Monday, October 26, 2015

More a Tribe Than a Political Party; reaction to Hillary's Benghazi testimony

I don’t normally pay attention to campaign slogans, but the Obama-Biden slogan “Forward” was so lame that it couldn’t be ignored. Coupled with the complete lack of inventiveness was the unaware conceit. For the dirty little secret of Progressivism, at least in its current form, is that it is anything but a forward looking ideology. At its core, I would argue, that Progressivism is a rejection of the modern and a pining for the unity of the pre-modern and for those invested in politics, the Democratic Party is more of a tribe than a political party.

This conceptual framework was brought to mind yet again, by Jonah Goldberg’s last G-File where he comments on Hillary’s Benghazi testimony and in particular the reaction to it. From it, and much before, Jonah makes two observations:

“When the truth is inconvenient to the villains of the tale, the pursuit of truth is celebrated as the ne plus ultra of their vocation. But when the truth is inconvenient to people they like — or beneficial to people they don’t like — it really isn’t all that interesting or important.”


“But whenever there’s an unavoidable choice to be on one side of the cultural divide or the other, the MSM will stand with the Democrats because, at the end of the day, they are Democrats and they think Democrats are normal people.”

This is spot on and follows from the party as tribe. Hillary is the all but certain new leader of the tribe. The first principle is that no harm shall come to her, because the interests of the tribe are paramount.

The political party as tribe aspect is evident in the complete disdain for the give and take of politics evinced by the President, and by the frequent calls to get beyond politics. For as the philosopher Michael Oakeshott points out:

Politics, from one important point of view, may be said to be the activity in which a society deals with its diversities…This is why we are apt to think that a genuine tribal society, which certainly has rules and customs, is not one in which politics is likely to appear. Such a society may have the necessary unity but it rarely has the necessary diversity.”

And here we are reminded of Efraim Podoksik’s contention “that what is claimed is that Oakeshott’s central concern is the idea of modernity understood as inescapable fragmentation and irreducible plurality.” It is intermittent and situational, like the times when these characteristics of the modern work against those who embrace modernity, but at its core the progressive, the Democratic Party enthusiast, is in opposition to the fragmentation and plurality of the modern. And much of the heat and contentiousness of our current affairs stems from the attempt to bring the wayward individualists and current modern world of a past time dominated by the ordered unity of the tribe.

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