Right-liberalism as a form of gnosticism

Normally we think of gnosticism (see VFR’s collection on the subject) as referring to ideologically extreme, usually left-wing, positions. But what about America’s own mainstream, “center-right,” “right-liberal” belief system—the belief that the goal of our society and of all humanity is the attainment and expansion of equal individual rights for all persons? It is disturbing to realize that right-liberalism is also gnostic. This was brought out in a discussion in February 2010. A reader remarked, on the subject of Muslim immigration and the need to stop and reverse it, “If we fail to restrict the immigration of people who want to harm our country, then we will never secure our freedom.”

To which I replied:

But this is the very thing that ideologically consistent right-liberals of all stripes, whatever they may call themselves—liberals, neoconservatives, mainstream conservatives, libertarians, Randians—cannot understand. Not only do they think that our country is defined solely by an abstraction, they also deny that the successful securing of the abstraction (“in order to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men”) depends on any concrete conditions. For them, the abstraction is independent of human qualities and cultures, independent of time and space, independent of material existence.

Thus right-liberalism reveals itself as a type of gnosticism. The right-liberal gnostic knows the secret of the universe, which is that freedom is the ultimate reality, universally valid for all humans; that all humans aspire to this freedom; and that America is the ultimate incarnation of this freedom and its guarantor for all of humanity. The right-liberal gnostic doesn’t need to know anything else. He doesn’t need to know about the practical and cultural conditions of freedom. He doesn’t need to know about other dimensions of existence apart from freedom. The blinding, revelatory truth that freedom is the ultimate reality and the destiny of all humankind, with America as its avatar, is all he needs to know.

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Jeff W. writes:

The E Pluribus Unum project, the project to make a united American people out of the various ethnicities and ethnic subgroups that live in United States, continues to be unsuccessful. Sectional rivalry, North against South, has existed since colonial days. Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and other ethnic groups each pursue their own agendas, as do industry and government groups. Because we live in a disunited state, Americans tend to view each problem in terms of the effects it has on their own group. When it comes to the Muslim question, some Americans would like Muslims to be their political allies. Others would like them thrown out.

The right-liberal stance is a stance favorable to business owners and managers, particularly those associated with large corporations and banks. Immigration is generally good for business because it creates a larger customer base. Immigration also pushes down wages, which benefits owners and top managers. I view right-liberal political pieties as providing ethical cover for immigration policies that favor these small groups and some others, but are contrary to the interests of most Americans.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 24, 2012 08:50 AM | Send

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