Do You Believe in Politics?
whatabout a post-political world
If you suggest to your liberal friend that politics is all about the enemy, they won’t like it. Because, I suppose, they believe that their politics is a noble effort to bring justice to the world: to bend the arc of history towards justice. President Obama used those words in connection with an award to civil rights leader Clarence B. Jones.
Obama used the phrase in the active sense, whereas Martin Luther King Jr. used it in a passive sense. I understand also that King used the phrase “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” in a religious rather than political sense.
It would be interesting to know how politics came to be associated with justice. My guess is that in the very olden time there was either conforming to mores or violating the mores. And if you violated the mores you were cast out of the community. I wonder if that was mostly a girl thing.
Obviously the guy thing was defending the border against the enemy.
But when rulers got involved in laws, and in the administration of courts, then, it seems to me, we mix up the question of the enemy and the question of the judging of acts within the community.
And if we accept the idea that politics is all about the enemy then we get the notion that violaters of community mores become identified as enemies. Were “outlaws” always considered enemies? Or what? I wonder how the question of “outlaws” aligns with the culture among women that “I’m never speaking to her again.”
I get the feeling that, no later than the French Revolution, there was an expectation among the lower orders that the rulers should help them in the case of a bad harvest, or famine. This meant that people under the rule of the warrior class expected more from the warriors than simple defence from invaders. And in the towns there might be bread riots in case of famine.
In other words, things get complicated once society become more complex than a community of the kindred governed by unspoken mores.
And yet, politics cannot seem to deviate from defeat the enemy and divvy out the loot. We certainly see this in our own time where the educated ruling class is utterly consumed with the problem of “armed insurrection” and the pursuit and neutralization of any challenge to its power. Meanwhile it feels a driving necessity to think up new handouts to its supporters, such as the college loan forgiveness plan.
Lefty philosopher Jürgen Habermas determined a generation ago in his Theory of Communicative Action that we live in a “life world” of shared taken-for-granted tradition, in which we communicate and converse with each other, thus interacting through discourse rather than domination, interchange rather than injunction, emancipation rather than subordination.
But how do we get from the dominatory system of politics and the enemy to the intersubjective “life world” and its shared culture and trust? Because in that world we would not need politics, except to unite against an invasion from outer space.