The Benedict Arnold option
August 31, 2016 § 54 Comments
It would seem that there is a “Benedict Option“.
On the contrary: as the Internet Clown has observed, “Not even groups like the Amish escape the influence of liberalism.”
Picturing modern politics as a black hole is of course just an analogy, and a visual aid is just a visual aid. Hopefully some analogies and visual aids help us better grasp reality, or prompt discussion and thought which help some of us better grasp reality.
In this latest analogy political liberalism – liberty and equality as what justifies the exercise of political authority – is the singularity at the center of a black hole. What has not yet been explained is what constitutes, in the real situation, the force analogous to gravity.
A moment’s reflection reveals that the force analogous to gravity is commitment to or loyalty to liberalism on the part of individuals and communities.
Different individuals and communities have different traditions and preferences, and are thus attached to different baskets of unprincipled exceptions. Different individuals and communities face different real-life limitations. Different individuals and communities are committed to conserving different things; usually in such a way that liberalism itself is not challenged. Different individuals and communities have different ideas about what constitutes ‘authentic‘ freedom and equality. Finally, the strength of commitment to liberalism varies in different individuals and communities, everywhere from a kind of mild unreflective acceptance to intense religious fervor.
The strength of the gravity well, the amount of influence it has over you and yours, is based on extrinsic factors and intrinsic factors. That is, it is based on your own commitments and the commitments of every individual and community to whom you have ties. There is very little that anyone individually can do about the extrinsic forces. And there is really no point in worrying about those extrinsic forces before you have fully neutralized liberalism in the one place where you actually do have significant say.
A “Benedict Option” involves an attempt to create community somewhere as far from the influence of modernity’s lies as possible; so that there is some alternative to modernity in some spheres of life and/or so there are remnants of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful remaining when modernity finally destroys itself, whenever that may be.
But there is no Benedict Option which does not begin with clear identification of political liberalism, in conjunction with explicit and unequivocal rejection of it.
If your small community is fighting for its ‘religious liberty’, for example, you are kidding yourself. If your plan is to vote in the Frog Casino King or Grandma Abortion Witch – both deeply committed liberals themselves – to get things ‘moving in the right direction’, you might as well prepare yourself for an accelerated collapse toward the singularity. If your plan is to create a joint stock corporate-political formalism as a replacement for democracy so that the machine which rules over us will make sure that the right kind of people remain free to shop amongst the boutique polities on offer in the political marketplace, you have things you ought to spend time thinking about which are more fundamental than politics. You are in no position to deal with the extrinsic forces pulling you toward the singularity, because you have not yet dealt with the intrinsic force.
Those kinds of attempts at a “Benedict Option” are already betraying themselves from within, before they even get started. They aren’t a Benedict Option: they are a Benedict Arnold Option.