Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Real Polis?

Dr Thaddeus Kozinski offers a good essay to contemplate regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement at The Distributist Review, 'Victims of Mammon'.  He quotes Aristotle,

For if men met and associated out of regard to wealth only, their share in the state would be proportioned to their property, and the oligarchical doctrine would then seem to carry the day. It would not be just that he who paid one mina should have the same share of a hundred minae, whether of the principal or of the profits, as he who paid the remaining ninety-nine. But a state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life only: …Nor does a state exist for the sake of alliance and security from injustice, nor yet for the sake of exchange and mutual intercourse… Whence it may be further inferred that virtue must be the care of a state which is truly so called, and not merely enjoys the name: for without this end the community becomes a mere alliance which differs only in place from alliances of which the members live apart; and law is only a convention, ‘a surety to one another of justice,’ as the sophist Lycophron says, and has no real power to make the citizens good and just.
Dr Kozinski then follows this by saying,

An alliance alone cannot make citizens good and just, and liberalism is an alliance pretending to be a polis, which is the worst of all options, worse than even a tyranny, for at least a tyranny is a genuine polis, albeit a defective one. As Alasdair MacIntyre has stated, when the state requires you to sacrifice your life in war, “It’s like dying for the telephone company.”
It may be inferred from the above (and from the rest of the essay) that until organic communities are again the norm, rather than agglomerations of isolated individuals, any efforts at reform - be they political, economic, or moral - are likely doomed to failure.  For the lone individual is powerless to effect change, and individuals with divergent religious, political, etc. views forced together into an artificial union (which is our current situation in the United States) will devour one another until that union either is dissolved or collapses.  From that point on, however, there is hope - hope that small, humanely-sized villages and towns rising from shared beliefs and grounded in the Church, extended family, small farms, and guilds of artisans and professionals will be the rule rather than the exception.

We in the United States are far from this ideal, living instead in the fake polis constructed and controlled by our corporate masters and their government servants (known at times as 'our' elected officials - representatives, presidents, governors, and so forth.), wherein most live a life without ever knowing the blessings of having roots in any one particular place, ready to move at a moment's notice to some new job in the vain hope of finding happiness in the salary offered to him by one faceless company or another. 

Whatever one may wish to say about the OWS crowds, good or bad, at some level they realise this to be true.  The sooner the rest of us awaken to it, the better off everyone will be.

1 comment:

  1. The War to Prevent Southern Independence destroyed two agrarian institutions: that of the yeoman farmer and that of the bondsman.Most members of both of these groups attempted to avoid wage slavery by opting for tenant farming or sharecropping, imperfect as these options were. In the end, the War, Reconstruction and the advent of Modernity into the South meant ultimate failure; and the agrarian option slowly but inexorably succumb to wage slavery, with its attendant rootlessness and alienation, creating an ever waxing mass to be collectivized as "citizens" of the emerging Hobbesian state.

    Marx himself, Marx who actually has a "conservative" side, noted that the corporation is the stalking horse for the state, for Marx, the socialist state; for the corporation gives the illusion of legal ownership to the shareholders while effective ownership lies with the boards and the CEO's. The same is true of the state. Those called "citizens" are said to be the owners of the state or the state itself while effective ownership lies with the political parties, the bureaucratic agents and the elites who manipulate them. This is well outlined in Who Owns America, the great sequel to I'll Take My Stand. In fact, in the introduction to I'll Take My Stand, it is made clear that Bolshevism will not come to America through the communism but through the managerial class.

    The danger of the abstract Hobbesian state, the danger of Marxism in its various forms and the danger of corporations was clearly seen by such Southern writers as Robert Dabney, William Gilmore Simms, Benjamin Palmer and John Girardeau.

    One forgets that the Hobbesian state itself is an abstract corporation and the lesser corporations are, in fact, not private but are creatures of the state. It is sad to write that even our Christian Churches have become 501C3's, i.e. not-for-profit corporations, and have seemingly abandoned their first love and only true reality: the Corpus Christi.

    We would do well to return to some of the fundamental teachings of the Church such as the Christian Just War Theory and, in the case of the topic of this thread, to subsidiarity, fundamental to understanding the Trinity, fundamental to understanding the Body of Christ and fundamental to understanding the various commonwealths and their interactions which make up the created order.