More on complaints about liberal tyranny

A liberal might object that my complaints about liberal intolerance and tyranny are really only complaints that liberalism is the political outlook on which Western institutions are now based. As such, it does what any dominant outlook does: it defines itself as truth and other outlooks as deceit, malice or ignorance, and then acts accordingly. What’s unusual about liberalism, he might continue, is not that it finds ways of suppressing other views but that the methods it uses are so gentle.

I suppose I’d respond to such an objection in two ways. My first point would be that there’s nothing unusually good about the ways in which liberalism maintains its dominance. The Spanish Inquisition is not the universal form of all other possibilities. For example, traditional understandings about sex and gender were on the whole maintained by a network of habits and understandings that controlled what people did without much direct reliance on physical force. It was possible to go to jail for sodomy, but in Europe it’s possible to go to jail for downplaying the importance of the Holocaust.

Besides, gentle means have disadvantages like everything else. Controls not enforced from outside must be internalized. Perfect freedom can exist only through the abolition of thought. The Anglo-Saxon countries have always been famous on the Continent for political freedom, and also for stupidity, hypocrisy and philistinism. The two have been related. One of the things that’s made the development of liberalism possible has been the development of better means of suppressing independent thought—the extension and centralization of formal education., the mass media, the bureaucratization of knowledge and cultural life generally. Those developments have made it much easier to define those who reject liberalism as not only wrong, but as ignorant, socially marginal, and somehow weird.

My second major point would be that the objection defends liberalism against the charge of tyranny at the cost of giving up its claim to automatic superiority. If its claim to superiority is that it lets 100 flowers bloom its defense cannot be that when it treats everything but liberalism as a weed to be grubbed out it’s only doing what all dominant views do. So to the extent liberalism relies on the claim that it’s no different from other views it must defend itself on grounds that make it directly comparable to other views. It must claim, for example, that its own substantive understanding of the human good—that it consists in maximum equal satisfaction of desire—is superior to others that have been advanced.

2 thoughts on “More on complaints about liberal tyranny”

  1. I know how the liberal

    I know how the liberal mind thinks, and it pisses me off. As everybody accross America has noticed that every state is following one another when it comes to the seatbelt laws. I also know that the Sepreme Court acted like they are completely snowed when the situation came up. I can also tell you why they should have read the Constitution one more time when they came across that decision. I’ll tell you this much I have no problem wearing my seatbelt in my own car, but I don’t feel like I should have to be forced to if I realy didn’t want to. However in my state and every state near mine have a strict seatbelt law so, I no longer have a choice. I have always understood that the US Constitution clearly gives us a freedom of choice. I don’t know about you but I don’t like somebody telling me how to run my life, and how I should live. Most laws state that if you do something wrong you pay the price, but so far the seatbelt law states that if you don’t do something you pay the price. In other words they are telling you that you have to wear a seatbelt, you don’t have a choice in the matter. It isn’t the same as telling somebody that they have to pay taxes or that they have to serve on a jury, that is all a part of being a US citizen. Others may argue that seatbelts save lives. Yes, maybe they do, but what harm would it do to you if I am not wearing a seatbelt. It isn’t like I am driving drunk, or smoking in a public place, or walking down the road with a gun in my hand, or driving with a cellphone stuck in my ear, or … You get the idea. I am not putting anybody, but myself in harm’s way. What is the matter, don’t I have the right to die? If I want to. I find the Seatbelt Law to be completely UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  2. Gay Marriages. I always thought

    Gay Marriages. I always thought that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. If it was Adam and Steve, than how would people explain how the world came to be so over populated. HA HA HA!

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