The Manichean Struggle

I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil, and I believe that in the end good will triumph. – Margaret Thatcher

As much as I idolize Margaret Thatcher, it would seem that I no longer hold this view of the world. In Thatcher’s sense, she’s still living in the world of the Cold War (and the aftermath of WWII), where the employment of this rhetoric was extremely powerful. Since 1989, is it really right to draw the world in such terms (i.e. America versus jihadists)? This is not to condone acts of terror, but there is a considerable gray area and lack of effort to understand why such acts of reactionary violence are committed. It is the idea of seeing people as chess pawns, rather than as ultimately Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes with less of that stark contract between the two characters.

Is politics really a struggle between good and evil? In many ways, it’s easier to simplify it as such due to the religious overtones that can be interpreted in its structure (i.e. voters – faithful, ideology – dogma, canvassers – missionaries). As Derrida says, democracy is always “to come”, that is, never fully achieved, always striving for perfection, like the Church Militant.

It also begs the question then: Why am I in politics? As discussed before, I do have certain ideals, but the ability to be pragmatic about them is of the utmost importance. The fear is to become a bureaucrat with no principles,  but one is still able to manipulate all the ideology, rhetoric, and individuals beliefs of others in the interests of the self or one’s country. But to be able to manipulate ideology seems to imply a lack of genuineness and authenticity to involvement in politics. Politics is a social construction anyway and often viewed as a kind of game, when it is real people at stake. Even Plato precludes that “noble lies” are part and parcel of the politician’s job.

I’m in politics because I’m passionate about the philosophy and praxis (not so much the science), even if it is defending (boring but steady) fiscal policy in the economy, a certain brand of social progress, and practicing a sort of apologetics when the practice by individual leaders fails to live up to principle. Like Weber, I believe in passionate particularization in a modern world that aims to control everything (even the production of truth) through the scientific mechanism.

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