Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A devouring ideology

More important than which political party is in power is the state ideology. Governments come and go, but the state ideology remains as an ongoing basis for policy decisions which determine the direction of society.

So what is our state ideology? In Australia, as elsewhere in the West, the state ideology is liberalism. Liberalism is one of the most radical of ideologies as it is based on a single, overriding good which society is expected to conform to.

Liberals would describe that good as “freedom” or perhaps as “equal freedom” but they mean something very specific by this. They mean that the individual should be unimpeded in self-defining, or self-creating, or self-determining their existence, in other words, that the individual should be autonomous.

That sounds appealing, but when it is made the sole organising good of society, it has exceptionally radical outcomes.

It means that anything that we cannot self-determine is looked on negatively as an impediment to our freedom.

What can’t we self-determine? We do not get to choose which sex we are. Therefore, liberals are forced to conclude that our sex should be made not to matter. The liberal future is a unisex one, in which men and women are expected to live undifferentiated lives.

That’s why gender equality in a liberal state is not thought of as ‘equal but different’ or as ‘equal with complementary roles’ but as ‘equal with the same roles’. Where roles continue to differ it is assumed to be the product of sexism or discrimination and the state intervenes with policies or laws to overcome the situation.

There are liberals who even question the reality of sex distinctions. They believe that the distinction between male and female is a social construct rather than a natural reality. For instance, Professor Judith Butler has written that,

... gender is a performance ... Because there is neither an “essence” that gender expresses or externalizes nor an objective ideal to which gender aspires; because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all. Gender is, thus, a construction...

Similarly, an influential Australian academic, Dr Michael Flood believes that we should not,

take as given the categories of "men" and "women". The binaries of male and female are socially produced ...

The Swedish government has made it official state policy that sex distinctions are nothing more than social constructs. Jens Orback, a government minister, declared that,

The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideologies.

Another Swedish state official, Monica Silvell, followed up by noting that as a result of the new thinking in her country,

The old view of men and women complementing one another was replaced by the notion that the sexes were basically similar.

Nor is our sex the only thing we don’t get to self-determine. We also don’t get to choose our own ethnicity. That means that the older national traditions which were largely based on shared ethnicity are considered morally wrong by liberals. They are to be replaced by nations in which people are bound together by a shared commitment to a political ideology which, conveniently for liberals, is liberalism.

That’s why David Cameron, the British PM, responded earlier this year to concerns about a lack of a unifying identity in the UK by talking about the need to push the liberal ideology harder on society:

we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home. Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active muscular liberalism.

Cameron went so far as to claim that anyone who didn’t believe in liberalism didn’t belong in the UK:

A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them … It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things.

But is liberalism much of a basis for unifying a society? The Oxford Companion to Philosophy in its entry on liberalism doubts that it is:

A similar question has been raised about the long-term political stability of a liberal society. Non-liberal societies are typically held together by shared conceptions of the good, such as a common religion, or by common ethnicity. Members of these societies are willing to make sacrifices for each other because of their commonalities. But what holds a [liberal] society together?

Some liberals suggest that the tie that binds the citizens of a liberal society is simply a shared commitment to liberal principles of freedom and equality. It is debatable whether this is a 'thick' enough bond to keep a society together.

Conservative critics have argued that the stability of liberal societies is based on a pre-liberal sense of shared identity. Citizens of England, for example, do not see each other primarily as individual rights-holders, but as fellow members of the English nation, with a shared history and culture. This gives rise to a sense of solidarity which is prior to, and deeper than, a shared commitment to liberalism. It is this national solidarity which explains why the English work together, and make sacrifices for each other. Conservatives worry that this sense of being members of the same 'people' or culture or community is gradually being eroded by the individualism of liberal rights, which treats people in abstraction from their communal ties and responsibilities.

...few liberals are willing to acknowledge that these liberal nation states depend for their viability not only on adherence to liberal values, but also on the inculcation of deeper feelings of national identity.

Because we don’t get to self-determine our sex or our ethnicity, liberals treat these negatively as impediments to individual freedom. So we are to be freed from being men or women, Australians or Canadians, rather than as these things. The liberal mistake is to make autonomy the sole, overriding good, rather than one good to be balanced with many others. Liberalism is a devouring ideology, and unfortunately it is our state ideology.

9 comments:

  1. "to belong here is to believe in these things"

    If this is true, one wonders why the UK, and to a lesser extent Australia, is so solicitous of Muslim demands and so accomodating of Muslim immigration. They manifestly don't believe in those things, and say so quite publicly.

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  2. ...So we are to be freed from being men or women, Australians or Canadians, rather than as these things.

    I don't believe liberalism frees us from our nationality, but rather it changes the notion of what nationality means. In a non-liberal society, nationality would be a trait that is not self-determined, much like gender or race i.e. an innate part of a person's identity. Liberalism changes the nation from a community connected by traditions or traits (such as religion, ethnicity, race, culture .etc.) to a group of people who agree to live together and accept liberalism as the communities' political ideology.

    By the way Mark, Eltham is a lovely suburb, especially compared with the western suburbs cesspool I’m stuck in. Are you making much progress with the Eltham Traditionalists?

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  3. Some progress. I've built up a small list of contacts - of people who have emailed in. I'm about to start up a bulletin. Hopefully within the next couple of years there'll be a little group which meets up at a local cafe or pub.

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  4. More important than which political party is in power is the state ideology.

    That is why I dislike the concentration of some conservatives on politics instead of things like culture, religion, ethics, entertainment and philosophy which shapes the mind. You acquire the mind and the soul and it's finished.

    Liberalism is a devouring ideology, and unfortunately it is our state ideology.

    I wonder when there will be a movement throughout the world for the secession of societies. Liberals can immigrate and continue creating their own liberal societies while conservatives can create their own societies.

    This is perhaps a viable solution no? Or are liberals so parasitic that they will not go of their host?

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  5. Mark, is it not better characterized as a dissolving ideology. It leaves component objects in place temporarily but erodes the bonds between them. Then any force can collapse the structure without much effort.

    Reflect for a moment on historical societies, the formed hierarchical power structures were based on talent and risk. It's almost impossible for western civilization to understand why people would be comfortable with dictators. Democracy has degenerated into an almost occult like philosophy - numerology.

    Democracy is invalid as a ruling principle for this reason; those in power are not stake holders in the consequences of the decisions they make.

    Is abortion right? - the answer: 142. Should some prevaricating, adulterous lech rule over us? The answer is always 51%.

    At least dictators had to make a compelling moral case to their subjects, in that they're willing to risk something (usually their lives) for the power they hold over them.

    In our culture the answers to important moral and ethical questions are nothing more than numbers. Are men and women the same? 112. Should men marry men? 5 to 4.

    Little wonder our elites can get away with the treasonous actions they're imposing on us. Numbers hold ordinary people transfixed, frozen from action by the same superstitious fears of a less enlightened age.

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  6. Mark if you want to get converts design a leaflet, not an essay.

    Not trying to be mean, but most people are not as smart as you Mark!

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  7. ""Democracy is invalid as a ruling principle for this reason; those in power are not stake holders in the consequences of the decisions they make.""

    I would disagree.

    Democracy at its localised best gives local communities power over the things that matter to them, housing developments etc.

    I agree that you should not simply get the vote at 18, it should be earned in some minor way, by paying income tax perhaps.

    The principle that if you pay into the pot you should have a say in how it is spent and if you don't then you shouldn't is a decent one.

    A property qualification [which excludes me]would probably lead to a more responsible voting public, but restricting the francise to this extent would be problematic.

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  8. JesseJames,

    No offence taken. You might be right, but I'm looking at this stage for people who are interested in ideas. I want to see if I can gather together half a dozen or so people in a local area. We'll see.

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  9. No offense taken Mark it is your blog!

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