THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF A DISSENTER
Having learned the lessons of history, one would be wise to draw the consequences of past failures and successes.
Essential Option argues against both totalitarianism and formal democracy and for an alternative way of building a new political system in the Western world.
The combination of Anglo-American individualism, Franco-German collectivism, and Russian liberal conservatism will be called “the inclusive Western alternative option,” or, in short, the “Essential Option.”
I. Elements of the Anglo-American System
A good society, in which the self-reverence and self-perpetuation required of the citizen are of supreme significance, will at the same time be a properly capitalistic society in which the citizen’s long-term self-perpetuation is made possible. The future of any society is a contest between these short- and long-term views, and the outcome will determine whether the United States and ultimately Western civilization, will manage to find the way out of a state of decline in the coming decades.
If Western society is to survive, it must incorporate that which it has long regarded as its diametrical opposite: the aristocratic or long view. If Western civilization is to perish, it will continue promoting that which has been falsely regarded as its best element: the egalitarian or “here and now” view (the mass appetite).
Ignoble elements of a nation can exert a marked influence on its course because they are without reverence toward either the present or the future. They see their lives and the time they live in spoiled beyond remedy and are prepared to squander and wreck both; hence their willingness to accept and create chaos and anarchy. They are the egalitarians on the path of destruction. The egalitarians live for the short term since the present is an ordeal, the past invariably is a source of evil, and the future is beyond their control or care. The short term is convenient and instantaneous—the whetting of an appetite.
At present, a population of the West’s human capital, created through political decisions, is not fit for democracy. If society does not demand far higher specific character standards of itself, it will eventually and by default become proletarian. If more is not required of the individual, nothing will be requested of the mass. Then eventually, one person will be invested with the responsibility for the many, becoming the dictator this society inevitably creates—Jefferson’s “elected despot.”
How many times has this already happened in the Western world since the French Revolution, and with what result? Assuredly, it will happen, indeed must happen, again—provided things do not fundamentally change.
The aristocratic element of society is its long-term quality. It has reverence for the past and plans for the future. It is the basic instinct that Western civilization would need once more, while capitalism, the practical support of society, should be free of guilt-conscious modifiers or apologetic labels tacked onto it. Once upon a time in Europe, this view meant that vast fortunes were made to sustain the family name for generations. In the United States, it became the outlook of Madison, Adams, and Jefferson, who referred time and again to the need for a gallant citizenry to uphold their immense and awe-inspiring undertaking. It is the outlook of that individual whom no great force—emperor, soldier, or government—can replace.
Only the element of individual responsibility taken from the Anglo-American system and put within an aristocratic framework, instead of egalitarian order, can provide society with any long-term-future-planning quality.
II. Elements of the Franco-German System
The West needs an ideology-based system applying management by objective on a national scale, i.e., within the people’s political life. The achievement of those objectives will be entrusted to appointed leaders who must exercise their skills and talents in the most helpful, efficient, and honorable way possible.
The underlying principle is that the welfare of the whole outranks the well-being of the individual. It means that where conflicts of interest arise, the lesser is sacrificed to the greater in pursuit of quality—such as the German system.
The political system appoints a leader in a particular position, and he is, on account of his appointment, granted the power and freedom to make decisions. The outcomes of those decisions determine whether the incumbent will remain in that position because he, and only he, is responsible for the consequences of his choices. If these go wrong, as measured against set principles and goals, he has to accept accountability for his errors and vacate his position.
Freedom is offset by responsibility, the fulfillment of duty is rewarded by more power, and failure is met with accountability—such as the Roman system.
Democracy itself can never be called to account for anything since the right of decision is not vested in any cabinet but the parliamentary majority. The cabinet functions as the mere executor of the majority’s will and its political ability can be judged by how well it can adjust to the will of the majority or persuade the majority to agree to its proposals. However, this means that the ruling body must descend from real governing power to begging for the approval of a majority that may have gotten together only for the time being. Thereby the chain of command and, with it, all responsibility are abolished in practice.
The principle of combining full responsibility with full authority will gradually lead to a selected group of leaders to emerge—which is not even thinkable in our present epoch of irresponsible parliamentary democracy. As soon as the concept of power is discussed, democracy-minded people are quick to quote Lord Acton’s adage: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
While this wisdom might be true, one must also not forget that no society or organization can function unless power, with a commensurate amount of responsibility, is entrusted to distinct and officially recognized individuals. Moreover, responsibility must always rest with individuals, meaning specific people, and it cannot be delegated; only authority can be. In a democratic government, in which committees and commissions arrive at decisions based on majority votes, responsibility and authority are so mixed-up, dispersed, confused, and comminuted that in the end, they practically disappear.
Contemporary Western liberal democracy neither assigns responsibility to its leaders nor holds them accountable for their actions.
Taking the Franco-German system elements to enforce the direct, clear, and unambiguous responsibility and accountability of the state will result in a fairer, more just, more efficient, and incorruptible government. Any such governmental socioeconomic system shall be based on a real bottom-up social market economy.
III. Elements of the Russian System
The primary sources of the West’s problems are corrupted and degenerate moral and legal consciousness. Given this, democracy is not a suitable form of government.
There must be a single responsible will at the head of the state. United and strong state power is needed; at the same time, there must be clear limits to these powers. The political leader must be elected and have popular support; the state organs must be competent and accountable; the rule of law must be upheld, and all people must be equal before the law. Freedom of speech, conscience, and assembly must be guaranteed. Private property must be sacrosanct. The state should be supreme in those areas in which it has competence but must stay out of those areas in which it has none, such as private life and religion. That is the meaning of a long-standing and peculiarly Russian tradition of liberal conservatism, the roots of which can be found in the resistance to the individualistic Western liberalism’s momentum.
The Russian philosopher Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin’s liberal-conservative doctrine divides sovereign authority between the state and private spheres based on the supremacy of the law that sets legal limits. Only by embracing the relevant elements of the doctrine can the Western world successfully combat the destructive forces released by modern liberalism.
The West’s resurrection depends on the revival of the true spirit, love of one’s country and people, respect for the law, a sense of duty and honor, devotion to the state, general well-being, and prosperity instead of personal or party interests. It will suffice to mention three themes that stand out: statehood, legal consciousness, and nationalism.
Statehood: To view the state as a balance of competing material interests is profoundly mistaken; the government should work for the common good. To this end, it must be strong and just; a weak state would result in anarchy. This author favors autocracy, but one filled with a creative spirit—an autocratic–aristocratic confederacy or sovereignty. One single will must stand at the head of the state. The state should be absolute in those areas in which it has competence but should not have jurisdiction over everything; it must be bound by law and accountable to the people.
Legal consciousness: One of the modern West’s most serious failings is its peoples’ misguided sense of right and wrong and whether they should adhere to the law. One of the autocratic state’s essential tasks must be to develop and nurture people’s legal consciousness. The single correct path to any reform is the ever-continuing education in legal awareness. Theoretically, the state can be reduced to the self-government of the people. However, the state’s single and objective aim is so high and requires the citizenry to possess such mature legal consciousness that historically, the people become incapable of self-government. It must be one of the future tasks of political philosophy to uncover the root of this divergence; state power must find a way to correct it.
Nationalism: This author is a nationalist; love of country is a central part of his philosophy. Every nation should develop in its own way. Thus the West has no right to tell others how to run their country; in other parts of the world, the conditions are not the same as in the Western world. The West is not entitled to impose any political forms on others whatsoever.
At the same time, this author rejects imperialism. Precisely because each nation should develop in its own way, all those powers, countries, and supranational federations comprising several different and distinct entities, e.g., the European Union, Russia, and China, should not seek to absorb and destroy those but let them develop their own cultures (see Canada or Switzerland).
The Essential Option is the philosophy of Western renewal—the New West: new conservatism and subsidiarity.
New conservatism is opposition to breaking with the past concerning government and social institutions. It is anti-ideological insofar as it emphasizes means (slow change) over ends (any particular form of government).
Whether one decides on a right- or left-wing government is less important than whether a change is effected through the rule of law rather than through revolution and sudden innovation.
Family values and tradition are of primary importance to society; the institution of marriage should be recognized as a legal contract between members of the opposite sex and not between two members of the same sex. Profanity, sexuality, and extreme violence in the media and movies must be avoided.
The federal government’s role must be limited; Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s teachings regarding a powerful federal (meaning central) government must be supported and followed.
The modern form of conservatism, or neoconservatism, supporting a more assertive, interventionist foreign policy to promote democracy abroad must be rejected. A country’s international affairs shall promote its government’s domestic policy and not any disaffected group’s program. Foreign policy must be pursued based on national interest, sovereignty, and self-determination instead of globalizing adventures, nation-building, and the spreading of democracy abroad based on moralizing sentiments.
Multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, and egalitarian states are inherently ambiguous, erratic, and insecure. The policy of the New West is more neutralist and wary of foreign influence on domestic affairs.
While the military strength of the nation is paramount, any foreign military intervention must be forbidden.
Work must be the universal duty and the meaning of life itself.
There will be a controlled aristocracy that is subject to the principle of subsidiarity without the right to supersede the power invested in legitimately elected local, regional, or state government. That means there must be a hierarchical and aristocratic political system (representative hierarchy) with limited control that serves the people and is answerable to the moral law.
A national-conservative ideology will promote and preserve the nation’s political sovereignty and right to self-determination. This ideology will also support the principle of individual responsibility while being skeptical of the uncontrolled expansion of governmental services or military involvement abroad.
There will be neither organized political parties nor career party leaders.
Widespread ownership of productive assets must be encouraged and nurtured; society’s deproletarianization must be carried out by gaining possession of profit-producing properties by the masses.
A new tax policy based entirely on incentives must be implemented. These incentives must consider whether the particular expenditure draws money from the state (future earnings will be more highly taxed) or reduces the government’s current or future financial burden. When expenditures that currently require state or public funds are financed with more private investment, the state’s burden will decrease; tax incentives will significantly increase public participation, investment, and support. The welfare state’s private financing must be encouraged; it is the only way the state’s eventual bankruptcy can be avoided and the national debt reduced.
A leadership principle based on proven merit and not on electioneering must be followed. Leaders will rise higher in the organizational structures by virtue of character, competency, and efficiency, as demonstrated by their track records.
Forgiveness is essential and fundamental to healthy social order. People can live in peace with each other in a sound, robust, and thriving society only if they are ready to forgive others’ faults and confess to their own shortcomings. The collective consciousness must be open to the ideas of achievement, aspirations, and ideals.
Liberty and peace begin with morals and nothing else; society must be taught to understand the superiority of morality and virtue over human wisdom to overcome anger and evil with grace, integrity, honesty, and decency.
The political leadership must re-establish the social bonds and rebuild society and its structures based on trust. The political elite must unite and reorganize the nation around those permanent virtues of courage, duty, courtesy, justice, and charity, which encourage moderation and build strong social bonds.
Education free of political bias must return to the humanities and recognize the individual.
A strictly-controlled immigration and naturalization process based on national interest, merit, and employment opportunities must be introduced and enforced. Economic migrants and guest workers cannot become citizens but must return to their home countries by reaching retirement age.
The judiciary must stand for the national law without being above that law and the state. The national public law must be agreed to by the national high courts. International law must, therefore, always remain subordinate to the country’s national law. The courts must not have the power to reach decisions against the people’s will in the political elite’s interest.
In the context of reducing CO2 emissions, the Essential Option supports only globally and legally binding agreements while demanding, as a prerequisite to the approval of any protocol concerning the environment, controlled and enforced population growth.
In social welfare policy, any further expansion of the welfare state and governmental support of an “identicalization” of the two genders must be prohibited. The strengthening of crime prevention measures against social transgressions and the return to meritocracy—especially in social welfare and education policy—must be implemented.
A stable society is achieved by the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice or conscious self-limitation. The Essential Option believes that freedom is linked to our various responsibilities and self-restraint, emphasizing moral justice instead of social justice. There is no freedom for either the individual or the state without discipline and honesty.
The Essential Option holds that a high or noble culture over a popular or mass culture must be supported and maintained. Since all high culture is aristocratic, a hierarchical political system is better suited to promoting high culture than purely democratic or republican government forms.
Although the Essential Option stands for a limited but explicitly professional role of the government, it is against laissez-faire economics and rejects the power of large corporations and lobbies.
Most political and social problems currently being addressed by supranational organizations on international levels must be dealt with by newly empowered national, local, and regional governments. Subsidiarity is consonant with localism and the decentralization of political power.
The subsidiarist view of multiculturalism calls for the thriving of independent national, regional, and local cultures.
The problems caused by globalization, centralization, and uniformization are to be solved by empowering local and regional governments and revoking the macro-oriented central government’s power.