On the strength of Adrian Vermeule’s review last month (“Liturgy of Liberalism,” January 2017), I picked up Ryszard Legutko’s The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Legutko sees many parallels between the communism that dominated the Poland of his youth and the political-social outlook now treated as obligatory by Eurocrats and dominant in America, which he calls “liberal democracy.”
One parallel struck me as especially important: “Communism and liberal democracy are related by a similarly paradoxical approach to politics: both promised to reduce the role of politics in human life, yet induced politicization on a scale unknown in previous history.” We’re aware of the totalitarian dimension of communism. But liberalism? Isn’t it supposed to be neutral with respect to substantive outlooks, endorsing only the constitutional and legal frameworks for free and fair political debate? Actually, no. Liberals always assert that liberalism is the view of politics, society, and morality “most adequate of and for modern times.”
This gives liberalism a partisan spirit all the more powerful because it is denied.
Although such words as “dialogue” and “pluralism” appear among its favorite motifs, as do “tolerance” and other similarly hospitable notions, this overtly generous rhetorical orchestration covers up something entirely different. In its essence, liberalism is unabashedly aggressive because it is determined to hunt down all nonliberal agents and ideas, which it treats as a threat to itself and to humanity.
Liberalism, Legutko points out, is committed to dualism, not pluralism. He gives the example of Isaiah Berlin, who made a great deal out of the importance of the pluralism of the liberal spirit. Yet “Berlin himself, a superbly educated man, knew very well and admitted quite frankly that the most important and most valuable fruits of Western philosophy were monistic in nature.” This means that liberalism, as Berlin defines it, must classify nearly the entire history of Western thought (and that of other cultures as well) as “nonliberal.” Thus, “the effect of this supposed liberal pluralism” is not a welcoming, open society in which a wide range of substantive thought flourishes, but “a gigantic purge of Western philosophy, bringing an inevitable degradation of the human mind.”—R.R. Reno
Speaking of bad fruit... .
Another fascinating read, mentioned by Ross Douthat and others, is a New York Times No. 1 bestseller by Jonah Goldberg. Liberal Fascism sets the record straight on who, exactly, the real fascists among us (and sitting on top of us and attempting to crush us) are.
Excerpt from an article in the Spectator.
Goldberg is a New York Jew and growing up as a conservative in Manhattan’s impeccably liberal, Jewish Upper West Side, he said he often felt like a Christian in Ancient Rome. At school and university, whenever he spoke in favour of tax cuts or a free market economy, the response was invariably the same. ‘Nazi’, he was called. Or ‘fascist’. By the time he was established as a contributing editor to National Review, he’d had quite enough of this. He spent four years researching and writing the book which would put the record straight.
What he found astonished him. Nazism and fascism, it turned out, were closer kindred spirits of Soviet communism (and modern socialism and atheistic secularism!) than he could ever have imagined. The first expressed itself through ideas about racial purity and Jew-hatred, the second with ideas about the primacy of the nation, but in most other respects they were all remarkably similar: seizing the means of production; empowering the masses; rule by experts; the elevation of youth and brute emotion over wisdom, tradition and intellect; the submission of the individual to the will of the state. As Goldberg wryly puts it, ‘The Nazis were not big on property rights and tax cuts.’
You wonder why no one has made this point properly before. ‘Yeah, that’s what one of my reviewers said: “That sound you can hear is the sound of millions of conservatives slapping their foreheads and going: ‘Why didn’t I write this book?’”’ says Goldberg. ‘So much of this information was low-hanging fruit. It really wasn’t hard to find.’
He has certainly plucked some gorgeous peaches. Here, for example, is what sounds like a spokesman for the animal rights advocacy group PETA: ‘How can you find pleasure in shooting from behind cover at poor creatures browsing on the edge of a wood, innocent, defenceless and unsuspecting? It’s really pure murder!’ In fact this is Heinrich Himmler talking. And compare and contrast — well, compare mainly — the attitudes of our current nanny state on everything from child obesity to non-smoking to those in the Hitler Youth manual: ‘Food is not a private matter!’ ‘You have the duty to be healthy.’
Elsewhere, Goldberg points out that it was liberals — not conservatives — who were the biggest advocates of eugenics; that America’s most racist (and fascistic) president was the arch-liberal Woodrow Wilson; and that during the supposedly wondrous New Deal of the beloved liberal president FDR, an immigrant dry-cleaner could have his door kicked in and be imprisoned for cleaning suits for five cents less than the agreed government minimum, while Nuremberg-style rallies — prompting a visiting British Independent Labour MP to complain it all felt far too much like Nazi Germany — were staged in New York.
Goldberg’s purpose is not to argue that liberals are bad people, still less that they’re all closet fascists. But he does want them to realise that people in glass houses are scarcely in the ideal position to throw stones. ‘I’m not a big believer in guilt by association. But their lack of self-awareness about the demons in their own midst is really astounding.’
But then, he argues, the problem with liberals is that they’ve always been so convinced of their moral righteousness that they never feel the need to analyse their position too deeply. Conservatives are continually agonising among themselves about precisely what the role of government should be — ‘where to draw the line between freedom and virtue’. For leftists, the dogma is settled: ‘Government should do good where it can, whenever it can, period.’—James DelingpoleGoldberg exposes the self righteousness that blinds liberals to the role they are playing in creating fascist societies where, among many other transgressions against common sense and inalienable rights occur, bias response teams (BRTs) are formed on campuses to facilitate the exposure of threats to the liberal agenda.
(T)he University of Northern Colorado made headlines after a student submitted a bias incident report about a professor’s in-class discussion encouraging students to consider opposing viewpoints as well as an article on the subject co-authored by FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff. An administrator then warned the professor that further discussion of controversial subjects in class would invite more aggressive investigation.—FIRE/17-FEB-2017Bias response teams—do they not sound like the creation of another fascist ideology? Are they not Brownshirts in modern guise? Hitlerjugend, vielleicht?
The Liberal (c)hurch
Attacks by liberals are being keenly felt among the Tradition-minded in the Church. Less than a generation ago, the socialism of liberal progressives was seen for the threat it posed to authentic catechesis, even if many in the Church did little or nothing to counter it. Some aspects of "Liberation Theology" (LT) are viable. However, its South and Central American varieties among gun toting thugs, among them a few misguided Jesuits, LT was rightly condemned by Pope Saint John Paul II as mere Marxism cloaked in a chasuble.
Was the Theology of Liberation a movement somehow "created" by Sakharovsky's part of the KGB, or it was an existing movement that was exacerbated by the USSR?
The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: Liberation Theology. During those years, the KGB had a penchant for “liberation” movements. The National Liberation Army of Columbia (FARC), created by the KGB with help from Fidel Castro; the “National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB with help from “Che” Guevara; and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), created by the KGB with help from Yasser Arafat are just a few additional “liberation” movements born at the Lubyanka — the headquarters of the KGB.It would seem that the scourge of Latin America has once again found favour among certain members of the hierarchy.
Liberal bishops and priests are responsible for alienating people from the Eucharist by slicing sacramental theology and Church discipline free of its moorings to authority, an authority established by Christ Himself.
Pope Benedict XVI saw clearly and wrote magnificently that a hermeneutic of discontinuity had partially replaced the Second Vatican Council's hermeneutic of continuity, i.e., continuity with Sacred Tradition. We are seeing the (final?) effects of that false hermeneutic that infiltrated the Church in the aftermath of the Council. Whether it is bishops teaching that it's acceptable for adulterers to receive Holy Communion, or other bishops attacking Tradition-minded Catholics and the Usus Antiquior (Extraordinary Form), or priests promoting lifestyles that the Church has always taught are gravely sinful, few can deny that the petulant insolence of the 1970s has once again raised its annoying head in certain precincts of the Catholic Church.
Will the disease of liberal fascism render the Catholic Church incapacitated? No. The Church is under the protection of the Holy Spirit. Other groups, non-Catholic groups, enjoy no such protection. The disintegration of protestantism, i.e., because of the protestant's full embrace of the liberal agenda (divorce and remarriage and other sinful lifestyles, contraception, abortion), is proof positive that groups not in communion with faithful Rome do not enjoy the defence (from heresy) of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus Christ (St Matthew 16:17-19).
Though Catholics are being tested to prove our faithfulness to the Lord's teaching, and we may have to watch in agony as some misguided clerics personally promote stupid and even false teachings, we can be certain the Lord will grant the necessary gifts of grace to fend off all attacks, and the Barque of Peter, the true and only ark of orthodoxy, having veered dangerously close to the shoals of heresy, will recover its course into open waters (... to face other storms).