The products of inception
December 9, 2015 § 40 Comments
Consider the following non-exhaustive list:
- The French-supported American revolutionary war
- The French revolution and the Reign of Terror
- The American civil war
- The mass murders of Nazism
- The mass murders of Communism
- The mass murders of feminism
Now consider the following statements about these things:
- These were products of the political philosophy of liberalism.
- These are particular instances of what actually happened when the political philosophy of liberalism crashed into reality.
I think the two statements are equivalent and true, but the latter statement may be more enlightening.
First things first. It is important to acknowledge that liberalism is not always and everywhere, by rational necessity, catalyzing mass killing. An ideology which consistently catalyzed mass killing by logical necessity would have to be a rationally coherent ideology. Liberalism is not rationally coherent, as I have explained many times. Inconsistent ideologies will not give consistent results by internal logical necessity; although they may sometimes give more-or-less consistent results, for a time, for other reasons; reasons which I will attempt to explain.
Its underlying – but not immediately obvious – incoherence is part of liberalism’s appeal and adaptability. It creates the appearance of authority and structure while in practice simply affirming people in what they want or expect, transforming as wants and expectations change, even when new wants and expectations conflict with old ones. Think of what ‘marriage’ under no-fault divorce does on the micro scale, extrapolated to the macro scale. Liberalism gives people ready-made ‘justifications’ for pretty much whatever they personally want or think is desirable, limited only by outside context – by unprincipled exceptions and ‘common sense‘. Liberalism makes people feel virtuous while affirming them in whatever they happen to want or think is expected and desirable.
Now, people don’t always want mass killing or think that mass killing is desirable or necessary. In fact mostly people do not want this or think this, most of the time. So when everything is humming along and most peoples’ expectations and desires are well aligned, liberalism’s underlying incoherence remains hidden. The sides of the coins that everyone sees are the pretty sides, and nobody notices the underlying contradiction. It is in this sense that liberalism is ‘suitable for a moral people’ — because a comprehensively moral enough people don’t really need any governance at all. If everyone is mostly a good guy, society is high trust, and informal social penalties for bad behavior are strict, you don’t really need police. Anarchy is a great form of government for people who don’t ever have conflicts. Everyone feels ‘free’ because their expectations about what they ought to be empowered to do match what they are actually empowered to do.
However, this is an inherently unstable situation because you cannot avoid reality and conflict forever. In fact peoples’ wants and expectations tend to drift away from reality over time and across generations; although this does take some doing. So eventually liberalism comes crashing into hard reality.
And that is when the mass murder starts.