Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Clauswitz Inversion

"Politics in a democracy consists of two armies showing up on the same battlefield, counting each other, and then the smaller army surrendering and going home for two years without actually bothering to fight the battle first. The difference between “politics” and “full-blast civil war” has never been more or less than that third step, wherein the presumptive losers preemptively surrender. Drop that last step from the agenda, and you’ve got war."
Commenter "Matt" at John Venlet's place gives a superb rendering of the Clauswitz inversion.


  1. What's missing from that is that there will be another election. Definitely. Battles tend to end in pursuits and slaughters and no hope for the future for the losers at all. Unless and until they can contrive another battle.

    The next election is why the losers of this one "surrender". It is not a permanent surrender, hence not really a surrender at all.

    This is why all that bollocks about Hitler being democratic is just that. Yes, he won his election, but he cancelled the next one. It is not enough for there to have been an election, it has to be that there will be another election, and another, and another ...

    Nevertheless, the basic idea, that democracy is war by other means is right. That is its entire justification in my opinion.

  2. Brian - thanks for the comment, I hope your making it helped a little with your diurnal difficulties.

    The cost of lives destroyed by war is a sobering thought, but it is easy to grasp because it is concentrated in space and time at particular battles. The cost of lives destroyed or mangled surreptitiously by bureaucratic mechanisms is also sobering, but less easily recognized in sum because the destruction is dispersed rather than concentrated in space and time.

    You're a fan of Victor Davis Hanson, yes? Well I'm interested in his point that the Western way of war more often than not is an attempt to achieve political clarity.

    If large scale economic collapse becomes more likely over the years, then so too surely is the prospect that democratic mechanisms will no longer contain what is, in effect, an ongoing civil war.


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