The Problem With Categorical Thought and the Social Question
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
The wastelands of political thought, commonly referred to as “social media” is full of enough inarticulate gibberish designed to attract website clicks through the stoking of anger and sensationalism. More often than not while browsing its servers' sanity can only be maintained through ignoring its content. In an ideal world politics resolves problems through debate between parties, who while having disagreements, also share a common desire for the general welfare. This political archetype, while never being actualized in reality, can, and has been approached several times throughout history. Much like the Christian concept of the individual’s goal to be like Jesus, something that can never be reached, the goal can be approached, depending on the individual. In this vein, the approach to the political archetype has never been further than away than it is now. The manner in which political institutions have transformed to resemble the lowest common denominator as seen in social media has been fully realized through the reliance on 5-second soundbites and marketing gimmicks, which have come to define contemporary politics. There clearly is no longer a hierarchy of individuals when it comes to American politics. The elites, whether in Congress, the White House or mainstream media are no more than functionaries of the Demos which produces them.
In this vein then, criticism, no matter how based in ignorance or how lowly the source is reflective of larger trends and needs answering. For example from Discord is the following in reference to a question regarding the ABP.
“I think it’s too CivNat and very libertarian in terms of even culture. And I think it places too much faith in corporatism to fix the nation. It doesn’t really have any cultural standpoints and is all economic.”
This criticism has started to become more and more common. Despite incorporating this topic into previous articles, especially the two part series on applied corporatism the larger message has not gotten through, and calls for a more detailed response.
With the growth of market thought and the decline in literacy, Americans are perceiving and conceptualizing the world much differently than in previous eras. The Federalist Papers for all its faults concerning political theory is a beautiful piece of literature, written in an artistic style common for that era. The fact that most Americans are incapable of comprehending the most important historical rationale for the Constitution is a testament to the idea that progress is not composed of technological growth and material acquisitions but the comprehension of ideas at the level of thought. When reality is composed of what’s in front of your face, consisting of simple to understand images, and sound bytes the mind does nothing more than take these in on a very superficial level, never going beyond what cannot be seen by the eye. The individual becomes a slave to the image extrapolating reality from the accumulation of other images and soundbites, independent thought fails to exist and the subordination of the individual to a conglomeration of marketing practices becomes how society is constituted. Just as the consumer is ungrounded and uncommitted to anything for any significant period of time, with his/her wants and needs changing as often as the wind changes directions, so modern humans in their political manifestations are apt to drastic changes in content and emotion. There’s very little in the way of foundations and comprehensiveness. This leads to a very simplistic notion regarding what politics is and what it’s composed of. Take the below picture:
This picture has made the rounds of social media for years now. Libertarians and those on the right who are anti-government generally advocate for its spread. The simplified version of reality it displays of the world, makes conflict out to be a battle of good vs. evil, with sinister forces lurking behind the scenes destroying the morality and the material welfare of the masses to enrich themselves. The two men pictured, Kennedy and Lincoln are two of the most popular presidents in American History, both of whom died tragically. Those who created and share this picture attempt to reinforce the nostalgia people have for a mythical view of American history, along with an ideology built upon distrust and often hatred towards the government, by throwing the Federal Reserve into the picture. Because this photo reinforces already built in perceptions regarding government, many people don’t bother researching its insinuation but let it reinforce an already built in bias. No thought is required; anger, fear, paranoia, and ignorance are what is created. The worst feature of the photo is that it’s completely and factually false. However, validity was never the point. Much like a product being sold, the idea has been bought into without thought.
It’s not difficult to see how the simplicity of what passes for political discourse nowadays can lead to a deformed politics. The notion that our societal problems are derived from dark forces operating behind the scenes implies that those very same problems can be resolved through the liquidation of those dark forces. People want life to imitate the movies. Good vs Bad, and with the triumph of good everybody lives happily ever after. Without the proper education to counter this method of thinking a feedback loop is created with the people, elites, and marketers all feeding off each other’s ignorance. Extrapolate to the nature of contemporary politics, and it isn’t difficult to see the categorical nature in which people think, often treating subjects like economic and social policy as self- contained topics which have little to no relation to each other. If societal problems can be resolved through the liquidation of bad guys behind the scenes, if it’s that simple, then the step to saying that the moral issues behind abortion and crime can be resolved through laws criminalizing the former and tougher sentences on the latter without reference to the larger social context is not a big step at all.
Now let us look at a picture from the ABP:
Our material often receives criticism regarding the consistency of its content as not being American enough, in essence playacting by integrating aspects of a foreign model into our platform. Often this is an outgrowth of thought which is incapable of thinking outside of defined categories. For example, the idea that economics effects dollars and sense only, while morality, and education are self-contained fields which fail to cross over into each other.
The above is a good example of what we try to do and what we’re all about. You have a picture of a family/community dinner located in mid to late 19th century America. The quote is from Jose Antonio Primo De Rivera, a Spaniard and leader of a group called the Falange, active primarily during the 1930’s. On the surface, given the time-frames involved and geographical differences there seems to be no connection between the two. That is until the picture is viewed more closely. “Nations are not contracts that can be rescinded at the will of those who enter into them.” The quote is criticizing the social contract theory of government as legalistic; implying the opposite that the nation is something spiritual, that comes from within can’t be torn up by laws or contracts. To reinforce this point and create a contrast with the legalistic notion of the nation a picture was set in the background of a collective gathering of a celebratory nature. The substance of the nation is the idea that you feel a part of this community. Laws, borders, and language serve as the form, the substance is thought.
Thought - no truth, which thought divines - is the basis of the fascist idea. The ability to perceive the world as something much more than what’s in front of your two eyes; an idea from the 1920’s connected with a painting portraying mid-19th century America, with a quote from a Spaniard. Just as in our own personal lives we draw from a variety of experiences to form our own personality. So also is there a common thread which runs throughout history which connects ideas from different civilizations and time periods, which becomes more apparent as through thought reality is constructed around us. As modern humans are trapped by the marketing images which he defines his freedom as encompassing. The fascist has no bounds to his freedom, as his philosophy is based in thought, being dynamic and always evolving.
When discussing social issues it’s important to keep in mind the foundation of our philosophy. We can’t take what’s in front of us and accept it at face value. It’s very easy to view the degeneracy connected to several contemporary social movements and extrapolate that force is needed to control them. In addition, if force is not sufficient then more force should be applied. Something which needs to be asked though is ‘why does this happen?’ What causes people to ignore morality, faith and dismiss family? Late 19th early 20th Century Sociologist, Emile Durkheim said the following:
"If in the task that occupies almost all our time we follow no other rule than that of our well-understood interest, how can we learn to depend upon disinterestedness, on self-forgetfulness, on sacrifice? In this way, the absence of all economic discipline cannot fail to extend its effects beyond the economic world, and consequently weaken public morality." (From preface to The Division of Labor)
More than anything else, we spend most of our waking hours away from the home at our place of work. On a subconscious level, this has a huge effect on how we see the world and react to it, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles. The contemporary workplace resembles a daycare center more than an occupational establishment, with controls being placed upon employees more appropriate for a child. Additionally most people earn just enough wages to make ends meet, while seeing company executive make more money than they know how to dispose of. When inequalities of wealth are viewed not as being a product of merit but due to an accident of birth, faith in a social order starts to break down. When going to a doctor or paying for health insurance puts a significant financial strain on individuals or families the social order is viewed not as a familial extension but as a hindrance which needs to be gotten rid of. These resentful attitudes we develop as we mature take place in stark contrast to a youthful environment where each of us is told that if we work hard and obey the laws we too could have the good life and become anything we want to be. Once reality strikes and the realization that most of us will be stuck in a meaningless 9-5 job working for someone else, struggling to get by, not because we didn’t work hard and obey the rules, but because that’s simply how society is structured, produces a hostility towards society. The sacredness connected to anything within the social order disappears as that social order reveals itself as rotten fruit.
To someone who rejects their social context and feels him/herself as an isolated individual, such things as: drug abuse, suicide, and sexual immorality become a means of escape. Too often the root cause of mental illness is looked at as being a product of biology when in reality social causes often change the chemical makeup of that mind to resemble mental illnesses. Capitalism and its tendency to isolate the individual from his social context and view money making as the end all is the root cause of many of our social problems. Problems that will require a multi- faceted approach to deal with.
The wrong conclusion shouldn’t be drawn from this; law shouldn’t be value free. Morality, which can thrive in a structure and environment which incentivises virtuous behavior is always at risk within large, complicated social structures. The nature of any society is one of give and take with each component affecting others. Social cancers can spread and cause decay to even the soundest structures. Law is the stopgap which plugs holes that appear within the social fabric. Even though corporatism through its reform of the economy and workplace would address many of the issues associated with anti-social disorders, and problems such as abortion and abuse, these hindrances to national unity would still exist and need the force associated with law, plus the moral sanction which law provides to reduce them to an absolute minimum.
The ABP doesn’t ignore the social problem. We view the social problem as being part of greater whole, which connects all aspects of life together. There is no economic problem which is purely economic. There is no social problem which isn’t also an economic problem and vice versa. The route we choose to express this idea may not be conventional. Unlike others, we don’t demonize people and groups in our literature or social media pictures. Much like the picture with Primo Rivera’s quote, which was referenced earlier, we try to get you to think. Because, once thought begins, then the chains which bind you to this world of marketing gimmicks can begin to break down.