This Strange New Land of Bondage

When Liberals look at man, they experiences a double vision similar to the double vision that drunkards suffer in an advanced state of intoxication. One difference is that the drunkards’ double vision is optical, and conveys no suggestion of a moral difference between the shimmering apparition on the left and the shimmering apparition on the right. But the liberal’s double vision is moral, and not an instance of mere duplication, because the Liberal sees man under the duel (not mixed) aspects of angel and fiend. When the liberal is in his sentimental after-dinner mood, he sees man as a decent fellow who is good at heart, and cruel, deceitful, larcenous and domineering only by accident. However, when the liberal is in his angry and exasperated schoolmarm mood, he sees man as an untrustworthy and froward fool, whose every act must be closely monitored and minutely regulated.

There is little need to explain or illustrate the angelic aspect, since this is the overt foundation of the whole liberal order. Liberalism is grounded on the proposition that men and women are naturally endowed with enough reason and virtue to be entrusted with the liberty to do more or less as they see fit. In historical terms, this cheering proposition arose as a reaction against the cheerless Calvinist proposition that human reason and virtue are crippled by natural depravity, and that a society in which humans are left to their own devices will therefore fall at once into a pandemonium of wickedness and error.

Given this ground, the promised land of liberalism will be governed (if that is the word) by the principles that right liberals call libertarian and left liberals call anarchic. That is to say, it will be a land where there is little if any government apart from the self-government of men and women who are naturally reasonable and virtuous. In this land there will be, for example, no need for speed traps—indeed no need for speed limits—since every motorist will naturally see the road with the eyes of a civic-minded highway engineer. In this land we must likewise suppose that such public expenses as do occur will be covered by prompt and voluntary donations, since a public duty to cover such manifestly reasonable outlays will be immediately apparent to all.

Now I trust it is obvious that liberalism has not developed as if it actually believed that men and women are naturally endowed with enough reason and virtue to be entrusted with the liberty to do more or less as they see fit. It certainly has not led us to the Promised Land where there is little if any government apart from the self-government of men and women who are naturally reasonable and virtuous. It is, of course, possible that this is because it will take much more than forty years in the wilderness to make our exodus from the Egypt of Calvinist pessimism, but it seems to me that Liberals have already brought us to a Strange New Land of Bondage.

Our Moses is, of course, the archetypal Liberal, and he suffers, as I said, from double vision. When in his sentimental after-dinner mood, he sees us under the aspect of angels, says that we are all fundamentally rational and good, and excuses our manifest shortcomings of mind and character as the (maddeningly tenacious) legacy of our former bondage. But when he is in his angry, exasperated schoolmarm mood, he sees us under the aspect of fiendish imbeciles who must be closely watched and minutely regulated, lest we wander into the street or begin beating one another with sticks.

Let me describe the incident that set me thinking along these lines. Earlier this spring, I was chairman of a committee charged with selecting a new lecturer in the geography department. As per law and bylaw, the position was widely advertised, with every geographer on the planet equally encouraged to apply. Although all committee members had attended the mandatory “implicit bias” workshop, it was necessary for outside authorities to check and approve the language and placement of the job advertisement we wrote. As per law and bylaw, the committee appraised every application we received without favor or prejudice, but it was once again necessary for outside authorities to check and approve our short-list. They were, of course, looking for evidence of bias on the committee, composed as they supposed of untrustworthy fiends and fools.

John Calvin had a better opinion of his fellow man.

Our short-list included one young geographer who is temporarily in residence in the department, and who has indeed for the past few months occupied an office just down the hall from mine. This proximity did not act in her favor, and was very likely a disadvantage, since the committee took special pains to be fair to the faceless applicants from faraway.  In any case, every persons on the short-list was subjected to a telephone interview, and the committee was obliged by law and bylaw to make every telephone interview exactly alike. This meant that we could not invite the young geographer down the hall to walk down the hall and meet with the committee, but must instead question her over the crackling speaker phone, just like everyone else.

The absurdity of this arrangement was brought to a point when a clerical error obliged one of us to walk down the hall and ask for her correct telephone number.

This hiring committee opened my eyes to our Strange New Land of Bondage, where every act is monitored and regulated, and everyone labors under a universal presumption of congenital guilt. From the mandatory “implicit bias” workshop to the final absurdities of the telephone interviews, we on the committee were treated as if we were thinly disguised fiends or semi-sentient fools. We were certainly not treated like men and women naturally endowed with reason and virtue, and therefore naturally capable of justice and naturally aspiring to that end. We were, instead, closely monitored to see if our natural depravity of racism or sexism was breaking out, and also tightly regulated to ensure that we had no liberty to exercise our depraved judgment, reason and virtue.

A drunkard handicapped by double vision learns to aim between the two shimmering apparitions, and thus to lay his hand on the glass, bottle, or bedstead, as the case may be. If he has any experience with this lamentable condition, he also understands that he is drunk, and therefore very probably a nuisance and a hazard to one and all. How one wishes that Liberals had the sagacity and self-awareness of the drunkard.  How one wishes they would learn to aim between the shimmering apparitions of angel and the fiend, and to recognize themselves as the nuisances and hazards they undoubtedly are.

35 thoughts on “This Strange New Land of Bondage

  1. John Calvin had a better opinion of his fellow man. No. John Calvin had such a kind, loving, and Christian love for his fellow man, that he loved heretic Miguel Servetus to death, along with hundreds of other Christian heretics, that Calvin loved so much in his heart with his belief in Augustinian “total depravity” that in mass genocide and Inquisitorial slaughter, Calvin murdered and put to death Servetus and countless other “heretics” of whom Calvin said: “I killeth Thee in the Name of God!”.

    • I’ve approved this comment since the post does mention John Calvin, although not as a paragon of humanitarian benevolence. I dumped your other comment as OT.

  2. With the abandonment of God and especially Christianity the very idea of sin or virtue has been lost. It used to be that we were counseled to beware of pride, envy, anger, avarice, lust, gluttony and sloth and make a real effort to curb these when they arose. At the same time we were counseled to be prudent, temperate, courageous and just to bring wisdom and order to our lives and the lives of those around us.

    Because the concepts of sin and virtue have vanished from virtually all public discourse and are completely ignored and/or denigrated in most of the academy (and not taught much in churches either) we are left to deal with the manifestations of sin and not the cause. Because “racism”, “sexism”, etc. etc. stem from the seven deadly sins they can never be effectively dealt with by what passes for modern virtue. What passes for virtue is just another of the many manifestations of the seven and so nothing approaching wisdom, justice or an even-handed addressing of any of the “issues” of the day can or should be expected.

    Virtue these days is arrogance unbound and the more brazenly proclaimed the greater the acolytes of modern virtue feel themselves to be. To the acolytes of modern virtue it is all about status gained by degrading and demeaning the deplorable plebes and, ultimately, one another.

  3. Pingback: This Strange New Land of Bondage | Reaction Times

  4. If I wanted to design a society from the ground up, one thing to decide would be if moral standards should be loose or strict. If they are loose, people are going to harm each other a lot. If they are strict, people will harm each other a lot, using the rules themselves as a weapon, everybody violates strict rules a couple of times so charges can be brought against them. So the only solution is to have strict rules, but also have repentance and forgiveness. I must see human nature as not quite capable of living up to strict rules all the time, but still capable of striving towards them. This is only possible if the angelic and fiendish natures are mixed, if there is a theory like original sin. Or from my angle, the Darwinian risen ape theory also works, that our fiendisher instincts are simply inheritances from our evolution past.

    If the mixed theory isn’t there, something is going to break. An assumption of only the fiendish nature of man cannot work at all, as there is no point in having moral rules then, best thing is to build SkyNet to kill us all and start over with a new species. An assumption of only the angelic nature of man contradicts with observed reality. Such an assumption leads to loose, anarchic moral rules first, which does not work, so it necessarily leads to the discovery of the fiendish part, and thus stricter rules. The mistake in modern liberalism in this angle is not noticing that they are mixed. This is so strange. To me the mixed nature follows directly from a Darwinian angle, how killer apes slowly became more civilized beings, and modern liberals are supposed to care about Darwinism? Alas, they don’t, only when using it as club to bash Christians with it. This is fairly obvious when considering liberalism has gnostic, not scientific roots.

    • That’s a good point. I know people who never break the rules, but are past masters at breaking people with the rules. As you say, Liberals are occasional Darwinists. They don’t like the idea that natural selection has acted on humans recently and rapidly, since that leads to racism. But if NS has not acted recently and rapidly, it cannot explain the appearance of a sociable disposition in civilized human beings.

    • Anything that has gnostic roots is not liberalism. Conservatives typically MISUNDERSTAND what liberalism is. The project their own suspicious emotional baggage onto Democrats and liberals. Pro choice is NOT a liberal position. I am free from typical partisan Democrat pro-choice empty, dangerous Democrat talking points. Abortion is not a reproductive or health right. It is death. As a liberal, I am against it, in most cases: except where a woman dies if she does not have an abortion.

      • I see that Love Speech is SHOUTING that your adversaries fiends and fools. Thanks for once again illustrating the point of my post.

      • Whatever you say, conservativism is bankrupt because it’s about the rich and their money, not about God and sympathy for our feel human beings: the only thing today’s conservatives care about is Donald Trump. Any Republican who stands up against Trump is vilified as a Democrat and a liberal; they also complain when Corporations and the Rich are highly taxed, but care nothing about the taxes on the poor and middle class, and they want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare all together. They want all black people to disappear, and pine for the Old Calvinist Days of Kentucky and the Slave Plantation. And for them, Trump’s adultery and divorces are sacraments, because at least Trump is not “LGBTQ”, nad he’s not Mexican, Muslim, or poor: He’s Money, Money, Money, Me, Me, Me. Trump: “I am the greatest man who has ever lived. Make America Great Again: Worship Me”.

      • You are duped and fooled by angry spiteful conservativism. You have little taste for truth and sympathy. You simply hate (liberals, etc.). At least our hate (of TRUMP) is completely righteous and evidentially justified. He is wrong, that is all there is to it. He is BAD for ALL Americans, except for HIMSELF.

      • I am unable to understand what you are saying. Everybody is living in reality bubbles but they are supposed to intersect and yours does not seem to intersect with mine.

      • This is ridiculous. Where the heck did the “mon” come from? My understanding is that Dividualist is from Europe somewhere, and his comment was insightful and interesting and I should have been very interested to see whatever dialogue may have come from it.

        Harrington is not abiding any sort of decorum, his comments tread dangerously close to violating the comments policy such as it stands, his comments are so prolific that it has become impossible for any interesting discussion to take place. This was a great article by JMSmith and very thoughtful and the comments are nothing but the Scott Harrington Show.

        This has stopped being amusing for me. I figured out what Harrington was about after two comments. The man is a clear and obvious troll. He makes Thordaddy seem like St. Thomas Aquinas in his clarity of prose.

        At the point where he’s just going to level schoolyard insults at otherwise insightful commenters like Dividualist, I would appreciate if he were declared anathema and ostracized. I recognize that i have no control over the matter but actually fruitful comment and discussion is being choked out by this prolific spreader of weeds.

    • Harrington, question:

      Have you ever recorded your lunatic rantings, then listened back to the recordings?

      On second thought, don’t answer that, for goodness sakes! (No one ever accused me of not having a sense of humor.)

      • You have no evidence for your ranting. There is no lunatic nature in what I said. You are using a psychological defense mechanism (Anna Freud, The Ego & the Mechanisms of Defense), projecting your own lunatic ranting onto me. Anyone who believes in conservativism after Trump is a Right Wing Lunatic. Trump has forever killed the American Conservative Cause. Thank GOD the true epistemological ethical basis for the pro-life anti-abortion movement is political-theological liberalism (as expressed in the Nicene Creed of the First Council of Constantinople I, 381 AD, without Filioque, which mentions no “woman’s right to “choose (kill)”. Thank God the LORD Jesus Christ was not aborted! LORD have mercy!

      • When you, beloved, are in a slump,
        You turn your vacant eyes to Trump;
        Your languid heart is set aflutter,
        Your tiny brain melts just like butter,
        For though Trump is a first-class SOB,
        You’re just a fool, a witless slob,
        Deplorable when not pathetic,
        Fat and—I pray God!—diabetic,
        Breathing air that I require
        To blow with bellows on the fire,
        Where I’ll destroy my bugaboo,
        That great outrage, the filioque.

      • Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice. and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven: for sp persecuted they the prophets which were before you. St. Mattheww 5:11-12 KJV. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

      • No one has reviled you because you follow Christ. We have mocked you because you are a Goliath of spiritual pride. If you will engage in conversation, we will engage in conversation. If you insist on LARPing Jeremiah, we will mock you because you are a False Prophet full of sound a fury, signifying nothing.

      • I’m not proud. I’m glad you think so. You are not a mind reader. You don’t know how I feel. It is ironic you talk about spiritual pride. The very essence of spiritual pride is the Pope of Rome and Martin Luther and their Filioque. You just refuse to recant and believe the Gospel. You are to be pitied.

      • If you didn’t vote for Trumo, I apologize to you, sir. If you would have voted for Trump, or will, I rest my case. Trump is a Fascist Atheist traitor. And a Criminal. He is an Insane Idiot. And he is against medical science. He is Liar.

      • Wait! Didn’t *I* just accuse *you* of ranting? Now you turn the accusation back against me?! YOU SLY DAWG, YOU!!! (I wrote that latter part in all caps and added the exclamation marks as a matter of shouting into your one ear while listening for the echos in your head emanating out the other, if you know what I mean.)

  5. Recall our comments policy:

    “Comments containing personal insults toward contributors or other commenters will be deleted at the discretion of the blogger in response to whose post the comment has been made. By all means feel free to express disagreement, but do it respectfully. Personal insults against third party public figures (e.g., Christopher Hitchens, George W. Bush, Winston Churchill) are allowed, but insults against their families (presuming these are not public figures) are not. One exception is that no disrespect for Jesus Christ will be tolerated. Comments containing personal accusations relevant to the discussion at hand (e.g., claiming that a commenter or contributor is “working for the other side”) will also be deleted unless accompanied by compelling evidence. Repeat violators of these rules will be temporarily or permanently banned.”

    I propose that it is time to invoke the stated censures against scottobertharrington to avoid cluttering comment sections on future posts.

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.