Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump's Biographer: Who Will Answer the Call?

This article (below), which actually provoked some sympathy from me for Jeff Sessions (no mean feat), also provoked a larger reflection. Who will be Trump's biographer? Who will provide an account of this incoherent man and our times? 

Two names jump to mind, but I have to assume they're not available: Robert Caro and Garry Wills. Caro wrote highly acclaimed The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York about Trump's fellow New Yorker, and of course he's written the magnificent multi-volume work The Years of Lyndon Johnson. But he's still working on the final volume (go, Robert, go!), and he's not so young. Wills is the author of terrific books about Nixon, the Kennedys, and Reagan, as well as John Wayne, Washington, Lincoln, Madison, Henry Adams, and St. Augustine. His work always provides deep insights. His classics background and (presumably) a knowledge of Suetonius (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars) could prove a useful referent. But, Wills, too, is not so young and he's now got a book about the Koran due out this fall. Clearly, Trump, told well, would prove a HUGE undertaking. We need someone who can take up this mantle. 

So who? This is a call for nominees: who has the insight into contemporary politics, the ability to doggedly pursue the story of a man that won't provide a pleasant journey and almost certainly won't have a happy ending. This biographer will also need mastery of psychology without psychobabble and exceptional literary skill.

Nominations, please.

President Trump’s dressing down of his attorney general at a meeting in May was the beginning of a tumultuous summer for the two men.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939 by E.H. Carr

E.H. Carr. Looks the part, doesn't he? 
Foundational text in IR & realist thought

This book was published in September 1939 as Britain was going to war with Germany over the invasion of Poland. The book, despite new editions and having remained in print since that time, makes few concessions to changed views or ideas. Thus, as a history, it’s a first draft, but it's best remembered as a foundational text of what was to become the academic study of international relations. Carr, after having spent around 20 years in the British Foreign Office, accepted an academic post in Wales, where he was working at the time of the publication of the book. The book serves as an outstanding introduction to international relations because whatever its shortcomings as history, it’s a brilliant exposition of the issues of international relations (IR), especially from the realist point-of-view.

Carr is a proponent of the realist view as opposed to what he termed the “utopian” view. In short, he attributed to the utopians the belief that treaties, tribunals, and public opinion would overrule the forces of “power” that create wars. This was the age, following the First World War, when the League of Nations was created and the Kellogg-Brian treaty (1928) that sought to outlaw war as a means of state action. As you know, neither of these worked well for long. Instead, following a long history of realist thought, Carr notes that the struggle for power marked relations between nations during this period, and unlike the situation within nation-states, where governments and laws held sway, relations between nations was one of relative anarchy marked by the use (or threat) of force.

Carr’s arguments and prose are concise and pithy. He understands the crucial differences between and the relation of politics and law. He also concedes the role of morality (however defined) in decision-making, and its effect on public opinion, which while not controlling, is a matter of concern to each government. In short, while a realist, he shows himself a realist who understands that power is more than simply the ability to deploy military force and win wars. He also understands that nations vie for status and power in many ways and that something often guides them other than a cold, hard rationality.

While I consider myself a realist in matters of international relations, I appreciate that other perspectives (liberal internationalism, constructivism, and so on) all have their value and provide insights into this complex field. For someone new to the field, I recommend Carr’s work as an introduction from the realist perspective; i.e., the ability of each state to exert power—primarily by the threat or use of force—is the most reliable guide to understanding the interactions between states. But Carr isn’t blind to other perspectives, either, which serves to enhance the value of his book.

For anyone seeking entry into the field of international relations, I can recommend this book. (I know it's assigned in graduate courses in IR.) Also, this re-issued edition with a preface by Michael Cox provides a wealth of background information about the book and Professor Carr, making it an especially useful edition.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Collingwood: "Man Goes Mad", with comments, Pt. 12

I call upon John Lukacs where I think Collingwood has left a void.
The love of our country, therefore, its hills and valleys, rivers and fields and woods, is not an aesthetic enjoyment of the ‘beauties of nature’. Indeed, our country as it stands is not a product of nature; it is a garden kept and dressed by generations of men, whose whole character and aspect have been moulded by their labour. Nor is it a patriotic pride in our nation’s history as written upon the face of the earth; it is something far deeper and more primitive than that, something into which national pride and national rivalries do not enter. It is an experience neither aesthetic nor political, but in the deepest sense religious.

            It may be called the worship of our land as terra mater, Demeter, our divine mother; it may be called the love of the land God has given us for our home; whatever it is called, it is a thing of religion, our share in the primitive religion of the earth-goddess and the corn-god, the religion of all agricultural civilizations. And upon the vitality of this religious feeling depends the vitality of our civilization as a whole.

. . . .

            Many crimes have been laid at the foot of the Industrial Revolution, but in a direct and immediate sense the ruin of the English countryside cannot be included among them. The scarring of its surface with mines and the building of mills were not in themselves fatal to it. Both mine and mill have a dignity of their own, not wholly discordant with the spirit of the country to which, after all, they belong no less intimately than barn and dovecote and oast-house. But nevertheless, our present outrages can trace their pedigree back to the beginnings of the machine age.

From here, Collingwood catalogs the economic decline of the countryside and its conversion into a virtual museum piece and space for new housing tracts. His complaint is not aesthetic, or so he claims, but it's clearly one in which aesthetics plays a prominent role. He concludes the entire essay with these words: 

Instinctively, we turn to the country when we seek for a renewal of emotional power, as Antaeus in the fable derived fresh strength from touching the earth: in walking and camping and fields sports we try not so much to exercise our bodies as to refresh our minds. But these are only drugs for a jaded civilization. The earth whose contact would heal us is no mere playing-field. It is the fruitful, life-giving soil from which in the sweat of our brow we win our bread: not a weekly cheque to be exchanged for bread, but consciously nourishes itself from roots in agriculture, is well. Cut off from those roots, it is a kind of madness which may endure for a time im a fervish and restless consciousness, but can have no lasting vitality. Of this we are beginning to be aware; we know that our civilization has in it a sickness of the mind, a morbid craving for excitement, a hyperaesthesisa of emotion, for which it offers no cure. There is a cure, if only we could get it: the deep primitive, almost unconcious emotion of the man who, wresting with the earth, sees the labour of his hands and is satisfied. 
I must admit the Collingwood's conclusion flummoxes me. I accept his paean for the land, and I, too, believe that our land, this earth, is now our garden. But Collingwood fails to link this intuition about the value of the land with the rise of illiberalism. England was at this time, along with the U.S., the most advanced industrialized nation in the world. It has certainly been industrialized for the longest time. So why did places like Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, and Romania, opt for fascist or militarist regimes when they were much more tied to the land by a greater number of people linked to the land? If spoliation of the countryside and a concentration of the population in the cities should create the most and most significant (negative) emotional reactions--sicknesses--then why was England perhaps the sanest nation in Europe during this time? 

Also, how realistic is Collingwood here? This man was an academic, who certainly loved the outdoors. He was an accomplished sailor and did a great deal of archeological fieldwork. But he was not a farmer! Nor can or should we all be farmers (unless things really go to hell). He was a man of Oxford and London, not of the far reaches of the countryside. How is civilization to function? To wit, no cities, no civilization. 

Indeed, if Collingwood hadn't here (and elsewhere) written so eloquently about liberalism, one might find a hint of Blut und Boden (blood and soil) in this musings in this last section. As it is, Collingwood, in the first quoted paragraph, despite his dismissal of the feeling as one of patriotism, seems to be very close to the understanding of patriotism offered by John Lukacs. Lukac's patriotism contrasts with virulent nationalism, and it's a distinction that I believe Collingwood could have endorsed. Lukacs describes the difference: 

Patriotism is defensive; nationalism is aggressive. Patriotism is the love of a particular land, with its particular traditions; nationalism is the love of something less tangible, of the myth of a “people”, justifying many things, a political and ideological substitute for religion. Patriotism is old-fashioned (and, at time and in some places, aristocratic); nationalism is modern and populist. In one sense patriotic and national consciousness may be similar; but in anther sense, more and more apparent after 1870, national consciousness began to affect more and more people who, generally, had been immune to that before—as, for example, many people within the multinational empire of Austria-Hungary. It went deeper than class consciousness. Here and there it superseded religious affiliations, too.
John Lukacs, Democracy and Populism: Fear & Hatred (2005), 36.

I'd expected Collingwood to explore more deeply down a similar path and to tie-in this change in popular feeling that Lukacs identifies. As he left it---and remember, Collingwood did not publish this article--it lacks a satisfactory conclusion, one that ties together his concluding observations, which in the end are left standing alone. Perhaps he realized this, too. 

I'll be reading more Collingwood, including Essays in Political Philosophy and re-reading this The New Leviathan to try to fill in this gap. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Collingwood's "Man Goes Mad" with comments Pt. 11

The gorgeous English countryside; but now we must be grounded in place and planet

At this point in the essay, which Collingwood labeled as Part Three, the argument takes an unexpected turn into humankind's deepest roots and the (relatively) recent history of liberalism. 

At bottom, European civilization, with all its offshoots in America and elsewhere, is an agricultural civilization.
            As a matter of economics, this is a commonplace. Everyone knows that . . . our daily meals come from the soil; and that, if eating is the basis of life, agriculture is the basis of our civilization.
 A civilization, in order to be real, must have, as we might say, three dimensions. It must have complexity, or an elaborate system of responses to various situations, such as the need for nourishment, the need for human intimacies, the need for protection against enemies. It must have continuity, or identify with itself in its own past: each element in its structure must have grown out of something that was previously there. And it must have vitality: those to whom it belongs must believe in it, and refuse to part with it except in exchange for some new civilization which they can recognize as its legitimate continuation and heir.
            To these three dimensions of civilization correspond three dimensions of mental life. Its complexity is a function of intelligence, the wit or skill by which man, like other animals, invents his responses to new situations. Its continuity is a function of memory, the self-conscious knowledge of one’s own present as the outgrowth of one’s past. Its vitality is a function of emotion. If any of these failed, civilization would perish.

. . . .
 The question I am raising in this chapter is whether these emotions are in health or not. Of course, our civilization is not merely agricultural; it is much else besides; it is commercial, industrial, scientific, and so forth; and in order that we should possess it in its fullness we must feel strongly concerning all these developments of it. But that from which we have developed is not something past and dead, which we can now afford to ignore; it is the living root on whose life their life depends; and to care for them, a without any longer caring for it, would be like caring for our furniture and clothes while easing to care for our own bodies, or caring for victory in a scientific debate without caring for the truth. 

  1. Collingwood grew-up in the Lake District, not far from John Ruskin. Collingwood's father was a disciple of Ruskin's, and Collingwood was deeply steeped in that tradition and that of the ancient English countryside. In short, Collingwood's feel for the land and its ancient history was not gained through books; expanded and expressed by books, but known first at an experiential level. 
  2. Although not recounted in the quotes above, Collingwood notes some of the changes wrought by modernity; for instance, how beginning in the seventeenth century, Europeans began turning their primary interest from God to Nature, and the natural sciences that could help tame Nature. Of course, commerce and industry also grew more prominent. 
  3. Although he does not state it expressly (at least thus far in his essay), Collingwood seems to be adopting the perspective of those who identify a certain rootlessness and disconnection in modern life, with its cities and the increasingly hidden rhythms of Nature and an agricultural world. 
  4. As someone who advocates for "the garden" as a fundamental metaphor by which we should continue to live, I'm very sympathetic of Collingwood's train of thought here. Indeed, we're realizing more and more of the damage that human actions have done to "this best garden" in which we live. In Shakespeare's Henry V, the cardinal decries the spoiling of this "best garden" France by war and plunder. But now we realize (or should realize) that this "best garden" is no longer limited a certain nation or locale, but it is our entire Planet Earth. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Collingwood's "Man Goes Mad" with comments, Pt. 10

To what extent is Collingwood's understanding of (liberal) politics and illiberal politics consistent with that offered by Hannah Arendt? I think I discern some distinct similarities. 

In this post, we pick up from the point of Collingwood's question: "If the abandonment of all attempt to live by liberal principles is madness, why has this madness come upon us?

Liberalism, during the time of its growth and greatness, entirely transformed the inner political life of those countries where it took root. But it never applied itself seriously to the task of reforming their international relations. . . . What change there had been [in international relations], was for the worse: weapons more destructive, war more expensive, and national hatred (a thing hardly known in the seventeenth century) smouldering everywhere. The liberal state of the nineteenth century conceived itself as an individual among individuals, in that false essence of individuality which makes it synonymous  with mutual exclusiveness, and denies that between one individual and another there may be organic relations such that the welfare of each is necessary to that of the other. The liberal government which ‘trusted the people’ hated and feared peoples other than its own. It was this unnatural union of internal liberalism and external liberalism that led by way of international anarchy to the militarism of today. 
            If liberalism failed to affect international relations, it failed also in certain ways to affect the inner life of communities. A division was made, both in practice and in theoretical writings, between the public affairs of the community as a whole and the private affairs of its members. It was held that, whereas a man’s political opinions were of interest to the government, whose business it was to elicit them for its own guidance, his private actions, so long as he did nothing illegal, were his own concern. In practice this meant that his life as a ‘business’ man was under no kind of control by the state, so that the economic life of the community was an anarchy as complete as international politics, This was tolerable in theory only because of the extraordinary doctrine, learned from Adam Smith, that free pursuit of individual interest best served the interest of all; in practice it was soon found wholly intolerable, and the misery of the weaker, to which it gave rise, was the course of modern socialism. The militarism and the revolutionary socialism which threaten to destroy civilization today are a just punishment for its crimes in the years of its greatness. They spring, not from weakness or falsity in the principles of liberalism itself, but from the failure of our grandfathers to put those principles consistently into practice. Where these attacks show symptoms of insanity is the fact that they are directed, not against the incomplete application of liberal principles, but against those principles themselves. For three hundred years, civilized man has been working out a liberal system of political method, applying it, bit by bit, to the various parts of his corporate life. Now, because the application has not proved exhaustive, because  there are still some regions unreclaimed by this method, it seems that man has decided no longer to use it, but to throw it away as an ill-tempered child throws away a toy, to give up the attempt at living a political life, and to live in future the life of a gunman, the life of violence and lawlessness, the life which Hobbes, thinking he described the remote past only, and not he future, called solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
My comments: 

  1. To what extent do Collingwood's remarks anticipate the argument of Hannah Arendt in her The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) that European 'imperialism' in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries contributed to the rise of totalitarianism? 
  2. Is Collingwood too utopian here in complaining about the failure of liberal institutions to develop between nation-states? He'd surely noticed the failure of the League of Nations (and the success of the later United Nations is sketchy at best). Compare Collingwood's analysis to that of his contemporary (and fellow philosopher of history), E.H. Carr writing in The Twenty Years' Crisis: 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (September 1939): Carr writes a manifesto of contemporary realism in the field of international relations that pooh-poohs international  institutions (for the most part) and debunks a good deal of what he argues (persuasively) were utopian projects always on the very of annihilation by power politics. I don't think Collingwood was naive, but I'm not sure how his alternative course of achieving a genuinely liberal regime in international relations would have succeeded. (In some measure, though, current problems notwithstanding, the EU seems to provide a model that Collingwood might endorse.)
  3. I think that Collingwood, like almost everyone else who's addressed the topic, has mistakenly attributed a faith in markets to Adam Smith that he never held. Smith's "invisible hand" was a metaphor he used only in passing in this Wealth of Nations, and his earlier (but underappreciated) Theory of Moral Sentiments says a great deal about the cultural foundations upon which capitalism could be laid. Smith was not a free market ideologue of the type that we find today. 
  4. Certainly, in the U.S. we see Collingwood's prediction coming true: the gunman is taking over. Note the images from Charlottesville. Guns represent violence and coercion, the opposite of politics, reason, and dialectic (dialogue). Collingwood, I argue, tracks Arendt very closely in the analysis of politics as the opposite of violence and coercion--at least politics as understood in a liberal (democratic) polity. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Collingwood's "Man Goes Mad" with comments, Pt. 9

Marxism: “carrying too much dead weight in the shape of relics from the age in which it was born”
Here we further explore Collingwood's critique of Marxist socialism, which seeks liberal ends by illiberal means.
[I]t is a dangerous matter to surrender principles for the sake of expediency. Only in so far as a people has no liberalism in its bones, can a dictatorship flourish in it for however short a time; and every day of that time means a further weakening of all liberal principle throughout the body politic. [Collingwood here goes on to discuss Russia and contrast it the England [sic], France, and the U.S.] 
. . . . 
[Collingwood critiques Marxism as “carrying too much dead weight in the shape of relics from the age in which it was born,” and he identifies these (intellectual) relics.] 
            All these ideas [such as enlightened despotism, the need for crisis and revolution expressed in war, and “class war as the glorious consummation of political activity”] are obsolete: they have been exploded once for all by that very liberalism against which they are now used as weapons. Enlightened despotism as a political ideal has yielded to the conception of a people governing itself by a dialectic of political opinion. The dualism between a time of troubles and a millennium lying beyond it has yielded to the conception of conflict as a necessary element of all life and (as yet) not destroying its peace. The conception of war as at once glorious in itself and necessary to the achievement of human ends has yielded to the conception of war as something anti-political and, so far as it is merely war, merely evil. In all these three ways socialism, in spite of its affiliation to Hegel’s dialectic, shows itself radically un-dialectical, and it is liberalism that has proved the true heir of the dialectical method. 
            If the abandonment of all attempt to live by liberal principles is madness, why has this madness come upon us? . . . Nothing is gained by blame: something perhaps, by trying to understand. [325]
What I find most intriguing about this set of quotes is the passing remark that Collingwood makes when he writes that "conflict as a necessary element of all life and (as yet) not destroying its peace." Why did he say "as yet"? What worm in the bud may he have been thinking about? I have to suspect that given his deep knowledge of classical sources that he had in mind that democracies and republics have a history of instability. This is something that deeply concerned the American Founders as they drafted and argued in favor of the Constitution. This is what Francis Fukuyama wrote about in his Political Order and Political Decay ((his Pollyannish reputation--unfairly gained--notwithstanding). Peter Turchin and William Ophuls have also addressed this issue; in fact, it's not just democracies and republics that face this challenge of what I think might fairly be termed 'political entropy.' The challenge becomes, can a nation talk its way out of decay? I think so--but it's extremely difficult, at best, and some violence always erupts. Along with Peter Turchin, I believe we are in such a time now in the U.S. Perhaps the alarm among elites will be strong enough to rectify our current state of affairs, but this hope must balance against the anxiety and disharmony that have brought us to this state and the temptation to impose a new order from above. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Collingwood's "Man Goes Mad" with comments, Pt. 8

Twins: hatred of liberalism, desire for war, leaders of totalitarian regimes, slayers of millions. It seems likely that Collingwood thought of both as he wrote "Man Goes Mad"

In the preceding post, Collingwood addressed the attack on liberalism
emanating from the right, in this post, we'll start his assessment of the attack on liberalism from the left.

The other attack on liberalism, from the left, complains in effect that liberalism, as it has actually existed, is not genuinely liberal at all, but hypocritically preaches what it does not practice. Behind a fa├žade of liberal principles, the reality of political life has been a predatory system by which capitalists have plundered wage-earners. What is proudly described as the free contract of labour is a forced sale in which the vendor accepts a starvation wage; what is called the free expression of political opinion is a squabble between various sections of the exploiter class, which conspire to silence the exploited. Within the existing political system, therefore, the exploited class can hope for no redress. Its only remedy is to make open war on its oppressors, take political power into its own hands, establish a dictatorship of the proletariat as an emergency measure, and so bring about the existence of a classless society. 
            In one sense this programme is not an attack on liberalism but a vindication of it. The principles on which it is based are those of liberalism itself; and in so far as its analysis of historical fact is correct, it must carry conviction to anyone who is genuinely liberal in principle and not merely a partisan of the outward forms in which past liberalism has expressessed itself. The correctness of this analysis has been demonstrated by the sequel. The attack on liberalism from the right has actually been the reaction of privileged classes to this challenge from the left. 
. . . . 
But the socialist programme as I have stated it, though liberal in principle, is anti-liberal in method. Its method is that of the class-war and the dictatorship. Class-war is war, and the time is past when war could be waged as a predatory measure, in order to seize property or power held by another. That is the old conception of war, which, as we saw [earlier in this essay], no longer applies to the conditions of the modern world. Therefore, war means not the transference of property from the vanquished to the victor, but its destruction; not the seizure of political power, but the disintegrations of the social structure on whose soundness the very existence of political power depends.
[Collingwood next returns to his discussion of the inevitability of political conflict (contra Marx’s vision of political life after the revolution)]
Healthy political life, like all life, is conflict: but this conflict is political so long as it is dialectical, that is, carried on by the parties which desire to find an agreement beyond or behind their differences. War is non-dialectical: a belligerent desires not to agree with his enemy but to silence him. A class-conflict within the limits of a liberal political system is dialectical: one carried on in the shape of class-war is non-dialectical. The ordinary socialist conception of class-war is equivocal, slipping unawares from one of these meanings to the other.  

In this selection of quotes, Collingwood identifies the common bond in between the extreme Right and extreme Left in their critique of liberalism: their desire for war. For the Right, at least in Collingwood's time race war was the paramount rationale, although nationalism and religion could also be called into play. (Religion, perhaps even more than race, now seems to be the rallying cry for the extreme Right.) The Left prefers to pursue class warfare, although in its extreme contemporary manifestations, I'm not sure who that would play-out since a Marxian industrial proletariat doesn't exist in the West and the extreme Right in the U.S. has captured the allegiance of many wage-earners and the economically marginalized

A repeating a common theme of Collingwood's, and one that I'll repeat: war, whether cheered-on by the Right or by the Left, is the enemy of liberalism. As it's been said, free speech is always the first casualty of war. And it's not only speech that suffers the consequence.

The mutual admiration--indeed, demand--for war is a shared characteristic of the extreme Right and extreme Left. This demonstrates the limits of attempting to parse the array of political perspectives on a binary Left-Right choice.

Collingwood identifies why the extreme Left (socialists and Marxists) have shared some affinities. There are shared values in desiring to bring a wider, more inclusive set of groups, values, and individuals into society and political life. The chief difference becomes one of timing and cost. For the extreme Left change must come now even at the price of war (socially destructive civil war). Mainstream liberals--those who value constitutional government, the rule of law, and peace--won't pay the price of war and do not have to look beyond the last century to see the millions and millions of lives sacrificed needlessly for an ideal that was never close to attainment.

Also, by "mainstream liberals" I include traditional Republicans in the U.S., although their numbers are dwindling. This would be the same for Conservatives in GB or most continental conservatives. (The great divide in liberalism is between those who emphasize laissez-faire economics and want to limit government--with markets as the preferred mode of decision-making--and liberals who use government as a tool and prefer political decision-making over market-based decisions.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Collingwood's "Man Goes Mad" with commentary, Pt. 7

Contains "Man Goes Mad:" not enchanting but enlightening

In part 7, we review what Collingwood writes about the attack on liberalism from "the right." The numbers in brackets and bold refer to my numbered notes following the quote. 

At the present time, liberalism is undergoing an attack from two sides at once, by two opposite parties and for two opposite reasons. [1][2] First, there is the attack from the right. Here the complaint is that liberalism talks instead of acting. [3] Instead of taking up definite problems and fitting them with definite solutions, it spends time collecting opinions about them. What is lacks is efficiency. The remedy is to suppress parties, parliament, and all apparatus of a political dialectic, and entrust the work of government to an expert, exempt from criticism and endowed with power to command, who shall invent his own solutions for all problems as they arise and impose them upon an obedient community. [4] 
            The ground on which this doctrine rests betrays a genuine and absolute opposition to liberalism. The situations is represented as one of emergency. In emergencies, the method of liberalism is no longer valid. But what we are considering here is no temporary suspension of habeas corpus and the freedom of the press, it is a permanent declaration of a state of emergency. [5] Naturally, this form of government is adopted most thoroughly in militaristic countries.

  1. Collingwood uses the division of political perspectives that has been with us since the French Revolution, that of 'left' and 'right.' For reasons I've set forth elsewhere and that I hope will become apparent later in these comments, I think this framework is outdated and that we should map political opinions in a more multi-dimensional schema. Nonetheless, this division that Collingwood uses is still with us over 80 years later, so it certainly has some staying power. 
  2. Collingwood writes of "two opposite reasons" (between left and right for opposing liberalism (i.e., constitutional democracy), but much of what he writes here can apply to the left in power as well as the right. 
  3. As I alluded to in Part 6, Collingwood is promoting his idea of "dialectical politics" closely tracks with Hannah Arendt's equation of politics with speech. And this complaint about democracy (liberalism) is an old one indeed, and one that Collingwood agrees carries some validity. Liberalism, as he's written, does not do well in times of war. I should note that the same is said of the legal system, with its systematic procedures, hearings, trials, and appeals. Both democracy (liberalism) and the rule of law seek to avoid and resolve conflicts by speech. (Indeed, speech in these situations is a type of speech act, but more on that some other time.) And just as democracy has those who would circumvent it (actually, destroy it) because of an "emergency," so the law must fend off vigilantes who want to take justice into their own hands, the lynch mob. 
  4. In talking about "experts" and a command and control government, Collingwood is describing the experience of Communist governments as well as fascist and authoritarians governments. The Soviet Union was the only Communist regime in power in 1936, and it clearly displayed this command and control mentality; to wit, the party via its various apparatchiks (on up to Stalin) knew what was best for "the people." Experts knew best when imposing plans from above, whether building dams and factories or sending people to the Gulag or starving a part of the population. The Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were twins in many ways, and certainly not the least in this manner. 
  5. Reading this, one can understand better President Trump's "American carnage" inaugural and his fantasies about crime, Moslems, illegal immigrants, and foreign powers like North Korea and Iran. All of his images cry out with a message of fear, and thus to create a sense of emergency. His ineptitude passing legislation in Congress bespeaks his lack of mastery of dialectical politics, his inability to master the labyrinth of compromise that marks a successful politician in a democratic, constitutional regime with a separation of powers. 
In Part 8, we'll examine Collingwood's ideas about the attack on liberalism from the left, the need to end liberalism to establish true liberalism.