And dance with Jak O’ the Shadows

December 1, 2013 § 38 Comments

The encounter of liberalism with reality necessarily produces the Low Man.  Simultaneously an oppressive tyrant and less than human, the Low Man provides liberalism with a consistent self-understanding of its failures.  If it were not for the Low Man, the free and equal New Man would be living in peace and harmony with himself as a self-made creation of reason and will, emancipated from the political chains of history, tradition, nature, and nature’s God, each doing his own thing and leaving his neighbors in peace.  The New Man might be personally religious, ethnic, or what have you; but he would never impose his religion on others, and the failure of all to live in free and equal peace and harmony constrained only by what is known to dispassionate scientific expertise has no explanation without the Low Man.

But of course in the real world liberalism is utterly triumphant.  Sure, there are a few nutcases here and there on the Internet – yet even those communities of nutcases have unrepentant liberals in their midst, and they almost never seem quite demonic enough in their actual behavior to fill the need.  Even when they are demonic enough it is frequently revealed, by simply listening to what they actually say, that the demons are themselves a form of liberal:

We all need to spend some time considering how best to defend liberty and freedom, and what unites us as a nation concerned with democratic values. – Timothy McVeigh

Liberalism is so utterly triumphant that it is frequently difficult to find enemies – actual real-world Low Men – who fit the storyline.  Without a Low Man “problem” to solve there can be no Final Solution.  So sometimes he has to be invented out of whole cloth.

§ 38 Responses to And dance with Jak O’ the Shadows

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    What I am amazed by is how many otherwise intelligent and devote Christian traditionalists still believe that availing themselves of the liberal procedural norms found in the US Constitution will somehow spark a cultural Renaissance.

    This picture basically sums up the modern conservative mindset-

    http://jonmcnaughton.com/content/ZoomDetailPages/OneNationUnderGod.html

  • sunshinemary says:

    What I am amazed by is how many otherwise intelligent and devote Christian traditionalists still believe that availing themselves of the liberal procedural norms found in the US Constitution will somehow spark a cultural Renaissance.

    I don’t know that there is any cause for amazement, ISE. This is a very different way of thinking than most of us have ever encountered before. Most people actually have not yet encountered this way of thinking. They’ve – that is to say, we’ve – been taught from birth that the American Revolution was the pinnacle of history, one of the greatest things to happen ever. You don’t have to go back so terribly far in my blog archive to find me calling myself a libertarian.

    Zippy, your teaching style is the most effective I’ve encountered. There is something to be said for being succinct and straightforward, while introducing readers to one or two new ideas at a time so they don’t become overwhelmed. No one likes coming away from an essay feeling like he is too stupid to understand what was said, though I no doubt probably feel that way oftener than most people around here, and I think you do an excellent job of breaking concepts down into manageable chunks.

  • Karen Kosta says:

    I posted this on the other blog….

    ”Then perhaps we should ban the family. After all, some parents are wicked. Is that not why we abolished slavery? And look how well that worked out.”

    No, we did not abolish slavery because *some* slaver owners were wicked. Regardless of the possibility that some slave owners may have treated their sold and bought human property relatively decently, slavery was abolished because the institution itself was wrong. Family, however, is not a wrongheaded notion.

    Martel, I agree with you about the role of limited government. Prisons need to be shut down and only murderers, rapists and armed robbers should be incarcerated for life (or perhaps executed and then there wouldn’t be a need any prisons at all. Other more petty criminals such as cocaine dealers should not be imprisoned but merely put under house arrest for a few years with electronic trackers placed on their feet while they do community service.
    This would save tax payers billions of dollars but it will never fly because the US prison industrial complex is a huge corporate money maker right now.

    Marriage should be completely divorced (pun not intended) from government. Marriage is a cultural, and sometimes religious, matter and should be left solely to those realms.

    We see that even post-modern first world people love their monarchs. England I’m looking at you. While the British royal family may not hold political power, they hold cultural power for British citizenry. I am not opposed to a benevolent cultural monarchy if that is what the citizenry wants to entertain. Its better than reality TV at any rate.

  • Zippy says:

    Thank you, Sunshine, I am glad the approach is helpful to at least some folks.

    Before I encountered Jim Kalb – quite a long time ago now – I had run-of-the-mill conservative American ideas about politics; so it would be bad form for me to fault people for holding them in general. And that is part of what I try to get across too: that liberalism is a political doctrine that has a pretty strong grip on most everyone, so demonizing liberals as the Great Other is ultimately counterproductive. Nobody will recognize it in himself, as a few of us have, if it is a disease that only infects Those Bad Narcissistic People Over There. And if we don’t recognize it in ourselves we can’t free ourselves from it.

  • Zippy says:

    Karen Kosta:

    … slavery was abolished because the institution itself was wrong.

    Agreed. Though I think that is in part because our modern ideas about property are wrong.

  • Zippy says:

    Re: slavery, this post is also pertinent.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Allow me to add my praise to the chorus, Zippy.

    Cheers.

  • sunshinemary says:

    @ Karen Kosta
    Assuming you are the same person going by “Coastal Mama” – I have approved that comment of yours on my site.

  • Scott says:

    I would have to agree with SSM. Some of what I read on this site forces me to conclude either 1) I am an idiot, or 2) these concepts are so foreign and abstract as to render them impossible to implement in the world as we know it.

  • Zippy says:

    Scott:

    these concepts are so foreign and abstract as to render them impossible to implement in the world as we know it.

    My posts are mostly diagnosis, and I’m hard pressed to understand how one “implements” a diagnosis. And the important question is, as always, “is it true?”

  • Scott says:

    I guess that makes sense. I would love to wave a magic wand over the whole world and make a bunch of changes “according to Scott” that I think would solve all our problems. I would probably be wrong, inadvertantly cause mass human suffering and then go to Hell for it.

  • Zippy says:

    Scott:
    I’m not advocating quietism though. I’m suggesting that folks should – for their own sake and the sake of those few over whom they have any influence – explicitly and at times vocally stop collaborating with despicable evil.

  • Zippy says:

    I don’t think most of the ideas I post here are intrinsically complex or difficult. What I think they are is utterly foreign to the modern western liberal mind. We – including myself – are brought up on liberalism like it is mother’s milk. So thinking outside of that (lie-riddled, self-contradictory) box is very difficult, especially at first, for us.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    We – including myself – are brought up on liberalism like it is mother’s milk. So thinking outside of that (lie-riddled, self-contradictory) box is very difficult, especially at first, for us.

    The easiest way to avoid the pitfall of trading up modern liberalism for classical liberalism, is a study of history. Granted 99.9% of Americans subscribe to a kind of vague Whig notion of history. But I tend to think that anyone who critically views the history will have to come to terms with liberalism’s deep contradictions and flaws one way or another. While not full proof this tactic is the best one for countering liberalism(as well as as liberalism’s father Protestantism).

    I would also assert contra so-called “neo reactionaries” that Traditionalists have a better ally in some of the forms of post-modernist and cultural Marxist traditions. Alasdair MacIntyre is proof of the good fruits such an engagement can produce.

  • Scott says:

    In my case, a lot of it is personal. My own father escaped from communism in 1958, by working his way into middle management of the party and was a delegate to the Brussels worlds fair. He was imprisoned for his first 2 attempts. It was a real cloak and daggar/defector story. Under the dark of night, the underground network he had been in contact with came to his hotel room and said “this is it. Whatever you have on your back, you leave now and never come back.” His first hand accounts of people disappearing after simply saying the wrong thing about the leadership were chilling.

    It is against that backdrop, that I learned to have a visceral reaction to anything that smells like statism or totalitarian control. Those dramatic stories of his longing for freedom (in the classic sense that Zippy talks about) make anything else seem dangerous. I am fully aware of it.

  • Zippy says:

    My grandfather also escaped from Communism. The history of the twentieth century is a history of different factions of liberalism murdering each other en masse, in a fight for the ‘soul’ of ‘authentic’ modernity.

  • Scott says:

    “American Revolution was the pinnacle of history, one of the greatest things to happen ever. You don’t have to go back so terribly far in my blog archive to find me calling myself a libertarian.”

    I think this is fine, as long the culture has homogeneity. The longer I live, the more I understand that heritage, ethnicity and other cultural factors must be in place. It almost seems as if the values themselves “freedom!” or “equality!” or whatever are less important than shared cultural and other norms.

    What are your neighbors? Americans? Catholics? Blacks?

    Can you expect ANYTHING of them in any real-life situation? Everyone has their own values, their own culture. Without that cohesiveness, we no longer can apply the word “nation” to this, whatever it is.

    I think the American Revolution WAS one of the greatest things to happen, ever. But it never occurred to them that we would have no culture to keep it going.

  • Zippy says:

    I think it was Kalb who said that the American revolution was the most conservative of the liberal revolutions. Unfortunately the explicitly liberal grounds upon which it was based guaranteed the destruction of the blood and soil cohesion that it implicitly presupposed.

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