The common project of liberals and atheists
The aggressive, God-hating New Atheists are not liberals per se. Many of them, such as the contributors at Secular Right, even call themselves conservatives. However, there is a fundamental analogy and overlap between liberalism on one hand and aggressive atheism on the other. The two ideologies share a common enterprise, aiming at the same ultimate end.
Alan Roebuck said, in a great, clarifying insight, that the essence of liberalism is the denial of the God of the Bible. Now, liberals don’t ordinarily make this denial explicit. They will distinguish between progressive, liberal Christianity, which is good, and “fundamentalist, creationist Christianity,” which is vile. They will say that they believe in God, but not an “old man with a white beard,” by which they really mean a God who is true and whose truth makes claims on us. But all this boils down, as Mr. Roebuck said, to rejection of the God of the Bible.
So the true but generally unstated core of liberalism is rejection of God. And which group is it that makes the rejection of God, the war against God, explicit? The aggressive atheists. So the atheists are the pioneers, the ideological vanguard, the armed force, of liberalism.
That’s one point of common belief and purpose.
Here is another. Liberalism, as I define it, is the denial of any truth higher than the human self. From this denial comes the belief in the equality of all human selves and human desires, and the liberal program of rejecting the order of being, meaning the divine order, the social order and the natural order, all the dimensions of reality that are external to the human self. Under liberalism, the only legitimate order is a bureaucratic and technical apparatus aimed at supplying everyone’s needs and ensuring everyone’s equality.
Now, what do the atheist materialists do? Just as liberals refuse to recognize anything higher than the human self, the atheists refuse to recognize anything higher than matter. Just as liberals flatten the world down to desires, the atheists flatten the world down to particles and genes. They deny not only the divine order, but the social order, since any social order recognized by the atheists only came into existence by the accidents of mutations plus natural selection, and such a society cannot be considered as reflecting any instrinsic order. That leaves only the natural order, but in a desiccated, reduced state, in which, for example, the natural differences between male and female do not express inherent male and female natures, but arose from an accidentally unfolding process of variation and natural selection among our hunter-gatherer ancestors 50,000 years ago. Thus, beyond the level of molecules and differential survival rates, the dogmatic materalist atheists deny the entire order of natural and human existence. They close out, they exclude, they HATE, any reality higher than that which can be expressed in terms of genetic accidents selected via the survival of the fittest. They are at war with the structure of the world as normal human beings experience it.
Thus, once again, the dogmatic materialists are super liberals. They reduce the world even more than the liberals do. The liberals believe in the primacy of human desire and choice. But the materialist atheists deny even the possibility of choice, seeing humans as machines determined by the past natural selection of accidental genetic mutations. They deny consciousness, except as an epiphenomenon of matter, and thus they deny the experienced reality of the human self; and, further, they call anyone who insists on the non-material reality of his own consciousness a “pre-rational,” an inferior human, who has no place in modern society.
This leads to the next area of commonality between liberals and materialist atheists. While the atheists are engaged in a mounting attack on the facts of the world that normal people recognize, including valuation, judgment, and choice, they reserve for themselves the right to make the most sweeping valuations and judgments. They seek to strip the world of meaning as other people experience it, to turn the world into a desert for other people, while they, the atheists, assert the meanings they believe in. Of course, given their denial of the reality of human consciousness as anything other than a movement of particles, they have no right to assert any meaning, any valuations, any preferences. But they do it anyway. Their reductionism would expel from the world all familiar values held dear by other people, while, in one huge, unprincipled exception, they grant themselves the freedom to make withering value judgments on other people, namely religious believers, and to urge the kind of society that they would find amenable.
So the New Atheists are, in essence, totalitarians. Which explains their brutal manners, their denial of any respect, any human recognition, to anyone not of their ilk.
In the same way, liberals prohibit a vast range of normal and traditional human choices as wicked intolerance, as oppressive assertions of power, while seeking for themselves total power over society. They condemn normal discriminations and value judgments as evil—which is, of course, a valuation. The liberals get away with this by claiming that their power to condemn and prohibit is not power and therefore is not oppressive, because what they are doing is simply assuring the equality of everyone’s choices.
While liberals for the most part do not openly attack God and religion per se, the removal of God, and of any source of moral authority outside liberalism, is central to the liberal enterprise of gaining total control over humanity. The materialist atheists, by attacking God and religion directly, serve as the vanguard of this totalitarian project.
An earlier version of the above essay was sent as an e-mail to some correspondents on February 21. Kristor immediately replied:
OK, reality is mental. When your message came in, I had just typed the following in a message to you:LA replied:
So you had brought together the liberals and the anti-theists at the same moment I did.Hannon writes:
Thank you for your explication of the martial atheist forces. Something was bugging me about the tenability of the whole conservative-atheist innovation. I’m sure this frustration was apparent in my commenting on SR. Your getting to the quick of it saved me a lot of time and trouble. This was the key sentence for me I think:Brandon F. writes:
Excellent, excellent, excellent. This, along with your Nietzsche analogy, is why I read you. I don’t always agree with you but when I do I feel am raised to another level of awareness.LA replies:
Thank you. I don’t remember offhand on which issues you disagree, but don’t hesitate to express your disagreements.March 2
Brandon’s reply is posted here.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 28, 2009 11:20 AM | Send