Charles Hugh Smith asks the question.
The unspoken assumption of the modern era is that politics can fix whatever is broken: whatever is broken in society or the economy can be fixed by some political policy or political process– becoming more inclusionary, seeking non-partisan middle ground, etc.
What if this assumption is flat-out wrong? What if politics is incapable of fixing what’s broken?
. . .
This is of course heresy of the highest order, for a belief in the supremacy of politics is the secular religion of our era. The orthodoxy is: there is no problem that can’t be solved with a political policy: a tax cut, a new tax, a new incentive, a broader definition of criminality, and so on.
What if the status quo is failing for reasons that are beyond the reach of politics? Politics assumes that tweaking incentives and disincentives via rewards and punishments, centralizing control of assets and income streams and manipulating the issuance of currency and interest rates can fix any and every problem.
The limits of politics are the limits of government. In the present era, all government seeks to further centralize power and capital because the era’s quasi-religious belief is that centralization is the solution to everything.
This is of course false. Centralization works until it becomes the problem, at which point further centralization of power and capital only speeds system-wide failure.
. . .
Government can’t rescue a status quo which is failing due to negative return on investment (ROI), gross inefficiencies, the loss of trust in corrupt institutions , and all the other ills that are intrinsic to centralization of power and capital.
As a result, the greater the government’s power, the greater the polarization as the self-serving elites seek to protect their share of the pie as the pie shrinks. Each camp becomes increasingly extreme, and compromise is recognized as a process that erodes every camp’s power and income.
. . .
This is the politics of decline and collapse.
There’s more at the link.
I think Mr. Smith has a point. One can illustrate it by recalling Bismarck‘s famous remark that “Politics is the art of the possible”. If political progress becomes impossible, due to entrenched interests that each insist on their own self-aggrandizement at the expense of all the others, then politics itself – political discourse, free and fair elections, and the like – is, in practical terms, no longer possible. Once politics is no longer possible, what takes its place? Throughout history, the answer has all too frequently been civil (and sometimes military) conflict. Therein lies civil war.
May God spare us from that in these increasingly dis-United States, and in all the other nations where entrenched special interests are trying to have their way over all the others at any cost. For a good current example of that, see formerly Great Britain, where the will of the people (the Brexit referendum) is being blocked at every turn by the “remainers“, who think they know better than the people what Britain – or, rather, what they – need.
(Clearly, the “remainers” haven’t heeded another prescient warning from Bismarck: “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made”. By exposing their shenanigans to the light of day, they’ve lost a great deal of credibility, despite all their protestations of wanting to do what’s best for Britain.)