How Liberal Democracies Become Tyrannies, By James Reed

One of my constant themes at the blog, is that our once liberal democratic society has become literary tyrannical. It has been happening at least since the 1960s Leftist revolution, but with Covid there was a quantum jump. Time-honoured principles of medical ethics, such as autonomy and freedom to refuse medical treatment, were side-lined in favour of extreme paternalism; the state knew best regarding lockdowns, and the vax. However, the lockdowns were shown, even at the time to be failures, most dramatically in the epicentre of the mess, in Communist China itself, as with the adverse effects and deaths from the Covid mRNA vaxxes, which did not stop transmission, or even people getting the virus infection multiple ties.

Auron MacIntyre in his recently published, The Total State: How Liberal Democracies become Tyrannies, (Regnery, 2024), that goes into detail about the undermining of liberal democracy which we have witnessed, and still do. The mainstream media, who are primarily woke and Leftist, are key players here, pushing a globalist agenda, which is profoundly anti-democratic. MacIntyre goes into details about the lies the media have told over Covid and other cherished globalist ventures. Almost everything dealing with Donald Trump, for example, gets distorted through their prejudicial viewing framework. "No shadowy cabal of overlords was handing down marching orders; no editorial meeting was held confirming an anti-Trump direction, but every low-level propogandist with a journalism degree suddenly thought it was their solemn duty to destroy the orange menace," he writes. "No falsehood was too great, and any and every distortion of the truth could be justified in the name of damaging what these zealots saw as the second coming of Adolf Hitler." Yes, there may not have been one centrally directing agency, but there were some key players, including the Biden, if not Obama White House, who put pressure upon the media to demonise Trump, not that much pressure was needed. These Leftists recognised a natural enemy immediately.

As well, MacIntyre shows that red-white-and-blue constitutional conservativism, failed to stop state tyranny during Covid. Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States in the past upheld the paternalistic right of the state to require vaccinations for various aspects of society (e.g. hospitals), over individual liberty to totally refuse, yet still participate in civil society. Across jurisdictions, there have been some victories in the courts, but in general it seems the judges as well were terrified by the narrative pushed by the mainstream media.

The big question now, after so much has exposed the Deep State agendas over Covid, giving us a good look, not merely a glance, of how the whole thing works, is will the people be fooled again? Bird flu is coming right up as the next big pandemic thing, one which the globalists promoting the fear of disease X, will capitalise on.

As I see it, because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the globalist elites strive for absolute power, there is an inevitable erosion of the checks and balances of liberal democracy, which becomes for them, a mere inconvenience to be overcome. And for us, a challenge to be addressed.

"The American Right talks about power, realism, and human nature. It acts politically like a naïve child. The American Left talks about equality, empathy, and compassion. It acts politically like a single-minded tribalist.

There are many reasons for this, but part is ideological. In one of his most overlooked and yet important articles, "The Other Side of Modernism: James Burnham and His Legacy" (1987), Sam Francis argued that the American Right did not so much fail to develop an intellectual framework to challenge the Left, but abandoned one. It took refuge in religious fantasies and libertarian delusions rather than develop the modern and realistic worldview of James Burnham. "The Left perceived that Burnham's inversion of modernism was a far more serious threat to it than the anti-modern traditionalism that many conservatives represented," he wrote. His warning was prophetic: "Among contemporary conservatives only James Burnham offered a theoretical framework and a practical application of modernist political ideas that challenge the conventional modernist categories as defined by the Left."

Yet, a "Machiavellian" tradition of power relations and self-interest can seem unsatisfactory. The Left's messianic appeal is real, which is why its followers can be driven to heights of frenzy. A political tradition that emphasizes that nothing exists except the coldly realistic is, itself, uninspiring, which is why Burnham accepted the power of myth. To urge the American Right to "give up" on its own political myths is to ask it to deny itself.

Sam Francis died with his work tragically unfinished, but his book Leviathan is the closest we have to a complete political testament. It is a detailed analysis of the way managerial elites engineer us from the top down in the system the media call "Our Democracy." Many white advocates who know Sam Francis from his pithy, sarcastic, and scathing polemics on racial politics might find an academic tome on James Burnham's political theories surprising or even boring. For "normal" conservatives, however, Francis's work on power dynamics is safer to discuss than his racial politics.

Mainstream American conservatives, however, still take refuge in myths about the Constitution, limited government, or the promise of a restoration under a political savior. The result is that American conservatism is either intellectually unserious or on the fringe. Sam Francis's warnings about the intellectual failures of the American Right are as relevant now as they were 40 years ago. We need a conservative writer from the mainstream to get conservatives to think seriously about power, rather than someone from the Dissident Right offering another outsider critique.

The Total State by Auron MacIntyre is therefore the most important book on the American Right this year. It is a sort of NeoReaction 101 for conservatives, with Mr. MacIntyre leaning heavily on the work of Curtis Yarvin, Bertrand de Juvenal, Nick Land, Joseph de Maistre, and Gaetano Mosca. Yet it is not just a simplified, popularized version of the Dark Enlightenment for "normie" conservatives. Mr. MacIntyre is a talented writer who is familiar with academic theory but can follow up a sophisticated argument with a polemical summary or a powerful anecdote. Perhaps more importantly, Mr. MacIntyre is not on the fringe, and his gentle prodding of Americans, Christians, and conservatives to take their own side is very effective. The Total State is the perfect book by the perfect author to change the American Right

The author is a former journalist and writes that "watching firsthand as journalists completely altered events and details to fit their pre-selected narratives" was "eye-opening." He accuses them of not just twisting their subjects' words but making them up or outright lying (11). My own view is that the media are the regime because shaping public opinion from the top down is what democracy now is. Mr. MacIntyre says that whatever was happening in politics, and whatever theory said about the way government should work, "the media narrative seemed to dominate all other priorities, shaping people's actions in ways I had never thought possible." This is not just another book whining about a "biased" media; it explains that wilful deception by journalists is the tip of the spear for the entire system.

This system serves power, but it is not a simple command-and-control model like a "fascist" organization. "No shadowy cabal of overlords was handing down marching orders; no editorial meeting was held confirming an anti-Trump direction, but every low-level propogandist with a journalism degree suddenly thought it was their solemn duty to destroy the orange menace," he writes. "No falsehood was too great, and any and every distortion of the truth could be justified in the name of damaging what these zealots saw as the second coming of Adolf Hitler." (12) Conservatives must understand the cruelty of "the press and the ruling class they represented" and their eagerness to "exploit and destroy what they saw as backward hicks for fun and profit." Yes, they really do hate you, and yes, what is being done to you is done on purpose.

The book answers many questions: Why did the Constitution so completely fail to limit government action during the COVID pandemic? Why were some Americans forbidden to attend church or go to meetings while others got free reign not just to rally but to riot? Why does the GOP refuse to take up even popular causes? Conservatives must wake up; their beloved constitutional republic does not work.

Who is the "ruling class"? Mr. MacIntyre answers in terms of its institutional role — an answer of "what" rather than "who." This is one way of approaching the problem, but some will see it as unsatisfactory.

The "who" is important. Mr. MacIntyre repeatedly asserts that power always seeks to centralize. We know that the federal government tries to limit what is discussed online, to the point of demanding that specific people be deplatformed. The New York Times pushed the "1619 Project" to give Black Lives Matter an academic veneer. "When Harvard comes to a conclusion on an issue of public policy," writes Mr. MacIntyre, "Yale is soon to follow, the media quickly reports the findings, government bureaucracy implements them, and schools are teaching them in short order." (29)

If I have one quibble with this book, it is that The Total State claims that power centralizes but also that we live under a "decentralized atheistic theocracy," in which "progressive liberalism" has swept through institutions, taken on a life of its own, and become useful to those seeking status and power. My own view is that this process is more consciously directed. We have seen an actual split at Ivy League colleges because of the pro-Palestine protests, with elites fighting over policy and personnel decisions rather than all following a universally understood program.

However, Mr. MacIntyre is right that modern progressivism is essentially religious. Paul Gottfried called our system a "secular theocracy" in 2004 in Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, and it may not even be accurate to call it "secular" after 2020, when churches of all denominations prostrated themselves before George Floyd. Mr. MacIntyre identifies universities as the "churches" of the new regime and cites Curtis Yarvin's model of the "Cathedral" — a "decentralized network of organizations and individuals responsible for manufacturing a cultural consensus" inside universities, the media, public education, and the bureaucracy. Mr. MacIntyre argues that because progressivism is a kind of religion, no conspiracy is needed because "those who manufacture the narrative of our civilization" all "go to the same house of worship." Even if Mr. Yarvin's view that there is no conscious conspiracy were correct, he and Mr. MacIntyre are right about its ability to force ordinary people "voluntarily" to conform. Joe Sobran called the Left "The Hive."

Not long ago, even if we admitted that elites ruled, and "democracy" was a polite fiction, it did not mean we lived under a "total state." Elites did not need to control all opinions, just enough to maintain power. However, the internet gave everyone a microphone and thus turned everyone into a potential threat.

Quoting Curtis Yarvin, Mr. MacIntyre writes that we are in a total state because "everyone and everything is infused with power" and thus "everyone is either a collaborator or a dissident." There can be no private life, not just because the personal is political, but because the internet gives everyone the theoretical ability to turn personal views into a political force.

Despite the growth of government, the average person feels "liberated" because government took over the social obligations people once had to family or to intermediate institutions such as churches or guilds. Mr. MacIntyre argues that the modern state confiscates more taxes, imposes more surveillance, and commands more obligations than any absolute ruler of the past, but "so long as this is done while freeing the individual from traditional social obligations, not only do its citizens not feel oppressed, they see themselves as liberated." (37) The desire to impose "neutrality" in government instead of personal rule does not lead to freedom, but builds a bureaucracy molded by incentives (including measures such as DEI) until it becomes monolithic. The absolute "liberation" of the individual leads to absolute subjugation to the state. Today, we see attempts by academics, media, and the state to "liberate" children from their families in the name of "transgenderism." Ultimately, the more people are "liberated" and atomized, the more power flows into the hands of bureaucrats, politicians, media, and teachers.

It is a chicken-and-egg question whether such material interests cause an ideology of "liberation" or whether the ideology leads to a class that benefits from such a system. Either way, progressives love ever-expanding social engineering that overwhelms conservative appeals to equality before the law or institutional rights. "[Progressives] believe America is a place of deep inequality, that it has reached its position of privilege due to the immoral exploitation of that inequality, and that any action taken in the pursuit of rectifying that inequality is not just permissible but morally necessary," Mr. MacIntyre writes. "The system is bigoted in every imaginable way, and so the acquisition of power is always the first priority as this is the only way to overcome such deeply entrenched injustice." Thus, in 2020, fighting for "social justice" was more important than normal people going to work or school. Rioters got special permission to riot, while conservatives appealed vainly to universal, individual rights.

Some conservatives argue that the Constitution will save us, but Mr. MacIntyre shows it has already failed. "Division of powers" is pointless because each branch serves public opinion, which can be dictated by mass media, education, and marketing. "[M]aintaining power in a democratic system means maintaining control over how the populace perceives and understands the world around them," writes Mr. MacIntyre. "As each branch of government becomes more vulnerable to the democratic process, control of power hinges increasingly on the ability to manipulate the masses." (53) It may seem startling to conservatives to think of institutions becoming "vulnerable" to the democratic process, but Mr. MacIntyre makes this seem intuitive and natural. Manipulating public opinion becomes the only skill that matters in a democracy. Moreover, there is no purely "mechanical" system to guarantee a perfectly functioning government. A constitution is only a written distillation of what a people intuitively understands about the role of government, and if that people changes, so does that understanding." 



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Wednesday, 12 June 2024

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