Libertarians resemble at times the old British Empire. They harp on economic issues such as fractional reserve banking, which no matter how legitimate these complaints might be, they miss the political mark entirely. The British granted the American colonists scores of concessions and were then flabbergasted when the Americans demanded more. They would later make the same mistake with the Irish: the British regularly overestimated the importance of economic issues and neglected identitarian issues. Libertarians will likewise have to learn that the tribe is stronger than the purse.
Here is my latest article, a critique of Oscar Wilde’s political and aesthetic philosophy. You can find it at Thermidor Magazine.
Is there anything more disappointing than a perfectly good story ruined by morality? If there is a moral point to be made, if it must be made despite all of the reasons crying out against it, then let it be done with a gentle hand. Let the audience suspect that a moral point is there somewhere, but never let them know it with certainty. Much like perfume, so as with morality in art, less is more.
Socialism is good at ruining a nation’s economy while capitalism is good at ruining a nation’s aesthetic. Like most people I love comfort too much, of course, to embrace something as hideous as Marxism, and so I must choose the lesser of two evils: the aesthetic will simply have to suffer. I will patiently ignore a countryside clogged with billboards, a bus stop covered with concert fliers, and an e-mail inbox overloaded with advertisements for extra flyer miles and penis pills. But I can only stomach so much of it.
Our culture had its rudder knocked completely off course when it shifted its focus from art to entertainment. The visual arts went from Raphael and Rembrandt to the Big Bang Theory. Literature went from Dostoevsky and Melville to the Amazing Spider-Man. Whatever love our culture once had for aesthetics has been spurned for tasteless kitsch.
Perhaps the best solution is not necessarily a drastic one, but rather, a humble reintroduction to the study of aesthetics. We have to train our children to respect aesthetics, to see the beauty in a thing, and to be able to analyze why they think it is beautiful. Their spines should tremble slightly in awe when they read a well-composed verse, not because the subject matter appeals to them, but because they can recognize the aesthetic genius that went into its composition. Their hairs should stand on end when they look at a photograph not because they find the content of it moving, but because they can see the underlying order, the kind of principles that differentiate a snapshot from a masterpiece. Perhaps then our culture will reject the spam mail and billboards not due to law, but because our people will have no tolerance for them. Then, as before, our culture will be able to rediscover what is beautiful.
Empathy is not a virtue; it is a reflex as mundane as belching or napping lazily after a big meal. It is championed in societies that have lost touch with virtue and is, therefore, one of the unmistakable signs of decadence. In my mind, there can be no virtue without discernment. It is discernment that helps a man decide which instinct he should follow, which reflex he should ignore, and which he should embrace. The instincts themselves are not nearly as important as the mind that presides over them.
Ideals alone are too fragile to sustain a nation. No matter how lofty they might seem in one era, they are subject to the whims of fashion and are hostages to their interpreters. Far superior is the ethnostate, a state that exists solely to protect the interests of its people. It is rooted in the bedrock of biology, a genetic connection shared by one person with another, and from one generation to the next. We need not squabble over what equality means, or how it applies to all men, when we have the inescapable bond of blood to unite us.
America is descending back into a war of “all against all,” due to authority that has been too deeply diluted in the Washington swamp. We are witnessing the approach of anarchy. The Leviathan is no longer a king sitting on top of a smooth political pyramid whose own self-interest dictates that the people be rich and vigorous so that his kingdom can be rich and vigorous. Rather, the U.S. government has become a patchwork of oligarchical cooperation where each committee, each department, each politician is linked in chains of obligation to many specialized interests that do not include the American people. The Leviathan is now a many-headed Hydra. Terrorists, illegals, petty thieves, murderers, pimps, Marxists, rapists and every sort of scoundrel one can imagine has been marching into the United States unopposed. Some have even been invited in as refugees. Hobbes’s notion of the social contract is quite clear: people submit to the state under the condition that it protects them. The United States government is not fulfilling its part of the contract; it is not protecting its citizens. Why, then, do we owe our loyalty to it?