Monday, December 28, 2009

What happens if liberals don't like our choices?

Here's another example of how liberalism doesn't work coherently. Liberals argue that they are going to create a free, autonomous, self-determining individual, who is not impeded in his individual choice.

But this attempt to maximise individual autonomy means that the individual must not be limited by what he hasn't chosen for himself - such as his gender and ethnicity. So liberals then set out to make gender and ethnicity not matter in an individual's life choices.

But this then means that liberals cannot accept what individuals choose for themselves. They cannot, for instance, accept men and women choosing different career paths or choosing to socialise at times in single-sex clubs. If they did it would mean admitting that gender does matter.

So liberals end up restricting individual choice or working to overcome it. There was a strikingly clear case of this back in November. A young woman, Erin Maitland, noticed that her female friends did not want to go on overseas tours because of the "boozy, bed-hopping" culture of these mixed-sex tours. So she set up a travel company to organise tours for groups of women.

This seems reasonable enough. And, anyway, if a group of women want to travel together rather than with men then that's their right, isn't it?

Not any more. Erin's tour company was disallowed by Judge Marilyn Harbison under the Equal Opportunities Act as a violation of human rights (I kid you not):

Her application was opposed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which said it could conflict with Victoria's Charter of Human Rights.

Judge Harbison said that her application stereotyped men's behaviour.

"The exemption ... cannot be justified on human rights principles".

I can't help but think of this as an intrusive, unnecessary limitation on what we are allowed to choose to do.  And yet I'm supposed to accept it as a defence of my human rights, equal opportunities and as an anti-discrimination measure.

Here's another recent example of liberal principles at work. There are more men than women who choose to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This would not come as a great shock to most people. Men and women are not the same in their natures; men are generally more inclined (from early boyhood onwards) to an interest in soldiering.

But the fact that men and women choose differently when it comes to military service is now thought of as a problem that must be overcome. Gender must be made not to matter:

The Defence Force has completed 18 months of intensive research to find out why women are reluctant to join the military...

Minister for Defence Personnel Greg Combet said that while women made up 35.4 per cent of the Australian workforce, they comprised only 13.4 per cent of the 50,000 defence personnel and that had to change.

So how is it to be done? In part by reorganising the armed forces so that it's an attractive occupation for mothers with children:

Childcare and generous maternity leave will be offered, along with job sharing and part-time work when women return after having a baby ... Under the plan, policies will be overhauled to ensure that pregnant women are not discriminated against. (Herald Sun, 20/11/09)

Those in charge are willing to make "systemic" changes to the ADF to get the results they want:

Defence Personnel Minister Greg Combet said cultural change was at the heart of the new action plan. "We need to overcome some of the systemic, cultural, attitudinal and behavioural obstacles with the ADF," Mr Combet said.

Whether all this is actually good for the armed forces is not even considered. Again, the emphasis is on working to overcome a discrepancy in choice made by men and women. Liberals can't accept the choices that people actually do make and so work hard to "overcome" the "obstacles" of culture, attitude and behaviour that lead to the "wrong outcomes" in the way people choose to live.

So liberalism ends up restricting individual choice - the very opposite of what it claimed it would achieve. This isn't because liberals have strayed from the true liberal path, but because they have tried to push their way further along it. The more they insist on individual autonomy and self-determination as a sole, overriding good, the more they have to repress and overcome choices which reflect our given natures as men and women, as members of distinct communities and so on.

103 comments:

  1. I can't believe that even a relatively right wing organisation like the Australian Ministry of Defence is pushing this kind of dogmatic left liberalism.

    Putting ideology before realism is a very dangerous path in a high stakes business like national defence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent post Mark. I have to say I was chuckling.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think your problem is conceiving of Liberalism in Classical-Liberal terms. It looks a lot more coherent if you accept that the aim of modern 'Liberalism' is the Gramscian 'long march through the institutions', with the aim being the wholesale destruction of Western civilisation. Post-WW2 Liberalism as cultural Marxism is entirely coherent, from what I can see.

    Do they want us to be free? No, they want us to die.

    Now, Frankfurt School Marxism was structured to take advantage of certain weaknesses within the philosophical framework of classical Liberalism; in particular as it was practiced in the USA and by extension the Anglosphere and north-west Europe. But classical Liberalism is not the dominant ideology; indeed classical Liberals like Margaret Thatcher and John Howard are often called 'fascists' and 'reactionaries' by those in power.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Frankfurt School Marxists arrived late in the scene. They weren't the ones who initiated what we see around us now.

    Don't discount the hold of liberalism on the political class. Most Labor and Liberal Party types self-identify as liberals. The twentieth century leaders of these parties were brought up on thinkers like Locke and Mill.

    And the longer term trend in Western history has been toward a flawed ideal of "equal freedom" (think even of the French Revolutionary slogan of "liberty, equality, fraternity" - where were the Frankfurt School Marxists back then?)

    It's not that I think that the formal beliefs of political liberalism are the whole story. But they are often used as the selling point of "progressive" politics and they do have a power in the minds of many who should be defenders of their own tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't think we have a major disagreement.

    "The Frankfurt School Marxists arrived late in the scene. They weren't the ones who initiated what we see around us now"

    No - but they, following Gramsci's lead, exploited structural weaknesses within the framework of classical Lockean liberalism. Starting in the '60s, but really only in the last 20 years, their acolytes successfully hollowed out the classical-liberal structures of Western (esp Anglo) society and replaced it with cultural-Marxist norms whose origins owe more to Rousseau than to Locke.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A thread on Gramscian philosophy vs the Frankfurt school might be useful to your reads, Mark.

    I wasn't able to understand the exchange that just occurred.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The leftist school may be increasingly influential but I think its still presented as an "alternative" to the mainstream (liberal view).

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with Michael Savage's opinion that Liberalism is a mental illness. Amen!

    ReplyDelete
  9. A thread on Gramscian philosophy vs the Frankfurt school might be useful to your reads, Mark.

    Before doing so, perhaps somebody, anybody on this thread might consider actually reading the Frankfurt school, rather than relying on a summary of the Wiki article.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In regards to this post I guess the left wing argument would go something like the affirmative action argument. We can't impose equality in an unequal society so we have to "encourage" equality through special status for groups. Though in this case its women's right to exclusively associate in a social setting rather than a work or political environment. Legal protection of socialising seems about as stupid as legal denying of socialising. So are the women's only gyms next? I think people don't mind high minded politics until it really starts to impinge on their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Before doing so, perhaps somebody, anybody on this thread might consider actually reading the Frankfurt school, rather than relying on a summary of the Wiki article.

    Anon, if you really have some higher insights to contribute then do so. Prove yourself. Don't just adopt a posture.

    Most of the posts I write are based on primary source materials. When I rely on secondary sources (as with Professor Elshtain), then I make it clear that I'm doing so.

    If you think these secondary sources are wrong, then contribute your thoughts. But don't be arrogant about it - there's no law written in the sky that your anonymous point of view is to be immediately accepted as the correct one.

    I'm not going to stop using secondary sources. If a professor writes something of interest on the history of philosophy, then I'll cite it. And I'd then be happy to read anyone who expresses disagreement.

    But no undergraduate posturing, please.

    ReplyDelete
  12. A lot of defenders of classical liberalism keep falling into the trap of saying that left liberalism isn't liberalism, ie, it isn't about individual autonomy, when even a cursory reading of Marx or Rousseau says the exact opposite. This is one of the reasons why classical liberalism has failed to hold off or reverse the left liberal advance.

    Left liberalism is a type of radical liberalism, and the only way for the right to combate it is to accept this and provide real provable counter arguments to show why equality of outcome is neither obtainable or desireable.

    Clearly the mainstream right either agrees with the left liberal premise of gender equality or is to scared to speak up against it - either way this doens't make it a very effective ally in containing left liberalism.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anon, if you really have some higher insights to contribute then do so. Prove yourself. Don't just adopt a posture.

    I don't think you're the worst offender Mark, but you did recently produce an egregious misreading of Sartre, and have previously reduced modern art to Duchamp's urinal. Added to that, you have commenters above who have clearly never read either Gramsci or the Frankfurt school, still less understood their ideas, and another commenter who's conflating Rousseau and Marx (!) with 'liberalism'. It's symptomatic of a broader problem - Anglophone conservatives don't know a thing about Continental thought, other than that they hate it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "another commenter who's conflating Rousseau and Marx (!) with 'liberalism'."

    Rosseau and Marx grew out of liberalism.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Rosseau and Marx grew out of liberalism.

    Jesse, you've obviously read neither of these authors. Rousseau grew out of romanticism. Marx was explicitly opposed to liberals and liberalism. And you've illustrated my point above.

    ReplyDelete
  16. but you did recently produce an egregious misreading of Sartre, and have previously reduced modern art to Duchamp's urinal

    I think this comment itself is an "egregious misreading". I have never reduced modern art to Duchamp's urinal. I have pointed out that a large number of experts voted it the most influential work of modernist art.

    And I quoted a respected academic's reading of Sartre. You disagreed with this reading and I replied to your disagreement.

    ReplyDelete
  17. They were both opposed to middle class liberalism but grew out of it. I'll crack Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" and get back to you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You write:

    "So liberalism ends up restricting individual choice—the very opposite of what it claimed it would achieve. This isn't because liberals have strayed from the true liberal path, but because they have tried to push their way further along it. The more they insist on individual autonomy and self-determination as a sole, overriding good, the more they have to repress and overcome choices which reflect our given natures as men and women, as members of distinct communities and so on."

    It seems to me that if there's a single. non-contradictory principle that explains the transition from individual choice to the repression of individual choice, it's this: any natural or inherited group category external to the self cannot be allowed to matter in the choices people make.

    You have often emphasized individual choice or self-autonomy as the leading principle of liberalism. But now it appears that this is not so, since, as you point out, free individual choice is barred if people make choices based on sex or ethnicity. It turns out that individual choice was only allowed insofar as it helped advance the highest value of liberalism. The highest value of liberalism is that nothing external to the self such as sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion can be a factor in our choices. So long as people were making lots of liberated individual choices that went against traditional sexual and ethnic attachments, then individual choice was helping advance the liberal program and was celebrated. But once liberated individual choice has accomplished its task of weakening traditional group attachments and making non-discrimination the actual ruling principle of society, then individual choice must itself give way to that ruling principle. If more males than females choose to join the military, then sex is a factor in people's choices, and that cannot be allowed. If women choose to go on a holiday with a tour group that consists of only women, then sex is a factor in their choice and that cannot be allowed.

    Again, if self-autonomy is the highest value, and is then prohibited, that would make the process contradictory. I am suggesting that the process is not contradictory. I am suggesting that it is not the case that a belief in individual autonomy as the highest value morphs into its opposite, resulting in the prohibition of individual choice. Rather, individual choice was never the highest value. The highest value, from the start, was the banishment of all natural or inherited group categories outside the self that could be a basis on which any discriminating choice might be made. The ruling principle, which reveals the transformation of individual-choice liberalism into quotas-based collectivism to be non-contradictory, is the principle of non-discrimination.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My argument here is analogous to the one I made in the entry, "Why is liberalism both liberationist and totalitarian?":

    "Sexual liberationism is the means of weakening one of the principal bases of traditional order--i.e., the family--that serves as an alternative to bureaucratic and state control. The general idea is that the left-liberal state must be totalitarian in relation to everything that comes within its own purview, but libertarian in relation to everything that comes within the purview of other sources of order, such as the rule of law, traditional manners and self-restraint, family, church, ethnic nationhood, national sovereignty, and so on. For example, liberalism wants to supplant the nation-state with a global bureaucratic state; so it 'liberates' individuals from any connection to the nation-state, via open borders, mass influxes of unassimilable foreigners, cultural rights for minorities, and so on, all of which has the effect of radically weakening the nation-state and ultimately canceling it out of existence.

    "Thus the paradox or double standard implicit in the original question—why is liberalism libertarian in some areas, and totalitarian in others?—turns out to be not a paradox or double standard at all, but the rationally consistent activity of liberalism in building up its own authority and destroying all traditional sources of authority that stand in its way."

    Applying the above reasoning to the present discussion, individual choice is allowed insofar as it weakens traditional attachments to categories external to the self, but is prohibited insofar as it strengthens traditional attachments to categories external to the self. The overriding goal is to weaken traditional attachments, and replace them by bureaucratic and state control.

    I’d be curious to hear what Mark thinks about this.

    ReplyDelete
  20. So free choice is the sometimes allowed means rather than the end.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Doesn't this apply more to left than right liberals? Many right liberals don't necessarily want large bureaucracies or large immigrant intakes.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Lawrence Auster,

    I'll need some time to think through your comments.

    You wrote of the apparent contradiction as being, in fact,

    "the rationally consistent activity of liberalism in building up its own authority and destroying all traditional sources of authority that stand in its way."

    This does read well. It makes sense.

    But it then brings into focus the issue of what liberals see as legitimate sources of authority and why.

    It's a strong argument that I'll have to chew over for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anon:
    "still less understood their ideas, and another commenter who's conflating Rousseau and Marx (!) with 'liberalism'."

    Heh - I spent 5 years reading Rousseau, Locke and Kant as part of my PhD research, and most certainly they are all 'liberals', albeit different sorts of liberals. The rational, reasonable Locke was a big influence on the demoniacal Rousseau. And Rousseau influenced Marx, likewise.

    As far as terminology goes, American Marxists mostly call themselves 'left-liberals'. In Europe it's different; "liberal" or (more commonly) "neo-liberal" are terms used by the Left to describe the current mainstream "Right", ie classical liberals.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lawrence Auster - I wish you'd open your blog to direct commenting (that you could moderate) instead of the email system you use.

    Isn't it possible that Liberals DO hold autonomy as the highest goal, and yet impose the restrictions mentioned because they think that the people making the "bad" decisions have a "false consciousness" held over from the days when Liberals didn't hold sway?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous - you may be of the opinion that Mark's commenters must not only be conversant with the ideas of classic Liberalism, Gramscianism, and the Frankfurt School of Marxism, and more importantly the important differences, but also, have read Gramsci and Sartre directly (must we have read in the original language?), but I doubt Mark is of that opinion.

    I think it would benefit most readers here to have a quick rundown.

    Of course, it was Simon who brought up all these terms in his comment, not Mark, so perhaps that's asking too much.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think it would benefit most readers here to have a quick rundown.

    In general, I agree, however, some writers' works are not terrible amenable to a 'rundown', and some of the rundowns by commenters here have been extremely misleading. For instance, we have Simon above claiming that Rousseau was some kind of major influence on Marx, and that the pair are liberals; in reality, Marx may have been mildly influenced by Rousseau in his early years, but ceased referring to him thereafter, except for the occasional criticism. Moreover, for Marx, 'liberal' was a term of abuse. You wouldn't be aware of this if your only source was some dubious and deceptive 'rundown'.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "(must we have read in the original language?)"

    Hahaha.

    ReplyDelete
  28. If, as Lawrence Auster wrote, modern (left) liberalism seeks to destroy the institutions that lie outside itself, the institutions that compete with liberalism for authority, consider the implications for libertarianism. Libertarianism has a radically individualistic perspective. It does not argue in favor of any institutions that wield any authority over individuals, except for some bare minimum, necessary evil, national-defense-only government. Their only verbal defense of any institution of value (e.g. the family) is to assert that the institution would be fine if we had minimalist government. They fail to see the point of active support and defense of institutions (e.g. marriage).

    We have liberals attacking institutions and libertarians failing to even perceive the battle, because they only care about attacks on individual freedoms. They have no idea how lucky they are to live in a society still (partially) defended by conservatives. When one side fights a war and the other side does not show up, the outcome tends to be a little lopsided, to say the least.

    Conservatives should be aware that, while libertarians are sometimes temporary allies on particular issues, in the long run they are worthless in defending the institutions necessary to civilization.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Moreover, for Marx, 'liberal' was a term of abuse. You wouldn't be aware of this if your only source was some dubious and deceptive 'rundown'"

    And indeed as I said above that the European Left (following Marx) use it as a term of opprobrium, while the American right use it as a term of opprobrium too - and use it to mean different things. "Liberal" is not a consistently used term, I don't find it very useful and I never used it at all in my PhD - for my uses I contrasted Lockean "pragmatic individualism" with Rousseauean "romantic individualism", and contrasted both of these with communitarian and traditionalist philosophies.
    FWIW I classed Marxist-Leninism and Nazism as broadly "romantic-communitarian" and traditionalist Catholicism as pragmatic-communitarian, but they weren't the focus of my thesis.

    ReplyDelete
  30. But Marx-Lenin were not exactly romanticists, and the Nazis were no exactly communitarian.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Here's another example of an unpopular choice, Rhianna deciding to get back together with Chris Brown. I'm not saying it was a good or bad choice but it was certainly against the script and will no doubt affect her popularity.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous - why not take a name so we have some continuity in following your thoughts. (There's been only one anonymous on this thread, so far, but that's not usually the case.)

    Didn't Bertrand Russell say that Marxism and Nazism were 2 branches of the same thought (was it Liberalism)? He said Nazism was the romantic branch, which made more sense to me.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've read Rousseau, Satre, Beauvoir, Camus, Foucault, Derrida, some Situationists and others in French, so what?

    I believe Anon is deliberately sowing confusion about the term 'liberal.' Unless you are going to argue that modern liberals in the Anglosphere are not heavily influenced by Rousseau, Marx and Marcuse. Surely you know that this term means something different in different contexts.

    It is actually helpful and interesting if you point out discrepancies in what is written here about various thinkers and how you interpret their work. Or bring up quotes or works that refute some views. Or debate about the proper interpretation. But it is rather unhelpful and distracting for you to simply accuse everyone of not having read the source material and then tell them they have it all wrong.

    Some will read the original source others won't. If you think a specific understanding of it is wrong and explain your thinking that is rather interesting. I agree that reading what the writers wrote in full gives one better understanding.

    By all means, tell us what we have wrong about the Frankfurt School

    ReplyDelete
  34. Auster says,

    You have often emphasized individual choice or self-autonomy as the leading principle of liberalism. But now it appears that this is not so, since, as you point out, free individual choice is barred if people make choices based on sex or ethnicity. It turns out that individual choice was only allowed insofar as it helped advance the highest value of liberalism. The highest value of liberalism is that nothing external to the self such as sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion can be a factor in our choices. So long as people were making lots of liberated individual choices that went against traditional sexual and ethnic attachments, then individual choice was helping advance the liberal program and was celebrated. But once liberated individual choice has accomplished its task of weakening traditional group attachments and making non-discrimination the actual ruling principle of society, then individual choice must itself give way to that ruling principle. If more males than females choose to join the military, then sex is a factor in people's choices, and that cannot be allowed. If women choose to go on a holiday with a tour group that consists of only women, then sex is a factor in their choice and that cannot be allowed.

    There are many examples of the rule being that nothing external to the self such as sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion can be a factor in our choices if you are a white heterosexual male. "Good" groups (non-whites, gays, women) are allowed to use external factors in making choices - that's celebrating diversity! - while "bad" groups are not. This tour group is a curious exception to the rule - I would have expected them to let the little darlings have their way.

    With respect to the ADF, I am disappointed to see that the suicidal urge is so strong in Australia. Needless to say, anything that makes the military more women and children friendly makes it less effective as a fighting force.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Anon:
    "This tour group is a curious exception to the rule - I would have expected them to let the little darlings have their way"

    Women have always been at the very bottom of the cultural Marxist pecking order. Non-feminist women in particular. They're not even competitive (unlike black vs gay, say).

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oops the "anonymous" suggesting the other anonymous take a name was I.

    Irony.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Okay, I'll take a name for the sake of consistency.


    Didn't Bertrand Russell say that Marxism and Nazism were 2 branches of the same thought (was it Liberalism)? He said Nazism was the romantic branch, which made more sense to me.

    No. Go back to the source. Russell broadly describes two forms of 'rebellion' to 'traditional' thought, then goes on to explain that the Romantic form (from Rousseau to Byron, Schopenhauer and Hitler) is entirely different to the 'rationalist' form (passing from French revolutionaries to Marx). This is yet another example of reading things rather mischievously, as you've twisted Russell's position into the precise opposite of what he actually said.

    Unless you are going to argue that modern liberals in the Anglosphere are not heavily influenced by Rousseau, Marx and Marcuse. Surely you know that this term means something different in different contexts.

    Everywhere in the world other than the US has a perfectly clear definition of the word 'liberal'. In the US, the term has been conflated to mean a range of things, but the liberal tradition of political philosophy (which is what I take to be one of the blog author's main interests) - the tradition of Mill, Hayek, etc., has reasonably clear parameters.

    Secondly, I'm arguing precisely that 'modern liberals' are not much influenced by the authors you mentioned (though I'd grant that maybe a smidgeon of Rousseau could be in modern liberal thought).

    I know it must seem like pedantry for me to accuse others of misreading, but to me it is the height of arrogance for people to dismiss 2 centuries of thought on the basis of jaundiced and maliciously stupid interpretations of well-known authors.

    By all means, tell us what we have wrong about the Frankfurt School

    Mark didn't bring them up. Some of his commenters did. Basically, some lunatic conservatives in the US focused on the Frankfurt school some time ago, and since then, right-wingers whose knowledge of philosophy is limited to the blogosphere have made a whole range of idiotic and false assumptions about the Frankfurters. Firstly, we should be clear that the Frankfurt school had minimal to no influence in the Anglophone world for several decades. The idea that Frankfurters and Gramsci engineered some massive conspiracy is pure fantasy on the part of the more paranoid conservatives. The Frankfurters seldom engaged with Gramsci at all (the early members had probably not even heard of Gramsci), and the school's concerns were more philosophical than some attempt to hijack the department of education or some such. In fact, Adorno explicitly railed against government intervention in matters of culture, education etc., saying that such a bureaucratic approach leads to a diminished, 'administered' man. So right from the start, we see on this thread that there's a lot of mudslinging in the direction of Frankfurt, and a range of misconceptions that could have been cleared up with 5 minutes reading, rather than a reliance on rightist cranks on the looniesphere.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Anon Contrarian wrote,

    This is yet another example of reading things rather mischievously, as you've twisted Russell's position into the precise opposite of what he actually said.

    And this is yet another example of your throwing ad hominems despite numerous requests that you cease and desist. Cut...it...out.

    ReplyDelete
  39. to me it is the height of arrogance for people to dismiss 2 centuries of thought on the basis of jaundiced and maliciously stupid interpretations of well-known authors.

    The "height" of arrogance? No, I'm afraid that peak hasn't been scaled since the "Enlightenment", whose thinkers decided to throw out one and a half millenia of traditional Christian thought on the basis of their own minds alone. Talk about arrogance.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "a range of misconceptions that could have been cleared up with 5 minutes reading, rather than a reliance on rightist cranks on the looniesphere."

    Isn't it true, Anon Contrarian, that this kind of a comment has been typical of your correspondence on this blog? Isn't it true that rather than respond with concrete, decisive quotes from the sources of which you claim mastery, you instead repeatedly engage in ad hominem attacks and not so subtle digs against everyone on this blog?

    By the way, if you would like me to substantiate these charges by quoting you, I would be happy to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  41. So you want references on the Russell and Adorno? I'm happy to oblige if need be. As for the claims of ad hom - you're the one systematically distorting texts for your own purposes, then having a sook when you're called on it. Harden up.

    ReplyDelete
  42. But I would like to discuss one thing germane to the topic which you wrote:

    Russell broadly describes two forms of 'rebellion' to 'traditional' thought, then goes on to explain that the Romantic form (from Rousseau to Byron, Schopenhauer and Hitler) is entirely different to the 'rationalist' form (passing from French revolutionaries to Marx).

    Sure, I would agree that calling Marxists any kind of liberal can create misunderstanding. They are leftists. But the difference between leftist and liberal is not fundamental. They are both allies in rebellion against the transcendent order, and that is the relationship which traditional Christians mean when we conflate liberals and leftists, however technically inaccurate that is.

    Leftism is the rejection of transcendent truth and its replacement by some man-made order. Liberalism is a particular strand of that broader "rebellion" as you in quoting Russell put it, which has nominated the Individual Will for sacred cow status. Nazism talked instead about the Folkish Will; Marxism wanted rather the Workers' Will, and so on.

    All of them are linked in common rebellion, but I could see why someone would argue a special link between Nazism and Marxism, as both emphasized a general, collective will and differed merely in how to define the collective (and of course they differed a great deal on methods, but that isn't philosophy; that's just politics).

    To say, as you claim Russell does, that Marxism and Nazism are "entirely different" from each other reveals more about his perspective (or perhaps more accurately, your perspective?) than the ideologies themselves. Marxism, Nazism and Russell all share a basic assumption--opposition to the Christian order--which explains why Russell might overlook the import of this agreement and skip right to the juicy details, i.e. differences.

    But as we traditional Christians understand, once you throw out the traditional order of Christendom, you place yourself on the same side as every other rebel in the only battle that has ever mattered. After together committing that one most major error, whatever differences remain between Marxism, Nazism and Russell himself, while real, seem almost trivial in comparison.

    ReplyDelete
  43. As for the claims of ad hom - you're the one systematically distorting texts for your own purposes,

    Thank you for proving my point. Might I remind you that "ad hominem" does not mean to "distort a text" but rather to attack your interlocutor. By smearing me, no, you have no successfully defended yourself from the charge.

    Now, I will ask you once more in blunter terms:

    Put up or shut up. Where are the quotes that will disprove the intellectual continuity of leftism and its daughter liberalism?

    ReplyDelete
  44. A general point about blog discussions: they are much easier to follow when commenters give the name of the person whom they are quoting or to whom they are replying. Simply quoting your interlocutor without giving his name is not enough to help the reader follow the discussion. Every time you quote someone, you should preface it with, "So and so said..." The general failure to follow this commonsense rule, both in e-mails and discussion forums, creates endless difficulty.

    ReplyDelete
  45. The commenter who calls himself "Anonymous" writes:

    _____

    There are many examples of the rule being that nothing external to the self such as sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion can be a factor in our choices if you are a white heterosexual male. "Good" groups (non-whites, gays, women) are allowed to use external factors in making choices - that's celebrating diversity! - while "bad" groups are not. This tour group is a curious exception to the rule - I would have expected them to let the little darlings have their way.
    _______

    But that's the whole subject of this discussion. Maybe it's not just an exception to the rule; maybe it's the expression of a new rule. Now that the usual groups (white men etc.) have been disqualified as objects of attachment, liberalism is expanding its inherent logic and also starting to bar women from being attached to women as a group. And if that's so, then we will need to re-think our understanding of liberalism. For years I had a discussion going back and forth with Jim Kalb on this point. I felt that liberalism was only aimed at destroying white Western groups, he thought the group-dissolving operation of liberalism would continue even after the white West was destroyed and go after non-Western groups as well. This one instance is not enough to make any conclusions from, but it at least raises the possibility that liberalism will ultimately extend the prohibition of traditional group attachments to the attachments of nonwhite non-Western groups as well as white Westerners.

    ReplyDelete
  46. To Rob,

    I understand that the absence of automatic comments at my site produces problems; but it's very easy to send a comment, you just send it to me. Whether I moderate an automatically posted comment or moderate an e-mail comment, it comes to the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  47. But the difference between leftist and liberal is not fundamental. They are both allies in rebellion against the transcendent order, and that is the relationship which traditional Christians mean when we conflate liberals and leftists, however technically inaccurate that is.

    I disagree. The difference is fundamental. Isn't liberal democracy the status quo in the West? To suggest there's something Marxist about it is to equate the DDR with Australia, for instance. Liberalism ought to be distinguished from fascism, conservatism and radicalism (this latter being what I think you mean by 'leftism' of the Marxist sort).

    Leftism is the rejection of transcendent truth and its replacement by some man-made order. Liberalism is a particular strand of that broader "rebellion" as you in quoting Russell put it, which has nominated the Individual Will for sacred cow status. Nazism talked instead about the Folkish Will; Marxism wanted rather the Workers' Will, and so on.

    No, many strands of leftism have their own transcendant truths. Besides which, many on the left are Christians who see their brand of leftism as compatible with (or even necessitated by) their religion.

    The emphasis on 'will' is somewhat exaggerated here, I feel. The fascists certainly fetishised the will - it complemented their aesthetic of the great, heroic, all-conquering individual. I don't think the same happened on the other side - Marx and Lenin never pretended that such a thing as a unified 'workers' will' existed.

    If you dispute my reading of Russell, you can find an entire page on the topic in his 'History of Western Philosophy', pg 691 (Routledge), on currents of thought in the 19th century. He clearly delineates between 'rationalism' and 'romanticism'. I'm sure the relevant passage must be on google books if you need it.

    All of them are linked in common rebellion, but I could see why someone would argue a special link between Nazism and Marxism, as both emphasized a general, collective will and differed merely in how to define the collective (and of course they differed a great deal on methods, but that isn't philosophy; that's just politics).

    Focusing on rebellion risks recasting the analysis in purely Christian, metaphorical terms. Also, the practice of conflating Nazism with either Marxism or liberalism (a la Jonah Goldberg) is a nasty bit of revisionism, equivalent to Holocaust denial intellectually, if not morally. The Nazis never emphasised collective effort except when they needed it for their own purposes (as did Churchill and various other leaders). A careful analysis of the philosophic, political and economic underpinnings of Mussolini and Hitler reveals quite unequivocally that both were fascist, and had very little in common with leftist radicalism. I can expand on this point, but it would lead to significant digression.

    After together committing that one most major error, whatever differences remain between Marxism, Nazism and Russell himself, while real, seem almost trivial in comparison.

    It's easy for you to say. Those of us who are more concerned with earthly matters might think the difference between Hitler and liberal democracy is a little less trivial than you imagine. The tens of millions dead through WWII might also agree.

    Where are the quotes that will disprove the intellectual continuity of leftism and its daughter liberalism?

    It's a ridiculous thesis, and since it's you who propose it, the onus is squarely on you to prove it. I can provide ample quotes where radicals assert that liberalism is mere bourgeois decadence, etc. It's basically analagous to saying that traditional conservatism, right liberalism, and fascism are all basically 'rightism' and inherently similar. I don't think anybody on the right would accept that, so don't waste our time with similar characterisations of the other side.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Why doesn't the world rise up vehemently against these leftist tyrants? I am so incredibly sick of them.
    I want a new Lennon, singing a new worldwide popular song :

    Imagine no Leftists,
    No one telling what to do,
    All people living free,
    with ONLY God above us
    and all leftist tyrants gone!

    I may be a dreamer
    but I'm not the only one
    one day you may join us
    and the world will be
    a better one.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Anon Cont. our discussion, while interesting, has strayed too far from the topic. Out of respect for the rest of Mr. Richardson's readers and commenters, I think we ought to wrap this up. I'll just summarize briefly my response to your points.

    To be frank, I realized we aren't going to get anywhere when you complained that by "Focusing on rebellion [I] risked recasting the analysis in purely Christian, metaphorical terms..."

    This is of course the entire point of the debate: how to frame/understand human existence, political or otherwise. Obviously I frame and understand human existence in purely Christian terms (but not metaphorical terms as you falsely claim)--I'm a traditional Christian! I of course could just as easily complain that when you focus on philosopical idiosyncracies you risk recasting the analysis in purely individual, pedantic terms preventing at the outset any possibility of reaching a coherent, ordered understanding of political movements. But of course you do! You don't appear to believe in a telos but rather just random political happenings that lead to nowhere in particular and have nothing inherently to do with any other political happenings. Everything happens and nothing causes. It's all random noise.

    ReplyDelete
  50. To Anon Contrarian (first, a thank you for taking a name):

    I shall pull out my Russell tonight and read the relevant passages and you'd better be right or you will hear of it here from me!

    About your 5 minutes of reading comment, that clashes with your earlier comments that authors should be read directly (and presumably ALL their works in their entirety).

    Finally, reading major authors' works is usually not as enlightening as reading books ABOUT those works. Original works are often filled with logical inconsistencies and confusion on the author's part about his own theories. Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" is an excellent of this.

    I distinguish between Leftists and Left Liberals on the basis of pyscological motivation.

    Leftist liberals are driven by compassion. They are inconsistent, not intellectual, and hypocritical in lifestyle.

    A Leftist is driven by hatred of oppression. They parse everything they encounter in terms of oppressor/oppressed.

    ReplyDelete
  51. To Lawrence Auster -- but don't you have more than one email addr? I get confused about which one you read on a timely basis.

    ReplyDelete
  52. "excellent" = "excellent example".

    I mentioned "The Critique of Pure Reason" because it's the only philosophy work of that length (other than general philosophy books) that I've read. The books ABOUT it are much more enlightening.

    ReplyDelete
  53. "The idea that Frankfurters and Gramsci engineered some massive conspiracy is pure fantasy on the part of the more paranoid conservatives."

    This is true. The "Long March through the Institutions" doesn't take any sort of conspiracy - it's just the natural result of the sorting that goes in a free society unencumbered with any sort of trandescendent religion or philosophy.

    Example: my sister is an animal lover. She went to work for one of the national animal protection organizations. Once there, she became inculcated in their radical animal rights views (which are in private indistinguishable from PETA - they need to put a more moderate face on in public, since they depend for most of their funding on little old ladies who like kittycats). Why is this? Because the sort of person willing to work for such an organization and put up with low pay and prestige tends to be the "true believer" - and the truest of the true believers will tend to rise highest in the organization, while the lukewarm will tend to leave. Left alone, any such organization will tend to radicalize over time.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Jimbo said,

    This is true. The "Long March through the Institutions" doesn't take any sort of conspiracy - it's just the natural result of the sorting that goes in a free society unencumbered with any sort of trandescendent religion or philosophy.

    Eh, not so fast. "Unencumbered with any sort of philosophy"? The evidence indicates otherwise.

    In the introduction to his book Race and Reason Carlton Putnam writes,

    I had realized that there had been a broad movement to change man’s concept of the nature of man.

    As an example he tells the following anecdote,

    One prize-winning Northern scientist whom I visited at his home in a Northern city asked me, after I had been seated a few minutes in his living room, whether I was sure I had not been followed. Another disclosed in the privacy of his study that he had evidence he was being checked by mulattoes at his lectures. All, when first approached, were hesitant, withdrawn and fearful, and the reason was not far to seek. Their employers on whom their livelihood depended—the universities, the museums, the foundations—were either controlled by equalitarians or were intimidated by the race taboo.

    Putnam is not suggesting a plot by the Comintern nor even a particularly coordinated attack, but he did see partisans' pressuring notable scientists to alter research results and lecture content to fit an ideology. That's what reasonable people understand the Long March to have been. It's a metaphor, not a caption, Jimbo.

    As for your anecdote, it's inapt. An animal rights organization is begun by partisans to effect a specific partisan goal. To which branch of science are you comparing it? No science was begun as a partisan front. That some have become partisan fronts certainly warrants an explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  55. anon contrarian:
    "Basically, some lunatic conservatives in the US focused on the Frankfurt school some time ago..."

    Lind and Weyrich's great crime was to reveal what evil leftists like anon try to keep covered up. I had grown up immersed in the milieu of Critical Theory, in the UK cultural Marxists talk and write about their aims a lot more openly than in the US, but Lind's short article/talk gave me the framework to fully understand what was going on, from there I could go back to all the books on critical legal theory, confirm what Lind was saying from primary sources, and finally understand it from an external POV. Any conservatives who haven't yet read it should do so - here's a copy:

    http://www.marylandthursdaymeeting.com/Archives/SpecialWebDocuments/Cultural.Marxism.htm

    Of course Lind doesn't tell the whole story; he doesn't talk about the inherent contradictions in Liberalism that allowed the cultural Marxists to gain control of the commanding heights. I found reading Auster's critiques of Liberalism very useful in understanding how the two interact.

    ReplyDelete
  56. anon cont:
    "Marx and Lenin never pretended that such a thing as a unified 'workers' will' existed"

    And I suppose Rousseau never talked about the General Will either, eh? You're laughable.

    ReplyDelete
  57. This is of course the entire point of the debate: how to frame/understand human existence, political or otherwise. Obviously I frame and understand human existence in purely Christian terms (but not metaphorical terms as you falsely claim)--I'm a traditional Christian!

    Fair enough, Bartholomew. I'm not opposed to the Christian position, but in a way, I see little point in debating it, as it's a question of faith in the last resort. It's interesting that you mention telos and cause - these were Aristotlean before they were absorbed into Christian doctrine, suggesting that they are separable from religious belief per se.


    Finally, reading major authors' works is usually not as enlightening as reading books ABOUT those works. Original works are often filled with logical inconsistencies and confusion on the author's part about his own theories. Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" is an excellent of this.

    Maybe, but the knots, contradictins and aporias in an author's work are themselves important.

    Of course Lind doesn't tell the whole story; he doesn't talk about the inherent contradictions in Liberalism that allowed the cultural Marxists to gain control of the commanding heights.

    Again, we have this conflation of liberalism and radicalism (specifically Marxism). Secondly, I've already indicated that the Frankfurt school never advocated for infiltration of the bureaucracies, and even expressed disapproval of bureaucracy at times. (see Adorno's Minima Moralia, for instance). This was partly motivated by the fact that the Frankfurters were staunchly anti-fascist, and the Nazis were rather bureaucratic.

    In any case, I'd like to see some hard evidence of 'marxists' or Critical Theorists infiltrating positions of authority to spread doctrine. I certainly can't think of any instance of this in Australia. The US is hardly a workers' paradise. Perhaps somebody who believes that the ghosts of Benjamin and Adorno are leading a secret, posthumous revolution could provide something by way of evidence for this.

    And I suppose Rousseau never talked about the General Will either, eh? You're laughable.

    Simon, you're struggling with the basics. Marxist theory always presupposed contradictions between workers in most circumstances. That's why proletarian revolutions were the exception, rather than the rule, despite this social group being by far the most numerous.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I should add that one of the cranks who originally pushed the critical theory conspiracy theory (i.e. Buchanan) is an anti-semite who pretty clearly uses the term 'Frankfurt school' as a codeword for 'Jew'. (In much the same way as the LaRouche crowd speak of a cabal of 'international financiers'). This conspiracy theory (namely, that a bunch of long-dead German Jewish Marxists are controlling the institutions of the West) is certainly the domain of crackpots, not sober political analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Sorry, that previous comment was mine.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Wow, is there any place in the Western world where this perverse ideology is not taking over? Yikes. As I've seen in the States, modern liberalism is not about equality of opportunity, but equality of results. That's scary because if by natural processes all groups are not represented equally in a certain outcome, the liberal legislator or judge must step in and make the equal outcome happen the next time by legislative or judicial action. Hence we get things like affirmative action, the lowering of fitness standards to accomodate women in the military, police departments, and fire departments, stupid rulings by the judge you mentioned, etc. The price we pay is our individual freedom. Perverse indeed that the modern liberal could claim to espouse individual freedom but stifle it because reality doesn't conform to their utopian fantasies.

    ReplyDelete
  61. anon:
    "I should add that one of the cranks who originally pushed the critical theory conspiracy theory (i.e. Buchanan) is an anti-semite who pretty clearly uses the term 'Frankfurt school' as a codeword for 'Jew'. (In much the same way as the LaRouche crowd speak of a cabal of 'international financiers'). This conspiracy theory (namely, that a bunch of long-dead German Jewish Marxists are controlling the institutions of the West) is certainly the domain of crackpots, not sober political analysis."

    Jews started it; with their above-average IQ they have tended to dominate the world of ideas in the West for the past 150 years. However all the academic cultural Marxists I know are non-Jewish and strongly anti-Israel/anti-Zionist, pro-Palestine/pro-Hamas, which tends to shade into anti-Semitism. Maybe in America Jews get to sit inviolate at the top of the cultural Marxist totem pole; here in Europe they have been displaced by Muslims especially, and cultural Marxist analysis is often used _against_ Jews. I'd be surprised if Oz was far behind.

    ReplyDelete
  62. anon cont:
    "In any case, I'd like to see some hard evidence..."

    You appear to be the enemy, of malevolent intent, so my interest on this blog is just to make sure you don't misguide any people of good will here (conservatives and those genuinely interested in conservative thinking).

    From what I can tell though you haven't been successful here in misleading anyone, because your arguments have been aimed at right-liberal thinking, eg your appeals to Universalism as a trump card, as if we were a bunch of Kantians. You don't understand conservative thinking enough to undermine it effectively. The techniques of Critique you employ were developed for use against right-liberal thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I think Anon thinks everything’s hunky dory except for a "few right wing crackpots".

    ReplyDelete
  64. Jesse wrote,

    I think Anon thinks everything’s hunky dory except for a "few right wing crackpots".

    Great summary.

    And why shouldn't he? That's what the talking heads of CNN/ABC/NBC or the BBC/The Guardian or (I'm sorry, I don't know what the major media outlets in Australia are) etc. all say...

    Well, Anon, surprise! Now, if only he'd question some other basic assumptions of his, the man might have a fighting chance.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I didn't put forward the conspiracy theory. We're still waiting on that evidence of 'Marxists' and 'Critical theorists' infiltrating kindergartens and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    ReplyDelete
  66. The above was me.

    From what I can tell though you haven't been successful here in misleading anyone, because your arguments have been aimed at right-liberal thinking, eg your appeals to Universalism as a trump card, as if we were a bunch of Kantians. You don't understand conservative thinking enough to undermine it effectively.

    I'm trying to debate, not mislead. I think m,y grasp of the differences between right-liberals and conservatives is far more nuanced than what some here have to offer, claiming that Marx is a liberal, for instance.

    Universalism is necessary because nobody apart from you has any reason to place any value on your religion or 'ethny'. Also, I'm certainly not trying to suggest all Tories are cranks and crackpots, but clearly those advocating lunatic conspiracy theories are.

    ReplyDelete
  67. To Rob: the instructions on how to send a comment to VFR including the e-mail address are plainly provided at the top of the main page.

    ReplyDelete
  68. anon cont:
    "Universalism is necessary because nobody apart from you has any reason to place any value on your... 'ethny'"

    (I don't have a religion)

    Re ethny, I don't expect them to, and very few do, IME. I want people to value their own traditions and people, everyone else's is secondary at most.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I must ask anon contrarian if the Frankfurt School is not influential, why does Marcuse's essay "Repressive Tolerance" so well lay out the leftist goals and tactics of recent decades?

    Would you argue he is only a representative of a trend?

    Until a glance at Wikipedia, I had not realized the man was a member of the Office of War Information and the OSS in its de-nazification program. Doesn't he qualify as a Frankfurter in an influential Anglophone position?

    And why does left-wing action look so much like de-nazification tactics applied to non-Nazi states?

    ReplyDelete
  70. Frankfurters like Marcuse have had an influence on a small number of academics in philosophy, etc. I wouldn't dispute that. But could you please clarify precisely what are these 'leftist tactics' of recent years, to which you allude?

    ReplyDelete
  71. "Frankfurters like Marcuse have had an influence on a small number of academics in philosophy, etc. I wouldn't dispute that."

    Small number are you kidding? He was the rage baby.

    ReplyDelete
  72. It's been some decades since he was 'the rage'.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Ok some decades. The people who grew up on him are now the it people.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Ok some decades. The people who grew up on him are now the it people.

    Okay - who specifically? Not the politicians of the centre-left parties. Perhaps, at most, some obscure lecturers in some corner of academia.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Fuck Off Anon. I'm not going to say who specifically, it was the university rage and everyone went through there. This is getting a little tiresome. Your basic position is to criticise rather than contribute. I'm not saying criticism isn't valuable but criticism for the sack of criticism is a crock.

    You've done your reading good on you it still doesn't give you the right to talk nonsense or ignore basics. I sit here patiently for the author of this blog, or someone else suitably qualified, to take you up point by point. Until then don't waste our time with needless contention.

    Who did Marcuse? The intelligensia. They affect politics or all stripes and help frame debates. And the politicians of the centre left too. You don't have to implement everything to be influenced by it.

    ReplyDelete
  76. My point is, Jesse, that some of these time-honoured chestnuts of the right don't hold water. Namely, this notion that Frankfurters have some pervasive grip on society at large, or academia in particular. I don't think that this is an unreasonable point, and it says nothing about conservatism as a whole, only about one or two assumptions in particular.

    A more interesting question, perhaps, since I've been accused of attacking right liberals rather than conservatives, is what is the nature of the Faustian pact of (some) conservatives (i.e. Australia's coalition, the GOP) with right liberalism. Another question, since liberalism is the enemy du jour here, is the relation of the latter political philosophy not to obscure, dead Germans, but to material and economic circumstances. It's surely no coincidence that liberalism rose to prominence at the same time as the bourgeois in industrial capitalism.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "Namely, this notion that Frankfurters have some pervasive grip on society at large, or academia in particular."

    But seriously that's not accurate, academia is full of. Every other law course offered at uni was a "critical" course. There weren't more courses like that because law requires staples like, tort and contracts to be covered. Even in there there was "some" room for fun and games.

    That's just law in arts its even more pronounced. In English its one big effort of "deconstruction" and in history we learn about how "concepts of history" have affected our society. We've all sat there and seen it.

    (I have work to do today so I can't do this for too long).

    ReplyDelete
  78. The word 'critical' doesn't necessarily imply any lineage vis-a-vis the Frankfurters. You're critical of many things, but your hardly a fan of Adorno, I take it.

    'Deconstruction' has nothing to do with the Frankfurters, and was, in any case, a short-lived fashion during the nineties which is rapidly falling by the wayside. I should add the 'deconstruction' was largely apolitical, and not inherently leftist - one could easily imagine a rightist deconstructionist, and there were some actual examples of this in practice.

    As for 'concepts of history' - what the hell is 'liberal/leftist/Frankfurter' about this? For instance, social Darwinism provides one 'concept of history', and the economic determinism of vulgar Marxism another - why shouldn't students study and appraise such things?

    ReplyDelete
  79. liberals don't like my choice to have so many kids.

    ReplyDelete
  80. and have previously reduced modern art to Duchamp's urinal.

    Mark could be forgiven this (if it were true) since most modern art is only fit for pissing on.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Surely most liberals have never read any of these authors either, so why should we? Mark is the one who does the reading here and some of the rest of us can see what's wrong with our society without having read a bunch of ideological wankers.

    I mean, if liberals attack marriage, family and the common good, I hardly need to read the original proponents of these ideas to know that their ideas are stupid.

    Mark shares with us some knowledge that some of us do not yet have. Am I to be completely conversant with all these goons' writings before I can critique some of their batty ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  82. Jesse 7:
    "Who did Marcuse? The intelligensia. They affect politics or all stripes and help frame debates. And the politicians of the centre left too."

    Agreed. Few people seem to realise how far left most modern 'centre left' politicians are. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both Alinskyites. In the UK, the strongly leftist but widely trusted BBC makes out that our leading 'New' Labour government politicians are 'right wing'; because they're mostly not classical economic Marxist-Leninist. But most of them are cultural-Marxist far left; they come from what was the far left wing of the Labour party. The old non-Marxist, right side of the Labour party split off to form the SDP back in the early '80s, and subsequently vanished.

    With a strongly leftist broadcast media shilling for them, the political class in the UK is far to the left of the general population. I was a bit shocked when I got involved with the UK Conservative party to find that this was equally true of the Tories; the media were pretending the Tories were scarily right-wing, while I found that most of them were left-liberal, except for being free-marketers.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Kevin Jones:
    "Until a glance at Wikipedia, I had not realized the man was a member of the Office of War Information and the OSS in its de-nazification program. Doesn't he qualify as a Frankfurter in an influential Anglophone position?"

    Like the Sicilian Mafia, the influence of the Frankfurt School seems to owe a lot to US government backing! The early Frankfurt School was indeed quite naive and not that effective. It seems to have been their experience in the US govt-backed de-Nazification program that gave them the tools to then re-program US culture and the cultures of other Western nations. Again, this is something Lind doesn't talk about, but it doesn't invalidate his core thesis, which IME stands up well. Academics influence impressionable young students, those students go on to be politicians (at the high end) and the lumpen intelligentsia of bureaucratic cultural Marxist enforcers at the lower end.

    A possible flaw in the system is that mass immigration has resulted in most students at my institution being non-white, mostly Pakistani Muslim, and c-M doesn't seem to work on them; they take the bits that coincide with what the mosque teaches them (Muslims are victims of white-Western oppressors, look out for hidden insults to Islam) and ignore the rest. It doesn't seem to work well on most Afro-Caribbean blacks either, whereas it was highly effective on Afro-American blacks in the US. I think part of it may be that in the US there's just enough anti-black hostility from whites to make c-M claims credible, which most UK whites completely lack (this can have a downside as lower class UK whites happily adopt black ghetto culture en masse).

    ReplyDelete
  84. Again, this is something Lind doesn't talk about, but it doesn't invalidate his core thesis, which IME stands up well. Academics influence impressionable young students, those students go on to be politicians (at the high end) and the lumpen intelligentsia of bureaucratic cultural Marxist enforcers at the lower end.

    Firstly, Frankfurt-type stuff can only be introduced into a handful of disciplines, and even then, in a fairly rudimentary way. It's not as though dentists, engineers or lawyers study communist theory. Secondly, uni level students are not mere clay to be moulded - they definitely rebel against perceived indoctrination. These people are young adults, but adults all the same, and I don't see why we should buy this idea that students go doe-eyed before a lecturer or two, and seek to be 'marxist cultural enforcers'.

    Speaking of which, where is this Marxist enforcement? In Australia, it's illegal for workers to withdraw their labour in the form of a strike. In the US and UK, billions can be found for banks (this is bipartisan policy), but almost none for the poor, or for the environment. Perhaps 'cultural Marxism' is not the most accurate way to characterise this state of affairs...

    ReplyDelete
  85. Simon wrote:

    "most students at my institution being non-white, mostly Pakistani Muslim, and c-M doesn't seem to work on them; they take the bits that coincide with what the mosque teaches them (Muslims are victims of white-Western oppressors, look out for hidden insults to Islam) and ignore the rest."

    How does that go in practise? Are they serious students? Trouble? We don't really have that many in Australia (my part). I remember a very nice and polite Bangladeshi guy absolutely exploding when 911 was referred to. Yes he liked to talk about the oppression of the "southern states" by the "north" too.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Anon wrote:

    "It's not as though dentists, engineers or lawyers study communist theory."

    Perhaps not dentists or engineers but they absolutely love the law. The commanding heights don't you know. We don't study "communist" theory but we do hear about how the legal system entrenches existing inequality, is oppressive to the poor and disadvantaged, is culturally biased against non white groups, enforces white male standards through such things as "objective" tests and standards. The law is the shining beacon of the west? Not quite.

    Of course you do feel quite superior studying law. Society can be fixed through applying the right standards in a high minded way. The world is in our hands ... Yay!!!

    ReplyDelete
  87. Oh and I forgot the moral superiority (provided by left wing politics of course). Its so wonderful, you're part of an aristocracy of merit and moral excellence. Then careers beckon.

    If you're a stock standard high flyer, its corporate world. Corporations are very big on social responsibility these days. Nonetheless if you still feel a bit guilty closing contracts for the man, throw in some pro bono hours for a socially worthy cause, refugees perhaps. Maybe join the Young Women lawyers and argue for greater gender balance or the Law Society and demand that that colossal injustice to individuals rights, the latest anti-terrorism legislation, be overturned. If you're really adventurous perhaps help the Bikie gangs defend their right to free association.

    If you're a bit trendier though you’ve got to go international. Work for the International Court of Justice in the Hague. If you can't quite make it, pump for a NGO. Domestic politics, that's for suckers, the international scene is where its at, be a "Davos man".

    Or you can plod away in the public service. There’s plenty of options, they all have their particular flavour of left wing politics. I don't know if I've told this story yet but I was part of a group unfurling the colours for an army reserve dinner and the public service work function in the neighbouring room (some of whom I recognised from law school) came out to watch. Before long they started jeering the army, who were these radicals, Legal Aid employees? No fear, they were the DPP (public prosecutors). That's right the DPP aren't jack boot reactionaries anymore.

    If you're a bleeding heart. I mean a REAL bleeding heart then you can represent the poor in the Tenancy Tribunal or the Welfare rights Centre. As a rule though you don't have to go that far to be a committed leftie. You can still have a good time.

    ReplyDelete
  88. anon cont:
    "Firstly, Frankfurt-type stuff can only be introduced into a handful of disciplines, and even then, in a fairly rudimentary way. It's not as though dentists, engineers or lawyers study communist theory."

    LOL - This is particularly hilarious since I actually work in a law school, and studying cultural Marxist legal theory is exactly what they do! I can't believe you are that incredibly ignorant, that's why I think you are deliberately trying to mislead people.

    ReplyDelete
  89. anon cont:
    "Secondly, uni level students are not mere clay to be moulded - they definitely rebel against perceived indoctrination. These people are young adults, but adults all the same, and I don't see why we should buy this idea that students go doe-eyed before a lecturer or two, and seek to be 'marxist cultural enforcers'."

    True - it does not work on all the students, as I just said (although the exchange students we get from Sweden are thoroughly indoctrinated). However if you want to get to do a PhD in my institution, you need to advocate cultural Marxist theory or you don't get accepted by the research panel (to the annoyance of us non c-Mers). And you need a PhD for an academic career.

    Because C-M is more generally accepted by the white, native Brits, the effect is actually to discriminate against non-white/non-native students. I saw a very good PhD proposal from an Albanian student get turned down because it was black letter law and impliedly pro-free-market.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Jesse:
    "How does that go in practise? Are they serious students? Trouble? We don't really have that many in Australia (my part). I remember a very nice and polite Bangladeshi guy absolutely exploding when 911 was referred to. Yes he liked to talk about the oppression of the "southern states" by the "north" too."

    They're no trouble. Apart from a few female schizophrenics (blak and white, no Muslim) the only student I was ever a bit scared of was a North American 'Blackwater' type guy who had a strong love of firearms (he liked to derail class as we discussed the merits of L85/SA-80 vs M16A2, 5.56N vs 7.62N, et al), was advocating the military liberation of Muslim nations in a class of Muslim students, and told me how he'd tracked down my wife's anonymous blog. He could well be reading this very comment (hi there! :))

    ReplyDelete
  91. on the specific case mentioned here:

    The charge of "stereotyping men's behavior" is laughable given the recently discussed Pink Ribbon Day and other blatant man-hating that goes on. I have a couple of other theories about what the judge might not have liked:

    1. Implication that "bed-hopping" is bad or that some people might want to escape from it (chastity)

    2. Implication that sex is generally (gasp!) something that happens between a man and a woman (heteronormativity) rather than between two women

    Of course I doubt either of these was the main reason. Most likely this is just an arbitrary exercise in oppression by a burgeoning totalitarian state, but those factors might have played a small (perhaps subconscious) role in the decision.

    Think of it this way: if they marketed as an Erotic Lesbian Sex Tour Group, and excluded men for that reason, would it have been banned? Of course not.

    ReplyDelete
  92. OK Anon Contrarian,

    Here's the evidence. Oh, but first, I agree with Jesse: lose the contentiousness or beat it; I'm tired of it.

    Now, here is a primary source of the Civil Rights era here in the U.S., Carlton Putnam.

    In the introduction to his book Race and Reason Carlton Putnam writes,

    I had realized that there had been a broad movement to change man’s concept of the nature of man.

    As an example he tells the following anecdote,

    One prize-winning Northern scientist whom I visited at his home in a Northern city asked me, after I had been seated a few minutes in his living room, whether I was sure I had not been followed. Another disclosed in the privacy of his study that he had evidence he was being checked by mulattoes at his lectures. All, when first approached, were hesitant, withdrawn and fearful, and the reason was not far to seek. Their employers on whom their livelihood depended—the universities, the museums, the foundations—were either controlled by equalitarians or were intimidated by the race taboo.

    Putnam is not suggesting a plot by the Comintern nor even a particularly coordinated attack, but he did see partisans' pressuring notable scientists to falsify research results and lecture content so that it was compatible with Leftist dictates.

    Today, those taboos still hold sway over everyone's minds. Why else do you think we're all using pseudonyms? No one's claiming that the entire academic apparatus was taken over by leftists. Conservatives like Putnam noticed that unfortunately that wasn't necessary. All the leftists and their minority allies had to do was intimidate existing authorities into doing the leftists' bidding. And we've been under their whip ever since.

    That's what I understand the Long March to have been.

    ReplyDelete
  93. One more thing, A.C.

    I find it difficult to believe that you are unaware of the leftist pressure tactics in academia. Did I not quote to you a passage from an article, Blackburn I believe, a few weeks ago that was thoroughly and absurdly leftist? It should have been ridiculed for the trash it was and tossed into the nearest can.

    And yet, I am telling you here and now that had I stated that frankly and explained precisely why during class, my professor would have done her utmost to prevent me from getting a job after graduation. When I hinted in her office hours at the problems in the text, she essentially threatened me if I spoke any further.

    And the rest of my professors did the same but to lesser degrees. Were they all installed by undercover Marxists? I have no evidence for that. Did they all act and speak the same Leftist line? Yep, without exception.

    I'll let you know how next quarter's profs turn out, but I have no reason to believe they'll be any different than the vast majority of leftist profs I have endured for the last five years.

    ReplyDelete
  94. The discussion is running its course, as some of you are becoming increasingly rancorous and tendentious in your evidence.

    Now, I haven't studied law, so I'm at a disadvantage here. But take the idea that, despite being equal on paper, the law in practice doesn't help the poor. I'd have thought that an empirically testable and uncontroversial statement to make, yet Jesse seems to think that if it's discussed in a law course, it counts as leftist indoctrination, as if (some) conservatives re not also concerned about systematic injustice.

    This is particularly hilarious since I actually work in a law school, and studying cultural Marxist legal theory is exactly what they do!

    Simon, I've never heard of 'cultural marxist legal theory', so perhaps you could explain what it is.

    Bartholomew, you've given evidence of one academic being pressured by 'mulattoes'. Still not a shred of evidence of Frankfurters under the bed. And look - if you think that acknowledgement of equality before the law is evidence of marxist bias, then I think there's little more to discuss. The fact is, there have actually been campaigns against leftist academics (instigated by Horowitz in the US, for instance).

    ReplyDelete
  95. A.C.:
    "Simon, I've never heard of 'cultural marxist legal theory', so perhaps you could explain what it is."

    Often called Critical Legal Studies - see eg this wikipedia article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_legal_studies

    Here's a Cornell article on Critical Legal Theory:
    http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Critical_legal_theory

    Some books:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Critical+legal+theory&x=0&y=0

    Unfortunately my favourite book on the subject (a collection of essays by mostly British cultural Marxists from ca 1988, where they're very frank about their aims) doesn't seem to be on amazon anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  96. "Didn't Bertrand Russell say that Marxism and Nazism were 2 branches of the same thought (was it Liberalism)? He said Nazism was the romantic branch, which made more sense to me."

    - Rob

    "No. Go back to the source. Russell broadly describes two forms of 'rebellion' to 'traditional' thought, then goes on to explain that the Romantic form (from Rousseau to Byron, Schopenhauer and Hitler) is entirely different to the 'rationalist' form (passing from French revolutionaries to Marx). This is yet another example of reading things rather mischievously, as you've twisted Russell's position into the precise opposite of what he actually said."

    - Anon Contrarian

    Well, I looked this up. The sections I had in mind were on pp. 684-685. (The chapter on Rousseau):

    "Ever since his time, those who considered themselves reformers have been divided into two groups, those who followed him and those who followed Locke. ... At the present time, Hitler is an outcome of Rousseau; Roosevelt and Churchill, of Locke."

    and page 790:

    "Modern Europe and America have thus been divided, politically and ideologically, into three camps. There are Liberals, who still, as far as may be, follow Locke or Bentham, but with varying degrees of adaptation to the needs of industrial organization. There are Marxists, who control the government in Russia, and are likely to become increasingly influential in various other countries. These two sections are not very widely separated; both are rationalistic, and both, in tention, are scientific and empirical. But from the point of view of practical politics the division is sharp. The third section of modern opinion, represented politically by Nazis and Fascists, differs philosophically from the other two far more profoundly than they differ from each other. It is anti-rational and anti-scientific. Its philosophical progenitors are Rousseau, Fichte, and Nietzsche.

    ReplyDelete
  97. To Anon Contrarian - BTW is "Rutledge" the publisher's name? My copy of Russell is Simon and Shuster.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Rob quoted Russell,

    "[Leftism and Liberalism] are not very widely separated; both are rationalistic, and both, in tention, are scientific and empirical. But from the point of view of practical politics the division is sharp."

    Remembering that politics is not philosophy, I really don't see how Russell supports your view that the difference between Liberalism and Leftism is fundamental. Indeed, he says very nearly the opposite, claiming the two philosophies "are not widely separated." And of course they aren't: they are both based on egalitarian ideals, i.e. "non-descrimination" which is at the core of all left-wing politics.

    As for Russell's view that Fascism and Nazism are "profoundly" different, I say yes and no. Yes they reject egalitarianism but no they are not entirely "anti-rational" or "anti-scientific" and no more so than Leftism and Liberalism. Indeed, F. and N. at least tried to account for biological differences in mankind, an empirical fact which L&L like to pretend doesn't exist. I have no idea why the Left thinks it gets to claim rationality while pretending things as empirically obvious as race and sex differences don't exist.

    Withal the Fascists and Nazis still shared with the Leftists the core conviction that the old order had to go. And that fundamental agreement placed them all miles away from traditional conservatives. You have yet to refute that point, A.C., and it's because you can't.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Sorry Rob - the publisher is Routledge. I provided the page reference specifically in response to a claim that, according to Russell, fascism is of a kind with marxism. As your quote illustrated this is clearly false.

    Russell puts both liberals and Marxists on the side of 'reformers'. There is a post dedicated specifically to this topic at the top of the page, and I've already shared my thoughts there. I don't think that Marx, Lenin and Mao were 'liberals', and, contrary to the womanish shrieking of some here, I don't for a second believe that 'political correctness', no-fault divorce, discrimination laws, etc., in the liberal West is anything remotely like the KGB or the Stasi.

    Withal the Fascists and Nazis still shared with the Leftists the core conviction that the old order had to go. And that fundamental agreement placed them all miles away from traditional conservatives. You have yet to refute that point, A.C., and it's because you can't.

    Let's follow this to its conclusion, Bartholomew. By your reasoning, virtually every single movement of any sort in the West for the past 300 years or so has been against the 'old order'. That means that 'traditional conservatives' are not only opposed to liberals and radicals, but also to every other kind of conservative. In this sense, your conservatism is more than a little quixotic, like a kind of longing for the feudal system in an age of industrialism.

    ReplyDelete
  100. AC to Bartholomew wrote:

    "In this sense, your conservatism is more than a little quixotic, like a kind of longing for the feudal system in an age of industrialism."

    Whilst its true that philosophical and political ideas reflect realities "on the ground", such as the economic or technological state of a society this isn‘t the whole story. For instance the rise of industrialism saw man increasingly in "mechanical" terms, a being which could be geared for optimal productivity. Older agricultural times saw man as a much more organic creature, "For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth." The rise of commerce has seen man as a collection of desires to be "maximised" and modern technological communications has seen man as a social creature to be constantly stimulated. Nonetheless these "trends" only partly reflect the situation. The philosophical questions are more profound. Conservatism is about holding onto greater longstanding truths (such as the importance of stability) and stands against reckless or thoughtless change. You can be a conservative industrialist, farmer, merchant or IT guy. Conservatives don't see humankind as a fundamentally changing thing and consequently don't have to constantly reinvent everything human. While what we do and even how we live changes our life is still very similar in fundamentals to how its always been.

    The "progressive" desire stands for a great deal of social and individual change. This has the danger of ignoring the fundamental unchanging aspects of humanity which leads to mental and social instability as well as discord.

    We don't long for the feudal age as much as we long for the earth to slow its movement under our feet (please no astronomical jibes here). The progressives want endless agitation. Obviously a certain amount of this is constructive and a certain amount isn't.

    Anon said - "I don't for a second believe that 'political correctness', no-fault divorce, discrimination laws, etc., in the liberal West is anything remotely like the KGB or the Stasi."

    Ok fine but don't forget that the progressive intelligensia of the 20's and 30's, people such as George Bernard Shaw, were all utterlly enamoured with Communism. It was only gradually, as the massacres and gulags came to be known, that the glamour of communism in the West began to wane and the progressives had to look for new models. Today everything’s much friendlier, though not necessarily much more competent.

    AC: "Russell puts both liberals and Marxists on the side of 'reformers'."

    Change isn't necessarily reform. If you're looking to smash existing systems utterly you're not trying to reform but change them.

    Batholomew wrote:

    "I have no idea why the Left thinks it gets to claim rationality while pretending things as empirically obvious as race and sex differences don't exist."

    Lol that’s too good.

    ReplyDelete
  101. A.C. wrote,

    Let's follow this to its conclusion, Bartholomew. By your reasoning, virtually every single movement of any sort in the West for the past 300 years or so has been against the 'old order'. That means that 'traditional conservatives' are not only opposed to liberals and radicals, but also to every other kind of conservative. In this sense, your conservatism is more than a little quixotic, like a kind of longing for the feudal system in an age of industrialism.

    This doesn't follow. It's true that many political movements in the last 300 years have been influenced by egalitarian thought. But it's not true that therefore any anti-egalitarian/liberal movement now is somehow "quixotic".

    First of all, some modern political movements have been non-liberal. The Nativist Know-Nothings here in the U.S. weren't particularly egalitarian as far as I know. And neither were the nativist war opponents in the late 1800's. And no, none of them were joining up with Don Quixote, as far as I know.

    ReplyDelete
  102. I’m from the left. I’m a socialist, not a liberal.

    From a philosophical point of view, this column is attacking liberals for having impractical existentialist ideals on humanity: the decisions they make, as well as freedoms and choices; that gender causes confliction with a liberal utopianistic view of the world. This problem in political sensibility may or may not be true for most liberals.
    I’m far more supportive of a kind of Epicureanistic line of thinking.

    There is one gigantic problem with this column. There is a failure to acknowledge the gender stereotyped propaganda that is in our society. From the moment we are born, there is pressure towards sex-determination, gender conformity and heterosexism. From children’s bedtime books, TV programs, sitcoms, advertisements, politician rhetoric, religion idealism, etc. This propaganda seeps into the minds of the innocent masses. We are effectively brainwashed into believing that gender stereotypes are an unchallengeable law of life.
    The gender stereotype is: all men are masculine and all women are feminine.

    There is no point in discussing the ways of having choices if they don’t have pragmatic consequences.

    If there is a woman, and it feels natural to her to be feminine, is there anything wrong with that? No, she should do what feel right for her; good luck to her.
    However, it is appropriate to be wary when gender stereotypical actions are taken. It’s important to ask the woman: are you being feminine because it feels natural to you, or are you doing it because society has pressured you to act this way?

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.