How liberal society consumes itself
While I’ve had a conservative viewpoint for most of my (short) adult life, it finally clicked to me the greatness of traditionalism versus the liberal worldview and assumptions of today.
It came to me when I was mentally contrasting progressivism and traditionalism in the simplest terms possible. While “progressive” in today’s parlance means a whole slew of things (more rights for gays, more equality for women, encouraging miscegenation, etc.), simply put, progressivism is the belief or assumption that society gets better as time moves forward.
The problem with progressivism becomes clear when stretching this assumption to its logical extremes. We (or rather, liberals) can say that society has progressed over the span of 100 years. However, the progressive assumption tells us that 100 years from now we will have progressed farther than we are right now, and the liberals of 100 years from now will speak about how we didn’t give homosexuals the ability to breed genetic offspring (or something to that effect; I think a note about how science and technology are being hijacked to reshape the world to how we see fit is best left for another discussion). And a millennium now, people will talk about the backwardness of people from a hundred years from now. etc.
The progressive flaw is the lack of a grounding set of ideals, like philosophy or religion. Progressivism’s only grounding belief is in itself, and that is circular. Traditionalism, on the other hand, maintains a set of cultural, moral, societal, and religious beliefs and practices and dictates that people should hold fast to these beliefs.
Liberals sneer at traditionalists for “fearing change,” but it is precisely the immutability of a traditionalist’s grounding principles that give him his strength.
Well put. Of course, society is always changing, is becoming different. The different stages of society are like the different cultures that exist in the world. Just as the existence of different cultures does not cancel out the existence of objective moral truth that is common to all cultures but that is expressed differently in each culture, the fact that society is always changing does not cancel out the underlying truth in relation to which each stage of the society finds its order.
As you pointed out, under the progressivist view, each new stage of progress is announced as great compared to everything that came before it, which is now seen as worthless and bad. But in ten years or twenty years, what is now seen as so great will also be seen as worthless and bad. Under progressivism, there is no enduring good.
Further, under progressivism, as I’ve written before, each new advance of progressivism is seen as discrediting all the previous advances. Thus when Nancy Pelosi became Speaker, it was portrayed as though ONLY NOW were women becoming equal and no longer oppressed, which meant that all the PREVIOUS advances in women’s equality and freedom, which had been treated as a very bid deal when they happened, were now worthless. The same with Obama’s becoming president. In order to make his election seem the greatest thing that had ever happened, all the advances of black equality preceding his election had to be devalued. Only NOW was America fulfilling its promise. But then Obama adds that America has STILL not fulfilled its promise. When Sotomayor was confirmed, he said it brought us closer to the day when America’s promise will be fulfilled. So we’re still no good.
Liberalism doesn’t just cast the non-liberal historical achievements of our society into outer darkness; liberalism casts its own past achievements into outer darkness. Liberalism is a shark consuming the universe; it validates itself in each moment by devaluing everything outside itself, and then devaluing itself as well.
Ingemar P. replies:
By way of humor, I once illustrated the flaw of progressivism to my father shortly after Barack Obama was elected. I pointed out Americans were thrilled at having their first black president, but pointed out that he’s only half black. I then said, “America still needs to elect a full black president! Then a full black female president! Then a full black lesbian president! Then a full black transgendered quadriplegic president!” etc. etc.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 03, 2009 11:45 AM | Send
And kudos for that Palahalli post. I’ve read of other South Asian traditionalist conservatives (Bhanu Prasad comes to mind), and while their traditions and standards obviously differ from ours, they see eye to eye with us the importance of maintaining tradition in the face of liberal destruction.