The Bloom of Health Is Not Itself Health

Liberty is not the basis of rightly ordered society, as liberals think. Liberty is rather a byproduct of a rightly ordered society.

A society that lacks liberty – that, i.e., contravenes the doctrine of subsidiarity (which mandates the devolution to each organ of the social hierarchy (thus, in the limit, to individuals) all the powers each of them can well handle, or delegate in their turn) – is not just, to be sure. That injustice however lies, not in its lack of liberty, but in the fact that it is wrongly ordered to begin with.

In properly ordered societies, the interests of disparate social actors are aligned with Reality, ergo with each other, so that there is preponderant and relatively effortless – and indeed thoughtless – social harmony, that is then rarely even noticed as such, so that as overlooked it is taken for granted (and so, too often, wasted). There is then little need for social control, and lots of play for … well, for play: for enterprise, innovation, creativity, ingenuity, art, and for prodigality of life. Liberty arrives naturally and organically in conditions of justice. It needs no special provisions or protections, then. Formal protections of liberty indicate that it is already vitiated by the conflicts inherent in inapt social order.

Marxists – and other merely economic analysts – likewise err in thinking that economic factors (including power relations) are the bases of social order, when on the contrary, they, too, are outworkings of righteousness. They are tells – inditia – rather than the thing indicated. A society wherein almost no one is wealthy enough to live decently cannot be said to have succeeded in a meet accommodation to reality as she is. A society that has succeeded to righteousness on the other hand is ceteris paribus likely to prosper, and to a prevalent sufficiency among its people of the means of life. But prosperity is, not the source of right order, but evidence thereof. Nor is prosperity always a reliable index of probity and prudence. A society wherein most men are prosperous enough to live a healthy life is good only insofar as that prosperity derives from right action. A society ordered to predation or piracy might be very wealthy for a time and two times, and half a time; but could not be just.

If a society be just, then can it be prosperous; but, NB, not vice versa: prosperous societies can be quite wicked. Marxians and other economic determinists then err by affirming the consequent.

It is the same for idolaters of equality or fraternity.

A wicked society frustrates familiarity; and there can be no fraternity where there is no common sense of familiarity. But a band of pirates can be suffused with fraternal good feelings, and its members feel that it is as it were a family.

Equality is of course an utter shibboleth, nowhere ever to be found among men, except as between identical twins, for a short time after their natal days. But the notion that moderns intend by their emphasis on égalité is, not equality simpliciter, but rather that basic dignity shared by all men, in virtue of their common creation as, at the very least, each an image of God. Equality is nonsense. But dignity is not.

A rightly ordered society will understand that all men are made imago Dei, and honor their basic dignity.

But nor nevertheless is a widespread observation of basic human dignity even a reliable indication of right social order, let alone its source. A nation of wastrels each convinced that he and his countrymen are all pretty doggone dignified can be quite wrong in this estimation, and quite wicked. Think of Saudi Arabia.

Prosperity, liberty, dignity, fraternity, harmony, and so forth: these are all aspects of the bloom of social health, rather than its source. They are symptoms of health, not the health itself.

The true basis of a rightly ordered society is the proper adequation and meet ordination of political relations, and of human lives, to the Good – which is to say, to the Most Real. This derives in turn from a correct apprehension of the Truth. A society properly ordered to the Good under a correct understanding of the Truth will itself be good: just, and what is more, beautiful – and so, probably, therefore prosperous, free, and so forth.

The Liberal, Jacobin and Marxian errors have all the same form: they mistake a supervenient thing for a subvenient, the bloom of health for the health itself.

A similar critique could perhaps tell with equal force upon any scheme of political formalism, including those beloved among latter day reactionaries. Constitutions and Laws, customs and taboos, are all abstract ex post facto formalizations of prior and concrete social realities. “Proposition Nation” is a contradiction in terms. You can’t generate a nation from a constellation of laws. Indeed, you can get laws in the first place only from a constellation of people of a common heritage and outlook, a shared system of values, deriving from a shared set of metaphysical understandings. Lacking that national familiarity and solidarity, that basic agreement about what’s what, there would be no reason for a population to take notice of the acts of the legislature. That “ethics” derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root as “ethnos” is not an aetymological error. Nor is it a matter of happenstance. Ethics per se presupposes a people.

It is foolish, then, to order public policy toward the nice things, such as harmony and liberty, that good public policy tends to generate. To do so would be like pursuing happiness – as Utilitarianism does – rather than the good that is its only source. As ill, such pursuits work ill.

The only basis of right social order, and therefore the only proper objective of public policy, or for that matter of personal comportment, is the pursuit of the Good. Taken as a goal, every other thing whatever is a species of disease.

90 thoughts on “The Bloom of Health Is Not Itself Health

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    • Hah! Just so.

      I note also that political promotion of liberty cannot be accomplished except by means of some political demotion of liberty. Liberty is one of the many properties that is conserved across ontological transactions.

      The laws of an ill ordered polity – a diseased polity, organically ordered else than to the Good – cannot but cut its body, as they were a surgeon’s knife. They cannot heal but by wounding. The more pervasive the disorder, the more cuts.

      • Kristor:
        I’ll have to think about what sort of conservation would apply. From my point of view every single sovereign-enforced liberty requires a multitude of constraints, until it results in entropic heat death.

      • Yeah, that was exactly my point. The conservation laws don’t contradict thermodynamics.

        The sort of conservation that applies is the conservation of value. Values are conserved across all ontological transactions. The conservations of energy, of momentum, of charge, and so forth, are types of the conservation of value.

        Conservation of value is a tricky, and I suppose a somewhat controversial notion. I should write a post on it.

      • You cannot conceive a “sovereign” without having FIRST conceived of the perfect sovereign.

        So the matter is not just “liberty.” The matter is of perfect liberty… A passionate desire of white men THROUGH THE AGES. A desire that DEFINES a Western man himself at the most fundamental GUT level. A recognition of the white man’s WORSHIP of Perfection Itself.

        The anti-(white) Supremacy of the {{{globalists}}} and their horde of orcs IS AIMED SQUARELY at this desire for objective Supremacy possessed by the most spirited white men. Perfection… As revealed empirically by The Perfect Man… Whom white Christians have worshipped for over a millennia as the person Christ… He who falsifies (universal) “equality” and its MENTAL effect of collapsing reality into a total redundancy, ie., infinite regress. This is genuine white Supremacy.

  3. But what is the good in The Good? “Its” perfection. It’s Perfection. This is not a redundancy… Not the “equality” that is perceived everywhere and yet exists nowhere having been falsified by that which is good in the Good anywhere.

    Let the singularities rule.

  4. “Equality” is the manner in which a “default elite” impresses upon its “citizens” an illusionary redundancy that then gives the dull mass some impression of authoritative control.

  5. Liberty is not the basis of rightly ordered society, as liberals think.

    I honestly don’t think you have a clue about how liberals think. Liberty is an inherently negative concept — in its must fundamental form, it is the *absence* of external constraint and coercion — so is not likely to be the “basis” for anything. The point of liberalism is to allow individuals to pursue the good in the way they see fit, rather than as dictated by a central authority.

    In properly ordered societies, the interests of disparate social actors are aligned with Reality, ergo with each other, so that there is preponderant and relatively effortless – and indeed thoughtless – social harmony….

    Utterly naive. Conflict is inherent to all life. Interests are not and have never been “effortlessly aligned”, they are hashed out in remorseless competition — hopefully in a peaceful and orderly fashion, but as often not.

    The true basis of a rightly ordered society is the proper adequation and meet ordination of political relations, and of human lives, to the Good – which is to say, to the Most Real. This derives in turn from a correct apprehension of the Truth. A society properly ordered to the Good under a correct understanding of the Truth will itself be good: just, and what is more, beautiful – and so, probably, therefore prosperous, free, and so forth.

    Empty. The problem of politics is not that people are not aligned to the good, it’s that they have conflicting views of what the good is, and those conflicts have to be worked out. This doesn’t happen by magic or wistful longing for harmony, it happens by politics.

    The Liberal, Jacobin and Marxian errors have all the same form: they mistake a supervenient thing for a subvenient, the bloom of health for the health itself

    You are wrong. Liberty is neither a primary goal, nor a consequent of Goodness. It is a technique to allow goodness to be approached and achieved. And god knows there are problems with it, but the alternatives are worse, especially given the glaring absence of divinely ordained kings these days.

    • I honestly don’t think you have a clue about how liberals think. Liberty is an inherently negative concept — in its must fundamental form, it is the *absence* of external constraint and coercion

      Liberals say stuff like this. They don’t think this because this can’t be thought, being a pile of gibberish. There can’t be an absence of “external” constraint and coercion because people are almost exclusively interested in their interactions with other people. I can’t have the liberty to rape your daughter if she has the liberty to decline to be raped. Similarly, we can’t all be at the top of the status hierarchy.

      This problem can’t be escaped by saying that we’ll just have rules for arbitrating conflicts of liberty claims. Those rules are not random, picky details. Those rules are the entirety of the social and political system. Without those rules, you have described nothing. With those rules, the system is fully specified and there is nothing for the signifier “liberty” to signify. Whatever principle we use to set those rules is the actual governing principle. “Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” is empty. What counts as “swinging your fist,” what counts as “my nose,” what counts as “right,” and what is done about it if you violate are everything.

      With right-liberals, their allegedly simple non-initiation principle turns out, in practice, to be a signifier for an incredibly complicated and detailed set of behavioral rules and associated enforcement mechanisms (which rules and mechanisms just happen to be “as if” designed to maximize the wealth of the smartest con man in the room). With left-liberals, their rather vague blather about “human flourishing” (or whatever this week’s term of art happens to be) ends up being an apologia for whatever the center left of the Democratic Party happens to be in favor of lately.

      Or, you can come at it from another direction. What does the word “external” actually mean? Right liberals (or especially loony “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” left liberals) are particularly easy to send up this way since their whole way of thinking involves identifying government with “external.” Of course, me raping your daughter doesn’t then involve any external constraint. So, then external becomes external to the person. But this still doesn’t work, since me raping your daughter does not involve any constraint external to me. So, then external becomes external to each person individually. But this still doesn’t work, since, practically, nobody can do anything at all without affecting someone else. So, we will have to fill out the definition of the word “external” with a bunch of detailed rules. Which rules we must get from somewhere . . .

      Liberty is always a bait and switch. It would be wrong for you to impose your rules on me and my friends because that would violate our liberty. It is fine for me to impose my rules on you and your friends because I am just establishing liberty. These two sentences say absolutely nothing beyond “I rule.”

      • “But this still doesn’t work, since, practically, nobody can do anything at all without affecting someone else.”

        Bingo!

      • DrBill:

        Exactly right. Liberty as a political principle is either entirely vacuous or is reducible to begging the question in favor of a particular understanding of authority and associated rules, metaphysics, or what have you. The attempt to ‘save’ this by distinguishing between ‘positive rights’ and ‘negative rights’ is just one of many equivocal mechanisms employed to continue to beg the question in favor of the particular liberal’s favorite rules.

        “Freedom” in practice just means “a ‘free society’ puts the right sort of people in prison”.

        But of course liberals don’t like their cherished ideals to be vacuous. They want their negation of authority to have teeth. So freedom means making sure, good and hard, that nobody is ever allowed to tell anyone else what to do. It means imposing a ‘live and let live’ philosophy formally and comprehensively on every person and institution in the name of tolerance, authoritatively discriminating everywhere that is necessary in order to eliminate discrimination and authority.

      • Liberalism is so committed to a comprehensively enforced anti-authoritarian ‘live and let live’ politics that the President of the United States must be personally involved and invested in decisions about who gets to use the ladies room in Texas middle schools.

      • @ Zippy: “Liberalism is so committed to a comprehensively enforced anti-authoritarian ‘live and let live’ politics that the President of the United States must be personally involved and invested in decisions about who gets to use the ladies room in Texas middle schools.”

        Damn right! When I read a.morphous’s dispute of Kristor’s thesis above, this is the very first thing that came to mind. To end this totalitatian madness disguising itself as “liberty,” the Church militant will ultimately have to re-emerge.

        It’s the only way. Sorry, a.morphous, but it’s the relegation to second-class citizenship for you and your kind. Not that we like (or have to like) having to do it to you.

      • Sorry, a.morphous, but it’s the relegation to second-class citizenship for you and your kind. Not that we like (or have to like) having to do it to you.

        We don’t have to like it, no. But it sure is nice when our obligations are fun.

        In the land of lies, every day is opposite day.

        That’s a great rant. It’s hard not to notice how effective this rhetorical strategy of naming things after the exact opposite of what they are is. Does the radio program All Things Considered ever consider anything at all, beyond its listeners’ navels?

    • “I honestly don’t think you have a clue about how liberals think. Liberty is an inherently negative concept — in its must fundamental form, it is the *absence* of external constraint and coercion — so is not likely to be the “basis” for anything. The point of liberalism is to allow individuals to pursue the good in the way they see fit, rather than as dictated by a central authority.”

      A.morphous, you don’t think that “Liberty” (as a concept) is the *ideological* basis of what liberals conceive as a “properly ordered society”?

    • a.morphous…

      The desire for a “free will” is a GIVEN so much so that you WILLINGLY exist FREELY such that there are no external constraints to your will to self-annihilate. To define your “free will” in any other manner than a “right to self-annihilate” is to dubiously insert an external “force” that doesn’t actually exist. In other words, “liberty” isn’t the liberationist’s “primary” aim BECAUSE the “right to self-annihilate” IS A GIVEN.

      But normal people have a whole different concept of “free will” and the desire thereof. And Christians possess an absolutely exalted concept of “free will.” A concept that attempts to connect to (P)erfection in something truly perpetually regenerate.

      • Kristor…

        Mr. Auster used to bring attention to the non-believer who still spoke the language of the believer and so maintained a minimal amount of ability to communicate to the outer world of believers. Fastforward to a critical mass of non-believers STILL BEING GRANTED BELIEF even as they speak, write and affirm their lack of belief in anything ESPECIALLY objective Supremacy, ie., (P)erfection.

        You KEEP GRANTING a.morphius “belief” in order to facilitate a communication that has actually broken down completely.

    • Thanks, a.morphous, for a constructive comment.

      I honestly don’t think you have a clue about how liberals think.

      I was a liberal myself until about ten years ago. I started out as a Marxist, and 35 years later was a libertarian – a classical liberal – with Burkean inclinations, that led eventually to my present perspective. So I just *remember* what it is like to be a liberal. Indeed, I struggle still to extricate myself from our chthonic liberalism.

      Conflict is inherent to all life. Interests are not and have never been “effortlessly aligned,” they are hashed out in remorseless competition …

      There is to be sure always some conflict and disagreement among Fallen men. That’s why rule and constraint – which is to say, social order – are ever needed, and ever present, so that their absence is but a fond utopian notion, impossible to implement in practice and therefore never really to be found. But where rule and constraint are rightly done and properly ordered to the Good, disagreements are fewer, less radical, less consequential, and so less passionate; and their solutions relatively quick and painless.

      The impression that society as such is always a remorselessly competitive war of all against all is I would argue largely an artifact of the deeply whacked society we now inhabit, in which there is tremendous cultural heterogeneity, and therefore – naturally enough – lots of profound and perfervid disagreement about what is what, and what therefore ought to be done about it. In a rightly ordered society, almost everyone would agree about the nature of things, about what is important, and about how things ought therefore to be done. Most would, i.e., agree about almost everything of importance. They would disagree only about little things, and at the margins of great things.

      Don’t get me wrong: all societies are somewhat disordered. The bitterness and number and profundity of their intramural disagreements are inditia of that disorder.

      Society is a concord. Discord is a measure of social disease – of a lack or defect of sociality. The greater the discord, the lesser the society. We are literally less of a society than we would be if we were properly ordered to each other, and so less disagreeable to each other. In exactly similar fashion, a wicked man is literally less substantial than if as virtuous he had optimized his ontological capacity and power – his wealth.

      Liberty is neither a primary goal, nor a consequent of Goodness. It is a technique to allow goodness to be approached and achieved.

      All social order is technical; is practical and methodological; is an instrument intended to facilitate an approach to some apparent good (that may or not be really good). Order in general is a character of procedures. It is concrete only as past, finished, implemented in history by procedures that are now, we may see, complete (so that they are historical, rather than current). As current, social order is a set of principles governing the process of deciding what to do now – of, i.e., living. It is like software. This means that, as a living coordination of disparate lives, carried out one transaction at a time, it is always somewhat up for grabs, prone to error and defect and corruption, and by the same token amenable to improvement, reform, redemption. So long as the ordering principles of the procedure of social replication perdure – so long, that is, as tradition remains competent and adequate to human predicaments – so long, then, may a society perdure.

      In saying that liberty is not a primary goal of virtue, you echo the gist of the original post. In saying that it is not a consequence of virtue, you err. Virtue confers increase of ontological capacity, of power. Ceteris paribus, it makes men and their societies stronger. This is another way of saying that it increases the set of their really viable options. It increases the number of things that they can do. And this is a way of saying that it relaxes the constraints on their action imposed by the concrete circumstances of their actual world. A man who has foolishly squandered his substance has but few options; this is practically the definition of poverty. It is also a sort of slavery to circumstances, wherein a man finds himself whipsawed by the flux of events and largely unable to influence his future, so as to steer his course to a state that is good.

      The notion that liberty is lack of external constraint on individual action is mistaken. It is an easy and natural mistake, but it is mistaken nonetheless. There is always constraint; and, as Dr. Bill points out, the full range of constraints upon individual action is always specified in practice. Liberty is not lack of external constraint upon individual acts, but rather the condition of men in a properly ordered society, wherein the principle of subsidiarity has been conscientiously and comprehensively and rightly applied – or, as we could equivocally say, wherein it has been really applied. Where it has, men find that they have the largest and best and most comfortable set of *sorts* of decisions left to them by the rest of their fellows. Subsidiarity delegates most sorts of decisions to individuals. It is the enjoyment of real subsidiarity that we often mistake for lack of external constraints. External constraints are ever present. Subsidiarity behooves men to many sorts of acts to which tyranny prevents them. Either way, they are constrained. The difference is that under real subsidiarity, we don’t notice our bounden duties as constraints, but see them rather as enabling powers.

      The Law is a cage for the wicked, but for the virtuous it is a stage: a forecondition of ordered social action toward the Good.

      • Kristor…

        There is no real “constraint” on one’s will to (P)erfection nor his will to self-annihilate that doesn’t just reduce one to a state of self-induced unwillingness. Otherwise, constraint on one’s will towards other “things” just manifests as patterned chaos.

      • What actual constraints are you under the suppression of WHILE willing to (P)erfection and/or willing to self-annihilate that are not just, actually, your own creations, ie., not a truly external constraint?

      • Kristor…

        I am taking issue with…

        “There is always constraint…”

        No… Not in willing to (P)erfection nor willing to self-annihilate. There is no constraint on such will that isn’t at one’s own hand.

      • Ah, I see. Well, but yes and no. Yes in that the basic decision that confronts every man at every moment of his life is whether to obey the Most High, or to disobey, and that decision is not *forced.* But that does not mean it is not *constrained* – i.e., limited. How? Well, in the first place it is constrained by facts and circumstances, and by essential natures. Men are not free to breathe water, for example; nor is any man now free to kill Julius Caesar. In the second place, the nature of man’s basic existential choice is not left open. We can choose only whether to obey, or not.

        Options must in fact be constrained in order for a decision to occur. It is the character of the really available options that sets the character of the decision, by defining the shape of the decision space and the moral values of each of its points. The really available options, given our circumstances and the natures of things, do definitely constrain what we can do. But they do this by forming the very matrix of our decision.

        This is why at the end of my last comment to a.morphous I characterized the Law as either iron cage for the wicked or, for the virtuous, altar of the heavenly ascent.

      • Kristor…

        For a high IQ such as a.morphous, free will is not a matter of obeying or disobeying the most nonexistent thing. Free will is a matter of rejecting objective Supremacy so as to elevate Redundancy as the highest thing. This redundancy is sold as equality, and practically means a collective will free of the individual spirit.

        So again, what fact or circumstance AS concrete reality LIMITS your will to (P)erfection outside those limits which are self-imposed?

        Likewise, what fact or circumstance can negate the free will to self-annihilate where free will is defined as willingly existing freely?

        And so the limit on one’s ability to kill Caesar is not a limit on one willingly existing freely. It is only a constraint on a free will BECAUSE such will attempts to operate outside objective Supremacy. For all healthy-minded individuals, pondering the lack of free will to kill Ceasar isn’t even a sane question because one must operate OUTSIDE a genuinely free will. One must go outside willingly existing freely. One must delve into radical autonomy.

      • Thordaddy, *please* stop with all the scare quotes. They add no information, they add only noise. They therefore make your stuff even more impenetrable than it already is. I’ve just deleted them from your last three comments, and the sense of relief is inexpressible.

      • Kristor…

        When I write…

        For a high IQ such as a.morphous, free will is not a matter of “obeying” or “disobeying” the most nonexistent “thing.”

        And you edit this to…

        For a high IQ such as a.morphous, free will is not a matter of obeying or disobeying the most nonexistent thing.

        You ARE COLLAPSING the reality between those who believe in Perfection and those who reject even having a concept of Perfection (read: they do not know objective Supremacy. God is dead). And because I was referencing a.morphous, a “well-known” radical autonomist, the scare quotes are no such thing, rather, they are indications that one is in the land of liberated language where “nonexistent thing” really exists and “obeying” and “disobeying” have no inherent meaning.

      • Fair enough. Now that you have explained your meaning a bit, I can see what you were getting at with the quote marks. But it would have been a lot easier for me and your other readers if to begin with you had said something like:

        A.morphous and his ilk don’t believe in God. So they don’t believe in an absolute, objective reality. To them, therefore, terms are completely untethered to reality, and so are free to wander, completely malleable and open to reinterpretation – and to mendacious twisting. If there is no absolute objective reality to which terms might or might not adequately refer, then what could give them any meaning at all, other than the meanings we invent for them?

        As for terms, so also for acts. If there is no objective, absolute reality, then there is no such thing really as morality – no acts that are truly evil. There is only what we want, or don’t want. They believe human autonomy is radical; that it goes all the way down, and is in the final analysis rootless. So all talk of obedience or disobedience to Divine Law or Natural Law is just nonsense to them.

        If you wrote it all out that way, rather than using your idiosyncratic terminology, people would understand what you write. They wouldn’t have to ask you what you meant, or admit that they couldn’t figure out what you were saying – as has happened with three readers in this thread alone. The initial comments would take you a few moments longer to write, but you would save all that time devoted to fleshing out and explaining yourself.

      • There is to be sure always some conflict and disagreement among Fallen men…The impression that society as such is always a remorselessly competitive war of all against all is I would argue largely an artifact of the deeply whacked society we now inhabit

        No, it՚s deeper than that. Life (biological life) is inherently a matter of conflict, between species and individuals and genes. Even within families, even between a mother and child, there is conflict.

        I don՚t think this makes reality a “war of all against all”, which makes it sound grimmer than it is. There are many forms of competition that don՚t involve slaughter, I՚m sure you would agree. But competing interests are still there, even in smoothly run societies.

        That’s why rule and constraint – which is to say, social order – are ever needed, and ever present…But where rule and constraint are rightly done and properly ordered to the Good, disagreements are fewer, less radical, less consequential, and so less passionate; and their solutions relatively quick and painless.

        I think we can agree on that. The idea of liberalism is to minimize these constraints, but not eliminate them (the stuff DrBill throws out is a strawman that was dealt with from the founding of liberalism).

        there is tremendous cultural heterogeneity, and therefore – naturally enough – lots of profound and perfervid disagreement about what is what, and what therefore ought to be done about it. In a rightly ordered society, almost everyone would agree about the nature of things

        You want to live in a monoculture, well, good luck finding one. Such societies basically don՚t exist any more and where they do they tend to be stagnant. It՚s not like liberalism created social heterogeneity, it was a response to it, as modernism and the early forms of globalization made it less and less feasible for cultures to remain isolated.

        Society is a concord.

        Any particular society is a temporary truce in the constant struggle. It is never stable forever, since humans are inventive.

        I don՚t mean to be rude, but your conception of the good society sounds like Disneyland, a particularly well-ordered but entirely artificial paradise.

      • Life (biological life) is inherently a matter of conflict, between species and individuals and genes. Even within families, even between a mother and child, there is conflict … competing interests are still there, even in smoothly run societies.

        Sure. As I said. Humanity is Fallen; Life is Fallen; the whole freaking cosmos is Fallen.

        Taking the Fall as stipulated and incorrigible by any merely creaturely agency, the difference that then here interests us is between societies that are well and smoothly run, and those (such as ours) that are not. Surely you don’t mean to suggest that you would rather live in a badly run, violent society than in a peaceful and smoothly run society?

        The idea of liberalism is to minimize … constraints, but not eliminate them …

        Traditional societies optimize constraints. This has the effect of optimizing the scope of action that their members typically enjoy; and the result is that their scope of action is generally greater than those of members of societies that either maximize or minimize constraints. You can’t minimize constraint except by imposing constraint. To minimize the constraints on mentally ill men who (aver that they) believe they are women, you have to force little girls to use the same restrooms that they do.

        So minimum constraint and maximum constraint turn out to be coterminous states, at least along the dimension of constraint.

        You want to live in a monoculture, well, good luck finding one. Such societies basically don’t exist anymore, and where they do they tend to be stagnant.

        As becomes more evident with every passing day, Diversity + Proximity = War. Among the other things that it does, war sorts peoples. The Great Sortition will happen. There will be homogeneous nations again, and they will be stagnant – which is to say, relatively stable, prosperous, peaceful (this is why it is good news that there is no news). It’s as inevitable as the eventual extinction of germlines – such as those of liberals – that fail to reproduce at or above replacement levels of total fertility.

        Society is a concord.

        Any particular society is a temporary truce in the constant struggle. It is never stable forever, since humans are inventive.

        A truce is a formalization of concord. So you are not disagreeing with me here.

        That stability is not permanent does not mean it is not to be sought. Stability is *good.*

        I don’t mean to be rude, but your conception of the good society sounds like Disneyland, a particularly well-ordered but entirely artificial paradise.

        The Leftist utopia, per contra, is *totally achievable,* right? Just a few hundred million more eggs to break, and we’ll have ourselves a nice omelette! And it will be *wonderful;* just like Venezuela is getting to be.

        Society is artificial by definition. What we are talking about here is whether it is well ordered, or ill. Either way, it is ordered by human artifice. If you want to live in an unstable, violent, impoverished and debased society, well then, congratulations: your party has arranged – by its artifices – for that very thing.

      • Surely you don’t mean to suggest that you would prefer to live in a badly run, violent society than in a peaceful and smoothly run society?

        No. But we apparently differ on what kind of smoothly run societies are desireable or achievable.

        Traditional societies optimize constraints.

        According to what metric? Who decides what is optimum?

        There will be homogeneous nations again, and they will be stagnant.

        Extremely unlikely, outside of a total collapse of technology based civilization. If humanity is reduced to bands of hunter-gatherers, then, sure.

        And, don՚t you live in San Francisco, perhaps the most ethnically diverse place in the US? If you value homogeneity so much, why not go to rural Idaho or someplace where you can achieve that blessed state?

        It’s as inevitable as the eventual extinction of germlines – such as those of liberals

        I think I commented earlier that liberalism is not passed down genetically so this is a bogus argument.

        Society is artificial by definition. What we are talking about here is whether it is well ordered, or ill. Either way, it is ordered by human artifice

        Not really. Well, it partially is, but not in the Disneyland sense, as presumably is obvious. The distinction is whether a society organizes itself or has organization imposed on it from the outside. The former is chaotic, messy, and alive, and I wouldn՚t want it any other way. The other is Disneyland, or maybe Singapore.

      • … we apparently differ on what kind of smoothly run societies are desirable or achievable.

        You can have Venezuela, that is run along your principles, and welcome to it. I’ll take almost anything else, outside of Africa and dar al Islam.

        Traditional societies optimize constraints.

        According to what metric? Who decides what is optimum?

        Always it’s who/whom with you Leftists, isn’t it? That’s what happens when you try to found society on antagonism, on hate, on class war. Naturally then you cannot conceive of a society that is otherwise made; that is constituted on the basis of fellowship, brotherhood, familiarity, nation. That ain’t in your lexicon; you have no terms to cover it, at all, or therefore to comprehend it, or even recognize it; so you suppose it ain’t out there to begin with. Sad!

        Try to think of it, my friend: a society where no one was out to get you; where everyone you met, no matter how different his station, was a kinsman, however distant. Sure, families can be rotten. Their rottenness is peculiarly disgusting in our nostrils. But this is only because we expect so much more from families, as natural to them; so that we are that much more appalled when they fail at their mission. No one is too surprised – or ought not to be, anyway – when a stranger turns out to be an enemy. Everyone is horrified at Alcibiades.

        The traditional constraints upon constraint evolve organically, in just the way that you say that you love, you big hippie (that was a friendly jab, for I too am a bit of a hippie still). It is not imposed; it arises from the exigencies of common quotidian life, without any special effort, by trillions of tiny mutual adjustments and fidelities.

        Here’s the thing, fundamentally. You think of constraints as eo ipso bad. That’s not your fault. All moderns are taught to think that way. But the reality is that the only constraints that are bad are the bad, evil ones, that work men’s woe. They are dissocial. The other bonds, that bind men together in friendship and brotherhood, are of love. They constitute society.

        Extremely unlikely [there will ever be homogeneous stagnant nations again], outside of a total collapse of technology based civilization.

        I think that the sufficient triggering collapse would actually be quite trivial, by historical standards. We are nowhere near collapse yet, so far as daily life is concerned, and yet already almost half of Europe and the Anglosphere are eager to eject all the wogs.

        So long as it remains the case that Diversity + Proximity = War – so long, i.e., as men are men – then sortition will be a strange attractor, for all sorts of men.

        And, don’t you live in San Francisco, perhaps the most ethnically diverse place in the US? If you value homogeneity so much, why not go to rural Idaho or someplace … ?

        Working on it. Not that I hate SF. On the contrary, I love it. But it’s a harder and harder place to live. Red counties are lots easier.

        I think I commented earlier that liberalism is not passed down genetically so this is a bogus argument.

        The argument is not that liberalism will be deleted because liberals don’t reproduce. It is that, unless they are purged of the lethal liberal meme, the germlines infected with liberalism will be deleted, leaving only germlines that have not been infected. Liberalism is clearly dysgenic. Gene/culture coevolution being as rapid as it seems to be, we may find that in a couple hundred years there’s just no one around anymore who is susceptible to the liberal meme.

        Not that that would be the end of our problems with Babel. It would just be the end of the liberal version of our perennial problems with Babel.

        The distinction is whether a society organizes itself or has organization imposed on it from the outside. The former is chaotic, messy, and alive, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

        Then you really, really wouldn’t like living in a successfully Leftist country like the USSR, where everything is the Clampdown. You’d rather live in Venezuela, or China under the Cultural Revolution.

        I will take the Shire.

        A.morphous, stability is not bad. Life seeks stability. Life is homeostatic. Stability is its natural métier, its sine qua non. Survival is a form of stability. Hell, all things seek stable order; or else, they are not things. Stability under varying conditions gives us the regularity in things that makes life possible. Things try to keep going the way they are, and to change as little as they can in order to stay as much the same as they can. The messiness of life that we both love, the variety and challenge and ever refreshed newness of it, are wonderful and pleasant only in small doses, that call for the trillions of tiny adjustments to which I earlier referred, and that make life as lived a constant adventure, however humble.

        The Shire has all the drama and heartache and joy that a good life wants. No great battles are called for; those are extra, costly, and to be shunned if possible. So indeed we do often shun them. I have been a professional adventurer; I know when to shun, and when to venture forth. One of the many deep lessons of The Lord of the Rings is that great adventure makes it impossible ever to return again whole hearted to the Shire; for it enlarges life by wounds. This most of us know, who have ever left hometown.

        Nor is it true that a social order imposed from the outside is always worse than what a society has devised for itself. Inside versus outside is not the distinction that matters. Good and evil, that’s what matters. Aztec and Carthaginian societies were simply evil. Evil societies want destruction; and the cosmos is so ordered as to deliver it to them. Thank God for Rome, in both her Italian and her Iberian strains, which effected that delivery.

        Seriously, a.morphous: how can you look at Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR, or Cambodia on the one hand, and on the other Iceland, the US, Australia, Switzerland … and remain a leftist? How do you manage to believe that leftism works in the real world? I don’t get that.

      • “The distinction is whether a society organizes itself or has organization imposed on it from the outside. The former is chaotic, messy, and alive, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

        Eureka! That’s it!: organization through dysfunction and disorganization; chaotic organization. It’s a freak and a monster, but … “it’s alive, IT’s ALIIIIVE!”

        “…and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

        Thank you, Dr. Frankenstein.

      • Kristor…

        It’s not that you are wrong. You are very right and have pressed this understanding for quite some time.

        But…

        At some point, you must treat those to whom speak of… For example a.morphous… AND literally BELIEVE that “he” believes in “no objective reality.” First, it would explain why “he” couldn’t understand objective and then next WE could draw the conclusion that “he” rejects objective Supremacy, ie., Perfection, AS the objective reality.

        This is the objective reality, no?

        (P)erfection is the “operating paradigm,” yes?

        There is no real omnipotence in that which is less than (P)erfection, correct?

        A “smoothly running society” IS REALLY the perfect society or man’s very best approximation thereof, no?

        Yet, he needs a TRUE concept of Perfection IN MIND, yes?

        Christians are deconverting under the duress of anti-white Supremacy everywhere one looks.

        a.morphous is not here to be persuaded. “He” is here to teach others HOW TO reject objective Supremacy and keep our best and brightest arguing over his refusal to accept objective reality.

      • Thordaddy, it seems that you are saying something important, but I can’t tell what it is. Consider this sentence:

        At some point, you must treat those to whom speak of… For example a.morphous… AND literally BELIEVE that “he” believes in “no objective reality.”

        At some point, I must treat them whom I speak of (who is that?) … how? How must I treat them? You put “he” in scare quotes; do you mean to indicate thereby that a.morphous is not a male? When you put “no objective reality” in scare quotes, do you mean to indicate that there is no such thing as no objective reality – that, in other words, there *is* an objective reality?

        Spell it out in plain English, in such a way that your meaning is plain: no quotes, no caps, complete sentences, and so forth. Write like a Christian, for heaven’s sake. I don’t have time to try to penetrate your syntax.

        If you can’t start writing in plain English, your comments are not going to get through moderation. If no one can understand them, they are no more than noise, no matter how good your intentions. And it makes no sense in that case for us to impose them on readers, all of whom likewise have limited time.

      • Kristor…

        You are telling me that a.morphous believes there to be no objective reality

        BUT…

        YOU do not ACT as though a.morphous ACTUALLY believes this “belief.”

        Because afterall, one cannot really believe in nothing.

        Yet, a.morphous REALLY DOES “believe” in nothing. As in, a.morphous has no “operating paradigm,” no meta-physical first assumption, nothing.

        a.morphous is anti-objective Supremacy (read: against (P)erfection as inspirational force) and thus radically autonomous.

        CONTINUOUSLY telling a.morphous that there is an objective reality SIMPLY LURES you into the redundancy that is the ontological effect of “believing” in nothing.

      • Kristor…

        How is that you and a.morphous, one believing in objective reality and one rejecting any objective reality, are able to communicate in plain English while you and I, who, both not only believe in an objective reality, but go one step further and attest to (P)erfection as the objective reality, are unable to communicate in plain English?

        I’ll tell you why. You still speak and write too liberally and your articulation has not evolved to reflect how liberated is the language that you speak and write.

        You can communicate with a.morphous because the communication never rises above objective reality or rejection thereof.

        But when the communication rises to the level of (P)erfection AS objective reality then communication breaks down.

        The key to understanding this breakdown is in the following formula.

        (P)erfection = objective (S)upremacy = objective (s)upremacy = (s)upremacy = “white supremacy” = white degeneracy = anti-white Supremacy…

        This is the VICIOUS cycle that the high IQ “white” male WILL NOT PULL the dull “white” mass out of… And the mainstream “white” Christian is as useless in his “equality.”

      • Always it’s who/whom with you Leftists, isn’t it? That’s what happens when you try to found society on antagonism, on hate, on class war. Naturally then you cannot conceive of a society that is otherwise made; that is constituted on the basis of fellowship, brotherhood, familiarity, nation.

        Try to think of it, my friend: a society where no one was out to get you; where everyone you met, no matter how different his station, was a kinsman, however distant.

        There aren՚t any societies like this. Never have been. I thought it was the leftists who were supposed to be naive and believe in that kind of social solidarity stuff.

        I already explained kinsmen are competing with each other just like anyone else. This is just the facts of life, it has nothing to do with my personal preferences or yours.

        That՚s not to say that fellowship and cooperation are impossible. But they are emergent properties out of a substructure of competition.

        But this is only because we expect so much more from families, as natural to them; so that we are that much more appalled when they fail at their mission. No one is too surprised – or ought not to be, anyway – when a stranger turns out to be an enemy.

        I think this is getting to the core of things. You want a society where people are more like family and less like strangers. This is not an unreasoanable thing to want (although again it is reminiscent of some of the more naive fantasies of communism). So how do you get this under the present conditions of gloabalized capitalism?

        You can encourage people to retreat to homogenous ethnically pure enclaves, which doesn՚t seem practical. Or, you can encourage people to expand their circle of empathy and learn to treat strangers more as family. The latter is the liberal solution. Though obviously not without its problems, it seems like a more practical and more moral path than retreat.

        You think of constraints as eo ipso bad. …But the reality is that the only constraints that are bad are the bad, evil ones, that work men’s woe.

        Not really.

        Once again, the questions is who gets to say which constraints are bad or good? There are fundamental disagreements about this, which is why a liberal order tries to minimize the set of global externally imposed constraints. The state has awesome and unique powers of violent coercion, the doctrine of minimizing constraints ensures (or tries to ensure) that they are employed only when necessary.

        I will take the Shire.

        That՚s another Disneyland – it՚s not real. Why do so many right-wingers base their beliefs on fantasy novels? Tolkien is a far superior to Ayn Rand but neither is a very reliable guide to politics.

        And the reality it was based on, the bucolic English rural life, was not destroyed by socialism or an influx of outsiders, but by the capitalist aspirations of the ruling class. Come to think of it, Marx had this right:

        The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation.

        Not that the solutions derived from his analysis are any good – but at least he had the problem right. I have some sympathies for people like Tolkien and you who long for the idyllic world of the past, but the toothpaste isn՚t going back into that tube.

      • That՚s not to say that fellowship and cooperation are impossible. But they are emergent properties out of a substructure of competition.

        That sounds all hard headed and realistic. But really it’s the other way round. Competition within a society can occur – obviously – only if there be first a society in which it may then occur. It’s society that is logically prior to competition, and not vice versa. Competition emerges from a substructure of cooperation. Indeed, competition is a type of cooperation.

        Competition between societies is also a derivative phenomenon. No societies, no competitions between them.

        Competition supervenes upon society. It is possible to be social without competing.

        You want a society where people are more like family and less like strangers. This is not an unreasonable thing to want (although again it is reminiscent of some of the more naive fantasies of communism). So how do you get this under the present conditions of globalized capitalism?

        You can encourage people to retreat to homogenous ethnically pure enclaves, which doesn’t seem practical …

        No encouragement is needed. Such sortition is what people naturally do. Mixing them together creates a volatile and unstable situation, that is prone to violent separation of diverse peoples – that is prone to war. It’s such mixing that needs to be encouraged and facilitated artificially.

        Look at what happened to Yugoslavia when the Iron Curtain came down and the fist of socialism was withdrawn. That’s what you can expect when people are left to themselves, free, as you say, of external constraints or “encouragements.”

        Nor is this a horrible thing. It is perfectly natural and reasonable to want to live with your own kind, and to view other kinds with suspicion or contempt.

        Not to say that people can’t be friends with those of other groups, or even marry them. They can. But there is no gainsaying the simple fact that people prefer to live among others like themselves.

        … the only constraints that are bad are the bad, evil ones, that work men’s woe.

        Not really.

        Wait a minute. You’re saying that constraints that work woe (e.g., wage and price controls) are not bad or evil? Really? Or no, wait: do you mean perhaps to say that constraints that harm no one (e.g., drive on the right) are nevertheless bad?

        Which is it? Either way, how does the suggestion make sense?

        Care to rewrite that last?

        Once again, the questions is who gets to say which constraints are bad or good? There are fundamental disagreements about this, which is why a liberal order tries to minimize the set of global externally imposed constraints. The state has awesome and unique powers of violent coercion, the doctrine of minimizing constraints ensures (or tries to ensure) that they are employed only when necessary …

        Who gets to say when employment of constraints is necessary or unnecessary?

        You see the problem. There is no escape. Government just is constraint. What government does not prevent, it allows. Both motions are constraints. So, there’s no such thing as “minimizing” constraints. No matter whether the government allows or disallows something, it constrains the people to do likewise.

        Again, then, it is not constraint per se that is problematic, but wrong, evil, bad constraint.

        You will ask again who it is that decides what constraints are wrong. That is the matter of politics, no?

        I have some sympathies for people like Tolkien and you who long for the idyllic world of the past, but the toothpaste isn՚t going back into that tube.

        The Good is unattainable, eh? Venezuela is the best we can hope for? A comfortable society is impossible? Really?

        On the contrary, our social order is up to us. We can have the sort of society we want. And as society of the sort that you want more and more fails, people are going to want something different.

        ++++++++++++++++++++

        PS: I note that you have not answered the question I asked at the close of my last comment in our conversation:

        Seriously, a.morphous: how can you look at Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR, or Cambodia on the one hand, and on the other Iceland, the US, Australia, Switzerland … and remain a leftist? How do you manage to believe that leftism works in the real world? I don’t get that.

      • a.morphous…

        This has NOTHING TO DO with retreating or isolating AND everything to do with resisting a FORCEFUL INTEGRATION into a “system” of perpetuating self-annihilation. That’s the LIBERAL “system” today and it’s “equality before Perfection” fanaticism breaks completely down at the point where another recognizes there is no there there. You DO NOT GRANT objective Supremacy and so the CONCEPT of “equality before Perfection” means nothing. Ergo, the generic liberal drive is now to force all into a “nothing” that is “understood” as “equality.”

        “We” desire to escape this toxic drive of the more amorphous type.

      • Thordaddy, this is incomprehensible. If you want to make yourself understood, write more traditionally.

        It is just as important – nay, more important, as fundamental to civilized communication – to employ and thus support and transmit the traditions of syntax, usage and diction as of anything else.

      • Kristor…

        Ilion stated that a society that embraces “equality before the Law” is a liberal society. Equality before the Law is a classical liberal belief. Perhaps, the defining belief of the classical liberal? And of course, this belief in “equality before the (L)aw” was mothered by Protestantism. I rather believe his take and I’m more than willing to ONLY WRITE “liberal” when “we” speak of those moderns today who do not really believe in “equality before the Law” EVEN THOUGH “we” call them liberals.

        BUT…

        When Ilion states that “equality before the Law” is mothered by Protestantism, he is saying Protestantism is most faithful to “equality before Perfection.” Meaning, in relationship to Perfection, all men are equal. “We” now understand how the “liberals” have so perverted this “equality before Perfection” that it has transmogrified into the soul-murderous ideology of anti-white Supremacy. What deracinated Orthosphereans barely “see” is merely anti-Christianity.

        You only see a force against God of the Bible… And you refuse to see a force against white man striving towards that God of the Bible.

        So we are all equal in the eyes of Perfection with some being far more little than others.

      • “I think this is getting to the core of things. You want a society where people are more like family and less like strangers.”

        Yes, that would be desirable. But first things first – let us have families that are more like families, the rest will take care of itself over the long haul.

        “This is not an unreasoanable thing to want (although again it is reminiscent of some of the more naive fantasies of communism).”

        Whereas it *is* unreasonable to want its opposite. Which is part of the reason we say leftism is a psychotic ideology.

        We understand full well that competition is a natural, heathy thing and occurs at every human level. After all, even we say things like “life is a competition.” That’s not where we disagree. We disagree that (this being the case), the competition which arises from two or more completely opposing world views is healthy in the way that sibling rivalry is normal and healthy. As to the latter, our little squabbles and minor differences do not negate our blood and cultural ties, nor our overall world and life view; as to the former, well.

        “So how do you get this under the present conditions of gloabalized capitalism?”

        Good question! You don’t.

        “You can encourage people to retreat to homogenous ethnically pure enclaves, which doesn՚t seem practical.”

        It may not seem practical to you, but “white flight” is a real phenomenon that seems to occur in proportion the entrance and empowerment of the other. And the best and surest way to “encourage” it (retreat, white flight, whatever) is to …

        “… encourage people to expand their circle of empathy and learn to treat strangers more as family.”

        Translation: *enforce* the the movement of strangers and foreigners, and people with a freakish sense of humanity and “civilization,” into homogeoneous enclaves, and police their interactions until the mores of the host society are polluted beyond recognition.

        Strangers and family are mutually exclusive concepts. The only way to merge them into a singular kind of idea is to, as I said, systematically break down and root out the natural bonds of family through unnatural and (ultimately) oppressive means. Interbreeding is just a means to that end. “Encourage” is a nice word, a nice sentiment. But we know it’s just code for “destroy family and societal cohesiveness good and hard!”

        “The latter is the liberal solution.”

        We know.

        “Though obviously not without its problems, it seems like a more practical and more moral path than retreat.”

        It’s not immoral for a man – and by extension a family, a community, a church, etc. – to save himself (his family, etc.) from extinction. That is called “self-preservation,” speaking of competitive interests.

      • Terry has nailed it: Leftism *wants* a society of strangers; it *wants* the destruction of familiar relations. It responds to Marx’s lethal critique of bourgeois capitalism’s acid vitiation of all relations but the commercial by saying, “Yes! Let’s have more of that destruction of ‘the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors” … the … ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism!’ Pedal to the metal! Let’s destroy commercial relations, too!”

        A.morphous *prefers* anomie and alienation to family and friendship.

        So, at least, he says. But I doubt that in practice he really does. No; what everyone wants, and lacking it desperately tries to scrabble together from such human odds and ends as may present themselves, is family, friendship, commensality, a common worship.

      • Leftism *wants* a society of strangers; it *wants* the destruction of familiar relations. It responds to Marx’s lethal critique of bourgeois capitalism’s acid vitiation of all relations but the commercial by saying, “Yes! Let’s have more of that destruction…A.morphous *prefers* anomie and alienation to family and friendship. So, at least, he says. But I doubt that in practice he really does.

        That’s not what the left wants, or what it says it wants. It’s not what I want, and not what I said ai want. I have no interest in defending things I haven’t said.

        This is what I mean when I say you don’t understand the left. For you, “Leftism” is a caricature, a kind of demonic inversion of the good. But leftists are just people. Who may be wrong or deluded of course, but their basic desires are the same as yours, not some monstrous intrusion into your well-ordered world.

        The larger point that I was trying to convey with the Marx quote: the world is indeed disordered, but that disorder was not created by the left. It’s a product of modernism which is driven largely by capitalism and technology and the simple and inevitable march of history. Leftism is a response to that, as is reaction. One is forward-looking and the other is backward-looking, but time doesn’t care, it only goes in one direction.

      • A.morphous, you wrote:

        You [Kristor] want a society where people are more like family and less like strangers. This is not an unreasonable thing to want (although again it is reminiscent of some of the more naive fantasies of communism).

        I will take the Shire.

        That’s another Disneyland – it’s not real. Why do so many right-wingers base their beliefs on fantasy novels? Tolkien is far superior to Ayn Rand but neither is a very reliable guide to politics. …

        I have some sympathies for people like Tolkien and you who long for the idyllic world of the past, but the toothpaste isn’t going back into that tube.

        I took you by that to mean that, unlike me, you *don’t* want a society where people are more like family and less like strangers. So did Terry Morris; which is why he wrote in response that, “… it *is* unreasonable to want its opposite.” And it is! It is unreasonable – it is insane – to prefer the chaos, poverty and ruin of Venezuela or Maoist China, or Cambodia, or the icy rigor, poverty and terror of life in the USSR, Cuba, or the GDR, to the US or Sweden or Britain. Reasonable men from all over the world are fleeing from the Third World and what remains of the Second to get into the First. Who could blame them?

        I note in that connection that you have *still* avoided answering my question, which I now iterate for the third time:

        Seriously, a.morphous: how can you look at Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR, or Cambodia on the one hand, and on the other Iceland, the US, Australia, Switzerland … and remain a leftist? How do you manage to believe that leftism works in the real world? I don’t get that.

        Anyway, as I have already said in my response to Terry, I don’t believe for a moment that you really do prefer social chaos and disorder, poverty and terror to social peace, tranquility, prosperity, and familiarity. I am confident that, despite what you say, you agree with me about which of those two options is better. So, don’t worry; no need to defend yourself on that score.

        The Left may not *think* that it wants the destruction of civil society, but almost without exception the policies it wants to implement have that very effect. Right liberals have just as many genuinely good intentions as left liberals, yet many of their policy preferences have that effect, too (albeit, not as many as is the case for leftist policies). Good intentions are not an excuse for bad policy.

        … the world is indeed disordered, but that disorder was not created by the left. It’s a product of modernism which is driven largely by capitalism and technology and the simple and inevitable march of history. Leftism is a response to that, as is reaction. One is forward-looking and the other is backward-looking, but time doesn’t care, it only goes in one direction.

        You are correct that the Left is an aspect of the disorder of modernism, although I would dispute Marx’s argument that capitalism, technology or the march of history are to blame for the destruction of organic pre-modern society. It’s modernism – exactly and literally what its name means, “present-day-ism,” the rejection of putatively irrational and therefore unjust patrimonial traditions and customs and social orders in favor of the fashion of the present day, of the onward march of history, and of getting on the “right side” of history – that is to blame. The Leftist response to the inevitable march of history is, “Right on! Let’s get on with it! After all, it’s the present year! You conservatives are on the wrong side of history! On with the elimination of all the discriminatory boundaries and borders and differences that ordered society in the past! Ruin them!” The Right’s response – both liberal and reactionary – is, “No, wait, not so fast, you are ruining everything.”

        You characterize history as inevitable. I characterize it as intentional. If we want the Shire, we can have it. We will to be sure find it, when we do, transposed to a new key. But we will recognize it, as home.

      • The very amorphous DESIRE “radical autonomy.”

        “Radical autonomy” is that which comes after one’s simple autonomy is destroyed.

        So an amorphous-type character conceives the constraint on his autonomy when discussing the definitive meaning of, say, “sexual orientation” and then he seeks to obliterate this definitiveness and in the aftermath discover the “radical” in “radical autonomy.” Of course, in this material world there are literally infinite constraints to be conceived of and destroyed leaving a wreckage of “radical autonomy” behind. Yet, once it is spotted, measured and predictable, it is subsumed into its role as merely a redundant phenomenon of modernism. And the next amorphous step.

      • An amorphous-type would have you think that the “march of history” was not actually the foot stomps of men.

      • Kristor wrote: “You [a.morphous] characterize history as inevitable. I characterize it as intentional.”

        The appearance of inevitability must be fostered and upheld, especially to conceal the diabolical intentionality behind it.

        Speaking of which, …

        […]

        • Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. …

        •Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

        Check. Check. But give off the appearance that this is just the natural and inevitable course of “forward-looking progress.” No intention here.

        • Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

        • Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

        Check. Check. Nothing to see here. Such organizations as the ACLU, et al, spontaneously emerge from the primordial slime, and select at random the sorts of issues that in reality they *don’t select* to take on.

        • Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

        Check. Decades-long media blitzes to effect this point only give off the impression it is intentional to the most backward-looking members of the society, who must be dealt with harshly when they can’t be reformed.

        • Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

        Check. Check.

        • Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

        Check. Prayer and other forms of religious expression by students may be temporarily tolerated in pursuit of the larger goal, which is not a goal.

        • Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

        Check. **a.morphous, did you choose the language for this one? In any case, it can’t have been intentional that “modern needs” have made the Constitution null and void. The “Living, breathing Constitution” likewise spontaneously developed from the inevitability actuated by the primordial, forward-looking soup. Time knows only one direction.

        • Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

        Check. The appearance of aristocracy must be concealed, especially at the height of its influence and power. Liberalism eliminates the need for aristocratic transparency; repeated often enough, people begin to believe in its non-existence.

        • Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” …

        Check. Jews and Muslims played an integral role in the foundation of the country. And let’s not forget the Native American tribes who are the real originators of the bicameral Congress. This all being unintentional, of course.

        • Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

        Check. See below.

        • Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

        Check. An effective means of (unintentionally) achieving this is through obfuscation; communism is not communism so long as it retains its negative connotations.

        • Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

        Check. See above.

        •… Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

        Check. See also below. Only government sponsored, accredited apparatchicks are qualified to detect and treat psychological disorders. It is purely coincidental (perfectly unintentional) that these highly trained “experts” are dependent upon government funding for their daily bread.

        • Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

        • Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

        Check. Check. Unintentionally(!) foster an environment of real and perceived family dysfunction; train “experts” in the universities specially suited to deal with “troubled children” who are the products of these (unintended!) dysfuntional families; and in accordance with the above, make their livelihoods dependent upon the state whereby the incentive of these essential public servants (what would we do without them?!) is to broaden their horizons by refining their sensitivity for detecting more and more subtle and hidden forms of dysfunctionality, thus securing and increasing their funding from year to year. “Use it or lose it.”

        And etc.

        But of course the perception of inevitability in all of this “forward-looking” progress has not a whit to do with an intention on anyone’s part to set it in motion, nor to keep it in motion. “Time’s noblest offspring,” and all that.

  6. Kristor,

    This seems to me to be a very secular argument, or at least it starts that way, i.e. that liberty is the fruit of a well-ordered society. But a plain reading of Gal. 5:1 as well as the American Declaration of Independence argue that liberty is a gift from God, not a product of society. Jefferson also wrote “”God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

    It is true that halfway through your post you reference Gen. 1:27, but I suggest that truth, plus the above referenced Gal. 5, would be the best place to start the discussion. While such an argument might not appeal to modern liberals, older classical liberals like Jefferson could be quite comfortable with it.

    • Well, all I was really trying to argue in the post is that Liberty is a symptom of righteousness, and that it is therefore mistaken to take Liberty as the ordering principle of action in the life either of the individual or of the polis, when righteousness is the thing to focus on. It’s a type of Lewis’s reminder that when we put First Things first, then Second and Third Things are increased in due measure. If you are righteous (which is possible only in virtue of Grace), you are then going to be radically free pretty much automatically, no matter what they do to you (Matthew 10:28). But, as putting the cart before the horse, neglecting First Things in favor of any other impoverishes and enslaves, both concretely and spiritually. ,

      Implicit in the notions of righteousness, virtue, excellence, arête, goodness, and so forth, are the notions of real essentialism and of the Divine Law in both its Natural and social departments. And no God, then no Law of any sort, but rather only nothingness, chaos, non-being; and then, neither First Things, nor any others.

      So God is right in there. As ever!

      • If God is free, and if God has made us in his own (free) image, and given us liberty as a gift, then our liberty is one of the First Things and arguably an inalienable gift. Obedience to righteousness (also a First Thing) lacks personal moral meaning if it is not obedience freely given, though it might still have social utility.

      • Well, not to disagree with any of those very good points, but notwithstanding them, one of the things we are free to do is sin. This alone should suffice to warn us that it is putting the cart before the horse to take liberty (or for that matter life, or the pursuit of happiness) as the superordinate goal of public policy, rather than the righteousness that, as right, is in the bargain the only perfect freedom – which is to say, the only actual freedom.

        As to your points: Freedom is properly speaking a First Thing only in and of God; for only God is Simple, so that whatever we might pick out of his totality for our own consideration – as, his Freedom, his Persons, his Power, Goodness, and so forth – we must remember that in doing so we have abstracted in thought what cannot be abstracted in actuality. With God, we always get the whole package; there is no partial package, no actual part of God. He is an integration of all things in an integral and atomic One. His Freedom, Being, Goodness and so forth are all simply him.

        For creatures as such, per contra, God is in the final analysis the only First Thing. So while we may speak of First Things in the plural, these all terminate ultimately upon God; i.e., they all mean only and simply God.

      • @ Leo: “If God is free, […].”

        Is God “free?” Is He free to commit vice? If so, how so? If not, how has His gift (of liberty) to man transformed into freedom to do vice? Is God also free to give to his creatures that which He Himself does not possess?

      • These are good questions.

        God is not free to commit evil in the same way that he is not free to create a stone that he cannot lift. But this incapacity in God is not a defect of his freedom. God can’t do things that are logically incoherent, for such things are not numbered among the possibilia to begin with. They are not out there to be done in the first place. As I like to say, you can string together the characters that refer to them, but the character string can’t really mean anything. It is just a string of gobbledygook, sheer noise.

        So, the fact that Perfection can’t commit imperfection is not a constraint on the freedom of Perfection. What cannot possibly come to pass at all cannot possibly do anything whatsoever; so it cannot constrain.

        All other beings than God are less than he along some dimension of perfection. It is not logically incoherent for the imperfect to commit imperfection. If then God had somehow prevented creatures from doing evil, that would constitute a defect in creaturely freedom. And as himself Perfect, God would not do to us or for us what was imperfect. God gave us the same perfect freedom according to our natures that he has according to his. Inescapably, then, creatures are inherently, essentially and by definition capable of sin. It goes along with our being qua creatures.

        This is why “sin” and “is” derive from the same root.

      • Mr. Morris…

        Better to conceive God as Perfection so as to establish the actual basis for true omnipotence. It is the radically autonomous “god” who is fundamentally limited, ie., irreparably stunted.

      • Thordaddy, I agree. I think. I wonder, though, how it “stunts” God’s perfection to insist He is incapable (by virtue of his nature) of evil. To my mind, this is a *strength* of God’s character, not a weakness. Whereas the capability of (complex) man to evil is chief amongst his weaknesses.

      • @ Kristor: “So, the fact that Perfection can’t commit imperfection is not a constraint on the freedom of Perfection.”

        No it isn’t.

        “What cannot possibly come to pass at all cannot possibly do anything whatsoever; so it cannot constrain.”

        Exactly. But what, then, is the basis of (humanly) constraining inordinate/sinful human behavior? That is the question.

      • The imperfection of Perfection is logically incoherent; it is not, properly speaking, even an idea. So it can’t constrain Perfection.

        The imperfection of the imperfect is logically coherent. The imperfect can commit defection from its own proper perfections.

      • “I think that Thordaddy meant that it is only a “god” – I.e., a creature like Lucifer or Loki – that can be stunted in that way.”

        Oh, I see. And I agree.

      • Mr. Morris…

        The constraint on human sin is self-annihilation.

        Yet, self-annihilation is now the most violently-held “right” amongst the white race.

        And this is because the highest of IQ “white” males are self-annihilators absolutely convinced of an “infinite regress” within a General Entropy.

        So decent and degeneration IS THE “truth” of a high IQ “white” male “mind.”

        Self-annihilation is his logical conclusion.

        Yet, even here the high IQ “white” male must concoct the perfect self-annihilation.

        So he perpetuates in chaos.

      • Again, incomprehensible. It reflects poorly on you as a thinker, Thordaddy. I know you can do better, because I’ve witnessed your doing so. Let that happen again.

      • “[..]the high IQ “white” male must concoct the perfect self-annihilation.

        So he perpetuates in chaos.”

        In this light, perhaps Spengler’s “Decline of the West” would more precisely have been titled “Negative Growth of the West”, in that Western Man actively pursues his *descent* with the same perfectionist zeal as he did his *ascent*.

      • Kristor…

        There are no constraints on your will to Perfection. Nor are there any constraints on your will to annihilation.

        HIGH IQ “white” males has destroyed all “constraints” to his annihilation and PLAIN DENIES a will to Perfection.

        So Western Man DESCENDS AND DEGENERATES.

        Deracinated “Christians” are a significant chunk of those high IQ “white” male self-annihilators (for salvation).

        “We” all battle this self-annihilation.

  7. This post has re-opened a subject that has been nettling me for years. I am neither a reactionary nor a traditionalist. But I can’t dismiss the problems of Liberalism/modernity either. Contemporary “conservatism” claims that their brand of Liberalism is entirely different from the Leftism that they oppose. But I am increasingly moving to the position that classical liberalism morphing into “progressive” left liberalism/ socialism is a forgone conclusion. The reason being that they are the opposite sides of the same coin. The comments above speak to this, do they not?

    • Yes. Classical liberalism can mount no coherent defense against ideologies antithetical to it, such as Islam, Progressivism, Communism, etc. If everyone is free to do what they want, then we are free to believe (as everyone but classical liberals does) that we ought not to be free to do some things.

      The defenses of a classically liberal political order against its ideological enemies can be founded then only on unprincipled exceptions. So it does over time tend to fall before them.

    • I think opposite sides of the same coin is even too sharp a distinction. They differ on minor details of interpretation. On everything important, they agree. They are humanistic and materialistic. They both aim at maximizing a kind of grubby, physical freedom. In the more sane variants of the creed, this freedom is not a goal but is instrumental to maximizing something else like “utility,” material wealth, or human flourishing.

      Anatole France does a nice job of encapsulating how right liberalism and left liberalism differ: “The poor have to labour in the face of the majestic equality of the law, which forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” The right liberal is the strawman in France’s quote, and France is the left liberal. The left liberal grasps that “ordered liberty” doesn’t actually deliver much to people born without an endowment of whatever the market currently values and views this as a relevant limitation on the freedom of the poor person. The right liberal either denies that this is true, denies that it is relevant, or denies that there is anything that can be done about it at a reasonable material cost. The right liberal’s arguments against France are just terrible, and, in part, this explains why right liberalism naturally decays into left liberalism.

      Kristor points out the weakness of ideology to a take-over from without. It is also weak against corruption from within. You tell people it’s OK (admirable, even) to act in their own self-interest but only within some rules. But, you know, I could act in my self-interest even better by breaking the rules. So, why shouldn’t I? I could act in my self-interest even better by distorting the rules in my favor, legally. I could act in my self-interest even better by finding loopholes in the rules. Against the question “why shouldn’t I,” you then get all kinds of weird blather explicitly appealing to your altruism or to your duty to obey some moral law which suddenly appears at this point in the analysis. It’s quite bizarre, and it takes a lot of training not to see how bizarre it is.

  8. I think that the “classical” conservative would reject that view on the grounds that Liberalism is the logical fulfillment of Christian/theistic first principles- that Tradition and classical liberalism are not alien to one another, but actually reinforce each other. But then again, if Liberalism has to be grounded in something non- liberal, what exactly is the “Liberalism” of America’s founders?

  9. Re: the idea of good social order as primordial with respect to law and liberty:

    The philosophical architects of Anglo-American Constitutional thought- men like Machiavelli, Algernon Sidney, “Cato” (Trenchard and Gordon), and James Burgh- to a man agreed, with Aristotle, that “laws without manners are but wind”; that the best-designed laws and Constitutions in the world must come to naught if the citizenry at large is no longer interested in the pursuit of the Good over and above particular interests; and that loss of liberty and descent into despotism are inevitable in the latter case. The legatees of the Whig tradition today- those who usually identify as “classical Liberals”, “Conservatives”, and “Libertarians”- abuse their own intellectual patrimony greatly in thinking that the techniques for governing men through self-interest alone (legal deterrents, market discipline, incentive structures, etc.) can self-sufficiently stand in for virtuousness.

    • A society of men all keenly alive to the Divine Law in all its departments, and eager in their pursuit of the Good, can enjoy both great liberty and great prosperity. In such a society, laws and constitutions can be something more than dead letters.

      In other sorts of societies, not so much.

  10. Virtue and liberty- I deem that this is the heart of the discussion, or I am Gandalf the White. But, this is what really intrigues me- modernity (and its spearhead, the liberal left) is animated by (what appears) to be a fundamentally moral vision. When “progress” is invoked, its adherents genuinely believe (I think) that they are in the business of improving the human condition, that man’s hope (if he has one at all) is in the future, not in some questionable after life. The totality of our reality is to be understood empirically and nominally. Any other perspective must be “wrong” straight away. In some sense, I wonder if left-liberals are actually more consistent and have a clearer sense of themselves than do the “conservative” right-liberals?

    • I don’t think they do. Nor do I think they are more coherent: if there be no absolutely given optimum, then there can be no such thing as movement toward it, or therefore anything that we could be correct in characterizing as an improvement. There could then be only undirected motion, mere thrashing about. Which is not an unfair characterization of what passes for rational discourse on the Left these days.

      I don’t doubt that liberals mean well. But this intention of theirs cannot under the terms of their worldview be more than a baseless vestigial remnant of the morality they have ultimately rejected. This rejection is made clear enough in the horrors they have perpetrated on whole nations whenever they have got control of substantial military power. So, good intentions, pavement, Hell, and so forth.

      The right-liberals believe in Natural Law, and that if men are left alone they’ll quickly conform themselves to it. That’s not wrong. It’s just not enough. Men *can’t* be left to themselves, because Prisoner’s Dilemma. Cooperation may be a strange attractor, but as juicy prey it attracts predators; so it must be defended constantly from its enemies, within and without. And that entails government: hierarchical rule.

      So, right-liberalism is correct so far as it goes, albeit bass-ackward (in emphasizing liberty over order), and its commitment to the Real and to the Good is honest enough; while left-liberalism has severed all connection with reality, ergo sanity. Left liberalism is indeed more narrowly and consistently single-minded (they have a dogma, whereas conservatives do not). Madmen generally are.

    • Cassiodorus…

      It’s not just “[v]irtue and liberty.” It’s virtue and liberty AS CONCEIVED and made real by the genuine white Supremacist. And so even though you grant the (r)eality of modernism, you seem oblivious to a reality that has the discussion of virtue and liberty simply amongst the moderns. Which suggests no real discussion at all. And exactly why “we” suffer under modernism. You REQUIRE a particular type of individual to have a REAL discussion about virtue and liberty. Yet, your subtle ode to “equality” does not allow you to pinpoint such individual. You have TO PRETEND that this discussion of virtue and liberty is amongst ALL OF US. And as long as the discussion of virtue and liberty is amongst all of us, it will never actually manifest let alone find a faithful conclusion.

    • Nor do I think they are more coherent: if there be no absolutely given optimum (emphasis mine), then there can be no such thing as movement toward it, or therefore anything that we could be correct in characterizing as an improvement. — Kristor

      No PERFECTION, no actual improvement.

      No objective Supremacy, no “man” to “perfect.”

      No white Supremacists, no white men who believe in an “absolutely given optimum.”

      Ergo, “we” are doomed to a perpetual self-annihilation.

  11. Pingback: The Very Best of Last Week in Reaction (2016/08/28) – The Reactivity Place

  12. Seriously, a.morphous: how can you look at Venezuela, Cuba, the USSR, or Cambodia on the one hand, and on the other Iceland, the US, Australia, Switzerland … and remain a leftist? How do you manage to believe that leftism works in the real world? I don’t get that

    I think I left this hanging, but I guess it deserves a reply. Except, no, it doesn’t, because it is not a serious argument. There is no one “leftism” that can be saddled with the faults of every regime or idea that claims to be on the left. Government-ensured universal health care is a socialist idea that is implemented to varying degrees by all the “on the other hand” states you named, somehow, that hasn’t turned them into the killing fields.

    This kind of “reductio ad Stalinum” argument is very common on the internet, and rather beneath you.

    • You won’t answer the question. This is as much as an admission that you cannot answer it rationally.

      No one is fooled by your recourse to some imagined “reductio ad Stalinum.” No one suggested that Venezuela is *just like* Pol Pot’s Cambodia. I didn’t imply that Sweden is a killing field because of her social welfare programs, but only, simply, that socialism *doesn’t work.*

      Your avoidance of the real question, which is plain enough, is also plain. You just have no answer, but doggone it, you are going to stick to your precious ideology nevertheless.

      It’s pathetic.

      • That was an answer. If you need it spelled out more explicitly: leftism covers a wide variety of ideas and results, some of which have been demonstrated to work quite well in the real world. Being on the left does not mean endorsing every single thing that has ever been done in the name of the left. Can’t see how I can be plainer than that.

        Or maybe I need you to answer for, say, genocide in the Belgian Congo, since it was the product of capitalism and monarchy.

      • That was an answer.

        No, it was not. It was a suggestion that the question was ill-formed, as (allegedly) reducing leftism to Stalinism.

        … leftism covers a wide variety of ideas and results, some of which have been demonstrated to work quite well in the real world.

        Really? Which ones?

      • “Being on the left does not mean endorsing every single thing that has ever been done in the name of the left.”

        No one said it does. Btw, how many of the above-listed goals do you endorse? Better yet, how many of them do you repudiate?

      • Because the “aim” of the amorphous is an autonomy gone radical then the lack of resolution turned redundant debate is “his” “victory.”

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