The ultimate proof of the VFR view of liberalism

Conservative Swede, who’s been on a roll lately, writes:

Bjorn Staerk, the Bushite Norwegian blogger, was tough on fighting terrorists in his “war blog” in the years after 9/11, thereby gaining much popularity among American blog readers. But when people such as Fjordman suggested that Islam was the problem rather than Islamism, it displeased Bjorn Staerk’s universalist creed. And last year he wrote:

“Brave is sitting down calmly on a plane behind a row of suspicious-looking Arabs, ignoring your own fears, because you know those fears are irrational, and because even if there’s a chance that they are terrorists, it is more important to you to preserve an open and tolerant society than to survive this trip. Brave is insisting that Arabs not be searched more carefully in airport security than anyone else, because you believe that it is more important not to discriminate against people based on their race than to keep the occasional terrorist from getting on a plane.” [Emphasis added.]

Now how have I defined modern liberalism? As the belief that non-discrimination is the highest and ruling value of society. And here is that belief wrought to its uttermost. For Bjorn Staerk, non-discrimination is higher than life, it is higher than the duty to stop murder, it is higher than the duty to protect the innocent, it is higher than right and wrong, it is higher than the survival of society itself. Non-discrimination is God, a god who allows no other values to co-exist with himself, a god who is absolutely supreme and alone.

He or it is, indeed, a god much like Allah. The god of liberalism is revealed as the twin of the god of Islam. With the important difference that the end of Islam is the absolute submission of the West to Islam, while the end of liberalism is the absolute submission of the West to Islam.

Just as I said in my 2005 article at FrontPage Magazine, “Islam and the Liberal West: The Fatal Complementarity”:

In resurgent Islam the liberal West has met its fate. Islam is a non-Western religion set on conquering and converting non-Muslims, while liberalism is a Western ideology set on tolerating and including non-Westerners. They are predators, we are prey.

- end of initial entry -

When I first read the Staerk quote, I asked Conservative Swede if it was a parody. He assured me it was not, and directed me to two discussions where Staerk stood by what he had said. This was the second time in one day that a statement I initially thought was a parody turned out to be real.

Also, here’s a test question for VFR readers: Is Bjorn Staerk a right-liberal, or a left-liberal?

John B. writes:

In the Staerk column which you linked, the following was striking:

Life is full of risks, and terrorism is no different from all the others. So there’s a tiny risk you might die today. That’s no excuse to act like a fool or a coward. Death is a part of life.

Terrorism is naturally more frightening than, say, car accidents or natural disasters. Accidents are impersonal and random, terrorism is personal, [emphasis added] it is evil. But that is precisely why we have to think rationally about it, so that terrorists cannot exploit the irrational fear that their actions create in us.

After all, what other weapons do terrorists have to harm us with than fear? They have some guns and explosives. They can kill a few people, once in a while, at high cost and high chance of failure. That is all they have. Measured in terms of pure damage to people and property, the terrorist threat is small. Only with nuclear weapons might terrorists come close to the threat posed to us by cars.

It is the fear of it that makes terrorism uniquely dangerous. The killing is only a means, a way to trigger the destruction of their enemies. Make us angry, make us fearful, make us do something stupid.

Nothing gives one the impression one has encountered a lunatic more than does hearing something of the first importance stated completely backwards. Accidents are impersonal and random, terrorism is personal? No—it is terrorism that is random and impersonal. One can protect oneself against accidents by, for example, being careful in crossing the street; subway riders who are seated next to a person who is about to detonate a concealed, explosives-laden vest have no idea of their immediate danger. That is precisely why, among risks, terrorism is not “no different from all the others.” It is also why fear of it is not irrational and why Staerk’s presuming to explain to us that we must think rationally about it is comically fatuous. (And how brave he is to dismiss the piddling fact that “[t]hey can kill a few people.” He’s a regular Ken Livingstone.)

Conservative Swede writes:

You wrote: “Also, here’s a test question for VFR readers: Is Bjorn Staerk a right-liberal, or a left-liberal?”

Brilliant point (or I mean very good :-) ).

You managed to tie it all very nicely together, in this post, with your definition of liberalism, which proves to be profound, and makes the unbelievable comprehensible.

LA replies:

Thank you, but you haven’t answered the question.

I would say Staerk is a left liberal. He may, as you said, have started as a right-liberal, but, as is very common, his right-liberalism has mutated into left-liberalism.

Since conservatism, in the absence of explicit anti-liberal principles, tends to mutate into liberalism, it’s also the case that right-liberalism tends to mutate into left-liberalism.

Now why do I call him left liberal?

To use the very useful terms set out in the Introduction of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, a right liberal is a natural-rights liberal: he believes in non-discrimination toward individuals, based on the universality of natural rights; but such non-discrimination is led and guided by a standard: the recipients of the non-discrimination must themselves subscribe to natural rights.

A left-liberal is an openness liberal. He has no restraining standards. He believes in being open and tolerant toward everyone, period.

Clearly Staerk is a left-liberal.

Now maybe, as you said, he started as a right -liberal. But when we look at the neocons and Bushites, they generally have mutated from right-liberals to left-liberals.

What does this mutation consist of?

Here’s just one thread of this mutation.

A right-liberal says, following the Declaration of Independence, that all men have natural rights, and that “in order to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson, following Locke, is saying that men in a state of nature cannot enjoy their natural rights because violent men can take them away. Men must band together into a social compact, a government, that will protect their life, liberty and property. What this social compact consists of is that men voluntarily delegate their natural right to use force to protect themselves to a government which will have a monopoly on the use of force for the purpose of protecting the entire community. (Of course men still have the right of self-defense; they have not delegated all of their rights, but those necessary for the securing of their rights in ordinary circumstances.) Thus men must take positive, constructive, political action transcending their immediate self-interests if they are to secure their rights. The rights are given by nature, but the enjoyment of those rights is not given by nature, it must be secured, by human, political action.

Now in recent years President Bush in his expansive declarations on freedom has repeatedly said that everyone “deserves” freedom and democracy. This language is a radical departure from classic American rhetoric concerning rights. It plainly suggests that people in each community do not have to build a government of their own, but rather that someone, namely the United States, must give it to them. Those other people, namely Muslims, don’t have to do anything. They don’t have to subscribe to natural rights. They don’t have to subscribe to the social compact whereby they agree to defend other men’s natural rights. No. They simply “deserve” that their own natural rights be defended, without their having to do anything.

The Bushite-neocon variation on right-liberalism is left-liberalism, because it has eliminated the objective criterion (subscription to natural rights for others) that makes people deserving of having their own natural rights recognized and protected.

Right-liberalism treats the enjoyment of natural rights as something that must be earned. Left-liberalism treats the enjoyment of natural rights as an entitlement, as something that the “government” (in this instance the U.S. in its role of government to the world) must give to everyone in the world, as though it were a welfare state.

It is easy to see how right-liberalism can mutate into left-liberalism. You just leave in place the idea of universal rights, while dropping the objective truth that the rights are based on, along with the corollary that men must believe in that truth for others in order to enjoy natural rights for themselves. Under left-liberalism, there is no truth higher than the individual. There is simply the absolute right of each individual to have his rights protected and to be treated without discrimination.

Thus the older liberal position, “I practice non-discrimination toward those who believe in non-discrimination,” can very easily turn into the Bjorn Staerk position, “I practice non-discrimination toward everyone, without exception, including toward people who are seeking to kill me.”

Charlton G. writes:

I would say that Bjorn Staerk is a left liberal based solely on what I just read. He is admitting to a kind of nihilism already when he states his willingness to die for “tolerance” in its broadest possible meaning. Only a fanatic leftist could come up with such a creed. Only a leftist would fear the consequences of taking the tiniest step backward from radical egalitarianism. This guy is a true believer.

M. Mason writes:

It is in statements like the one quoted by the Swedish correspondent and your insightful comments following that the true nature of this evil becomes even more apparent. A liberalism adhered to faithfully must arrive at its logical, pre-determined end point as a perfect inverse of Christianity: man assumes the role of God to “atone” for his own discrimination—the sin of all sins according to the liberal catechism. The true believer in liberalism expiates in his own soul the penalty for this twisted conception of evil, even to the extent of becoming a perverse kind of “sin-offering” himself if necessary. But the essential futility and horror of this pseudo-religion doesn’t end even there. Unlike Christianity (in which one individual—Christ—bore away the sins of the entire world once for all) the complicated and dehumanizing rituals of the liberal atonement must be carried out correctly and perpetually in one form or another by every single guilty white discriminator forever, because in this schema nothing less than that will secure some sense of momentary absolution for the individual, while the white race itself will always continue to remain wholly and objectively guilty according to the orthodoxy of the reigning left-liberal priesthood.

In the end, the attributes of liberalism’s high-deity of Non-Discrimination are not only what Mr. Auster has described—he is also a dark, sinister god that ultimately demands the death of offenders if need be to turn away his displeasure and obtain the favorable societal outcomes implicit in the universalist creed. In this respect, at least, he is essentially no less barbaric than the ancient cults of primitive tribes that demanded human sacrifice to ensure a successful harvest.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 18, 2007 01:57 AM | Send

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