Overton Bubble

The Overton Bubble

If two factions won’t talk, war is inevitable. If the elite mainstream won’t open to dialogue and understanding with the outside, and the outside doesn’t make good-faith attempts to engage with the intellectual mainstream, the intellectual-political landscape will divide, and we will get civil war.

The conclusion of Warg’s article may not follow or lend itself from the premise.

Insular bubbles are not new, and both the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ have them, but bubbles and division do not a revolution/crisis make. I discuss why revolution/crisis is unlikely in America in more detail here. If both sides don’t talk then gridlock results, and the private sectors wins, as was the case for much of 2009-2014. The strength of the US private sector, which is unrivaled in the developed world, infrastructure, as well as small and local governments, helps mitigate the consequences of national political tension. Even if the elite in Washington are paralyzed and divided, the rest of the country carries on.

For example, the assassination of JFK, in which in the aftermath the US economy was more or less unscathed despite the gravity of the situation. This is because there is a lot of redundancy and fail-safe procedures that keep everything running even in the event of severe disruption to one of the components, in the case of JFK, the executive branch. Republics may be more stable (at the cost of efficiency) because less power hinges on a single individual, and there is more redundancy. The hypothetical reactionary monarchy would need such systems in place in the event of crisis such as the monarch becoming incapacitated.

On the other extreme, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria caused WW1 – and through a chain of events that includes the rise of Nazi Germany, the use of nuclear weapons against Japan, and even the creation of Israel – may have been the single most pivotal event in modern history.

The Civil War may be an outlier, an example of where irreconcilable political division leads to literal war, but it’s only a single data point in the 240-year history of the United States. Perhaps it’s kinda remarkable that despite America’s long-standing cultural and political divides, civil war hasn’t happened again.

The problem with political philosophy is that it’s all hypothetical…none of this stuff will ever happen. Political systems tend to be set in stone and take decades, possibly centuries, if ever, to change. Libertarianism, for example, has spurred endless debate and research over the past fifty years despite the fact nothing close to resembling a libertarian or minarchist ‘state’ has ever been achieved in practice. At best, we can draw parallels by observing how ‘one state/country is more libertarian than another,’ but any similarities are coincidental – no government actively seeks to emulate libertarian principles. A hard science, on the other hand, produces actual results that can used for both commercial and theoretical purposes.

Democracy deprives the elite of the formal power to efficiently use official propaganda, the legal system, and security forces directly against their opposition, or in service of their own power.

Exactly. The first two (propaganda and legal system) are iffy, but physical force is how power is wielded.

Dissident opposition groups (BLM for example) are problematic to any republic, and although absolute monarchy would fix all of this (although Warg doesn’t explicitly mention monarchy, it seems implied that this is where he’s getting at), staying grounded to reality here, not wishful thinking, dissident groups tend to be very small despite being very vocal. It’s not enough to topple a government, infrastructure, and security network as powerful USA, and governments, not surprisingly, tend to take these matters very seriously (hence all the homeland sec. and anti-terrorism spending).

With two viable intellectual-political coalitions with no moderating ties to each other, the low-level conflict inherent in democracy can get much closer to total war.

But the prevailing consensus (or what everyone seem to complain about) is that the two parties are too similar.