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The Bureaucrash Crash and Structural Activism

June 11, 2009

Rad Geek has a good post about the recent de-radicalism of Bureaucrash by the CEI, including Xaq Fixx’s statement on his exit as Crasher-In-Chief.  I wore a Bureaucrash “Enjoy Capitalism” jacket today, and Xaq did one of the earliest TSI interviews, so I have some warm feelings towards / sadness about the passing of the movement.  But I agree whole-heartedly with Rad Geek & Brad Spangler’s analysis of the conflict between the world of culture and activism and the think-tankian world of DC and the CEI – so much so that I’m going to gratuitously bold my favorite phrases.  First Brad:

The demand that radicals abandon radicalism shows a profound ignorance of the dynamics of social change as they manifest in the real world of politics. The continuing crisis of accelerating descent into ever-increasing statism that Young Republican types point to and use to shrilly demand you fall in line behind their at-best-merely-nominally “small government” reform efforts is itself proof that what they ask for doesn’t work.

It’s easy to see why the libertarian movement has been ineffective. Libertarians often roll over for this sort of demand that they let themselves be co-opted by the “small government” statists and thus share in their guilt. In doing so, they fail to hold the radical libertarian banner aloft. In abandoning the project of revolution, political pressure for reform also gets sabotaged.

Effective reform efforts tend to be “conservative” ruling class responses to radical challenges to the status quo. If the tiny minority who *could* be effective radicals capable of building such a radical challenge to the status quo allow themselves to be hectored into acting like reformists, no political pressure for reform materializes and reform doesn’t happen either.

Just to twist everything to my own particular worldview because I’m an egocentric reality distortion field, let me re-interpret that final sentence.  “If the tiny minority who could radically alter the status quo allow themselves to be hectored into being “reasonable” and “thinking small” and “working with what we have “and get sucked into the morass of politics and the mirage of reform, their energies will be wasted instead of being directed towards seemingly crazy solutions that might actually work.”

And then Rad Geek:

I’d just want to stress, in addition to what Brad has to say, that the kind of co-optation and self-vitiation that Brad talks about aren’t just tendencies, and they aren’t just the work of some clever set of minimal-statist manipulators. I think that they are built in to the electoral-reformist project itself, necessarily and always — that they are structural limitations that you will always face if your politics is hitched primarily to influence the state or trying to gain a base of power within the state. The process itself only admits of certain outcomes, and the process itself also tends to consume those who put themselves into it.

Yes!  Yes, yes, yes!  And a thousand times, yes!

Look, it isn’t that trying to influence the state is a priori wrong for some special philosophical reason having to do with trying to with it being immoral and trying do good through an evil system or some other crap I could imagine Ayn Rand saying.  It’s wrong because it doesn’t work.  Because a characteristic of modern democracy is robustness against activism.  Because its flaws stem from hard-to-alter systemic factors.

If you want to fix it, you gotta change those factors.  And you can’t do it by participating in the system, nor are politicians gonna help you.  You need to bring to government the ultimate solution: the market.  The ultimate incentive: competition.  You need to Let A Thousand Nations Bloom.

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2 Comments
  1. Matt permalink
    June 12, 2009 3:33 am

    “Xaq Fixx’s statement on his exit as Crasher-In-Chief”

    On whose exit?

  2. June 12, 2009 5:28 am

    Look, it isn’t that trying to influence the state is a priori wrong for some special philosophical reason having to do with trying to with it being immoral and trying do good through an evil system or some other crap I could imagine Ayn Rand saying. It’s wrong because it doesn’t work.

    Consequentialism is the bread and butter of modern state justifications. Why embrace one of their central premises? If convincing others something is wrong because it doesn’t “work” then your opponents will logically cloud the discussion with various ways it does work…if only SoAndSo was in charge, if only NewLaw was passed…if only we acted for the benefit of others rather than ourselves…if only the human experiment was tweaked via collective coercion….etc.

    I agree libertarian state reform is a functional contradiction and can’t work. But its morality isn’t affected by its pragmatic potential.

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