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Epstein, Faction, and Neopatrimonialism

Faction: a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

James Madison

Never has the word “conspiracy” been spoken so easily.

Never has the dark evil that is factionalism and Neopatrimonialism been on such stark display.

If you think Jeffrey Epstein, a man with an inordinate if strongly misguided lust for life, killed himself rather than was murdered by his erstwhile “friends and associates”; you still haven’t taken the red pill.

The writers of the Federalist Paperswere famously concerned about the possibility of faction in the United States; their fear was founded in part by their understanding of human psychology and ancient history. They were rightly skeptical about the possibility of totally avoiding the rise of an organized collection of individuals who would capture the state and by implication spread their influence and power throughout the fabric of civil society.

Such a relatively large faction is in existence today, although it is, for the most part, hidden in its day to day workings. As the founding fathers well understood, nothing is more natural than a group of persons tacitly agreeing to work together to further their own privateinterests at the expense of allothers who are not included in their surreptitious compact. The group that can successfully capture the state is master of all else. This activity is emphatically not a direct result of capitalism but of something much more ancient and primordial; the lust for total control and unlimitedpower. Cabals, cliques, compacts, conspiracies, secret hierarchies have existed in all types of polities, places, and times. Machiavellispoke of it at length. Even Kant mentioned it. It is nothing outlandish or new. People will scheme for unfairadvantage and privilege; even animals do it on a regular basis.

Yet the problem is that human beings are also equipped with a sense of justice and fair play. When a polity that purports to epitomize the ideal of a modern democratic state with the rule of law, representative government, separation of powers, animpartial bureaucracy, and careers open to all talents is de facto nothing of the sort, it becomes inevitable for symptoms of decay, rot, and outrageous human vice not unlike that of the Roman Empire to increasingly appear.

When a faction, however large, has taken over a society that society becomes what is known as Neopatrimonial. Even conservative thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama have pointed out the accelerating nature of this political disease that, like a cancer, spreads its tentacles throughout the world’s bodies politic, even the most “progressive ones”. Neopatrimonialism presupposes powerful elites who as patrons work closely with armies of less powerful clients who are often dependent on them for current positions, possible advancements, and other privileges and emoluments not limited to themselves, but crucially, for their offspring as well. A telephone call, a manipulated email, a lunch meeting, a tacit agreement by powerful lawmakers, all the way to secret directives tailor made by the security forces and the “executive” (often, maybe always, one of the de facto administrative chiefs not of the “people” but of the “faction”); all are but a few examples of how Neopatrimonialism functions.

At times, the fierceness of the faction shows as well as their haughty disregard and unconcern at public exposure. So sure are these consummateassassins of the body politic of their perfect unassailability. So sure are these cool headedringleaders in their total command of the real that nothing can threaten their mobility, reach, and Morphean powers over the manufacturing of collective gullibility. Sheep are to be sheared and faction rules are to be obeyed.

Somewhere along the line, Jeffrey Epstein, for all his power, wealth, and connections significantly betrayed the trust of those who not only raised him up from literally nothing but protected him for so many years. A protection that extended, not surprisingly, from the state itself. The “faction” has the power of deciding the “exception”. And for a long time, Jeffrey Epstein was one of those exceptions.

If you believe that Epstein’s sexual depredations are what ultimately brought him down you are confusing means with cause. The fatal breach that led to both his incarceration and eventual murder within the heart of American Empire (for it is truly New York City and not Washington D.C.; the first is the iron fist, the second the theatrical glove) the public will never know. But the draconian rules of the faction are clear; we are many and you are only one; nothing, not billions, fame, potential usefulness, belated contriteness, can excuse the dictatorial rules of factionalism in a Neopatrimonial statemasquerading as a representative democracy. Jeffrey Epstein’s demise is not one of conscience, fear, self-pity, inmate rage, or ironic justice; the voracious hive has deliberately, admonishlingly devoured one of its own.

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Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

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