ETHICAL ISSUES: POLITICS
Whereas an earlier post described conservatism/Constitutionalism in apolitical terms, this one confirms liberalism as innately political. Welcome to Realpolitik–politics without ethics.
Today’s liberalism is rooted in the cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. Enlightened(?) intellectuals reject the traditions of the past, especially its entrenched historical religious authority, embracing instead a secular ethic of natural reason—conclusions based solely on physical evidence—pioneered by the largely mechanistic Cartesian approach to the world. The ‘enlightened’ view the world as a sophisticated machine, an appliance with no self-healing properties not able to survive on its own. Well, millions of years of earth history confirms that it’s just not so,. Natural/organic systems are “non-fragile,” meaning they develop as a response to disorder. In other words, they repair and develop on their own, and we don’t have a clue how that works. That being said…
Modern liberal thought is founded in the Critical Theory of the ‘30s. Based on Marxist conjecture and an underlying thesis that “history is about which groups have power over which other groups,” it combined social theory, philosophy, economics and cultural criticism in its behalf. Its framework includes deconstructionism, an outgrowth of the ‘philosophy of language’, that removes meaning from existing text and reinserts another meaning of current liberal choice. (It amounts to one’s being told by the ‘enlightened’ elite what one thinks.)
The ‘philosophy of language’ sought to drive religious thinking from classical philosophy with a fusion of scientific-technical and secular humanistic values. In abandoning long-established values, the ‘enlightened’ threw out the baby with the bathwater.
The modern practice of rejecting formal convention in favor of ‘good intentions’ spawned its own unique ideology (body of doctrine, myth and belief) rather than a primary socially-grounded philosophy. Ideologies by definition have an agenda and tend to breed extremism in their effort to debunk conflicting philosophies (i.e., if facts intrude, the liberal response may well be: “that’s just not the way we do things,” an approach characteristic of an ideology.)
The later 20th Century witnessed a decline of vigor in the public sphere. The promise of unlimited scientific progress was weakened with the realization that science might in fact go too far (witness the atrocities of both World Wars—ethnic cleansing, Nazism, thermonuclear power). Television and the computer led to an increasingly depersonalized mode of interaction, the public consuming media (and therefore open to being manipulated by it) rather than giving personal attention to politics and interfacing with other people. In effect, democracy was colonized by mass media and the elite.
Our Constitution created a republic (hence, Republican) and codifies the law of the land. It did not create a wholly democratic nation. The founders knew that a democracy would lead to the tyranny suffered under King George III, so they created a Republican form of limited government where political decision-making (politics, by any name) is kept to the minimum. Alert to the dangers of majoritarian tyranny, the framers warned against factions and inserted several anti-majority rules.
The phrase ‘all men are created equal’ is a conservative bulwark supported by the Constitution. We all have the same rights by virtue of our birth whether gay or straight, man or woman or of whichever race. But liberalism is a function of special interests—limited factions wanting exceptional treatment, advocating special rights (but why should ‘gay rights’ be different from ‘straight’ rights)? Why should women be treated differently from men? Why should ‘affirmative action’ be required—after all, the Constitution is color-blind, so why introduce and politicize the notion after the fact? Sexual harassment and racism work both ways depending only on the point of reference, yet the liberal view is unidirectional with no concern given to the alternative (for instance, racism is considered an exclusively white affliction).
Time-honored concepts and definitions are altered to accomplish liberal ends. “Fairness” in the liberal lexicon means taking from some to be ‘fair’ to others less-endowed, not the traditional definition of fairness of the dictionary. Similarly the word “marriage,” more than an arbitrary symbol, has historical and cultural (not to mention biological) significance not applicable to same-sex interactions. When the meaning of existing words can be changed simply to fit some current idea of what someone (or faction) promulgates, we violate infrangible First Principles. Abortion and contraception involve personal choice and are not intrinsically political, yet they’ve been politicized by liberals. Even Christmas, an established time-honored global tradition that has far outstripped its religious roots, is vilified by liberal factions because of those roots.
The welfare state is a liberal invention; culture wars are declared by liberals. While conservatism by definition minimizes politics, liberalism by effort maximizes it. Playing politics is a liberal game played by liberal rules.
The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of us are basically decent people with natural instincts to live by ethical standards. The other 20%, however, may be inclined otherwise when the opportunity presents itself. Many are well-intentioned but likely to favor quick, expensive fixes over careful consideration of alternatives as the solution to any problem. Examples include global warming and ‘sustainability’ (see the non-fragile reference above).
Being by nature political, liberals are drawn to government and rise to leadership positions where they remake the culture to their own agenda. Gradually, they become dominant as the less strident lose heart and leave.
They’ve done it already in academia with free speech curtailed at major universities, leftist ideology becoming stronger the farther one goes up the scholarly ladder. Political and academic elites consider themselves superior, unburdened by ‘conventional’ ethics. They put their own desires and wants on a higher level than those of others, believing that their ends justify their means. In its drive for ‘fairness’, liberalism has developed a skewed notion of property rights. Currency inflation and taxation are defended as good things. Should something go wrong, seldom do you hear a sincere apology.
The fact that they believe their own contrived talking points means liberalism isn’t always easy to pin down, because the 80-percent naturally assume the other person is telling the truth. And you can rely on liberals to be politically correct. How could a congressman or senator who avidly supports taking care of the poor and forsaken possibly be a bad guy?
In normal (constitutionally-limited) times, those forces that keep a healthy society orderly keep liberalism reined in. However, once a government changes its emphasis from protecting citizens from force to applying its own force via law and taxes, those mores break down. An argument can be made that miscalculation, accident, inattention and the like are why things go bad. While those elements have a role it is minor. Potential catastrophe across the board can’t be the result of happenstance, and it’s not. It’s Realpolitik. Politics without ethics.
The majority of Americans, tending to be apolitical, tend to accept the situation because they have had their core beliefs shamed out of them (see: Political Correctness). They’ve become pampered and comfortable with the status quo without wondering how long it can possibly last. Most of the proposed fixes are reactive and seem comforting. The media and spin doctors produce soothing sound bites that elude testing against reality.
So that’s what happened. There’s not going to be any serious change in the direction in which our nation is headed until a genuine crisis occurs and/or politics is seen for what it is. Until ethics regains a hold, the current trend downward will accelerate.
EXTREME Ethics. Its time has come.
Parts of the foregoing are directly attributed to Doug Casey of Casey Research, edited, modified and used to strengthen our case for ethics.
This post is of course open to argument and discussion. Any reasonable well-considered opinion is welcomed. Simple denial is not sufficient.