You are here

Equality, and man made God

A correspondent asks what metaphysical liberalism, as “the denial of the Good as a self-sufficient entity which exists independent of any individual’s personal preferences,” has to do with “the modern Left’s hysterical denial of differences between (and in some cases among) different racial sexual and myriad other groups.”

My response:

To my mind, the craziness and uniformity of liberal views on this issue suggest they result not from particular psychological needs or nebulous this or arbitrary that but from some point that’s basic to the logic of the whole way of thinking.

Metaphysical liberalism goes with a whole metaphysical system. Denial of the Good as a self-sufficient entity in liberal metaphysics is part of denial of all essential natures, including human nature. The world doesn’t dictate classifications and meanings to us, we dictate them to it and so make of it what we will. That point is absolutely basic so it has lots of consequences.

In particular, it means that we create ourselves. That’s an absolutely central point in the whole project. If there’s no God that can tell us anything then we have to be God. Accepting that the human body has properties that restrict our ability to define what we are denies that point. That’s why in the EU there’s a human right to get your birth registration changed from “male” to “female” if you’ve had what’s called a sex change operation. It’s also why there’s such extreme resistence to recognizing natural differences of human type. That recognition denies our self-createdness, our I AM THAT I AM.

He questioned that denial of natural differences is strictly required by liberal theory. My response:

You’re right that in concept John Rawls could have said “yes, there are human differences that are not merely constructed, disabilities for example, so we as liberals could recognize and deal with average differences between say blacks and women and whites and men without giving up any part of our liberalism.”

Still, there would be lots of resistance to that from liberals as liberals. Liberalism aspires to perfect explicitness. Since it has abolished God, faith and the transcendent things that aren’t perfectly explicit don’t exist or anyway can’t be understood or relied on. It therefore aspires to perfect simplicity and transparency and doesn’t take kindly to attempts to gum up the works.

From the standpoint of social organization the basic goal of liberalism is abolition of all institutions based on nonliberal principles (i.e., principles other than contract, exchange, arbitrary desire, technology and neutral expert bureaucracy). In particular, liberalism wants to get rid of sexual institutions like the family and arrangements based on historical community and particular culture. The line of attack is that liberal institutions alone are rational and fair while all others are utterly irrational and based simply on arbitrary oppositions (i.e., hatreds and bigotries). They are all wholly unjustified and immediate extirpation using whatever means are necessary is the appropriate response to whatever traces of them are still found among us.

To admit that distinctions between the sexes and among various historical communities have some substance would make it much more difficult to carry forward that line of attack. More generally, it would make it much more difficult to bring about the perfectly clear, clean and transparent social world liberalism requires because its modernist and indeed Cartesian skepticism teaches it that none other can be understood or relied on.

Share/Save

Comments

This is the chicken or the egg inquiry.

What comes first: the absolute demand for equality (emotive and/or political), or the metaphysical theory that denies an objective, Platonic good?

I suggest the theory is gerrymandered to fit the political demand (which is now a comprehensive social demand).

Once one accepts the political demand, all truth must be denied. Truth is coercive, and insists on distinctions. As a political matter, this characteristic of truth becomes “reactionary.”

This accounts for the Orwellian character of modern liberalism. Language must be tortured to obfuscate or deny obvious truths.

I suppose theologically the defect in the will preceded the defect in the mind. Still, it seems to me that there’s a lot more logic and coherence to liberalism than we foaming-at-the-mouth right wingers tend to think. Basically, I think you can derive it all from:

1. The desirability of satisfying desire.

2. Means/ends rationality.

3. Occam’s razor and a few other sensible-seeming formal axioms like equality (if there’s no reason to treat things differently then you treat them the same).

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

I agree that liberalism has its own logic and coherence (so does Marxism and astrology).

But one should consider:

1. Its premises;

2. Its “ends” (summum bonum);

3. Whether the theory encompasses all of reality (such as transcendence).

If a theory does not encompass all of the relevant reality, it really isn’t a “theory” at all; it’s mere opinion and/or propaganda(usually devised to serve political ends).

The premises and end are intended to be minimal and therefore universally acceptable to all reasonable persons. The problem, therefore, is whether all reality gets encompassed. It’s the same issue as with modern natural science.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

It’s interesting that you bring up science in this context. The reference reminds me of CS Lewis’s comment that “science isn’t big enough for man.”

What he meant is, in my language, science doesn’t address all of reality.

By analogy, if liberalism doesn’t address all of reality, then liberalism isn’t big enough for man.

And that’s the sense one gets, that liberalism is deeply dissatisfying at fundamental levels. It’s at best an accommodation, a truce of sorts attempting to keep the most powerful and fundamental elements of reality at bay. In doing so, it denies or marginalizes those elements, and in the end succumbs to them (for it has no defense against them, whether they be demonic or symbolic).

Our neighbors are pretty satisfied with Liberalism.

I encounter few who show any reticence over shedding another layer of themselves in order to harmonize with Liberalism. It is what makes them “good” and—surprise!—they like being “good”.

The further they get deracinated, the more shocking they find the layers their ancestors failed to shed. So many hateful, exclusionary practices! That these sustain the diversity they claim to treasure is never mentioned.

There are few Kalbs or MDs, and very few Solzhenitsyns. Anyone larger than Liberalism is a hater who will be first ignored, then laughed at, later diagnosed, perhaps even reformed or jailed.

My observation (mistaken?) is that those who post here hold that the partisans of systems of thought like Liberalism, systems which refuse to accept that they are smaller than reality or smaller than any reality that matters, will not be bothered by what we critics claim it excludes. The partisans “know” that the excluded is illusion or silliness. Without this, Liberalism could not be strong.

So, in writing or in face-to-face encounters, has anyone picked up on a technique that temporarily alienates the Liberal from his premises, creating a window of opportunity for actual exchange? How do any of you succeed in convincing people that they really are larger than Liberalism?

The best pitch I know of is to say (1) you really can’t have pluralism, because after all you have to exclude everyone who doesn’t buy totally into pluralism, but that means you have to exclude most people so the whole idea rather defeats itself, and (2) maybe the whole thing won’t work because people have to invent their own identities and relationships, and that’s hard for most people who don’t happen to be psychopaths, so all the fluidity basically mostly benefits the rich, strong, ruthless, manipulative etc. They’re both “this is all self-defeating” arguments.

As to the overall outlook, traditional things become traditional for a reason, because they sustain life and last through its changes and ups and downs. I think there’s hope of picking up people at the margins, and most of us get pushed to the wall at one point or another. People do get fed up and disillusioned, and such experiences accumulate and get passed on socially. If I’m wrong about that or overestimate the possibilities then Darwinian selection will apply to social groups and those that find some way to stay non-liberal will do OK and those that don’t will disintegrate and vanish. At some point the wave of the future will be decisively and visibly on the side of the non-liberals.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.