Tuesday, 4 March 2014

IT'S THE LIBERALISM, STUPID


by Brett Stevens

The modern West is like a person whose brain lobes have been severed. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and the two have different personalities. The right hand tries for health, but for every move it makes, the left hand moves more quickly to destroy.

The estimable Bruce Charlton thinks that the West is in decline and is "covertly yet swiftly working to achieve self-extermination." He bases this belief on the declining fertility of the West and its resulting embrace of third-world immigration. His solution? We need to be religious, and believe in a personal deity.

Now, Charlton is no dummy. He's well aware of what he's doing and its origins are more Nietzschean than Catholic. He sees a world adrift in fatalism and materialism and his solution is to go back to God. While this may not be the "new path" we are accustomed to looking for when we get stuck, it makes sense from a logical point of view: when you find yourself in error, go back to the last point where you were not, and start over from there.

He thus joins many who are trying to diagnose the illness of the West, although they won't call it that in all cases. The liberals think we are dying of inequality, and their solution is to make us all equal with a minimum level of income, which is basically Communism without the irresponsible notion of paying everyone the same amount. The mainstream conservatives generally agree with Charlton but can't stop themselves from trying to "compromise" and achieve relevance by adopting liberal positions. The underground right is sure that another Holocaust will solve this problem. Big business doesn't care, and politics doesn't care, because those are simply fields of opportunity. Someone will take up the reins and the profits will continue, at least until several generations of third world living cause it all to fall inward.

We're not in any better place than Charlton, then, if we can agree with his diagnosis but have no better solution. However, there is a secondary diagnosis implicit in his solution, which is that a lack of God has led to these problems and that a restoration of God will solve them. I suggest that contrary to popular belief, the smarter echelon of people in our society are believers of one sort or another. Most I suspect have only inklings and suppositions and are shying away from organized religion because of its clannish, insular and defensive nature, not to mention its recent fad of trying to become popular by imitating popular notions of moral behavior. Instead, I choose to point the finger at the obvious source of the problem.

A little over 200 years ago, two events radically shaped the West. The first was the maturation of our early industrial technology through the Industrial Revolution. The second was commonly perceived as a consequence of the former, which was the implementation of the ideals of The Enlightenment through liberalism during the French Revolutionary period. However, I think our history is understood backwards, and what we think of as an industrial revolution was in fact a huge boom in technologies that had been deliberately held back by those who realized the result would be sudden and negative change. As it turns out, those Luddites were right. The burst of industry allowed people to manufacture wealth outside of a central command structure through the unity of culture, aristocracy and church, and thus began the process of dividing Western society into ever more discoordinated slices.

One reason I describe myself as a "traditionalist" is that a disunified society is a destructive one. Society is either formed around some kind of purpose or values system, or it's a giant shopping mall where we all show up to have jobs so we can buy things and basically possess no other values. Pretty much everything that pretty much everyone complains about results from the lack of other values. To business and politics, appearance is all that matters; you sell appearance so people buy marked-up products or vote for your party. You do not sell reality because reality is a bad product, since it can be acquired just about anywhere for free. And yet the core of liberalism is the idea of a disunified society since the very notion of egalitarianism — this is the only real idea in liberalism, which is in fact a very simple philosophy — inherently opposes hierarchy, which is a form of inequality by the nature of giving some people more power and reward than others.

Thus in the West we have been doomed for centuries to follow this pattern. Good people try their best to do what is good, and get ignored in favor of the rising audience of thoughtless people who want only what is convenient for them right now. These thoughtless people are protected by liberalism and so they enlarge its power and focus, and with each generation society becomes more divided against itself. Tradition is replaced by ideology; culture is replaced by commerce; values are replaced by advertising. We become a soulless mob of careless selfish people, and thus we start to hate ourselves. What is left then but to destroy the hateful non-civilization we've made, and what is a better way to destroy than to increase the infection by enhancing liberalism and importing third-world people to vote for it and eventually administer it, destroying us?

For over two centuries now, the introspection of the West has created a vast library about social breakdown. Some, like those on the right, bemoan it and wish for a time when we will be strong and rising against. Others, like those on the left, cheer and it find full expression for their individualism in the breakdown of all but the self. What could more romanticize the ego than a vast wasteland with oneself as the single bright point of goodness in it? And yet, most people in the West choose to live as if this were the truth. In their movie, they are the center of attention, and anything that does not fit that paradigm is discarded before even completed as a perception. It is at this level that some of the most interesting criticism of the West has occurred.

In select literature and art, a growing criticism of modern life has gained momentum over these past two centuries. Unlike modern thought, which breaks down complex things into simple granular thoughts, this Romantic thought sweeps all things into the same measurement: quality of experience. How does your existence feel, how does it stir your soul? At this level, egomania is seen as a kind of torpor, like an obese diner already sated before daring to taste the main course. This viewpoint shows our modern dream of the home in the gated community, the easy high-paying job and the challengeless life as a form of illusion that removes from life all that makes us adore life. Even more, it points out that our day-to-day existence is hell. Egalitarianism has removed behavior constraints and so people are dishonest, opportunistic and dramatic. Our time is wasted waiting on others in traffic, at jobs, with bureaucracy, and among the throngs while shopping or trying to socialize. Life has been made ugly by modernity and nature shows us a better way.

For centuries conservatives have ignored this advice. They have focused on defending the kernel of activity they believe they can still believe in: capitalism, morality, religion and fairness. And yet year after year, conservatives have ceded ground by focusing only on this little world of theirs and not on the broader trends that shake society. When they do focus on those trends, too often it is to emulate them, which gives voters a choice between two liberal parties, one of which requires more effort than the other and so is ignored. The time advances where it is time to reconsider this viewpoint. Why is life so ugly? How have we turned Eden into Dis?

It's the liberalism, stupid. Our problem is not technology, although Ted Kaczynski — who is far from a fool — thinks so. It is not Jews, although Alex Linder (also quite intelligent) thinks so. Nor is it immigration and multiculturalism per se, although that is a symptom that weakens society at its roots. Our problem is that liberal ideas, by converting us into a social group of free agents, have destroyed the notion of civilization itself and replaced it with obligation to social pressures. And social pressures reward appearance like money and politics, making a world where we can't speak the truth and must go along with illusions, even as we see them destroying all that we love. Liberalism is the wrong turn we took, not denying God. I am not suggesting that we need to cast aside the question of religion, nor that we ignore God. I am suggesting that we look toward the actual root of our disastrous decline in the West, and view every other problem as a symptom. Then we can find the neck of the Medusa and stop slicing heads that simply regrow in the next generation.

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