Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moral liberalism

I've focused a lot on the differences between right and left liberals. But it appears to me that there is another distinction, one which I will very loosely call, just for the sake of this post, a distinction between political and moral liberals.

I'll take as a starting point liberalism as a political philosophy. Who are the people who typically accept liberalism as a political philosophy and promote it in society? It's generally young, single intellectual men of a libertarian bent. I'll call these the "political" liberals, because they are focused on liberalism in an intellectual way as a political principle.

There are not a lot of political liberals, partly because there are not a lot of politically oriented intellectuals in society, partly because asocial intellectuals are not good at promoting their ideas and partly because it's a dry and highly individualistic philosophy. On the last point, I'm reminded of one of the most famous of liberal intellectuals, J.S. Mill, who had a nervous breakdown and turned to a conservative poet, William Wordsworth, to get back his feeling for life.

If conservatives were up against political liberals, I think we would have a good chance of winning or at least holding our ground. We could appeal to communal feeling and communal identity in a way that political liberals can't, for instance, by celebrating national achievements, or a sense of family and ancestry.

But political liberalism gave birth to another expression of liberalism, one with far wider appeal. I will call this, for the moment, "moral liberalism".

Moral liberalism has its strengths. It appeals to middle-class whites with only a passing interest in politics or intellectual matters. It has an emotional or even quasi-religious appeal for these people. Its strongest devotees seem to be middle-aged, middle-class white women.

The basic message of moral liberalism is that good liberal whites are bringing about justice and equality for oppressed groups by taking on and defeating the privilege and ignorance of bad, right-wing whites.

Moral liberals are very, very good at promoting their world view. Your average high school English or history teacher is likely to be a moral liberal, and they mercilessly pummel their students with this outlook on life.

Unlike political liberalism, moral liberalism is not a dry theory for intellectual loners. Most people do need to have a sense of meaning and worth in their lives, and moral liberalism provides this in an easy way to middle-class whites: it gives them the belief that they are acting in a superior way to less enlightened and lower class whites to bring highly morally charged goods into the world, such as justice and equality. They can do this at no cost to themselves or their job prospects simply by adopting the "correct" set of beliefs.

At the moment we are losing to moral liberalism. But we shouldn't get too defeatist, because moral liberalism also has its weaknesses.

First, moral liberalism only works effectively when its promoters have a monopoly on debate. That's one reason why it is still so strong in schools and universities - because these environments can be controlled to suppress dissident voices. Moral liberals need a monopoly because the "moral charge" depends on people accepting certain dubious propositions, for instance, that the oppressor group (men or whites or straights or whoever) have organised themselves to be privileged at the expense of the oppressed group. In reality, this picture of things only seems reasonable if reality is filtered to make it seem so.

This is the positive aspect of the men's movement. It's true that most members of the men's movement continue to accept political liberalism. But nearly all reject the standard politics of moral liberalism, in which men are held to be an oppressor group victimising women. And there are enough voices now in the men's movement to start to break up the narrative of moral liberalism. It's having a positive effect.

Second, moral liberalism is suicidal for whites. It's based on whites committing themselves to an essentially negative view of traditional white society. A white moral liberal will devote his or her life to attacking white society in favour of other groups.

That has two consequences. First, there will be some whites who will be far sighted enough to realise the danger and question what is happening. This ought to be a major opportunity for traditionalists. But we tend not to benefit as much as we should. I think the reason is this: moral liberals don't explain why they believe what they do. They are not political liberals with an intellectual theory. Instead, it gets presented simply as a moral assertion.

So those people who instinctively feel that something is wrong, and that they are being asked to accept a suicidal world view, are often confused about how to respond. They might conclude that the world has gone mad, or that someone must be pulling the strings behind the scenes. They want to strike back but aren't sure what to aim for.

That's why we need to present to these people the intellectual assumptions of liberalism, on which moral liberalism is ultimately based, and what it would mean to reject liberalism in principle.

A second consequence of moral liberalism being suicidal is that it brings about, over time, a growing dysfunction in society. It becomes more difficult to hold together the traditional goods of living in a Western society. That's significant, because moral liberals, for all their posturing, do generally want to continue to enjoy the traditional, non-liberal goods of Western society.

I notice this with the teachers I work with. They are exceptionally radical when it comes to moral liberalism; they are obsessed with an anti-white politics, subjecting the students to a constant barrage of anti-white and to a lesser degree anti-male messages. But they themselves tend to be conservative in their lifestyle: they live in safe white suburbs, amongst their own kind, in traditional family arrangements. They are in their own lifestyles and personalities highly respectable.

I wonder what will happen when things reach the point that the traditional goods of society are no longer so readily available for our moral liberals. What will happen, for instance, when teachers have no option but to work in dangerous schools in dangerous suburbs? What will happen when their own children miss out on university courses? Or are subjected to street violence?

Another weakness of moral liberalism is that those placed in the negative category, i.e. your average white, do tend to pick up on the insult. It's not unusual for the students I teach to complain to me about the situation; they feel that it's unjust and they tend to become cynical about the politics being foisted on them.

Again, this ought to be a major opportunity for traditionalists, but the problem is that most ordinary whites don't break decisively enough with moral liberalism. For instance, they might pick up on double standards (e.g. students might complain about the liberal teachers "You say that everyone should be treated equally but then you give all these special privileges to group X so you're the ones being racist") but they tend not to go further than this. Also, they tend not to be the type of people who would become politically active - they are the kind of white voters who are deserting the left-wing parties in droves, but they aren't likely to put their hand up to organise a new kind of party or political movement. They could, though, provide a lot of passive support for any movement which is able to get off the ground.

A third problem for moral liberalism is that it is powered by middle-class whites and this is the group that will decline most rapidly in society. What will happen, for instance, when middle-class white teachers are no longer 90% of the staff at the average school, but only 30%? Of course, other ethnic groups might carry on with it all for a while because it suits them to feel like they are oppressed and hard done by. But in my experience, the newer Indian and Chinese teachers don't get off as much on moral liberalism as white teachers do. If they want to chase social distinction and emotional/religious fulfilment they'll probably need to find some other way (I admit I could be wrong here - we'll have to see).

Finally, there's the issue of what we can do to prevent younger middle-class whites from slipping into moral liberalism. Moral liberalism fills a need for some of these whites. Could traditionalism fill this need instead? Could we present ourselves a bit differently, so that middle-class whites felt they were distinguishing themselves and showing important moral qualities by defending their own tradition - rather than by attacking it?

When we have the resources, we should think about returning to an older tradition of writing about the lives of distinguished members of our own nations. We need to present our own ideal of what distinguishes a person socially and morally.


  1. "I notice this with the teachers I work with. They are exceptionally radical when it comes to moral liberalism...But they themselves tend to be conservative in their lifestyle."

    Their strategy is schizophrenic: politely segregate oneself from the proletariat and follow a moderately conservative lifestyle while publicly advocate social liberalism. It's the same sort of thinking that has led Keynesian economists to advocate deficit spending on a macroeconomic scale but fiscal prudence for individuals. The logic is to increase autonomy for the powerful by reducing freedom for the less powerful and also to send the message that one can be upwardly mobile if one adopts this two-faced strategy. It is a parasite-host relationship. I think the way to fight it is a so-con movement originating within the ever increasing proletariat.

    In America, one notices the whitest regions (Oregon and Vermont for example) are also the most liberal because they don't live with other cultures and therefore believe convenient theories which do not describe reality. The motivation is to assuage guilt in much the same way that Uncle Toms would undercut black slaves to prove themselves to their masters. Since these whites are university graduates with above average IQs, and most university graduates tend to be social liberals, they presume higher IQs lead to social liberalism without ever considering that correlation does not imply causation and even if that were true, that a higher IQ does not lead to a better morality. One only has to know a bit of history about the Nazis to disprove that contention.

  2. It is a parasite-host relationship.

    It is. I think we have to call them out on this as much as possible.

  3. I think the way to fight it is a so-con movement originating within the ever increasing proletariat.

    As I wrote in the post, I definitely think there's an audience there in the proletariat. The harder thing is to get a leadership up and running. For this, you need a section of the political class. There is progress being made on this front (just consider how isolated tradcons were say 12 years ago) but it's slow going.

  4. Could traditionalism fill this need instead?

    In an environment suffused with liberal assumptions and language, it can be difficult to articulate the moral case for non-liberal ideas. That is of course the point, to corrupt language to make certain discourses impossible.

  5. If traditionalism or conservatism could not succeed when it was in the majority, and liberalism was on the outside, what reason is there to believe traditionalism can succeed now that liberalism is the majority view and traditionalism is on the outside?

    The answer to a failing political doctrine is not the previous failed doctrine that the present one superseded.

  6. If traditionalism or conservatism could not succeed when it was in the majority

    The history of Western politics is more complicated than that. The political class in England, for instance, has been liberal for a few hundred years but the liberalism wasn't taken as far as it has been over the past 50 years as it was fused with other sources of authority such as notions of aristocratic honour or Christian theology.

    It was that fusion that mitigated the effects of the liberalism of the political class rather than an organised traditionalism.

    In Australia it was the influence of organised labour, the preference of Melbourne manufacturers for protectionism and the fact that our economic and military interests were tied to those of Britain which helped to hold back the liberalism of the political class early in the twentieth century - again, rather than an organised traditionalism.

    Liberalism has not been on the outside of any Anglo country for a very long time. It did not manifest itself as radically in the Anglo countries until the 1960s, because it wasn't held as the sole source of authority until that time.

  7. Excellent post Mark.

    It is however reminiscent of a comment that was posted under Steve Sailer's blog the other day...under the AIPAC conference.

    This is the second sentence of the good comment by Anonymous....
    "It's not just the their material power but moral power. Consider Solzhenitsyn's last book."

    Anyways, I think to unbrainwash lots of white folks you'd have to get control of the media. And that's not going to happen.

    If Mark was on tv every night, talking about all this stuff...No one would be liberal. Liberal Moralism survives because these white people a) don't think for themselves and b) the media doesn't allow whites to hear anything differently.

    Also, I think there is one thing you are missing....Schoolteachers are Small Fry...In bigger companies if you are not morally liberal you're fucked. You won't get hired in certain jobs if you don't have the right outlook.

    With this post You're getting closer the dark side....MUAhahaAhahaha...Welcome!!!!

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  9. Mark,

    This is truly an excellent post and belongs with your other seminal articles on the side.

    Moral liberalism works because people by nature are desperate for morality. When Christianity was deligitimised and utilitarian and scientific thinking began to dominate, the majority of people began to look desperately for a new form of morality, to escape from the idea of the world as a barren, cold and uncaring place, populated by people only motivated by their own self interest.

    The essence of moral liberalism is white or pseudo white, middle class and above, people, acting in self-effacing, as well as morally superior ways. Its also associated with utopian aims and involves acting in manners that are obviously contrary to our instincts and natures. By being self effacing we recongise the existence of sin, the combating of which is the essence of morality, and we also dedicate ourselves to something better. By embracing utopianism we show ourselves worthy in striving for a better world. By acting in ways that are contrary to our instincts and natures we show that we're led by our ideas and reason rather than by passions.

    These ideas appeal to both our vanities and senses of superiority. It also appeals to our desire for moral urgency and submission to higher ideals.

    Moral liberalism as a manifestation of morality can be combated through morality. If you can demonstrate your moral value, or at least be confident with it, then you can go a long way towards fighting the left. These days I go to Church frequently and in doing so, by being constantly surrounded by the discussion and concern of moral issues and concerns, it allows me to deal better with the moral promotion of the left without submitting to anger or a subtle sense of guilt.

    If we seriously discuss and feel comfortable with morality on the right side of politics then we can then break the left's monopoly over it, and if we can engage with and discuss the moral underpinnings of conservatism and traditionalism, and not just criticise the left, then we will go a long way towards combating the left

    If, on the other hand, we’re simply critical of all manifestations of morality, as many right liberals have done, and embrace the promotion of individual freedoms as the highest good, then we will lose the public.

  10. ""they live in safe white suburbs, amongst their own kind, in traditional family arrangements. They are in their own lifestyles and personalities highly respectable.""

    Reminded me that Robert Manne the inventor of the "Stolen Generations" lives just down the road from Mark in the Diamond Creek area, a suburb notable for being even paler than Eltham.

    Davout is right the only way to live your life like this is to be schizophrenic.

    George Orwell got it right just before he died. When you get people to deny reality they become complicit in your denial. They have to keep believing because they are invested.

  11. Reminded me that Robert Manne the inventor of the "Stolen Generations" lives just down the road from Mark in the Diamond Creek area, a suburb notable for being even paler than Eltham.

    Didn't know that. Interesting. He chooses to live amongst (and marry into) the very group he has a penchant for attacking.

  12. ""Didn't know that.""

    Yeah you can see him down Diamo shops on a Saturday.

    ""Interesting. He chooses to live amongst (and marry into) the very group he has a penchant for attacking.""

    Well he works at La Trobe. And speaking as someone who has lived in West Heidelberg I can't really understand why. There is a very cheap area right next to his workplace yet he commutes out into the sticks.

    Not even moving to traditionally leftish Eltham but to Diamond Creek, a place which AFAIK is traditionally conservative, and still is to judge by how quick the Marxist posters get ripped down there.

  13. You may have something here Mark. Never looked at it quite that way before.