How about actually throwing out the bathwater?

August 23, 2014 § 30 Comments

No society gets everything wrong all the time.  There are good and glorious things about Islamic society, despite the beheadings, the dancing in the streets at the scene of American civilians falling from burning skyscrapers, and other pervasive and wicked monomania. And there are good and glorious things about liberal societies, despite the medical waste bins full of human body parts sacrificed in the name of free love, wholesale destruction of family and childhood in the name of female emancipation, and other pervasive viciousness.

But the fact that nobody gets everything wrong all the time does not justify clinging to lies. This is as true of liberalism – politics which makes freedom a political priority, thereby creating an implicit or explicit demand for equal rights, insisting on rule that pretends not to rule in order to protect the fragile individualistic egos of “meritocratic” modern men – as it is of Mohammedism.

The individual cannot – apodictically cannot –  be the fundamental unit of politics. Politics is always and necessarily a matter of controvertible cases involving multiple people. If a person were literally alone on a distant planet there would be no politics. Politics exists only in a social context — a context of multiple people and multiple possibilities about what could be done, that is, controvertible cases. Even when everyone happens to agree about what to do there are still always other possibilities: all political action is in principle controvertible. Actually choosing one possibility over others is never a neutral decision, even in those rare cases where everyone involved happens to share the same view; so the distinction between positive rights and negative rights is illusory as something distinct from the good.

“Leaving people alone” has to start from a position of already presuming to know the entitlements of the parties in controvertible cases. When Bob insults Harry and Harry punches him in the mouth, who is entitled to what? Positivist attempts to politically demarcate between the individual and society don’t work: for example moderns tend to think of property as a matter of a man and his stuff in isolation, but in reality property is a relation of multiple people: authority, objects, owners and subjects.

Liberalism’s view of society and politics is wrong. It is a lie, a terrifically wicked and destructive lie. We can either throw out the bathwater or wallow in filth.

§ 30 Responses to How about actually throwing out the bathwater?

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Part of the confusion may stem from the definition of liberalism, as many people wrongly believe that liberalism is the ‘freeing’ of society. For a society to be more free, it is consequently more liberal. This is however a false paradigm centered around relatively newly devised ‘freedoms’.

    The Founding Fathers of the United States created a society that was thoroughly illiberal by today’s standards.

    “Gasp! Women could not vote? Homosexuals were castrated? Slavery was legal? No public education?! Child labor! The humanity!!!”

    If imagined, man could be free to do anything within his power in an anarchical state, but liberalism is fundamentally not about ‘freedom’ in general. It is about changing what it means to be free every few years or so, sometimes for the advancement of interest groups, sometimes for the expansion of heteronomic tyranny, sometimes just for experimental purposes.
    If you discount the new fads in freedom such as the population being able to vote on its rulers or women’s emancipation, you may actually find that speaking objectively you were far more free in a pre-modern state.

    Want to sell fresh fruit and vegetables in 1422 Europe? Nobody was going to write you up on a zoning violation, or ensure your labeling was correct. Want to raise your kids in an austere manner? No child welfare services were going to turn up with batons late at night. Want to make a snide remark about a neighbor? Nobody was going to sue you for hate speech.

    The greatest form of freedom does not come from a government that never stops talking about advancing the freedom of ‘the people’. The greatest form of freedom ironically comes from a hierarchy where the people at the top just don’t care about you enough to get involved in your affairs 90% of the time.

  • Peter Blood says:

    Orwell’s 1984 is as pertinent as ever. Doublethink, thoughtcrime, thoughtstopping, Newspeak, memory holes. They are all methods by which the bathwater will not be thrown out.

  • Mike T says:

    The Founding Fathers of the United States created a society that was thoroughly illiberal by today’s standards.

    “Gasp! Women could not vote? Homosexuals were castrated? Slavery was legal? No public education?! Child labor! The humanity!!!”

    But we have it on good authority that there is a linear progression from them to Barack Obama, so we can only conclude that they were less perfect or primitive liberals.

  • Zippy says:

    “Good authority?”

    That is just another way to make protestation noises while studiously avoiding discussion of my actual arguments, as far as I can tell.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Its not a matter of ‘perfection’, for while liberalism presents a false, linear view of history, it is one without end. Without being cyclical in the general sense, it is simply a never ending mutation, and so it will even view its most recent incarnations as totalitarian. To think the first black president who was adored by liberals during his ascension in 2008 was resolutely against same-sex marriage, and yet now just a short time later, this view is on the verge of being criminalized.

    Rather than a core ideology, liberalism is a base from which culture is torn asunder over and over again at the behest of various forces.

  • peppermint says:

    This has been a great article series. Compelling perspective.

  • Mike T says:

    The greatest form of freedom does not come from a government that never stops talking about advancing the freedom of ‘the people’. The greatest form of freedom ironically comes from a hierarchy where the people at the top just don’t care about you enough to get involved in your affairs 90% of the time.

    I wouldn’t say it’s just a lack of concern, but also that many of them realize that they have no authority to get involved as well. In a properly run system, the leadership doesn’t interfere with the family because they realize that short of the father behaving as a moral criminal or the father asking for law enforcement assistance, they have literally no authority in the matter. Even an absolute monarch has no moral right to stop a father from disciplining of his own child or ordering his household in a morally licit way; such a matter is just intrinsically outside of his jurisdiction.

    Its not a matter of ‘perfection’, for while liberalism presents a false, linear view of history, it is one without end.

    The fact that liberalism can mean so many things to so many people is a double edged sword. Much of what the left wants is simply sinful desires to be accepted and even subsidized by the state in the name of freedom; most of what “right-liberals” want is not sinful at all. And therein is the problem for those who assert that liberalism is just intrinsically wicked and a lie across the board. Liberalism can survive the loss of the notion that authority is legitimized by the consent of the governed. It can also survive various formal rejections of equality and even the subordination of freedom to the common good.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    For the record, I don’t necessarily consider ‘right liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ as intrinsically liberal. They are political philosophy children in a sense, as most of the sincere ones sense something is wrong with the world they live in, but they fail to see the big picture, so they anchor it to what is most tangible. In America, it is strict constitutionalism.

    With time, these people should not be dismissed as they represent the most fertile recruiting base for reactionary politics. The disillusioned right wing is a powerful tool in turmoil.

    I am in absolute agreement with your first point. I call this ‘Patronomy’, the Law of the Father (not to be confused with the law of the Holy Father, Theonomy). This is one of the most intimate laws that traditional man or rather ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ interacts with. In childhood, when divinity is not rightly apprehended, the authority of the biological father is absolute over both the child’s own will and the will of the governing body, which is remote and shrouded.

    A recent musing I had when thinking about how the forces of heteronomy have usurped the responsibilities of the father was that even the modern welfare state represents this, as it can provide for children what is the father’s responsibility to provide, therefor weakening his authority. In his house, without criminal negligence and malice, a father is the sovereign. In the modern world, feminism has of course been the blunt cudgel used to sweep this authority into a minor role.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    most of what “right-liberals” want is not sinful at all.

    “Most Moslems are peaceful and want good things for their children”.

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:

    With time, these people should not be dismissed as they represent the most fertile recruiting base for reactionary politics.

    Right liberalism is the core enabler and engine of liberalism’s longevity and adaptability. Without its right wing, liberalism would fall from the sky quickly in a self destructive frenzy.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    In the sense that it provides a sort of false opposition, an illusion of choice and a faux way to fight back against ‘progress’, yes. But I speak of the individual actors who walk in a somnambulist state, they apprehend the ‘Matrix’, but do not comprehend it. They can be woken up and convinced that it is not enough to turn the clock back a mere 60 years. I am talking of recruitment potential, as I was once a self-confessed hard-right conservative.

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:

    But I speak of the individual actors who walk in a somnambulist state …

    And when I say that those folks need to repent from their liberalism unequivocally, that liberalism needs to be rejected utterly and consigned to the fire pit where all lies eventually go to die, folks always wade in with various versions of “shut up” without actually addressing my arguments.

  • Bonald says:

    True, most of them won’t listen. But then again, most of us used to be right-liberals of some sort. Perhaps they are “the most fertile recruiting base for reactionary politics”, even though that doesn’t mean they’re actually a very fertile recruiting base at all.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Totally off topic, but I’d be curious to know where you stand on the Canaanite genocide relative to the current sides on the W4 fight over it (top article on main page)

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Canaanite Genocide is a solved ‘problem’. William Lane Craig has presented the most full argument on it I have yet to read.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites

    I am taking a philosophy course right now, and we have a book on ‘ethics’. I cannot count the instances of mass anti-Christian bias, its laughable. This ‘problem’ is alluded to, along with several hilarous mistranslations of scripture. No wonder we see a falling away when college kids are absorbing this crap. The Godly thing is of course to debunk it vigorously at every turn, and I’m glad that these subjects are being discussed.

  • MarcusD says:

    What do you make of this chart that floats around every so often?

  • Zippy says:

    MarcusD:
    I don’t recall seeing it before, but offhand it looks like a rather poor piece of preach-to-the-choir propaganda designed to beg the question in favor of a libertarian-seasoned republicanism.

  • MarcusD says:

    Speaking of libertarians, this was on Twitter recently:

  • Mike T says:

    Thought I’d let you know that I’ve been thinking about some of the things you’ve said about liberalism, the rule of particular men, etc. and I think I have a much better appreciation for what you’ve been saying. While some of the details have been lost in the haze of a newish job, and various familial obligations, I think in general what you’ve said explains a lot about what’s going on.

    Probably related or even inherent to your point, I’ve been thinking a bit about the nature of corporate governance and how it provides an illusion that governance is not executed according to particular authorities. For example, the corporate structure of a local sheriff’s department often gives the illusion of an institution that is more independent of the actual officeholder than it really is.

    I do think on some level we’ve gotten better in the modern era of creating at least a somewhat more independent structure that can more easily survive the odd bad apple, but in general we tend to operate under the illusion that particular corporate institutions are really much different from past, more ad hoc organizations except in procedures and superficial culture.

  • Mike T says:

    One disadvantage of our current system also is that it tends to make particular authorities into mere cogs into the machinery. It does that by limiting their authority to actually punish wrongdoers in the name of enforced equal outcomes, among other things. Good government managers have to jump through flaming hoops to fire with cause employees who have passed a probationary period and are engaging in blatantly destructive practices. It should then serve as no surprise when said leaders are in fact less willing to accept demands for accountability since it’s often a public demand to bang their head on the wall in the hope of a positive outcome.

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  • Daniel says:

    Zippy, I’d be interested in your thoughts on authority as can be ascertained by natural law–how we can know authority is legitimate, what is it that makes the authority legitimate to begin with, what the boundaries are, when a legitimate authority ceases to be an authority, etc.

  • Mike T says:

    Daniel,

    Before Zippy responds, you might want to do a Google site search on this blog for “King Richard.” (site:zippycatholic.wordpress.com “King Richard”) The commenter King Richard commented on a lot of his posts on the subject so it might help you piece together a small sitemap of the posts that addressed that subject.

  • […] things people really care about off the table, since the things people care about most tend to be controversial and often controverted.   What remains is the pervasive presence of disgusting and dehumanizing […]

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