1. Revolutionaries / Liberals are the most intolerant people in the world. They like to pretend to tolerance, and believe themselves to be tolerant, but this is an illusion based in the fact that they don’t value the same things as their opponents. Anything they actually value, they are utterly implacable on. They don’t care what religion you profess because they think all religions more or less equally false. But deny the value of public education or question the tenets of feminism and you’ll see just how ‘tolerant’ they are.
It’s not different with Modernists in the Church: adherence to certain doctrines or moral laws is ‘rigidity’ because they don’t care about these things. But don’t you dare question the ‘reforms’ of Vatican II (especially not the ones that don’t actually come from the documents).
This, really, is only what we should expect. Remember, Liberals think of themselves as setting free the oppressed. Therefore, anyone who disagrees with them on something they consider substantive is arguing for oppression and hence cannot be allowed any kind of influence since they ‘want to put y’all back in chains’, to quote the criminal in the White House.
2. This is also why Liberals of different stripes tend to be extremely hostile to one another. In the early US government the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans were accusing one another of treason and monarchism over the least provocations. Because the central doctrine of all kinds of liberalism is that mankind has been held in unjust oppression up until now (or from a certain Edenic period in the past, e.g. the Roman Republic) and are now being set free. Thus, anything that deviates from the particular branch of liberalism being proposed is a compromise or holdover with the tyranny of the past that must be stamped out if we are ever to get to our free-and-equal society.
The upside is that this allows for the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy to be played indefinitely. If you point out that a given form of liberalism has failed or hasn’t produced what it promised, they can say “well, that’s not real socialism / freedom / democracy / republic”. It may even be true.
The trouble is that a system that only delivers on its promises when we’re constantly balancing an entire nation on a razor’s edge that requires constant vigilance and involvement by at least a majority of the population is, for that very reason, an unworkable system.
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” is an elegant way of saying “we have an inherently unstable system of government.”
3. The good news is that, as I’ve said before, the form of government generally matters less than most people think, provided the structure of society as a whole retains its integrity. That is, as long as individuals understand their particular place in society, as long as they believe in and adhere to the particular values and traditions of their culture, as long as the forms of family, religion, and community remain intact, and so on, pretty much any kind of governmental structure can bump along tolerably well.
The really dividing element of societal / governmental structures is how well they can maintain these things. So…yeah.
4. The fact is, most people don’t want to have to be constantly standing guard over their governmental structure. Most people don’t have the time, interest, or frankly the capacity for such vigilance. What people want is chiefly to feel that they can understand the rules of their community and their own place within it, that it isn’t going to change or fall apart tomorrow, and that it’ll still be there for their children.
In other words, what most people want is order and stability. Because freedom, in any meaningful sense, can only exist amidst relative order. If you go out to the frontier, you’ll have ‘freedom’ in the sense that you can settle wherever you like, but your scope for living is extremely limited; you can subsistence farm and hope not to be killed by Indians or rival farmers that’s about it. That’s why the great story of the west is the taming of the west; the bringing of order to it. The point of the frontier was that it would not remain a frontier forever, and that the pioneers would create a world in which their children would have a greater scope for living than they had.
To put it another way: if ‘freedom’ means anything, it means the capacity to direct your life to an end of your own choosing according to your own capacity and interests. But the demands of survival mean that this is only possible when you can more or less assume those demands will be met: a society composed entirely of subsistence farmers cannot build a cathedral. The more specifically human endeavors – art, philosophy, commerce, architecture, etc. – only become possible once some people are able to be spared from the business of making food or fighting off invaders, and for the most part it only becomes worthwhile when you feel fairly confident that whatever you create will still be there when it comes time for your children to inherit it.
Community and a degree of order are necessary prerequisites for human flourishing and thus for anything that could reasonably be called ‘freedom’. Continually having to stand guard lest someone swoop in and turn your society into an oppressive state that no longer considers you as worthy of having a place in it is detrimental to liberty.
5. This is really the thing that I find most painful about our own society and stands in greatest contrast to the experience of most past generations for about the last thousand years or so: the fact that I don’t necessarily feel confident it will still be there when it comes time for my own children to inherit it.
6. That was a gloomier one than I intended. I take some comfort in the fact that I know that I’m naturally pessimistic and so things may very well be less disastrous than they appear. I’m actually fairly hopeful that we might at least settle back into a semi-functional society in the near future, as the backlash against the actions of the boomer generation gains momentum.
7. I just discovered this fellow on YouTube and he’s quite good, I think he hits the nail on the head with this video regarding a). why many Traditional Catholics seem harsh and aggressive and b). why so many of us are reluctant to actually say what we think these days.
Another element of why many Trads are unpleasant people is probably simply frustration and anger at being repeatedly abused, insulted, and kicked around for sixty-plus years. I remember Charles Coloumbe compared Traditionalists of an older generation to abused children. I mean, seriously: what do you expect? “Oh, these Trads are such rigid, devisive, and intolerant fools who can’t accept the world has moved on. Now why are they so rude to me?”
(Again, I notice that Progressives are often so certain of their own views that they’re actually surprised and confused and even offended when someone gets upset that they just mocked and belittled something he holds sacred).
That, and the simple fact that, thanks to the hostile attitudes of so many in the Church, most of these people are on their own when it comes to discipline and doctrine. It’s supposed to be that the priest or bishops or what have you are out there defending the faith and laying down rules and an example of what to insist upon and how to behave. But now they’re mostly attacking and rebuking those who try to stand up for the faith, which means the individual Catholic (and I’m speaking not just of Trads but of anyone who genuinely believes and wants to live their faith) has to make these calls for himself.
Remember that when authority abdicates, the need for that authority doesn’t go away.
2 thoughts on “Flotsam: Mostly More About Liberalism”
Re: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” is an elegant way of saying “we have an inherently unstable system of government.”
True, but not necessarily a bad thing, in fact I think that’s kind of the point. There is no moral way to do what you might term a stable system, I’m so this is the way people came up with the best embrace and exploit the instability of human nature, we built the system that actually thrives on into depends on it. Same for it’s not meant to be stable, it’s meant to keep rising (overall, over time); the less corrupted by corporatism and socialism it is the more true that is. But it comes with volatility, a certain level of built-in instability, and that it’s one of the very things that makes it work as it does.
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I certainly wouldn’t agree that there’s no moral way to make a stable, or at least stabler system (as far as social systems go: calling one ‘stable’ or ‘unstable’ is like calling a ship ‘safe’: it’s a relative term, not an absolute one. Any society is only as strong and stable as its population is moral).
The trouble with ‘it’s meant to keep rising’ is “rising toward what and compared to what?” By it’s nature, out system is actively forbidden from giving an objective answer to that question, meaning that what constitutes ‘rising’ is liable to change from generation to generation. That may be one reason why we’ve grown steadily *more* corrupted by corporatism and / or socialism (and related matters) almost from the word go, with very few and largely temporary restoratives.
See, the reason I call this an unstable system is that things bump along smoothly and the population is able to thrive as long as a de-facto common culture, value system, and understanding of the world persist across most of the population. But the trouble is that the theory of our system forbids any kind of objective, final definition of that culture or value system, so that every aspect of it may be subject to a vote. And every time an issue related to that common culture comes to a vote, it necessarily ceases to be part of that common culture and the stable foundation is eroded a little further. The only way to maintain it is sheer numbers, but that itself requires the majority of the population to hold similar values and judgments about what is best, which is exactly the issue at hand.
Hence the balancing act I mention above; expecting enough of the population to at once share the same understanding of what is desirable, understand the dangers to it, and understand what policies will in fact prevent those dangers all without presenting any kind of authoritative or clear definition of what we’re even trying to achieve. And we don’t just need enough to to keep the overall national policy in line, but also to avoid the population splitting into bitter rivalries where a significant portion thinks the country is sinking while the rest believe it to be rising.
I don’t think it’s either reasonable or, frankly, just to expect the common man to be involved or informed enough to maintain that balancing act.