[Note: this post was originally published on 12/18/2015. In light of recent events, it seemed expedient to repost it.]
A previous post on how the tide is turning against legacy media and its Leftist bias drew commenters who rightly observed that I offered no solutions for the current political crisis.
Right up front, let me point out that I'm a schlock hack SF writer who is unqualified to propose a plan for mending our broken electoral system. Art reflects culture, and like all artists my first job is entertaining you, and a distant second, to illustrate problems; not to give answers.
Besides, in my experience the overwhelming majority of people who ask for solutions are really asking, "How can we elect enough members of Party X/pass the right laws to fix this rotten state of affairs?"
This is a rare case where I actually have an answer: we ain't voting our way out of this one.
Understanding the problem
Most people know that the Western world is undergoing an existential crisis. Those who claim that everything's fine are either in deep denial for fear of confronting the truth, or they're convinced that they stand to gain if the crisis continues or even worsens.
We're all aware of the symptoms. The US national debt is over eighteen trillion dollars and rising. 94 million Americans cannot find work and have given up looking. The massive influx of refugees is wreaking havoc on Europe. In the US, taxpayers are forced to fund infanticide and support organ trafficking. Islamic terrorists massacre Americans and Europeans, yet legacy media tools cite bogus reports to indict their fellow countrymen.
Living in such a state of grave disorder is taking its toll, as rates of drug abuse, mental illness, and suicide are rising.
Among those who acknowledge these problems, it's common to lay the blame on laws and policies associated with liberalism. They point out that the welfare state erodes the family and perpetuates poverty, that mass immigration costs Americans jobs, and that the left wants to fundamentally transform America.
The go-to solution, even among those who understand the severity of the crisis, is usually to elect more Republicans.
Even though the GOP, including the current Republican-dominated legislature, keeps stabbing their constituents in the back by advancing Leftist policies.
The perceived failure of conservatives to stand up for their principles is neither accidental nor anomalous. Conservative principles, to the extent that they can be said to exist at all, are derived from Liberalism.
When confronted with this fact, there are some conservatives who claim the mantle of "Classical Liberalism". They say that they adhere to the principles of liberty championed by the Founding Fathers, which modern day liberals have betrayed.
They'e got it backwards.
In his compelling, meticulously argued book The Tyranny of Liberalism, James Kalb explains the history of Liberal political philosophy, its pre-eighteenth century origins, and its goals. Simply stated, Liberalism seeks government power to give individuals maximum license to indulge their personal preferences.
Examining today's unrest in light of dominant Liberal theory, Kalb reaches a number of conclusions that mainstream conservatives may find disturbing.
- Liberalism, by definition, makes freedom an absolute. It cannot ultimately accept any external limit on personal license. Therefore even "Classical" Liberalism is progressively totalitarian.
- There is no stable, ideal version of Liberalism. The "Classical Liberalism" that some hold up as definitive is actually an illusion created by Liberals' practice of temporarily accommodating relatively more liberal alternatives to less liberal systems. (Liberals opportunistically support constitutional monarchists over absolute monarchists, representative republicans over constitutional monarchists, etc.)
- Being absolutist, progressive, and totalitarian, Liberalism can only lead to tyranny.
- Liberalism is self-contradictory. It is impossible for everyone to pursue their personal preferences unhindered at all times. You are going to have one person who prefers to blast loud music all night living next door to another who prefers going to bed early. There is no way for the government to intervene without infringing on one party's freedom.
- Conservatives are even more self-contradictory. As "Classical Liberals", conservatives operate under the same basic principles as their supposed opposition does. The only difference is that self-identified liberals are internally consistent in following their philosophy to its tyrannical end, while conservatives must draw an ever-receding series of lines in the sand.
- This process of halfhearted opposition and incremental retreat strikes independent observers as arbitrary, because it is. Since they are merely retrograde Liberals, conservatives can give no coherent reason for violating the progressive core principle of Liberalism. This incoherence dooms conservatives to ultimate failure.
|This book will explain America's political debacle to you--if you want it explained.|
The Founding Fathers weren't con men who knowingly tricked Americans into adopting a form of government that would inevitably leave them in chains. Their own writings testify that they truly believed they'd given their countrymen the best possible hope for freedom.
At the same time, the founders of the United States were wise enough to understand that freedom alone wasn't enough.
Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
History shows that Liberal government can work under one--and only one--circumstance. Conservatism fails to check progressivism because attempting to do so hacks at the root of the tree where conservatives themselves are perched.
The only way that citizens of a polity that absolutizes freedom can stave off tyranny is if their preferences are informed by a moral system that upholds the good; not freedom, as absolute.
You probably know where I'm going with this.
The fatal flaw in treating freedom as an absolute is that the proposition is simply false. The value of freedom depends entirely on the value of the good you can get with it. In that sense, freedom is moral fiat currency.
Only when their freedom is oriented toward intrinsic goods can a people truly be called free. A functional and rightly ordered society requires common understandings of what is good. Since Liberalism, which simply substitutes freedom for the good, can't define objective goods, where can we find a source of necessary common understandings?
|NB: the dude in sackcloth is an emperor.|
It's a claim that elicits plenty of knee-jerk denials, but barring objections that the Founding Fathers were all Deists (they weren't), the Founders' own words--like John Adams' above--demonstrate that they were counting on Christian moral principles to inform Americans' exercise of liberty.
Liberalism itself can be thought of as a Christian heresy that distorts man's freedom to seek God into a license to "do whatever you want". As such, the most cherished liberties of Western civilization are derived from developments of Christian doctrine.
The separation of church and state is an innovation undreamed of in pre-Christian times. The second greatest contributor to Western law--the Roman Empire--had a state cult with the emperor as high priest.
Only with the advent of Christian theology supporting the right of resistance to tyranny and an organized Church powerful enough to hold secular rulers accountable did a check on state power--besides bloody rebellion--emerge.
In addition to the separation of secular and religious powers, pretty much every freedom championed by Classical Liberalism has its precedent in Christian theology.
The fact that the Church overthrew a real theocracy that had ruled the West for centuries puts paid to claims that Christians support theocracy.
Am I seriously arguing that everyone should convert to Christianity?
Ideally--but only because Christianity is true; not as a cynical solution to worldly problems. What has been established by historical precedent is that Western-style Liberal governments only work when the majority of their people subscribe to common understandings of morality based on Christian principles.
This isn't such a radical idea, since even the most secular Western nations take Christian moral precepts as a given--if only unconsciously. That's the heart of natural law theory.
The prevailing culture informs how citizens of Liberal democracies vote. The current crisis isn't due to the process breaking down. When the culture that drives it decays, the process spews out garbage.
Still think voting can fix that?
Therefore, solution #1 is a return to natural law-based morality by a majority of the populace.
By no means are self-professed Christians exempt from this challenge. Matters have only deteriorated this far because we, the true guardians against tyranny, have been sleeping on the job. Only twenty percent of us attend church regularly. Many who claim to be pro-life vote Democrat. Though she once broke the power of Caesar, the Catholic Church's addiction to federal funds has brought her to her knees before the US government.
Since you should never ask someone else to do what you're unwilling to do yourself, Christians are advised to begin living according to their stated beliefs if we expect others to follow suit. And we should do it fast, because...
Solution #2 is for the whole system to collapse.
|Image courtesy of Napalm Records|
This solution presents its own set of problems, as few of us are likely to enjoy the period of transition between our current civilization and whatever takes its place.
Those are the available options. The choice is yours--and mine.