The State and End State by Bernhardt Writer

A while back we reviewed Kenneth Minogue’s book: Alien Powers – The Pure Theory of Ideology. In it, he contends that Western civilization is in the throes of a conflict over a right understanding of the human condition. So, how does it all turn out in the end were ideology to win?

Politics and Democracy

Ideology masquerades as a political movement, but it is determined to destroy the circumstances underpinning politics. It draws out our moral instincts while it denies the possibility of morality. It affirms freedom while striving for a community in which only one right act will be possible for each circumstance. Ideology attacks inequality but seeks to destroy the individual human capable of achieving equality in a meaningful sense. It champions real democracy but advocates unanimity that makes democracy superfluous. Ideology’s practitioners use criticism to attack opponents while claiming their own truths are incontrovertible.

Ideology portrays deficiencies of the human condition (i.e., personal sin) as structural flaws of an oppressive system. It must methodically destroy the political ideas and values that the system represents. These ideas and values merely hide the system’s ulterior interests. Ideology can only be satisfied by a perfect democracy which is, by definition, unattainable. It is ideologically absurd to let those deluded by the system’s structural faults to select leaders when the people (i.e., the vanguard) leading the way to the perfect community, alone, have the necessary knowledge.

Ideology and the State

States provide liberty by instituting legal rights. Individuals within the state exercise these rights as responsible agents of choice. The result is a world both unpredictable and uncontrollable because what people will do with their rights is unknowable until they decide and act.

Karl Marx, however, said that rights separated person from person (i.e., alienated them one from another). His ideal society would possess liberty without rights. Those in his transformed society would no longer mistrust or have disagreements of right and wrong. There would be complete harmony in which no one would need to exercise rights. In fact, there would no longer be individuals capable of exercising rights in such a perfect harmonious community.

Ideology says states foster citizens’ independent actions, the soil in which oppression thrives. Oppression can only be prevented by destroying the state itself. Ideologies use “one party states” to destroy any remaining independence in a society enthralled to the ideology.

A capitalistic society provides laws under which the citizenry orders their life choices and actions. Under an ideology’s social order, everyone is occupied with transforming society. Nothing prevents citizens in a modern state from creating communes, collective farms, or cooperatives. However, it is both criminal and regressive for those in an ideological state to set up a business or practice unsanctioned religion.

States provide rules according to which citizens choose how to satisfy their interests. The mistake ideological governments make is to decide between interests. By determining interests, ideologies show that their social criticism is aimed, not at the centralized state, but the private interests of citizens and associations that compose the state.

Impediment to Revolution

What stands in the way of ideology’s revolutionary conquest is transcendent religion. Minogue says that someone is not fit for revolution who, like Adam Smith, believes:

“A wise man never complains of the destiny of Providence, nor thinks the universe in confusion when he is out-of-order.”

Marx observed that engaging the wretched to carry out insurrection will never happen if they are lost in religious fantasies.

Perfect Community and the Individual

In an integrated community of individuals, each one is the proprietor of their own desires and the adjudicator of their own thoughts. Ideology sees this as the cause for aggression, greed, selfishness, and violence because some desire more than they have or want what others possess. Ideology rejects the possibility of personal responsibility and self-control as the foundation of relationships within a functioning society.

Should humans live as free agents making individual choices or as a collective species with no individuation in so-called perfection? Ideology says perfect community is not only desirable, but the only form possible (all other forms being ones of oppression).

Would these humans in perfect community have self-awareness and the ability to choose to cooperate? Ideology says that as long as they have real choice then their actions no longer depend on correct human consciousness but on contingent human will. In short: no. A community that freely chooses to cooperate could choose not to do so at some point in the future. If that were to happen, then the ideological terminus (perfect community) could itself be overthrown.

To give a sense of the import of such a transformation, Marx says:

When the laborer co-operates systematically with others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops the capabilities of his species…The present generation resembles the Jews whom Moses led through the wilderness. It must not only conquer a new world, it must also perish in order to make room for people who will be equal to a new world.

Further, Minogue says that in true community:

Each of us will be drops of water in a clear pond. We shall live at the level of the universal, sloughing off that involvement in particular passions and particular points of view which is the very definition of our present entrapment. There will be no self to be denied or subjected. Particular character and situation would have no reality in themselves.

Ideology’s Results

Ideology’s direct contribution to society is to set worker against capitalist, Black against White, men against women, etc. No one can doubt ideology has gotten results by calling out grave instances of oppression; but, in the process, it has multiplied pointless, diffuse antagonisms that have weakened the fabric of Western society and culture.

True community may be a thing of wonder. However, the resolution of strife between essences and existence leaves no one to contemplate that beauty since they both must be “resolved.” The so-called alienated human being is abolished.

This means that ideology, carried to its terminus (and there is no other purpose), poses an existential threat to the West. Declaring Western civilization rotten to the core, ideology does away with the possibility of the individual human life in exchange for a myth of pure species. This is the equivalent of a suicide pact.

May Day Poster

Russian 1st of May poster, Soviet, Public Domain in the US

Minogue’s book is available (in part) on Google Books. As an example of the pervasive influence of ideology, the National Association of Scholars has recently addressed the sustainability movement as an ideology encroaching on academic freedom.

“Sustainability” is a key idea on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world. To the unsuspecting, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word really marks out a new and larger ideological territory in which curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations. [Emphasis mine]

The movement is just another example of special interests seeking to “throw off oppression” using coercion and, if that fails, barbarity in a quest for supremacy.

As I’ve said before, I agree with Orwell’s assessment of his novel Nineteen Eighty Four: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.

Tiananmen – Gate of Heavenly Peace

On June 5, 2015, one lone man stood down a column of Type 59 PLA main battle tanks as they left Tiananmen Square following the suppression of protests by force the night before. He is known as Tank Man.

Here’s a CNN video clip showing raw footage of Tank Man’s own protest. Note the long tank column at the 10 second mark.

Tank Man

The Tiananmen Square protests were a long time coming. The protest developed in mid–April 1989 as an immediate result of the death of Hu Yaobang, denounced former as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, a known liberal within the Party.

At that time, thousands of students from China University of Political Science and Law, Peking University, and Tsinghua University marched on Tiananmen Square (other protests gathered in Xian and Shanghai).

The students drafted a list of pleas and suggestions (Seven Demands) for the government:

  1. Affirm as correct Hu Yaobang’s views on democracy and freedom;
  2. Admit that the campaigns against spiritual pollution and bourgeois liberalization had been wrong;
  3. Publish information on the income of state leaders and their family members;
  4. End the ban on privately run newspapers and stop press censorship;
  5. Increase funding for education and raise intellectuals’ pay;
  6. End restrictions on demonstrations in Beijing
  7. Provide objective coverage of students in official media.

Through demonstrations, boycotts, hunger strikes, military crackdowns, and martial law, the confrontation between the students and government built. At 4:30pm on June 3, the order for martial law was finalized:

  1. The operation to quell the counterrevolutionary riot was to begin at 9:00 pm
  2. Military units should converge on the Square by 1:00 am on June 4 and the Square must be cleared by 6:00 am.
  3. No delays would be tolerated.
  4. No person may impede the advance of the troops enforcing martial law. The troops may act in self-defense and use any means to clear impediments.
  5. State media will broadcast warnings to citizens.

The morning of June 4th, at 4:00 am, lights on the Square were suddenly turned off. The government announced: “Clearance of the Square begins now. We agree with students’ request to clear the Square.” The students sang The Internationale and braced for a last stand. An officer with a loudspeaker called out “you better leave or this won’t end well.”

It didn’t, an untold number died in various confrontations.

On June 5, a lone man stood in front of a column of tanks driving out of Tiananmen Square on 5 June on Chang’an Avenue. This is Frontline’s Tank Man documentary in its entirety.

Tank Man Documentary

The government regained control in the week following.  Officials responsible for organizing or condoning the protests were removed, and protest leaders were jailed.

However, the China democracy movement, although suppressed, continued. Liu Xiaobo helped write Charter 8, released 10 December 2008. The charter called for more freedom of expression, human rights, more democratic elections, for privatizing state enterprises and land and for economic liberalism. He was imprisoned on charges stemming from soliciting signatures for the Charter. Liu Xiaobo explained in a statement prepared for trial that was eventually delivered to the Nobel Prize committee:

China’s political reform […] should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result. I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy. So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion. ”—Liu Xiaobo, 9 February 2010

In an open letter to Hu Jintao, now former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Brunhild Staiger, President of the European Association for Chinese Studies questions the basis for Liu’s imprisonment.

Others have advocated similar gradual reformations. While the reforms are similar to those of Charter 8, they specifically reject Jacksonian democracy. Yu takes a Marxist approach.

Along these lines, President Xi Jinping announced the “China Dream” (中国梦) at the 18th National People’s Congress, that began on November 8, 2012. According to Xi, the China Dream is to realize the hopes of the Chinese people and achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

President Xi has set out goals for China:

…To achieve a “moderately prosperous society” (小康社会) by 2021 (the hundredth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party founding) and a strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and modernized socialist country by 2049.

These tenets share the “path of rejuvenation’s” focus on the Century of Humiliation, the period of roughly 100 years between the First Opium War and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 when foreign powers took advantage of a weak China. Core to the idea of the China Dream is that China is finally reclaiming a position of prosperity and power enjoyed before the period of national humiliation. To achieve the dream, China requires an effective government, a prosperous economy, a harmonious society, and a strong military.

And then there’s the 2010 book, The China Dream, by retired Colonel Liu Mingfu of the People’s Liberation Army. The book preceded President Xi’s party congress speech. The Wall Street Journal said of the book:

…The former professor [Colonel Liu Mingfu] at its National Defense University wrote a book of the same name [The China Dream], arguing that China should aim to surpass the U.S. as the world’s top military power and predicting a marathon contest for global dominion. The book flew off the shelves but was pulled over concerns it could damage relations with the U.S., according to people familiar with its publication.

Reuter’s excerpts Liu’s book:

“To save itself, to save the world, China must prepare to become the (world’s) helmsman.”

All but forgotten in that great nation, Tiananmen Square and all that took place must be remembered. Along with Zhao Ziyang, we must say 我們已經老了,無所謂了, “We are already old, it doesn’t matter to us anymore.” But it will matter to you.

The situation is Not OK! 不行!! Bù xíng!

We stand with you all.