Saturday, January 28, 2017

What is allowed in a liberal system?

I get to keep up with what my liberal friends are thinking through social media. There was one social media post by a friend of mine (white, heterosexual, male) which recently caught my attention. The gist of it was as follows:

1. Donald Trump has withdrawn taxpayer funding for charities promoting abortion.
2. This will affect the health of poor women overseas and is therefore immoral.
3. This is a case of Christian men deliberately attacking poor women.
4. Religion is used by men to uphold the patriarchy in order to oppress poor women.

It ended with this: "The only way forward is to ensure we leave behind the shackles of enslavement promoted by religion and the religious. Faith is one thing. Religion is enslavement."

Now this is interesting, as it is another step along the liberal path that the West has been treading for many generations. As it happens, James Kalb has just written an article about this very feature of liberalism. He explains:
Social issues are messy. They have to do with basic human connections, orientations, and aspects of identity. These include family, cultural community, religion, and relations between the sexes. So they have to do with basic and very complicated aspects of life that people feel strongly about.

That causes problems for people who run things today. Their ideal of reason and principle of legitimacy means they want to handle everything through supposedly rational, neutral, and transparent institutions like global markets and expert bureaucracies. But personal loyalties, ultimate commitments, and ideas about how best to live can’t be sold, traded, bureaucratized, or turned over to experts. So from the standpoint of liberal institutions they are unmanageable and incomprehensible. They mess things up.

The result is that our rulers refuse to deal with them on their own terms but insist on treating them as private hobbies or consumption choices that shouldn’t be allowed to affect anything.

As an example of treating things as "private hobbies" consider the issue of how white liberals deal with their own ethnic ancestry. It is considered permissible for a white liberal to identify positively with their own ancestry (English, Scottish, German or whatever) as long as this remains at the reduced level of a private sentiment. What is not permitted is for him to defend the continuing existence of his ancestry as part of public policy.

And so with religion. It makes sense for my friend, under the terms of liberalism, to think that a private faith is acceptable, whereas organised religion is not. The first keeps things private and individual, the second can potentially have influence in society.

The problem, of course, is that many of our deepest loyalties, loves and attachments are exercised as part of a community - they cannot be reduced to the individual level. You can only exercise your role as a father within a family; your wider kinship identity within an ethny; your membership of a religious tradition within a church and so on.

These identities and attachments cannot be defended within a liberal system. And so the liberal individual tends to substitute them with lifestyle activities: the liberal individual turns instead to food, shopping, career, sex, entertainments and so on. He may even, to satisfy a need, become a spectator to the traditions of others that he does not allow for himself.

James Kalb goes on to point out that this aspect of liberalism can be traced all the way back to the seventeenth century:
Liberal theory, like liberal practice, wants to keep things simple, comprehensible, and manageable. The social issues are complicated, and the idea of a social contract—which has been basic to liberal theory since Hobbes and Locke—is a way of avoiding them. Instead of basing society on inherited or transcendent loyalties or some conception of the good life, social contract theory tells us to put such things aside and view society as a collection of equal individuals who think they can advance their own goals by establishing a legal order based on neutral standards of equality and personal choice.

The approach sounds good to a lot of people but it has consequences that aren’t pleasing. If we’re all equal independent individuals with our own idiosyncratic goals, then informal authorities like cultural tradition vanish, and the social order is no more than the legal and commercial order. Anything else that becomes influential enough to be worth noticing, like informal expectations regarding behavior, is illegitimate and oppressive if it doesn’t directly support the liberal order. That’s why both Mrs. Clinton and international human rights conventions tell us that if religious and cultural patterns don’t line up with liberal ideals, for example with regard to feminism and abortion, we—meaning those in power—must change them.

I'll finish with another good excerpt from Kalb's article:
The project of creating a society in which arrangements like family, religion, and ethnic ties and culture don’t matter is based on the idea that those things have no legitimate or rational function. Swede or Somali, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, man, woman, or other, however we identify, whatever our preferred pronouns or domestic arrangements, we are all equally consumers, employees, and functionaries in a global society that recognizes only markets and neutral expert bureaucracies as authoritative institutions. That’s where the serious business of life goes on, and everything else should be recognized as freely chosen hobbies, indulgences, fantasies, or personal consumption choices.

That’s the view, but it makes no sense, because sex, religion, and communal membership are ineradicably at the center of people’s understanding of themselves and their connection to others.


  1. The point about liberalism, like its sisters communism and socialism, is that it is not intended to make sense or provide a rational basis for a social order. The aim of all three ideologies, which derive from atheism, is to overthrow the social and moral order and replace it with oligarchy in which the average citizen will be reduced to slavery.

    The ideology is made to appeal to the masses with the illusion of "freedom" or "release from oppressive hierarchies" or other such nonsense which is swallowed enthusiastically by the average man, who sets out to pursue his own gratification, without responsibility to others, not understanding that this course ultimately leads to his own entrapment.

    Russia was the first experiment followed by China with the overthrow of Tsar and Emperor and their replacement by Communist Atheist tyranny and eventual collapse into oligarchy. Russia was rescued by Putin.

    The USA and Europe along with the other anglo states were places where communism was resisted and hence its more subtle, but no less lethal sister liberalism was imposed. The population delightedly acquiesced in this Bolshevik revolution oblivious to their heading rapidly into tyranny and ultimately oblivion.

    Liberalism is for the masses. The real elites who know exactly what they are doing are not foolish enough to follow it. They have assured their own blood lines and wealth are preserved whilst the rest of the population have given up theirs, handing their wealth to the elite without so much as a fight.

  2. This mindset is very telling.

    This liberal is saying that failing to give money is the same as a willful act of harm.

    In other words all the West and any individual anywhere is available as prey to whoever needs you: your money, your resources, your future, your land, your heritage.

    Got a problem: failure of anyone else you can target to pay is the same as willing the problem. What a parasitic con job.

    Any other demand before your own integrity and choice.

    (Your choices may be your own, but the consequences are for everyone)

    Underneath the rhetoric, this is very evil, very manipulative.

    Very satanic.

    One world baby, YOU are BORG. And don't you forget it.

    1. An excellent description of the totalitarian and collectivist nature of liberalism, which it not only shares with communism and socialism, but also with that other phenomenon it admires, Islam.

    2. And now Justin Trudeau has decided to give Canada to all and any 'refugee' whom the US rejects under Trump.

      It criminal. Jail for Justin!!!

    3. Cecil Henry, I just read the Canadian news. It is liberalism as suicide cult. This is what the Mayor of Toronto said:

      Toronto Mayor John Tory also weighed in, noting that the city is the most diverse in the world.

      “We understand that as Canadians we are almost all immigrants, and that no one should be excluded on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality,” Tory said in a statement.

      It is that complete rejection by liberals of the ethnic nation. The older nation is dismissed breezily with the phrase "we are all immigrants" and then you get open borders with the "no one should be excluded" line.

  3. Your friend seems a complete moral moron. Typical of his kind.

    If these liberals envisage suppressing those very traits that define us as human in order to enhance the value of their stock portfolios or whatever other reasons they might have, they might find they will have over-reached themselves. It can only be done using Leninist or Maoist methods and only for a while. Abusing democracy in order to achieve these aims is already starting to fail. Indeed, their multicultural obsession is likely to hinder their aims. It seems to me more difficult to tranquilize cultures challenged and awakened by opposing ones than complacent monocultures.

    1. He is not the stock portfolio type. I think he is idealistic but within a liberal/modernist mindset. For instance, I thought it was telling that he based his idea of morality on physical and psychological health. It's not easy for moderns to talk about morality because they have little sense of things being inherently right or wrong. What they can sometimes do is resort to the concept of "health" because it seems more "scientific/materialist" to them. The Bolsheviks, for instance, settled the sex question in the 1920s on this basis. They didn't like the promiscuity unleashed by their revolution, but couldn't talk about modesty or purity or anything of that nature, so they resorted to the idea that it was bad for physical health to be overly spent on promiscuous sex.

      Here's another problem we face. Liberalism leaves people without a larger sense of meaning. But rather than rejecting liberalism, some individuals can seek to find meaning through the progress of liberalism itself - that becomes the moral cause. Liberalism itself becomes the great moral end and purpose of life - it becomes self-referencing.

      In particular, if someone has an understanding of reason and rationality that limits them to a nominalistic/scientistic view of reality, and so they are cut off from the kinds of meaning that men have traditionally found in life, then the pursuit of "liberalism as a meaning in itself" is more likely to take place.

    2. Sorry, I expressed myself poorly. By the stock-holders, I meant those very wealthy and politically powerful people who are manipulating the liberal/globalist agenda. This other chap is merely a useful idiot.

      You are certainly correct about the damage that the ubiquitous lies of nominalism/materialism has caused. These lies, despite Godel and others having driven a stake through their heart, pervade our educational and media systems. Almost everyone 'believes', for example, in evolution despite its evident irrationality and impossibility. The effect has, as you say, been to erode faith and hollow out the human sense of transcendence to the stage that this liberal gnosticism is the best that many can aspire to. It is a terrible tragedy and the first and most grievously effected victims are its followers.

  4. Mark, it is easier than that.

    Liberalism is a religion (without God, like Buddhism). A religion is a worldview that has its own definition of good and evil. It is the official religion of Western countries.

    In Western countries, other religions are tolerated in private but they cannot be exercised in public (like Muslim countries treat faiths different than Islam).

    Values (such defending one's ancestry) that are against the Liberal religion are not allowed to be in the public arena either.

    1. Sure, I agree that liberalism is effectively a state religion and that opposing views are therefore considered heretical. I think it's worthwhile, though, looking at the core ideas of this religion and what logically flows from them. It gives you an entry point into criticising not just this or that policy but the whole structure of belief.