For a variety of reasons I miss teaching, and not just because I think young and impressionable minds ought to be subjected to my every intellectual whim and fancy. (That’s what blogs are for.) I miss it because teaching provided me with both the chance to sharpen my thinking on the subjects I taught (primarily aviation and trade law) and to interact with a fairly diverse group of students who routinely brought a surprising amount of intellectual energy to the classroom. I know not every professor, former or current, can say that, even at the law school level. Having had the luxury of teaching niche international-law classes which, generally speaking, attracted students with a genuine enthusiasm for the material, I doubt that my five years as a faculty fellow at DePaul University College of Law were in any sense typical. Adding to the atypical dynamic of my time at DePaul were the personalities of certain students, perhaps none more fascinating and offsetting than that of Augustus Sol Invictus. Yes, you read his name right, and if you have been following the news, then you know he is not only running for Marco Rubio’s former U.S. Senate seat, but apparently sacrificed a goat and drank its blood, too.
It is not my intention to speak in any depth on the personality or academic performance of Augustus. The former is apparent enough from his various YouTube videos, interviews, and Internet scribblings; the latter is nobody’s business. What fascinates me is what his “political orientation”—a strange brew of libertarianism and neo-paganism—says about the failure of American political ideology, one which historically took the liberal ethos and attempted to fuse it with Christianity (or, at least, Christian religious symbolism). Based on a perusal of Augustus’s writings, housed at his law firm’s website, it seems he is attaining to libertarianism’s apotheosis, namely the freedom from all reasonable constraint without any horizon or vision. Of course, there exists a tension between Augustus’s libertarian politics and neo-paganism. For while the libertarian wants a life free of demands and full of entertainment—the very thing which nauseated Carl Schmitt enough to come out swinging against liberalism in his seminal work The Concept of the Political (a book Augustus has perhaps read)—the pagan’s (though perhaps not the neo-pagan?) existence has cosmological meaning, albeit of a fated variety. Augustus, the good libertarian, doesn’t want fate; he just wants Lebensraum for guns and narcotics.
This confusion of the spheres is not entirely Augustus’s fault. Having been subjected to a run-of-the-mill undergraduate experience coupled with a “legal education” (I use that expression lightly given the current orientation of most law schools), he’s no doubt been taught how to huff hard the paint-thinner of secular-liberal ideology while embracing his “individuality.” That stab at individualism seems to have decayed ironically into an unspectacular internalization of the worst aspirations of American culture. Many may be nauseated by some of Augustus’s extracurricular activities, to say nothing of his personal beliefs, but he is fighting—or grandstanding—to defend them. He’s doing the same for society’s intermundane desire for six figures, semi-automatic rifles, good coke, 1.3 kids, and a porn-packed iCloud as well. Who are we to judge? We deserve him representing us.