Leftism is not the state of nature

    A common rhetorical trick among leftists is to draw an equivalence between rejecting leftism and authoritarian governments.  They take an authoritarian government from the past or present which rejected leftism or existed before leftism and say that to go against leftism is to favor that government.  Bonald has an excellent post on this subject: "Rejecting the Enlightenment is only the beginning of thought" in which he writes: 

    "It is no doubt a great thing to free oneself from the cloud of humbug into which we are all born.  However, clearing one's vision is only the start of seeing; next we must actually look around.  One way that the Enlightenment controls the minds of billions, locking them into a degrading and absurd mental slavery, is by making people imagine that they know what's on the other side. 'Without the social contract ... tryanny!  Without separate of Church and state ... religious warfare!  Without feminism ... rape!  Without capitalism ... communism!  Without cosmopolitanism ... Nazis!  So love your chains, and repeat the slogans like a good boy.' "

    The refutation comes in next two paragraphs of the post:

    "However, those blinded by the Enlightenment have no idea what is on the other side.  How could they, with such a narrow, unimaginative, and parochial worldview?  In fact, the world of alternatives is vast, so vast that anyone beginning to step outside Enlightenment strictures should be warned that the greatest intellectual challenge is still ahead. 

    The key to rejecting liberalism (the political expression of the Enlightenment project) is to realize that it's all a swindle.  It claims to stand above every particular conception of the Good, granting freedom to all and favoritism to none, when in fact it imposes its own narrow vision on all of us.  Its claims to neutrality just mean that it gets to impose itself without every being forced to argue (or even assert) that its claims are objectively true, and that it never has to assume the responsibility that comes from being a recognized establishment."

    Related to Bonald's point, there is a similar assumption made by both leftists and even many non-leftists, which is that leftism is the "state of nature."  In other words, it is believed that leftism is just what happens when people are allowed freedom to choose what they wish.  Hence, any non-leftist society in history could only have come about by a forcible imposition from a government.  Therefore, any such society that has existed or could exist is illegitimate because it is a forced disruption of the state of nature.  

    But of course, this is completely false.  The sexual revolution provides a good example, because besides the fact that it is one of the linchpins of leftism, this assumption is particularly widespread in that case.  Even non-leftists who deplore the actual consequences of the sexual revolution still believe that it is natural.  

    But the problem is, the sexual revolution is about as far from the state of nature as you can get.  It is currently sustained by the most pervasive propaganda system ever devised.  Indeed, most people throughout their lives have been subjected to hundreds of hours of propaganda for the sexual revolution in ways both overt and covert through practically all mass media, social media, and official discourse.  And in addition to the propaganda, the sexual revolution is facilitated by efficient transportation, safety (from a world historical perspective), mass living conditions made possible by modern sanitation, and modern communications technologies, not to mention contraceptives.  In particular, modern transportation is often overlooked, but without it the sexual revolution in its current form would be almost impossible.  

    This is not to say that sanitation, peace, and transportation are bad because they are not.  But thinking through all the technologies needed in order for the sexual revolution as it currently is to exist reveals the falseness of the leftist claims that it is natural.  Not only that, one can look at the contradictory nature of leftists' own statements.  On the one hand, the SR is supposedly natural, but on the other hand we are told that it needs a vast apparatus to manage it safely.  And this even goes back to the beginning, with all the talk of "repression."  If people are repressed and this is truly unnatural, why need to argue against it?  On the other hand, if it's universal and needs to be confronted, doesn't that mean the supposed repression is natural?

    Similar considerations can be applied to other aspects of leftism.  

    As far as the belief that historical societies could only exist because they were forcibly imposed on their people, this is also completely false.  People really did think completely differently.

    For one thing, even though may governments of the past were authoritarian, their ability to control people at the micro level was far less than today.  To begin with, any propaganda before the mass communications of the 20th century was far more inefficient.  It was necessary to have people actually go out and tell people what they were supposed to hear and then repeat as necessary.  Furthermore, to compel the population to do something required physically forcing people.  This requires people to go about and do the forcing.  Of course it is true that the harsh punishments of many such societies were a powerful deterrent, but these societies could not exert widespread control of people's behavior at the micro-level; they simply did not have the manpower.  

    Furthermore, if a change in society truly is imposed only by the government, once that government goes away, the change will go away as well.  For instance, had Henry VIII been the only person who wanted to break away from the Catholic Church, once he died, England would have happily reverted to Catholicism.  Since that did not happen, we can assume there were many others who wanted to break away.  In other words, changes that are purely forced do not look the same as changes that are not.  

    Another example, borrowed from Bruce Charlton is Ancient Egypt.  As he has pointed out, this is pretty much the most conservative and stable society ever, existing for about 3,000 years.  Egypt certainly was authoritarian, with the pharaoh being regarded as a god and having immense power, but had the society as a whole been imposed on the populace purely through force, there is no way that it would have lasted so long with such stability.  

     

6 comments:

  1. Very true. Leftism is, the more advanced it becomes, based on a negative impulse of being 'against' all that is divinely created - including what is spontaneous and natural.

    Ahrimanic-bureaucratic evil thrives on the unnaturalness of the sexual revolution and leftism more generally; since it requires to be maintained by large scale and perpetual coercion from an un-opposably powerful central authority (world government).

    And, since it is primarily, motivationally oppositional - there is no end point to the process.

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    1. "Ahrimanic-bureaucratic evil thrives on the unnaturalness of the sexual revolution and leftism more generally"

      Good point. The very unnaturalness of leftism creates a feedback loop leading to more bureaucracy.

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    2. What I find dismaying is that so few leftists recognize it is going nowhere - except a state of perpetual (hence necessarily destructive) revolution against what is. So many people are by now so corrupted that they 'think' this is 'cool'. I regard it most post-sixties leftism as a roundabout rationalization of short-termist selfish hedonism - most clearly seen in theorizations of the sexual revolution, but also in the widespread 'radical chic' pose - which is as common on the secular right as on the mainstream left.

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  2. Great, many thanks. Is it possible to come to some clear definition of "leftism". To me the term is something quite different from liberalism, which again seems something other than "enlightenment thinking". Or are all of these joined at the rout? If so, what is their shared arch-concept?

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    1. I find it hard to define leftism precisely because it has been used in so many differnet contexts. But at this point, I view it as the ways of thinking and acting that are primarily oppositional to religion, nature, and tradition.

      I agree that liberalism and leftism are different. Unlike leftism, liberalism is not just oppositional; it has some positive projects. I view liberalism as focused on political freedom and impartiality in public life.

      Enlightenment thinking I would say is broader than liberalism in that it is focused on the underlying philosophy rather than organizing society and politics.

      I view leftism as inherently bad, but enlightenment thinking and liberalism as incomplete, but not bad in themselves. By neglecting religion and the deeper metaphysical issues, they were not able to provide strong motivation. Also, they were not inherently stable; they were a transitional phase, but people took what was happening at the time for absolute principals. This made them able to be co-opted and replaced by leftism.

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    2. Many thanks, this is very helpful, how true "By neglecting religion and the deeper metaphysical issues, they were not able to provide strong motivation."

      I completely agree with you, liberalism and enlightenment thinking, although I value them greatly, are not enough, they are only good when kept to their proper limits, defined by the spiritual hierarchy that provides an over-arching coherence.
      I also have no clear definition of Leftism, only that it seems to express an immaturity of soul, which in itself is not bad; what is bad is to make an immature soul a virtue and datum by which to arrange all of life.

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