“Conservatives” who embrace moral liberationism

Bill Carpenter writes:

Bodissey has a disappointing response to the situation. One of the mockers asks if you failed to get the memo that this is the blogosphere. I see no reason to acquiesce in the notion that the Internet has given people license to be base, mendacious, anti-intellectual, and unjust. People who use the medium to gratify their vile inclinations are deserters and freebooters. Don’t they know there’s a war on?

LA replies:

It shows they’re not conservatives, but assimilated, loyal denizens of the contemporary liberal pop culture, completely accepting its low manners and standards, and shocked and outraged when someone challenges them and says that this is not the way we ought to behave. Which is a major proof of a long-time theme of mine, that the manners, language, pop culture, entertainment, and dress that people accept is far more important than their political ideas, because the former is not thought about, it just takes people over without resistance.

Below is an excerpt from my 2003 essay, Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation, in which I discuss this phenomenon, which our so-called conservatives hardly ever discuss and don’t even notice, because they are part of it:

The revolution of our time consists in the virtual disappearance of any remnant of the Classical-Christian consciousness from the leading institutions of American and Western society, and their take-over by liberal and radical elites who have converted them to their own illegitimate purposes. Having elevated the counterculture into the dominant culture while reducing traditional beliefs to the category of thought crime, these elites embody enjoy unbridled sway over public life. Yet, by skillfully preserving a “mainstream,” “middle-class,” even “patriotic” facade, and by keeping the economy going, they have prevented most people from realizing that the revolution has occurred, and have thus avoided the immediate prospect of large-scale resistance to the new order. The instinctive conservatism of many Americans has also helped consolidate the new regime. Since the essence of small “c” conservatism is to uphold the established ways of one’s society, whatever those ways may be, and since the revolution is now fully established, America’s small “c” conservatives have in large part legitimized the revolution, insensibly adopting many of its values and fashions and giving them the seal of the “normal” and the “traditional.”

The combination of radical substance with moderate or conservative appearance is a defining feature of the new liberal order, and can be seen in each of the spectacular—though largely unrecognized—moral transformations it has wreaked upon society:

- The metastasis of the Sixties counterculture into a wholly new kind of dominant culture—the reign of the Totally Liberated Self. Among other things, this radical individualism signifies the breakdown of normative boundaries of social behavior that have characterized all previous stages of Western personality and of Western culture. It attempts to “liberate” the self from the psychic and moral structures that make individuality—and civilization itself—possible, while keeping all the material goods and appurtenances of civilization in place. This “liberated” self can be seen, for example, in the ubiquitous use of cell phones that has destroyed the once orderly and civil public spaces of America, turning them into a mildly deranged yet (by our incredibly loosened standards) “normal” environment where millions of “normal” men and women, regardless of where they are or what they are doing, think it perfectly “normal” to impose their private phone conversations on every stranger in their vicinity, engaging in conduct—such as talking in a loud voice to an invisible person while standing still or moving absent-mindedly back and forth in the middle of a crowded urban sidewalk—that once would have been seen as the mark of an escaped lunatic. It is manifested by the middle-class parents who, unlike all previous generations of parents in the history of the world, allow their children to run about and make disturbances in restaurants, buses, and other public places, and get angry if anyone asks that the child be controlled. It is epitomized by prime-time television entertainment—beamed nightly into tens of millions of family homes—that consists of a stream of shocking obscenities, ugly insults, and perverted sexual references. It is institutionalized in elite colleges where unisex bathrooms in student dormitories are now the required and unquestioned norm. And it is symbolized by the grotesque shapeless outfits—oversized “message” T-shirts hanging outside oversized pants or shorts—that American children wear like a national uniform to school, to our nation’s capital, and even to the funerals that take place from time to time after one of the baggy-dressed children decides to commit mass murder against his classmates.

Such phenomena symbolize the Totally Liberated Self, even as, by being taken for granted by most people, they demonstrate its irresistible dominion over our society. Far more effectively than any explicit ideology of personal and sexual liberation (which would still arouse some articulate opposition), it is the unspoken attitudes and manners of this unbuttoned culture that exercise the greatest control over people’s feelings and values. Emanating from the mass media, permeating the fabric of daily life, unopposed by clergy (who tolerate the wearing of hyper-casual clothing to Sunday services), unchallenged by establishment conservatives (who keep crowing that life in America has never been better), these ubiquitous and therefore invisible habits of hyper-individualism make it very difficult for people living in contemporary society to adhere, in any publicly meaningful way, to the bourgeois-Christian norms that once characterized our culture. Indeed, the culture we now inhabit is not so much a culture as an anti-culture, since, in its attempt to liberate the human personality from all “givens,” it erases the very idea of a common heritage transmitted from one generation to the next.

* * *

LA writes to Bill Carpenter:

By the way, your phrase, “one of the mockers,” referring to a commenter in the Gates of Vienna discussion, reminds me of Yeats:

Mock mockers after that
That would not lift a hand maybe
To help good, wise or great
To bar that foul storm out, for we
Traffic in mockery.

W.B. Yeats, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen,” in The Tower, 1928

- end of initial entry -

Adela G. writes:

Baron Bodissey is so mired in the liberal miasma that he doesn’t get that you genuinely object not just to the attacks against you but to his permitting a vulgarity that lowers the tone of his blog and interferes with civil discourse. This vulgar comment that you complained about wasn’t even directed at you. Blogger awake said to Erich:

So, all talk and no action. I expect ConSwede will shove that statement upp your arse with a cnadle on it.

I suppose the Baron would coyly cite the misspellings and claim one couldn’t really be sure what “awake” meant by that. Then he’d repeat his mindless comment about how “edgy” threads promote “creativity”—if that isn’t a stereotypically liberal misconception (vulgarity, because it is free from restraint, promotes or actually is creativity), I don’t know what is.

Terry Morris writes:

I always enjoy Adela’s straight-shooting analyses. And she does it with such class! Indeed, though I’m admittedly tempted to use such language jokingly at times, I strive to avoid that kind of vulgarity even in my private email correspondences with my friends and close associates. How much more so should I, as a conservative speaking as a conservative, avoid using such low language in a public setting, when it’s up to me, and to me alone, to determine to hit the “send” button or not? Again, these people seem to have real difficulty observing the rules of decency … and self-restraint.

LA writes:

At the beginning of Bodissey’s post, he quotes a recent comment of mine at VFR:

Meanwhile, Baron Bodissey allows his site to be used by these complete cranks. What a disgrace.

And Bodissey then says:

He’s talking about you, the invaluable readers and commenters here at Gates of Vienna!

Now, as Bodissey well knows, when I spoke of cranks, I meant Conservative Swede, the thug “Awake,” a.k.a. Mike Slumber (who speaks of shoving things into his interlocutors’ orifices and knocking their teeth out), the anti-Semite Tanstaafl (who has written, “I’ve just realized and said flat out Jews are my enemy,” and who has become an accepted, chummy member of the GoV discussions, where he has pursued his argument that my real aim is to achieve Jewish ascendancy over the white race), and a couple of others, a group that turned that once promising thread on what to do about Islam, in which I had happily participated, into a several days’ long slander-fest aimed at me. But Bodissey, now actively encouraging the same mob psychology that previously he had passively allowed to flourish at his site, dishonestly tells his readers that I was attacking all of them, not a specific group of individuals, so as to stir all of them up against me.

As I said: what a disgrace.

Terry Morris writes:

” … the anti-Semite Tanstaafl (who has written, “I’ve just realized and said flat out Jews are my enemy,” and who has become an accepted, chummy member of the GoV discussions, where he has pursued his argument that my real aim is to achieve Jewish ascendancy over the white race),…”

Wait!, is Tanstaafl right? Is your real aim to achieve Jewish ascendancy over the white race, over me, a member of the white race???

Only a vile Auster sycophant cannot see it, right?


LA replies:

If you click on the linked word “accepted,” above, you’ll see where Conservative Swede apologizes to Tanstaafl for having called him a nutcase. The reason Swede called him a nutcase was to dissociate himself from Tanstaafl, since I had humorously joined them together when I pointed out the ironic contrasts between their respective cases against me.

I wrote:

Conservative Swede claims that I’m a phony defender of the West, because I really just care about asserting traditionalist Christianity and putting down secular liberalism.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semite Tanstaafl claims that I’m a phony defender of the West, because I really just care about defending the Jews and putting down whites.

To which Swede replied:

As usually instead of engaging in discussion you lower yourself into attacking the character of your interlocutors. The fact that an anti-Semitic nutcase appeared in this thread does not make my argument less valid.

A little later Swede felt he had been unfair to Tanstaafl and wrote:

I would also like to say that I’m sorry for having referred to Tanstaafl above as a “nutcase.” That was unfair and uncalled for, the unfortunate result of hasty writing.

Swede doesn’t apologize for having called Tanstaafl “anti-Semitic,” but he does very politely apologize to him, thus showing that he considers him a welcome participant in the discussion.

Note also Swede’s classic, off-the-planet mischaracterization of what I said about him. I summed up his argument against me in this way: “that I’m a phony defender of the West, because I really just care about asserting traditionalist Christianity and putting down secular liberalism.” Yet Swede describes this accurate and objective summary of his own argument as “attacking the character of your interlocutors.”

And that catches in a nutshell the level of the GoV anti-Auster lynch mob. I make logical, legitimate statements (in this case merely describing my opponent’s position), and in return they say that I’m attacking their character, smearing them, and so on.

Richard W. writes:

I am a regular reader at GoV and followed the thread that degenerated into base anti-Semitism and of course a lot of Auster bashing.

I’m not sure why you draw so much fire. The kooky fools over at Age of Treason certainly dislike you. I’d wear that as a badge of honor.

I’m not sure about GoV. Their hearts are in the right place, but I think they have a very one dimensional view of the struggle that we are in. As important as Islam is, I can imagine many scenarios where we lose the West that don’t involve any additional Muslim attacks.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that while I will admit that the back and forth between people is not my favorite thing to read, it has been an instructive teaching moment. Your most recent post has shown, once again, how large elements of the conservative movement have acquiesced to liberalism in their bones. It must be uncomfortable to be called on that.

I called a Freeper on his handle recently, which was Ron Jeremy. I can not think of a more loathsome celebrity, and could certainly not understand honoring such a person by using his name as an alias. Ugh. I was of course accused of supporting censorship, being intolerant, not appreciating diversity and on and on. Funny, it sounds just like what one expects to hear when criticising a liberal about some fundamental stupidity. (Not killing child rapists, for instance.)

To me part of being a real conservative means living up to my ideals, and encouraging others to do so. I don’t suggest that my judgments be permanently enacted into law. Given that we are going to live in a diverse nation and culture a big part of winning the culture war is adhering, and asking or expecting others to adhere, to cultural norms.

Your wonderful story about the black lady on the bus was a perfect example. Here you are asking supposedly conservatives to act respectfully, and you are put down with a classic liberal smirk.

Well done.

Anyway, I’ve been super busy lately … I’m sorry I don’t have time to respond more to your postings, but I did want to say I read you every day and still find you the most interesting, consistent, thoughtful and correct author on the Internet.

Gintas writes:

We are at the beginning of the Dark Ages.

LA replies:

Are you responding to something in particular in the thread?

Gintas replies:

No, just the relentlessness of the bad news. Even a site trying to save the West (GoV) is acting like an auto-immune disorder against conservatives trying to save the West. Barbarianism is in the air.

Adela G. writes:

You write: ” … a long-time theme of mine, that the manners, language, pop culture, entertainment, and dress that people accept is far more important than their political ideas, because the former is not thought about, it just takes people over without resistance.”

This is exactly why I’m so adamant about my boycott of cultural liberalism. I don’t know if it’s a question of “God is in the details,” or “Little things mean a lot,” or some combination of the two, but I do know that these things matter. Proper attention to manners, language and dress and careful discrimination regarding pop culture and entertainment are essential components of a civilized life. And by “civilized,” I don’t mean some high-flown exercise in outmoded rituals but a life worth living. It’s not enough merely to survive—any brute can do that, given a modicum of luck. I want to thrive and to do that, I have to pay attention to the things that give daily life a shape that is rewarding both spiritually and aesthetically.

An added benefit is that the restraint required by good manners, clean language and decent dress is also a good exercise in humility. I could exercise the right to “self-expression” that modern liberalism has so disastrously promoted for the past few decades. I choose not to, because when I exercise self-restraint instead, life is that much more pleasant for me—and for those around me.

Of course, I’ll gladly cast all that civility to the winds once Austerism over the West is established and you put me in charge of the gulag.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 02, 2008 10:53 AM | Send

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