Politics Is Visceral
Manos Tsakiris has written a very good essay on how visceral emotion and feeling are at the root of politics as opposed to rational thought. This essay notes that people feel increasingly unsafe today and so the emotion anxiety is in play in politics. The essay also notes that anxiety as well as anger in politics are really not rational and so politics is mainly based on how people feel, i.e., politics is visceral not rational.
The essay seems to assert that the visceral politics of today are not driven by any fundamental political disagreement. Rather, it is politicians' persuasive language and not any fundamental political disagreement that drives today's visceral politics. In other words, today's visceral politics not due to political disagreements but rather due to persuasive language of politicians.
The essay mentions the rational Polis of Aristotle as an example of rational politics that has never proven to be true. The essay then mentions the Thomas Hobbes' lawlessness that would result from the irrational war of all against all. Hobbes supposed human nature was first of all callous and not compassionate and callous free choice was fundamentally irrational and needed the social contracts of compassion to limit the natural lawlessness of callous free choice.
The essay argues that modern life undermines the the human well being of the UK social welfare state from the 1942 Beveridge report. Modern life increasingly does not distribute human well-being evenly that is a precursor of many modern day maladies like depression and suicide. The essay uses a Trump rally quote to show how language increases political anxiety and anger.
"The American people are fed up with Democrat lies, hoaxes, smears, slanders and scams. The Democrats’ shameful conduct has created an angry majority, and that’s what we are, we’re a majority and we’re angry."
However, the essay does not show why the Trump quote is not true and therefore not justified. Since there have been Democrat lies, hoaxes, slanders, scams, and shameful conduct, the emotions would then be justified and therefore help people to increase human well being.
The essay ends with a quote from Hannah Arendt, "the ideal subject of a totalitarian regime is one ‘for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie, the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie, the standards of thought) no longer exist.’"
The essay now argues that somehow, the visceral politics of modern life and human well being depends on distinguishing fact from fiction to preclude a totalitarian regime.
Nowhere in the essay is there any discussion of the universal political disagreement over conservative individual free choice versus the liberal coerced choices of compassion state, which is the foundation of all modern politics. The visceral politics of modern life seem to be the classic political difference between the conservative Adam Smith of individual free choice versus the liberal Rousseau of enforced state compassion. Rousseau, after all, argues that first of all, human nature was compassionate and not callous, but otherwise followed Hobbes.
There is some purpose and meaning to the visceral politics of modern life. There is, after all, a fundamental recurring political disagreement over the limits of individual free choice versus the limits of state-enforced compassion. In fact, previous outcomes repeatedly shown us that either callous free choice or unfettered compassion can lead to a totalitarian state.