Plato on Trump

According to Plato, political regimes evolved consistently, from oligarchy to democracy to tyranny. When the elites become self-indulgent, lazy or promiscuous, and develop interests apart from the masses, they fall, oligarchies give way to democracies. And in turn, when mob passion overpowers political wisdom and a populist despot seizes the moment, democracies yield to tyranny. However, the despot is not quite a tyrant just yet. In a democracy, the would-be tyrant always offers himself as the champion of the masses. He simplifies everything, and make everything whole again.

In Donald Trump, this evolution is pretty straightforward: a vulgar right-wing populism coalesces in the midst of an anti-establishment hysteria and a strongman fascist declares that he will stick it to the elites and make the country great again, and presents a familiar scapegoat, an alien Other the masses can redirect their poisonous resentment. For a fragmented and bitter populace, this is rhetorical palliative, and just like Plato predicted, the very sort of thing that pushes a country over the edge. Continue reading Plato on Trump

“We are all artists.” Really?

This exceedingly liberal idea that everyone is an artist –irrespective of the fact whether they’ve produced any artwork – has never sat well with me, personally. If art is the process of arresting creativity with production that is shared with others, then only a select few qualify as artists. In other words: only the actual is genuine, not the potential.  Continue reading “We are all artists.” Really?

Politics and good conversation do not mix

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Why isn’t politics germane to good conversation? Why is it a dangerous topic to discuss in public? The answer lies with what conversation is for and what distinguishes harmless, approving subjects from the more important and yet contentious ones.

Conversation makes up a large percentage of communication, and remains the source we seek approval of the others. But what has changed is the nature of conversation itself. It used to be solely between family members, whereas nowadays it is done between competitive peers in society. Continue reading Politics and good conversation do not mix

Do people deserve the government they have?

This is a controversial question, and affirmed by Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Jefferson, Plato, and many, many others. The current state of the American government is doubly damning because people do get the government they deserve. Because not everyone is alike, there are people who want to rule and there are others who prefer to be ruled. And the latter – a majority – want someone else to rule, do the work, so they can focus their energies on other pursuits. Continue reading Do people deserve the government they have?

War? What is it good for?

Apotheosis of War 1871 by Vasily Vereschagin

I’m currently working on a story that focuses on the politics of war in a hyperliberal society where its members are expected to promote democratic values (be fair to all, fit in, cooperate). Whoever doesn’t conform (acts out, be combative and aggro) loses popularity points and is scorned/scapegoated. This society reinforces its values (harmony, cooperation) through overt and covert means (performances, entertainment, the appearances of the esteemed and respected) but in doing so it hides the reality of constant strife, conflict, and increasing competition in politics and art. Continue reading War? What is it good for?

Some comments on Nietzschean Politics in light of liberal thought

“My philosophy aims at an ordering of rank, not at an individualistic morality” Will to Power, 287

Nietzsche’s political thinking remains a source of confusion as well as embarrassment for most scholars seeking to appropriate conceptual tools, largely because they tend to be incongruous with the standard liberal ways of thinking about politics, which have prevailed for the past 200 years. In political thought, Nietzsche departs from liberalism in a number of ways:

  • He does not regard the human being as inviolable, that human life is sacrosanct.
  • Neither does he believe that all persons should be treated with equal respect as moral beings.

Much like liberalism, Nietzsche’s conception of politics is instrumental, but it differs radically from the liberal in his valuation of human life. Whereas for liberalism politics is a means towards peaceful coexistence of individual agents, for Fritz it is a means for human greatness. Fritz is committed to ‘perpetual self overcoming’ and the ‘enhancement of man.’ This enhancement does not consist of improving of the conditions of life for the majority of people, but in the generation of few striking superlatively vital ‘highest exemplars’ of the human species. The production of magnificent specimens is possible only in a society politically organized along strict hierarchical lines.