Thursday, June 03, 2010

Does liberal purism make you a moderate?

Last year Senator George Brandis gave an impressive speech setting out his political philosophy. I disagree vehemently with this philosophy, believing it to be utterly ruinous for Australia. But I admire the fact that Senator Brandis set out his fundamental, principled beliefs. How else can the really important issues in politics be debated?

Senator Brandis is a so-called "moderate" liberal. In my last post, I criticised the idea pushed by the media that Liberal Party members like Brandis, Malcolm Fraser, Petro Georgiou, Joe Hockey and Marise Payne are the moderates within the party. Why?

The so-called moderates are really the liberal purists. And that makes them more radical than those in the party who want to fuse liberalism with some aspect of conservatism.

In other words, the division is between purists and fusionists. The purists want to hold to a radically reductionist philosophy in which there is only one supreme value: individual autonomy. The fusionists are confused (in thinking that there is no opposition between liberalism and conservatism), but they are dimly aware of other values.

If you are a reductionist pushing a single value on society you are inevitably going to be more radical than someone aware (at some level) that other values might also need to be considered.

In his speech Senator Brandis makes his criticism of fusion crystal clear. He describes the original coming together of liberals and conservatives in the early nineteenth century as a "political fault line". He then argues that the most significant liberal leaders prior to John Howard always identified as liberal rather than as both liberal and conservative. He quotes, for instance, Alfred Deakin's declaration that "we are liberal always, radical often and never reactionary".

He believes the more recent leadership has tried to "dilute" the commitment to liberalism within the Liberal Party by fusing it with conservatism. John Howard, for instance, was committed to a "broad church of Australian Liberalism" in which it was possible to be a devotee of both Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill. Tony Abbott too has argued that the Liberal Party is "not just liberal in nature".

Let me repeat: for Brandis the battle lines are between liberal purists like himself and fusionists. Which then brings us to the second issue at stake: reductionism.

Brandis asserts very clearly that there can only be one overriding, organising value in society. He calls that value "individual freedom" but he makes it clear that he means "freedom as individual autonomy". He writes, for instance,

the sovereign idea which inspires our side of politics has always been the same: our belief that the paramount public value is the freedom of the individual ...

the most important single thing we must do is renew our commitment to the freedom of the individual, and restore that commitment to the very centre of our political value system: not one among several competing values, but the core value, from which our world view ultimately derives.

in qualifying the Liberal Party's commitment to the freedom of the individual as its core value, and weighing it against what he often called social cohesion, Howard made a profound departure from the tradition of Deakin and Menzies.

Liberalism ... has such a central guiding principle - respect for the freedom of the individual, his dignity and his autonomy; his right ... to be the architect of his own life [i.e. to be a self-determining, self-creating autonomous individual]

Every one of those reforms extended the bounds of human freedom, gave individual men and women greater autonomy ...

Most revealingly, Brandis argues that you need a single value by which to decide political outcomes. There has to be a "higher common principle" or else there is no basis for deciding between competing claims:

But when one tries to bring both liberal and conservative values together, there is no anterior or higher common principle, according to which we can determine whether the question is to be decided according to the outcome dictated by liberal values ... or conservative values ...

For Brandis it is always the liberal value of individual autonomy which is to determine the question. He does not accept the idea that politics might involve the weighing up of many different considerations, purposes and values, with wisdom and prudence being key political talents. Brandis makes it sound as if a radical reductionism is the only possible solution to the fact of competing claims in society.

Of course, as a liberal Brandis portrays the influence of individual autonomy as the sole organising principle of society in wholly positive terms: as creating less uniformity, more freedom, more dignity, more progress, more choice and so on.

But this is not a reality that liberalism could ever have achieved. There is an incoherence to the idea that autonomy alone can bring greater choice and freedom. What, for instance, if the things that matter most to people require a distinct social setting in which people cooperate to achieve certain outcomes? There is no principled basis within liberalism for these social settings to be defended. Therefore, the choices that matter most to people will be lost. Choice will be limited to more trivial affairs, ones that are within the power of an atomised individual to self-determine, such as choice of entertainments, cuisine, travel and hobbies.

And what if the aim of society is always to maximise individual autonomy? Then whatever cannot be self-determined will be looked on negatively as an impediment to individual freedom. But there are many important aspects to life that aren't self-determined, including core aspects of our identity. Liberalism therefore ends up not so much liberating the individual to fully realise himself, but abstracting or alienating the individual.

These, at any rate, are the kinds of arguments which can be levelled against liberal reductionism. Unfortunately, the fusionists have only made more limited arguments against autonomy as the sole organising principle of society. Howard, as mentioned already, claimed only that "social cohesion" also had to be considered as a value. Which is true, but not really the most substantial value to set alongside autonomy. If the political situation is quiet, it leaves little objection in practice to autonomy as the sole consideration.

Tony Abbott for his part has stated that,

Perhaps it's enough to say that in some circumstances freedom and in other circumstances a set of rules is the most effective way to encourage people to be their best selves.

At least Abbott has made some sort of break with the idea of autonomy as the sole organising principle. But, again, he needs to develop the idea much further. It's not just a "set of rules" that needs to be weighed against autonomy. What about a commitment to family life? To a communal tradition? To an ideal of manhood or womanhood? To creating a pleasant and beautiful urban environment? To a standard of manners and morals?

It's not that any one of these values will then become an organising principle of society. Instead, it's up to a society to try to get the balance right between many values, including autonomy. That is what the liberal purists cannot and will not do. They are reductionists, committed to organising society along the lines of a single value, and they therefore constitute the more radical element within the Liberal Party.

65 comments:

  1. The social cannot be divorced from the economic. It is not without coincidence that liberalism has made it main headway after Brenton Woods II.

    The exponential growth of fiat indebtedness necessitates, nay, demands liberal policies to create growth above and beyond the rate of growth of debt.

    Immigration, female roles, family structure, nationalism, traditional culture, conservatism etc. must be liberalized to facilitate this growth. Its not an option but is now a fact of governance.

    The best short course on the net all conservatives must see to get a global view of the economics behind liberalism. About 19 chapters but one of the best couple of hours you'll ever spend.

    Chris Martenson

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0WuQ5-t3xM&feature=related

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  2. This is a brilliant website, truly one of kind in Australia. But, can you please spend the money or get some investors and set up a proper website, even a cheap layout like hotair.com would be enough. And also make it visually appealing, post video links, pictures, have polls, this type of thing will get you more hits and more influence. The internet is the only thing that conservatives have left - even the Australian has sold out.

    Cheers

    G

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  3. For what it’s worth, Brandis is a practicing homosexual. I find that homosexual “right wingers” are really libertarians because they want to reconcile their lifestyles with something more “respectable”.

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  4. Kilroy that is a disgusting comment. you think that a person cannot be respectable because of their sexuality? Interesting how your immature mind has not progressed to the point where you judge people on their merit, rather than their lifestyle.

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  5. Jack,

    I'd rather the discussion focus on Brandis's politics rather than his homosexuality.

    But even so, I thought that Kilroy's comment was legitimate. Brandis believes that the only legitimate value is that of individual autonomy: of there being no limit on what you choose to do, unless it impairs the autonomy of someone else.

    Mightn't that have some particular appeal for a homosexual? Doesn't it automatically make legitimate any kind of homosexual practice or lifestyle?

    Kilroy perhaps had in mind the American right-wing blogger Andrew Sullivan when making his comment.

    Having said all that, I hope we don't get sidetracked by this issue. There are plenty of heterosexual libertarians/liberals/moderns. We have to be able to criticise the political arguments as they stand, regardless of who makes them.

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  6. First of all, I did not say that I believe “a person cannot be respectable because of their sexuality”, as implied by Jack above.

    If you read my post again you will note what I actually wrote, namely, that “I find that homosexual ‘right wingers’ are really libertarians because they want to reconcile their lifestyles with something more ‘respectable’.

    Let’s dissect this without hyperventilating for just a minute, shall we, Jacko?

    [a] The statement is an opinion based on personal experience: note the use of “I find”. I have actually had this explained to me by homosexuals in the conservative wing of the Liberal Party who leave the faction and go left, or merge with the libertarian “rightists”, ie it’s not just my opinion, it’s the opinion of the gays I’ve met and discussed this with [b] The object to which my use of the term “respect” relates, is conservatism, not any particular sexual lifestyle [c] The statement is also speculative, namely, my belief that self identifying rightists that are homosexual are constructively libertarian because their lifestyles incline them away from a social agenda based on normative theory: they prefer to base their politics on a philosophy built around the pre-eminence of personal choice, whatever it may be. This belief is compounded by the testimonial evidence offered to me by said gays above.

    So there.

    But not one to disappoint liberals such as yourself, Jacko, here’s something for you to froth at the mouth over:

    Despite my not actually having made the statement that you accuse me of making in my last post, for the record, I nevertheless do believe that homosexuality is a psycho-sexual disorder. KAPOW! It's functional aspect is irrational. ZAP! It’s an inherently destructive "lifestyle" which is a greater health risk than smoking. BAZINGA! The correlation between homosexualism and paedophilia is also beyond doubt SMACK! (unless one appeals to advocacy research by gay groups and their sympathisers). WHACK! Accordingly, the prevalence of the homosexual lifestyle is not something to celebrate. BIFF!

    Swallowed your teeth yet buddy?

    Now, before you pop a hernia frantically typing a response to me in shock and outrage that somebody has the audacity to disagree with the prevailing gaypassionate mood of pop-culture – ask yourself: is it worth it?

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  7. In the US, the slogan "The personal is political" was popular some 30 years ago. At the time it made me laugh; eating is political? Using the loo is political? In the years since then I've come to know some "foodies" who earnestly will drone on about "food politics", and of course the US Congress decided that toilet design was part of its job. So my japes were rather hollow and foolish, because I failed to appreciate how variants of Marxism really do demand to wedge themselves into every cranny of life.

    What if we turn the slogan around: "The political is personal". Rather a lot of the left takes any criticism of their politics as a deep personal affront. Whatever the hot button issue du jour is, if you aren't falling in line, you are attacked not as wrongheaded, not as wrong thinking, but as a bad, even evil, person.

    It's not original to point out that leftists approach their politics as a kind of quasi-religion, but the fervor is surely there. Perhaps the feverish emotion is because for leftists, their political positions are intimately bound up with personal life, and thus the "personal is political" is more than a slogan, much more.

    Thus to the liberal, leftist, what have you any restriction on "choice" or autonomy is a direct attack upon their own self image. Perhaps they have taken DeCartes notion of "cogito, ergo sum" and changed it to "I choose, therefore I am", and thus to limit or restrict choice is an attack upon their very existence.

    This would explain the rather vehement reaction one gets from far too many lib/left upon pointing out that some choices are simply bad, and thus should be out of bounds.

    "The personal is political" thus turns out not to be a slogan, but to be some people's organizing principle for their own life, and their ideal for society as a whole.

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  8. Mark,

    'Brandis believes that the only legitimate value is that of individual autonomy: of there being no limit on what you choose to do, unless it impairs the autonomy of someone else.'

    Because authoritarians like yourself obviously believe that freedom is a bad thing and people need to be told how to behave and what to do for 'their own good' right?

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  9. 'something for you to froth at the mouth over'

    Wow your immature tirade says far more about conservative authoritarians than I ever could.

    'The correlation between homosexualism and paedophilia is also beyond doubt'

    LMAO HAHAHAHA mate you obviously never studied statistics if you think a correlation actually proves anything. even someone as ignorant as yourself has ever heard the statement 'correlations does not imply causation' right? LOL go do a first year statistics course at uni mate and you can see all the lovely correlations you can come up with - there's quite a strong one between ice cream sales and crime. do you think one of these is causing the other? LMAO

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  10. The arrogant, authoritarian pricks on this website are every bit as annoying as the latte left PC pricks who comment on crikey and new matilda. How about both sides piss off and mind their own business. But they can't do that because they think they have the moral right to force themselves and the government into people's lives and tell them how to live, what to do, what they aren't allowed to do, etc etc. That's why liberalism views freedom as the supreme value - because otherwise you just end up with leftwing and rightwing authoritarian dickheads abusing their power because they arrogantly believe it is their right to enforce their own morals.

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  11. Well, now, looks like an automatic cliche generator has found this blog.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Well actually I would say the conservative sprouting a load of homophobia is a greater cliche than anything I've said in response. I still find it amusing how the fool thinks that a correlation actually proves anything. And my comments about alter boys were mainly in retaliation to the idiot who was obviously trying to piss me off. Initially I flirted with the idea of subtly refuting the existance of his god, but thought it best to stick with something simple - especially as he obviously lacks an education.

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  14. Jack,

    The left-wingers are liberals. Their attitude is that if autonomy defines us as human then it must be shared equally, otherwise some are more human than others - a breach of human equality.

    And, yes, that does call for the radical remaking of society.

    But so too does the right liberal or libertarian view. Once you set autonomy as the supreme good - the organising principle of society that decides issues - as Brandis does, then it's a case of the political class intrusively remaking society against the wishes of the rest of society.

    Let's say that more men than women go into politics. Have the right liberals accepted such a situation any more than left liberals? No, because it suggests that a predetermined quality like our sex still matters in society. And that offends against the autonomy principle.

    And so even the right liberal parties set up quotas and affirmative action programmes to remake society along the lines suggested by the autonomy principle.

    But remaking society so that predetermined qualities like our sex or our ethnicity no longer matter requires a lot of formal and informal suppression of more traditional social relations in favour of newer uniform, market driven or bureaucratised ones.

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  15. I agree with both Kilroy and Jack arguments, minus the tone.

    I agree with Kilroy in that the functional aspect of homosexuality is irrational. However, I agree with Jack in that we all have the right to act out irrational behavior and these rights are self evident. Having said that, I think the crux of the debate is neither of these points. I believe the debate should be directed to the idea of “unless it impairs the autonomy of someone else”. Or better yet, unless I don’t have to pay for it! Is it possible for two cultures to live together in the same political order? Patrick Fagan, Ph.D answers this in his speech at the World Congress of Families in Amsterdam on August 12, 2009.

    So here is my 2 cents. Gays can be gays and bums can be bums as long as my taxes don’t pay their negative consequences. Or better yet, I will draw a boarder here and you can live over there and do what ever you like, but don’t be crying at my boarder asking for help when your life style fails!

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  16. Mark I'm a classical liberal and I, like most classical liberals just believe in a smaller government that has no right to enforce people to do things that they do not wish to do. if society wishes to hold conservative values then I honestly have no problem with this. My only quarrel occurs when people try to use the coercive authority of the government to force those values on others.

    Oh, and quite frankly I don't care about the gender of the people who go into politics just so long as they are elected based on merit, rather then gender. If the only good candidates were men I would be just as happy to have 100% of our mps be male, and I would feel the reverse if all the quality candidates were female.

    Mark in your article one of the reasons you stated why freedom and autonomy is not the ultimate value is because:
    'What, for instance, if the things that matter most to people require a distinct social setting in which people cooperate to achieve certain outcomes?'

    Quite frankly if those things matter to people it should be their right to associate together and cooperate of their own free will. The government should not get involved because it is none of the government's business what people do in their social lives so long as it does not harm others.

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  17. Anonymous the position you have taken, stating 'we all have the right to act out irrational behavior and these rights are self evident.' is exactly a classical liberal position, the same view i hold myself. even if you disagree with the lifestyles of certain people, or what they do with their lives, it is really none of our business what they do so long as they do not harm another person in the process. Quite frankly that's all classical liberalism is - the view that we do not have the right to use the coercive authority of the state to force people to do things - basically negative freedom - absence of force.

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  18. Also I apologise for my crass examples before, as kilroy intended he rather annoyed me, however it still doesn't detract from my point that it is a statistical fact that correlation can never prove causation. If kilroy came back with a regression equation then that would be actually mathematical evidence for his claim.

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  19. Jack: “… you obviously never studied statistics if you think a correlation actually proves anything

    I have studied statistics, in psychology no less, at a major Australian university. Correlations are used extensively to measure the likelihood and probability of causation, or at least the connection of one thing to another.

    Jack: “when are you going to calculate the correlation between being a catholic [sic] priest [sic] and fucking little boys?

    Never, since the correlation is nil. The amount of molesting Priests in the RCC is a fraction of a fraction of a single percent. However, the amount of homosexuals molesting children is roughly equal to heterosexuals. Since gays make up no more than five to ten percent of the population, that strongly indicates a connection between homosexualism and paedophilia. Simple.

    Moreover, you may be interested in the following from the NCR web site which states very clearly that the existing molestation problem in the Catholic Church is due to the presence of homosexual Priests:

    What is really driving Feuerherd's anger are my comments to the media regarding the fact that most of the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is the work of homosexual priests. It is. Kevin Cullen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the priestly sexual abuse scandal in The Boston Globe, summarized the findings of a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice: ‘Of the 10,667 reported victims [between 1950 and 2002], 81 percent were male, the report said, and more than three-quarters of the victims were post-pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.’ Which obviously means this was the work of homosexuals. By the way, the American Pediatric Association defines puberty as beginning at age 10 for boys. Cullen also interviewed Robert S. Bennett, the Washington lawyer who headed the National Review Board that prepared a report on this issue. After saying that there were many fine homosexual priests, he said that ‘any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.’ If we are to get to the bottom of this problem, we must stop the cover-up and start telling the truth: the link between homosexuality and the molestation of minors is real.

    Jack: “why don't you work out the correlation between the amount of covering up the church does vs the amount of alter boys being raped?

    This question is unintelligible. In any case, I refer you to the quote above. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did posting it here for your and others’ benefit.

    Have a nice day.

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  20. Kilroy,
    'I have studied statistics, in psychology no less, at a major Australian university. Correlations are used extensively to measure the likelihood and probability of causation, or at least the connection of one thing to another.'

    You obviously never listened to your statistics lecturer if you think that correlation tells you the probability of causation. You must have gotten mixed up when you learned the coefficient of determination because you seem to think that it someone proves that one is causing the other.

    One of the very first things you learn in a first year statistics course is that correlation proves NOTHING about causation, and they use extreme examples to prove this point - for instance sea temperatures and the number of pirates in the world has a correlation of -0.93 - an almost perfect correlation. do you think that proves that one is causing the other?

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  21. Amusing how your source is written by a bunch of catholics who have been taught to hate homosexuals even before they knew what they were.

    Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).

    In a more recent literature review, Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (1998) similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women" (p. 259).

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  22. I have no idea why we are talking about this...

    But there is a link between pedophilia and homosexuality.

    I can 'Bring It' if I need to on this subject.....if y'all want....just say go...

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  23. dude I don't even have to dig up research just read Jean Genet and Allen Ginsburg and get involved with the NAMBLA 'man-boy' love community ....seriously jack you don't want to journey here...I did in college....yuck...

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  24. Well actually the vast majority of pedophiles have no interest in adult relationships because they're so emotionally immature they need children. So quite frankly pedophilia and homosexuality are two completely different things.

    And Kilroy can say that pedophiles are more likely to be child molesters if he has to evidence, however he is obviously ignorant of statistics if he thinks that a correlation between two things proves that one is causing the other.

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  25. Jack you better start googling NAMBLA. In California, those dudes and their related 'spin off groups' (there are several others) were giving money to a lot of the pro gay marriage campaigns.

    In college I knew a lot of gay professors (I did the queer lit program) who were very open with me on their first sexual experiences and what age they were and who with, and their sexual abuse history.

    When you actually get involved in the gay community (assuming your straight) then there is a dark seedy underbelly that has an agenda. Bill Surkis in Canada..the dudes in the US who were adopting kids on purpose for certain uses....etc etc etc.....if you keep your eye out in the news then the pattern is there....

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  26. You're completely right that the NAMBLA is seriously messed up and disgusting, however I think its unfair just because there are disgusting members of the gay community to hold it against them all. There are always horrible people regardless of their gender, sexuality, race etc

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  27. I , and I would be most conservatives, in no way shape or form hold creepy men against some very genuinely nice homosexual men. BUT...here's the thing....who wins out? Historically it tends to be the 'radicals' or 'those who want it more' who tend to shape policy. All the nice gay guys are too busy being nice to go after politics and try to 'mold society' in their image. Its the people who want to change society...slowly at first...then faster and faster....that are the problem...and they by personality tend to be the weird misfit types.

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  28. Mark said,

    "I'd rather the discussion focus on Brandis's politics rather than his homosexuality."

    Which was followed by a plea for this discussion not to be sidetracked and then Boom, that is exactly what happened. This is an idiotic level of argument.

    Jack comes in with maybe a valid debating point and then its all "authoritarian" this and the other. You just can't give some people nice things, in this case an open forum, without it degenerating.

    Pull yourself together and start a flame war elsewhere. And Kilroy for God's sake why do you take the bait? Get over it and stop filling the thread with pointless dissention.

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  29. Jack has been absolutely *hammered* by Kilroy.

    Oh yes, another 'classical liberal'.

    Classical liberals are more useless idiots who simply go along with the leftist agenda.

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  30. Jess wrote: “Jack comes in with maybe a valid debating point and then its all "authoritarian" this and the other. You just can't give some people nice things, in this case an open forum, without it degenerating.

    Pray tell, what “point” would that be? Look, his language (ie the use of “authoritarian”) betrays his own bigotry against any social/political system based on a universal moral code. He is a liberal, to the core. If a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and prominent Washington lawyer isn’t sufficient to back up an argument, then nothing ever will be. Jack is an ideologue blinded by his own biases. That is the best reason why debating him is futile: he’s not looking for an exchange of ideas or to understand the other side, he’s looking for validation. I confess I am astounded that you should plead that I, a Trad, should desist debating him on a Trad forum while the neck twitching nonsense of this liberal is admitted as a “valid debating point.” Bizarre.

    Jess wrote: “Pull yourself together and start a flame war elsewhere. And Kilroy for God's sake why do you take the bait? Get over it and stop filling the thread with pointless dissention.

    Huh? Jess, follow the thread: he replied to me, I retorted to his gratuitous claims about what I wrote and bigoted statements about the Catholic Church. I haven’t “taken the bait” any more than you have by writing the above. Also, I relish the opportunity to dissertate on the topic of normative sexuality and concede only that it is indeed off-topic somewhat.

    I will only add that this exchange, such as it is, has been useful to highlight the fundamental difference between the (Trad) Conservative worldview with the libertarian; furthermore, it has underlined how similar the libertarian is to the liberal. That should bring the thread back to its original debating “point.”

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  31. "One of the very first things you learn in a first year statistics course is that correlation proves NOTHING about causation"

    You're wrong. A correlation proves there is some kind of relationship, direct or otherwise. It is thus the first step in determining whether there is a causal link.

    Jack, as a classical liberal, would you allow religious communities to hold land in common, to run their own schools, and to impose their own rules on their members? If so, would you let them expel members for breach of their rules -- however illiberal the rules might be?

    It seems to me that the above example would pass your litmus test of free association. Or am I missing something?

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  32. Peter just because there is a relationship between two variables proves nothing about causation. As I said before, let Kilroy show me a regression equation as mathematical evidence of causation or he should shut up.

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  33. And Kilroy you all betray your biases with the numerous assumptions you make about me - for instance Mark automatically

    and you fellows make just as many sweeping generalisations about me as I have about any of you. I still am interested to see how you were going to reinforce your views on society though - if you dare say legislation then yes, that is authoritarian. If people want to be conservative of their own free will, fine, just don't force them to do it.

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  34. And Kilroy you all betray your biases with the numerous assumptions you make about me - for instance Mark automatically

    and you fellows make just as many sweeping generalisations about me as I have about any of you. I still am interested to see how you were going to reinforce your views on society though - if you dare say legislation then yes, that is authoritarian. If people want to be conservative of their own free will, fine, just don't force them to do it.

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  35. And Kilroy I have the vast wealth of scientific literature supporting my favour. What part of most pedophiles have no interest in adult relationships do you not understand? Still I guess I can't expect too much from a fool who suggesting that a correlations proves causation.

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  36. Oh, and Peter again, try to think back to statistics lectures if you did study this subject at university. If you had a good lecturer then they would have drilled into you that correlation was the weakest statistical test and proving a relationship between two variables does not provide any evidence of causation. If you had written a paper saying that because two things were correlated, and therefore one was causing the other, you'd have gotten an instant fail.

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  37. Peter of course people are free to join and religious group and do what they want. the government would not stop them. however those religious groups should still be held accountable for the law - especially when they cover up child abuse for years. Tell me - if the pope was the CEO of an international childcare agency that had some of its carers molest children and then they covered it up, most of the catholic church who were involved in the cover up would be in jail now.

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  38. I have yet to have someone give me an answer despite my repeated questions: how do you suggest you will impose your conservative values on society? I've read many of the articles on the blog and they rant about the liberal society in which we live - so how would you change it? Because if any of you say that you'd use legislation to force people to abide to what you want then I'm afraid yes, it is authoritarian.

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  39. I know Jack started off on the left foot, I mean the wrong foot, but I have to agree on his point about causation. Sure, a relationship is the start of a hypothesis, but it is not the end all cause. We all know about the relationship with singing to a plant and its rapid increase in growth. But the increase in growing more rapidly than not singing to a plant is not the singing itself, but rather the carbon dioxide blowing onto the plant from the person singing. So sure there is a relationship with singing and rapid plant growth, but the cause is carbon dioxide. I think this is the point that Jack wanted to convey.

    I personally lean towards a libertarian view so I can answer Peter Frost question with a yes; as long as the individual has the freedom to leave that utopian society and as long as that individual is not harmed. Essentially we are all authoritarians (totalitarians) to our children, but there must come a point where they must leave the parent and live on their own. I think the United States was on the right track when they originally left it up to the states and local leaders to determine what is best for their posterity and not have a one rule all governing body. That is why libertarians are very anti Federal Government, not anti government. In the end libertarians are not interested in bubble rapping everything so no one gets hurt; we rather focus on liberty with strong consequences. That’s the problem these days, no consequences and accountability to ones harmful actions.

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  40. The clash between libertarians and left liberals over the meaning of individual autonomy, as illustrated in the comments of Jack, indicates that having one overriding ideological principle doesn't lead to political unity.

    Indeed, even libertarians are now deeply divided, with mainstream libertarians in the U.S. now abandoning the principle of freedom of association for fear of being branded sexist or racist by those left liberals which libertarians claim they are opposed to.

    Anonymous one, I agree that Keynesian and neoliberal economics have been a powerful stimulus to modern liberalism. Note how nearly all mainstream left liberals are now pro-borrowing, pro-service economy, pro-free traders.

    Rudd's recent comments about the mining sector being bad for the modern multicultural education industry is classic contemporary left liberalism tactics.

    Traditional conservatives believe in balancing the needs of the short-term with those of the long term, and not putting all your economic eggs in one basket, but in the economic views of mainstream liberals only the short-term matters.

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  41. What I cannot understand is why Jack - whoever he might be - is too ignorant to realise that his "classical-liberal" drivelling is in fact Frankfurt-School-Marxist sex education, decked out with Kinsey-style fake statistics. And we all (OK, all except Jack) know how Kinsey got those statistics.

    (Though I don't recall even the Frankfurt schoolers throwing around four-letter words as Jack does.)

    We also know that what Catholic priests are being accused (sometimes justly, more often not) of doing is what the pagan Left has been doing and lauding for decades. Get that into your skull, Jack, this time with bold type: what the pagan Left has been doing and lauding for decades.

    All Jack needs to do is to Google "Daniel Cohn-Bendit" and/or "Harriet Harman" alongside the word "pedophilia". He needn't even go to the trouble of reading a book, since giving him a book would be - as Evelyn Waugh said of a famous sodomite - like putting "a Sevres vase in the hands of a chimpanzee".

    OzConservative is clearly identified as a traditional conservative site. What part of that does Jack not understand?

    And quite frankly, shame on you too, Mr Richardson, for allowing such a troll to spew forth his four-letter words unchecked. If you can't impose the bare minimum of verbal decorum on your own website's comments box you don't deserve to have a website. If I want four-letter words I'll go to the nearest atheist kindergarten.

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  42. I think the significance of Jack's comments is as follows.

    I wrote a piece pointing out that liberalism - even of the "right-liberal" variety - has radical rather than moderate consequences for society. That it leads to the radical remaking of society.

    There are lots of liberals who don't want to recognise this. They prefer to believe that liberalism is somehow neutral in its effects.

    So Jack has come in, put the "classicial liberalism just means non-interference" line and counterattacked with the claim that it is traditionalists who are authoritarians.

    As traditionalists take on liberals we are going to hear this over and over. It's a very convenient position for liberals to hold. Even while liberals are imposing their own worldview or ideology on the rest of society they get to believe that they are the neutral, non-coercive ones.

    I don't think the "liberalism is neutral" line is credible. First, liberalism affects society even in its philosophical assumptions - in preferring to start with the idea of abstracted, atomised individuals. This in itself undermines the defence or even the recognition of communal goods.

    Second, once you establish ideas about what it means to be human, and what social justice requires, then it's unlikely that people will simply be left alone to pursue traditional goods. In practice, all of the liberal governments in the West - all of them - have fallen in line with suppressing traditional goods in favour of liberal ones.

    A good example was the switch from the traditional national identity here in Australia to a multicultural one. Bob Hawke, a left-liberal, once boasted that this was able to be imposed on a more "backward" electorate because he and the right-liberals had a deal to keep it as a bipartisan issue.

    Did the classical liberal types - the Malcolm Frasers and Petro Georgious - spring to the defence of the goods preferred by the common man? Not in the least. They went along with the suppression, thinking of it as a great liberal cause.

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  43. And quite frankly, shame on you too, Mr Richardson, for allowing such a troll to spew forth his four-letter words unchecked. If you can't impose the bare minimum of verbal decorum on your own website's comments box you don't deserve to have a website. If I want four-letter words I'll go to the nearest atheist kindergarten.

    That's unfair. I've spent five years running this site and the language on the discussion threads is amongst the best you'll get anywhere.

    You wouldn't know this but I've got a three week old in the house, a wife suffering PPE, 150 reports to write after I come home from work at about half an hour each and a terrible cold.

    And so one f-word slips through. I don't mind you pointing it out or even encouraging its removal, but it's excessive to respond the way you did.

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  44. Reeves I look forward to you proving that people like John Locke had secret Marxist sympathies - since you seem to presume that is what influenced classical liberalism.

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  45. Mark, you're right, there is not a lot of unity between classical liberals and modern liberals, and there is a lot of debate as to whether they should even be classed together. I think having two definitions of freedom - positive and negative - to try and link the ideologies is just absurd.

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  46. Mark if you had a pure classical liberal government wouldn't it have no effect on the views of people in society and what they do? If its only purpose is basically just defense, and a few other things then it isn't really influencing people is it? People are free to associate just as they please, they are free to hold conservative values, do whatever they like, just so long as they do not harm others or try to force their beliefs on others.

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  47. Reeves you dare attack me for quoting an actual academic report from several sources when all Kilroy did was give me a link to a catholic website?

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  48. Wow! Twelve posts, the first seven in rapid succession! I must admire Jack's commitment, but it is starting to border just a little on the obsessive. Hmmm... is there a Freudian in the house?

    On the topic of references and sources: There are heaps of “studies” proving this-and-that position in any social controversy. It is my experience that many of those in support of liberal arguments are in large part advocacy research, done by people with either highly partisan attitudes to the subject matter or at least a subconscious bias (mostly noticeable in the language used, the terms of reference of the study and the black-out on non-liberal references in the bibliography etc). The quote I provided was indeed from a Catholic website, but it was clearly a reply by a high ranking member of the laity to the editorial line of the site which was openly leftist and pro-homosexual. So to suggest that the source is “homophobic” is nonsensical. The reverse is actually true. But then again, liberals will never let a bit of thought get in the way of an opinion (“classical” or otherwise). Moreover, the “authorities” mentioned were an academic research institution, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and a prominent lawyer. None of these are good enough for Jack, which illustrates just how much he is interested in “authority” and the truth.

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  49. Kilroy if you continue to quote research that cannot distinguish between pedophilia and homosexuality then you are full of utter crap. The kinds of people who try to foster relationships with children have NO interest in adult relationships with either gender - they just want children. So it is a fallacy to associate that with homosexual adults who engage in consensual relationships.

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  50. Jack, I consider myself a libertarian more or less, but I have never heard of a “classical liberal “ before. I’m interested in what your definition of this phrase is; “unless it impairs the autonomy of someone else”. Sure, we shouldn’t kill people, or punch someone in the face just because we don’t like the way they look, but what about abortion? One person may think it is their God given right to dispose of their undeveloped child, however there is another person in the same society/community/state that thinks otherwise. I personally believe you are impairing the potential child’s autonomy. But not only that, if a state or federal tax helps this abortion, then my autonomy has also been impaired by someone taking my money and using it to do something I believe is immoral. Do you agree?

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  51. The fantasy that modern homosexuals (whether Senators Brandis or Brown or whoever) compartmentalise their lives - in other words that they spend 30 minutes on Wednesday morning in a Kings Cross bath-house and the other 167.5 hours of the week attending an ultra-Presbyterian chapel or whatever - is now denied by the more candid homosexuals themselves.

    You want secular evidence of most homos' promiscuity, even by the wildest heteros' standards? You got it:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090902092752AAXkgOJ

    Of course publicising this sort of thing in the mass media doesn't suit the Queer Nation / Queer World agenda, which is all about "we want to be faithful married couples just like you straights" etc. Twenty years ago the agenda was different. It was all about promoting what Michael Fumento rightly called the myth of heterosexual AIDS. In other words the agenda has changed. But the principles behind the agenda each time - sociopathic self-gratification - haven't changed a bit.

    And still we have no attempt from Jack (even with his prodigious capacity for verbiage) to rebut the truth of how Kinsey acquired the basis for his "statistics".

    Now hear this, Jack: Kinsey persuaded known paedophiles to violate at least 317 infants.

    Now hear this, Jack: he discarded all the evidence he'd collected among prisoners (about 70% of the total) that failed to confirm what he wanted to hear.

    Now hear this, Jack: Kinsey supported bestiality.

    You're not very bright, Jack, and never have been, so I'll spell that last word out for you: b-e-s-t-i-a-l-i-t-y.

    Look up Judith Reisman's researches on Kinsey if you don't believe me.

    Then and then alone will you have any right to set yourself up as a judge upon religion, and to utter obscenities about Catholic priests, who as every Protestant and atheist researcher conversant with the topic admits, sexually offend, per capita, less than does the non-priest population.

    But before you do that, Jack, you have a duty to apologise to everyone on this website whom you have calumniated.

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  52. Jack wrote: “Kilroy if you continue to quote research that cannot distinguish between pedophilia and homosexuality then you are full of utter crap.

    OK, Jacko, try this on for size:

    A study published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience (‘Brain response to visual sexual stimuli in homosexual pedophiles’) analysed “whether brain activation patterns of homosexual pedophiles differed from those of a nonpedophile homosexual control group during visual sexual stimulation” and found that the “central processing of visual sexual stimuli in homosexual pedophiles seems to be comparable to that in nonpedophile control subjects” with the only difference being a “weaker activation pattern” for non-paedophile homosexuals. Thus, the difference was with respect to addiction only.

    Moreover, the October 2007 cumulative review of no less than five hundred and fifty four scientific studies was published in Clinical Paediatrics in which the arguments for and against the connection between paedophilia and sodomy was discussed. Nota bene: no conclusions have yet been reached and the matter is still open to scientific debate, meaning the suggestion that there is a connection between the two deviant sexual behaviours is still reasonable and valid.

    The Journal of Biological Science, November 2006 issue, made it very clear that more research is needed to dispel any theories, and that the accepted wisdom is a product of data exegesis, meaning interpreting the evidence (‘Two hypotheses on the causes of male homosexuality and paedophilia’).

    Of course homosexuals, closeted paedophiles and their useful idiots (read: you) will interpret the data in a way that is exculpatory and illustrates no connection (as a side note, I’ve often wondered why the default position is always to the negative, and why is it defended so vehemently). However, the overwhelming evidence of homosexual attraction between homosexual Priests and young “alter boys” and the like, is highly persuasive of a positive relationship. Gay culture is also quite revealing. The cult of youth within the gay community is public knowledge: the younger your “boi” the greater your prestige. Nobody denies this, except, of course, people more concerned about not “discriminating” because their ultimate virtue is “being nice”, always, at any price.

    In conclusion: people like you are part of the problem. You think you’re being “open minded”, but really, you liberals, (classical, libertarian, whatever) are some of the most ideologically driven and narrow sighted lot.

    With that, I’m off to dinner.

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  53. Reeves yes I've heard about this before and most people know that while most homosexual people want the right to be able to get married, only approximately 40% of them say they will if they can. So they see it as more of a movement for equality.

    I fail to see how you bringing in a random fellow called Kinsey proves anything. I can come up with some pretty messed up heterosexual too - do you think that proves all heterosexuals are twisted?

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  54. Mr. Reeves,

    I waiver my claim to Jack's apology.

    I believe he's embarrassed himself sufficiently already and I always enjoy tearing liberals apart.

    The pleasure was all mine.

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  55. 'Of course homosexuals, closeted paedophiles and their useful idiots (read: you) will interpret the data in a way that is exculpatory and illustrates no connection'

    Kilroy, ever heard of the null hypothesis mate? You probably haven't because you have no understanding of what statistics is, but it assumes there is NO ASSOCIATION between them until PROVEN otherwise.

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  56. Anonymous classical liberal is basically the way liberals distinguish themselves from modern liberals - its a belief in negative freedom. As far as I am aware libertarianism and classical liberalism are pretty much the same thing, it just got changed because in america the word liberal has been poisoned by the conservatives.

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  57. Jack,

    I deleted two of your comments, one for a personal attack on another commenter and one for bad language.

    I'm also going to delete any further discussion on this particular thread on pedophilia. It's not that I want to censor any debate on the issue, but that it's not directly relevant to the original post.

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  58. "I can answer Peter Frost question with a yes; as long as the individual has the freedom to leave that utopian society and as long as that individual is not harmed."

    If a libertarian society allows a community to hold land in common and to impose its own rules on its members (who can then be expelled for breaking these rules), what is the difference between this community and a State?

    Is it the fact that members are free to leave? But isn't this true for most nation states? "America love it or leave it?" When I talk with libertarians, I get the impression they want to kick collective identity out the front door while letting collective identities enter freely through the back door.

    In practice, this has the effect of stripping the established majority culture of any means of collective self-defence, while leaving the way clear for minority cultures. The nation state is, after all, the outgrowth of a particular nation, i.e., a people.

    We see this with the United States. It was founded by Anglo-Protestants, and it wasn't until the 1960s that its elites opened up to people of other origins. Today, Anglo-Protestants still make up just under half the U.S. population, but they now are excluded from the Supreme Court and account for less than a quarter of all admissions to Ivy League universities.

    This situation has come about because Anglo-Protestants can no longer advance their interests collectively. They're expected to act only as individuals while everyone else can fall back on ethnic networking.

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  59. Sure, we shouldn’t kill people, or punch someone in the face just because we don’t like the way they look, but what about abortion? One person may think it is their God given right to dispose of their undeveloped child, however there is another person in the same society/community/state that thinks otherwise. I personally believe you are impairing the potential child’s autonomy.

    This question wasn't addressed to me, but as a Christian and a self-professed libertarian, the answer is rather simple:


    Abortion is murder, and is therefore a trespass against the right to life.


    Furthermore, libertarianism isn't about there being no limits on peoples' behavior. It's about not using the violence of the state to enforce those limits that do not involve severe trespasses. There are other ways of limiting people's behavior that do not involve locking them in jail; such as allowing them to suffer the natural consequences of their behavior, social shaming, excommunication, etc.

    At its core, libertarianism is the idea that vices are not crimes, and should not be handled as such. We only now rely on the state to handle everything because of the breakdown of all other control mechanisms: family, religion, community, etc. My faith (Catholicism) stresses the importance of subsidiarity -- handling things at the lowest level possible. Handing over all control mechanisms to the state goes directly against this teaching.

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  60. Alte,

    Thanks for answering my question. I guess I am a libertarian; seeing that I share the same views as you do, or at least agree in everything you have said regarding libertarianism. Structuring words is not my strong point, so thanks for better clarification.

    I think the impulse for conservatives is to dismiss libertarianism as you said, “there being no limits on peoples' behavior.” And I very much agree with your statement, “Handing over all control mechanisms to the state goes directly against this teaching.”

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  61. Peter Frost,

    I was the one who answered that question that you rebuttaled and I think you are right for the most part, (so does Mr. Richardson apparently). However, I believe you are strengthening the libertarian argument, seeing that the United States has moved far away from the founding fathers ideologies. So its not libertarianism that in destroying America, but the Federal Government; the exact opposite. And as Alte has already stated, “We only now rely on the state to handle everything because of the breakdown of all other control mechanisms: family, religion, community, etc.”. It is “Big Government that steps in and says, you have to hire this women because she is a minority! Not because of her qualifications.

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  62. Anon,

    Then why not define yourself as an American traditionalist? Why not say that you believe in the kind of U.S. government that existed until the 1960s?

    My problem with libertarianism is the same problem I have with any ideology. It's a simplification of reality. Libertarians believe that a free society will spontaneously self-generate as long as government gets out of the way. In fact, the free society of the "Old America" resulted from a unique set of cultural, social, and demographic circumstances. It will not self-generate elsewhere in the world and it's increasingly doubtful whether it will self-generate in today's America.

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  63. Peter Frost said,
    “My problem with libertarianism is the same problem I have with any ideology. It's a simplification of reality. Libertarians believe that a free society will spontaneously self-generate as long as government gets out of the way.”

    This is exactly what I hear from conservatives every time I tell them I am a libertarian. I guess this is just a “petty argument about semantics.” So if I am an American traditionalist so be it. However, I believe in the kind of Government that existed before the Creation of First Central Bank and I do not believe in slavery. I also believe in woman suffrage, (the right of women to vote and to run for office). So technically I’m not an American traditionalist either.

    Peter, you’re assuming that libertarian’s approach complicated problems in a simplistic way just because they declare a simple ideology? That would be like me telling Jesus Christ he is over simplifying things when he declared “be ye therefore perfect.” Common sense tells us that no one can possibly achieve perfection in this life, but somehow Priest tells us we should strive for this end. I believe it’s an individual that over simplifies things not the ideology. After all, ideologies are just ideals. Ideals do not make decisions, people do; ideals just point us in the right direction.

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