Germany isn’t the only thing abolishing itself.
A quote from the past.
In me, the Christianity of my forbears reaches its logical conclusion. In me the stern intellectual conscience that Christianity fosters and makes paramount turns against Christianity. In me Christianity … devours itself.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, from the Introduction of the 1918 English Translation of Antichrist (1895), by H. L Mencken.
A quote from yesterday:
… the actually-existing, so-called liberal state is impossible to justify on the mundane liberal terms most intellectuals claim to accept.
…the fact is, mundane liberalism is flatly incompatible with the security state as we know it. That anyone spurred to action against the illiberal security state by the democratic jusificatory [sic] ethos of mundane liberalism has come to seem a little “libertarian,” and may even therefore confess some personal “libertarian” sympathies, suggests to me a problem with “liberalism” as it is embodied in actual political discourse and practice. It suggests that liberalism is effectively a corrupt form of statist institutional conservatism …
Will Wilkinson, 20-JAN-2014.
And some quotes from the last few days:
(1) The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.
(2) … There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell. … This is a repugnantly illiberal sentiment. It is also unbelievably stupid for the gay rights movement. You want to squander the real gains we have made by argument and engagement by becoming just as intolerant of others’ views as the Christianists? You’ve just found a great way to do this. It’s a bad, self-inflicted blow. And all of us will come to regret it.
(3)When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance. … It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason. If we cannot live and work alongside people with whom we deeply disagree, we are finished as a liberal society.
… There you have the illiberal mindset. Morality trumps freedom. Our opponents must be humiliated, ridiculed and “isolated as perverts”. I mean “bigots”, excuse me.
Andrew Sullivan, 04-APR-2014 [emphasis added]. And somewhere from the realm beyond I can hear the scolding voice of Christopher Hitchens whispering similar sentiments.
And Sullivan should have phrased his expression in the declarative instead of the conditional. Since, it seems evident to me, that we have arrived and we cannot live with people with whom we disagree, and that we are indeed finished as a liberal society because progressive morality trumps freedom, and liberalism has reached its logical conclusion by abolishing itself.
Freddie deBoer also asks, “Is the social justice left really abandoning free speech?” and follows up with:
But I can only honestly represent to you both my personal experience and my read of the current journalism and literature on this subject, and both tell me that there is a distressing current of antagonism towards free expression within the social justice left.
The lesson of Eich’s purging by hashtag advocacy is that it was completely effective and simultaneously completely costless for everyone who wanted it to happen. That is an incredibly terrifying amount of power, and it guarantees that we’ll see much, much more of this kind of thing in the years to come. There is simply no reason why not. If you can get drunk on alcohol, and not suffer any consequences, you will drink. If you can get drunk on power, and push your opponents around with complete impunity, you will just keep pushing.
But liberalism, as classically understood, with its notions of free and open debate and tolerance of opposing viewpoints which form the basis of the civil society, is not compatible with the exercise of this kind of power, whether it is employed by the state or by a howling mob.
But the mob had a clear choice: ‘niceness, community, and civilization‘ – that is, ‘liberalism’ – or howling. And it chose to howl; like it always does the moment it thinks it can get away with it. Now that is knows it has the upper hand – the whip hand – and is just starting to feel its oats, it is simply a matter of time before Jericho’s new army blasts its terrible trumpets and brings down all the other walls surrounding the beleaguered remains of our civility. No rest until absolute victory.
If one wonders why there is an urgent and compelling need for political innovation and discourse concerning radically different approaches to social organization, then I would argue that this is it. If any idea threatens whatever rough beast is now visibly slouching towards us, then it won’t be long until such discussions and their participants simply won’t be tolerated and will be silenced, one way or another.
Who knows how much longer the window of opportunity will remain open. Make all the hay you can while the sun still shines.
Popehat, Harvey Silvergate of Fire: Eventually That Animal Is Going To Turn On You, And You’re Going To End Up The Victim!
@5:20: The thing that makes me laugh the most is that I am considered a right-winger by people on the Academic Left, only people on the Academic Left are sufficiently narrow-minded to call me a right-winger. Actually, I’m a liberal, but I’m a a civil-libertarian liberal, an old-fashioned liberal who actually not only believes in a decent society that helps its most unfortunate members survive, but who also happens to believe in Freedom. Because so much of the Left today doesn’t believe in liberty, especially the Academic Left. There’s something wrong with calling the Academic Left ‘liberalism’, they’re not liberals at all. They’re really leftist totalitarians. Why is it, when I’m representing students, so many of those students are conservatives? The reason is that the campus is a very hostile, alien place for student or faculty members of conservative thought. I do represent students on the left from time to time when occasionally even they taste the whip of academic censorship, but more frequently my clients are conservatives, and that’s because they’re mostly the ones who are victimized.
The saddest thing about Harvard, and mind you I’m a graduate of its Law School and I’m supposed to be a loyal alum, and I try to be a loyal alum, because I’m trying to bring Harvard back to the principles that it still claims that it believes in, but doesn’t practice. And that is: respect for free speech, academic freedom meaning respect, or at least tolerance, of views that are considered to be obnoxious, retrograde, Evil! They’re only words, or essays, and they should be completely protected. You can be thrown out of Harvard for saying something politically incorrect. The censorship at Harvard runs from top to bottom.
(AMENDATION: Be sure to check out Sam Harris’ interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
[Ali] … I wanted a quiet life in academia, and I wanted to be safe.
So I approached Cynthia, and she took me to the Brookings Institute, and to Rand, and to Johns Hopkins, and to Georgetown—she took me to all these institutions, and there was no interest. They didn’t say it to my face, but I got the feeling that they were uncomfortable with what I had been saying about Islam.
Harris: So the truly mortifying answer to the question of why you are at the AEI is that no liberal institution would offer you shelter when you most needed it—and when your value to the global conversation about free speech, the rights of women, and other norms of civilization was crystal clear. And ever since, your affiliation with the one institution that did take you in has been used to defame you in liberal circles. Perfect.
Hirsi Ali: Well, it certainly seemed at the time that none of the other institutions were willing to talk about Islam in the way that I do—and specifically about its treatment of women.
Harris: And they still won’t. I consider this one of the great moral scandals of our time. How you’ve been treated reminds me of what many liberals did during the Salman Rushdie affair, blaming him for his recklessness in the face of the hair-trigger sensitivities of the Muslim community.
I’m a liberal by nearly every measure. Give me a list of liberal values and prejudices, and I will check almost every box.
Hirsi Ali: So will I.
…Harris: As a relevant counterpoint, I should say that when I was raising money for your security, I got in touch with some of my contacts in the “moderate” Muslim community. In particular, I reached out to Reza Aslan, with whom I was on entirely cordial terms. I said, essentially, “Reza, wouldn’t it be great if the vast majority of Muslims who are moderate helped protect Ayaan from the minority who aren’t?” It seems to me undeniable that if people like Reza are going to argue that Islam is just like any other religion, they have a real interest in ensuring that people can safely criticize their faith—or even leave it.
But all Reza did was attack you as a bigot and deny, against all evidence, that you had any security concerns worth taking seriously. His response came as quite a shock to me, frankly. I was unprepared to encounter this level of moral blindness and ill will, especially at a moment when I was reaching out for help.
People, is this an opportunity to split the reasonable liberals away from the evil mob with whom they still affiliate? Maybe.)
There is also the historically recurrent and universal human phenomenon of the opportunistic abandonment of formerly claimed ‘sacred’ principles when they are no longer useful or convenient. The party of a minority viewpoint which is out of power will, naturally, publicly and loudly extol the transcendent virtues of maximum effective tolerance for minority viewpoints. They will claim that they will continue to respect these sacred principles should their point of view ever come into majority and their party ascend to power. That the members of a waning majority can, on the basis of the growing-minority’s adamant dedication to these sacred principles, trust the members of that opposition and conclude that they need not resist with all their might and to the last man, and that they can relent and surrender with the confidence that they will be treated fairly and without abuse or retribution.
And then, the minute the old minority achieves enough power to do so, they throw all that away and crush the new minority into powder. They don’t even feel bad about the obvious hypocrisy, which is, after all, so, so easy to rationalize away. After all, they were abusing their power for bad, whereas we are only using it for good. See? Easy peasy. So one should always expect it to happen, regardless of any claims to the contrary.
In one particular context, Rod Dreher calls this, “The Law of Merited Impossibility”
The Law Of Merited Impossibility is an epistemological construct governing the paradoxical way overclass opinion makers frame the discourse about the clash between religious liberty and gay civil rights. It is best summed up by the phrase, “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.”
It’s not going to happen, and when it does, you people will deserve it.
And indeed, Chapter Two of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals [Review coming soon], “Of Means and Ends”, is chock full of stories illustrating precisely this pre-power, post-power hypocritical dynamic. The fundamental question for a non-progressive is “How hard should I fight? Can I trust them not to be nasty, totalitarian tyrants the moment they take hold of the reigns? Will they stay true to their espoused principles?”
And you can hear Alinsky laugh and laugh at you.
Ha Ha! Chump Sucker! Of course you can’t trust them; they have revealed themselves, and without even a glimmer of concern for how it has ruined their reputation. Of course you can never afford to give them an inch. Of course they’ll ‘abandon’ these principles; that’s what people always do when they have power, which is why power is so dangerous. And actually, if you’d open your eyes, you’ll notice that they already have. The days of discourse have departed.