So if I'm right -- if my liberal friends want to believe that the State is not just an emanation of the fundamental conflict of Many and Few, and this is why they have to keep believing, in turn, in the essential goodness of the Democratic Party -- then we push the question back a step: Why do they want to believe this fairytale about the State?Always a pleasure to see a writer I admire moving in the direction of dread anarchy, and I'll offer an answer to that ultimate question, which is that the question begs its own answer as surely as the inevitable answer begs the question. Why is the state? Because it is. Through all the dross, the thousands of years of philosophy and speculation, all the justifications and genealogies and taxonomies and myths of origin, no one has ever come up with a tale about the state that in its most fundamental essence goes one step beyond the old mountaineer's motto: because it is there. It is, when you think about it, an awfully curious ontology, and there is a certain poetic justice in the fact that the man who formulated it was murdered in cold blood by the very inanimate inevitability that he sought to surmount. How's that for a metaphor for the state?
As for the Democratic party, MJS wonders how anyone can believe in it--that is to say, not simply recognize its existence but imbue it with some quality of transcendence, or, well, what would we say in this spiritually denuded age?--some values, perhaps. Actually, I fall rather in line with some of the most-cracked crackpots of the so-called Right on the question: in an age in which the transcendent is at best a purchasable commodity, what else is there but the hierarchy of a kind of secular mother church? Fairness, moderation, equality, merit--the Donk treats its various political commitments like objects in a catechism. These outward expressions of an inner state are really all about a sick sort of grace. The often-remarked condescension of liberals is intimately familiar to anyone who's ever spent a few weekends in the pews.