Here are two reasons not to have “mid-level” theoretical political commitments (that is: commitments about what set of institutions is most desirable, not about what political goals it is desirable to promote).
First, agents are incapable of effectuating systemic political change. Pre-existing structural facts fix both the range and demography of ideological competition (they determine, in other words, how many think what, and how many are motivated to do what about it). This means agents are rarely in a position to have an impact on which ideology wins out at any given time, and whether they are in such a position depends on uncontrollable structure. Moreover, in those circumstances where agents are in a position to have an impact on which ideology wins, they cannot know it. This is because the social facts that fix both the range of viable ideology and whether some political strategy will accomplish a reconfiguration of institutions are generally sui generis (the social configuration is always unique). Thus, they can only be known narratively – through historical storytelling – and so can never be known completely, and certainly not to the level of specificity needed to predict whether a particular political strategy will be successful at a particular moment in time.
These facts imply that we have no control over politics. They also imply that we have no reason to hope (albeit impotently) for one set of institutions over another. The fact that we cannot know how populations will react to a given institutional change – because the structural facts known only through narrative fix that, as well – means that we are incapable of successfully imagining the institutional setup that will actually best promote our political goals. (This is so even if our political goals are themselves institutional – e.g. democracy – because it is unpredictable whether a given democracy will sustain itself or not.)
Three points about this argument. One: it is not just an alternative route to a conservative resistance to all but incremental change. Maybe it doesn’t entail the irrationality of hoping that current institutions be preserved (although that’s only the case if we have reason to think the social status quo will remain), but it does entail the pointlessness of the conservative attitude, because it means we are politically powerless.
Two: an advantage of this type of political skepticism is that, unlike (equally well justified, in my view) skepticism about our capacity to apprehend the criteria for evaluating political systems, it doesn’t even arguably entail a self-defeating global skepticism.
Three: because it only presupposes various sociological necessities, it is agnostic about whether individuals are autonomous.