The Limits of Liberalism

The Limits of Liberalism

It seems that things are accelerating at a breakneck speed. When considering the structures of our society (any society really, but you can consider mostly ‘western’ states derived from post WW2 United States, England, and France), many things that seemed as stable and as comfortable under foot as granite are now giving way, relaxing and twisting into new shapes and contours.

We are in the midst of the downward slope of liberalism. Moreover, the limits of what liberalism can accomplish are becoming painfully clear, and the majorities in these countries are beginning to look for other answers.

Managers, or Politicians?

One of the great blindspots of liberal technocracy is that we are very rarely allowed to see politics, in and of itself, as a method to bring about change. Instead, political elections are like job interviews: we have a candidate, we view their resume and accomplishments, they interview via debates and perfunctory events on the campaign trail, and after being elected we are left to wonder what it is they actually -do-.

Liberals love the idea of Democracy but make it known very quickly that they don’t actually want the rule of the majority. This is the reason why, for example, there is no method via plebiscite to recall any elected official at the national level in the United States. So much attention is paid to impeachment, but that is fundamentally an undemocratic institution, a way for a reactionary cadre of politicians to police themselves, based on their own rules, using their own courts.

We also must be wary of the promise of ‘incremental change’. Necessarily, any incremental change requires a promise of stability and a government that never changes all that much. When, as in the United States, we have a Christian ethnonationalist party on the far-right, and a liberal technocratic party in the center-right, well, it’s difficult to see any project taken on by the center as being stable, or dependable.

Where to Next?

It’s obvious to anyone watching that this system is built upon a shaky foundation, assumptions that were made nearly 50 years ago that have held less and less true as time has drawn on. The 1970’s in America and the UK, as it turns out, are /not/perfect encapsulations of all of human development.

The next step will be to transition into a return of real politics, of large programs made to win over voters. In the U.S. we’ve seen both parties shift and calcify into coherent ideological parties with a general program throughout the membership. That sets the U.S. in particular up for a massive systemic crisis: our government, by design, cannot work when such a situation is reached.

There’s two possible resolutions to this: the Sanders way, and the Trump way. It seems unlikely that the Sanders way will be passively allowed, but it may be too late to prevent such a development. 2016 was the last gasp of that particular brand of liberalism. It’s unlikely to rear its head again so quickly — the last time, it took nearly 60 years before the ghosts of European liberals working in the runup to the First World War found an audience again.

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