Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Politics are Antipolitics

Tonight, I picked up Alan Ryan's On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present.  In Chapter 2, he argues:
Almost all accounts of the history of political thinking begin with Plato.  This is a paradox, because Plato's political thought is anti political.  Readers of the Republic see that in the polis of Plato's imagination, there is no politics, and are puzzled; but throughout European history there has been a current of thought that seeks the resolution of the conflicts that "ordinary politics" resolves in the creation of such a degree of social harmony that the conflicts which everyday politics resolves have simply disappeared, and politics with them . . . The founder of European political thought is the founder of anti political thinking.
But there is no paradox, as "European" (more properly "Western") political thought seeks to marginalize and eliminate the role of the polis in how it is managed.  The point of "politics" is to provide the masses the illusion of power, not actual power.  And whenever the "politics" of antipolitics begin to fail, we find those who pretend that antipolitics failed because of the polis.  And those same people decry the violent reaction of the polis to being violated.

But why should these masters of society complain?  They are the fittest, after all.  They will obviously survive, so why do we lesser men need to worry about them?  They'll take care of themselves.

Hint: a con man is only "the fittest" so long as his marks remain conned.