What elite liberals think about life

Except for those fortunate few persons enjoying great stardom and wealth, human life is victimhood in a meaningless void. Benedict Carey writes in the August 18 New York Times:

Some athletes who have reached the pinnacle of their sports in the Beijing Games have rich lives awaiting at home, budding careers, university studies, families and children. A precious few, like the 23-year-old swimming star Michael Phelps, who Sunday completed his goal of a record eight gold medals in a single Games, can expect lucrative endorsement deals and years more of competing at top form.

But many others have surged to worldwide glory that will be short-lived, if intensely emotional, and they will soon be engulfed by the fog of open-ended uncertainty known as ordinary life. There are second and even third acts on the Olympic stage, but not many.

And notice how uncertainty about where one is headed in ordinary life, even if such uncertainly is only temporary, is an objection to ordinary life. Which implies that, if life were as it ought to be, everything would be certain.

How reminiscent this is of Washington Post reporter Dan Balz’s classically revealing liberal remark last October:

Rudolph W. Giuliani leads the race for the GOP presidential nomination… But the Republican contest remains unsettled just three months before the first votes will be cast…

Concerning Balz’s barely suppressed anxiety over the fact that that the 2008 Democratic race was still unsettled in October 2007, I commented,

Wow, that implies that the normal thing would be for the contest to be over with and settled, three months before anyone has voted…

As suggested by the Balz remark, liberals object to the very fact of uncertainty in human affairs. To liberals, uncertainty of outcome is tantamount to injustice. So they demand that everything be certain, secure, settled. This explains their desire for guaranteed wage, guaranteed job, guaranteed life. It explains the administered, unfree societies of Europe, where people can’t even be fired from jobs once they’re hired, and popular referenda are ignored if their results are not what the elite expected.

Liberals, in short, secretly desire a return to something like the medieval order. Now I’ve always been deeply attracted to the Middle Ages. But the communal order of medieval society was a divine order, organized around God and the Church. The stability of medieval society achieved its true meaning by pointing at a truth beyond the merely human. While medieval man could not readily change his earthly station in life, his life, his ordinary life, opened up to the divine at every point. By contrast, the stable order liberals seek is godless, centered around the guaranteed satisfaction of prosaic human desires.

Furthermore, liberals’ demand for security would seem to be radically contradicted by their unquestioning support for the transformation of their society via mass non-Western immigration and the importation of alien cultures. If they wanted the continuation of their present, pleasant way of life, would they be permitting the Islamization of Europe? Maybe they inchoately recognize that their godless liberal order is inherently unstable, and so they welcome the absolute stability and certainty of Islamic rule.

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Tim W. writes:

Liberals want people to be secure, but only within the context of a leftist utopian therapeutic state administered by them. That requires first wiping out Western Civilization, destroying the particular things which allowed people to be secure in the past. They thus import hundreds of millions of people from alien races and religions. They then demand that the traditions which historically made us feel secure be obliterated to accommodate our new fellow citizens. Add in the demands of feminism, and the insistence that deviant sexual minorities be accommodated, and the population loses any link to the past. Our traditions and accomplishments going back hundreds or even thousands of years are dismissed as racist, sexist, and homophobic. Our present status is seen as a constant quest to undo what we once were.

The idea is to create so much discord, despair, rootlessness, and lack of tradition in society that people will eventually beg for a dictatorship, which the left feels quite qualified to administer. Witness Obama’s empty-eyed college student supporters, who have no sense that they are a part of any particular nation or civilization. They just want to be part of The One, an amorphous Shangri-La where everyone is happily taken care of, and from which no one can escape or even dissent.

Peter G. writes:

Was just reading your blurb on what liberals think about life while listening to the drone of Fox “news” in the background. The story was about a town in Australia soliciting so called less attractive women for their equally less attractive men. It’s funny, as I’ve always perceived a correlation between what is labeled as liberalism and the beauty cult that grips our civilization. After all if you’re attractive, it’s settled for life within your generation of peers.

It seems obvious that to a mind possessed of an exclusively materialist value hierarchy, beauty is the only legitimate metric.

I couldn’t help but notice how animated the whole crew of characters became when discussing this, they all resonated that if there’s anything that’s truly transcendent and settled amongst them was their shared gift of attractiveness. They could hardly contain themselves is expressing their right to a superior station granted by an accident of genetics and a contempt for any who would think otherwise.

What makes it most sinister is the derisive attitudes they harbour towards fellow humans who don’t have the gift, thus exposing them to what you describe as an “uncertain” life. They were openly contemptuous of men and women who may chose a partner based on any standard other than extreme physical beauty. That was seen as cop out, an illegitimate excuse for not having the only authentic standard of physical appearance appeal.

I’ve witnessed this phenomenon at the university I work at; our management staff reflects the image of a fashion show rather than ordinary life.

One thought is that the ancient natural aristocracy is attempting to reassert itself as the dominant ruling force under the banner of liberalism. The gun and the bow set us free from these bullying characters a long time ago, which is one reason liberals expend so much legislative effort to disarm us.

Their bottom line: if you’re not cute, you’re out.

Dimitri K. writes:

It’s a great point! I also have long been suspecting that what leftists actually want, though probably don’t understand themselves, is a return to the traditional, probably tribal order. A couple of feminists who I talked with were actually not against polygamy, but they wanted a secure marriage, especially secure financially. Many educated women who failed to get married, do not want to have “choice” but rather a patriarchal marriage. Communists in Russia used to talk about space exploring and science, but introduced discrimination in favor of primitive tribal peoples. As for modern liberals, it seems to me that they want to be a sort of ruling class in a multicultural tribal society, like medieval India.

Hannon writes:

Peter G.’s tangent about the role of beauty in modern social terms was interesting. But is what he describes not another classic unprincipled exception from the Left? The mere assignation of beauty, let alone ranking and comparative judgment, are the ultimate in subjective discrimination.

I suspect we commonly use the labels “beautiful” and “ugly” to subconsciously represent “good” and “evil”, respectively, and that this is underlain by an ancient, ingrained human psychology. On this deeper level, beauty is an important piece of evidence for transcendent truth. Materialists will designate attractive and unattractive in their daily lives but ultimately must discard or suppress them since they cannot be quantified or otherwise accommodated by science. Since this is unlikely to occur, these concepts will continue to vex those who seek the equalization of everything. Therefore beauty, as well as her counterpart in ugliness, serves as a bulwark against atheism and as a key standard of traditionalism.

LA replies:

The very first article in which I used the phrase “the unprincipled exception”, in June 2002, had to do with the description of a seven year old black girl as “pretty.” I asked: by what right do we privilege one little girl for being pretty over other little girls who are not? According to liberalism, any such compliment violates the belief in human equality and should be prohibited. But humans—including liberals—cannot cease to like and value good looks. So they make an unprincipled exception to their own liberalism when it comes to beauty.

We must not allow them to do that. We should force them to see that every time they admire good looks they are transgressing their liberal principles. And then, because the valuation of beauty is something they are unable to give up, and because it also contradicts their liberalism, this may ultimately make them see that liberalism itself is false and so to renounce it.

Mack writes:

I think what Dimitri K. says probably comes closest to the truth:

“I also have long been suspecting that what leftists actually want, though probably don’t understand themselves, is a return to the traditional, probably tribal order.”

This implies a dialectic thinking wherein the state of contemporary liberalism will not lead down the road to Marxist utopia but instead result in a radical deconstruction of the current order, ultimately a return to primitivism. I can’t imagine that this is what liberals want—I would posit that “elite liberals” can’t be accurately described as wanting any unified outcome at all. The problem with the label of “elite liberal” is that the type of people whom I presume to make up this class is far too heterogeneous to be said to be pursuing the same ideologically inspired outcomes. The only correctly applied generalization that can be applied to “elite liberals” is a desire to preserve and increase status—the same is true for all elites.

My point is that “liberal elites” don’t want to return to tribalism any more than “conservative elites” desire to implement authoritarianism—although arguments might be made in favor of the notion that these states may result if either ideology were to be followed as its most doctrinaire adherents propose.

LA replies:

I am puzzled by Dimitri’s comment. However, I don’t agree with Mack that it is impossible to make generalizations about what elite liberals want.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 19, 2008 06:34 AM | Send

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