Sunday, 22 March 2015

Individualism’s Wake: The Abyss - by Dr. Graham Lister








This article was originally posted at  Majority Rights

Fine Persecution — Every society has before it an ideal of the kind of society it ought to be, and every society, in order to uphold that ideal, needs to persecute those within it who are at odds with that ideal. Once again, however, the deep mendacity of liberalistic society manifests itself in that it denies the persecution which it carries out against its hated enemies, namely, those at odds with its ideal. This denial of the persecuted status of its enemies — along with the ridicule of them when they claim it — are additional elements for the intensifying of their persecution.

Specify, or Be Damned — Individualism does not specify itself to be in keeping with any particular society, or even with the existence of society at all, but rather it addresses itself only to an unspecified individuality. Such unspecification about what an individual should be is precisely at the heart of individualism’s boast about its being the friend and not the foe of the individual’s freely seeking to be and to do whatever he chooses. “Do what thou wilt”, it says, whereto it may add the black-box phrase, “so long as it harms none”. Now, given a teaching which says that everyone may do as he pleases, irrespective of all truth, reason, goodness, morality, tradition, authority, obedience, bonds, and so forth, “so long as it harms none”, and which, by its boasted lights, does not specify the kind of society which should be upheld, or even that any should be upheld, how is it that anyone could then come to the belief that it might after all stand as a pillar of any society, let alone a particular one, rather than being, as in truth it is, the rot upon all? One might say that here we are at the brink of sheer madness, inbequeathed through many years of listening to silly tales. But leaving aside an understanding of the teaching itself, which might conceivably have taken any name, the very name which it does carry gives us a clue to its drift, namely, that it seeks to uphold the unspecified individual, and not any society, specified or unspecified.
 

There are no ends specific to man as man, rather than to what he shares with mere beasts, which can be reached outside of his fellowship with his kind. No speech nor reasoning, let alone higher arts and sciences, would arise if all men stood from the first outside of fellowship. Every man began as a helpless baby and would have died were it not for the society of his kith and kin. Every man was without speech, and would have remained speechless were it not for the same. Every man was without schooling, and would have stayed unschooled. And so on. No man was ever born into a so-called state of nature, as first imagined by Thomas Hobbes, even if this be helpful as a conceptual threshold for the understanding that the closer a society comes in breaking down towards that threshold, the more brutish it becomes. It is nevertheless a figment which has led to misunderstanding and mischief, and it is from it that individualism has grown. Man’s state of nature is the state of society. Man has never been in the so-called state of nature; for he is by nature a social animal and has always been in fellowship. Individualists, having thoughtlessly taken all social things for granted, and having for the most part imbibed unawares some old spirit of seventeenth-century philosophy, often speak as though they rose out of the ground and shaped themselves in isolation, wherein we glimpse also the drunken idea of self-creation born of Romanticism.

But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. [1]

The liberal concept of man as selfstanding being, free to set his own moral ends, is one of the biggest untruths ever told — and yet folk swallow it whole, whereat we might take it that they are greedy for something.
 
Individualism is an emptiness which blights the field of personhood, turning men, if they can still be called such, into mere units of the mass to be gathered up in the total state. Man is a social animal; society is required to actualise a man’s potential as a person. There are no pre-social individual persons. In the light of this, we may see individualism as some deeply primitive recrudescence, the tendency of which is to destroy the very conditions by which one can become a human person. A man cannot be a person without the fellowship, community, or society that made him. Unsocialised, man’s potencies are not activated, and he stays at a level close to a beast, bereft of speech and reason, let alone partaking of the higher arts and sciences.
 
Individualistic societies are decomposing social bodies in which kinship-ties are loosened and even cut, and which can be held together only by an all-pervasive and socially-alien bureau-technocratic power — the “coldest of all cold monsters”. In defence of these societies, and, by extension, willing or not, of this bureau-technocratic power, liberals, who sometimes call themselves libertarians, claim the greater freedom of these societies, where the largely unexamined and fuzzily-held concept “freedom” is a multivariate reference, unspecified of what, for what, and to what. In individualistic societies there is more freedom in the direction of baser and thrilling appetites, non-specific to mankind, hence the appeal of this freedom to the mass of baser men; and it is these appetites which dissolve kinship and personhood, bringing even greater demands for individualism, which brings greater freedom in the direction of baser and thrilling appetites, and so on, in a downward spiral. In individual -istic societies, the freedom in personhood is much lowered, whilst the freedom in beasthood is heightened; and the bonds of kinship are cut whereby men would be men.
 
Liberals and libertarians, being the fiercest enemies of the freedom of personhood, and the strongest friends of the freedom of beasthood, that is to say, of the liberal haze-ideal of the “individual” whatever that individual may be, must be defeated if the freedom of the person as person is to be upheld. Liberalism, or rather its essential individualism, has a gut-feeling and a canny nose for the breaking-up of everything, even of the person, and it knows nothing of creation. The ideal of individualism can only belittle persons and bring to the fore a bulk of fittingly-blank individuals of the mass — fittingly blank for bearing the stamp of the bureau-technocratic regime.

The conformity that is forged today through the atomized individualism that strips men of their personhood has little to do with the collective identity for which men have always yearned. The conformity today is stopgap and takeover of this natural yearning. The atomised individual is stripped bare of his humanity —which has hitherto been actualised in society —and left adrift with his “freely-formed” and “chosen” opinions, which are in truth nothing of the kind. He cannot think for himself, only of himself, as he is suffering a loss. He rebels against conformity in conformity with everyone else.                        
As the subversive mind is essentially individualistic and isolationistic, so is it essentially collectivistic and identitarian: on the view inherent in it, the curse of division and of being ‘set against one another’ cannot be surmounted except by a ‘fusion into one’; an actual identification of consciousness, of qualities and of interest. In fact, individualism (tending towards egalitarianism) prefigures collectivism from the outset, and again, collectivism is only individualism raised to the high power of an absolute monism centered in ‘all and every one’. [2]

Individualism foreshadows mass-collectivism and the herd of ersatz ‘individuals’. With authorities and societies broken down, nothing stands in the way of pressing individual units of alienated humanity, hitherto existing as persons, into a mass, each homogen- ised unit shaped to fit and imprinted with a set of political ideas and economic desires.
 
The pluralism which accompanies individualism is a social dysfunction built on subject- ivistic-irrationalistic ethics. It denies that mankind has a nature and thereby a natural end to be fulfilled. Only by that denial does it make sense to say that everyone has a right to pursue any goals and practice any values which he pleases so long as he does not seek to foist them upon others. And how is that disorder to be managed? Why, by the totalitarian bureau-technocratic state of liberaldom! But of course it is not true that under liberaldom one can believe whatever one likes, nor especially what’s rational to believe. In liberaldom one can believe anything one likes so long as it makes no odds against liberaldom; one’s unliberal beliefs, if they can still bear that name, are to be mild quirks of the self, slight hues in an otherwise grey smear of bureaucratic massification.
                     
The task of liberalism from its beginning, namely, the search for neutral ground whereon the life of all mankind can rest, and whereupon everyone can seek his own ends, can find its end only in a true neutrality and indifference, and that is nowhere to be found in man except in his unpersonhood. Wherefore it is that liberalism’s struggle to settle the life of mankind can find its end only in the death of personhood; and it is for this reason that the struggle against liberalism is the final and most profound one. Liberalism is the greatest evil that mankind has yet faced, and there is almost no-one to withstand it. That lack of withstanding, owed to liberalism’s having swayed almost everyone to its side, is partly why it is the greatest evil.

1] Aristotle, Politica, Bk.I: 1253a:28-9, tr. B. Jowett, in The Works of Aristotle, Vol.X (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921).
[2] A. Kolnai, “Privilege and Liberty” (1949), in Privilege & Liberty & Other Essays in Political Philosophy, ed. D.J. Mahoney (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, ‘99), p.21-2.

“The modern world demands that we approve of what it should not even dare to ask us to tolerate.”
- Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Liberal Mockery of Rights and Duties. — The odd thing about liberals is that they believe they are being magnanimous and not absurd or malevolent in seeking to impose on everyone the non-existent duty of defending the non-existent right to falsehood, stupidity, vice, or whatever other depravities they cannot be bothered to oppose. [1] From their featherbrained credal belief that everyone has the right to believe whatever he wishes, it follows that everyone has the right to false and vicious beliefs, from which it follows in turn that everyone has the corresponding duty of defending the right of their maintenance and growth. Naturally there is no such duty and therefore no right to impose it. Given that every man has the duty and the right to pursue and uphold the true, the good, and the beautiful, it follows that he cannot also have the duty and the right to the contrary. [2] Where morality by reason imposes a duty, liberalism by whim imposes a mockery of it. In seeking to impose the mock-duty of defending the mock-right to the false, the bad, and the ugly, such that they flourish thereunder, liberalism shows itself to be the enemy of the true, the good, and the beautiful, that is to say, of knowledge, culture, society, personhood, and mankind itself, and it is consequently the duty of every man to oppose it.

[1] An example: Rod Liddle, “We must defend the right to be stupid, vile and obnoxious”, The Sunday Times, 17th January 2010. Tim Worstall calls Mr Liddle’s screed “impeccably liberal”, and he is right to do so: it is stupid and smug and seeks to spread its own miscreancy as widely as possible. (Tim Worstall, “One for the anti-Liddle crowd”, Tim Worstall (weblog), 17th January 2010.)

[2] For more depth and discussion, see: David S. Oderberg, “Is There a Right to be Wrong?”, Philosophy, 75 (2000), pp.517-537.
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From the psychological-engineering point of view, the liberal’s idea of tolerance is a remarkable one. It encourages him to feel magnanimity in upholding his own beliefs (however absurd or vile in reality) whilst damning all others, with little or no care for the truth or reasonableness thereof, which is to say, it encourages him to feel magnanimity in bigotry. Liberal bigotry is that wonderful state of mind in which one is compelled to call a bigot anyone who stands at odds with it, which is to say, it is bigotry made sublime. Or: the typical liberal is so great a bigot that he feels magnanimous as such.
 
There is, to be sure, much trouble with the use of the word “bigot” and its cognates: it has always been a word ripe for abuse, it is often used question-beggingly, and so the word has long been a favourite insult cast by bigots; and now, since it has been redefined in many minds to mean someone who does not hold liberal beliefs, the word has become even more fraught with communicative difficulties.
















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