Freedoms of Speech & of Religion Open & Allow the Race to the Bottom

The basic problem with freedom of speech and of religion is that in principle, and then inevitably in practice, it opens the agora to the discussion of the pros and cons of every alternative cult. No topic is prohibited. So, no sort of doctrine or rite is forbidden within the pale. There ensues a proliferation and interpenetration and confusion of heresies and petty foreign cults. The cult of Moloch is then sooner or later bound to enter the lists. Where there is freedom of speech and of religion, no one will be able to prevent that entry legally.

Where it is legal to advocate and to practice Molochism, it will sooner or later be advocated and practiced, by at least some few.

In an unruly competition of cults for the hearts and minds of people too dim to understand the consequences in their distant future of actions taken today, or to think with the necessary care and precision about metaphysics, political economy, and culture – i.e., of most people – the cult with the greatest short term hedonic payoff is going to prevail.

Of all cults, Molochism has the greatest short term hedonic payoff. This is because at bottom the cult of Moloch is the worship of fruitless fornication – which, in the final analysis, is tantamount to onanism. The sacrificial holocaust of children which is its most obvious and notorious distinguishing feature is but a means to its end. It is not so much the point of the cult as one of its byproducts: by removing the reproductive consequences of natural sex, infanticide in all its forms enables the libidinous – literally libidinous: untrammelled, unlimited – worship of porneia.

To worship porneia properly – which is to say, freely and wholly and above all other things – you need death. So that’s what you get. First you get contraception, then abortion, then infanticide. All for barren, fruitless sex.

The cult of porneia generates a culture of death.

That culture is doomed and determined to kill everything that lives.

Once Molochism has taken hold in a nation, a race to the bottom – to its strange attractor – ensues. There with the idolatry of barren sex, we find its handmaids: nominalism, amorality (known these days as moral relativism), atomism, atheism, nihilism, anomie, death. Indeed, there we find Moloch himself, bathed in rivers of hot young blood.

The Molochist system of values then gradually worms its way into public life. Porneia blossoms (porn actors are latter day Molochist temple prostitutes), the sacred marriage bed is profaned, the sacrament of marriage desecrated, divorce encouraged, promiscuity celebrated and pursued, motherhood scorned, fatherhood hated, and even sex as such – the male and female principles, both jointly and severally, and with all that they entail (as, e.g., patriarchy, familiarity, hierarchy, nationality, etc.) – abominated. Then homosexuality – an oxymoron, if there be no such thing as the sexes – explodes. Young men and women begin to abhor their bodies, and it becomes fashionable to mutilate them. In the limit, men and women make war upon their own genitals.

But, fortunately, the culture of death is inherently autophagous, albeit not without great cost. Whitehead: “The instability of evil is the morality of the universe.” Because it is at war with the Order of Being – with the Lógos of our Cosmos, with GNON – the culture of death engenders the death of culture.

As Molochism begins to predominate, and to assert its sway coercively, the righteous values of the traditional cult that had once pervasively informed the nation with terrific authority, ordered and coordinated it, and so made it strong and resilient, fall one after another, all, into desuetude. As those traditional values wither, all the symbols, stories, customs and rites – aye, and even clothing – that had expressed them languish. Emptied of their former meanings, they lose their ancient and venerable significance. People stop venerating them. They come to seem unimportant, indeed rather stupid. Where they are not straightforwardly abhorred and destroyed, or simply neglected or abandoned, they are perverted and corrupted – bowdlerized so as to echo and propagate the values of Moloch (viz., the Black Mass is a parody of the Mass), their meanings inverted, reversed, negated.

The culture decoheres. With meaningless, pointless death as the cultic center, the center cannot hold. Things fall apart. The culture then dies.

With the death of its culture begins the death of the nation that has fallen under the spell of Moloch, and that has been possessed by its demonic idol and ideal.

At the death of the Molochist nation, its Molochism too is deleted. The cult of death dies with its apotheosis; Molochism is its own last and ultimate sacrificial victim.

As permitting the advocacy and practice of the cult of Moloch, freedom of speech and religion, then, sow the seeds of national death.

So we observe at last that, like Molochism, freedom of speech and religion, too, are in the end autophagous. The nation that keeps those freedoms is doomed.

52 thoughts on “Freedoms of Speech & of Religion Open & Allow the Race to the Bottom

  1. There will always be demand for permission to sin. And demand calls forth supply. I suppose this is why people are so happy when psychologists and ideologues supply them with high-minded reasons to fornicate, sodomize and commit adultery. Wouldn’t you like it if your doctor, partaking of all the authority a lab coat and stethoscope can confer, told you that your health required liberal indulgence of a vice you have long struggled to inhibit? In the ancient world, priests had more authority than doctors, so people paid priests to tell them that Moloch required destruction of that screaming brat (who just happened to be cramping their style).

    Traditional morality called permission to sin pandering, and freedom of speech and religion was not extended to panderers. In the struggles of our soul, we should sacralize what St. Paul called the law of the spirit, not the law of the members. The tug of porneia is strong enough in its raw and unvarnished state. It is irresistible when decked out in the robes of religion or science.

    • In ancient Carthage and Tyre, the screaming of burning infants as they were offered to Moloch was drowned out by the frantic beating of drums and blowing of horns; so that the hearts of their parents would not be moved. These days, the noise is provided by feminist harpies raving on about reproductive health and women’s rights.

      • Yes, but I think we must see that the priests of Moloch and feminist harpies are succoring a real desire that runs against a woman’s better nature. The maternal instinct is natural, and so normally defeats the will to infanticide, but many women welcome the drums and horns and sophistries that tip the balance in the other direction.

      • To be sure. Molochism couldn’t get started in the first place, anywhere, were it not for Original Sin.

        On the doctrine of Original Sin, we die at all only in virtue of the fact that we *will* our death.

      • I often wondered why the Roman Genocide of Carthage is so reminiscent of the Genocide of the cities of Canaan.

        Perhaps God willed the destruction in such a manner. As the Capital city of Carthage being put under the Ban or Herem.

        Where everything that breathes including livestock was to be destroyed of that city. And the city was to be razed to the ground never to be rebuilt.

  2. The biggest epiphany that I have received from the Ortho/Zippysphere philosophical circle is that rights (or freedoms) are an illusion that blinds and binds us. It is Classical Liberalism masquerading as Natural Law. The first amendment on the ‘Bill of Rights’ is indeed a limitation of rights. When the government holds up ‘Rights’ as unquestionable Natural Law, then ‘good thinking’ people get eroded by ‘right thinking’ people who comply with the unnatural law of Government over the Natural Law of our nature.

    All things that go against God are inherently self consuming. The race to the bottom is inherent to classical liberalism, the question is less ‘Will it happen’ than it is ‘When will it happen’. The Constitution established from the very beginning the boundaries containing our unique national race to the bottom.

    Great article, thank you!

    • You’re welcome; glad you liked it. You are right about the First Amendment. It is rather like convening a game and announcing that the first rule of the game is that there are no rules to the game; that it is, rather, nothing more than a mêlée.

      The First Amendment is the seed of the eventual destruction of the entire Constitution.

      • The First Amendment is the seed of the eventual destruction of the entire Constitution.

        Not quite. The constitution was born of liberalism, the political prioritisation of freedom, and in freedom’s name every possible constitution and rule and custom must yield.

        In other words there must necessarily be some sort of self-destructive ‘loophole’.

      • I take the First Amendment to be the palmary exemplar of the political prioritization of freedom, and one of its purest expressions. There are others, of course.

        What I mean to say is; yeah, we are saying pretty much the same thing.

      • Isn’t “freedom of speech” really “freedom of conscience” (a hard reality) which then is really a personal (c)onstitution sans (T)otalitarianism?

        IOW, why not conceive the First Amendment as an invitation to think “Supremacy?”

      • There is no such thing as freedom of conscience. We cannot freely choose what constitutes righteousness or wickedness. To imagine that we can do this, and then to go ahead and try to do it (or, rather, to pretend so to try), is the sin of Adam. Right and wrong are objectively and ineluctably given in the character of our nature, vis-à-vis the objective natures of the other sorts of actual entities we encounter in our cosmos. We cannot pretend that objectively wicked acts are OK – cannot pretend to consciend that incoherent notion – except by enacting intellectual falsehood. And that enaction of falsehood can be performed only by an act of bad faith with our true selves; by a lie we choose to believe, rather than the plain deliverances of our own conscience.

        The motions of our conscience, then, are not free.

        We can of course choose to do evil or good. But that is not freedom of conscience. It is freedom of will. That same freedom of will enables us to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is in fact no fire, despite the fact that (as all men well know) it is wicked to do so, and despite the fact that under our system of laws – including laws about the sorts of things we are and are not forbidden to say – we are not legally free to do so.

        When liberals go on about freedom of conscience, what they want is to loose the bonds that in a traditional and righteous society would constrain our acts so that we had a harder time getting away with doing whatever the hell we willed to do, howsoever perverse. NB that in the category of the perverse I here mean to include, not just such horrors as bestiality and infanticide, but also heresy, treason, impiety, intentional ugliness, and all other perversions of truth, goodness, or beauty. Such as rap, or in architecture the International Style, or liturgical dance.

        “Freedom of religion” and “freedom of conscience” amount to the same thing: unconstrained liberty of the will.

        By no means do I mean to suggest that you, Thordaddy, have bound yourself toward perversion. Oh, Good Heavens, no. I’m just working away on the rectification of names over here, that’s all.

      • You can’t write about “pure” anything unless you are signaling your faith in (P)erfection.

        And if the First Amendment provokes your faith in (P)erfection (cause “purity”) and this is destructive on the whole in your mind, you, Kristor, are ultimately, anti-(white) Supremacy?

      • No; I suppose I expressed myself poorly. Purity is not always a good thing; not always a perfection. Satan, e.g., is purely evil, in the sense that he is the maximum of evil.

      • What about the example of racism? Some people see racism as morally wrong whereas others see racism as morally right. While God might have an opinion on this subject, it is certainly an open question. Cannot “freedom of conscience” operate in this space?

      • An excellent question. Abortion is another such disputed case.

        When we find ourselves confused about a moral question – as the West seems these days to be confused, about all manner of things – we find ourselves forced to make moral evaluations under conditions of relative uncertainty and ignorance. We must decide, when it is not altogether clear how we ought to decide. And it is just then that our conscience must be our guide, and “freedom of conscience” comes into play.

        If the moral dimensions of the alternatives are crystal clear, there’s really no question about which way we ought to decide. Our freedom of conscience then vanishes.

        So it is crucial to get crystal clear on the moral dimensions of the alternatives. That’s where moral education in the discoveries of our ancestors is crucially valuable. The moral framework their discoveries furnish enables us to parse the options, once we have pinned down exactly what those options are.

        It usually comes down in such cases to the rectification of names. If you get clear on what your terms mean, the moral evaluations get much easier.

        With abortion, for example, it comes down to this: if the foetus is an unique human person from the moment of conception, as is clear from a genetic perspective, then he falls under the protection of our laws against murder at that very moment. If he becomes an unique human person later in the process of gestation, then some clear criterion for passage of that threshold to full humanity must be specified. And that’s awfully hard to do. It’s hard to discern some other threshold that is well supported ontologically, so that everyone can tell what’s a human and what is not, and by that easy telling attain agreement.

        OK, racism, then.

        If racism means abhorring, hating and persecuting other races and nations, then it is wicked; for, if such abhorrence, hatred and persecution are morally correct, then genocide is morally correct. That’s an absurd conclusion. It directly contravenes the Commandment to do no murder.

        If on the other hand racism means preferring, loving and defending one’s own race and nation, then by no means does it entail either genocide, or any other sinful act. It is implicit in the Commandment to honor one’s parents; for, to honor our ancestors is among other things to honor their heirs. So on that definition of racism, racism is good, and proper, and righteous altogether.

        But, so different are these two definitions of racism that they are usually, and properly, given different names. “Racism” is properly employed only for the first definition. The second is usually and properly called “patriotism” or “nationalism.” These latter two terms have however lately been muddled by the late admixture of peoples – of nations, properly so called – within the borders of states. For most of history, nations and their states were geographically coterminous, so that “patriotism” and “nationalism” were practically expressed in loyalty to the national state. But that gets confused in multinational countries, in which several nations live admixed, so that national loyalty is not quite the same thing as loyalty to the state. And that confusion gives rise to moral uncertainty, and thus to faction. This is but one of the many reasons why multinational states are fissile, and unstable: a bad idea.

      • There is no such thing as freedom of conscience. — Kristor

        Then there is really no such thing as “freedom of speech” OR the destruction such irreal “thing” may have wrought.

        Purity is not always a good thing; not always a perfection. Satan, e.g., is purely evil, in the sense that he is the maximum of evil. — Kristor

        This is not what I wrote. Besides, to contemplate the “maximum of evil” just is to expose a subconscious faith in objective (S)upremacy, ie., (P)erfection.

        So to discuss anything “purity,” even “pure evil,” one is summoning (P)erfection, ie., objective (S)upremacy.

      • [If there is no such thing as freedom of conscience, then] there is really no such thing as “freedom of speech” OR the destruction such irreal “thing” may have wrought.

        It’s speech that destroys, not the freedom of speech.

        … to contemplate the “maximum of evil” just is to expose a subconscious faith in objective (S)upremacy, ie., (P)erfection.

        Ah, I see what you meant. Yes. Agreed. The very word “pure” presupposes gradation of value, and implicit in the notion of gradation of value is a maximum or optimum or perfectum of value.

      • So the question is whether a “freedom of conscience” provokes an exploration into (S)upremacy or the deepest degeneracy?

        The history of my “homeland” points towards the latter, but it’s not exactly clear as to why it cannot be the former?

      • Most propositions are false and so tend to evil. So under conditions of freedom of speech, both a fall toward depravity and an ascent to virtue are possible, but the former is more likely.

    • All ‘rights’ are really no more than legal privileges granted to those that are members of whichever particular society is under consideration. And privileges which have once been legally granted can be legally un-granted should the real wielders of political power choose to do so. As proof of this point, study the history of the franchise for Jews in Germany, or Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland.

  3. It’s not so much “Freedom of…” that is the problem as “Freedom without Responsibility”. God gave us all Freedom, but he also gave us all Responsibility – for and to each other.
    That caveat aside, I enjoyed the well-structured and well supported argument.

    • The responsibility you correctly notice is a limit on freedom. Mutual responsibility is a sine qua non of true society. No responsibility, no fellowship; and, then, no mutual assurances of peace and freedom within the limits of responsible action. No limit → no society → no freedom.

      In practice, therefore, there’s really no such thing as pure freedom of speech or freedom of religion. There are always taboos. Society cannot function without them.

      The First Amendment is itself just such a taboo. The difficulty with it is that it says, in effect, “Taboos are taboo.” It is right and proper that there should be some limitations on permissible limits. But the First Amendment limits the limits too much. So you get statues of Baphomet (complete with adoring sacrificial victims) at the Arkansas Capitol.

      • “In practice, there’s really no such thing as pure freedom of speech or freedom of religion. There are always taboos.”
        Indeed. Not even the Conquistadores were prepared to tolerate the Cult of Huizilipochtli – who made Moloch look tame.

      • Of course there is a pure “freedom of conscience.” Otherwise, there cannot be any pure (C)atholics. And if this is so then let the impure (C)atholics be the first to zip their lips.

  4. It is true that a seed, when planted in fertile soil, and tended and watered and so forth, always grows to produce its own kind of fruit. But I’m not sure I agree that the first amendment is “the seed of the eventual destruction of the entire constitution.” Not, at least, without the use of “incorporation” before it became an official doctrine of American jurisprudence.

    The first amendment certainly never proscribed against the individual States and local governments restricting speech, or press, or of the establishment of religion, within the bounds of their own jurisdictions.

    There is of course a sense in which these became “the seed” that overthrew the constitution (that overthrew the federal principle, which, for all intents and purposes is the overthrow of the entire constitution), but the radical Republicans in the northern states in 1861 would have overthrown the federal principle with or without (mis) application and abuse of the first amendment.

      • Ian:

        Thanks for being honest about your apostasy. I don’t mean to insult you by use of the term, just to call it what it is. Mine apostasy (inasmuch as it is apostasy) has been in the exact opposite direction. My parenthetical remark in the preceding sentence is included, just to let you know, because, unlike you, the ‘former me’ was more neutral than anything as to sides in the WBTS. The ‘current me’ is decidedly pro-South, with a tinge of understanding of how the North felt itself justified in laying the South to waste. But only a tinge.

        But while I do appreciate your candor, I am concerned that you have made a huge error in judgment. By your words, as I understand them and their logical implications, you have set yourself dangerously on the side of “the ends justify the means.” The logic of what I mean being based upon your high-toned “sacred duty to make war on the South and to crush it” language. It might interest you to know that, while you seem to be under the impression that this sort of fire-breathing rhetoric from your own tongue (or keyboard) indicates a closer adherence to traditionalist principles, what it generally means, outside yourself and a few others who may be of the same mind, is perfectly the opposite. But maybe even that fact tends to confirm you in your belief. I don’t presume to know.

        In any case, I believe your words above-cited form a very good and accurate summary of the Northern/Yankee mindset that existed at the outset of the so called “Civil War.” Moreover, I believe that the logical implications of those words bore out with a vengeance in the North’s conduct of that war. I further believe that the diabolical means with which it conducted the war follows precisely its overarching principle that “the ends justify the means.”

        If it was, as you say, the “sacred duty” of the North to “make war on the South and to crush it,” particularly to crush it, then whatever means the North found as necessary to that specific end, it had, by common logic, the “sacred duty” to employ. I could go into a veritable “laundry-list” of diabolical means the North happily engaged to that end, were that my purpose. It isn’t. My purpose is to advise you to be very careful about aligning yourself with Northern barbarity in that war on the flimsy, albeit high-toned, basis that it was its “sacred duty” to engage it. That “sacred duty” to force the “irrepressible conflict,” and to see it through to its “crushing” end by whatever means necessary, must have come from Seward’s “higher law” doctrine, which law I have yet to discern its eminence. Certainly not from anyone’s “tradition.”

        Kristor, thanks for your reply to my comment. I agree with almost everything you said. I read an article published last month in which the author celebrated President Johnson’s general amnesty, conveyed upon former Confederate belligerents who should be willing to pledge loyalty to the nation. The author of the article thought it necessary to add his i.e. that by “national government,” what Johnson meant was what we generally refer to today as the “federal government.” This struck a chord with me, and in the interest of non-confusion I wrote a post about the article at my kids’ private blog. The subject of my blog was that Johnson used that specific language for a very specific reason; that there had never been any question as to the South’s loyalty to the federal government, but that the question was to its loyalty to the newly-minted, all-consuming national government.

      • Seward’s “higher law” doctrine hacked the existing Christian concept of God’s will, as expressed in the Bible, as a “higher law.” Christians had always believed that a human law was nullified if it contradicted God’s expressed will. But Seward’s “higher law” referred to transcendental conscience, and this was effectively the conscience, or moral sensibility, of refined New England intellectuals. They still used the vocabulary of God and revelation, but God’s revelation now appeared in the hearts of this new priesthood. Of course that priesthood has been pulling revelations from its heart ever since.

      • Hi Terry,

        I regret the rhetoric I used. I meant merely that I believe the North had the moral right to wage war to maintain the integrity of the nation. I do not believe the North should have aimed to ‘crush’ to South, if by that one means to lay waste to the South, nor do I believe they ought to have used any means necessary to defeat the South. The constraints of jus in bello still apply. I meant ‘crush’ only in the sense that any nation has the right to ‘crush’ a rebellion, i.e., defeat it.

        I have no love for the brand of universalist, egalitarian liberalism that animated the North and came to dominate the U.S. after the war, though I don’t particularly care for the radical brand of Jeffersonian liberalism that inspired the South, either. But regardless of the North’s false rationalizations and the noxious influence of the radical Republicans, they still had a right to fight to maintain the union.

        As for the North’s ‘diabolical’ means and its ‘barbarity’ in the execution of the war, I might level the same charge of fire-breathing rhetoric against you that you did against me. Of course I don’t condone all of the North’s actions, but considering that the North regarded the South as being in a state of rebellion, they were remarkably restrained (certainly far more restrained than the Allies behaved in WWII), and their treatment of Southern generals and leaders in the aftermath of the war was extraordinarily gracious and belies any sort of notion that the North was motivated by an irrational or diabolical spirit of vengeance. In my view, both sides fought honorably for the most part, and it seems to me that most of those involved in the conflict recognized as much. A Greek tragedy, as Kristor wrote, would be a much more apt description of the war than trying to force the conflict into stark Manichean terms.

    • Thanks, Terry, that’s a good point. I suppose I would say only that, to the extent that there was any Federal power to begin with, supersidiary to and really governing the exercise of the powers of the states, counties, and villages falling under its jurisdiction, then incorporation was baked into the cake to begin with. It was there implicitly ab initio. Sooner or later, then, incorporation was going to become the explicit law of the whole country. If incorporation is rejected, then the supersidiary authority of the Federal government is radically vitiated. It is in that case no longer quite a government, properly so called, but rather only a legal organ of a federation of radically sovereign and independent nations, like NATO.

      Among other things, the Civil War was a test of the status of the Federal apparatus. Had the South won, the USA would have been rendered a North American Treaty Organization. I wish that the South had won. It did not. Lincoln’s vision of an indivisible nation won. So, that’s what we’ve got.

      The indivisibility of the American nation is enshrined in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    • Kristor, exactly: for the U.S. to be a nation, the authoritative principle on which its legitimacy was based had ultimately to supercede that of the individual states precisely because it was authoritative at the most authoritative level of government. Federalism might work with respect to tax policy or labor laws, but it doesn’t work with respect to fundamental principles (and the fight over slavery was a fight over fundamental legitimizing principles) unless you don’t want a country.

      Constituent of any legitimate government’s authority is the authority to maintain itself and its integrity. If it did not have this authority, it would not be a legitimate nation, but rather would be a mere confederation of nations, something like the E.U. or the U.N. Supposing (for sake of argument) even that the Constitution had explicitly stated that the states had the unilateral right to leave the Union, such a statement would be a contradiction to the very nature of the authority which gave the Constitution its authoritative nature in the first place. Such a self-limitation on its authority would make no sense.

      Once the southern states seceded, the North had the sacred duty to wage war on them and crush them.

      • The right to secede is implicit in the right to accede presupposed by the ontological capacity of the ambassadors of the several states to the Constitutional Convention to execute the Constitution in the first place. Such at least is the argument of the Confederacy, in a nutshell. But you are correct to notice that if the Constitution is not irrevocably binding, then it cannot operate as a binding Constitution *at all.* Its bonds are then purely aleatory, ad libitum, and at every moment up for renegotiation; so that it cannot then function as law, or therefore as a basis of law. If the Constitution is revocable by any state, then it isn’t a Constitution of a nation, but rather only a mere treaty among nations.

        We may say – I think perhaps rightly – that, practically speaking, a treaty is all that the Constitution such as Madison envisaged could ever really have been in the first place. We could say that, as he and his fellow delegates conceived it, the Constitution could never long have perdured as a basis of law, or therefore as an instrument that could bind together a nation. It was perhaps doomed to fail, in just the way that it did fail. And it is interesting to note that the Incorporation amendments came about in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, through which the argument of the South was defeated – not refuted, but simply demolished – and that, not by the pens of philosophers and the perorations of lawyers, but by force of arms and the utter vitiation of its protagonists; so that since that dreadful war the Constitution has been no longer anywise a treaty, at all, but rather an universal law. With the Incorporation amendments, as I think Terry would argue, the Constitution of Madison et alii was repudiated. It became decisively a different sort of document than it had by common law been taken to be theretofore.

        I regret the decision we made – small is beautiful, and reactionary, and traditional, and healthy, say I. I mourn the Madisonian vision, that forms and illumines so many of our greatest national legends (as Boone, Crockett, Carson, Bridger, Humboldt). Especially do I regret the way we made our decision. But it seems to me that the decision had to be made, sooner or later, one way or the other.

        The Civil War reads to me these days almost as a Greek tragedy, in which the agonists are hurled at each other ineluctably, in virtue of mere logic.

      • I agree with most of this, and I wonder if our disagreement simply comes down to a matter of fact.

        The million dollar question (for me) is whether at the time of the Civil War, the states were the sovereign authorities, in which case the Constitution was – as you write – a mere treaty and the U.S. was not a nation but a mere confederation of nations, or if the U.S. was an actual nation, and therefore sovereign.

        If the former, then the states did indeed have the right to secede, just as the U.S. today has the right to leave the UN, or Great Britain has the right to leave the EU. If the latter, then the states had no more right to unilateral secession than wives have the right to run away from their husbands, even if husbands were to ‘give’ their wives such a ‘right’.

        My own strong sense is that by the time of the Civil War, the U.S. definitely had a sense of itself as a nation and not as a mere confederacy of nations. Indeed, it seems that a lot of the pro-secession arguments presupposed such a state of affairs. And the reaction of the North (and indeed, of many southerners as well) also seems only to make sense if they thought of themselves as a unified nation.

        I used to be a classical liberal states’ rights sorta guy and was a major supporter of the southern cause. But it feels dishonest and tendentious for me try to argue that the U.S. was not a nation at the time of the Civil War, and so I’ve been forced to abandon my erstwhile southern partisanship and accept that the Northern cause was just. But in doing so, I feel as though I have become more traditionalist rather than less.

        As for the right to secede being implicit in the right to accede presupposed by the ontological capacity of the ambassadors of the several states: I agree with this, so long as the individual states remained sovereign nations. This was true at the time of the Constitutional Conventional. But it seems to me that by the time of the Civil War (indeed, for quite some time before that), the United States was the sovereign power and had a sense of itself as a unified nation.

      • I didn’t think we disagreed. It seemed to me that we were examining different aspects of the situation.

        No more than that.

        I still don’t see any disagreement between our statements.

      • Fair enough! I certainly agreed with the general principles you were articulating. Leave it to me to go searching for a disagreement where there was none.

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  6. The point of this piece has troubled me since I was a teenager puzzling out my own thoughts on the First Amendment, but I always sincerely believed that good arguments drive out bad. It’s now become obvious that because of our addiction to pleasure that that’s just not necessarily so. But just as we have to wonder where does all this freedom lead, we also have to wonder where would regulating speech lead. The government could easily turn out to regulate speech to forbid pro-life arguments. (And it seems to be headed in that direction.) It seems that original sin means that either stand on freedom on speech and religion leads to grief.

    • Good arguments drive out bad only among those who are apt to comprehend them. The electorate of the Republic as it was originally constituted was perhaps up to the task. But then, not quite; or else, they would never have diluted the electorate to begin with.

      The bottom line is threefold: documents cannot and do not rule men, but rather only men can rule, or do; few men are fit to rule; and only those who are thus fit are the sort who could be relied upon to school their acts by the study and obedience of documents and laws in which the discoveries and insights of their noble forebears and fathers were laid down – including especially, the scriptures, and the works of the Magisterium and of the philosophers. The rule of such men blesses a nation with a vigorous and consistent implementation of the traditional and venerable laws of their forefathers.

      If you are not ruled by an educated, civilized aristocratic hierarchy, you are in big trouble.

      If you are lucky enough to be ruled by such men, you may be OK. If you are extraordinarily lucky in their Quality – if, that is, they are true aristoi – why then you have a good shot at enjoying great latitude in your speech, and great contentment in your pious participation of the state religion that they and their families all espouse. You are also likely to profit from domestic tranquility and economic prosperity.

      You are right about the coming age of enforced speech that supports the Progressive agenda. That era will also see the deletion of the Constitution as a whole, it being after all the abhorrent handiwork of deplorable dead white European Christian males – the very worst sort of men.

      As I have said, the First Amendment was the seed of the destruction of the Constitution as a whole.

      As I have said also, there is in the first place never really such a thing as free speech or freedom of religion. There is always a state religion, whether or not it is honestly ostended; up until about 1955, the state religion of the US was Episcopalianism. Now it is Progressivism. And speech is always policed. Communist speech was policed in the US for a while, during the early years of the Cold War; since WWII, Nazi speech has been policed. Now, conservative and Christian speech are policed.

      Fortunately, one way or another, the present persecution of conservatives and Christians cannot last, because the alternatives to their notions just don’t work.

      • I’m thinking Czarist Russia over Soviet Union. I’d much prefer to have lived a slave under a czar than a comrade under Stalin.

      • When Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, my father in law was a teenager. When the Communists took over, he was a young officer in the Czech cavalry. When the Wall fell, he was an American.

        He hated the British for betraying his country to the Germans. He hated the Germans for what they did to his country (he served in the Czech Resistance). But his bittermost height of hatred was for the Soviets (he ended up crawling into Austria by night, under the gaze of machine gunners and over an acre of mud covered in barbed wire, and then returning to his homeland in service of the OSS).

        He watched the Communists take over Prague. As he remarked to me with a snarl, “Kristor, those fucking Communists took all the best men of the city, all the doctors and lawyers and professors and musicians and businessmen, all the most competent men in every line of work, and they either shot them or sent them away to prison camps in Russia; and then they took the worst trash of the city, the bums, the drunkards, the idiots, the losers, the spongers and mooches, and especially the gangsters, and put them in charge.” At this he howled in rage and despair, 50 years after the fact.

        God bless that dear good brave beleaguered man, and bring him full soon to your eternal light. RIP.

        Communism is immoral ochlocracy organized by an immoral oligarchy with a brutal and immoral tyrant at the top (NB: not all brutal tyrants are immoral). It is right government inverted, along all possible dimensions of such inversion. Polybius argued that the most stable government would combine elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Communism is metastable in that it combines elements of the depravations of those three sorts of government.

        Fortunately, Communism leads quickly to economic disaster, so the lethal negative feedback from GNON to its manifold injustices and foolishnesses is, by historical standards, not too long in coming. Viz., Venezuela. By contrast, it took Rome – and her heir in Constantinople – about 2,000 years to fall. Rome and Constantinople were now and then degenerate, as we are (albeit, not nearly as degenerate as we); but they were never communist. Avoiding communism vouchsafes a wonderful and terrifically durable and robust degree of prosperity and adaptability. That generates lots of surplus wealth, which in turn allows for lots of degeneracy. But, so long as the particular and ultimate degeneracy of Communism is averted, it also prevents total collapse.

      • As I have said also, there is in the first place never really such a thing as free speech or freedom of religion. There is always a state religion, whether or not it is honestly ostended; up until about 1955, the state religion of the US was Episcopalianism. Now it is Progressivism. And speech is always policed. Communist speech was policed in the US for a while, during the early years of the Cold War; since WWII, Nazi speech has been policed. Now, conservative and Christian speech are policed.

        Yes. As Zippy said, free speech is restricted speech.

        Even the classical liberal or libertarian ideal of free speech – which is often regarded by its advocates as the ‘purist’ or ‘absolutist’ conception of free speech – restricts speech. For example, on the libertarian view, you typically cannot employ speech that is intended directly to incite violence, you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded building when there is in fact no fire present, you cannot libel or slander someone with impunity, you cannot lie at will (try convincing a libertarian that one ought to be allowed to lie on a contract as a matter of free speech), etc.

        The libertarian will cry, “But that’s different! All of those things cause harm to a person” or “All those things infringe on a man’s individual rights!”, thereby putting the lie to the notion that the libertarian is neutral and exposing the fact that the libertarian is committed to a view of the Good no less than the traditionalist is. A traditionalist might simply respond: “Just so. And blasphemy causes harm to the person too and infringes on his rights. Therefore it ought not to be protected speech.” Or a leftist might simply respond: “Just so. And hate speech causes harm to the person too and infringes on his rights. Therefore it ought not to be protected speech.” This simply goes to show once again that what counts as ‘free speech’ is always determined by some implicit moral code that is presupposed.

    • we also have to wonder where would regulating speech lead. The government could easily turn out to regulate speech to forbid pro-life arguments.

      That’s a complete red herring, a phantom fear.

      Take for instance the issue of ‘homosexual marriage’, conservatives lost without government regulation of speech against it. Social mores are very often more effective weapons than laws. If and when the pro-life side loses it will not be due to regulation of speech through laws.

      Furthermore, it is a plain fact of reality that there never was and never can be free speech.

  7. To allow ‘free debate’ on first things or moral matters is ipso facto to have taken the hedonistic position. One cannot judge a moral view from an ‘impartial’ position: to judge something, one already needs a worldview to provide the standard by which to judge it. So if one allows ‘free debate’ on a traditional moral view, say, he is implicitly assuming a worldview at odds with the worldview that supports the traditional moral view. I like the way Bonald put it in discussing the liberal principle of neutrality: to take a ‘neutral’ stance on whether or not to trust your wife is by that very action not to trust in her (I paraphrase). Free speech leads to the subverting of traditional morality.

    Moreover, if you don’t suppress public speech that rejects accepted norms, people will begin thinking that flouting those norms is no big deal. For example, if a society does not suppress public blasphemy, people are going to start thinking that public blasphemy is a minor matter (and wouldn’t you know it, our society does regard public blasphemy as a minor matter). We prohibit murder (well, some kinds) and rape because we think murder and rape are a big deal. The fact that we outlaw murder and rape but don’t outlaw blasphemy shows what our society thinks is important. The free speech ideal is implicitly backed up by a moral code that is not neutral: it says that the good society prohibits some things (e.g., murder, rape), but allows other things (blasphemy), just as any society must in order to survive. There is nothing neutral about that. To think there is something unique about speech that entails that a society ought to allow evil speech but not other evil deeds and to regard such a worldview as somehow neutral is to beg the question.

    • Brilliant, Ian, thanks. Giuliani furnished us an excellent object lesson of exactly the sort you here preach. Persecute the petty criminals, he insisted, and prosecute their petty crimes, and you’ll end up ruining things for the big time gangsters and their enormous crimes that really ruin the City. And he was proven right.

      If you get a pass for flouting the limit of propriety in the smallest of acts – speech acts – why then sooner or later you’ll get a pass for flouting the limits of propriety, period full stop. For, after all, if you are allowed to say anything, why then one of the things that it will soon occur to you to say is that you ought to be allowed to *do* pretty much anything. You will be allowed to make that argument. And some you will convince. And they will convince yet others.

      So begins the deluge.

      I mean that quite literally. That’s how the Deluge began.

  8. Pingback: Cantandum in Ezkhaton 02/10/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores

    • Hah! Irony too thick and dense for any knife.

      But then, like I said: there is never really freedom of speech, because there are always community standards, that rule out some sorts of speech. No standards, no society.

      Then again, not all community standards conduce in practice to community. For that, you need community standards that are true – that are, i.e., true to the Good; that are themselves good, and that therefore tend to the production of true goods.

      If your community standards are not Good, your community is bound to Hell.

      We don’t have good community standards right now. The community standards we now have, which Facebook has imposed upon you, tend to the production of false goods and real evils. They are lies.

      I feel actually relieved at your news. If FB has not yet censored you, you are not yet doing your duty.

  9. Pingback: What Would Moloch Do? | Winston Scrooge


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