Cosmotarians, Paleotarians, & Philip Bobbitt

As I’ve said before on the blog, I’m a huge fan of Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles [SoA] (not so much of his new book Terror and Consent). In SoA Bobbitt comes up with a number of paradigms of the Western state–at the nexus of political, military, economic, legal praxis.

The chronology goes Princely States–>Kingly States–>State-Nations–>Nation-States–>Market State.

On the state-nation:

In the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, kingly states that survived developed into state-nations. Nations are societies (older than civilization), and state-nations are states that provide its people” civil and political rights of popular sovereignty.” Britain was one such state-nation. The French Revolution transformed France from a kingly state to a state-nation. A state-nation was a state that was mobilized as a nation. It was “a national, ethnocultural group.” The state-nation did not take direction from common people – in other words, the nation. “The state-nation, writes Bobbitt, “was not responsible to the nation; rather it was responsible for the nation.” But the state-nation trusts the common people enough to arm them. It was the state-nation that brought about the great military conscriptions – which Napoleon exploited.

Then the nation-state which by the end of the WWII was the Welfare Nation-State.

And now we are headed into the era of The Market State argues Bobbitt. A summary:

Today, under the emerging market state, the state finds its legitimacy in fostering the free enterprise and free markets necessary to increase the aggregate wealth of the citizenry, in continuing to maximize opportunities for individual advancement, in encouraging the growth of public-private partnerships, and in devolving the welfare state.

I’ve been thinking of this notion relative to the various strands of libertarianism that have popped their head up either during the Republican nomination or via the intertubules.

With someone like Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell school of libertarianism (i.e. paleotarianism) you seek a devolution of the nation-state back to state-nation status. Paul thinks the Civil War could have been avoided by the buying up of all the slaves. Wants to return to the gold standard (early nation-state construct), undo the liberal international order built up in the Welfare state domestically and the multilaterals internationally (stop funding the UN, get out of NATO, etc.). Plus devolution to militias. The government would be responsible for the state but not the nation.

With the libertarian(ish)–if they still are at all–or at least anti-welfare state crew on the Right (original neocons, National Review) you have a strange scenario whereby they accept the entire national security appartus and national security state that is a hallmark of the nation-state, as well as the nationhood status based on culture and traditional morality (Pat Buchanan-cons, anti-immigration right, social cons) and yet want to argue that the liberal welfare state/entitlement arm of the nation-state construct is invalid. Which is problematic given that the technology that helped shape the national security state comes from the Welfare State.

On the left, you can have the same basic mistake in the reverse–undo the national security state while keeping/expanding the welfare state. But the two are too closely linked to be so de-coupled.

On the other hand are the cosmotarians (e.g. Kerry Howley, Will Wilkinson & Crew). The cosmotarians really represent I believe a full fledged push into and for The Market State. Undo/vastly limit the national security state, the welfare state, not typically concerned about nation-hood identity or status. They argue for the right of unfettered movement of labor across all boundaries (end of nation-state border conception). But notice it’s not a return to state-nation status. Cosmotarians are not generally big fans of Ron Paul–e.g. Paul’s state-nation position on abortion. Or his build a fence immigration stance. [Though they can agree I guess on decriminalizing drugs :)].

Unfortunately (I think??) for the cosmotarian crowd, The Market State they advocate for automatically comes with The National Surveillance State, Private Military Companies, and Virtual States of Trans-national Terror & Criminality.  I’m imagining somehow the pushback against that reality is going to create forms of government expansion.  Or at least loss of certain kinds of liberties just as other kinds are being born.  In The Market State that is.


How Will Obama Govern (i.e. How Not to Make the ’92 Clinton Mistakes)

From the always-insightful John Heilemann.  Piece on the coming Obama administration, a little crystal ball gazing, and background on the transition team.  This caught my eye:

Yet the very feebleness of Reid and Pelosi may work to Obama’s advantage; they are much more likely to see their fates as bound up with his than Tom Foley and George Mitchell ever did with Clinton’s. Obama’s race, in a funny way, may make him less vulnerable to mau-mauing by the left. And the unconventional way he ran for office, the whole bottom-up movement thing, may grant him a degree of independence unique in modern history. “Personally, I think the depth of the Obama realignment is being underestimated,” says the Republican media savant Stuart Stevens, who helped elect Bush twice. “They have basically invented their own party that is compatible with the Democratic Party but is bigger than the Democratic Party. Their e-mail list is more powerful than the DNC or RNC. In essence, Obama would be elected as an Independent with Democratic backing—like Bernie Sanders on steroids.”

The article also highlights that Obama is putting financial regulatory & energy reform and middle class tax cuts first (with Health Care probably having to be a year out).  Though not mentioned in the article will of course also be the announcement of the drawdown in Iraq as well. I’m much more on board with Obama’s financial regulatory/energy policy & tax cut proposals plus infrastructure spending (and his Iraq policy) than I am with his health care plan and (even less so) with his education plan. So I like the sound of this basic vision coming out the gates.

I’m not sure health care reform can meaningfully be handled until after the coming global recession is over.  On the other hand, the recession is being fueled in the States by exorbitant health care costs.  It’s a real damned if you/damned if you don’t situation.

Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 4:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Spreading Fire

This doesn’t sound good:

U.S. military helicopters attacked territory inside Syria close to its border with Iraq Sunday, killing eight people in a strike the Syrian government condemned as “serious aggression.”

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq in an area where the Americans have been unable to shut it down because it was out of the military’s reach.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

Whatever vague hopes there are out there for a Syrian-Israeli peace deal probably aren’t helped by this kind of thing.  Certainly the Syrian-Iraq border has been a porous one through which all kinds of fighters, smuggling, and even refugees have passed in the years since the fall of Saddam.  Also, news of this probably doesn’t help I’m guessing at the very sensitive time of trying to negotiate a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement).

Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update Prop 8 Commercials

Since I was a tad hard on the Vote No on Prop 8 side the other day, credit where credit is due–these two are very good ads.  Here and here via Michael D. at Balloon-Juice.

They still don’t get at the other issue I think which is calling out not just fear tactics but making reference to people have honest emotional difficulties around the issue and yet in a way that validates those feelings (i.e. you’re not a bigot or simply some sheeply coward whose been bullied into voting yes by fear) while still calling beyond that feeling.  Allow the feeling to arise but then hone in on the civil rights question to end it.

Still the two ads are good because they bring in families (Perlman) and religious leaders who are not opposed to gay marriage.

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 9:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Credo Update

My inaugural (non-bio) post at Credo (here), the Culture11 Group Faith blog trying to apply John Robb’s concept of resilient community to church organization has generated some serious followup.  A Mormon response here, Orthodox here, and Roman Catholic here.

Joshua’s response (the Orthodox one) I found the most interesting.  He had some pushback on the concept and the possibility for it to become a exclusionary force in society/withdrawing from society.  I think that possibility is real, but I also think there are ways around it (I commented on his post to that end).

I haven’t exactly figured out how I’m going to work the distinction between these two blogs.  i.e. Are all of my “Christianity” posts just going over there?  Which would leave this blog almost entirely philosophical and political?  I don’t know.  I know I’m not going to cross-post anything I write there here (or vice versa for that matter).  I might just do periodic links here that string to say a number of recent posts there.  Maybe not.  Anyway, there is a link added on the sidebar to the Credo Blog.

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rick Mercer on Grits

Looks like Mercer agrees with Payne and I (or we with him or all of us with intelligent watchers) on the pathetic state of The Liberal Party in Canada–and their arrogance as the primary obstacle to their winning:

Published in: on October 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Letter from a Frum Reader

That David posts on his blog.  Pretty creepy stuff.

A portion:

We have a strong feeling that there now exists a “Heartland conservatism” – in the Reagan tradition –  and an “East Coast conservatism” that is seen as increasingly “elite” and out of touch with our values.   The message you are trying to send to us, to change our message, we are reflecting back at you (all).  Here’s the problem, our numbers area far, far greater.

Most of this alienation and frustration, I believe,  has been exasperated by the very public criticism, from “conservatives”,  of Gov. Palin,  who “out here” is very well liked.  We “get” her David, but we don’t “get” you (all) anymore, it’s that simple.

This is a job for Larison to exegete more fully, but I’ll just point out the chilling tone that what matters is our numbers will overwhelm you line of attack.  Notice there is no mention of whether those values is in for any sort of self-examination.  Whether they have helped bring effective public policy in or not.  No, Palin is our girl period.  We get her, we don’t get  you; hence you must be elitist.

Well in the coming intra-party bloodbath to be had in the Republican party and conservative movement more generally if that side wins (the side represented by the reader’s letter), then the GOP is in for long term, and I mean L-O-N-G T-E-R-M wilderness status.  Sullivan makes a similar point.  The cultural exclusivism and postmodern (in negative sense) cultural fundamentalism sensibility (“my culture right or wrong”) of that statement is something to behold.

The feeling of being abandoned by one’s (formerly) own and besieged from all sides is potent in the letter.  Politically channeled, such feelings are usually problematic.

On a broader look, as globalization continues, as Olivier Roy points out, there is a move to batten down identities.  One can no longer assume someone has a traditional identity because of where they come from, where they work, etc.  Roy’s work is on Islam of course and talks about re-Islamization since one can no longer assume just because one is from a traditionally Muslim society (e.g. Indonesia or Middle East) that therefore one is Muslim.  Even if one born and raised Muslim.  There has to be re-Islamization, a conscious choice, expressly described and validated in public to gain legitimacy.

Similar things are going on here with this neo-fundamentalism (in Roy’s terms) relative to these self-identified US heartland cons.  The traditional lands and environs of conservatism can no longer be trusted–I mean God’s sakes Frum works for AEI, used to work for Bush II, coined the Axis of Evil phrase, and writes on The National Review!!!–but he is breaking with the identity orthodoxy, he is committing heresy here and is to being told in no uncertain terms that the only way back into the good graces of the believers is to repent and public flagellate.  None of those creds he would normally point to matter in this case because identity/cred is not built through such traditions or connections.  Only through personal expression of the beliefs of the community and the Palin thing is a line in the sand for these heartland cons.  Doesn’t matter if she is qualified or not.  Doesn’t matter if she is has policy sense or the temperment for national office.  She is one of them and criticizing her is criticizing them. End of story.


Redistributionism Right and Left

John Robb writes:

The global crisis continues to pick up steam and where/when it will end is anybody’s guess. It’s hard to imagine it ending well.

It didn’t have to happen. The crucial step, from what I can determine, is that we intentionally gutted the core feature of the global system’s post WW2 stability:

That the incomes of Americans rose with improvements in productivity.

That logic held between WW2 and 1974. After that, incomes were decoupled from productivity improvements. Incomes didn’t grow at all while the extra wealth generated by productivity improvements were concentrated in the capital markets.

Someone like Jim Pinkerton would say, the left redistributed from the middle class down the socio-economic scale.  And the so-called free market right redistributed up via capital markets (as Robb points out).  The reason the pro-market right ends up in redistributionism (whether intended or otherwise) is that 1)the market is a learned theory/praxis (particularly capital markets) and 2)to ground such a theory requires an organizational base, usually in the form of property.

Peter Barnes’ as well as Hernando deSoto’s work is predicated on this notion.  The expansion of property rights–rather than redistribution of income/wealth–is the fundamental insight of Catholic social and economic teaching, known as distributionism.  In integral terms, property then is the LR and the learning theory/capacity if UL and LL. In Barnes’ work is it expanded to the commons, public property, but it is the same basic insight.

Poulos Smacks Sowell Down

This is good, good stuff.  Read it all–some good comments as well, so check those out.  JP offers a primer on how conservatives can and should legitimately criticize Obama.  [Hint the Thomas Sowell way is how not to do it].  I’ll add that this isn’t the first time Sowell has been high on something when discussing Obama.  (See here).

Sowell’s quotation is embedded in this op-ed by Peter Robinson for Forbes. In Sowell’s formulation political philosophy fall into two camps:

Sowell calls one worldview the “constrained vision.” It sees human nature as flawed or fallen, seeking to make the best of the possibilities that exist within that constraint. The competing worldview, which Sowell terms the “unconstrained vision,” instead sees human nature as capable of continual improvement.

Now if you are going to frame it this way, then the constrained vision is of course conservatism and the unconstrained liberal or progressive. Robinson/Sowell argues that Obama across the board is the unconstrained and McCain the constrained. [Obviously Sowell is a conservative so in his formulation unconstrained is a very bad thing.  One could as a progressive I suppose agree with that formulation without the negative interpretation of unconstrained attached.]

Now certainly on domestic policy, Obama is a traditional liberal-progressive.  So unconstrained in many regards.

But on foreign policy of course it’s actually the reverse with Obama the more constrained one relative to McCain.  Remember the response to Russia-Georgia anyone?  Ask yourself who seemed more constrained in that scenario?  Obama’s realism with regard to Iraq versus McCain’s unending talk about “victory”, with a view of the unconstrained capacity of the US military to simply dictate reality across the world, not just militarily but politically.

On foreign policy, Obama is the return of the post WWII bipartisan consensus.  Liberal Internationalist -Interventionst.  A more or less return to Clinton & George HW Bush–maybe with a new twist or two but basically in that category.  The Powell endorsement, Obama’s closeness with Lugar and Hagel, even Bob Gates, plus of course Biden as his VP–all that adds up to well within the establishment.  McCain is a return to the early years of Bush II and arguably much more radical one at that.

For someone like Daniel L., Obama’s consensus view is very problematic.  For me it’s partially problematic (not as problematic as it is for Daniel). But compared to McCain’s neocon outlook, I’ll take the established consensus view thank you very much.  The latter is not nearly as damaging in my book as the former.  The solutions offered by neoconservatism to the problems of the consensus view are far worse (imo) than the problems themselves.

McCain’s entire theory of rolling back rogue states (hear the Dulles echoes?) and democratizing the world through a League is not exactly a constrained vision of international policy, whatever else it is.

The Liberal Internationalist (flavored with Realism) schools of foreign policy more recognize the constrained fallen nature of human international political reality.  Obama has his own unconstrained elements in his FP–though even he is coming around to the notion of negotiating with the Taliban–but compared to McCain, it ain’t even close.

The way Sowell tries to fudge that McCain’s actual foreign policy undercuts his whole neat argument about how to fit the two candidates into the two different philosophies he has outlined, is by saying that Obama will stand around and/or want to have tea chats with bad guys as the evil doers give nukes to terrorists.  No I’m not kidding, read it, and read James’ evisceration of that point as well.

Proposition 8 and The Political Brain

Andrew Sullivan points to this ad against Proposition 8 in California regarding the teaching of marriage in school.  The background is the following:

[John] Diaz [editor of San Fran Chronicle] pointed to another PR triumph for the Yes on 8 crowd: an outing to San Francisco’s City Hall for a class of first-graders, as a surprise for their lesbian teacher, who had just gotten married.

Right there, full stop. 1. This is counting your chickens before the eggs hatch.  But 2 (and much worse) plays into every negative association regarding liberals using the government/courts to socially engineer your children.

To go back to Drew Westen’s work, the issue is reviving the emotional associations around a concept.  Clearly this has been a huge hit for the pro-gay marriage forces, otherwise they wouldn’t have had to run the ad Sullivan links.  Westen in a speech I heard him give on his book brought up a question MLK Jr. was asked about inter-racial marriage.  King famously responded that he wanted the white man as his brother, not his brother-in-law.  Which may or may not have been true, but was a necessary response.

Because King understood there were a number of people who would hold their noses or consent or at least not dissent from Civil Rights, so long as “they” got their rights and stayed over in their corner.  And say didn’t want to date their daughters.  King knew he would lose those people (who would be crucial to passage) if it entered the murky realm of the emotional-associative arena.

So long as the argument was about not wanting to be against rights–regardless of whether you like the people involved or not–then the politics favors those for rights (Civil or gary marriage in this case).

This is why in a media age something like these children going to the school is so bad.  Or San Fran Mayor Newsom’s arrogantly stupid comment that gay marriage is here “whether you like it or not.”

Now to go back to the San Fran sentintel link for a second, watch how the charge is rebutted:

The outing was suggested by the parents of the kids and approved by the administration of the school as a “teachable moment” in civil rights history, but Yes on 8 seized the excursion as proof of their claim that unless marriage equality is struck down, children as young as Kindergarteners will be subjected to mandatory lessons on gay marriage.

Diaz pointed out that this claim is a “scare tactic.”

The claim is not rooted in the state law that Yes on 8 points to, a law that links comprehensive sex ed to classes on “respecting marriage and committed relationships.”

Moreover, the children were not forced to go; parents were offered the choice of allowing their kids to go, or keeping them in school. 18 of the class’ 20 students were given the go-ahead by their parents, and two were kept in school with another first-grade class, but the voluntary nature of the trip — and the fact that the parents had thought up and approved the trip for their children — were not the elements on which the Yes on 8 faction focused.

In other words, following Westen, liberals just don’t get it.  Politically I mean.  The response is full of facts and reason but those aren’t the issue and are not what it is the primary driver of the voting patterns. It doesn’t matter in practical terms whether the children were not forced to go.  It’s the association and implication that they were that is almost impossible to rebut.

The ad ends on a good point for selling No on the Proposition (Yes to Gay Marriage)–that is the question is simply one of rights.  Again I’m talking here purely in political terms.

But the ad begins by mentioning the other ads in question–ads that raise the prospect of your children being forced to accept gay marriage as indoctrinated by the schools whether you agree or not.  Which as ads go is always dicey because it can just as easily re-trigger them and work at cross purposes to the ad’s intention–i.e. from the pov of someone anti-Prop 8, this would reinforce the message of Prop 8.  Especially since the rights language is at the end.  And since (like the Sentinel piece), the argument is made that the law has nothing to do with teaching our children about marriage, blah blah.  And I’m not sure the “shame on you for using the children” line of attack is particularly effective either.  [Just ask Hillary Clinton about shame on you tactics].

What is needed politically–just in terms of the selling of all this–is an honest admission from the pro-gay marriage side that they understand that this is going to cause changes.  Not specifically of course in the schools or the government enforcing children’s views, but in a general sense of people’s lives.  You follow that up by saying that possible fear people are feeling does not make them bigots or evil people. That being said, the message would continue, we stand our ground.  We think it is about rights, and while there will undoubtedly be some challenges faced by people, we think this good outweighs those difficulties.  You do not want to be against rights, it would end.

Such a spot would recognize and legitimize certain aspects of fear and yet give people a reason to move past them (if they are feeling any) in a way that doesn’t have to make them (in their own minds) undercut the rationale for their fears.  Again this is targeted to the group of people who I’m hypothesizing would generally approve (or rather not disapprove of…politically/civil law) gay marriage but are not gay friendly by any stretch.  They can be persuaded but not if the emotional fears are light up by stupid arrogant liberals.   It would radically undercut the elitist charge–which is exactly what Newsom played into, he walked right into that trap.

A variation on this theme would to have a black straight married couple and have them end with the question of whether people really want to be against rights?  [or maybe if you want to really push the envelope “civil rights”].  Given there is some fear of larger A-A turnout given Obama and still  some resistance to gay marriage in that community.

iow, I want the white man as my brother not my brother-in-law.

This would be an especially effective tactic when combined with the already out there very effective ads the pro-gay marriage side has put on, showing gay couples as simply wanting to lead regular lives, have families, share love, etc.  This ad with Ellen is a good example.  [although it would have been better if you she was in her home].

But anyway, the point of this is how stupid and self-defeating can liberals continue to be?  In terms of learning how to act to make political arguments.  Whatever one’s particular agree/disagree with the Proposition, I think can agree with this analysis.  i.e. If you for Prop 8, you’ve got be diggin’ that the liberals are feeding you this absolutely golden material.

Update I:   Just to make clear, I favor civil gay marriage.  Actually where I live it’s not a civil issue–gay marriage is legal everyone in Canada.  And nobody is talking anymore about overturning it; it’s here to stay here.

In the US context,  I’m still very confused and undecided whether courts are the best way to go about this–or if votes are better.  The Civil Rights precedent is mixed in that regard.  Supreme Court obviously overturned segregation in Brown.  But it was the Congress (and the President signed) who passed The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.

Also separate but related question:  should it be federal or state by state?  On the one, I tend more towards the latter.

Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 1:00 pm  Comments (4)