A New Ideology?
by Adam Staley Groves
American political narratives failed this election. It seems the political media was befuddled as sayers and intelligentsia failed to provide wise counsel (save Nate Silver’s 538). Yet the failure is not just ‘they’ it’s ‘we’ machine users, participating in this representation process and sharing in derision. How to read what was immediately identified as Republican “alternate universes” – is this not a bipartisan problem? A fate identified for the moment by a peculiar media “dominance” that far right ideology over party machinery followed by post-election threats of ceding from the Union.
America’s exhibition of its political culture is a bankrupting of cultural memory, a memory undergoing a liquidation sale. Yet this cultural warehouse keeps giving, so we ought to not get lost in it. The keeper of that warehouse is language and ‘we’ who ‘reason’. Without reason we are as Aristotle made clear in The Politics, slaves in thrall to a master. And that language ‘gives in its essence’ means it’s also captured in words and grammar. Language supplies the reflective sheen of ideology, ideology is a grammar, it routes our passions, and generates an identity.
Ideology for decades served as the programmatic of policy-making. And when its visionaries spoke it well, uniquely in victory or defeat, they were often obliged to move toward a shared vision negotiating the uncertainty of its outcome that did not manifest in reality. Certainly this has not always been the modern outcome, and we have become less accustomed to the fact that the Opposition would accept a loss, in times of victory and defeat, we are stuck in mourning. Now the best ideal is any semblance of working together. Yet the sale goes on and its logistical distribution is a technik-state of being, what seems the only consensus. Ideology is a program and we might want to consider the changes in its material fact is a prominence of a programmatic nature. We ought to think how belief in an incorruptible grammar has driven us weirdly, madly, to a possible homicidal, patricidal furor. Those lay-grammarians of facts: us, you, them, or we; those who think we know so well, those exegetical scanners of information is an obsessive, if only misguided attempt to not be a slave. The intensity is not disgusting, the lack of humanity is. And while the GOP crisis has been a long time coming, it is our shared crisis more than the future of conservatism. After all to be ‘conservative’ still has its merits, and if anyone wishes to say otherwise might suffer a novel pathology. The task today is to rethink the material basis of ideology and begin restructuring our practices.
The question of new ideology is twofold. First, when and how do we become responsible for politics, its conversation? Second, how do we understand polarities of difference for human community, for a nation, a neighborhood, a city, a school, et cetera?
Today we are faced with proffers of posthumanity and antihumanism, projects of a so-called “anthrodecentrism.” And such misguided philosophies do offer us a glimpse concerning conservatives and progressives. It is they who live in alternate universes equipped with their own facts and secret datum (as the latter undermine the engines of the old ideological stereotypes). Therefore, and without expanding on the many possibilities, and mindful of the proliferate and endless explanations about why Romney lost, I offer two general ideas about a need for a new American political ideology.
First, conservatism no longer retains its oft-lauded, proto-fascist, or romantic idealization of a spontaneous state from some natural force or emergence only to privilege the power structure already in place. Conservatism as its is called today remarks of a presupposition, and at its best would be a protection against a technological grasping of language. At its core is the defense of human passions. The Tea Party anarchists are not conservative, their language, I would offer, is incredibly grasped. It is easy to find proliferate examples of user-comments where point-by-point recitation of ideological maxims and talking points are taken directly from wise counselors. The mid-century thinkers of the now faltering conservative movement rejected more traditional variations of libertarianism soundly. The Tea Party believe in a natural law that is nothing other than technological enframing which is why they bring forth paradox or divisiveness in their quality of knowledge and actions. As if these actions are for “real America.” They have, in every speech, not alcohol but computer duster on their breath. And have ascended into computer heaven.
Second, if in want of a new ideology, ‘progressive’ designates the over-emphasis of the functionarian who poses more-than-human but forgoes the foundational element unique to it. The instrumental state that believes it can correct every injustice is an arrogance of empirical authority. Drone strikes, Gitmo, and the Obama campaign’s technology “cave” example this point. Win at all costs does not necessarily mean safeguarding or alienating a general measure of decency or passion. This is the sharedness of the far right tactic. And while one cannot defend everything without inviting defeat, what is totally exposed in our new political technik is whatever was left of internal, private language. After all, these engines of language are equally available to opposition. Occupy Wall Street was, as Christopher Hedges pointed-out in a clear and sober historical account, a conservative movement. Contrary to the Tea Party who would rather destroy DC, the presidency and any remaining safety net, the OWS movement wanted to much like Obama to preserve the state in the most Burkean way with the most extreme calculators. Return it to its former status? This will not come to pass.
The “progressive” is obsessed with the certainty of justice, of justification and is tortured by this obsession—to do justice to nature. Such has always bothered the conservative, as justice is otherwise ineffable by nature. And the “conservative” is obsessed with recalling a mythical land and worse a people, with a remembrance of white America they think in step with God. Yet all thinking is founded upon a premetaphysical orthodoxy and it is our new ideology that has grasped it.
We live in an age where international connectivity transforms states faster than ever before based on the ‘kinetic’ fact of vanity, to occupy some territory of this world image. Economic determinism is driven by technological intensification and the conservative persistence on biological sanctity is a strong if not absurd case in point. Conservative will serve, if for a new ideological thinking, to define first and foremost a conservation of biological human life which has more to do with the preservation of language and respect for individuality hinged upon this privation. It need not be absolute rather cared-for as a “saving” of dwelling in much the way Heidegger remarks of it.
Progressive ideology designates the over-emphasis of the functionarian who poses themselves more-than-human but forgoes the foundational element unique to it. (As if giving conservatives a grammar lesson or two.) More than the user of Apple products and the faux-creative posture one buys into, this creative functionarianism is the leftist arrogance equal to biological absolutism, say absurdum of the two. By embracing computational devices we seek the center of language or a triumph of a reasoned will. Indeed, the lawn looks perfect. Both require a polar balance (not stasis and truly unlikely) one may have potential and we have yet to deal with the actual — we have to engage the material reality, that “ever-expanding Technik.” Therefore the sinister truth of Obama’s re-election is the incredible data-mining operation they employed in the “cave” and the ideological difference is how we appropriate technology or are appropriated by it if only blinded by our human desire of absolute justice for all.
Even if such offers are flawed they are opportunities for thought. The basis of emotional nature and religious experience is uniquely human and biologically inescapable (save those certain of god-desire as a brain problem — and even worse, those who think the brain is specifically the mind). Progressives must care for the love and mystery of creativity and not necessarily blind themselves to a creationism which is itself the remarkable misreading of device-agency by hyper-conservative, biological absolutists. There stands a mysterious engagement with technology, and the ever-important task of learning how to read what it does to language, that is, how to relate with it. At its core biological absolutism, perhaps, is a resilient skepticism, if all to often applied for the wrong ends. The progressive state is otherwise as dead as the year 1989 when communism began to crumble and with it the difference necessary to articulate another path against or over and beyond capitalism.
Two examples to support this point for the conservative movement which is now in some sort of freefall. Recall, for example, the difference between Texas Governor Rick Perry (former Al Gore supporter at that) and Jon Huntsman during the primary season. Huntsman was a moderate republican and former Utah Governor (as Utah is arguably the most conservative-friendly state in the Union). Not only that, Huntsman was a former US Ambassador to China and tracked lowest among the party faithful. Huntsman, like Romney, is a Mormon, not only spoke fluent Chinese at a primary debate but also advocated for a return to science. He’s a man scantly heard from today but his conservatism speaks of a progressive understanding. The double-back to his moderate appeal came too late for Etch-a-Sketch Mitt who once remarked of his “severely conservative” status. Huntsman’s lack of appeal had much to do with the imperatives of technologically driven media — there was nothing to move its liquidation, he remarks of the future. The question was ‘who is the real conservative?’ As if seeking the “rest of the story.” And finally the healthcare debate was indeed a bipartisan affair, a fact that underlines a polar shift that gave rise to its ideological allegories.
One must contend with what progress means when America deals its white mythology a clear mortal wound. Those traditional elements of conservative thinking, for there are some worthy to uphold, is a much more formidable opponent for Obama’s functionarian victory—and this vitriol will return.
The Middle of Now-here
National elections, at least in America, is a peculiar time when people look themselves in the face within the national “world picture.” When Americans realize they are nationalistic, when they look their aura in the face, an aura removed and returned. And narrative is that special function of the news media and its lay-historiography to process such a displacement, what I have argued (by virtue of its lay-historicity) is a type of hagiography of incorruptible political figures — the consequence not of conservatism but of techno-historical progression, a post-human nowhere or now-here. Technology intensifies the individual’s historicity it takes the lies of our everydayness. Lies are, conversely acceptable corruptions, they remark of creativity, and as Walter Benjamin reminds us, these little corruptions are necessarily human, and the lie is in our prehensile hands. Information tries to speak for itself and when it does it appears in the mouths of official functionaries who, like Newt Gingrich among others, evoke the authority of the historian. There are lies we can tell apart from better, say more necessary ones.
A difference demands not the essence of technology as its middle, for that emphasis returns an informatic similarity, a standardization wrought by a removal of relation thus dividing thought from body in the intensity of reflecting in its ‘commons’. Informatic certainty tends to sublate creative uncertainty requisite for commonality. And when it emerges we obtain adolescent pathologies. Techniks exacerbate the religiosity of our time in the sense they enact a split, as Giorgio Agamben has noted a division. And in the power of such a split we see our refreshing images ever-so-clearly, a technik speciation. This clear vision is other-worldly. Yet what do we see with our new vision? There has never been an achievement of a vision so complete, so absolute, so certain. The essentiality of language is of a different access and requires relation to the continuation of imagination to guard against this type of not-seeing. The immediate point of similarity is the state of language as a common relation, rather than its abstracted, rational, logical absoluteness; it is a stepping back from the accelerating passages of Technik, to engage actualized differences of an other as an improbable knowing. We always make exceptions with relation to possibility, not overcoming it, what we overcome should be more simple, everyday things.
 Nate Silver’s 538 Blog is a singular exception.
 We should recall back-beyond that sick moment when Obama was elected in 2008, it did not take long for Newsmax to retract an editorial calling for a coup and we all know what came to define his administration from there to this moment.
About the Author:
Adam Staley Groves is a postdoctoral fellow with Tembusu College, National University of Singapore where he currently teaches the Humanities of Climate Change and Biomedicine. Adam holds MA and PhD degrees from the European Graduate School, and is pursuing a second PhD with the Centre for Modern Thought at the University of Aberdeen. His research engages poetry and technology. Co-editor and contributor with the online journal continent., Adam’s investigation of politics seeks the dignity and nature of human imagination to confront our technological age.