Freedom and Tolerance

Zipppy and Franklin have been having it out in the discussion thread here.

Representative quote from Franklin:

 Zippy, I support your right to live without freedom if that is what you prefer. I support the right of people to live under whatever kind of culture they want. If you want a king, fine. If you want communism, fine. Just don’t impose your culture on me. The real difference between traditionalism and liberalism is that there are many different traditions and real traditionalism recognizes this and respects the rights of people to organize themselves around their own traditions.


Representative quote from Zippy:

It isn’t just my theoretical understanding of liberalism that makes “live and let live” classical liberalism (which you oddly label “traditionalism”) seem utopian and counterfactual. The actual track record of liberalism in the real world suggests otherwise too.

My response:

The modern condition is uncanny, and therefore accurate comparisons with the past can be difficult to make. In the past, man was less free in many ways, and more free in many ways. The modern man is—with certain glaring exceptions noted—more free in the non-physical realm, where he can generally choose his own epistemology, his own ethics and even his own metaphysics without lifting any eyebrows, but he cannot choose to install incandescent lightbulbs, to develop his land, or to hire whomever he wants. And, most importantly, he is not free to live well on account of living in a properly-ordered society.

Liberalism offers freedom, and it delivers a lot of it, but it fails to deliver what man needs most: order.

I side more with Zippy than with Franklin. A great nation needs a great purpose, not just a “live and let live” spirit. Moreover, tradition is to be valued because it connects us with truth, not just because it is our way.

Ironically, we generally see more tolerance in traditional societies. A king demanded of his subjects only that they honor him in public, pay their taxes, and allow their sons to serve in his army. Other than that, he mostly left them alone. The modern state manages our lives in a myriad of mostly-petty ways. It is tolerant in theory but intrusive (sometimes disastrously so) in practice. The traditional state is formally intolerant of heresy, treason and dishonor, but mostly tolerant in practice.

Take Christianity. The man who is “intolerant” in the sense that he know that the God of the Bible is the only true God and that all men need faith in Christ in order to be saved from God’s wrath is in practice quite tolerant of real world people because his faith gives him a spiritual certainty that enables him to live in peace with others. His secular opposite, the diversity activist, has no spiritual peace, so he makes constant low-level war on those who don’t practice his faith.

In this, the allegedly-intolerant Christian, whose God commands all men everywhere to repent, is made more tolerant by his participation in a grand enterprise. By loving his people and celebrating their honor, as the man of old did, he makes himself a better friend of those who differ from him, and he makes himself more able to reach Franklin’s ideal of separate peoples living their separate traditions in mutual peace.

42 thoughts on “Freedom and Tolerance

  1. *A great nation needs a great purpose, not just a “live and let live” spirit. Moreover, tradition is to be valued because it connects us with truth, not just because it is our way.*

    Both profound. Freedom at its best, and this is also the American tradition at its best, takes the position that most of us can be trusted to self-organize in pursuit of that great purpose. It’s a high-risk, high-reward approach that has quite a bit to be said for it.

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  4. Alan is presenting a compromise position that I can accept. But rather than say “a great nation needs a great purpose”, I would say that a small homogeneous nation needs a great purpose, while a large nation, which is an empire, should only have as its purpose to moderate between the small nations (states/republics/whatever) that it contains and provide them all with security against external threats.

    Regarding kings, my views are those of Samuel and God as expressed in 1 Samuel 8:6-18. In other words, I oppose monarchy for my culture but I support it for those who want it for their culture.

    Lastly, I want to post a link again to Alexander Dugin’s interview since he presents my view so well.

  5. Franklin’s position “If you want communism, fine. Just don’t impose your culture on me” is what the American Conservatism is. It holds freedom as the highest political good.

    However, it is Conservatism that has enabled the Progressivism to the present extent. This it has done by providing legitimacy to the Progressive ideas in precisely the way Franklin has “If you want communism, fine”.

    The error lies in not appreciating the limits of a normal political process. Normal politics involves both electoral and judicial trials. There, one enters into arguments with one’s opponents. And that means
    1) Sharing certain premises: arguments can only proceed to conclusion if sufficient premises are shared.
    2) Accepting that the opponent’s view is inside the pale of civilized discussion. Discussion of abortion was outside the pale 100 years ago. Now even post-birth abortion (i.e. infanticide is freely discussed in medical journals. Witness the great achievement of Academic Freedom! 1st Amendment!
    3) Accepting defeat. The defeated party in normal politics accepts defeat gracefully. And this is what American Conservatives have done since 1973 and will continue to do so. They will lose each case 4-5 and yet proceed to fight the next case.

    They can not complain. They were given and option to join in political process or the deny the legitimacy of progressivism by “REFUSING TO CONTEST WITH THE PROGRESSIVE REVOLUTION” . They choose not to fight the revolution and chose to enable and legitimize the progressivism.

    • vishmehr24, you are confusing individual liberty with group liberty. What I support is group liberty which mean giving authority to local government, states, and religions over their members. What I oppose is any powerful central authority that governs over too many people, the American federal government being a prime example. There was a time when Conservatives actually stood for states rights, but that is past. The argument of individual rights versus federal power doesn’t interest me because I oppose both. I don’t think vishmehr24 is really addressing my position.

      I’ll add a comment about “the limits of a normal political process”. At this point politics is irrelevant because Americans are so far gone culturally that no political process can save them. All this political debate is just intellectual entertainment. Any practical action would ignore politics and focus on using religion to change culture. Traditional culture was lost due to changes in religion, not because of politics. In the broad changes of history, religion is leading indicator and politics is a lagging indicator.

      • But how is your preference for group liberty be squared with “Just don’t impose your culture on me”?
        Group liberty rather than individual liberty MEANS that certain fundamental consensus must exist in the group. This consensus the group will strive to maintain and the consensus-building would be felt as IMPOSITION by those resisting the consensus.

      • “But how is your preference for group liberty be squared with “Just don’t impose your culture on me”?”

        I don’t want to be in Zippy’s group. Isn’t that simple?

      • Franklin:

        I don’t want to be in Zippy’s group. Isn’t that simple?

        So we should submit to whatever authority we want to submit to, and not to any authority we don’t want to submit to? Groups have “authority” over members but membership in a group is strictly voluntary?

      • Zippy, yes, the one inalienable right of individuals is to leave a society that they can’t tolerate. Only communism, Nazism, and Islam violated this right in recent times. Of course a group may control a piece of land in which case the individual who wants to leave the group should leave that land.

      • Franklin:
        So a murderer or other criminal must be released as long as he leaves the sovereign territory? A debtor or someone with other business obligations? Family obligations? Religious obligations?

        Or are there limits to this putative “inalienable right” to emigrate?

      • Zippy, of course there is a limit, the widely recognized limit being for those who violate the law. When faced with intolerable laws, one should leave a society, not violate its laws. But this is the only limit that I can think of. I can’t think of any other reason to prevent a person from leaving besides that he broke a law.

      • Franklin:
        OK. So what if some of the laws say that you have obligations (of the sort already mentioned) that require you to stay?

        It seems to me that when we’ve whittled this “inalienable right to emigrate” down, it basically says that it is OK to emigrate when it is OK, and it isn’t when it isn’t. And once we’ve gotten there we’ve moved well past what individuals “prefer”.

      • A law that prevents you from leaving is an unjust law which can be ignored. Technically this doesn’t contradict my previous post because you won’t have violated this law until you have already left, at which point it no longer matters.

      • Franklin:
        So a law that prevents you from skipping town on unpaid debts and/or other obligations is an intrinsically unjust law? The kinds of “traditionalism” permitted under this scheme appear to be universally proscribed.

      • Zippy, that’s right, a person shouldn’t be enslaved because of debts. The Bible makes this quite clear. A perfect example of this abuse is the American law saying that men who owe child support can’t get a passport. This is slavery, clear and simple.

      • Franklin:
        So you do, after all, have universal principles which are at least in principle enforceable universally, against any local culture which violates them.

        Welcome to the club.

        Beyond that I definitely disagree that it is always morally permissible to run out on obligations, based solely on personal preferences.

      • (Specific examples of unjust law do not establish that a kind of law is intrinsically unjust, so even if we stipulate that does nothing for the liberal case against laws enforcing obligations in general).

      • “Groups have “authority” over members but membership in a group is strictly voluntary?”

        This is absolutely correct. I am free to outlaw myself. It does not follow that I must leave the national territory. It only means that I renounce the privileges and duties that pertain to citizenship.

        It also does not follow that the State must treat me as a respectable alien. The State may treat me according to its laws and I act according to mine.
        Thus, there is a contest of strength between the State and the outlaw. Naturally, since there is no shared law between the the State and the outlaw.

      • vishmehr24:
        As I have pointed out myself before, obedience of authority is materially voluntary, always. Human beings are by nature free moral agents. Nobody can force you to actively choose something you refuse to choose.

        However a material capacity to disobey authority in no way translates into a moral warrant to disobey authority.

        So if we are just talking about material capacities there is no discussion to be had. But if we are talking about moral obligations, then clearly there are times when abandoning them is wrong.

        Now given that there are times when abandoning obligations is wrong, and given that the public authority derives from the service of commutative and distributive justice (the common good), it follows that the public authority is at times in the right, morally, to restrict emigration of certain persons.

      • Zippy,
        “the public authority is at times in the right, morally, to restrict emigration of certain persons.”
        I do not disagree. As I have said, emigration is not the point.

        Similarly, it is not wrong per se for a person to withhold allegiance from the political authority, even if the said authority is not asking him to commit some unjust act.

      • Zippy,
        “the public authority derives from the service of commutative and distributive justice (the common good),”

        I fully agree. But it falls upon me to decide whether I want to be in commonwealth with you or not.
        This is where Consent comes in.

        In short, my position is I must be subject to some political authority but I choose which authority I would be subject to.

  6. “If you want communism, fine. Just don’t impose your culture on me”

    But communism IS imposing one’s view. It is a political doctrine, not an individual taste in literature.
    Franklin’s position is incoherent.

  7. The biggest problem is that those institutions which, in the past, generated consensus; the family, the Church, the guild hall, the общи́на, have been vitiated by the expansion of the State. If we were to recline upon them now, they would shatter like a convalescent forced into a double-marathon, and we would be worse off than before.

    • They already have shattered, under the weight of the welfare/socialist state. Some of us have made an honest (perhaps noble) effort at it, and yes, it’s not without its (major) difficulties. As I think both Zippy and Proph have iterated before, it’s very hard – quite near impossible – to live a traditionalist’s existence in a society absolutely hostile to traditionalism. One cannot ‘go it alone’ so to speak.

      • Well (for me anyway) that kind of goes without saying. Traditionalism isn’t something one can order his life around then turn his back on later on because it is hard or whatever. Indeed, I suspect most of us inclined to adopt traditional conservative principles in the face of (known) hostility from virtually everyone around us is also very inclined to cling all the more tightly to traditionalism when the going gets tough. …

  8. “I support your right to live without freedom if that is what you prefer” has an almost Escherian elegance in its manifest self-contradiction. The real clincher is “Just don’t impose your culture on me”, of course. Nor on anyone else, presumably.

    What is really precious is the attempt to frame this as any sort of “traditionalism” rather than just a form of liberalism.

    Attempting to label this “traditionalism” is what the neoreactionary kids are calling “entryism”. It is more or less what the neoconservatives did: infiltrate conservatism with liberal ideas, attempt to get “conservatism” redefined as this modestly different form of liberalism with its modestly different basket of unprincipled exceptions, thus stamping out any remaining principled resistance to liberalism itself.

    But if the basic political doctrine is “you can have whatever you prefer and everyone else can have whatever they prefer” then what we are talking about is really just more liberalism.

  9. The traditionalists should recognize that Political Equality is a Liberal doctrine, and not a traditional one.
    So, besides citizens, class A, one can have citizens class-B, class-C and so on.
    Eg, France had different rules (and taxes) for nobles, clergy, and commons till 1789..
    Russian Empire did not allow free residence to Jews outside certain areas.
    South Africa under whites had similar rules.
    So, if I decide to opt out of my national group, I may be relegated or relegate myself to class-B status. It is not necessary to leave the territory.

  10. Just yesterday at the public high school where I teach, nominations for Prom Royalty were circulated. However, unlike every ballot since the beginning of time, this royalty was to be “gender neutral”. Students would elect two students of either gender, thus they could have two Prom Kings or two Prom Queens. Whichever kids were involved in planning prom apparently chose this voluntarily, seeing it as as gesture toward greater freedom in the “live and let live” sense. In reality, this is an obviously hostile gesture against anyone who refuses to go along with the ruling class program. Even to the point of denying the importance or even existance of one of the most important biological facts of human existence. Not only do kids think that sex doesn’t matter, but the idea that it matters is offensive enough to warrant censorship. And these are just typical suburban high school kids, not wymyns studies majors.

    • Yes, it always starts out with “freedom, equality, tolerance, live and let live” — fine sentiments for distant neighbors in the wilderness. Translated into a political doctrine, its telos is the hypermanaged tyrannotolerance of gender-neutral Prom royalty. And it hasn’t finished working itself out: there is more to come, and all the sentimental “but The People would never stand for that” populism in the world won’t stop it from actually happening.

      But like Charlie Brown with Lucy holding the football, conservatives will continue to fall for the “live and let live” rope-a-dope routine every time. They’ll continue to treat minor temporary compromises as Great Reasons for Hope. They’ll continue to try to fashion “liberalism lite” which allows local particularities to flourish, expecting to promote universal liberalism while somehow expecting it never to come knocking at local doors.

      But Hope has left these lands, at least when that hope is placed in political doctrines and prospects. The defeat is total; and renewal cannot even be contemplated until repentance from liberalism is unequivocal.

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  12. “the public authority is at times in the right, morally, to restrict emigration of certain persons”

    I would like to know how others feel about this. To be clear, I consider Zippy’s and vishmehr24’s position to be worse than Liberalism, worse than modern Islam, worse than any current culture that I know of with the possible exception of North Korea.

    • But you have yourself said that you prefer group rights over individual rights.
      And this is simply what it MEANS.

    • Franklin:

      I consider Zippy’s and vishmehr24′s position to be worse than Liberalism, worse than modern Islam, worse than any current culture that I know of with the possible exception of North Korea.

      That’s because you are, yourself, a liberal: you believe that the free and equal superman’s personal preferences trump his objective moral duties. You attempt to limit the scope of this universal triumph of the will: to craft a free-market-of-traditionalisms governed only by the universal suffrage of voting-with-your-feet.

      But history has shown liberalism to be a jealous god.


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