A while back, someone linked me to this interview with Tory MP Rory Stuart from 2014 (H/T: Peregrin). It was rather informative on what is wrong with modern politics (read it all).
“But in our situation we’re all powerless. I mean, we pretend we’re run by people. We’re not run by anybody. The secret of modern Britain is there is no power anywhere.” Some commentators, he says, think we’re run by an oligarchy. “But we’re not. I mean, nobody can see power in Britain. The politicians think journalists have power. The journalists know they don’t have any. Then they think the bankers have power. The bankers know they don’t have any. None of them have any power.”
And this from a man who only two years ago attended the Bilderberg conference, a highly exclusive and secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and businesspeople?
“Well there we are, you see,” he smiles. “I can tell you, there is nothing there. It’s like the wizard of Oz. This is the age of the wizard of Oz, you know. In the end you get behind the curtain and you finally meet the wizard and there’s this tiny, frightened figure. I think every prime minister has sort of said this since Blair. You get there and you pull the lever, and nothing happens.”
This is a perfect example of what Moldbug, referencing Carlyle, referred to as chronic kinglessness.
This is the secret of politics and modern society: nobody is in charge, no one has power, and nobody is running the show: not the people, not the corporations, not the politicians, not the bureaucrats, not the courts, not the military, not the journalists, not the bankers, not the white male patriarchs, not the SJW’s, not the Jews, not Davos, not the Bilderbergs, not the Tri-lateral Commission, not the Illuminati, and not the lizard-people.
Everybody likes to posit that some bogeyman composed of people they dislike is in charge and running, ruining, things behind the scenes because that is comforting. Even if a conspiracy is leading to disaster, at least we’re being led. Even if they are evil incarnate, at least they know what they’re doing and are leading society in a specific direction. It is comforting to know someone is in charge, even if we hate them.
But we’re not that lucky. There is no one who really knows what they’re doing and no one is in charge. Everybody has just a little bit of power, some have more some less, to accomplish tiny things, so nobody has any real power to accomplish anything. Our system is vieled anarchy.
Society’s moving the way it is not because anyone is willing it, but because society’s movement has taken on an inertia of its own, and continues moving along this inertial path whatever actual people may desire. It has almost become a will of its own, some have taken to calling it an egregore, but it’s not really mystical or mysterious. It moves because that’s the way it has moved, so people follow it along and continue to move it, so it moves.
We have the rule of law, but the law is unknown and unconstrained by man.
Don’t believe me, remember this picture:
The wife of the leader of the free world was so powerless, she had to make meaningless twitter activism to try to rescue for a few hundred kidnapped girls. The so-called Leader of the Free World, who ostensibly has the most powerful military in the history of the world under his command, couldn’t liberate a few hundred girls from a few hundred tribal savages, so she had to pray to the activism gods.
The king of any third-rate kingdom in history would laugh at the pitiable weakness of any other king who couldn’t even round up 100 aging men to rescue some maidens to make his queen smile. Yet, the Commander in Chief of the the million man army of the strongest empire in history failed to do this.
The girls were later saved by a hundred aging South African mercenaries. I’ll also note, that despite being able to do what the US President was powerless to, these mercenaries also expressed feelings of powerlessness.
Because everybody has some power, but nobody has real power, there is no responsibility. Back to the interview:
Whenever Stewart took one of these ideas, such as rule of law, to an actual Afghan village, it became meaningless. “None of the things that I’m looking for exist. There obviously isn’t police, or a judge, there isn’t a legal code, there isn’t a prison. There’s a bunch of guys with white beards sitting around, and their system of doing that might be quite different from the next-door village. So then how do you get from there to here? Well, it can be done, but it’s not going to be done by a foreigner who barely understands any of that.”
These bearded men have real power. It may be limited to a small village, but it is real in a way no modern in the West could understand. There is no legal power or police backing them up, but they still have control over their local village. Because they have real power, they also have real responsibility; even an outsider who knows nothing can tell exactly who’s in charge. The village knows exactly who to hold accountable if something goes wrong, and if leadership is bad enough, they know exactly who to shoot.
On the other hand, let’s examine our governance using Obamacare as an example. Obamacare was nightmare of inefficincies, failed deadlines, and rising health insurance prices. Despite being named after Obama, the blame gets heaped everywhere: Obama who championed the bill, Republicans who obstructed it and watered it down, the lobbyists and interns who actually wrote the bill, Justice Roberts who ruled a not-tax was a tax, the IT company that screwed the website, the bureaucracy implementing the plan, the insurance companies who didn’t act the way leftists wanted, or the people who elected those who put the whole thing into place.
Nobody got what they wanted out of this debacle, and everybody’s unhappy. Everybody was acting like they were powerless to get what they wanted and their opponents were using their overwhelming power to get their way. The only person who had even a hint of real power in this whole thing was Roberts who technically could have squashed it, but who felt he didn’t have the power to, so instead he made the cockamamie excuse that something that was specifically written as not being a tax was a tax.
Everybody has some power, but nobody has real power, so nobody nobody knows who to blame, beyond the other guy, and nobody can be held accountable, when things go wrong.
The reverse holds true as well, no responsibility means no authority. If no one is responsible for something, no one has legitimate authority over it, no one has power over it. Every villager in this village, knows who has authority. Nobody in the US has any clue who actually has authority.
Power flows from authority, authority flows from legitimacy.
At its essence, power is violence, real or implied. It is the ability to force others to do your will.
But, the violent capacities of one man are extremely limited, no one man could stop ten, let alone a hundred thousand, so the capacity for violence, real or implied, comes not from personal capacities, but from the ability to command others to carry out violence on your behalf. A man’s power is essentially: if he ordered it, how many man would commit violence on his behalf. The ability to carry out your will, particularly through the use of others, is authority. Authority is from here power flows.
Legitimacy is whether men accept your authority. Do men believe you have the right to command them and do they believe they have a duty to obey when you command? You can temporarily force people to obey without legitimacy through fear, but this illusionary authority lasts only until someone openly disobeys without consequence or someone responds with greater force.
So, who today has power?
The President can, with enough political maneveuring, command thousands of men into war, but that is limited. He couldn’t even command 100 men to #bringbackourgirls to please his wife. Should the President command a war, Justice Roberts could force the war to end, if he declared it unconstiutional. Theoretically, the Constitution states that Congress decides when men are sent to war, they could theoretically overrule the President, but they seem to not have been particularly effective in stopping the President in recent history. A general could theoretically disobey the president; he controls the men with guns. Come to that, the men with guns themselves could do whatever they desired, who could stop them?
So, in theory, nobody really controls when men are sent to war, yet, the men still march to war, and the wars end up wasteful and counter-productive. This century, our enemies always seem to end up controlling the countries the US invades, yet no one is ever held responsible.
You will notice the Constitution mentioned repeatedly above. Odd that a document, a set of words that could be destroyed by a single 10-cent match, controls so much. The Constitution has power because the constitution confers legitimacy. The legitimacy confers authority.
Yet, the legitimacy of the Constitution has been waning. When will the living document lose its power?
This basis of legitimacy is dedicated to preventing any one man from obtaining any real power. This was more or less functional when government was small and controlled, power rested outside the government, so there was little power for the Constitution to to distribute. It may have been uncontrolled, but it was a toddler swinging wildly. But as government has grown, so to has the dysfunctionality. More power rests with the government, but nobody has any real power over that power. The power of government swings around madly, like an enraged and blinded Hercules.
Also, odd, isn’t it, that the Constitution fails utterly to check the growth of government power, yet it strongly checks the power of any single man.
We are suffering chronic kinglessness. Everybody has some power, but nobody has real power. All the men we think are powerful, think themselves powerless. Instead of a directed, functional state, we a hyper-powerful super-state throwing its tremendous weight around blindly, destroying everything in its path. The Constitution, which limits any man from having real power, prevents any man from exercising real authority, yet at the same time it is helpless to limit government, so the behemoth fumbles around blindly leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.