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.