Politics vs. Economics? The Short Answer


“To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.” —-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Is everything economics? Or, instead, is everything politics? And, for that matter, what is the relationship between the two? Here you’ll find the answers to all three questions. But, first, about a subject that far too many people today think is neither, since they see both terms in terms of the respective adversarial usages (like me saying I hate philosophy, which is true only as far as it actually goes):

Marriage is a male and a female in the deepest and most direct kind of association with one another. Such an association inherently is self-sustaining: it is its own sovereign and most personal society.

But, in a world of death and disharmony, marriage is a commitment, and a community-enforced vow, to remain married.

So, now, marriage—of the enduring kind―consists in the right of two to act on their mutual compatibility; in which their right to so act does not consist in their compatibility, but in their competence in face of factors weighing against the endurance of their action.

Had Adam and Eve been merely one of many couples in the garden of Eden, then when humanity fell, society would have instantly dissolved, forever replaced by ‘the right of the strong to have all whim’s dominion over the weak’, the ‘right of men to rule women like animals’, and the ‘right of the powerful to misjudge and condemn the feeble and the young’. In short, it would have been a world in which competition over the ’scarcity of Eden’ was the sole core motive—just like what Rationalist Evolutionists of the past century had assumed was already the sole core of all human behavior.

But, the caste system of India began as a free society of equally selfish-and-ignorant individuals. This means that mutual individual liberty as the sole original state of any human society can be nothing more than a recipe for every kind and form of injustice and violence which may ever be produced by an isolated and initially unstable civilization. Mere liberty in face of disharmony is always at best a borrower, or at worst a robber, from that which flourishes human life. So…

…Civilization is but the story of romance and disharmony: disharmony between everyone and everything, but romance between exactly two.

It is uncontroversial that the socio-sexually natural man-woman unit is the most humanistically necessary, and thus the most glorious, kind of relation between human individuals. In other words, that relation alone is what most essentially defines a human society. The good of the wider society is defined as the integration of all other naturally enduring mutual benefits between all free individuals. But, all those benefits are created-and-sustained by the existence of the natural man-woman unit, or couple. In short, all other natural human relations are products of this one relation, by way of reproduction of human persons.

But, in the fallen world, the publically binding form of instantiating the man-woman socio-sexual unit is the root form, and first act, of civilization. ( Note that it is both the root form, and first act, of— )


So, now, again, is everything economics, or politics? Note the assumption of dichotomy in that question. That assumption is absent in the more basic question of “What is the relation between the two?“. In fact, it may be that neither can properly and fully be understood without the other. Two wit:

The psychological underpinnings of Ayn Rand’s socio-political and eco-political views were related to her gender in the same way that Karl Marx’s views were related to Marx’s gender. Namely, by the tendency of the genders to becoming overly sensitive in regard to their respective virtues. The male is most able in matters of individualism, the female in matters of the collective. Ayn Rand’s disfavoring of the female virtues, and her consequent exclusivism in favor of the male virtues, may have been caused (in a modern world in which all good things are turned into more-or-less exclusives by some group or nation) by a particular sensitivity on her part to the female virtues. While it is good to feel things for others, it is not good to have that feeling used, in effect, to make one feel that one has no personal rights and needs. It can be argued that Rand typically felt so used, as do many women, but that Rand, unlike them, found herself with an opportunity to so ‘right the wrong’ that, unknown to her atheism, she went much too far.

Rand’s atheism saw only one way toward a global salvation, namely by the opposite of the natural virtues of women. Marx saw the converse of Rand, by the opposite of the natural virtues of men. This is the true ‘Odd Couple’.

But, Jesus never preached liberation of women from men, nor men from women, but most perfectly empathized with the plights of both in the face of the other. Adam was created without a penny to his name, but he owned the entire Earth. And, Adam never shrugged anything in order to possess it, which means it cannot be owned by a kind of individualism which denies a common culpability for a common plight of the suffering which results from the fact that differentiated individuals and genders cope differently to a given non-ideal situation.

Jennifer Roback Morse made a great point in her recent talk at Skyline Church. She said that there is an imbalance between romantic bonding and respectful love in the practice of cohabitation, in so far as cohabitation is a means of finding the ‘right’ lifelong partner. But, her point goes much deeper than simply to address the false wisdom of cohabitation. Within the fallen state of the world, that imbalance between romantic bonding and respectful love exists in any romantic attachment which is not a maturely formed marriage, even in romantic relationships that do not involve any physical contact.

So, it’s all politics. What this means, firstly, is that, unless ‘politics’ as a national subject has an irreducible core, then such ’politics’ is a haphazard subject about which nothing can truly be known other than the fact that it involves negotiation and compromise between various ontologically isolated interests. Unless the complexities which accrue to national or tribal ’politics’ are evolved from a single original core of society—and, by implication in this fallen world, from an occasional or systematic denial of that core—, then no species of ‘politics’ has anything in common with any other species of ‘politics’. In short, general ’political’ history must have a single common ancestor, such that all species of ‘politics’ are descended from one true political progenitor.

But, secondly, to say that It’s all politics means that an effective denial or cheapening of that core of society is a mutation, and not a proper political species. Nevertheless, all mutated forms of politics involve some of the form-and-substance of the original political common ancestor. This is part of how ‘politics’ becomes increasingly complex, and increasingly difficult to sort out, despite what some people think who live in a civilization that allows dissent against that ancestor far more than it enjoins the faithful reproduction of that ancestor. In short, all the wisdom which alone justifies not only the marriage vow, but every sense of sexual modesty and respect of which even otherwise secularly ignorant people are somewhat aware.

Adam and Eve saw the necessity of the accountable marriage vow more clearly than have any other humans. But, they saw also something which the modern statist and secularist typically fails to see despite any commitment to being ‘Biblical’ and ‘good’ respectively: that marriage is not principally for the welfare of children as such, but for the welfare of what children, by rights, aspire to attain to: marriage (i.e., to their own most personal, most broadly meaningful, society). Bill Bennett wrote: 

‘Based as it is on the principle of complementarity, marriage is about a great deal more than love. That “great deal” encompasses, above all, procreation. The timeless function of marriage is childbearing and child-rearing, and the best arrangement ever developed to that end is the marital union between one man and one woman …’ The Broken Hearth, Page 197

Children themselves hope one day to attain to that very kind of natural relation with another human being. So, Bennett almost seems not to have completed his own equation. What Bennett’s words ultimately imply is that, in terms of the value of the natural man-woman socio-sexual unit to anything which stands outside of that unit, that unit is most principally for the production of additional such units.

In other words, in terms of producing things which exist outside of itself, marriage is not principally for the reproduction of individuals, but for the reproduction of marriages.

This is what God meant by ‘be fruitful and multiply’—otherwise Rand and Marx each was right.

But, if neither Rand nor Marx was right, then they both together are the short answer to the question. Rand was the economist, the salesman. Marx was the politician. And, notice that it was the politician who took to the most forceful kind of means to forward his agenda. The economist was the meat in the sandwich which both fools refused to eat. To defend the sense of life from those who’s greeds destroy it, the loss of some lives are sometimes the necessary-and-wise price. Rand’s confused notion as to what all constitutes a healthy self-interest was like a diet of bread alone—but alone by which it is said that man does not live.

Elijah was fed by the ravens, who were wise enough to give him both bread and meat. The simple and the complex. The immediate and the long-term. Neither of these can ignore the other without ignoring itself. And, the willful ignorance of a neccessity is an act of destroying a good which, exactly because of such ignorance, takes effort to preserve. All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.