The Enemy in the Mirror

April 7, 2008 § 2 Comments

In a blog entry at Turnabout Jim Kalb comments:

The author’s conclusion is that we need some tribalism, fanaticism and law of the jungle of our own, just enough to maintain our ability to put individual self-interest first. It’s the classic neoconservative version of the culture war: liberalism does itself in, so let’s stick some traditional discipline into it and justify the discipline by pointing out that it’ll put the system of everybody doing what he feels like doing on a more reliable footing.

That is an interesting and concise way to put the matter. What really struck me about this way of putting it is how strikingly similar neoconservatism is to its arch-nemesis, communism. Communism saw the death of the free and equal superman in the feudalistic industrialized capitalism which arose from classical liberalism. In order to combat this, communism – as a tactical thing – adopted watered down versions of traditionally conservative or anti-liberal political positions, rejecting (for example) absolute property-based individualism as itself destructive of the liberal programme.

One might even suggest that, since every species of liberalism (communism, neoconservatism, feminism, etc) is inherently self-destructive, each species must adopt unprincipled exceptions to the political freedom and equality of the new man, self-created through reason and will.

But if it is true that liberalism-qua-liberalism sets itself against reason and nature then all such attempts to ‘moderate’ liberalism will ultimately fail. Perhaps the problem isn’t that liberalism can’t survive without regular homeopathic injections of traditionalism/tribalism/communitarianism. Perhaps the problem is that disease is being confused with health.

(Cross-posted at W4)


§ 2 Responses to The Enemy in the Mirror

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