On Politics Part One — The Metaphysics of Politics
I have been asked to explain in a rigorous way the political philosophy to which I adhere. I can promise the reader no startling revelations, nor do I propose any new system, but instead I seek to place on a clear and plain footing what in these darkened days has sadly become unclear to far too many men, and I seek to call men back to their first love, and remind them of that which civilization was erected to protect. Whether this effort is in vain in not for me to say; I leave that to the candid judgment of the reader. What I will say is, as the apothegm of GK Chesterton declared, even a bad shot is honorable when he accepts a challenge to duel.
One of the small tragedies of life is that the beginnings of things are oftenest the driest and most boring, and that axioms are either too painfully obvious to bear mentioning, or too painfully wrongheaded to bear repeating. Nonetheless, I take it as an axiom that every science begins with its axioms, and I take it as an axiom that there is very little to say about axioms, because they are the beginnings and not the conclusions of arguments.
It behooves us to begin by identifying those axioms tacitly assumed by everyone, even by those who claim to refute them. This places the argument on as sound as footing as is possible to human reason. We can leave to one side the question of whether these axioms are arbitrary as opposed to apodictic: as a practical matter, if no articulate argument can be raised against them that does at tacitly assert them, human reason has no choice but to assert them.
A statement that there is no truth, if true, is false. Likewise, from the statement that logic is not valid we can deduce nothing, not even the conclusion that logic is not valid. Likewise again, the statement that nothing exists, cannot exist without invalidating itself.
A man cannot read nor hear a statement that says all his senses are false, and believe he has heard or seen the statement truly; nor understand the statement that all human understanding is warped, subjective, prejudiced, or false; nor decide that decisions do not exist; nor can he in good conscience decide the conscience to be nonexistent or irrelevant. And if he says that there are no moral rules, either he speaks honestly, that is, he abides by the moral rule which commands him not to lie, or he speaks dishonestly, so in either case what he says is not so.
Now if, dear reader, it seems to you upon reflection that these seven sentences in two paragraphs have contradicted nearly the whole of what modern philosophy has said since the time of Hume, you may be astonished that modern philosophy is so fragile as structure that it can be shattered with a word. Since men of great learning and intellect have devoted lifetimes to this work, it may seem incredible that so humble a Jack can topple so proud a Giant.
It is not incredible at all, but simple. The one assumption all modern philosophies take for granted is the dismissal of metaphysics, that is, of axiomatic truths. Modern philosophies are famous for their attempt to analyze the human condition as if from the outside, as if from the point of view from beyond human existence, a viewpoint from nowhere. In this illusionary pursuit of apodictic objectivity, they analyze human beings as objects, as if only seen from outside, as if the only thing true about man or known about man was what an outside observer could observe. Each modern philosophy can be tested by the simple expedient of holding up its conclusions against the philosopher who speaks it, and if the philosopher cannot account his own existence, or his ability to do philosophy, which is, to reason about ultimate truths, then his philosophy is false.
Metaphysics is apodictic subjectivity, that is, metaphysics is the study of those axioms without which reasoning is impossible. Apodictic means that which is self-evident; subjective means not what is arbitrary or unmeaningful but that which is dependent on one’s coign of vantage. Modern philosophers since Kant have decreed that apodictic subjectivity is impossible, or is unpersuasive. If I say it is noon because I stand at a coign of vantage where the Earth is underfoot and the sun directly overhead, this statement is true but dependent on my viewpoint. If at the same hour a man stands on the opposite side of the globe, the statement is untrue. For him, it is midnight. However, every man who stands anywhere on the world agrees that the downward direction points at the core of the earth. The statement is true for all men on Earth, and it is indubitable, and yet it is subjective.
Likewise, every reasoning man, whether he admit it or no, by the very act of using reason, takes as an axiom that truth exists, and that conclusions validly deduced from axioms are valid, and that valid deductions from true statements about real things are true and real.
He tacitly accepts that empirical evidence is probative, that prudent judgments are possible to the human mind, that the will is free, and that the conscience is sovereign. In no case does he deny that all these faculties are free of error; but he denies the cynical conclusions of modern philosophy which say these faculties consist of nothing but error, and are not to be trusted at all.
Stating these abstract axioms at the outset, oddly enough, while it says nothing about politics itself, will eliminate from consideration any political theory based on an exploded metaphysical principle, as for example National Socialism, which is based on racial determinism and polylogism, or strict Marxism, which is based on historical determinism and materialism in the sense of denying the free will. However, in general, these are minority views far removed from the mainstream of political thought and debate.