Pulling away from the tar baby
December 15, 2015 § 43 Comments
I’ve noticed some patterns in how folks tend to respond to my discussion of liberalism. I’ll address a few of them, without any pretense of an exhaustive account.
One relatively uncommon response is to directly engage the arguments in an attempt to refute them.
Another is to look for pre-enlightenment citations which might be construed to support political liberalism. I don’t deny that there are pre-enlightenment roots. I see some of that myself in Ockhamite nominalism / anti-realism, in the lollard branch of protestantism and pre-protestantism, and even in Islam.
But it is important to keep in mind here that heresies often look superficially similar to the truths they pervert. Political liberty looks superficially similar to subsidiarity even though the former destroys the latter: even though “Your Majesty, governing the subsidiary communities under your sovereignty with a light and tolerant hand is wise when it is possible” bears superficial resemblance to “political authority is justified by the fact that it keeps everyone from telling anyone else what to do, good and hard”.
Still another is to generalize liberalism into a vague cloud of sin as a way of avoiding addressing it specifically. If liberalism is just fallen human nature or whatever, as opposed to a specific political doctrine, then we can just live with it the way we have to live with a sinful world. This is indeed similar to how theological liberals will tend to generalize sin into a big vague lump in order to avoid addressing the specific sin of (say) sodomy or fornication or usury.
And yet another is to nominally accept the critique of liberalism, and then immediately set about trying to justify the same positions one has long held on the basis of liberalism in putatively non-liberal terms. You’ll see this as commenters cling for example to the notion of the ‘right to bear arms’ (see for example the combox discussion which starts here).
While all of these responses are I think understandably conservative, the magnitude of liberalism’s crimes doesn’t call for conservation. The magnitude of liberalism’s crimes calls for repentance. Liberalism is a lie, a heresy, a terrible scourge, and must be repudiated utterly and unequivocally.
If the first thing you find yourself trying to do once you’ve realized that liberalism – including the kind you’ve always taken for granted as simple common sense morality in the political domain – is a specific lie from the pit of Hell, is preserve your favorite liberal ‘rights’ under some putatively illiberal justification, you are probably just on your way back into the mind trap.
I understand that. The world outside the padded walls is a scary, sociopathic place to find yourself.
But at least it is the real world.