Liberalism is just politics; AIDS is just a virus

December 7, 2016 § 165 Comments

Liberalism is first and foremost a political doctrine: an (incoherent) view about legitimate exercise of authority. It is true that once empowered liberalism cannot be contained and ‘leaks’ into everything else. But characterizing liberalism as a grand overall religious or anti-religious worldview, rather than as a specifically political doctrine, is a mistake: a mistake easily rejected by liberals as a caricature which creates a motte and bailey social structure from which escape becomes impossible.

In order to resist our enemy you have to understand him; and if liberalism is not understood as primarily a political doctrine – a political doctrine which by its nature cannot be contained or kept as subordinate by any amount of virtue, moderation, or good intentions – it cannot be adequately resisted.

Almost every conservative or reactionary travels down the same old path, which invariably seduces him into right liberalism.  The infinitesimal number of exceptions merely prove the rule: we are all liberals, and the all encompassing gravity well of liberalism will comprehensively dominate human existence until enough people reject it unequivocally.

Liberalism is ‘more than political’ only in a similar sense to which AIDS is more than a virus. By defining liberal commitments as more grandiose and religious than they are in fact, as something greater or more transcendent than specifically political commitments, we can avoid unequivocally rejecting freedom and equality as political principles (principles of authority in action). This gives liberalism a ‘motte’ into which to retreat whenever its own excesses would otherwise lead to self destruction.

Liberalism always starts as specifically political commitments, just as AIDS always starts out as a tiny invisible virus. We can rage against the snot running down the nose of the AIDS patient all we want; but if we hope to actually prevent AIDS we have to adequately grasp what causes it in the first place.  Only then can we begin to know what to do about it.

§ 165 Responses to Liberalism is just politics; AIDS is just a virus

  • TomD says:

    Is this somewhat right? Liberalism is a political doctrine that denies authority, and so an antidote to liberalism would be to obey rightful authority (because authority is tied to making decisions, which is what politics is)? Obey authority even if (especially if) said authority is weak, stupid, confused, and sometimes even wrong?

    It seems to me that rightful authorities are easy to know (fathers, pastors, bishops, popes, government officials, police, etc). They’re also easy to obey when they’re perfect and right; so God by His Mercy has given us ones who are not perfect so that we can grow in holiness by still obeying them. Who am I to judge? indeed. We should not sit in judgement upon authorities higher than us, but on ourselves and those whom we have in our care.

    Even if that means going to a guitar Mass, even if there’s an argument that said guitar illicits said Mass. (Yes, I just verbed that.)

  • Todor says:

    Ironically, Christianity has always been accused of undermining all forms of authority. Children can disobey their father, soldiers can disobey their commander, citizens can disobey their government, subjects can disobey their king if they need to. No religion or ideology has done more to make the conscience of each individual inviolable.

  • Well, without a legitimate exercise of authority, liberalism becomes the only moral choice.

    And those who believe they have been deceived their whole lives, taken the red pill and now magically escaped the matrix, are just too pathetic for words.

  • Bruce Charlton says:

    I may be missing an ironical tone in the piece – but “By defining liberal commitments as more grandiose and religious than they are in fact, as something greater or more transcendent than specifically political commitments…” misses something very important about what lies behind liberalism (Leftism) and what keeps it pointed and pushing in the desired direction over many decades.

    And this is a committment that is ‘religious’ in the sense of being anti-Christian, or more exactly demonic. A positive desire to corrupt, subvert and invert The Good.

    This means that there is a (small) core of dedicated, strategic Leftists who will themselves defer satisfaction, work hard and even suffer suffer in order to secure the self-damnation of others.

    Leftism is therefore not ‘just’ politics – it is actively evil – and I think 2016 has been the year when this became obvious to more people than ever before.

    Which is a kind of proto-progress – so long as things don’t stop at that.

  • TomD says:

    The problem is that fighting ‘leftism’ while standing upon the foundation of liberalism just perpetuates the problem.

    Or to put it in LotR terms, the evil of Sauron (leftism) will never be completely destroyed as long as the foundations of Barad-dûr (liberalism) remain. And the only way to destroy that foundation is to put the ring in Mount Doom (repent).

  • Scott W. says:

    “Well, without a legitimate exercise of authority, liberalism becomes the only moral choice”

    I’d be happy to listen to a succinct argument in favor of this. This however:

    “And those who believe they have been deceived their whole lives, taken the red pill and now magically escaped the matrix, are just too pathetic for words”

    Is similar to the hoary insults we hear hurled at critics of waterboarding, lying to Planned Parenthood workers, and nuking men, women and children, so less of those if you would please. Thanks.

  • Zippy says:

    Liberalism is never a moral option, because incoherent errors are (pretty much by definition) always wrong.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce Charlton:

    The point – or one of the points – is that if all of the hard core leftists and their institutions and conspiracies were to suddenly disappear, we would immediately make new ones to replace them. Because the engine that drives liberalism is not the commitments of progressives / committed leftists, who on their own are powerless and self destructive.

    The engine that drives liberalism is the pervasive liberal commitments of everyman.

  • josh says:

    Historically, though, liberalism grew out of the implications the Cartesian reformulation of first philosophy as beginning with self-knowledge and the Newtonian reformulation of causality as something from the outside that acts upon a body rather than a power imminent within the body. To the philosophically engaged liberal, political liberalism is a conclusion drawn from deeper considerations. To the rest, they are just accepting what they are told or what is implied by their betters.

  • Zippy says:

    Josh:

    Part of the crosstalk here may involve the difference between the questions “what is liberalism” and “how did liberalism originate”.

    Applying the metaphor from the OP, there may be all sorts of academic argument over how the AIDS virus evolved. But that is indeed academic, is almost entirely irrelevant, when the existential issue is fighting the disease. What matters is what it is and the fact that it infects almost everyone (including “normal people”), not how it evolved or even where it came from. You don’t kill a lion or stamp out a disease with a (colorful language suppressed) over evolution, especially when the constant distraction of argument over evolution enables the infected to continue incubating the disease.

    I am beginning to suspect that liberalism has yet another defense mechanism which I had not previously considered. The folks who are most intellectually equipped to grasp liberalism philosophically tend to be temperamentally poorly equipped to prioritize the existential over the historical and academic: to avoid all of the pedantic rabbit holes and stay focused on the existential threat.

  • “Applying the metaphor from the OP, there may be all sorts of academic argument over how the AIDS virus evolved. But that is indeed academic, is almost entirely irrelevant, when the existential issue is fighting the disease.”

    Well, with all due respect, it does matter, at least in the sense of trying to address cause and effect. The origins of how the disease came into being are kind of important if we are seeking a cure. Liberalism did not just spring up from a void, it is not innate to who we are, it is a symbiotic response that acts in relationship to something else.

    To Scott, I said, “Well, without a legitimate exercise of authority, liberalism becomes the only moral choice.”

    Well yes, liberalism steps in to fill a void, usually avoid caused by faulty exercises of authority. So we have unwed mothers, fatherless children, corrupt politicians, hypocrisy in our religious leaders, and than people wander around murmuring, “we have absolutely no idea why people might have developed pathological issues with authority.”

  • josh says:

    My point is that the antidote to liberalism, right here, right now, is philosophical.

  • josh says:

    Also, that I don’t think it is not incorrect to link liberalism to a broader world view with a particular, if (self-contradictory) view of the good whether you call this a religion or not.

  • Zippy says:

    Josh:

    Trying to cure liberalism by arguing its evolution and only peripherally related philosophy, all while avoiding identifying liberalism specifically (as in the post I was responding to), is like trying to prevent AIDS by bloodletting. If anything it enables the ongoing pandemic, under the guise of fighting it.

  • Bruce Charlton says:

    @Zippy – “The engine that drives liberalism is the pervasive liberal commitments of everyman.”

    I don’t think so – I think the contribution of everyman is to yield to temptation. Everyman might have yielded to quite a range of temptations other than liberalism – and probably will do so before much longer.

    But Liberalism is new, and probably doesn’t encompass a majority of the current world population. I regard it as a top-down phenomenon.

    What interests me is that the push to liberalism has been so sustained and strategic over several generations (especially among the intellectual elite – where it was dominant even 100 years ago).

    However, I don’t regard liberalism of being self sustaining – it evokes such a shallow, weak and labile committment. I think it is surely a product of the strategy of (immortal) demons – much as described in Screwtape Proposes a Toast, CS Lewis’s sequel to Screwtape Letters – and also incorporated in That Hideous Strength.

    But the great innovation was from the late fifties onward, when the demons (presumably!) realised that – if only they could curb their lust to cause and enjoy immediate suffering – then in the long terms everyman could be corrupted in much greater numbers and much more effectively by luxury and bribery than by suffering (which tended to provoke a counter-reaction).

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce Charlton:

    I can’t speak to the UK or other international experiences, but here in the US everyman’s commitment to protection of liberty as government’s primary justification is deep, strong, and pervasive if not comprehensive. Almost everyone I know offline is a deeply committed liberal (in the way I understand it). Many individuals and authors who claim to be scholastics etc are obviously liberals (e.g. Tom Woods), so the notion some commenters have that scholastic realism protects someone from also having liberal commitments is manifestly false.

    In short, we simply disagree about top down versus bottom up; though I would go further and characterize my view as both/and, not either/or.

  • Bonald says:

    “Liberalism is just politics.”

    Sure, but how human society is to be ordered is a major part of most peoples’ worldviews. Few topics are more grandiose.

  • Zippy says:

    Bonald:

    The post title is modestly ironic if you interpret it as reductionist, but AIDS the disease is not itself literally reducible to nothing but a virus. A virus literally isolated on its own does not produce disease, symptoms are not viruses, etc.

    In other words, this post isn’t reductionism. However, if we tried to talk about AIDS without ever mentioning viruses in general or the HIV virus in particular we would miss something essential – arguably the thing most primary, most essential – about AIDS.

    The modus operandi of right liberalism is to attack straw men: “liberalism” understood as something other than commitment, specifically, to political liberty (a particular understanding of authority a.k.a. politics). This grossly underestimates liberalism’s infectiousness and the extent of the liberalism pandemic. It also grossly overestimates the extent to which (e.g.) scholastic realism of various kinds provides prophylactic protection from liberal infection.

    Right liberalism doesn’t think the disease exists without the full blown symptoms of leftism; and it doesn’t understand that it carries the pathogen itself. As with HIV the pathogen is very adaptable, as many pages on this blog explain from all sorts of different angles.

    Remember all of the “full blown AIDS vs HIV positive” nonsense of the eighties? That is what these discussions bring to mind: infected people proclaiming that they don’t have the disease just because they do not personally, at present, exhibit its worst symptoms.

    Liberalism is, first and foremost, a political doctrine: a certain belief about the nature of authority. It adapts itself to many different metaphysical and epistemic environments, gradually transforming them. It is extremely virulent and defending against it is nontrivial: it has many defense mechanisms of its own.

    And one of those defense mechanisms is that it snookers people into thinking of it as something different from a specifically political doctrine. The virus lurks while the mind pursues other distractions.

  • Todor says:

    Many are perplexed because conservatives and reactionaries usually see Liberalism as a form of luciferian creed – to which the antidote is Christianity. So by suggesting it would be enough if Liberals simply change their belief about the nature of authority, you seem to open the door to un-Christian forms of anti-liberalism (Islam? Paganism? Shintoism?).

  • Hrodgar says:

    Rejecting a particular error does not mean rejecting all errors. A change in belief regarding the nature of authority does not even mean you now have a correct belief about authority, let alone that you’re correct about everything. Of course Christianity, properly understood, is the most perfect form of relating to God, who is the source and summit of all truth, but many Christians espouse liberalism without thereby ceasing to be Christian.

    To put it another way, rejecting liberalism only means you are no longer a liberal. No more, no less.

  • Kurt says:

    a particular understanding of authority a.k.a. politics

    Is this understanding of authority that each individual is their own authority in their own personal domain, where the purpose of government is to protect each domain?

  • Zippy says:

    Cosign Hrodgar.

  • Zippy says:

    It is obvious that Christianity is not an antidote to liberalism.

    1) Christianity in this world is not an antidote to all errors. Christians make errors in mathematical calculations all the time, for example, without thereby becoming non-Christians. Christians also make political and moral errors: there are and always have been plenty of open or unresolved moral questions, and being even horribly wrong about a particular moral question does not constitute apostasy.

    2) If we count up all of the present day and historical liberals (persons with firm liberal commitments among their other commitments), the great majority have been Christians.

    So the conservative/reactionary conceit that Christianity is an antidote to liberalism is just wrong. Liberalism is a specific error about the nature of the authority of men, and Christians quite obviously make errors about such things all the time. Christianity is only an antidote to liberalism to the same extent that it is an antidote to all possible errors. Which is to say, it isn’t.

    In order to resist liberalism the specific error of liberalism has to be adequately grasped and unequivocally rejected as the terrible error that it is. Anything less is just self congratulatory navel gazing on the part of the actually infected or of those who are at best enablers of the pandemic.

  • Todor says:

    Would you say that the anti-liberal motto shoud be, “I was just following orders”?

  • Zippy says:

    Todor:

    No, I would never say that.

  • TomD says:

    I would suggest Serviam

  • Different T says:

    @ Todor and Zippy

    Maybe the issue is the use of “political.” You are referencing something much more fundamental to man than his relationship to the State, correct?

    But there is something strange here. In the OP you state: “once empowered (which seems to reference the point at which the State enforces liberalism) liberalism cannot be contained and ‘leaks’ into everything else.”

    This line appears to indicate you are specifically speaking to the relationship between subject and State.

    “a political doctrine which by its nature cannot be contained or kept as subordinate by any amount of virtue, moderation, or good intentions – it cannot be adequately resisted.”

    MacIntyre, After Virtue, 255

    “Modern systematic politics, whether liberal, conservative, radical, or socialist, simply has to be rejected from a standpoint that owes genuine allegiance to the tradition of the virtues; for modern politics itself expresses in its institutional forms a systematic rejection of that tradition”

  • Zippy says:

    Different T:

    The modern State is in part a product of the consolidation of political power intrinsic to liberalism, which I’ve described before.

    But liberalism is a basic error about authority in general, e.g. it may apply to the authority of fathers, husbands, pastors, aristocrats, bishops, proprietors — it can be and has been made with respect to all kinds of authority of men.

  • Different T says:

    Thanks.

    It seems like that should help make things clearer.

    To further clarify, what is meant by “empowered” in the aforementioned quotation?

  • Todor says:

    Let’s see if I understand you correctly: the problem of liberalism is not obey or disobey, but to think we don’t have to obey when the authority is weak, mistaken, misinformed, etc.

  • Zippy says:

    Different T:

    For a doctrine to be empowered it just has to be the case that people have become committed to it.

  • Zippy says:

    Todor:

    The problem with liberalism is that it is rationally incoherent, and with what follows from it being rationally incoherent. I’ve described all of this many times on this blog.

  • Zippy says:

    As Hrodgar said upthread, the conclusion that liberalism is incoherent, murderous, wrong, etc just tells us that liberalism is wrong. It doesn’t affirm or deny anything about some particular illiberal understanding of authority or other.

  • Different T says:

    @ Zippy

    Do Bruce’s first comment, Josh, and Bonald’s comments give pause for reconsideration then?

    Knowing that people have become committed does not indicate how to respond. Would you not need to understand why (ie; evil, philosophical precepts, status resentment)

  • Zippy says:

    Different T:

    The appropriate response to a specific, identified error is to unequivocally repudiate that specific, identified error.

    There is good reason why the vast majority of Catholic doctrine as expressed by the Magisterium involves repudiation of various carefully specified particular errors. And for why the Church generally disclaims endorsing any particular political theory, for that matter. Folks are certainly welcome to spend some time pondering that – and what it suggests about epistemology and metaphysics – philosophically: as long as that pondering doesn’t turn into another fogbank of obfuscation when it comes to repudiating liberalism specifically and unequivocally.

  • Zippy says:

    Reassuring everyone that they are just fine as long as they are good conservatives and aren’t Satanists into spirit cooking is about as far from the right response as it is possible to be.

  • Different T says:

    “The appropriate response to a specific, identified error is to unequivocally repudiate that specific, identified error.”

    Thanks

  • Different T says:

    “Reassuring everyone that they are just fine as long as they are good conservatives and aren’t Satanists into spirit cooking is about as far from the right response as it is possible to be.”

    Understood. There is something to do with MacIntyre’s story of King Kamehameha II here…

  • Different T says:

    Specifically, “To put it another way, rejecting liberalism only means you are no longer a liberal. No more, no less.”

    The last sentence appears completely incorrect.

  • “For a doctrine to be empowered it just has to be the case that people have become committed to it.”

    This is what I was attempting to get at. So if one wanted to cure the disease of liberalism, then it seems as if one must first try to figure out why people might become committed to it?

    “The problem with liberalism is that it is rationally incoherent, and with what follows from it being rationally incoherent.”

    Rationally incoherent to whom? Incoherent means incomprehensible or confusing. I suggest liberalism is a completely rational and coherent response to misapplied and mis-appropriated authority. Previously I called it “moral” which is perhaps not quite the right word, but I meant something akin to predictable, rational, reasonable in the sense that you mix the right ingredients and you get liberalism.

  • Zippy says:

    I have explained aspects of the appeal of liberalism any number of times, e.g.:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/the-universal-permission-slip/

    Just as one example.

    And rational coherence is an objective property of propositions or doctrines; it doesn’t refer to warm fuzzy feelings that people have about their incoherent doctrines.

    On abuse of authority there is this:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/modernity-reframes-all-authority-as-abuse/

  • Hrodgar says:

    Re: Different T, 9:41pm,, 8 Dec

    What else does it mean, then?

  • Different T says:

    A new “political” doctrine, or maybe a more subterranean version of the liberalism.

  • Hrodgar says:

    What exactly to you mean by political doctrine? The air quotes are throwing me off.

    Regardless, rejecting one political doctrine (whatever you might mean by that) does not necessitate accepting another; it might simply mean accepting that you don’t know. To say something along the lines of “I don’t know what 2+2 equals, but I know it isn’t 5” is not the worst place in the world to be.

    Also, if one has in fact (as opposed to merely believing one has, as it is widely acknowledged that many people do) rejected liberalism, then to claim the rejection could involve accepting a different version of liberalism, however subtle, is self-contradicting.

  • Different T says:

    “What exactly to you mean by political doctrine? The air quotes are throwing me off.”

    The quotes were used because Zippy’s conception of “political” is not commonly held.

    “whatever you might mean by that”

    We are going off Zippy’s conception, correct? He states a “political” doctrine is an “understanding of authority.”

    “does not necessitate accepting another; it might simply mean accepting that you don’t know. To say something along the lines of “I don’t know what 2+2 equals, but I know it isn’t 5” is not the worst place in the world to be.”

    This is exactly the point; thanks for making it explicit. If having an answer to “what 2+2 equals” is, in fact, required of you; then “I know it isn’t 5” cannot possibly describe what you are actually doing.

    “Also, if one has in fact (as opposed to merely believing one has, as it is widely acknowledged that many people do) rejected liberalism, then to claim the rejection could involve accepting a different version of liberalism, however subtle, is self-contradicting.”

    Is there a point here?

  • Zippy says:

    Different T:

    I don’t understand what the trouble is, frankly.

    Politics is the art of authoritatively resolving controvertible cases: in general it is how authority is exercised in whatever formal, informal, and conventional ways that particular societies, institutions, polities, families, partnerships, etc happen to employ.

    You seem to think that this is some sort of esoteric private understanding of politics, but it is hard to see why you would think that. I am working (however imperfectly) from an understanding of what politics is in reality, not playing some nominalist word game with definitions.

    Hrodgar’s point was perfectly clear to me: knowing and asserting that A (liberalism, in this case) is incoherent is independent of what may or may not be the case about B (some not very well formed illiberal ideas about authority, in this case), absent a demonstration of some dependence or connection between the two. Knowing that the moon is not made of green cheese doesn’t tell us much about what it actually is made of, beyond the fact that it isn’t green cheese.

  • Zippy says:

    This post is pertinent.

    Knowing that liberalism is definitely and demonstrably incoherent doesn’t commit us to any particular illiberal theory of authority, and there is probably an infinite number of possible illiberal theories of authority.

  • Different T says:

    “You seem to think that this is some sort of esoteric private understanding of politics, but it is hard to see why you would think that.”

    It isn’t clear where such a thing was implied. The most commonly held conception of “political doctrine” has to do with the relationship between subject and State, not with authority in general. Do people describe the relationship between child and parent as political? Most certainly do not.

    “Knowing that the moon is not made of green cheese doesn’t tell us much about what it actually is made of, beyond the fact that it isn’t green cheese”

    Another excellent example of fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of what you are discussing (your conception of “political doctrine”).

    “Knowing that liberalism is definitely and demonstrably incoherent doesn’t commit us to any particular illiberal theory of authority, and there is probably an infinite number of possible illiberal theories of authority.”

    Again; if having such an understanding is required of you, saying you “know that the moon is not made of green cheese” cannot describe what you are actually doing. Not being committed to a particular answer is, in fact, a particular understanding.

  • Zippy says:

    Different T:

    The relationship between employers and employees, clerics and laymen (and each other), volunteers and managers — in every institution the authority relationships are commonly referred to as politics, or at least always have been in my experience.

    It is true that people don’t often refer to authority in their more personal relationships as political, but personal relationships are where authority tends to be most informal. On the other hand any parent with a sufficient number of children can easily recognize the intersibling politics at work.

    In any event confining politics to the modern State alone is much more esoteric than simply recognizing politics as the general interplay of authority and power exercised in human relationships. So even if this is a nominalist game of private definitions I still think you lose.

    … if having such an understanding is required of you …

    But it isn’t, at least if I get your meaning. Check your premise.

    If I had to guess I’d probably say that you are in the grip of positivism (again see the post I linked in my previous comment). It is commonplace to know that [x] theory is wrong about subject Y without having an alternative or comprehensive theory of subject Y, so if you think there is something different about the present topic – authority – you’d have to show your work.

  • Different T says:

    “So even if this is a nominalist game of private definitions I still think you lose.”

    Wow, that speaks volumes more than anything else you could have said. Thanks.

    “But it isn’t, at least if I get your meaning. Check your premise.”

    You may consider doing the same.

    “so if you think there is something different about the present topic – authority – you’d have to show your work.”

    Watch this.

    No.

  • TomD says:

    A huge part of the problem can be seen in that people actually literally think that the relationship of authority to the President is more important than the relationship of authority to their father.

    Once individualism takes hold, politics becomes a discussion of the relation between the individual and the state (personalized by the head of state), and all other forms of authority are discredited and even discussion about them disappears.

    A healthy world has a real chain of authority such that you obey your direct authority, even if he is disobeying his, unless he is ordering you to sin.

    Which is why you should go to your pastor’s Mass, even if it is a clown Mass.

  • Wood says:

    Different T,

    * If having an answer to “what 2+2 equals” is, in fact, required of you; then “I know it isn’t 5” cannot possibly describe what you are actually doing. *

    Sure it can. Just like Zippy suggested, we show our work and check our math. Old school style, working backwards: 5 – 2 = 3. Therefore by checking my premises and showing my work I know 2+2 doesn’t equal 5. I don’t know what 2+2 is yet, but by working through it I know it isn’t 5. If you don’t agree with Zippy’s definition of politics, then what is your definition? That would go along way to interacting here. And to say, “I’m not sure, but I can tell Zippy’s is wrong” is sort of self-defeating from what you’ve already stated. From your McIntyre quotes I’m wondering if you somehow don’t think Zippy has gone “far enough.” That may not be the case, but if so thats very likely from not reading through his material much.

  • TomD says:

    One thing I note is that everyone wants the problems to be high up and far away, because that doesn’t require us to repent, change, or do anything.

    Admitting that the problem is in us is painful, because that does require us to repent, change, and work hard to convert ourselves.

    You see this with some of even monarchists, who hold that monarchy is a much better way to get what liberalism aims at – true equality in a political sense.

    Very few people are willing to even consider that a political commitment to liberty, equality, and fraternity could even possibly be wrong: they’re all arguing how to enact said commitment. Zippy is one of them.

  • Wood says:

    TomD,

    I agree. I know, as has been pointed our earlier, that seeing this political issue through primarily religious eyes can lead into error; however, I do see liberalism as literally something to repent of. People often then ask me, “well then, what next?” But that’s missing the point. The honest, most important, and likely most difficult answer – as it is with any chronic sin – is to pray for the grace not to fall back into the sin.

  • Todor says:

    “Bless me father because I was wrong about the nature of authority?” Did anyone actually try to confess this sin to a priest? What was his reaction?

  • Wood says:

    Todor,

    Supporting evil, politically, may not be as fun as what other people need to confess – say, hatred of Pope Francis. But we do the best we can.

  • TomD says:

    Exactly. Go, and sin no more is literally what Christ tells us to do. And it’s hard, because we then have to work at it.

    For Catholics, we’ve been given a grace in these days; we can work on repenting of liberalism by respecting and obeying the authority of our pastor, bishop, and Pope, especially by not getting all excited about calumny and detraction of the same, and then insisting that by our authority, the Pope is no longer an authority.

    It’s really hard!

    (As a side note, Zippy isn’t denying that there are religious aspects to the question, and we wouldn’t talk about “repenting” if there weren’t. Liberalism is a political issue, and politics is authority, and authority is deeply tied to religion: giving to God what is God’s due, including obedience. I think what he’s trying to get at is that you can’t even have true religion if you are a liberal, as liberalism destroys the very nature of authority, which religion needs. With no coherent idea of authority, you can no longer hold God as an authority, and everything falls apart. As an example, I provide the modern liberal world.)

    Maybe it’s easier to point out that Zippy is “limiting” liberalism to a “political doctrine” but “widening” politics to cover what many people don’t realize it does.

  • Wood says:

    Todor,

    In my haste I misread you. I apologize.

  • TomD says:

    Todor, it’s a question I’ve often wondered about. How do you confess a sin to a priest who doesn’t hold that it’s a sin? Most priests I know would probably just give you absolution unless you seemed to be scrupulous about it.

    Or maybe you can just say, “Bless me father because I was wrong about the nature of authority, and because of that rejected rightful authority, and felt hatred toward them and my fellow man.”

    The important part is to actually repent, the details God’ll fill in.

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:

    As a side note, Zippy isn’t denying that there are religious aspects to the question, and we wouldn’t talk about “repenting” if there weren’t.

    Correct — we aren’t positivists, so ‘nothing buttery’ is a non-starter. Liberalism like all doctrines-situated-in-reality is not static: its particular manifestations in reality develop over time.

    However, it begins, at its root, as the basic incoherent error about the nature of authority which I have been at great pains to describe. It is first and foundationally a political doctrine. Yet time and time again right liberals treat it as something else, which is precisely the head fake which sustains right liberalism, without which left-liberalism incarnate in reality would self-destruct.

  • TomD says:

    And that’s there why voting for the lesser evil is voting to let evil continue.

    But, because we’re not consequentialists, that doesn’t let us vote for the greater evil so that it all is over sooner.

  • Todor says:

    I tend to agree with Carl Schmitt regarding the lesser evil – it is our duty to impede the process and voting for the lesser evil is one way of slowing down the decline.

  • Zippy says:

    I am reasonably certain that objectively proportionate reason to vote at all doesn’t obtain; particularly not at the national level. But that subject has been done to death here.

  • Todor says:

    I agree with you at the national level, but I can’t imagine myself not voting at the local level over an important question. That being say, the important question hasn’t come up yet (and I doubt it ever will).

  • Step2 says:

    Hrodgar and Wood,
    While I don’t mind the occasional argumentative mathematical example, when it gets overly simplistic I feel pedantically obligated to respond. The first reason it is a bad example is because by the act of proving that 5-2=3 you have shown that you understand the relations and concepts involved to show the correct answer to 2+2. The second reason it is bad is because Zippy is further claiming there could be an infinite number of illiberal answers to the “equation of authority”. This overlooks the fact that while 2+2=5 is wrong, it is wrong by a defined small amount. If the “illiberal” response is 2+2=1000000004 then you are wrong by a billion. While both are wrong the illiberal one is incorrect by a significantly larger margin. In many instances that may make the liberal mistake harder to detect, but in a few instance it may cancel out another small mathematical error.

  • Hrodgar says:

    1) All analogies break down at some point, and we are dealing with subjects a bit more complicated than basic addition and subtraction. There are many situations where certain possibilities can be eliminated without establishing the true or right one.

    2) 2+2=5 was not intended to be a measured estimate of how far off from the truth liberalism is, but it is probably a mistake, even just given the piles of bodies left in its wake, to define liberalism as off by only “a defined small amount.” Furthermore, neither I nor Zippy have ever contended that illiberal means good, or that there are not illiberal errors worse than liberalism.

    But neither the fact that there are worse mistakes one could make instead nor the fact that by God’s grace our mistakes may in specific instances cancel each other out removes the obligation to abandon particular mistaken, irrational, or sinful behaviors and philosophies.

  • “And rational coherence is an objective property of propositions or doctrines; it doesn’t refer to warm fuzzy feelings that people have about their incoherent doctrines.”

    I’m not trying to be argumentative here, but rational coherence is a very subjective thing, limited by our human perceptions. So what you would easily dismiss as warm fuzzy feelings, and incoherent doctrines, actually have a rather solid and objective property to them.

    You said, “In order to resist our enemy you have to understand him..”

    If the wish to understand him is genuine, then simply dismissing him as having an incoherent doctrine ruled by warm fuzzy feelings and labeling one’s conclusions, “rational coherence” just doesn’t do the trick.

  • Wood says:

    Step2,

    It seemed a discussion of how much knowledge is needed about a subject in general before one can identify and reject a particular error was being used to undercut the arguments presented here against liberalism.

    I don’t think the mathematical analogies are as wrong as you think, but I likely did just muddle the discussion with it needlessly anyway.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Your subjective feeling that rational coherence is inherently subjective, from which I subjectively feel that it follows that we just can’t conclude the objective truth or falsity of anything at all, subjectively feels rationally incoherent to me.

    Also, I subjectively feel that 2+2=4 and that the principle of non contradiction holds.

  • A Subject says:

    By defining liberal commitments as more grandiose and religious than they are in fact, as something greater or more transcendent than specifically political commitments…

    Funny that you’re putting it this way, Zippy, as I’ve been a bit sceptical of your own comparisons of voting to a public liturgy, full participation in which is dependent on belief in equal rights as a state of grace, precisely because they seemed to me to be interpreting liberalism, its commitments and mechanisms as something greater and more transcendent than it in fact is.

  • Zippy says:

    A Subject:

    Liberalism begins as a political doctrine; however, I have explained any number of times how from there it escapes Pandora’s Locke Box, takes up all the oxygen in the room, and crowds out everything else. Yet if it is not understood as primarily – as first and foremost – a political commitment, it can never be properly resisted. If you have to be a spirit cooking satanist or atheist SJW in order to have liberal commitments then religious right liberals can pat themselves on the backs and continue to be the designated losers who mop up the vomit after liberalism’s excesses and ensure that the orgy never ends.

    The point to my “state of grace” post was to explain by analogy a perspective on how the more consistent (that is, left) liberals rationalize, to themselves, their desire to disenfranchise “conservatives”. It wasn’t a claim that ‘belief in equal rights as a state of grace’ is a categorical necessity in order to vote — any more than failure to be in an actual state of grace physically prevents consumption of the host.

    Voting obviously is a kind of liturgy; that the kinds of beliefs it reinforces (lex orandi lex credendi) are political beliefs is I think also obvious, so it is difficult to see what the substantive criticism is there.

    Finally, my arguments against voting center on what, objectively, constitutes proportionate reason. There are probably a few very, very special snowflakes who can theoretically vote without themselves having or reinforcing personal liberal commitments, and if their acts of voting were proportionately efficacious in selecting the winners compared to outcome-independent scandal then these very, very special snowflakes might have proportionate reason to vote — at least in theory. Of course their votes actually don’t have a non-negligible effect, so one of the premises which would have to be the case is in fact false. Similar to the Iron Law I expect that someone adequately grasping the arguments and still thinking himself a snowflake should probably be taken as strong evidence – to himself as well as third parties – that he isn’t really the snowflake he thinks he is.

  • itascriptaest says:

    I suppose there is a natural tendency of associating the worst aspects of modern liberalism with the most viscerally disgusting elements of modern left-liberalism. This may also have to do with the fact that many traditionalist thinkers are academics so this is the form of liberalism they are most often exposed to in their day to day lives. With others there is a bad case of the wrong sort of romanticism. In repenting of liberalism we could do with a lot less Tolkien references. You can quickly tell the people who want to smuggle right-liberalism in the backdoot by their rhetoric- if their main focus is on egalitarianism or if they still see Marxism as the main opponent they’re likely right-liberals. Paul Gottfried is a good example of someone who is really respected among a lot traditionalists and yet he is an ardent right liberal.

    As Zippy has shown this shallow critique of left-liberalism only serves to entrap one in the liberal paradigm. Most of the great liberal thinkers were not orcs but were mild mannered men all of whom were at least nominally (Protestant) Christian. John Rawls had great natural virtue he left his Ivy League school to serve his country in WW2, he won a Bronze Star for bravery in the Pacific admist some of the worst combat of the war. Everything I have read of him says that he was a loving and devoted family man. Yet Rawls did more than any other philosopher in the 20th century to shore up liberalism. The same can be said for other, recent, seminal liberal figures like Richard Rorty, Ronald Dworkin, Robert Nozick, Michael Sandel, Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.

  • itascriptaest says:

    Also wanted to point out that I agree with Zippy that liberalism is a system that would still be here even if Rawls or the other thinkers I cited never existed. My point being that many of even (post)modern liberalism’s most articulate thinkers were not monsters.

  • Mike T says:

    And that’s there why voting for the lesser evil is voting to let evil continue.

    But, because we’re not consequentialists, that doesn’t let us vote for the greater evil so that it all is over sooner.

    I sometimes wonder if our own perceptions on “supporting evil” in authority is itself deeply tainted by the effects of liberalism and modernity. Christians used to generally support legitimate claimants to the throne, even if they were highly flawed people. I see a lot of hyperventilating about supporting evil WRT voting and politicians, but most of our politicians, barring PizzaGate being proved true, really strike me as more banal in their sin than seriously wicked people.

  • Mike T says:

    * I am excluding very pro-choice politicians and people with equivalent strongly evil positions who a reasonable person could say, if elected would choose very grave evil as a public policy.

  • TomD says:

    Mike T – I think that brings up the big question – do we believe we’re in a world where one unrepented mortal sin will damn us to Hell for all Eternity, or a world where you basically have to make Hitler look good to be evil?

    (I think one of the main things Zippy tries to get across is that liberalism itself is grave evil as public policy, even when it is soft and fluffy, because it always denies authority, and therefore God.

    The deaths of millions at the hand of liberalism is just a side-effect, perhaps one that will wake us up.

  • Mike T says:

    TomD,

    The Mennonites and Amish are the only two Christian groups I know of that take this to a truly principled stand (generally speaking). They typically refuse to serve in virtually any aspect of civil government. They even typically do not want to participate on juries. From their perspective, the ordinary exercise of government typically involves too much cooperation with evil people and processes. They would say that be it Caesar (literally like Augustus) or down to your local city hall, the likelihood of formal cooperation with evil being a real thing and done to those under the authority of the state is simply not worth exposing oneself to. They’d typically counter that in the private sector, one can always just leave and work elsewhere whereas in government that often isn’t the case.

    And on some level, this is certainly true. There is intrinsic danger to one’s soul in working in many roles within the state because those roles relate to executing the will of an authority by force or facilitating that.

    Now my counter is that the church never opposed Christians from entering the Roman civil service or military. In fact, that was a key part of the conversion of Rome. Roman authority was, in many ways, at parity in corruption with modern liberal authority. Yet Christians were expected to respect imperial authorities and support them as best as they could. Many of those authorities were truly evil men in their own right.

    So i think there just is a large grey area here where a lot of it comes down to recognizing that we can support the man, but not the position–in many cases. In a lot of cases we cannot support the man because the man intends to focus on one or several areas that are specifically evil. I just don’t see a bright line here based on tradition. Not trying to make it sound relativistic.

  • TomD says:

    I think the big distinction is when we do acts such as voting which are not being obedient to authority but selecting it. So I would say that since I live in the US, I should serve on a jury when asked to, but be honest in answering the questions (which will almost certainly mean I’ll never be picked).

    It’s one thing to obey Caesar, and another to select him, and certainly a third to offer him a pinch of incense.

    (In the US, jury duty, taxes, and traffic laws are the most common ways to interact with government authority, I’d say. Most people scoff at them.)

  • Gj says:

    Mike T:

    I see a lot of hyperventilating about supporting evil WRT voting and politicians, but most of our politicians, barring PizzaGate being proved true, really strike me as more banal in their sin than seriously wicked people.

    It doesn’t help that liberalism has shrunken moral perspectives, so that among the greatest sins are restricting liberty by seeking to repeal the Second Amendment (de jure or de facto) or the First, or preventing mothers from killing their unborn, etc etc.

  • Mike T says:

    so that among the greatest sins are restricting liberty by seeking to repeal the Second Amendment (de jure or de facto)

    Gun rights are one of those things that must be culturally untouchable while liberalism dominates. They must be outside of the realm of ordinary authority to do more than ever so modestly restrict among generally peaceful people because the only reason a liberal state ever opposes such people owning guns is to exterminate the latest batch of designated subhumans. Based on history, and in the modern context, you will almost invariably find yourself in formal cooperation with evil on this issue or accidentally enabling it by playing the useful idiot.

    At the end of the day, liberal authorities cannot be trusted to not exterminate and whoever is designated the subhuman has a natural right to go down fighting.

  • Mike T says:

    And we now see that that extermination can take place in one of two ways: the Hitler model or the Merkel model. Death by death camp or death by electing a new people to commit cultural or literal genocide.

  • TomD says:

    Don’t forget the third way – extermination by abortion.

    So clearly the obvious answer – arm babies in utero!

    The only moral position.

  • Mike T says:

    That is a third way, but it can tie informally into the first one as well. I would also not be surprised in the least if we were to end up seeing the left actually get behind forced abortions in at least one Western country. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it here with the way the culture of death has pursued expanding the power to kill the subhuman through medical process. The legal document you mock now may be quite literally enables you to take bold moves to save your wife and child (or your child and grandchild).

    The only moral position.

    Again, given the actual history of liberalism, you cannot trust a liberal authority who says to ordinary people that they must disarm themselves. Given the sociopathic nature of liberal authority, obeying such an order and then being shocked that the state behaves like a sociopath who now perceives you incapable of resistance would be the height of idiocy in politics.

  • Mike T says:

    Also, look at the jurisdictions in the US that most aggressively pursue that policy. You will find, ironically, that they do in fact tend to have the governments most willing to gun people down over offenses that don’t merit a strong display of force.

  • Zippy says:

    As long as liberals are armed and can kill their oppressors, everything will be just fine.

  • Step2 says:

    …barring PizzaGate being proved true,

    I liked the St. Colbert response. A conspiracy based on a child sex trafficking ring run out secret tunnels connected to the basement of a pizza parlor that has no basement. So we know how deep this conspiracy goes…ground level.

  • TomD says:

    If guns cures the evils of liberalism why weren’t we air dropping weapons on German concentration camps?

    But now I’ve learned of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership which is interesting.

  • GJ says:

    Gun rights are one of those things that must be culturally untouchable while liberalism dominates.

    Your hyperventilating is noted.

    Based on history, and in the modern context, you will almost invariably find yourself in formal cooperation with evil on this issue or accidentally enabling it by playing the useful idiot.

    What is clear is that you are in formal cooperation with liberalism on this issue or accidentally enabling it by playing the useful idiot.

  • Mike T says:

    In the world according to CJ and Zippy, if the Jewish response had been to fight the Nazis street corner by street corner, house by house and killed a million or two gentiles, they’d have been nothing more than liberal butchers.

  • Mike T says:

    TomD,

    If guns cures the evils of liberalism why weren’t we air dropping weapons on German concentration camps?

    They don’t cure the evils of liberalism. They provide the low man with an opportunity to drag a few of the Free and Equal Supermen with him to the afterlife or maybe even survive. But since the low man might also be a liberal, he has no right to use deadly force to oppose other liberals who might want to say, throw him in a concentration camp, threaten to murder his family or beat him to death if he doesn’t get with their program.

  • Zippy says:

    The important thing is that liberals with pretty coins like Mike T’s control the guns, so they can kill tyrants who just pretend to favor freedom and equal rights but are really just mouthing the words for the sake of power and personal enrichment.

  • TomD says:

    Guns schmuns. The 2nd amendment should cover nuclear weapons as well-armed low men will prevent the Free and Equal Supermen from existing except as a cloud of expanding atoms, which will usher in the golden new age.

  • Terry Morris says:

    “If guns cures the evils of liberalism why weren’t we air dropping weapons on German concentration camps?”

    Why would liberals want to cure the evils of liberalism with guns, or popsickle sticks for that matter?

  • Zippy says:

    One of liberalism’s obsessions is arming scrappy oppressed rebels and disarming oppressors. Hillary Clinton as presidential candidate was rabidly pro-gun: in Syria.

    One of the ways you can tell what kind of liberalism (what basket of unprincipled exceptions) a particular liberal embraces is through who they want to see better armed, and who they want disarmed (typically some other sort of liberal, though that isn’t how they see each other). Arm the superman, disarm the subhuman oppressor.

    It is almost as good as a name tag.

  • Mike T says:

    One of liberalism’s obsessions is arming scrappy oppressed rebels and disarming oppressors.

    That is true, but it’s orthogonal to my objection. Given the reliable desire to slaughter the low man, anyone wanting to “repent of liberalism” needs to be aware that starting with the 2A and equivalent rights abroad is almost invariably going to lead to some of those jurisdictions going after the low man in some serious and objectively evil way. Even if you want to reduce it to liberal internecine bloodshed, the liberals set upon by the ruling liberals have a moral right to fight back aggressively against measures aimed at committing grave evil (ex. rape and murder) against them.

    Even if you get past the libertarian critique, where your points are valid, you are reduced to a simple fact: liberals like murdering the low man. Supporting liberal authorities on gun control is implicitly laying the foundation for murder by some future liberal authority because that is what liberal authorities do. I mean FFS, look at what the more extreme branches did in the 20th century right after seizing guns from the low man.

    In practice, it has not been libertarians vs NE liberals. It’s been Nazis vs Jews; the middle class vs the Khmer Rouge. Stalin vs everyone. It has been a real liberal authority not infringing upon “muh freedumbz,” but something closer to blanket mass murder which those needing the weapons have received.

  • TomD says:

    I can simplify:

    “Supporting liberal authorities … is implicitly laying the foundation for murder by some future liberal authority because that is what liberal authorities do.”

    THAT is exactly the point Zippy is making.

  • In the US, jury duty, taxes, and traffic laws are the most common ways to interact with government authority, I’d say. Most people scoff at them.)

    ABS has been called for Jury Duty several times and has taken advantage of the opportunity to tell others in the jury selection pool about Jury Nullification.

    And one should never miss the chance to violate the silly creed one is asked to publicly affirm:

    Defense attorney during voir dire Juror number 27, Mr…. If a man has robbed a clothing store 100 times previously, could you put aside that knowledge and objectively judge him if he was arrested for robbing a clothing store?

    ABS No.

    And why is that Mr…..?

    ABS The past is prologue and I am not insane.

  • Wood says:

    Mike T,

    Your comment above is one reason why I think seeing liberalism as something to repent of has helped me better understand. You *seem* to suggest that, sure, liberalism may be wicked but there’s no way I’m going to give up my wickedness unless and until all the other people give up their wickedness as well. It sounds like a version of the “personally opposed” or “legal, safe, and rare” arguments that have always been used to give cover for a total repudiation of abortion. I don’t think arguing for extenuating circumstances that make abortion, excuse me, liberalism acceptable for the time being are going to be met with sympathy here.

  • Podesta is among those being invited to a farm and the host says, “Bonnie will be Uber Service to transport Ruby, Emerson, and Maeve Luzzatto (11, 9, and almost 7) so you’ll have some further entertainment, and they will be in [the] pool for sure.”

    Could that have an innocent explanation? Sure, maybe. But inviting a group of adult men to a gathering and calling young children “further entertainment” while listing their ages is weird , whether it ends up having an explanation or not.

    http://www.unz.com/article/pizzagate/

    I liked the St. Colbert response. A conspiracy based on a child sex trafficking ring run out secret tunnels connected to the basement of a pizza parlor that has no basement. So we know how deep this conspiracy goes…ground level

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/12/wikileaks-bombshell-even-stephen-colbert-took-orders-clinton-group/

    One does not get a major network comedy gig unless one is a Yuge Liberal. John Stewart used to regularly meet with Obama in the white house and Jay Leno never told a sodomite joke unless it was cleared for airing by a sodomitic group in L.A.

    Why do so many want the exoneration even before the evidence has been sought?

  • Podesta is among those being invited to a farm and the host says, “Bonnie will be Uber Service to transport Ruby, Emerson, and Maeve Luzzatto (11, 9, and almost 7) so you’ll have some further entertainment, and they will be in [the] pool for sure.”

    Could that have an innocent explanation? Sure, maybe. But inviting a group of adult men to a gathering and calling young children “further entertainment” while listing their ages is weird , whether it ends up having an explanation or not.

    http://www.unz.com/article/pizzagate/

    I liked the St. Colbert response. A conspiracy based on a child sex trafficking ring run out secret tunnels connected to the basement of a pizza parlor that has no basement. So we know how deep this conspiracy goes…ground level

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/12/wikileaks-bombshell-even-stephen-colbert-took-orders-clinton-group/

    One does not get a major network comedy show unless one is a Yuge Lib.

    John Stewart regularly met with Obama in the white house and Leno always cleared his jokes about sodomites with a sodomite group in LA before telling one on air.

  • TomD says:

    Wood, yeah. It’s actually quite close to the “without safe, legal, and rare abortions we’ll have worse problems from illegal back alley abortions.”

    Perhaps it would make Mike T happier if he realized that most of the people arguing against him will not vote anyway, let alone vote for pro-2nd-repeal candidates like Hillary.

  • […] let’s talk here about defining liberalism. I say it’s a vast phenomenon. Zippy Catholic says it’s a simple principle that’s now injected into everything. Let’s […]

  • Mike T says:

    TomD,

    There are plenty of occasions where it is morally necessary to support a liberal authority, so your “simplification” is simply wrong. That is to be expected as most grossly generalized statements about a complex subject such as supporting authority will be wrong.

    This issue is not just one of supporting the 2A, but also supporting the concrete measures by which liberal authorities can legally destroy effective private self-defense and create a worse situation for society. I response to your point about Zippy, I’ll note that one thing that he and several people here do on subjects like this is simply drop other aspects of the issue. In this case, one aspect is that even outside of a liberal society there is a clear question of precisely how far and when a legitimate authority can disarm people. I contend that that is naturally much more limited than you probably think for much the same reason that the cases where an authority can licitly seize property, take food off the table and other essentials from people. The very idea that arms are not necessary for self-defense and flourishing is a particularly modern idea since the level of criminality today is actually substantially lower than it was just a few centuries ago.

  • Mike T says:

    And Wood, when you examine the broader issue which is the limits of authority WRT limiting armed self-defense it becomes a far messier picture. It’s easy to rip at the 2A due to its liberal metaphysical baggage, but the fact is that it is the best thing we have to concretely prevent legal measures that could very well lead to tragedy.

    I think the scoffers here who worry about cooperating with liberals on this point are ignoring the bigger issue which is what happens if they support repealing the 2A prior to a societal shift against liberalism and they are objectively guilty of providing cooperation to murderous liberal leaders.

  • Mike T says:

    From where I stand, y’all are behaving like libertarians. Grasping at whatever you can, not accepting that things must move in particular orders and if they don’t unintended consequences are eminently foreseeable. You want to attack the US Constitution? Start with the first amendment, not the amendment that is literally giving the low man legal access to weaponry that prevents him from being murdered.

  • Mike T says:

    The behavior seems an awful lot like going up to Trump and explaining to him that he should not listen to Mattis on torture because Mattis is consequentialist. Do you really think God is going to honor that or damn you to hell for convincing Trump that he should disregard Mattis and reconsider torture?

  • Wood says:

    Mike T,

    “when you examine the broader issue”

    But that’s exactly the point of contention. I see the admonishment to “put your theories aside – don’t you see this is War!!” in many different places, and it almost always is used to cover some evil. I’m not meaning to scoff, and I think I understand where you are coming from. But when I hear

    “Grasping at whatever you can, not accepting that things must move in particular orders and if they don’t unintended consequences are eminently foreseeable”

    that just sounds to me like the same old rationalizations all versions of liberalism play against one another.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Looks to me like you would deploy any rationalization at all when it comes to this particular subject. To you, any polity which restricts or ever has restricted personal weapon ownership is acting unjustly. The conclusion is obviously all that you care about.

  • TomD says:

    Salvation by right-liberalism is salvation only for liberalism itself, it just perpetuates the cycle. A non-principled exception for small arms is just another non-principled exception that perpetuates the cycle – even if it in some hypothetical calculus reduces total deaths somehow (for me the argument that it reduces total damnations would be much more powerful, probably still wrong though).

    I own guns. I’m a member of the NRA. Would I give up my guns if lawful authority took them away? Probably. I’ve lived in California, after all. Do I think guns are some magic evil? No. Do I think that everyone having them will prevent the evils of liberalism and leave only the “good”? Clearly not.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    There’s also the fact that there are people who are willing to move to countries in Europe that severely restrict/prohibit gun ownership if it means living a better, peaceful life.

    You may not accept their decision or their reasoning, but they’re not you.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    To you, any polity which restricts or ever has restricted personal weapon ownership is acting unjustly.

    Whether or not that is true, it has no bearing on this particular discussion and the things I’ve said here. What I’ve said has been put into a particular context and you’re drawing on previous discussions which I haven’t connected to this one.

    Aethelfrith,

    You may not accept their decision or their reasoning, but they’re not you.

    You’re right, they’re not. For one, I don’t believe in moving to a foreign land and then acting like I have a right to rape the native women and make the native men serve me. The majority of Muslim migrants to Europe are far closer to that description than against it. That is also why Europe is moving to the hard right and European sentiment on firearm ownership is moving toward expanding gun ownership. You can’t buy most guns in Austria right now. Know why? Out of stock because of demand.

    There’s also the fact that there are people who are willing to move to countries in Europe

    Europe is highly civilized, orderly and technologically advanced. It also has an overly generous welfare system. It is shocking–SHOCKING–that people from third world countries where indoor plumbing is still sometimes a radical concept might want to move to such a society.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    The fact that you consistently and desperately rationalize, characterize commenters who disagree with your foregone conclusion as Literally Hitler, and can’t let any discussion proceed without screeching about your personal obsessions, means that ‘discussing’ this with you is no more productive than ‘discussing’ male headship with a feminist. For you it is simply a priori that restrictions on personal weapon ownership are wrong, and that anyone who calls that into question materially supports Genocide and Other Really Bad Stuff, like Torturing Kittens [tm].

  • Aethelfrith says:

    For one, I don’t believe in moving to a foreign land and then acting like I have a right to rape the native women and make the native men serve me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_colonization_of_the_Americas

    It is shocking–SHOCKING–that people from third world countries where indoor plumbing is still sometimes a radical concept might want to move to such a society.

    The type of people who emigrate to Europe for a peaceful, better life includes Vox Day. And not a few First World SJW’s. But let’s set that issue aside for a moment.

    People like you complain that Syrian men aren’t doing more to fight for their country (when they aren’t complaining that Syria isn’t used as a facade for the current wave of migration to Europe). However the situation in Syria is every Red Dawn-watching American’s wet dream, a band of armed men shooting at their oppressors. And yet, given the choice of shooting their subhuman oppressors and… well, not doing so, many have opted for the latter. It could be because the latter group lacks the testicular fortitude to fight for a homeland, or it could be another reason– I can think of at least two. (1). If you shoot at someone, they tend to shoot back. (2). Syria is a pawn in a game of geopolitical chess just like the rest of the ME. Why be killed for the whims of some president in a far off land who no more cares about you than Mike T does?

  • “The type of people who emigrate to Europe for a peaceful, better life includes Vox Day. And not a few First World SJW’s.”

    Is that supposed to be some kind of recommendation for Europe? I’m not sure which sounds less appealing, the hoards of immigrants, Vox Day, or a bunch of first world SJW’s?

  • Aethelfrith says:

    Insanity:

    Here is the thread of discussion. (If you want to skip this summary, go to the bolded portion at the end).

    Mike opens with his usual thesis on his point that gun ownership is a sacred right which, if you’ve followed him all this time, acts mainly as an insurance policy against tyranny. (If you’ve been following Zippy for a while, the attitude that all authority is abuse/tyranny is fundamentally liberal, leading to all sorts of neuro/psychoses… not to mention plain ol’ sin).

    I countered by saying that there are people who, given the choice of shooting at their actual, existential enemies in their homeland and quitting that noise for a new home–but one that isn’t gun-friendly like America–many choose the latter. I left out that some DO choose America. Of course the practical difficulty of crossing an ocean is why it is not a viable choice for some.

    Mike of course counters by saying “dur hur hur Darkies can’t indoor plumbing and rape da white wimmenz” but I pointed out that people immigrating for a peaceful, better life include Vox Day and screaming leftists every time a Republican takes over.

    To answer your question, this isn’t some recommendation for resettling in Europe. It’s just me pointing out that Mike’s sacred cow of gun ownership betrays his parochial American views. I also pointed out that mass migrants raping native women and enslaving native men is neither new, nor restricted to Muslim invaders–hence the link to European colonization of the Western Hemisphere.

  • (If you’ve been following Zippy for a while, the attitude that all authority is abuse/tyranny is fundamentally liberal, leading to all sorts of neuro/psychoses… not to mention plain ol’ sin).

    If that is Zippy’s view, than I quite enthusiastically agree. That really is the nature of the beast.

    In America, under the best of circumstances, there is always this challenging dichotomy between our somewhat healthy spirit of defiance, “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and embracing authority

  • TomD says:

    The frontier was, if not an antidote, at least a preventative for many years against the most virulent results of liberalism. Once the frontier disappeared, the worst aspects began to assert themselves.

    Or maybe another way to put it – liberalism works if there is at most one person in the polity. But then again, so would any politics at that point, whether coherent or not.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    The frontier was, if not an antidote, at least a preventative for many years against the most virulent results of liberalism.

    I disagree. If we take only the American example, the frontiersmen were the liberals of the time escaping their rightful rulers’ authority. The authoritarianism that comes after a new territory is settled is just Hobbesian-Machiavellian liberalism playing itself out.

  • Zippy says:

    Whatever the case, the closest ‘perfect’ liberal polity consists of only one person and his triumphant Will, subject to no earthly authority or obligations whatsoever that he does not choose for himself. Of course he is still ruled by that tyrant Nature, whom he cannot ever escape. But completed individual isolated narcissistic solipsism is the ‘ideal’.

    Once you add in a second person, though, actual politics (actual authoritative binding discriminatory choice) becomes necessary and it all falls apart. There are no ‘purely’ liberal polities, polities free of all authoritative discriminatory unprincipled exceptions. That is why liberalism always has to resort to incoherent ‘social contract’ / ‘consent of the governed’ implicit consent mythologies in order to self-justify its own exercise of discriminating authority.

  • TomD says:

    Aethelfrith – that’s exactly why the worst results were abated; the “low man” was exiled instead of killed. In no way was it good; but it was at least not quite as murderous (which I guess is in a way worse, as it makes it harder to see how bad it was and therefore people dream of going back to those days).

    If the frontiersmen had been entirely either slaves escaping or slavers escaping it would be harder to “glorify” the “good old days” (the good old days are the days before the natural results of your favorite sin kicked in, I think, in most cases).

  • TomD says:

    Zippy, don’t forget that the gravity is a social construct hoax of 20 years ago will be the dogma of tomorrow. Nature itself must fall to the power of the triumphant Will!

  • Aethelfrith says:

    TomD,

    the “low man” was exiled instead of killed

    In the scenario I’m describing, the king does not fit any liberal mold; he is not a “superman” and the exiles are not “low men.” I don’t get what point you’re trying to make with the exiles being slaves or slavers. Certainly, the Haitian Revolution was terrible, but unlike Alt-Right partisans, I argue the reason it was terrible wasn’t because the revolutionaries were African, but because they were the Children of Israel* without God and Moses.

    *The Exodus is a great counterpoint to the “freedom uber alles” crowd because the freedom they were granted was not the freedom to do as they please, but freedom from a wicked kingdom that wanted them dead. Case in point–once given their freedom, the first thing they did was to worship false gods, then spent the next forty years complaining that they weren’t enslaved.

  • Well, total solipsism I’m sure, but one reason why men armed themselves on the frontier was to enforce their authority, so as to protect women and children and build a society. Many were answering to a Higher Authority, engaging in altruism, creating and building culture.

    “Whatever the case, the closest ‘perfect’ liberal polity consists of only one person and his triumphant Will….”

    So, gunslingers, cattle thieves, and assorted tyrants? People we just hung outright in the olden days? Sorry, just a jest.

    I agree with the premise, I see evidence of one person’s triumphant will lurking behind many liberal ideas. It is like a never ending power struggle of endless personal projection. Someone in the office is allergic to perfume, we must ban all scents and fragrances as a great evil. Someone was once offended by a church, now anyone who wears a cross triggers me, so we must ban crosses. And so it goes from the mundane and every day things to the huge and political.

    That “triumphant will” will even conquer biological truth itself if given half a chance. So gender is now fluid, male and female is just a social construct, and we can now create designer babies by splicing 3 way DNA for 3 way marriages.

  • Mike T says:

    I disagree. If we take only the American example, the frontiersmen were the liberals of the time escaping their rightful rulers’ authority. The authoritarianism that comes after a new territory is settled is just Hobbesian-Machiavellian liberalism playing itself out.

    That’s actually not fair to say about them. The majority of settlers actually went out and colonized the land directly in accordance with federal law (ex the homesteading regulations) and accepted federal authority over their territory. However, there is a lot of overlap between the underlying personality traits that appeal to liberalism and those that appeal to colonization far outside of the rest of civil society. On the frontier, authority is much more basic, primal and natural than in a highly developed civil society. It is the perfect place for a liberal to have his cake and eat it to in terms of accepting certain authority that appeals to him and others that do not.

  • Mike T says:

    The point about rightful rules does raise an interesting point that will probably be relevant in 100 years or so if space technology continues to progress. What right does a ruler have to prevent subjects from leaving the realm and colonizing another land that has no legitimate authority over it? If colonists land on an Earth-like world and it takes a legitimate authority on Earth 50-100 years to reach them, there are legitimate questions to how such an authority can claim direct authority to govern them politically. And it would take much before the people there are sufficiently alienated and differentiated as a people, having their own hierarchy of authority that an authority that once claimed them could actually continue to press a legitimate claim of political authority since the polity is now effectively separated.

  • Step2 says:

    Zippy,
    That is why liberalism always has to resort to incoherent ‘social contract’ / ‘consent of the governed’ implicit consent mythologies in order to self-justify its own exercise of discriminating authority.

    It seems clear to me that constitutional monarchies are social contracts in a literal sense. Even if you disagree with Hobbes about the implied social contract between an absolute sovereign and his subjects, in particular his main focus regarding a collective protection of life but not say, liberty, it seems to me resistance to a ruler who intentionally leaves his subjects exposed to the State of Nature could be easily explained by natural law considerations anyway.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    Labeling the disparate moral obligations of ruler and ruled (in whatever levels or regions of the social fractal) a ‘contract’ is an obvious Orwellian lie, with the equally obvious Orwellian purpose of making authority in human relationships (in reality a matter of objective morality independent of what anyone in particular might wish to be the case) appear to be a mutual free choice of generically equal rights-bearing individuals (a “contract”).

  • Step2 says:

    Zippy,

    While the obligations are disparate, clearly, they contain a degree of reciprocity between those involved which is what makes it like a contract. I view it the same way theists talk about the convertibility of the transcendentals, which in my view is an imperfect conversion. If the natural law rights to resistance and migration are granted then there is an innate ability to break the contract whether the contract is implicit or explicit or made under mutually free choices or not or otherwise promotes or hinders generic equality.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    Again, the ‘contract’ nonsense is just obviously an Orwellian attempt to inject ‘contract like’ features – voluntariness/consent, invalidity of whatever is nonexplicit, etc – into authority, as pretext for rebellion. Frankly it is only marginally more plausible, and that just on the very surface for the gullible, than 2+2=5.

    If the natural law rights to resistance and migration are granted …

    I don’t grant that at all, at least not in the sense most people mean when they say it. Resistance of authority is only morally licit under just war type criteria, and migration – while possibly easier to justify than resistance or war – is not justifiable in some plenary sense. Migration is abandonment of community and often family; while this can sometimes be justified I am certain beyond any doubt that many modern day migrants are, as a matter of objective morality, engaged in a dereliction of their duty to their home communities and peoples.

    In short, the fact that all human authority has limits is an easy motte. Of course all human authority (moral capacity to oblige subjects in particular matters) has limits. The horseshit subjectivist voluntarist baggage that liberals attempt to inject into the subject of authority with their contract and consent language, though, is an obvious, detestable, rebellious bailey worthy of contempt.

  • Step2 says:

    Zippy,
    I’m not sure how to respond to your apparent allergy to my way of speaking, which I’m fairly sure is similar to how most people in America talk about political theory. It is like telling someone to stop speaking with their normal accent because it reminds you of something terrible. As for content, I’ve denied that social contracts must include explicit consent, nor have I claimed the invalidity of nonexplicit rules, and Hobbes famously believed civil war was equivalent to a State of Nature and this is why he gave the sovereign absolute authority in order to prevent such a tragedy.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    It is just the usual motte-and-bailey situation: liberal social contract or consent-of-the-governed theories either mean something true but uninteresting or they mean something interesting but false.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    Possibly OT, but I found this gem on Reddit that perfectly encapsulates the struggle between liberalism and real life detritus hitting the fan:

    I personally believe in voluntary euthanasia for those serving a life sentence.

    Execution removes a person’s right to live, whereas imprisonment at least in theory is only meant to remove someone’s freedom and autonomy.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    Just to clarify (and because there isn’t an edit button), killing myself in prison is OK because that is what my Will as the Self-Choosing Superman is, but being killed for my crime is a gross infringement on me and therefore is evil.

    By the way, if you haven’t, do read Crime and Punishment. THEMATIC SPOILER: Repentance is awful, horrible and shreds your “dignity” to pieces, but it is so, so, soooooo much better than the alternative.

  • Mike T says:

    A man who is doing life and wants someone to kill him won’t have much difficulty finding that. What they really want is a socially sanctioned method. Like pretty much how they want societal approval for everything.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    If they were hardcore superliberals, they wouldn’t need anyone’s approval.

    You raise an interesting point–wanting to be transgressive while wanting Daddy to like it makes liberals have the maturity of bratty teenagers.

  • “..killing myself in prison is OK because that is what my Will as the Self-Choosing Superman is, but being killed for my crime is a gross infringement on me and therefore is evil.”

    Aethelfrith makes a really good point. I live in liberal utopia. Abortion,assisted suicide, death with dignity, you name it. As long as it’s about “your will,” it’s going to be a good thing. Try to get someone suicidal hospitalized however, and suddenly it’s hey, they have rights. You can’t interfere with their will. That would be wrong,immoral.

  • Mike T says:

    Aethelfrith,

    The left is about two things today on social issues: forced acceptance and placating people’s mental illness and emotional insecurity. When you look at it from that perspective, not only does most of their behavior make sense, but it becomes almost tragic how little of their “agenda” is actually required by their ideology so much as personal problems. For example, gay marriage was a done deal before Obergefel because virtually all of the legal and cultural substance of gay marriage could be acquired without forcing anything on anyone. Literally almost every aspect of the activism that lead up to that ruling and since is entirely about crushing dissent and making people “accept it.” The pendulum will swing back. Some liberals are even noticing that this activism has alienated at least 40% of the population and that is enough to move us from “we’re here, we’re queer” to “you’re queer? That’ll be 20 years, a felony record, lifetime registration as a sex offender and chemical castration if we’re unsure how legal some of your partners were.”

  • Terry Morris says:

    “Some liberals are even noticing that this activism has alienated at least 40% of the population and that is enough to move us from “we’re here, we’re queer” to “you’re queer? That’ll be 20 years, a felony record, lifetime registration as a sex offender and chemical castration if we’re unsure how legal some of your partners were.””

    I have been saying for at least 20 yrs that homosexuals in particular are a lot better off in the closet where they belong.

  • Epimetheus says:

    “Knowing that liberalism is definitely and demonstrably incoherent doesn’t commit us to any particular illiberal theory of authority, and there is probably an infinite number of possible illiberal theories of authority.”

    Coming up with a definitive theory of authority would just be “politics as an engineering problem” sneaking back in under a new disguise, no?

    That might return us to the same feed-crap-into-sausage-machine-and-get-quality-sausage-out thinking that America was built on.

  • Mike T says:

    Epimetheus,

    It is important to look at the competing theories of illiberal governance and remove the ones that are incompatible with our cultural heritage or that have a likelihood of creating serious problems in their own right. We should also not be afraid to put forward ideas on how to improve upon the past lest we become the sort of conservatives Chesterton was referring to when he (paraphrasing) said that the role of the radical is to commit error and the role of the conservative is to prevent past errors from being fixed.

    I have for a while thought that applying the Principle of Least Privilege to political authority as a guiding principle is imperative for an advanced society today. Like the golden rule, it does not give us a specific course of action, but sets the principle upon which a course of action is decided.

  • Mike T says:

    One good thing about this election is that all of the liberals screaming “not my President” at Trump are demonstrating the internal logic of the “consent of the governed” to everyone else. They don’t consent, therefore Trump is magically no authority over them. Except that he is, has the backing of at least half of the public and a security apparatus that accepts the process that makes him their chief executive.

    *Pops popcorn* this is going to be a fun four years.

  • Step2 says:

    Mike T,
    It would clearly be unpresidented to call for mass resistance or even rebellion against duly elected authority.

  • Mike T says:

    One source of lulz from this is how the Stein recounts are calling into question how much of the popular vote in Michigan she actually won. Seems they’re finding all sorts of voting “irregularities” in some of the heavy Democratic districts. I’m sure that’s all fear mongering. As well all know, Clinton would never personally endorse rigged elections.

  • Terry Morris says:

    Step2, you mean to say Trump was violently against the electoral college before he was rabidly for it?!

    This stuff is amusing if nothing else. But of course Trump isn’t the only one who all of a sudden flipflopped on the electoral college thing. Indeed virtually all (with one or two exceptions) of my “conservative” friends and relatives told me in no uncertain terms before the election that “the electoral college has got to go!” Miraculously now it is greatest thing since sliced bread. Or something.

    The problem with unprincipled exceptions of course, is, well, they’re unprincipled thus built on shaky ground and the impulse of passion. It’s still undemocratic and illiberal, so EC will have to go.

  • GJ says:

    Mike T:

    One good thing about this election is that all of the liberals screaming “not my President” at Trump are demonstrating the internal logic of the “consent of the governed” to everyone else. They don’t consent, therefore Trump is magically no authority over them.

    I’m anticipating the emergence of (white) leftists sovereign citizen movements in this retrograde phase of Liberalism’s march.

    It’s high time Rebellion was Made Great Again!

  • Mike T says:

    They’ve already been manifesting their particular form of violent rebellion, so I doubt it. I would sooner personally expect a wave of suicides than sovereign citizen nonsense out of them. The precious snowflakes seem more unhinged every month.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    Even though it will kinda screw me as a resident over, I hope CalExit happens. That will ensure the Democrats losing the next presidential election.

  • Terry Morris says:

    As I understand it Hillary won the popular vote by 2.4 million votes. She won California by 4.4 million, or something like that. So, yeah, losing California would swing the vote totals back in favor of the Republicrats and create huge electoral college landslides in their favor as well. All things else being equal.

  • Hrodgar says:

    If it does, we would likely have the even more amusing sight of, in the manner of West Virginia, chunks of California trying to secede back into the Union.

  • Step2 says:

    Mike T,
    The complaints about irregularities aren’t all fear mongering but they would benefit from some more supporting evidence. When voting errors are that widespread there does need to be some sort of follow up audit, which is what they are doing. On the other hand the average overcount was about 3 per precinct and the average undercount was about 2 per precinct, which if it was intentional seems like a very limited way of committing fraud. In Detroit 87 voting machines broke on election night so the chances of another machine registering an incorrect total isn’t entirely outside the realm of mechanical malfunction although human error of some type does seem more likely.

    Terry Morris,
    I was mostly looking for a comedic opportunity to use Trump’s neologism, it has the elements of a prophetic meaning about it which is quite rare in my opinion.

  • GJ says:

    Step2:

    For the life of me I can’t see SJWs successfully rebelling against Trump.

    But if they did it would only prove Zippy’s observation that they’re just the same in essence as the original rebelling patriarchs.

  • Step2 says:

    GJ,
    Machiavelli wept.

  • Mike T says:

    If Machiavelli were alive today, he’d be like a kid in a candy store seeing the state of Western politics and how ripe for strong leadership it is.

    Another interesting aspect of this election is all of the nonsense about “fake news.” Most genuine “fake news” only works because people are either stupid (nothing can fix that) or want reinforcement in their echo chamber on social media. The real “fake news” that is pernicious is what the MSM puts out because it’s a heaping dose of truth mixed with lies and unnecessary bias. For example, the outlets that deliberately reframed Conway’s comments about how she didn’t want to balance a life in the WH with raising four kids under twelve into her saying that mothers qua mothers have no business in the WH on the President’s team. Separating truth from fiction in an argument is generally harder than identifying whether something is just right or wrong.

    I am certain that this is why most of my liberal acquaintances are scared to death of defamation laws being tightened up, even marginally. They’re accustomed to “my feelings justify what I call you” as opposed to “I think you are a ‘racist, sexist, homophobic shitbag’ [as Scalzi is wont to call people] and here is why I think that based on a preponderance of the evidence from your own words and deeds.” They’ve made their side a target-rich environment for defamation accusations.

  • TomD says:

    If anyone’s bored, you can watch the Hegelian Mambo live in realtime on Reddit – search for “classical liberalism” and watch as the right moves left by the left moving right!

  • […] to advance on the imprisoning barriers of authority: thus liberalism is, at its very foundations, a political doctrine.  In an individual mind it may be theoretically possible to keep liberty locked in a box; as […]

  • GJ says:

    I’m anticipating the emergence of (white) leftists sovereign citizen movements in this retrograde phase of Liberalism’s march.

    ——

    They’ve already been manifesting their particular form of violent rebellion, so I doubt it. I would sooner personally expect a wave of suicides than sovereign citizen nonsense out of them. The precious snowflakes seem more unhinged every month.

    The Oath Keepers group has an interesting piece on the various groups involved in leftists protest, with the most relevant bit being:

    The anarchists are by far the most dangerous of these groups. They are organized like militias. They actively train and practice their operations. They have discipline and zero tolerance for weakness. They have a number of former military personnel providing expertise to enhance security, logistics and martial arts capabilities. The majority are physical fit, military age males. They are primarily white with few minority members. Their leadership tends to be either former military, a proven leader from the occupy movement or a highly educated alpha-male. They are far more capable than their recent activities would demonstrate. They have formed community defense organizations and are idolized for their willingness to take action from the other groups discussed above.

  • GJ says:

    The link is here.

  • […] ourselves, every time we are tempted to use a phrase like “Bob has the freedom to do X” in a political context we should substitute “Bob has the authority to insist that everyone else must obediently […]

  • […] to invoke the proper object of liberal doctrine, less monoauthoritatively. Through the conceit that liberalism can politely […]

  • […] considered purely in itself, as an abstracted idea to which nobody is committed even as a kind of default, doesn’t cause […]

  • […] liberal war on authoritative particularity arises from its commitment to political liberty framed in terms of rights: arises from the fact that […]

  • […] is (as a specifically political doctrine) , at least in its more advanced forms, an attempt to reduce this transcendent social […]

  • […] human beings. And if the community isn’t going to be intrinsically sociopathic, that means understanding and unequivocally rejecting political […]

  • […] self created through reason and will, occupying a neutral and tolerant public square emancipated politically from the conflicts of tradition, nature, religion, class, […]

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