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.