Everyone is an authoritarian; some authoritarians are sociopathic

June 14, 2014 § 22 Comments

If you have political opinions at all you are an authoritarian: there is a specific way that you think things ought to be, and you think government should discriminate against those who disagree with you and enforce your understanding of how things ought to be.

Politics is the art of authoritatively resolving conflicts by discriminating between people and enforcing the resolutions.  This can only be done from a particular, discriminatory, substantive understanding of how things ought to be done and of what things are unacceptable: from a particular understanding of the good.

Anti-authoritarian political philosophies like liberalism do exist in the sense that people really do think that they are the right way to ‘do’ politics.  In fact most modern people think that liberalism of one sort or the other is the right way to go.

But this internal incoherence doesn’t make liberals unequivocally anti-authoritarian.  It makes liberals – all liberals, including libertarians and ‘patchwork’ reactionaries – sociopathically authoritarian.

§ 22 Responses to Everyone is an authoritarian; some authoritarians are sociopathic

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    The power of liberalism lies in its duplicity on this point. This pretense to neutrality seems to be a defining characteristic of the Anglo-American brand of liberalism.This is what makes the supposedly “moderate” Anglo- American Enlightenment position as articulated by Hobbes, Locke, Hume and Smith the most dangerous in my opinion. This lie is also the reason for this particular brand of liberalism’s endurance.

    I’d like to point out too that liberalism is only able survive by drawing on pre-liberal traditions. I think a good example of this, was FDR’s invoking of Catholic social thought, particularly Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno as a guiding light for his New Deal plan. In this too liberalism is able to draw legitimacy from the wellspring of pre-liberal authority. Liberalism especially does this when it is threaten, hence FDR’s relatively benign attitude to the sensibilities of blue-collar Catholics whose support he needed. At that time liberalism and traditional Catholicism needed to unite against the common threat posed by Soviet Marxism. I contend this alliance had disastrous consequences for Catholicism- but that’s a whole other post.

    The crisis of liberalism nowadays is that it has for the most part completely expended the resources of pre-modern, pre-liberal traditions in its subjects as you note all it can manage now is shadowy imitations of older notions.

  • Scott W. says:

    In this too liberalism is able to draw legitimacy from the wellspring of pre-liberal authority.

    Sounds reasonable to me Ita. I’ve mused occasionally that the Founding was able to have a great run of success less because its “consent of the governed” gibberish and more because they were able to write checks against a treasury of merit so to speak. That is, habitual Christian manners and mores built up over centuries. A treasury that has been depleted for the most part.

    While I can understand “Anglo-American”, I was wondering how to explain Sweden and the Netherlands that seem to be leading in the race to the bottom?

  • Zippy says:

    Ita Scripta Est

    I’d like to point out too that liberalism is only able survive by drawing on pre-liberal traditions.

    I would modify this slightly. Liberalism is only able to survive by making unprincipled exceptions to its own demands: by discriminating authoritatively despite its insistence that authoritative discrimination is illegitimate.

    As I suggested to Lawrence Auster (you can search for my specific comment on “November 1, 2003 10:29 PM”), sometimes these unprincipled exceptions are traditional norms of some sort; other times they are new, e.g. discrimination between smokers and non-smokers, etc.

    In order to govern at all liberalism must discriminate authoritatively and enforce that discrimination through the apparatus of government, social convention, shaming, etc. Sometimes it does so based on notions it has swiped from pre-liberal traditions; but other times the unprincipled exception comes from some other source.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    I would modify this slightly. Liberalism is only able to survive by making unprincipled exceptions to its own demands: by discriminating authoritatively despite its insistence that authoritative discrimination is illegitimate.

    And when it doesn’t, as Carl Schmitt saw in the liberal Weimar republic, it quickly falls.

    I am amused on how practically all the major hallmarks of Whig history were basically unprincipled exceptions.

    The Magna Carta was illegitimately imposed on King John in violation of the international and common law of the day.

    The “tyranny” of the Stuarts was overthrown by a rump Parliament that was in turn ruled by a true dictator.

    The American rebels called their Constitutional Convention without any reference to the procedure enumerated in the Articles of Confederation.

    The list goes on and on…..

    It seems to me this vaunted concept of the “Rule of law” only came about through illegal authoritarian actions that contravened the established law of the day.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Zippy’s ideas do not apply outside American town halls. I wonder how his Obey Authority! could make sense of situations where the political theory is most relevant:

    “The Americans had trained, and armed, hundreds of thousands of “Iraqi” troops. But how many of those troops thought of themselves as “Iraqi” and how many would, in a minute, side with the Shi’a, or the Sunni Arabs, or with the Kurds, against the Sunni Arabs, the Shi’a Arabs, or the Kurds, respectively?”

    From The Iconoclast blog

  • Zippy says:

    And I wonder if Vishmehr24 will ever become capable of accurate paraphrase.

  • […] Still another is that libertarianism adopts its pose of moral superiority by pretending that it is a passive, hands off political philosophy in contrast to the active busybody interventionism of other “statist” political philosophies. This is just an outright self-deception or lie: every government always actively and authoritatively discriminates in favor of its particular conception of the good. Libertarianism is no exception. Like all political philosophies it proposes to actively initiate force in favor of its particular conception of the good. By simultaneously denying that that is what it is doing, libertarianism just becomes (like all forms of liberalism) sociopathic. […]

  • […] pretend to avoid the question, but they are simply deluded. Every political philosophy is necessarily authoritarian. Every political philosophy necessarily discriminates in favor of its particular conception of the […]

  • […] Environmentalists, who are nearly all liberals, frequently fantasize about the elimination of humans from the earth due to the mistaken belief that the earth would be “better off” without us.  They see Man’s domination of the earth as inherently sinful (I use the word sinful to describe their religious-like beliefs because liberalism is their religion and is as authoritarian in its moral prescriptions as any other religion or political orientation). […]

  • […] Another view though is that attempts to destroy important human realities and reduce them to fashion accessories don’t work. Perhaps making war on nature and nature’s God in the name of emancipation simply leads to self destruction. Perhaps attempts to destroy natural hierarchies of human goods has the effect of driving them underground and expressing themselves sociopathically. […]

  • […] to liberalism’s false conceits about itself, every society (whether healthy or unhealthy) is authoritarian and has its taboos and heresies.  There are certain things which are open for respectable and […]

  • […] authoritative nondiscrimination doesn’t actually make you free from authority.  It just makes authority sociopathic, pushes it underground, to the bottom side of the coin that you do not see, and creates […]

  • […] process of voting. The main difference is that subjects of a liberal republic are governed by a sociopathic ruling class, which governs while pretending not to govern, under an immortal pack of lies which never dies; […]

  • […] main difference is that subjects of a liberal republic are governed by a sociopathic ruling class, which governs while pretending not to govern, under an immortal pack of lies which never dies; […]

  • […] means imposing anarchy on everyone against their […]

  • […] significant numbers of people who prefer that approach.  Normal people don’t want to become sociopaths, and will resist anything that seems to box them into becoming […]

  • […] and the liberal ruling class, represents the harvest of this economic energy. Functional liberal ruling and productive working classes require a frontier into which they can escape from the consequences […]

  • […] and the liberal ruling class, represents the harvest of this economic energy. Functional liberal ruling and productive working classes require a frontier into which they can escape from the […]

  • […] Then along came widespread acceptance of usury. Liberal modernity counts, as one of its crowning achievements, the destruction of chattel slavery.  As with all of liberalism’s putative emancipatory achievements, this is illusory.  Rather than freeing humanity from the objectification inherent in chattel slavery, liberalism has merely driven this objectification into the subcutaneous socioeconomic metalayer, implanted it under the skin, making it that much more difficult to see and resist.  As always liberalism does not actually “free” us from authority as it pretends to do: it simply makes authority sociopathic. […]

  • […] alone”, a special sort of freedom-by-command which we label a “right” or a “freedom”. It sociopathically hides the inextricably authoritarian side of its own coin, of its own political assertiveness and […]

  • […] talking to modern people that way just makes us madmen, garrisoning the motte on liberalism’s behalf as we gaze at the padded […]

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