Liberalism: A Self-Evaluation

The Liberal is a fanatic for independence; he extols it to the point of absurdity, in every domain. ~ Father Roussel

This post was motivated by some recent events. Yesterday, on the way to a BBQ, I listened to a prominent self-declared “conservative” ranting about freedom. Now in intellectual terms, he is a “sophist”, that is, one who earns money (and in his case a great deal of it) from expressing opinions. He concluded, with no irony, that he was defending the Enlightenment ideal of freedom.

At the BBQ, liberalism was also the norm, with an occasional anti-religious barb; I just focused on the Tequila.

I’ve also been watching the Hand of God on Amazon. There is a religious element, but of low intellectuality. The liberals, which includes most of the characters, are involved with rape, suicide, murder, venality, extortion, adultery, prostitution, drugs; I guess that is all they can do with their freedom.

So it behooves us to understand the intellectual roots of liberalism, not simply its popular manifestations. For this, I have adapted the discussion on liberalism by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre from They Have Uncrowned Him. The topic headings are his. I’ve interspersed his comments with mine, sometimes adapting them into a wider context.

NOTE: I would like to turn this into a gradable quiz so that people can see exactly how liberal they are; I’m sure they would like to score high. I understand such quizzes are quite popular on the Internet. So I am open to specific questions with point values for various answers. Also, a WordPress quiz plugin would be useful.

Liberalism may manifest in one or more of the following nine liberations.

The True and the Good vs Being

This refers to the various philosophies of becoming rather than the metaphysics of being. Reason does not submit itself to its object. This liberation has two aspects: subjectivism and evolutionism.

Subjectivism

Truth is the conformity of the intellect with the thing. Thus, a truth-seeker needs to renounce any factitious constructions of his own mind.

Subjectivism, on the other hand, claims that reason constructs the truth. Things are no longer what they are, but what I think. Historically, the main figures in the development of subjectivism were:

  • Luther (individual inspiration of Scripture)
  • Descartes (the cogito knows only itself)
  • Kant (things are unknowable in themselves)
  • Rousseau (truth is public opinion or general will)

This ends up in this:

The thought of the individual is going to be dissolved into the public opinion, that is to say, in what everyone or the majority thinks; and this opinion will be created by the techniques of group dynamics organized by the media, which are in the hands of the financiers, politicians, etc.

Subjectivism, by exalting freedom of thought, results then in the crushing of thought.

Evolutionism

By rejecting the real, the Liberal rejects the immutable essences of things as well as stable human nature. Man, then, is in perpetual progressive evolution and the man of yesterday is not like the man of today. Evolutionism appears in several realms:

  • Biological (Darwin, Lamarck)
  • Intellectual (the myth of the indefinite progress of human reason)
  • Moral (emancipation from alleged taboos)
  • Political-religious (emancipation from the spiritual authority)

The Will vs Intellect

In the healthy minded, the will follows the intellect. Hence, this liberation is liberation from the intellect, so that the will is entirely arbitrary. An example is the character Mathieu in The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre. Mathieu stabs himself in the hand at a nightclub so that it is pinned to the table.

You don’t own me!

The Conscience vs the Law

Law is seen as limiting freedom and imposing constraints, which run counter to human dignity and freedom of conscience. This liberation is based on misunderstanding the difference between liberty and license.

Feeling vs Reason

This is the philosophy of romanticism which extols feelings above reason. The Romantic prefers slogans to thought: he condemns violence, superstitions, fanaticism, etc. These are intended to stimulate the imagination rather than the intellect

The Romantic claims to have a “good heart” and to be motivated by “love”. He makes himself the apostle of peace, liberty, tolerance, and pluralism.

The Body vs Soul

This liberation involves the independence of the body from the soul, or, the animal nature in regard to reason. The result is the radical overthrowing of human values.

This liberation exalts and sacralizes sexuality.

The Present vs the Past

In this view, the present must be liberated from the weight of the past. The past is a time of injustice, oppression, ignorance, superstition, and so on. The present time, therefore, discards all attachment to the past.

Curiosity and novelty are the keys to this liberation. I refer you to all those Internet ads that lure to you view sites like “12 child stars who became transvestites as adults”, and so on.

The Individual vs Society and Hierarchy

This is the reign of individualism; the basic unit of Liberalism is the individual. The individual is an “absolute subject of rights”, without countervailing duties binding him to his Creator, superiors, or fellow creatures. Ultimately, however, it leaves the individual alone, isolated, and without defense against the crowd which swallows him up. On the contrary,

the social doctrine affirms that society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, enterprises, professional corporations, and the state.

In this context, “corporation” refers to the older notion of association, including guilds. Business interests were cooperative to prevent fair prices. Trade secrets were protected. For example, were an apprentice at a Venetian glass blower factory to reveal a secret process, he would have been hunted down and killed. Now corporations are in the hands of a specific class who owe nothing to society or their workers. They freely move from country to country, exporting manufacturing processes with them. Nor are they beholden to a spiritual authority which would reign in unchecked cupidity.

Reason and Science vs Faith

This independence is called rationalism, which denies that some truths go beyond the capacity of reason. Dogmas, miracles, metaphysics, etc., are all denied in the name of science. Ultimately, the exaggerated claims of Reason are never verified, and rationalism becomes incoherent.

A prominent rationalist of last century, Brand Blanshard, after 1100 pages on the Nature of Thought concedes defeat. His concluding sentence reads:

The writer would like to think that the insistent and reiterated emphasis, maintained throughout this work, on the membership of minds in one intelligible order may serve, however minutely, to confirm the belief in a common reason, and the hope and faith that in the end it will prevail.

It would have been better for him if he had directed his hope and faith to the Logos, the supernatural reason, instead of his “common reason”. Blanshard mistakenly believes that Thought constitutes the philosophia perennis and that thinking reveals the world. However, true philosophy is reached only then Thought and Being coincide. Thought, by itself, deals with essences and cannot explain the mystery of Existence.

Man, Family, Professions, and State vs Spiritual Authority

This is the summa of the liberations. The individual, the family, business enterprises, and even the state, reject any deference to a transcendent spiritual authority. There are too many contemporary examples to bother with here. Unfortunately, the spiritual authority has not always acted consistently throughout history. This serves as the justification for this liberation, which takes three forms: naturalism, laicism or secularism, and latitudinarianism or indifferentism.

Naturalism

Naturalism asserts that man is limited to the sphere of nature and has no destiny to a supernatural state. Of course, the state of nature and rationalism are not bad in themselves, provided they admit the existence of a supernatural order. Nevertheless, natural virtues and goodness alone cannot lead to the eternal happiness of heaven.

Laicism

Laicism is naturalism extended to the political sphere. It contends that society can subsist without taking the spiritual authority or God into account. It believes in the separation of the Church and State; the church, then, is only another association under the laws of the state.

Indifferentism

Indifferentism asserts that the profession of one religion or another is a matter of indifference. Politically, the state then does not favor one religion over another

Revolution

Liberalism, therefore, is the “soul of all revolution”. Bishop Gaume has Revolution speak:

I am the hatred of all order which man has not established and in which he is not king and God all together. I am the proclamation of the rights of man without care for the rights of God. I am the foundation of the religious and social state upon the will of man instead of the will of God. I am God dethroned and man in His place.

7 thoughts on “Liberalism: A Self-Evaluation

  1. “It is only since World War II that we have entered the time of the great Harvest of the Kingdom of Man. We have now to deal with a secularized generation for which material existence is everything and spiritual life is nothing. It is a generation for which all that is symbolic becomes ever more incomprehensible…It is a generation which is in the process of eliminating from its consciousness the notion of the family…

    The chaos from which we have for so long been preserved arises as a menace before us. And this menace cannot be turned aside by secular guidance except in certain manner: by a dictatorship, a technocratic dictatorship. In reality this dictatorship has already begun to make its entrance step by step.

    This exterior chaos and this exterior menace of dictatorship are nevertheless not the essential. They are but the projection of something incomparably more serious and more dangerous—interior chaos, the confusion that reigns in the hearts of men. It is now an affair of a generation which, in its ensemble, is incapable of discerning truth from lies, the true from the false, the good from the bad. The time of harvest is come for the Kingdom of Man.”

    – Tage Lindbom, The Tares and the Good Grain, 1974

  2. I too agree that a proper definition of liberalism is vital, since what passes for liberalism today is most often the farthest thing from it. Liberalism, for instance, has nothing to do with totalitarianism. It stands for logical reasoning and the scientific spirit, but modern science has lost all justification and has become just another tool of the corporations. Liberalism, moreover, is not the cause of corporate greed and dishonesty.

    I’d like to point out that I am not irreligious. I believe God made man free, as does all religious scripture attest, but I don’t place much belief in universal moral codes. Morality only detracts from religion. Religions don’t agree on any one morality, as so often are many laws patently absurd.

    All things being considered, I greatly dislike the spirit of placing people or behaviors into categories or labels, as it is a gross oversimplification of things.

    Stating that man is an animal is a statement of fact regardless if one believes in the spirit. I don’t deny the transcendent, rather, there is a tendency in spiritual circles to deny the natural. Both have their proper places.

    One cannot proclaim a moral code of behavior, especially one that restricts even harmless habits or lifestyles, and attribute its authorship to a god. That is dishonest. All laws spiritual or not were derived from the function of the human brain. Besides, it is rather ironic how it is often those religious conservatives who are most apt to kill millions of people in wars and oppressive policies just to benefit an economic empire (mammon). So perhaps the god of religion is the devil after all?

  3. @Political Prisoner:

    I believe you missed the point. I was not promoting liberalism or illiberalism, but rather trying to define them precisely. I hope to develop a quiz for each of the dichotomies in order to create a quantitative score. You comments will certainly help me in that regard.

    So to sum up your main points:
    1) We should live like animals, particularly lions and apes. Would you consider killing your girlfriend’s children by another man?
    2) You deny that there is any transcendent forces, just nature. Those who claim to know and understand higher forces are just trying to control you.
    3) Since you are irreligious, you live a fascinating life, full of opportunities.
    4) Like the liberal Rousseau, you believe that man was born free, but is now in chains. The illiberal, on the contrary, believes that man is not born free, but is subject to inferior forces that he neither understands nor controls.
    5) “High culture” is based on the herd mentality even though that herd is ignorant.
    6) Corporations as well as political and spiritual authorities control people for their own gain.
    7) Somehow, you have found the red pill and are immune to such programming

    Since you accept 9 out of the 9 liberations of Liberalism, I’ll score you a 90% on the liberalism scale. Not 100% because you seem to see some role for authority, provided it is “balanced”.

  4. @PP: Which god informed you that faith is worse than paroxysm? Apparently he has a lot of regard for “the average man.” You seem to be certain that you know what’s right and wrong, but it all seems like unproven mythology to me, so I don’t think I’m converted yet.

  5. Political prisoner: You might do well to read Evola’s essay on ‘Men Among the Ruins’ about liberalism and totalitarianism, which he claims to be the degrees of the same disease.

    Excerpt from the text can be found here: http://www.juliusevola.net/excerpts/Liberalism_%26_Totalitarianism__Degrees_of_the_same_Disease.html

    “When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed,
    benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom
    and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy.

    When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships,
    filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell
    into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.”

    – Tao te Ching

  6. Devotion to, and love of, God and scripture is arguably worse than, and in many ways identical to, being ruled by the passions. It is worse in the sense that it often involves attachment to ideas that can never be proven, hence superstitions, but also because these ideas are so irrelevant to the average man. It does not put food on the table or stop wars and oppression. On the contrary, religion is one of the driving factors in war and oppression.

    Religious man gets caught up in a mythology and pretends to a knowledge that he doesn’t possess: he claims to know what’s right and wrong, he claims to know what God is, and ultimately feels compelled to impose his ideas on others.

    But religious morality does not make one better off. It only ensures that that person will experience a boring life filled with missed opportunities.

    The world is in many ways worse off because of religion, not liberalism. If man in his natural state of freedom was so wrong then why did God make him that way to begin with? There was no god to tell man what to and what not to do. That is a lie. No one tells the lion or the ape what he can or cannot eat.

    The problem with the world is that we don’t have enough freedom. There are so many rules and regulations today that you need the government’s permission just to breath. Man does not possess the right to be man. He is treated like an ignorant child and so cannot help but act as such.

    Religion and government have been waging an all-out war on the individual. Each wish to manipulate and exploit man for their own gain.

    As a consequence, liberalism is nearly extinct. Where do we see its influence? Everything is highly controlled by some authority or another. There is no free market. There are no unfettered human rights. Even free and rational thought has been nearly wiped from the face of the earth. Everything revolves around the herd mentality called “culture.”

    Liberalism does not exist. There is only corporate and religious fascism ruling over an ignorant populace.

    But liberalism, like communism or any other opposition to the establishment, serves as a convenient excuse, a bogey to blame when things go wrong. Liberalism is hated simply for it is critical of religion and political authority. There must be a balance between religion and liberalism, authority and the individual, or else one or the other will become too powerful, and it will always abuse that power.

  7. Cologero, you did well to focus on the tequila in such circumstances , alcohol is sometimes a nice stimulant for confessions, and i have returned late , and sampled some vino just now , after which i have visited this site before sleep to check out that there have been no replies to this presentation as yet . As i have been going through a strange period of “nothingness” recently which might be one of the few conditions not mentioned above , in this state , sometimes i say exactly what I’m thinking even although in retrospect i may for a moment regret saying such , but usually in retrospect to that retrospect , i am glad of the impulse . What id like to say is that i really appreciate the time you would have taken to compose the above , and all the other excellent exposes , and that it is revealing of you as a persona that cares very much about the nature of existence and evolving knowledge of this existence.
    ” Ultimately, however, it leaves the individual alone, isolated,*
    In a manner of speaking this sort of sums up my nothingness at present , I’m not alone physically as i have work and friend contacts but i have recent increased aloneness . Part of this could be attributed to a female from 5 years ago who i found fitted my idea of the absolute female, but due to an error of maturity on my part , i induced a meltdown in her towards me from over-inquiry into her psychology of being . So that then leaves me with the memory of her “anticipated possibilities” as a benchmark to any other female i may engage with and nothing compares . So i live with that , with ongoing reminders, and then there is the possibility of celibacy which is why i enquire of such disciplines from others , to try and find out how their state of well-being is, but that apart , then there is the nature of the purpose of existence , what should one do ? to feel a definitive evolution . I can easily get by day by day , but for some reason lately , i have been tasked constantly about the purpose of my life sort of like ahabs obsession with the whale. I then wonder what do other people do, and i come up with the answer that they probably have wifes and children and other “duties” that sort of form the foundations of their existence and then they can “think thoughts” or commit to some discipline out of that basic “propulsion” foundation . but when you are alone , not lonely, but alone, there is much more time to go through all the possible connotations for what gives life meaning and joy etc . And if there is no basic foundation , and all lives distractions have been endured many times, then the thoughts turn in on the selfs purpose or lack of it . Then at this moment , by purpose , i don’t mean ambition , but more spiritual, i can also think that i am now caught in a cyclical thought cul de sac and that if i can find a willing partner , the sensation and discombobulation will jump-start me back into tomorrow with a smile . So i can go to sleep now, and tomorrow morning i may awake feeling slightly different , and right now will seem like a silly little blimp, realising that i have said this , which may seem meaningless in the larger worldview, , but yet may also have some strange meaning unknown even to i, it is with this final thought that i do press the go button , as i always go with these gambles , and somewhere out there , this may have meaning for a pair of eyes other than mine .

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