One can only mock the typical progressive bromide that usually goes something like this: “Democracy is a form of community regulation in which the members of the community make the decisions.” This, of course, is pure clericalism. Communities typically do not suffer from intractable collective agency problems. States do. Hence, the State is not in any sense “the community.”
The superstitious nonsense of the communal State can perhaps be amply illustrated with the relatively recent development of State extradition attempts for criminal prosecutions of commercial crimes by foreign citizens. If the United States presides over jurisdiction A and extradites a foreign citizen who is a “member” of Jurisdiction B for an action in B that is a statutory crime in Jurisdiction A, then Citizen(of B) might be justifiably in askance about this strange interpretation of “community membership and “community regulation.” Citizen(of B) has effectively been kidnapped into Community A and would doubtless share in the opinion regarding a collective agency problem of this community. After all, the kidnapee is not the agency behind the kidnapper. And Citizens(of B) no doubt would have to concur regarding their own collective agency problem to explain their own Community B “deciding” to submit themselves to a legal framework for kidnapping by jurisdiction A.
But it is not just the progressives who are destroyed by the example above. The mainstream libertarian position collapses, too. This position, of course, is tied to Milton Friedman’s famous apologetic that placed capitalism at the foundation of political freedom. Friedman never argued capitalism as a sufficiency condition for political freedom, but he certainly did argue capitalism as a necessary condition. But our above illustration suggests that detachment from the capitalist order may be the actual necessary condition for political freedom. Quite a a turn. And to precisely define at least a core condition of political freedom: it necessarily must entail a legal or compliance contextual framework that serves as a skeptical constraining mechanism against incentive-incompatibility problems of collective choice. Political freedom is not just simply protection from the majority.
But perhaps the biggest loser is liberal political theory and political science itself. A contention can be proffered that political science is simply not science. Or, to be more specific, the professional practitioners of political science are not scientists. Instead they are by and large practitioners of the priestly art of regime legitimization. Strong words but very much defensible.
I hold to a Popperian method of science. But I will concede to Thomas Kuhn to a large extent that the Popper method as a practice is generally reserved for periods of revolutionary paradigm shifts. This is a fancy way of saying that it usually takes obvious clear and obvious empirical counterfactuals to “kick in” the Popper method(as a professional practice) to shift the scientific paradigm. So, in the scientific area that I’m most familiar with–physics1–the examples would be Kepler’s observations of elliptical planetary orbits leading to Newton’s Mechanics, the Michelson–Morley experiment regarding the constancy of the speed of light leading to Einstein’s interpretation of electrodynamics(special relativity…and Herman Weyl’s mathematical formulation of the 4-D SpaceTime), the observed black-body radiation spectrum leading to Max Planck’s “reluctant” formulation of the “quanta”(a theory extended by Einstein, which is what he actually won the Nobel Prize for) which ultimately led to quantum mechanics(which was the mechanical theory born from Neils Bohr’s application of quantum or “discrete” energy states to orbital electrons to explain the observed atomic emission/absorption spectra).
So in the Popper/Kuhn method of science, obvious and glaring counterfactuals to the existing paradigm lead to new factuals which are then subjected to Popper’s falsifiability testing. This is probably a more realistic model in practice than a standalone Popper which casts scientific agency in a constant testing mode against the factual. But when obvious counterfactuals do present themselves, science, in order to be “science,” must critically examine the current paradigm and put forth alternative factuals for testing. In short, for something to meet the standard of being considered a science, counterfactuals have to result in paradigm shifts and not simply be shrugged off as mere secondary and tertiary violations(or anomalies) within the current unabated paradigm.
Political science by and large fails this aforementioned scientific standard. The State practice of forced extradition of foreign agents for crimes against the extraditing State’s “commerce laws” is an egregious and obvious counterfactual example of the incentive-incompatibility problem of collective choice. This collective choice problem inarguably collapses the liberal political paradigm. The counterfactual should trigger a paradigm shift in political science. For what we have here can more or less can be termed “Commercialism,” a 21st century analogue of 17th century mercantilism. With one key distinction: historically, mercantilism is nationalistic(competing empires). Commercialism, however, is thoroughly oligarchical(one supranational trading bloc).
The mounting anomalies of Commercialism can no longer fit within the paradigm of liberal social contract theory. In the past I have used the term “liberal totalitarianism.” However, we are fast approaching the point when accuracy and coherence demand we drop the “liberal” adjective from that expression.
1 Actually, the science that I practice is computer science, which I have no formal training in. The things that I have formal training in, physics/math, are the things I have never practiced, sans one year teaching High School mathematics.