Wanting it all

Dimitri K. writes:

Regarding the entry “Feminists howling at the moon,” I think that this sort of behavior is typical for all groups who are fighting for their “rights.” They want to have a right to behave some special way, but not to be judged by their behavior. One example is homosexuals: they want to behave openly as homosexuals, but want all others, including military, to treat them as if they are not. You may add examples at your own choice.

- end of initial entry -

November 2

Kristor writes:

On the subject of feminists who want sexual liberation but simultaneously don’t want men to look at women as sexual objects, Dmitri K. and Mark Richardson have noticed an endemic symptom of liberalism. Liberals are gnostics, in that they want everything perfect, and anything less than perfection constitutes for them an intolerable state of affairs. But, furthermore, perfection for the liberal does not mean what it did for the ancient Greeks and Hebrews. It does not mean balance, moderation, or Justice. It is not the Greek krasis,– the proper mixture or harmony of things—nor is it the Hebrew notion of Providence, in which, as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said, there is a time for every purpose under the Heaven. For the liberal gnostic, perfection is the maximum of every good thing, right now, and even when those goods are contradictory. They want to have their cake and eat it, too; and the rigors and disappointments of actual existence, which require a decision between this partial, imperfect good or that, are intolerable to them. Thus last summer I commented:

Liberal gnostics want all the possible goods, without recognizing that there cannot be such a thing as a world in which all goods are compossible. So, e.g., they want cheap gas, but they don’t want domestic drilling; they want to encourage people to reduce gas consumption and seek alternatives, but they want cheap gas; they want to tax the bejesus out of the oil companies, but they want cheap gas. They want to stop burning coal, but don’t want to build nuclear plants, or site windmills where they might kill some birds. They want the poor to stop being poor, but they don’t want anyone to do well. They want the Grand Canyon to be wheelchair accessible, but they want to reduce public access to the Grand Canyon. They want religious freedom, but they don’t want religion to constrain anything. They want the government to make us all perfectly safe, but they don’t want the government to do anything at all that would interfere with anyone’s freedoms anywhere. The logical endpoint of all this is the destruction of humanity as a blot upon the earth. But that would be evil, too.

When you want everything, and can’t see why you shouldn’t get it, nothing you actually get is any good. That’s why liberals keep saying that the whole history of human progress so far is but dross, compared to the New Age they would now usher in.

LA replies:

“The logical endpoint of all this is the destruction of humanity as a blot upon the earth.”

Just this morning I saw something by a left-wing columnist in the Guardian (I forget where I saw it) saying that if the Brits are concerned about stopping global warming, they have to stop reproducing, since each Briton has a huge “carbon footprint.” His drift was that humans are, quite literally, a blot—a “carbon footprint”—on the earth.

On your larger point, I think you’ve just added an important insight to our understanding of liberalism. I’ve often said that liberalism begins with the rejection of any higher or transcendent truth and the assertion of the equal value of all human selves and desires. But now let’s look at that idea more closely in light of your comment. The rejection of any higher truth has two effects: (1) it means that all desires are equal, because there is no higher principle by which desires can be ordered in a rank of better and worse; and (2) it means that there is no higher principle by which desires can be constrained or limited. Thus the result of the liberal rejection of the transcendent is that all desires must equally fulfilled, and be fulfilled to the maximum.

However, on another point, I don’t quite get how demanding the equal and total fulfillment of all desires leads to the demand for the destruction of humanity. Could you fill in that part of the logic?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 01, 2009 07:47 PM | Send

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