Evolutionary status signaling

August 9, 2014 § 30 Comments

I suppose the adoption of evolutionary narratives by the neoreaction / dark enlightenment makes a kind of perverse sense.  NRx/DE is obsessed with status signaling, propaganda for power, language as a way of generating behavior rather than sharing meaning, getting everything engineered/specified formally, and ‘successful memeplexes’ – bundles of ideas that are ‘successful’ in some material way independent of whether or not they are actually, you know, true or good.

Reductionism is great, though, because all the cool kids these days are reductionists.  And adopting evolutionary narratives is a great way for modern people to signal status, despite the fact that evolutionary theory is a bunch of question-begging pseudo-metaphysical tommyrot.

How liberalism coopts Christian universalism

August 5, 2014 § 6 Comments

Universals, categories, essences, etc are built into reality. Because Christianity is true it has, like truth in general, both a universal character and a particular character. A world view that rejects universalism is a world view that rejects reality and rationality.

Freedom – which liberalism incoherently attempts to make into a political priority – is a state of affairs wherein a subject is capable of actually choosing what he wishes to choose.  Because freedom in itself cannot discriminate between good intentions and evil intentions, making freedom a political priority within any scope implies equality of rights within that scope. And since scope itself is a restriction on freedom, freedom as a political priority inherently pushes any boundaries that folks attempt to put around it.

So the only universal that liberalism allows to manifest itself is equality of rights: equal freedom. It therefore distorts the universal dignity of being human as such into something inhuman and destructive.

It is a basic mistake to see this as something that arises from Christianity in particular. Quite the contrary: liberalism is an incoherent abuse of universality as a means to the end of rejecting the authority of the truth, and specifically the authority of the particular truths found either exclusively or in their fullest expression in Catholic Christianity.

Libertarianism is inherently progressive and statist

August 5, 2014 § 22 Comments

Libertarianism is the notion that freedom should be a political priority within some scope. “Liberty” is political freedom, which lies at the root of all liberalisms including libertarianism.

One of the great ironies of modernity is that when freedom is made a political priority, it inherently destroys subsidiarity and promotes centralized monolithic authority.

Subsidiarity is messy, hierarchical, distributed human authority. Anyone can look around and see that “that messy human authority over there” is restricting someone’s freedom. That’s what authority does: it discriminates between people in such a way that some people get their way and others don’t.  And because freedom is a political priority, something must be done about it!

The never-ending collection of “something must be done about its” become concentrated in a single monolithic bureaucratic liberal government that manages everything for everyone, to make sure that everyone is free and that anyone who gets in the way of individual freedom is dealt with severely.

This is what libertarians are just too myopic to even begin to comprehend: that the monolithic managerial global all-encompassing liberal megastate is just libertarianism all grown up. Libertarianism is the larval stage of statist progressivism.

Subsidiarity and freedom are unrelated

August 3, 2014 § 75 Comments

Subsidiarity is messy hierarchical organic authority.  A single efficient and monolithic authority micromanaging everything all the time is the opposite of subsidiarity, whether that monolithic authority is dictatorial, democratic, or carried out through some other formal structure like a patchwork.

Freedom is the capacity to actually choose what we wish to choose. It is maximized for the most people either when a wicked sovereign rules wicked people, or when a good sovereign rules good people.

It is self-contradictory to make freedom a political priority, because politics is essentially the art of resolving controverted cases. By definition all parties in controverted cases cannot be granted the actual capacity to choose what they wish to choose. Attempting to limit political freedom with some other principle doesn’t work: it just represents an attempt to confine the self-contradiction into a little box, from which, like a powerful acid, it will inevitably escape. And within whatever scope it is permitted to operate, it will insist upon equality of rights.

It is possible for a society under subsidiarity to exhibit a great deal of freedom or a tremendous lack of freedom; and as always, who is and is not “free” is relative to what they happen to wish that they could choose in that society.  The same can be said for a monolithic arrangement.

Saying that a society is free, then, is simply to say that in your view that society puts the right people in prison for the right reasons.

Freedom is inherently relative, so it teaches modern people that morality is relative. Again citing the prophet Soul Asylum,

Trying to do the right thing
Play it straight
The right thing changes from state to state

So subsidiarity and political freedom are unrelated concepts. The latter must be rejected utterly in order to escape the mind trap of liberal modernity. In fact the more important freedom to choose the good is to you, the more important it is that you reject freedom as a political priority.

Feeding Cthulu with freedom

August 2, 2014 § 40 Comments

Throne and altar conservatives have understood that modernity only moves in one direction for a long time. When I coined the phrase “Hegelian Mambo” at VFR years ago I was just putting a cute little image on what had been common knowledge among Catholic critics of modernity for centuries. In general that something happens to be new to us doesn’t make it new in fact.

Recently some secularists have discovered the fact that Cthulu only swims left, but they haven’t fully grasped what fuels this motion. The usual thinking among the noobs is that Cthulu’s leftward swim is fueled by progressive insistence on equality. This is at best only a half truth.

Equality is not the most basic commitment of liberalism. The most basic commitment of liberalism is right there in its name: political liberty, also known as freedom. Insistence on equal rights is a consequence of making freedom into a political priority.

Freedom is a state of affairs wherein what people wish to choose corresponds to what they are actually able to choose. Freedom as a political priority requires us to subvert all transcendent conceptions of the good – all concepts of the good which transcend what people happen to want – to whatever actual people actually wish to choose. It therefore inherently sets itself against reality.

Because it inherently sets itself against reality, freedom as a political priority creates contradiction and instability. This contradiction and instability inherently demands change without limit in the direction of trying to make reality conform to what people wish was the case rather than what actually is the case.

And the only way back to stability is to put freedom in its place: as a mere side effect of the fact that good people find it pleasing to do good things, and find it pleasing when evil is crushed beneath the boot of Heaven.

Wars of religion by other means

August 2, 2014 § 21 Comments

In politics we have no choice but to try to figure out what is good and initiate force to make other people conform to it. Some political philosophies 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 good and restricts freedom based on the discriminations it asserts. Political theories like liberalism and its close cousins, which make pretenses of metaphysical neutrality, do not actually achieve metaphysical neutrality: they simply lack self-awareness and are therefore sociopathic. Political theories which pretend to “leave people alone” do not actually leave people alone: they force their presupposed background assumptions on everyone independent of who does and does not consent.

So it is no use objecting that there is no peer-reviewed scientifically demonstrable objective concept of the good with which everyone must agree by intellectual necessity. It is useless to object that the public manifest facts about the world and ourselves underdetermine theories of the good, because every politics necessarily and prejudicially forces its understanding of the good in particular circumstances on everyone, even when partisans of a particular theory dance around and try to pretend otherwise.

Understanding this might bring advantage to some, it might lead others to despair, and it might lead still others to find priorities in their lives other than politics. It is perhaps what led the Prophet Soul Asylum to sing:

And now I know there are no secret tricks
No correct politics
Just liars and lunatics

But whatever its personal implications, what matters is whether or not it is true. Politics is necessarily about exercising authority and enforcement to make everyone conform to a particular understanding of the good, backed by an initiation of force to which those who are governed did not consent.

Any political theory which denies that it is doing just that is lying lunacy. And that is why when you look around yourself in the modern world, it looks like we are living in an asylum.

This distinction between positive and negative rights, isn’t

August 1, 2014 § 9 Comments

Libertarians – and some other folks who are liberal moderns but are under the delusion that they are not – will sometimes make use of a distinction between “positive rights” and “negative rights”, condemning the former while celebrating the latter. Negative rights involve protection of the individual from things others demand of us without our consent, while positive rights involve an imperative to hand over our stuff to others even though we didn’t consent to do so.

This distinction is illusory for the same basic reason that the libertarian ideal of completely consensual contracts is illusory.  It presumes a whole metaphysic of what certain people are entitled to from others – which is precisely what is in contention – and then pretends that it hasn’t made this presumption.

Justice cannot be fabricated whole cloth from consent or contract. Consent and contract do mediate what people are entitled to in justice in particular situations, of course. But the idea that what is just can be fabricated whole cloth from consent is another form or cognate of positivism. An epistemological positivist doesn’t comprehend that in order for words to communicate meaning, almost all of the meaning must already exist in the minds of the people talking. And a consent-positivist doesn’t comprehend that when a given disposition of property is just, almost all of what the parties are entitled to from each other did not arise from the consent of the parties.

None of this is to suggest that people are not entitled to things from each other. A property owner is entitled to walk around on his property; a trespasser isn’t, even though that represents a restriction on the trespasser’s freedom.

But what it means is that the illusion of consent which forms the basis of the positive-negative rights distinction is just that: a question-begging illusion.

Pay no attention to that gun to your head

August 1, 2014 § 22 Comments

Contracts are always definitely consensual.  Contracts are never completely consensual. One who has not grasped this essential political fact will remain one of liberalism’s useful idiots, waking up each morning still trapped in a dystopian liberal Groundhog Day. And it is impossible for a positivist, who confuses definiteness with completeness, to grasp this essential fact.

Libertarians and libertarian-sympathetic reactionaries are ultimately just enablers of liberalism, because they have not fully grasped that making freedom a political priority necessarily leads right back around to liberalism. In order to escape the mind trap of liberalism it is not enough to unequivocally reject equality as a political priority. You must also unequivocally reject freedom as a political priority.

If a lot of people happen to be free, it means that a lot of people are actually able to choose what they wish to be able to choose. That is a consequence of either:

  • their wills being conformed to what is good in a good society; or
  • their wills being conformed to wickedness in a wicked society.

Treating freedom or equality as political priorities at all involves a basic misapprehension: it involves deliberately taking our eyes off of what is good and adopting a pose of neutrality. And because political neutrality is actually impossible, this in effect makes wickedness the goal.

So treating freedom and/or equality as a political priority is just political support of wickedness, simpliciter.

No matter how many times it is dealt with, the objection that libertarianism does insist that people face the consequences of their own free choices pops up like a game of whack-a-mole. Libertarianism represents a genuinely consensual politics because, while it is true that contracts are considered binding once freely entered, only consensual contracts are permitted.

But this is just the same old question-begging blindness to metaphysical baggage all over again. Contracts and other choices take place in a context, and the context is not itself a consensually entered contract[1]. As a simple example, who ‘owns’ what, and what ‘ownership’ does and does not entail in specific situations, is the tip of the iceberg of the non-consensual context in which every contract is entered, and in the shadow of which it is bargained.

If you happen to find a given nonconsensual context pleasing for ideological or personal reasons it is more likely to be invisible to you. But even then it isn’t something you created by giving consent.

So libertarianism or even residual libertarian sympathies in reaction just end up back in the same old circular trap.  We can have whatever politics we want as long as everyone else gets to have whatever politics they want. You can have any political system you want — as long as it is liberalism.

[1] If folks understood how political philosophy has developed it would be obvious why such manifestly question-begging errant nonsense as social contract theory and government by consent of the governed was considered necessary. In order to justify authoritative discrimination in favor of liberal governance on its own terms liberalism has to pretend that authority is ‘consensual contract’ turtles all the way down.

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