11 December 2007

A Very Tentative Political Manifesto

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:13 am

Challenged by what I’ve been reading, spurred on by discussion and provocation and personal abuse, stimulated by three cups of coffee and an early morning walk through deep snow, I offer the preliminary and tentative personal political position of an individual American. It’s a sort of liberal isolationism that looks a lot like Hardt & Negri’s Empire but without the globalization. (UPDATE 1, 11:15 am — added one more “resolved” clause)

Inasmuch as:

  1. The American government rarely acts against American economic self-interests in world affairs, regardless of the publicly stated rationales for its actions.
  2. The American public can be persuaded that the government is acting in their best interests even when it’s not. Example: Iraq has WMDs and capabilities for delivering them, therefore it’s in our best interests to launch a pre-emptive strike.
  3. The American public can be persuaded that the government is motivated by consensual ideological commitment even when it’s not. Example: it is our sacred duty as the beacon of democracy and freedom to liberate the Iraqi people.
  4. The structure of the American republic is most compatible with a libertarian protection of individual rights of “the Multitude.”
  5. The American republic is flexible enough to accommodate more collective expressions of “the People.” Example: constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.
  6. The democratic process in America is structurally free and open.
  7. The two-party system and the winner-take-all operation of government virtually assures that the parties will converge on a central position, severely curtailing choices available to voters.
  8. There is virtually no class consciousness in America, so calls for working-class solidarity have only very narrow appeal.
  9. The American governmental structure is very stable and receives strong popular support, with hardly anyone calling for any fundamental overhaul or revolution.

Therefore be it resolved that:

  1. The present republican and democratic structure of American government needn’t be toppled from within.
  2. The ideals underlying the republic –“liberty and justice for all” — should be upheld, keeping in check the populist and potentially fascistic expressions of the People as well as the special interests of the economically privileged.
  3. Because the democratic expression of sheer self-interest would, by virtue of demographics, shift power away from the rich, the Multitude should be especially vigilant against governmental attempts to invoke either the People or the national Ideals as justification for public policy.
  4. Barriers to entry or immigration into the US based on financial resources, promise of employment, ability to speak English, etc. should be eliminated.
  5. Americans should be encouraged to extend their libertarian instincts to foreign affairs, respecting other nations’ efforts at self-determination even if the resulting governments don’t look anything like our own.
  6. Organized efforts at “counter-detailing” government propaganda with fact-based analyses of policy issues and the exposure of hidden motives behind the propaganda should be undertaken.
  7. The potential value of forming a third party shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

Okay, I’m ready to be talked out of it now. And I have no idea how any of it can actually be accomplished.



  1. So, are you beating the drums for Pat Buchanan to join the race?


    Comment by Erdman — 11 December 2007 @ 10:54 am

  2. This is the contention, isn’t it, that upholding any sort of liberal progressive position is virtually indistinguishable from neoliberalism. He’s a moral conservative, wouldn’t you say, wanting to use governmental power to uphold “traditional” values like anti-abortion, prayer in schools, no rights for gays, etc. None of that for me.

    I remembered another point on my manifesto that I forgot to write down: “Barriers to entry or immigration into the US based on financial resources, promise of employment, ability to speak English, etc. should be eliminated.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 December 2007 @ 11:05 am

  3. Do let me know when you’ll officially be floating the third way party! I’d vote for you in a flash, but I’m not eligible. Anyhow, that’s one sure way to start getting things done!

    I thought that the libertarians were making some slow headway towards forming a 3rd front?


    Comment by ponnvandu — 11 December 2007 @ 12:02 pm

  4. “The two-party system and the winner-take-all operation of government virtually assures that the parties will converge on a central position, severely curtailing choices available to voters.”

    In theory, but actually when there are a lot of parties this can lead to tremendous corruption during elections. e.g. If there’s a tight race between 2 front runners and a third party holds sway over a minor but potentially decisive and swingable group, then typically both the front runners will try to buy out the 3rd party’s support.


    Comment by ponnvandu — 11 December 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  5. Most libertarians are all about the economic opportunities, which throws them into the Republican camp, but they resist the Moral Majority right wing, and a lot of them are pissed about the big expansion of government caused by Iraq.

    I don’t know how best to incorporate ideas like universal healthcare into this framework. It could go something like this: no one should be denied access to necessary healthcare because they don’t have enough money. Then there’d be a two-tiered health system, with the basics covered by government and those who want it paying privately for bells and whistles. Alternatively, the government could be presented as a public negotiator for goods and services the public agrees is in their best interests. E.g., have the government negotiate contracts with pharmas & hospitals, utilities, etc. That way you could have the govt. insist that energy companies provide a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources, and do it in the request for proposals rather than by nationalizing or creating specific laws, neither of which is a very popular option in the American democracy.

    This buying out the 3rd party already happens in the 2-party system before the elections are held, but the candidates often renege on their unwritten deals after the votes have swung their way.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 December 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  6. Buchanan was against the war, though and he seems to be more consistently libertarian. Wiki lists him as a Paleoconservative.


    Comment by Erdman — 11 December 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  7. The public morality of Buchanan is an attempt to recapture the historical Christian values of the founding myth, which in effect attempts to unite the American Multitude into the American People. I think that’s not a good idea. It’s been characteristic of Republicans to make this attempt at congealing America into a single cultural identity, which tends to reinforce the fascistic us-versus-them element on the domestic front (Mexican migrants, gays, etc.) and internationally (Arabs). I think I’d rather stick with the secularized version of Protestant individualism united in common cause for justice across sectarian differences, rather than the straight white way of WASP-hood.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 December 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  8. I think about Hardt & Negri’s Multitude as a political manifestation of Deleuze & Guattari’s schizzes and flows. There’s no reason this potential energy has to manifest itself in the form of an individual agent: it could just as easily converge in a collective nexus. However, the cultural ethos of political individuality is a strong one. Business corporations are economic collectives that channel human work in a concentrated way, so it’s clearly not the case that Americans are averse to purposive cooperation. Maybe if governance could be regarded not just as another kind of corporation but as a cooperative endeavor in which the Multitude participates collaboratively, statecraft might be a different sort of endeavor in this country. Not gonna happen any time soon I think.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 December 2007 @ 4:51 pm

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