Democratic-Republican Party Government is Practical Political Nihilism: the Spirit of Party is Incompatible with Individualism and Collectivism

Partisans of the Republican and Democratic parties flatter themselves that the two-party state and duopoly system of government is, in one way or another, a concrete embodiment of an eternal struggle between world historical principles. In one of its most common forms, this conceit is framed as nothing less than an opposition between good and evil, in which the aims and goals of the political other are conceived as an evil that must be avoided at all costs and confronted at every turn, with the implication that this purely negative activity on one's own part is the very form and content of "fighting the good fight."

In another common variant, the opposition between the Democratic and Republican parties is framed as a grand struggle between competing philosophical visions of the nature of politics and government, distinguished by their respective emphases on the individual citizen or the aggregate social body, and by their reflexive positions regarding the proper role of government, its ideal size and scope etc. This presumption is shared by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alike, and thus constitutes a primary element of the common ideology that sustains the reigning two-party state and duopoly system of government. But what if the spirit of party that characterizes Democratic-Republican politics and government is incompatible with both individualism and collectivism?

Though they agree on little else, ideologues of the Democratic and Republican parties rarely disagree when it comes to affirming their own self-importance. At Hullabaloo, Digby describes the development of her political consciousness as a liberal Democrat in the following way:
I came to see American politics as an endless struggle between two big competing visions with progress being made by two steps forward one step back most of the time.
Her understanding of the interrelationship between the Democratic and Republican parties is strikingly similar to that of conservative Republicans such as Manly from Manly's Republic, who argues that the Democratic and Republican parties are the heirs of the great foundational debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. He has written, for instance:
Americans are used to two major political parties because these represent the two differing approaches to the size and scope of the federal government.
At the Think 3 Institute, even Sam Wilson more or less tacitly accepts this general characterization of Democratic and Republican politics and ideology, though he explicitly states that the political and philosophical possibilities are not exhausted by the binary opposition. In a discussion of morality and democracy that is well worth reading in full, Sam writes:
we may as well recognize some kind of plurality of morality, with one morality placing an absolute priority on individual liberty, another on collective well-being, and others with different priorities.
Of course, an alleged concern for individual liberty and collective well-being on the part of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, is the result of nothing more than an abstraction from their rhetoric and common policy prescriptions. Because the GOP supposedly values individual liberty Republicans call for low taxes and small government. Because the Democratic party is supposedly concerned with the collective well-being of Americans, Democrats call for social programs and robust government. And this tension and opposition is seen as a decisive factor in the grand opposition between the ruling parties. In reality, however, it does little more than provide each side with the primary terms they employ in their criticism of the other: Republicans lambaste Democrats as totalitarian socialists and Democrats lambaste Republicans as individualist extremists.

The tragic irony is that Democratic-Republican party government results neither in the protection and expansion of individual liberty, nor in the effective establishment of and provision for our collective well-being. The reason for this is simple. The spirit of party that characterizes Democratic-Republican politics and government is incompatible with individualism and collectivism.

Insofar as a party mediates one's relation to government, society and fellow citizens, insofar as it serves as a mass vehicle for and medium of one's political activity, it is based on the negation of the individual through his or her subsumption into the mass of the organized group. On the other hand, even though it is a mass organization, a party is a necessarily partisan, sectional, political formation, which is thus predicated upon the negation of the collective in its totality, and therefore incapable of representing the social body as a whole.

Democratic-Republican party politics and government is based on the negation of the individual citizen and the collective social body. It is practical political nihilism. That nihilism is perfectly expressed by the bipartisan consensus in favor of the eternal reproduction and expansion of the global warfare and corporate welfare state over and against the expansion of individual liberty and the safeguarding of our collective well-being.


Anonymous said...

Dude (or dudette)! Chill out. What are you talking about, nihilism? If you are trying to win converts among unemployed philosophy professors, maybe you will get traction. But, if you are trying to win converts from the general public, this stuff is a loser and major turn off. I absolutely, positively guarantee it.

The Democratic and Republican parties have failed miserably. Through their incompetence and corruption, they are destroying America and our standard of living.

If you want to help undermine them and their power, it is necessary to get on point and stay on point. IMHO, if you are asking for political change, eloquent discourse on nihilism isn't going to get you anywhere, Actually, it probably hurts more than it helps.

Sorry for tossing cold water on the party, but this sort of stuff just won't cut it if you really want to stick it to the status quo. If you have solid evidence that I am full of baloney, I would be more than happy to retract my comments.

d.eris said...

Thanks for your comment and advice Anon. But for now, I'll stick by my analysis here. It is even further bolstered by a popular piece recently published at Red State which argues, literally, that everyone who does not vote Republican is voting for suicide, and specifically emphasizes that this is not meant metaphorically. Though it may be correct, this is clearly a case of political projection.

You don't dispute the substance of the the post above but then you say that "eloquent discourse on nihilism isn't going to get you anywhere," (thanks for the compliment, btw), well what will get us somewhere then? You say we need to "stay on point." What do you mean by this? What point is that?

imo, Poli-Tea does a pretty good job of staying on point, and that point is simple: freedom and independence today begins with freedom and independence from the two-party state and the joint misrule of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You are a real believer. Well, good for you.

So, who carries more votes, you or Sarah Palin? Maybe your logic wins in the intellectual world, but her empty rhetoric wins more votes in the real world, if the current round of primaries is any indication. How many primaries have intellectual moderates/ centrists/ pragmatists won in the current voting? None, if I am not mistaken. Politics is about winning votes, not abstract theory.

Empty nonsense from people like Mrs. Palin (or most mainstream Democratic and Republican candidates) is on point and eloquent discourse on nihilism isn't. That is why they engage in it.

By all means, bring on the evidence that I am full of crap and I will willingly retract. Where are your votes? Just show them to me, right here, right now.

I want Democrats and Republicans out of power because they didn't just fail, they betrayed our trust. Winning that fight with main street will require very, very smart communication, not abstract philosophical discourse on nihilism.

If I am full of baloney, just check your analytics on this post. How many hundreds of new hits did the nihilism post generate? Zero, right? If this post didn't generate hundreds of new hits, then effecting change will take decades. Look at what it takes in California (according your CAIVN post, 90,000 signatures). If you want to do something in time to have a meaningful effect, you (and I) don't have the luxury of that kind of time.

Sorry for my impatience, but I see a fleeting opportunity slipping away.

d.eris said...

Hello again, Anon. I do not necessarily disagree with your points here. You ask where the votes are. That's what I want to know too. As I have demonstrated throughout the primary season, and with examples from past elections, the supposed electoral "tidal waves" in the primaries and past elections, and support for Democrats and Republicans in general, are vastly overstated.

Democrats and Republicans tend to be nominated in their primaries with the support of roughly 8-12% of registered voters. In general elections, the majority of voters often do not cast ballots at all, allowing Republicans and Democrats to be (re)elected with the support of only 25% of registered voters, if turnout even reaches 50%. And turnout more often hovers around 33%.

My hunch is that the majority non-vote is essentially a rebuke to Republicans and Democrats alike. Democrats and Republicans have successfully led people to believe that they are engaging in a PROTEST when they don't actually do anything. If even half of those folks who tend not to vote came out and cast their ballots for an alternative candidate, that person would win in a landslide.

You write: "Winning that fight with main street will require very, very smart communication, not abstract philosophical discourse on nihilism." I understand that, and that is exactly what third party and independent candidates should be out engaging in every single day. And they are. And some are doing quite well. We'll see where the votes are come November.

This site is dedicated to developing sustained, thoroughgoing critique of the two-party state and duopoly system of government. As I see it, such critique is necessary: sometimes in order to change the way we act, we have to change the way we think first. Plus I'm generally not interested in chasing after the minutia of the latest distractions being propagated by the professional misdirectionists in the Democratic and Republican parties, or following the latest sports or celebrity gossip, in order to catch a few more pageviews.

I have thought before about putting a post together that would be something like "talking points for third party and independent candidates." It seems like you've put a fair amount of thought into such a thing yourself. If you're interested in writing something up, ex. "smart communication strategies for third party and independent candidates," I would gladly publish it here at Poli-Tea as well as at Third Party and Independent Daily.

Let me know here or send an email.