Get ready for the collapse

I’ve been having a good time lately reading Collapse: The Blog, written by “Proph”.  It’s the best place on the web to get the right-Hegelian perspective on things, which is a perspective I respect a lot.  For those who don’t remember my taxonomy, Proph’s main point is our need for a functional “social creed”:

The gist is simply this: a coherent and functional society is governed by a social creed, which is a conception of that society’s purpose and every person’s place within it. A properly functioning social creed assigns all people status within the community and function within the greater society; it orders the pursuit of that society’s constitutive values (in the case of Europe, freedom and equality; in the case of America, more likely freedom and equality of opportunity); and it explains complex socical phenomena, like war and recession, that otherwise appear irrational and psychologically threatening.

Proph works from a historical perspective provided by the work of P. F. Drucker.  Drucker sought to explain the rise of fascism as the result of the general public losing faith in its social creed.  Creeds have changed from time to time.  The medieval creed of Spiritual Man was replaced by the Renaissance creed of Intellectual Man, which was replaced in turn by the creed of Economic Man in the eighteenth century.

The Society of Economic Man was essentially a mercantile society — a preindustrial and agrarian society of farmers, merchants, and skilled craftsmen. It assigned status on the basis of economic productivity and wealth and assigned function as contribution to economic progress. Likewise, the Society of Economic Man was able to rationalize deleterious social phenomena like war, recession, and unemployment as the price to be paid for economic progress leading to freedom and equality.

Here is where Drucker/Proph diverge from the majority of culturally right-wing critiques of econocentrism.  Commonly, the ascendancy of economic values over all others is blamed (if blame is intended) on industrialization.  Proph points out that capitalist/economist ideology is actually premised on a mercantile or agrarian society; industrialization made it obsolete:

Industrialization, however, effectively destroyed the economic society. The industrial worker and the industrial manager had no place in the Society of Economic Man, and its failure to integrate them gave rise to alienation, atomization, and despair. With its necessary structural inequality — namely, the requirement that industry be rigidly hierarchical in order to function — industrialization definitively proved that economic freedom and equality were unachievable. And, worse still, by belying the axiomatic assumptions on which economic society was predicated (such as the belief that monopoly was best achieved by minimizing production and maximizing price, a belief rebutted by Henry Ford’s successful model of low-cost, high-volume car production), industrialization stripped man of his rationalizations for the operation of society, turning once-logical phenomena like unemployment and recession into threatening and irrational forces against which he could do nothing but cower impotently. It turned the Society of Economic Man, orderly and logical, into a society governed by demonic forces whose operations were were unknown and unknowable, and which was spinning out of control toward some dismal fate beyond man’s capacity to discern.

But unlike the collapse of the Societies of Spiritual and Intellectual Man, nothing came to replace to the Society of Economic Man. No functioning, coherent, legitimate Society of Industrial Man ever emerged. Fascism was a brief attempt to transcend economic conceptions of society entirely, to order society along non-economic terms, but it failed in its attempt to establish a Society of Heroic Man based on war, violence, and conquest because, as Winston Churchill aptly observed, “it is impossible to build up a society on a basis of lives, which are meant to be sacrificed.”

The fascists failed to create a new social creed.  The libertarians are reactionaries (Proph doesn’t use this term in a complimentary way, like I do) sticking to a defunct creed that makes no sense in the postindustrial world.  Proph himself proposes a “post-capitalist economics“, where stability and full employment are valued over economic growth.  He’s also brought a right-Hegelian perspective to the possibility of America falling under military rule after the coming economic collapse.  He neither desires nor abhors the possibility, but considers how our future soldier-rulers might go about trying to create a social order that would be meaningful to its inhabitants.

I must credit Proph for actually getting to work thinking about how his “post-capitalist” social order would work.  I still need to do my homework on my “neofeudalist” social order.

5 Responses

  1. I strongly agree with the need for an economics based on stability and full employment. Thanks for sharing your analysis, as a fellow economic theorist, I will have to check it out.

    I will say, though, the more I contemplate it, the less I see the possibility of “a collapse”.

  2. Mencius Moldbug has already done all the work for you. Just sprinkle with the RCC to taste and enjoy.

  3. Fantastic summation and really delicious food for thought. I’m going to pass this on to a group of us folks who theorize towards a move to anarcho-futurism, a la Guillaume Faye. This is predicated on nationalism and makes some people uncomfortable.

  4. The Churchill quote is a bit ironic:
    “He became, in his own words, “a materialist to the tips of my fingers,” and he fervently upheld the worldview that human life is a struggle for existence, with the outcome the survival of the fittest. This philosophy of life and history Churchill expressed in his one novel, Savrola. That Churchill was a racist goes without saying, yet his racism went deeper than with most of his contemporaries. It is curious how, with his stark Darwinian outlook, his elevation of war to the central place in human history, and his racism, as well as his fixation on “great leaders,” Churchill’s worldview resembled that of his antagonist, Hitler.”
    “In 1911, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, and now was truly in his element. Naturally, he quickly allied himself with the war party, and, during the crises that followed, fanned the flames of war. When the final crisis came, in the summer of 1914, Churchill was the only member of the cabinet who backed war from the start, with all of his accustomed energy. Asquith, his own Prime Minister, wrote of him: “Winston very bellicose and demanding immediate mobilization. . . . Winston, who has got all his war paint on, is longing for a sea fight in the early hours of the morning to result in the sinking of the Goeben. The whole thing fills me with sadness.”
    “As Minister of War, of Churchill in this position one may say what the revisionist historian Charles Tansill said of Henry Stimson as Secretary of War: no one ever deserved the title more. Churchill promoted a crusade to crush Bolshevism in Russia. As Colonial Secretary, he was ready to involve Britain in war with Turkey over the Chanak incident, but the British envoy to Turkey did not deliver Churchill’s ultimatum, and in the end cooler heads prevailed.”
    Well, you get the idea.

  5. Thanks for the kind words, Bonald! Glad to know I’ve got at least one regular reader.

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