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.