The Fractal Fallacy and the Illogic of Two-Party Ideology

To break the Democratic-Republican corporatist duopoly on political power and representation in the United States, it is necessary to break with the habits of thought that ensure the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican corporatist duopoly on political power and representation in the United States: reactionary lesser-evilism, historical determinism, political impatience etc. The two-party state is, first and foremost, a state of mind. Duopoly ideology infects virtually every aspect of our political discourse, including the discourse of third party and independent politics. How many articles have you read in which the author lists the countless failures of the two-party system to adequately represent the interests of the people of the United States, and concludes with a call to form "a" third party to counter the hegemony of the Democratic-Republican political apparatus? Arguably, the failure of third party and independent politics derives, to a great extent, from the fact that the logic of such demands remains beholden to one of the defining characteristics of Democratic-Republican politics: the totalitarian impulse toward universal political uniformity detectable in the assumption that all elections at all levels of government in every corner of the country must conform to the principle of self-similarity. In other words, rather than allow for the multi-partisan articulation of regional and sectional interests (for instance, if liberal polities were defined by Green-Democratic contests and conservative polities by Libertarian-Republican ones), the demand here is that all elections must all be reflections of one another and of the whole. This is yet another aspect of what I have previously called the fractal fallacy and a source of contradiction in Democratic-Republican duopoly ideology.

Consider in this context a recent speech by the influential conservative strategist Richard Viguerie that explicitly "cautions against forming a third political party." From the press release at ConservativeHQ:
Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, delivered the keynote address at the January 29 meeting of the Leadership Tea Party, a conservative grassroots training event, at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Westin Hotel. Viguerie praised the Tea Party movement for providing new energy to conservative grassroots throughout the nation. . . . Viguerie told the Tea Party leaders that they should work to be a third force in politics but should not try to organize themselves into a third party. “A third party would be a disaster for the cause of limited government,” he warned. Tea Party members and other grassroots conservatives should focus exclusively on the 2010 Republican and Democratic primaries, he said.
Predictably, Viguerie's call for anti-incumbent lesser-evilism has been favorably received by partisans of the two-party state and the political status quo. Opntalk, for instance, writes in response:
if Conservatives DID throw their support behind a Third Party Candidate, like it or not, that would GUARANTEE a Left Victory . . . We do not WANT a Third party. We WANT Republicans to get back to their Conservative Roots . . . Congratulations Richard A. Viguerie. You are the Winner of the Display of Logic Award. Keep it up.
Ironically, however, the logic of Viguerie's argument is completely self-contradictory. He asserts that "a third party would be a disaster for the cause of limited government" but he explicitly states that the politics of the Democratic-Republican two-party system is also a disaster for the cause of limited government. From the press release above:
“Our country didn’t get into the mess we’re in because of the policies and skills of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid. The people who are responsible for handing power to the liberals in 2006 and 2008 are George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist, and other GOP leaders. The disastrous policies of the big government Republicans caused the voters to want to fire all Republicans,” he said.
To summarize Viguerie's position: the disaster represented by the reigning Democratic administration and congressional majority is the result of the disaster which was the previous Republican administration and congressional majority, but independent and third party opposition to the disastrous policies of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government would be "a disaster for the cause of limited government." Viguerie's proposed solution to the disaster that is the Democratic-Republican two-party state is support for the disaster that is the Democratic-Republican two-party state! It is worth reflecting on the fact that, among partisans of the two-party state and the political status quo, these sorts of ruminations are capable of being declared "Winner of the Display of Logic Award."


Maikeru said...

The history of this country has demonstrated that most minor parties that have actually been able to get a little traction within the two-party system have actually helped, not hurt, their side of the political spectrum by moving the Overton window in their direction. Nader's case is the exception, not the rule.

d.eris said...

That's an important point Maikeru. Consciousness of the historical impact of third party and independent politics in the US is quite low. Arguably, third party groups have been most influential by organizing independently of the major parties, and forcing them to approximate the positions of the third party group, rather than accommodating the major parties under the false belief that they can be transformed from the inside.