “principled” conservatives. This kind of duplicity and insincerity is all too common today in the public discourse — this kind of Jekyll and Hyde situation.

      In other words, people like Gunter and Kheiriddin are counseling deceit in order to bamboozle the public and confound our perception of things. That’s hardly “principled”. It’s demonic. All the more reason why they insist on being perceived as “principled” and on the side of the angels, as it were. That’s also deceit, lip-service and perception management, like those scoundrels and rogues in government who insist on their titles, on being called “the honourable” or “right honourable” even as their speech and conduct is very often completely the opposite of “honourable” or ethical. It’s pretty much a fraud. It’s corruption.

      propaganda of this kind not only corrupts the public, it corrupts those who practice it.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        The instance regarding Lorne Gunter’s duplicity and lack of any integrity is hilarious.

        “That’s journalistic malpractice, as far as I’m concerned.”

        I know exactly what you mean and it is being done in different fashions, too. About a decade ago I witnessed Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly of Fox News showing false clips in their programs. I emailed O’Reily once and Kelly twice about false clips they were showing, and I asked “Why are you doing this?” The clips they showed did not match the geographical location of the events. Neither reporter returned my emails. It is all about “perception management.”

    • LittleBigMan says :

      What’s funny is that Luntz’s sensitivity toward the use of the word “capitalism” might actually be used against him, since what we have no longer seems to be capitalism – but a genuine plutocracy.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Or “Plutonomy”, as the now notorious Citigroup Memos put it.

        It’s all connected, of course. Somehow, we’ve managed to manoeuvre ourselves into a bubble, where image trumps reality. This is a problem of perception, and of freeing perception from “amalgamate false natures”, as Rosenstock once put it, or aggregate false natures. Neil Gabler’s great book Life The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America really connects, also, with Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism.

        It all boils down to a single problem, really, doesn’t it? There’s a problem with our perception, and that is as much as to say, a problem with the structure of our consciousness, as Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy have both articulated. We have to emancipate ourselves from these aggregate false natures — the bubble of perception.

        And to that extent, “deconstruction” is a very healthy thing — “not the courage of one’s convictions, but the courage to attack one’s convictions”, as Nietzsche put it also, or equally what don Juan called “unfolding the wings of perception” or Blake called “cleansing the doors of perception”.

        This is really key, because our act of perception isn’t even our own. It’s been engineered. It’s what I’ve also referred to as “the foreign installation”. And I attribute much of that to the pernicious influence of disinformation and propaganda.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          “There’s a problem with our perception…..”

          Very much, if not exclusively, so. Overcoming that, as you know, is the work of a lifetime.

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