Notes on the “Political Deficits” Dissertation

Before I encountered the ARPLAN Blog, I made a number of predictions back in late 2018 about the next 30 years, concluding that Liberal Capitalism’s worldwide hegemony will not survive the 21st century. Everything between the 2020s and 2040s was going to become an unending series of crises that led to the eventual collapse of Liberal Capitalism throughout the Western world. Another ideology or several ideologies would somehow attain power and usher an entirely different world order. The ideologies in question may be old or new, but the personalities and the parties will no doubt be products of this particular historical period. Despite never providing any actual specifics on the future, I nevertheless based my predictions on previous historical trends dating back to the 1970s, drawing conclusions from 1971 and taking them to 2050 at the latest.

The past three years has only been a validation of my predictions. The 2010s were hardly a recovery from the 2000s, marking instead the decline of Liberal Capitalism’s global hegemony. Whatever happened in the last decade will be followed up in the 2020s, so whatever is going to happen in the 2030s and 2040s should be when everything reaches critical mass. Overall, it remains to be seen if the other predictions were also correct, which will require me to elaborate on something which I had discovered recently to support my conclusions in relation to the concept of Weltanschauungskrieg (Worldview Warfare).

Our contemporary understandings of Liberal Capitalism, “Neoliberalism,” was formulated with Constructivist principles in mind. Basically, the Liberal Capitalists during the ARPLAN Blog’s area of research sought to ‘deconstruct’ the prevailing Rationality of the Socialist world order in the early 20th century and then ‘reconstruct’ their analysis by replacing the “Socialist Rationality” within their own version of “Liberal Rationality.” That in turn eventually paved the way for my area of research, everything from the late 20th century onwards, causing the absence of national and social commitments to any values which are collectively political. A Political Philosophy dissertation, entitled, “Political Deficits: The Dawn of Neoliberal Rationality and the Eclipse of Critical Theory,” delves into this topic by corroborating my suspicions on why there has not yet been any attempts to synthesize these Economic Nationalist and Democratic Socialist forces on a distinctly National Socialist Democratic direction in the 21st century.

In essence, the Liberal Capitalists had spent the previous century (1920s-1940s) seizing total control of the grand narrative in the epistemological sense, deterring the political imagination from being capable of conceptualizing, let alone theorizing, ideas like the Work-Standard or National Bolshevism for instance. They reframed everything according to their ideological Gestalt (Form), which in this day and age has proven to be the “Consumer” and the “Free Market.” The goal was the elimination of the “Concept of the Political” (to quote Carl Schmitt) through political means.

But in this century, we are only beginning to witness the growing limitations of this Liberal Rationality, which now insists upon the absolute elimination of all concrete values in favor of more abstract ones which predicate on the economistic, technocratic, algorithmic, formalist and procedural. With notions like Family and Class/Estate, Community and Church, Nation and State no longer seen as potential obstacles, the Individual (or more precisely, their identity as part of any Totality) is the last to be targeted. Everything from the Great Recession and Eurozone Crisis, the Populism and Identity Politics, to the Brexit Referendum and the Coronavirus Pandemic can all be seen as evidence of this unfolding phenomenon. 

The most important insight which I have gathered from reading that dissertation pertains to the need for a new Political Subject with its own Gestalt. That cannot happen until we break out of what the author referred to as the “Weberian trap” of straightjacketing ourselves into binaries like “Rationality vs. Irrationality,” “Financial Markets vs. Economic Planning,” “Substantive Values vs. Formative Calculations,” “Left vs. Right.”

Our choices here are “Either/Or,” “Both/And,” and “Neither/Nor.” We can choose one for the other, some dialectical combination of both, or reject both in favor of something entirely different.  I reaffirm the validity of these options here because I became increasingly bothered by the more recent attempts by Liberal Capitalists to appropriate the Populist forces advocating for Economic Nationalism. If the Liberal Capitalists are willing to subvert the Economic Nationalists by addressing their grievances over Free Trade Agreements with Tariffs and Quotas, then that is because the Liberal Capitalists themselves remain in control of their grand narrative. It works the same way with Democratic Socialism. Therefore, I do see myself in agreement with the author of that dissertation’s conclusion about the world being in need of a new “Political Subject” (like the Arbeiter) with its own Gestalt, its own Content, and its own Context.  

The dissertation ends its discussion on that particular conclusion with an interest in reevaluating our historical understandings of the past and going beyond what the world has inherited from the last century. In other words, we can borrow our inspiration from an earlier historical epoch, but we still need to reapply new ideas and different methods of applying them within a different epoch.

“In tracking the way the early neoliberals methodologically programmed the categories of possible debate and action, I have neither separated their interventions into discourse and knowledge production from the task of public persuasion nor rendered it fully autonomous from the powers of political economy that undoubtedly contour each. Instead, I have attempted to conceptualize the construction of neoliberal rationality as an intervention that prefigured and guided discourses and practices that have transformed the world we now inhabit. To the extent that emancipation, freedom, and a livable future is still possible, these not only demand collective struggles that challenge the strictures set by neoliberalism; they also require an appreciation of the political as a precondition for thinking and making the world otherwise. As a work of political theory, this dissertation has emphasized the role that history and theory have as part of this task—that is, as activities that may be productive of the political.

Accounting for our political deficits requires historical examination, careful conceptualization, and democratic contestation of neoliberalism’s far-right mutations, which are now targeting all but the narrowest forms of commonality, democracy, and solidarity. Instead of harnessing critique to the subsumption or rationalization of politics, a critical theory responsive to this predicament would do well to pursue more expansive visions of the political than those inherited by the twenty-first century.”

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