Saturday, August 12, 2017

Why don't liberals see themselves as the establishment?

We have a liberal establishment and yet liberals generally continue to see themselves as anti-establishment outsiders and rebels.

I was talking to someone at our recent Melbourne Traditionalists meeting who lamented the fact that this left no-one taking responsibility for the larger, long-term health of nation and civilisation. And I think there is much truth to this. Right-liberals are so individualistic that they are often only concerned with what will affect them within the timeframe of their own lives. Left-liberals are often only concerned with the sectional interests of their own identity group (e.g. a white feminist's horizons are often bounded by the professional interests of career women within her own country).

So why do those who dominate the institutions refuse to recognise that they are the establishment? A reader recently noted that liberals deny an order of being:
I have long defined modern liberalism as the denial and the defiance of an immutable natural order of being, which traditionalist conservatism accepts and embraces along with the necessary constraints and trade-offs.

The comment was in response to a post about Karley Sciortino, an American writer with a "fear of normalcy""
Last weekend, I found myself sitting in front of a shaman in a mansion in Berkeley, talking about my commitment problems. You know, cliché white people stuff. “I have this fear,” I told the shaman, “that I’m going to wake up one day with a husband, two kids, a house in the suburbs, and wonder how I got there, as if it’s my destiny.

Liberal moderns like Karley Sciortino aren't able to find meaning in the order of being we find ourselves a part of. It seems too predestined to them, too limiting to their own will. And so they rebel against it, attempt to subvert it. Even when at the helm of society they still have this sense of themselves as rebels and outsiders (particularly true of leftist intellectuals).

So, in the absence of an order of being, where do liberal moderns find meaning? They have to create it themselves ex nihilo, which usually comes down to individual career success, or creative endeavour (writing a book instead of having a baby), or individual status signalling (being politically correct, or belonging to a hip lifestyle group, or supporting some sort of "difficult" avant-garde intellectual or artistic movement).

One last point. I haven't read much about national socialism, but my impression is that they too rejected an order of being and were faced with the task of creating meaning ex nihilo. But they chose a different way of doing it to liberals, via an assertion of will, power, strength and force. That would have given them an advantage in terms of the seizure of power, but a disadvantage when it came to using that power to create a lasting, stable form of society.


  1. Guesswork here but if their goal, the big thing that keeps them going is bringing down traditional Australia then their work is not complete. Traditional Australia is still here. There's more rebelling to be done so they see themselves as rebels. And it's hard work to. They have to resolve preaching one thing and doing the opposite. One of them explained to me the other day how he'd been moving his super around to maximise his return and how his greatest passion was his hatred of capitalism in Australia and I know a social justice lawyer who would never live near the Muslims he fight to bring here. Yep, it's hard work keeping up their passionate faith that the battle for equality when obviously somewhere in there they don't quite believe it. Maybe that's why they keep going for weirder issues, LGBT etc, as a way of showing greater loyalty to the cause as in no matter how dumb it is their right in there.

  2. For me the reason liberals don't take responsibility or see themselves as the power is obvious (I can see it in the personalities and motives of 'liberal' and 'caring' people every day):

    As a mentality based on envy and the wish to aggrandize themselves by controlling others, there is ALWAYS someone left to envy and aim to control... and those people will be the problem or 'power structure' that needs to be destroyed.

    This process is endless, and never involves your own personal accountability.

    I saw this very apropo statement:

    The Progressive believes in precisely two things: his own magnificence and the constructive power of brute force. In combination, they lead him naturally from the role of pestiferous busybody to brutal dictator.

    Where the productive man dreams of the things he might create if only left alone by his fellows, the Progressive dreams of the world he could create if only the lives and property of his fellows were at his disposal. The roots of his pathology lie in that oldest and most destructive of all human vices, the desire for the power to rule over other men.

    Even Hillary on the campaign trail remarked that Trump was worth several billions. “Think what we could do with that!” she exclaimed.

    It is always violating the Tenth Commandment – Thous shall not covert anything belonging to someone else. It seems God understood the totalitarian hiding inside every leftist and made it a violation of his 10 Commandments.

    1. As a mentality based on envy

      I don't think it's based on envy at all. The liberal establishment has always been wealthy. Even socialists have mostly been drawn from the ranks of the wealthy and privileged.

      It's Calvinism. They're the Elect and the only way they can see themselves as the Elect is by seeing everyone else as evil and sinful. That's how they reassure themselves that they really are Saved. And the fight against Evil must be a fight against the odds because Evil is immensely powerful.

      Look at Hillary Clinton. To her the Deplorables are not people who disagree with her. They are evil and monstrous and they must be destroyed. That's the only way her supporters can reassure themselves that they are a brave minority battling a gigantic conspiracy of Evil.

      They're the spiritual descendants of Cromwell and Calvin rather than Voltaire.

    2. I think you're right. To the leftists I know nothing is more pitiable than people who go to church on Sunday or Synagogue on Saturday. At the same time the way they think and act matches the way they describe churchgoers. Unwavering devotion, with them it's Social Justice, seeing their opponents as evil or dupes, the sheeplike social reinforcement they get from groupthink, suddenly it's LGTBI or Cardinal Pell and on the bandwagon they go. And angry, righteous and convinced that destiny is on their side. And they're all atheists. Atheists who don't know it but they've joined a religion.

  3. There is some truth in this kind of analysis of liberalism, but there is a danger in putting effects before causes. There have probably been more liberals who are also committed to Christianity than not, for example, so rejection of an unchosen order of being really doesn't make sense as the starting place of liberalism (even though it may well metastacize into that as liberalism comes to dominate society more).

    Liberalism starts as a political commitment to freedom: to freeing the (supposedly) oppressed from tyranny in the form of historical, traditional, hierarchical, unchosen (a.k.a. natural) and unequal political constraints. That is, liberalism justifies its own exercise of discriminating authority on the basis that it eliminates discrimination and authority.

    So liberalism always has to view itself as the scrappy rebel underdog, out there challenging The Man and freeing the oppressed. If it stops viewing itself that way, and (accurately) sees itself as an established comprehensive hegemony, then its very reason for existence goes away.

    1. I make a clear distinction between what is generally understood as classic liberalism, which is an expression of order, and the modern liberalism that craves and incites a disorder that now necessarily demands and animates the articulation of a traditionalist conservative identity.

    2. I make a clear distinction between what is generally understood as classic liberalism, which is an expression of order

      I think classical liberalism was every bit as antagonistic to tradition and genuine social order as the modern variety of liberalism. It emphasised the individual at the expense of community, it emphasised selfishness (although it tried to make selfishness a virtue), it was fundamentally atheistic. The order it expressed was the law of the jungle.

      Classical liberalism was very much a Protestant ideology. There's a good reason the 19th century Catholic Church was intensely suspicious of classical liberalism.

  4. Good post.

    The idea of liberals not being the establishment is baked into the cake. It's an essential part of their identity. It's actually a key flaw in our civilisation. Since the Reformation all western culture heroes have been rebels. Rebels against authority, against tradition, against the past, against western civilisation itself.

    It's part of the cult of progress. Progress requires tearing things down. The idea of progress is inherently destructive.

    To be virtuous you have to be on the side of progress, on the side of change. This has even infected most of the Christian churches. The establishment is seen as wicked, anti-progress, anti-human. Only a bad person could be part of the establishment. Since liberals are secular Calvinists, they are the elect, so therefore they must be good people. Therefore they cannot be the establishment. They must be the courageous rebels.

  5. Kalb and Auster had a discussion on this once (you might have participated). I think the assertion was that Naziism and liberalism inhabit the same moral universe - where will is supreme. The difference is just that liberalism is about the will, power, etc. exercised by individuals whereas with Naziism it's the will of the Volk as embodied by the Fuhrer.

    1. Yes, you're right - James Kalb made a really interesting analysis of national socialism at VFR. I would have to read more on the political philosophy of national socialism to more confidently support the analysis, but it makes sense at an abstract level. The post at VFR is here:

    2. Lawrence Auster put forth his own views on national socialism in another thread. Both his post and the comments are, again, very interesting. One thing you get a sense of is how modernist ideologies, whether communist, liberal or national socialist, see "retrograde peoples" as a stumbling block to be removed. And you can't help but think that white men have been identified in modern times as the retrograde group.

  6. If you did indeed examine the development of National Socialism you'd find that their collective ideas were in fact a response. In fact I wonder if any movement can be ex nihilo, as you put it, whether it be the Greens movement, The Australian Conservatives or whatever. In fact your latte sucking faux intellectuals have a reason for being the way they are, and the ideas they hold. Is anything simply plucked out of the aether?

    1. Not so much that their ideas are plucked out of the aether, but that they don't have a sense that there is a meaning or value already in existence separate to the human will. In other words, if you do not believe that there exists an aspect of reality that is inherently meaningful and that gives meaning to human life, then you are in a situation where meaning has to be created out of nothing, perhaps via acts of the human will.