Images of liberalism, or, eyeglasses on a murderous rampage

December 17, 2015 § 11 Comments

In the comments to the previous post, GJ proposes the metaphor of eyeglasses as a way of understanding liberalism:

The more natural explanation is that liberalism is right there in front of your nose: it is the rose-tinted glasses that you wear and most of the time you look through and not at it; ie. the mindset which is the individual’s variation of the worldview.

The image of glasses is useful because it highlights that people see much of the world through liberalism.  Their perception of the world is shaped by liberalism, while they fail to see liberalism itself. I think Dalrock has used the eyeglass image as an alternative to the popular “red pill” metaphor.

But it has two weaknesses, ways in which it obscures the overall picture rather than illuminating it.

The first is that it obscures the way liberalism functions as the default attitude toward authority. Most ordinary people do not see the entire world of authority through liberal glasses. In the areas they care about they will adopt illiberal views, a.k.a. unprincipled exceptions. I talked about the example of “patriarchy lite” – that is, liberalism for men but not for women – here. But in the far more numerous areas in which a person is not well informed or passionate he will adopt a default liberal position on the exercise of authority.  In this sense a liberal republic is basically the same as monarchy, with subjects petitioning the sovereign through the formal process of voting. The main difference is that subjects of a liberal republic are governed by a sociopathic ruling class, which governs while pretending not to govern, under an immortal pack of lies which never dies; whereas in a monarchy the people who hold authority can be personally identified and live the life span of human beings.

The second is that while the glasses metaphor is helpful in the ‘ordinary case’ it is hard to imagine eyeglasses going through the kind of phase change that liberalism goes through when it is challenged on a principled basis, or encounters something in reality which challenges it on a principled basis (witness the recent transformation of JC Wright from reasonable, devout, good-hearted, intelligent, erudite human being into an insult-flinging mouth-frothing SJW when the subject of monarchy was broached as an actually serious subject for discussion). It is hard to picture eyeglasses becoming suddenly and terrifyingly visible right as they start to rip out your entrails.

§ 11 Responses to Images of liberalism, or, eyeglasses on a murderous rampage

  • GJ says:

    The charge of two weakness is easily answered:

    The first is met by distinguishing mindset from worldview, where mindset is some individual’s particular variation on the worldview. Taken with common human tendency not to be consistent, this allows for unprincipled exceptions especially when most mindsets are mish-mash of different worldviews (eg a typical conservative Christian will respect his pastor but not some other authorities).

    As to the second, you are entirely right that the glasses do not rip out entrails. Rather, the glasses portray any threat to the glasses as a threat to the wearer. This causes the wearer to be triggered, to exhibit a fight-or-flight response – it is he who undergoes the phase change from normal smiling human to snarling beast, so he goes for the entrails, not the glasses.

  • Zippy says:

    GJ:
    I suppose in that sense the eyeglass metaphor is personalist: that is, it describes liberals qua individuals, people with commitments to liberalism, whereas the Predator metaphor describes liberalism.

    As usual, my general bias is to describe things in objective rather than personalist terms. This in no way invalidates personalist points of view. They just aren’t my thing.

  • GJ says:

    Zippy:

    I agree that the eyeglass metaphor is personalist, but at some point for a fuller description of liberalism a description of liberals must be given, and vice versa.

    Also, I was suddenly reminded of a point by King Richard: JC Wright held to Americanism as well as to liberalism, and such dual loyalties (actually threefold counting Catholicism, if not more) should be sufficient the unprincipled exceptions.

    As to the source of the eyeglass metaphor, I am indebted to NT Wright, whose account of worldviews is in compressed form here.

    In short, a worldview is held by a community, and an individual’s version is the mindset. A worldview consists of four main aspects: narrative/myth, fundamental questions and answers, central symbols and key praxes.

    So as an example: for one American who believes in liberal democracy and the centrality of elections, the narrative could include elections in Ancient Greece, possibly the Magna Carta, the American Revolution, and the Cold War. As to the questions (who we are, where/when are we, what is wrong, and what is the solution?’): ‘We are the free Americans and we’re at the End of History (a la Fukuyama). One Problem could be that not everyone lives in liberal democracies, and this is because of Low Men – dictators, and the Solution is to remove the Low Men and let Freedom reign!’

    For such an neo-con American, central symbols will necessarily include elections and the military, with the central praxis being voting every 4-5 years for a new President and cheering the military (with secondary praxes such as watching presidential debates and supporting the toppling of dictators).

  • Zippy says:

    GJ:

    A disadvantage of the personalist view though – in addition to my general bias toward discussing ideas and ‘objects’ distinct from persons who may or may not have attachments of varying character to those things, for a whole variety of psychological reasons – is that usually people cannot imagine themselves becoming violent and murderous.

    And indeed, to their credit, a lot of folks probably would ‘abandon ship’ at that point; though a surprising number who think that they would, in fact most likely would not.

    So the ‘thing’ which becomes violent is not necessarily particular liberals, that is, people who at present are committed, to greater or lesser extent, to some version of liberalism or other.

    The thing which becomes violent is liberalism itself.

  • biplob1958 says:

    Freedom with responsibility!

  • GJ says:

    Zippy:

    You are right that liberalism tends to have a violent streak which was not accounted for in my explanation which only invoked the idea of self-defense.

    However, while rhetorically starting from a personalist view may not be successful in convincing people that they are actually violent and murderous given the right trigger, that does not make it any less false. In addition, while the eyeglass metaphor starts from the individual mindset we can in principle arrive at some true belief about the worldview of a community from a collection of individual mindsets. Lastly, my personalist view can explain why ‘unprincipled exceptions’ exist – they are unprincipled if one solely considers the individual’s loyalty to liberalism, but taking into account that people tend to have different and conflicting loyalties can account for many of the ‘unprincipled exceptions’ which include the fact that many would jump off the liberal ship.

  • Zippy says:

    GJ:

    Lastly, my personalist view can explain why ‘unprincipled exceptions’ exist – they are unprincipled if one solely considers the individual’s loyalty to liberalism, but taking into account that people tend to have different and conflicting loyalties can account for many of the ‘unprincipled exceptions’ which include the fact that many would jump off the liberal ship.

    That though is all the more reason to treat liberals (people with varying kinds and degrees of commitment to liberalism) as distinct from liberalism. Again there is value in the ‘first person’ (personalist) understanding, but that personalist view can be deceiving without the objective understanding, that is, understanding the object of loyalty or commitment as distinct from the persons who at one time or another are loyal/committed.

  • Zippy says:

    There is also the polemical aspect.

    When what you are doing is trying to help people with politically liberal commitments understand that they are being herded by an invisible murderous predator which will kill them the moment they stop being useful, some metaphors are more helpful than others. When what you are trying to do is get people to realize that they themselves, in their own human dignity, are not dependent upon maintaining commitment to political liberalism – in fact quite the opposite – then some metaphors are more helpful than others.

    Consider the insult ‘asshat’, as distinct from other more personal insults. A hat is an article of clothing. A person can remove a hat easily without changing who he is. Calling someone a liberal may be inevitably insulting, but it is insulting in the way that calling him an asshat is insulting. Whether he continues to bear the insult or not is something he can decide for himself at any time: if you don’t want to be it, don’t wear it.

    So again, personalist metaphors are fine as far as they go, and if folks find them helpful at one stage or another more power to them. But I focus on understanding which transcends the personal for a number of reasons, both polemical and because a personalist understanding obscures some important things which we can see by shifting perspective away from personalism.

  • […] Allowing women into the military but not drafting them is one of those unprincipled exceptions that Zippy likes to talk about. If women are allowed in the military like men, then they should drafted like […]

  • […] Allowing women into the military but not drafting them is one of those unprincipled exceptions that Zippy likes to talk about. If women are allowed in the military like men, then they should drafted like […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Images of liberalism, or, eyeglasses on a murderous rampage at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: