Can Liberal Capitalism descend into Totalitarianism?: On Life after the Ideology

There are still going to be people searching for alternatives to Liberal Capitalism, rejecting its different variants and tendencies. Liberal Capitalism has had a long history of those who opposed it for various different motives. Often, history recalls that those who did oppose it were doing so on behalf of other ideologies. Rarely understood is the not well-known fact that some of the opposition was directed against the ideology by a particular tendency from within itself. The ideology is particularly notorious for having its own critics from those who also uphold a certain interpretation of Liberal Capitalism.

There are Social Democrats and Progressives (Read: Social Liberals) who opposed the economic aspects of Liberal Capitalism, “Capitalism,” as undermining the economic securities and political freedoms of the Individual. Then there are the Liberal Conservatives and Libertarians (Read: Classical Liberals) who opposed the political aspects of Liberal Capitalism, “Liberalism,” as undermining the political securities and economic freedoms of the Individual. And then there are the Liberal Capitalists themselves, the ones who are often called the “Political Center” and their “Center-Left” and “Center-Right” tendencies. Most Liberal Capitalist regimes are known to have at least five major factions organized into parties adhering to a particular interpretation of the ideology. The only real exception to the rule as of late are those adhering to Environmentalism, which is an entirely different ideology altogether with its own tendencies and variants.

But there is another tendency within Liberal Capitalism that prefers to criticize the ideology on religious grounds and demonstrates an unwillingness to consider any other ideology. Europe’s “Christian Democrats” and America’s “Christian Right” are both post-1945 manifestations of a critique shared by some Liberal Capitalists that their ideology’s Secularist tendencies is hostile to the Western world and its interactions with the rest of humanity. Both stem from the theologically unsound coalescence between Roman Catholics and Protestants in the Western world, even though Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are both opposing interpretations of Christianity with very different understandings of political and economic life. Those contradictions were tolerated out of opportunistic expediency to broker a political coalescence with Liberal Conservatives and Classical Liberals during the Cold War. Thus, all of them were able to claim that Liberal Capitalism itself constitutes its own form of Totalitarianism, where Social Liberals and Social Democrats could at any time create a “Liberal Socialism” to realize Scientific Socialism.

The lapse in logic does not end there. The fact that the Socialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is called “Scientific Socialism” as part of their critiques of Utopian Socialism is unknown to them. If anything, any conception of Liberal Socialism is more likely to resemble Utopian Socialism than Scientific Socialism or any other known Socialism; even Marx and Engels were critical of Liberalism just as they were famously known for their criticisms of Capitalism. Unfortunately, this has not stopped Liberal Conservatives and Classical Liberals from manipulating the Christian Democrats and the Christian Right into framing Science itself as causing Scientific Socialism by a fallacious guilt of association. Apparently, scientists in white lab coats and the Scientific Method itself ought to be the ones deemed responsible for Scientific Socialism, not Marx and Engels.

 Here, the “freedom-security dialectic” sets the precedent for Liberal Capitalism’s own version of Totalitarianism. The pursuit of absolute freedom against perceived unfreedoms will eventually be met by a concurring pursuit of absolute security against perceived insecurity. This variation of the freedom-security dialectic now includes everything from mandatory vaccinations in the Coronavirus Pandemic to Climate Change. A negative feedback loop emerges where entire livelihoods are destroyed and people’s lives are lost, as evidenced by the ongoing dissemination of disinformation and conspiracy theories about the Pandemic and Climate Change. As with any other form of Totalitarianism, which tried to have the Totality conform to only one aspect of itself, the Liberal Capitalist version recognizes the Individual and defines the Totality (the Classes, States, Peoples, and Churches of whole nations) as being nothing more than a bunch of Individuals stripped of collective identities.

Totalitarianism on its own represents a form of political nihilism, just as the proliferation of Debt-based Fiat Currencies after Bretton Woods represents a form of financial nihilism. Every Totalitarianism appears in the wake of an apparent crisis of being. Nobody really appreciates it, and there will always be those seeking to abandon this nihilism by experiencing an existential crisis from within themselves. That is how political dissent assumes proper form under Totalitarianism because when people realize the nihilist void, they begin searching vigorously for any alternatives to fill in the void.

And if Liberal Capitalism does become Totalitarian, what happens to the ideology? The ideology will be discredited by different alternatives and Life will go on without Liberal Capitalism. Barring Fascism and Communism and all of their variants, Nationalism, Anarchism, Socialism, Traditionalism, Authoritarianism, and Conservatism are all capable of providing worthy political alternatives to the Liberal Capitalism. Statism, Monarchism and Ultramontanism, the latter advocating for the political involvement of the Catholic Church in the West, are all alternative possibilities. If this conclusion is familiar to anyone reading The Fourth Estate, it is because the conclusion is reminiscent of Spengler’s thesis from Prussianism and Socialism.   

“Prussian Socialism,” “French Anarchism,” “Italian Statism,” “Spanish Ultramontanism,” and “English Authoritarianism” are understandable from the historical origins of the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish and British. Italy originated as a collection of warring states and the Catholic Church (the “Papal States”) that fought each other to unite the Italian people as a nation. Spain and its German counterpart, Austria, checked the expansion of Islam, the former eventually discovering the Americas and contributing to the spread of Catholicism while the latter contested the Balkans with the Ottoman Empire. France was a decentralized nation for much of its history, united only by a Monarchy which was later deposed in the French Revolution, allowing chaos and disorder to reign until the French eventually settled for Napoleon Bonaparte. England was originally ruled by its Authoritarian Monarchs who were overthrown or had tried uniting its neighbors around a People’s Republic but ended up with a Constitutional Monarchy, a Parliament espousing Liberalism in the political sense and Capitalism in the economic sense. And Prussia was comprised of different peoples, faiths and states that eventually tried uniting the German-speaking world as a unitary nation. The broader Western world, including the rest of Europe, the Americas and the United States, Australia and New Zealand, share the characteristics of one or more of those five peoples.

Traditionalism, Conservatism, Nationalism, and Monarchism are all compatible with each of the other five ideologies, coexisting in the political life of a nation-state which chooses to adopt them. Any overestimation of the economic aspect of Socialism is a consequence of Liberal Capitalism distorting the ontology of Socialism since there is in fact a political dimension to Socialism. Yes, there really is a political dimension behind Socialism, which I had devoted entries in the SMP Compendium about the very topic itself.

In post-Soviet Russia and among some (but obviously not all) of the former Soviet Republics, “Authoritarian Capitalism” reigns since the 1990s. In Mainland China, there is a “State Capitalism” due to the market reforms and the CPC still in control of the state. The Socialisms in those countries, despite them being Marxist-Leninist, still exhibited Nationalistic tendencies under the guises of “Socialist Patriotism.” A similar pattern of Socialism and Nationalism coexisting as a coherent whole can also be found in places like Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. Vatican City and Iran both exist as Sacerdotal Monarchies because their Head of State governs as an important ecclesiastical figure (the Pope for the former and the Ayatollah for the latter). There are genuine Conservatives in various countries who advocate for the conservation of a people’s culture and tradition and Traditionalists who advocate for older ways of living. It is even possible for the latter to advocate a “return to the land” and living in harmony with nature, giving Environmentalism an older historical origin that predates Climate Change by centuries.

And what can be said for a United States without Liberal Capitalism? It is often claimed that Liberal Capitalism is the only political-economic system defining the American Way of Life. Such rhetoric is totalitarian by denying the multiplicity of ways of living that defines the American Way of Life itself. All of the identity politics, petty sectarianism, racialism and bigotry, and close-minded suspicion of preserving America’s European origins are the consequences of one ideology that is undermining the integrity of the Union. The ideology is Liberal Capitalism, which stems from Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicanism and rejected by the Hamiltonian Federalism for being divisive and counterproductive to the Union as a Totality.

Liberal Capitalism denies the cultural, traditional, historical, ethnic and religious diversity that defines the American Way of Life, reducing all Americans to nothing more than “producers” and “consumers” whose entire existences revolve around chasing after the most Kapital with the least effort. Americans have never been all that great at being Liberal Capitalists, as evidenced by those who had the gall to vote for peoples the likes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the two of whom are far more similar than they and their followers would have one believe at first. One can disagree and even dislike Trump or Sanders for the personality is a different matter altogether; it is really the message that they preach which matters far more.

America may seem like an exception to the rule, but most Americans have already forgotten that so much of the American Way of Life has its origins in all of Europe. That includes England (Southern, Midwestern, Southwestern, and Northwestern States), Prussia (Northern, Midwestern, and Northwestern States), Spain (Northern States, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California), France (Northwestern and Northwestern States, and Louisiana) and Italy (Louisiana, Florida, and Northern States). While many African Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans, Russian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans and Asian Americans may already be “Americanized” and thus attuned to one of those five European peoples, the American Way of Life will always find ways for them to integrate their culture, their tradition, their ancestral legacy. Conversely, the American Way of Life will respect the autonomies of Native American tribes, Mormons, and Amish as well as those of Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims and others who practice their faith.

It is often asked what form will “American Socialism” assume. All kinds of people throughout American history have tried asking that question, always failing to recognize the Totality that defines this Union for who they are and assuming that everyone ought to become something they are not. A true all-American Socialism is one that recognizes the diversity of faiths, peoples, states, classes, and individuals which constitute the Totality of these United States.

American Socialism resembles a uniquely delicate combination of Authoritarianism and Ultramontanism on the one hand and Statism and Anarchism on the other, capped by the Federal government vis-à-vis a synthesis of Hamiltonian Federalism and Socialism. This “Federal Socialism” has a powerful presidency tempered by a comparably powerful Congress and Supreme Court. The Federal government unites all Americans from the different states, faiths, peoples and classes as a Totality under one Union, acutely aware of this diversity and trying to preserve and promote its well-being. The Totality shall control both the Federal State and its Federal Economy through the Federal government itself, it shall recognize the sanctity of the Church, redeem the honor of the Classes and allow the Individual to regain the inward freedom and inward security repressed by Liberal Capitalism. Like a spectacular parody of the concept of Supply and Demand, the “demand for political-economic freedom” through Socialism manifests as the “demand for Arbeit” through the Work-Standard.

To be able to grasp this, however, one must be capable of a conception of work different from the traditional one. One must know that in an age of the Arbeiter, if he bears his name properly and not in the sense, for instance, in which all parties today designate themselves as workers’ parties, there can be nothing not understood as Arbeit. Arbeit is the rhythm of the fist, of thoughts, of the heart; it is life by day and night, science, love, art, faith, religion, war; Arbeit is the oscillation of the atom and the force that moves stars and solar systems.

Such claims, however, and many others we will speak about, particularly the claim to confer meaning, are the hallmarks of a growing stratum of rulers. The question of yesterday read: ‘How does the Arbeiter share in the economy, in wealth, art, education, the metropolis, or in science?’ Tomorrow, however, it will read: ‘How must all of these things look in the workspace of the Will-to-Power of the Arbeiter, and what meaning will be ascribed to them?’

-Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter (pp. 40)


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