When did modernity begin? This is a complex question and one that doesn’t have a fixed date. Some date it back to the creation of the printing press, others the Protestant Reformation, others still the French or Industrial Revolutions. Yet others claim it was a result of the Enlightenment or Renaissance. While the answer to this question is beyond the scope of the present discussion, its consequences are central: the slow but complete inversion of the worldview and value system our civilization was founded upon, completely rupturing it – not only from every civilization that preceded it but from its very past – thus creating a society that is a historical aberration. Where the Traditional civilizations of the past – including that of the West – valued continuity, stability and honoured custom, the civilization of modernity values constant change, volatility, and transgressive disruption. Where Traditional civilization gives its people an embedded identity based on lineage and established social roles, modernity seeks to sever these ties in the name of “liberation”, deracinating its citizens, stripping them of any substantive sense of place in the world. The result is modern man’s lack of orientation in the world – a sense of stability and rootedness that comes from being grounded by an embedded identity and knowing one’s place in the social order – leaving him rudderless and isolated in an “all against all” economic struggle as our civilization slowly unravels.
However, the way in which modernity differs most significantly from Traditional civilization is its view of the sacred. While Traditional civilization puts man’s relationship with the divine and the sacred at its very centre, modernity relegates these concerns to the sidelines, focusing instead upon concepts such as “innovation” and “progress”.
As such, the old beliefs, customs, and ways of life – many of which were destroyed or forever altered by the disruptive events that gave birth to the modern age – no longer held sway over the minds of men. Therefore new belief systems arose – appropriate for the new age that the befuddled masses now found themselves in.
This was the birth of the modern ideology.
In the Modern Age, there have been two primary ideologies: liberalism and Marxism.
Some readers might ask, “What about Third Position ideologies?” We won’t be looking at Fascism for several reasons, one of which being that Fascism, because of its role as a historical demon in contemporary mainstream political discourse, acts much like a funhouse mirror. One can see almost anything one wants in it. Do you want to see it as progressive and modern? There’s definitely a case for that. Do you want to see it as reactionary and Traditional? One can make the case for that too. This is due to two reasons, one being that World War II has become something of a foundational myth for the postwar international order led by the United States. This mythicizing of the Second World War has supercharged the subject emotionally, robbing popular discussion of any objectivity. Both sides of the contrived political spectrum project their hates and fears on the defeated powers of WWII. This was made easier by the fact that the Fascist movements of the interwar era were made of many different and contradicting strands, be they Christian (Protestant or Catholic), neo-pagan, or esotericist. There were idealists and there were racial Darwinists. Those movements were a grab bag of different beliefs, and one can find almost whatever one wants, depending upon where one sets his gaze. Another reason that Fascism won’t be discussed here is that it is effectively dead. Other than on the internet, you won’t find it anywhere. You won’t find political parties in power anywhere in the world that openly appeal to the writings of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler.
In many ways Fascism was a historical aberration, Traditional forces made common cause with nationalist revolutionaries in an effort to come to terms with the Modern Age.
In Italy, where Fascism ruled for 20 years, its dictatorship was under the ruling monarch, and the Iron Guard in Romania were Orthodox who were loyal to the monarchial principle, and in Spain Franco, while leaving the throne empty during this lifetime declared Spain a Catholic state and a monarchy, declaring himself Regent. Only Germany bucked this trend, being the most modernist of Third Position states, even though many of the Prussian officer class found themselves as prominent members of the state. While it’s true that Fascism was far from being completely Traditional, it also wasn’t fully modern. It was a confused attempt to mount a challenge against the most destructive tendencies of modernity embedded in the twin modernist ideologies of liberalism and Marxism.
The last half of the twentieth century saw a nuclear showdown between the forces of liberalism – in the form of the US and its “allies” – against the forces of Marxism – in the form of the Soviet Union and its client-states. Because the stakes of the Cold War were so great (the possibility of a nuclear war, the result of which would have been an apocalyptic disaster), it’s not surprising that the popular image of these ideologies is as mortal enemies, when the reality is that they are mere rivals, each competing to be the driver of modernity so as to achieve the same utopian ends, only by different means.
Liberalism was the original revolutionary ideology – kings, priests and aristocrats were murdered by bloodthirsty mobs in the name of the bourgeois values of individualism and the so-called “Rights of Man”. The Traditional European order of crown and altar was burned in successive waves of revolution, first in the European colonies of the New World, then in France; later subsequent revolutions burned across the Eurasian continent. Revolutionary republicanism destroyed the institution of monarchy in favour of an evermore secular order where in theory the ruling principle became democracy – rule by the people for the people – but in practice it simply became rule by monied interests, as has become evermore blatant as time has gone by.
After liberalism went from revolutionary republicanism to being the status quo ideology of the West, a new revolutionary challenger – Marxism – entered the scene. Many people whose families had been peasants for generations were forced into the newly industrialized cities to find work in an environment that was both foreign and hostile after the fall of the feudal order and land enclosure policies were enacted across Europe.
These unwashed and uprooted masses fled to the cities and became the new urban proletariat. This uprooting of a formerly peasant population, coupled with the deprivation and wanton cruelty that was the lot of a newly proletarian worker, had a profound effect on the perception and worldview of the former peasant population, who lacked even the basic guarantees that they would have had under feudalism. It was under this grim circumstance that Marxism began to find a following in the degraded lives of early modern industrial workers. Thus a new revolutionary movement – Marxism/ socialism/communism – rose to prominence among the lower classes, promising to solve the contradictions of liberalism.
Since then, liberalism has become the default ideology of the Americanized Western world, striving to put the entire globe under the aegis of its nihilistic neoliberal ideology, and thus under the dominion of its plutocrats and their insatiable greed. Marxism, on the other hand, has been the state ideology of two challengers to the global supremacy of Western liberalism, first that of the USSR during the Cold War, and today it is still the official ideology of China. (Although despite being the official state ideology, it is debatable to what degree Marxism is functionally operational in the country as the Chinese government has increasingly promoted ideas deemed by orthodox Marxists as bourgeois – including nationalism, entrepreneurship, and personal innovation.) Domestically, Marxism, while beginning as the ideological justification for the radical wing of the early Western labour movement, has massively grown in influence and proven itself to be a powerful meta-narrative, which has created a cohesive theoretical framework for the progressive understanding of history, politics, and social relations.
Indeed, it would be difficult to overestimate the influence of Marx and his successors.
Marxist rhetoric has seeped into the social discourse on almost every issue, as it is one of the intellectual roots of the ideological paradigm of intersectionality – colloquially known as “wokeism” – which today is evangelized with increasing zealotry by every social institution and centre of power, and as such has become a mainstay of Western academia, both on its own and as part of the framework of intersectionality. In fact, most subjects within the social sciences have a Marxist interpretation, which is taught as a valid academic point of view on many disciplines – such as in the case of international relations for instance.
For two hundred years now, Marxism has been the ideological engine of progressive radicalism. Meanwhile, liberalism (particularly classical liberalism) has been the rearguard holding up its flank. While fierce competitors between themselves, this dichotomy will work hand in hand to destroy any movement, group or set of ideas that challenge the assumptions of modernity and its project of perpetual social upheaval.
Anything that is truly a challenge to the project of modernity will be systematically attacked from both sides and destroyed in the name of all that is modern, progressive, and liberationist.
Marxism and Revolutionary Liberalism
There is an often overlooked continuity between liberalism and communism and, in many ways, Marxism is a more radical form of liberalism in that it takes many of the propositions of liberalism to a greater extreme, even if it adds its own particular worldview. If liberalism promises liberty, fraternity and equality, Marxism takes these propositions to their logical conclusions. Where liberalism promises liberty, in freedom from positive obligation, Marxism promises freedom from this as well as material want. Where early liberalism promised a vague patriotic camaraderie, Marxism promises universal brotherhood and comradeship without tribal or class distinction. (Although today, neoliberalism seems to be doing a much better job of stripping human beings of these inherent and differentiating characteristics through mass immigration and global consumer culture).
Whereas liberalism promises equality under the law – in so far as it ushered in the abolition of noble privilege and opened up all professions to all individuals of talent – Marxism promises a completely classless society where hierarchy is, for all intents and purposes, abolished and no person stands above another in social privilege or economic advantage. Complete social equality.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t important theoretical differences between the two, aside from the obvious, such as classical liberalism’s focus on the bourgeois individual as the agent of progress – through his personal liberation to maximize profits on the open market, thus creating a more prosperous society over all; a rising tide lifts all ships according to liberals – compared to communism’s focus on the working class as the agent for progress by liberating the proletariat from material want through class struggle and revolution. However, both seek the same ends: a materialistic utopia achieved through constant social upheaval where the past is viewed contemptibly as a dark age of superstition and oppression that, through revolutionary struggle, was finally overcome. When looking through this lens, one can’t help but see the twin spirit of the two modernist ideologies.
There are other distinctions that are less obvious but more interesting as they highlight the twin spirit of the two modernist ideologies.
For instance, whereas early liberalism held on to some residual traces of the Traditional social order, such as the recognition of the inherent qualitative reality of ethnicity and gender, Marxism took the dissolving nature of liberalism to its logical conclusion in regard to familial association and the nature of man. At first glance, it would appear that Marxism – being the more revolutionary of the two ideologies – has had a significant influence on modern liberalism, and thus seems to have pushed liberalism towards further radicalism. The fact that neoliberalism has shed any residual concern with quality – as seen in its obsession with victimhood as the only means of explaining unequal outcomes between men and women as well as different ethnic groups – and today is only focused on quantity, a characteristic it now shares with Marxism, only confirms this in the minds of many. However, this development was inevitable for several reasons, the most obvious of which being that such logic is baked into the liberal cake, for to deny this and to admit that certain groups are generally more suited to certain tasks would go against its very raison d’être. To do otherwise than to embrace the blank slate theory of human individualism that says group identity is a meaningless construct would be tantamount to justification for a natural aristocracy – such as the one destroyed by liberal revolutions – that opening all vocations to all applicants of talent was either unnecessary or even a bad idea. It would go against the very justification for liberal revolutions and as such would be a self denying contradiction.
Indeed, one of the inherent beliefs of orthodox Marxists is that human beings are a complete blank slate without preexisting tendencies or aptitudes, thus allowing them to be the perfect material to produce the new “Soviet Man”. Trofim Lysenko, Ukrainian fake scientist and all around crank in the Soviet Union, was a “biologist” who, while today completely discredited, for a time was a towering figure in Soviet biology. He often was referred to as a “dictator” because of the level of influence and control he was able to exert in the Soviet biological sciences of his era. Supported by Stalin, he would often denounce his critics as “imperialists” or “reactionaries”, leading them to either being expelled from their posts, imprisoned, or put to death.
Lysenko denied the existence of genes and didn’t believe that plants and animals had a stable and inherent nature based on a biology that was inherent and unchanging.
Instead he believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, which led to him believing he could change the very nature of biological organisms through pedagogy.
Lysenko, a fanatical ideologue, posited the idea that biology itself would bow to the necessities of communist ideology. In terms of propaganda, this of course was very convenient, as it made the USSR’s official view of the natural sciences compatible with communist ideology, and no doubt was good propaganda. However, it didn’t work out so well when it came to growing crops. Lysenko was an illiterate peasant and didn’t learn to read until he was thirteen years old. If reports by Soviet emigrants are to be believed, his crank theories by all accounts made a major contribution to the Soviet famine of the 1930s.
Indeed, many of Lysenko’s failed theories were taken up by Mao and the Chinese Communist Party, contributing to the mass starvations in China during the Great Leap Forward.
According to British author and foreign corespondent Jasper Becker: “Lysenko’s greatest triumphs came after the Second World War when he dreamt up the ‘Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature’. To create a new and warmer climate in the vast lands of Siberia, Lysenko proposed planting millions of trees. The peasants had to plant the seeds and saplings close together because, according to Lysenko’s ‘law of the life of species’, individuals of the same species do not compete but help each other survive. Naturally all the seedlings died…” [Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine]
Neoliberals have adopted a similar blank-slate theory of human nature, and prevalence of this aspect of their ideology has grown as intersectionality has become a more pronounced aspect of neoliberalism. Ideological dogmatism as well as political expediency have created the imperative to explain any differences in social outcomes – whether it be between men and women or different ethnicities – as a product of oppression and socialization. Neither neoliberalism nor communism offer any explanation of the observable social differences found between groups other than with oppression narratives. I am not even just talking about IQ or crime statistics here. In a previous piece, I discussed an article where a progressive pundit complained that “camping was racist” because not a lot of black people like to go camping. It is completely beyond such ideologues to even consider the possibility that black Americans may have an inherent disposition that leads them to be less likely towards a desire to go on a camping trip. Why do blacks have to go camping at the exact same percentage as whites? It seems to me that there is a modern pathology behind this, an obsession with conformity and standardization. No people or group is allowed to be unique; all of humanity must be an undifferentiated mass, and because “humanity” must encompass all people uniformly, oppression narratives are the only explanation allowed, lest distinction and differentiation rear their unwelcome head.
Advocates of liberalism might say that this proves communist infiltration and that neoliberalism isn’t “real liberalism.” Perhaps they might, like many communists, go so far as to say, “Real liberalism hasn’t been tried.” However, the seeds of progressive liberalism – far from being a corruption by Marxists – existed at liberalism’s very conception…
John Stuart Mill: The ‘Harm’ Principle and Experiments in Living
In his recent book Regime Change: Towards a Postliberal Future, Patrick Deneen, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, documents how much of progressive morality, whether justification for gay marriage or for sanctioning so-called offensive speech, can be traced back to the ‘harm principle’ as outlined by John Stuart Mill. Far from being a classical liberal, as he is almost universally categorized, Deneen makes the case that Mill is actually the very first progressive liberal with his contempt for “the despotism of custom” and advocation of “experiments in living”.
According to Deneen,
John Stuart Mill famously sought to replace justifications for the exercise of political power based upon appeal to objective standards of justice and right with more minimalist justifications based on the standard of perceived harm done by one person to another. Thus, laws and norms based upon an appeal to objective standards of how one ought to live were to be replaced by minimalist standards arguing that all beliefs, words, acts, and deeds should be allowed until and unless someone or some people were harmed by such activities.” [Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future]
Mill asserted that no restraint on individual action should be levelled at any individual because of custom or appeals to philosophical or theological virtue. The only restriction Mill recognized as being valid is to prevent harm to others. Undoubtedly, Mills meant this minimalist standard to appeal to people and property, and it’s a standard that’s been completely internalized in the liberal West.
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right … The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. [Regime Change, Patrick Deneen]
Before moving on, it’s important to address the central claim of John Stuart Mills here, that people should be able to do whatever they want so long as “nobody else is harmed”. This is such an absurd claim that it’s hard to believe any thinking person actually takes it seriously. Perhaps it was plausible when we were coasting on centuries of accumulated social capital, but as all that has begun to run dry it has become obvious that the permissiveness of vice, which is a defining characteristic of liberalism, has had a corrosive effect on the social commons we all inhabit. Whether it’s drug use, the sexual revolution and the subsequent disintegration of the family, or the numerous other costs externalized onto our civilization in the name of the liberation of the individual, it’s clear that the disintegrating tendency of liberalism has had a profoundly negative effect on the common good, and those most reliant upon it.
Today we see an increased proliferation of hard drug use and homelessness in urban centres, most particularly – but not exclusively – in those governed by progressive ideologues. Whether Vancouver or Seattle, these places have become havens for the worst aspects of society, where criminals harass the citizenry with impunity and drug addicts feel no compunction about selling or smoking crack as openly and freely as if they were smoking a cigarette, and if you have a problem with it, you’ll likely end up in a physical altercation with a drug-addled miscreant who has little to lose and no problem going to jail – where he can likely still get his fix. Homelessness has become an accepted way of life in such places. Subsidized by government social programs, vagrants set up camps or “tent cities” downtown, where they use their benefits to purchase drugs, small quantities of which have in practical terms been decriminalized – effectively turning these areas into open-air drug dens – robbing the police of any legal impetus to do anything about the problem, even if they had any desire to change things, itself a questionable proposition.
Many of these people have preexisting psychological issues, which are then exasperated by the destructive drugs they routinely consume. It has become evermore common to hear stories or see videos online where regular people are assaulted by unstable and mentally ill vagrants whose minds have been destroyed by the substances they use. In the one case where a brave man in New York City took a stand against a violent and unstable vagrant who presumably was under the influence of one drug or another, it was the man who defended his fellow citizens against the predations of one of these unfortunate but demented souls who was arrested and charged. Nobody should have to live like this. The sad fact is that many of the mentally ill homeless – even if they were to get off drugs – an unlikely prospect for most – would never get their faculties back enough to be functioning members of society. There was a time where there were asylums to house and look after these people. However, we can’t do that now because that would violate the “rights” of the mentally ill to lead a self-destructive lifestyle and then impose the costs of that lifestyle onto the rest of society, thus violating the tenants of liberalism. Instead, those of us not in the ruling class – who hide from the negative externalities of their policies behind gated communities – are subjected to the consequences, a civilization in an accelerated state of decline.
Those who govern us see no problem with this state of affairs. In fact, many of the upper class have taken to social media to mock those who complain about crime and dare to demand a solution.
However, the normalization of vagrancy and drug addiction and the subjection of average people to the violent whims of these volatile and violently unwell individuals isn’t the only “experiment in living” that progressive ideologues have decided to subject society at large to. Another such experiment has been the controlled demolition of the family as a social institution, a product of the sexual revolution, effectively tearing down preexisting sexual mores, resulting in no fault divorce and the subsequent disintegration of the family. While the scope of our current study precludes us delving too deep into these issues, the social cost of liberal “experiments in living” should be quickly noted.
A quick rundown of the statistics shows that children of single mothers have a vastly larger likelihood of negative consequences.
Seventy-two percent of juvenile murderers and 60 percent of rapists come from single- mother homes. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced… [Guilty: Liberal “Victims” And Their Assault on America, Ann Coulter]
When people engage selfishly in behaviour that produces negative externalities, it affects the people around them. When the social and legal standards that act as guardrails are removed there is less and less incentive – positive or negative – to deny personal gratification, doing what “feels good” in the moment, externalizing the costs.
Eventually, as these behaviours are normalized, the consequences become compounded to the point where they are felt on a civilizational level. It is beyond the scope of this piece to do anything resembling a proper exploration of JD Unwin’s findings on the correlation between sexual liberation and civilizational collapse. However, it’s worth mentioning that – according to his findings generally – civilizational collapse happens within three generations of complete sexual liberation, the idea that everyone should be able to just “do what they like” and there will not be an accumulative effect on civilization as a whole is completely absurd, as we’re beginning to see today.
Despite all this, whenever the revolutionary vanguard of liberalism introduces a new front in the cultural revolution, predictably one of their first lines of attack is to appeal to the notion that man, as a sovereign individual, should have the right to do what he wants with his own life, and that no entity, not the state nor the society at large through established custom, should be able to prevent him from doing so. This trick worked when it came to gay marriage in the early 2000s. However, we have reached a place in the cultural revolution where this appeal no longer works. The cultural revolution has gone to far for this to be an effective means to advancing the march of progress, therefore progressives have taken a different tact in the last several years.
Progressives interpreted the harm principle of John Stuart Mills through the lens of the new state ideology of intersectionality, thereby expanding the definition of harm to the benefit of their client groups. While, as mentioned above, Mills undoubtedly meant this principle to appeal minimalistically, without a deeper theological or spiritual grounding in what constitutes virtue or the good, it was easily used for opposite ends in order to justify a vast expansion of power by the ruling class. Whether it manifested in corporate fiat over social relations between employees through the growth of HR departments as ideological cadres of the new state ideology or a further empowerment of the administrative state is irrelevant. Both sides are an expansion of power by plutocrats, something that confused opponents of this latest stage of the revolution, namely classical liberals aka “conservatives”, fail to understand.
According to intersectionality ideologues, the groups they designate as “marginalized” have been systemically oppressed not just through slavery, conquest, and patriarchy, but culturally through what they call “micro-aggressions”. According to the intersectionality ideologues, everyday members of these groups are subtly attacked and oppressed in hundreds of little, almost imperceptible ways every day. It’s no wonder true believers of this ideology who fall into these victim categories are so bitter and full of rage. Believing such nonsense must be exhausting. However, they believe it, and it is in this belief – that so called marginalized groups are the victims of such subtle oppression and are demoralized everyday – that the progressive application of the harm principle gains its legitimacy. Most progressives probably don’t even consciously know that they are doing this. It’s funny how ideas and beliefs, once diffused in a society seem to take on a life of their own.
It also helps that this idea, whether consciously or unconsciously coupled with intersectionality, is such an effective tool for our current elite in building a coalition to secure their power. Since the rise of the civil rights movement, progressive elites have cultivated a network of patronage towards supposedly marginalized groups. Vague claims of harm give them the moral licence and popular support to intervene on the behalf of the supposedly disenfranchised members of society, further empowering the administrative state and redistributing social benefits to their clients in the process.
Indeed, if today one uses a slur against these client groups, they will claim “harm”. If one doesn’t use the correct pronouns or “dead names” a transexual – the latest client group to receive patronage from Western elites – that is now a form of harm, for which you can suffer administrative punishment in your workplace under DEI rules that most corporations now abide by, and in some countries, such as Canada, you can be hauled before an extra-judiciary council.
In Gibson, British Columbia, the “gender-fluid” waitress Jessie Nelson reported her employer to one of Canada’s many “Human Rights Commissions” because she couldn’t handle the fact that her coworkers didn’t want to use her special pronouns. This eventually caused a heated confrontation and the “gender-fluid” waitress was fired for causing discord in the workplace. Nelson was eventually awarded $30,000 by BC’s Human Rights Commission, which ruled in her favour.
The tribunal’s arbiter Devyn Cousineau wrote in her 42-page ruling:
Like a name, pronouns are a fundamental part of a person’s identity. They are a primary way that people identify each other. Using correct pronouns communicates that we see and respect a person for who they are. Especially for trans, non‐binary, or other non‐cisgender people, using the correct pronouns validates and affirms they are a person equally deserving of respect and dignity. As Jessie Nelson explained in this hearing, their pronouns are ‘fundamental to me feeling like I exist’. When people use the right pronouns, they can feel safe and enjoy the moment. When people do not use the right pronouns, that safety is undermined and they are forced to repeat to the world: I exist.
So, in other words, not using the correct pronouns causes harm, $30,000 worth of harm apparently, going by the judgement against the restaurant in question.
Instead of trying to align our morality with an objective standard of virtue or the good, the collective West has tied itself to a vague idea of harm which – through the Jouvenellian mechanism of upper class patronage of the lower classes, and then subsequent use of the lower status groups by elites as a cudgel against their political enemies – has far from limited elite power, according to Deneen, but has instead greatly expanded it, which is hard to deny. The deceptive thing about liberalism is the appearance of plurality. Many conservatives and libertarians still believe that it’s okay if a multinational corporation worth billions censors their opinions, while at the same time using their vast wealth and influence to crusade for a destructive and disintegrating ideology, because they foolishly believe that “the market” will punish them. What they fail to understand is that a fortune is a weapon, a tool – if used correctly – capable of subjugating entire populations to one’s will, and one every bit as formidable as a standing army. In fact, because of the nature of today’s world and the ubiquitous power of international capital, one could make the argument that a fortune is a more powerful weapon than an army in many ways.
Radical intersectionality has taken over the academy. No longer a place for the open exploration of ideas (not for a very long time), top-down ideological indoctrination through the earliest years of education, mass media and entertainment has created a bottom-up movement of ideological enforcers, who, while believing themselves to be rebels or revolutionaries against the monied classes, are simply doing their bidding, enforcing their ideology, or at least the one they have prescribed for the masses, while attacking the plutocrats’ real opponents.
Witness how the “identity politics” movement has gravitated toward Mill’s criterion in expanding efforts to invoke institutional power on behalf of advancing its liberationist ethos. Students’ frequent resort to the language of “harm,” fear of “microaggressions,” need for “trigger warnings,” requirements of “safe spaces,” and general anxiety about feeling “safe” on college campuses has pervaded the general cultural milieu. These invocations appear on the surface to be defensive, echoing minimalistic invocations of the “harm principle.” But in fact, their invocations are discernibly aggressive, specifically calling upon the intervention of power —whether semiprivate (e.g., corporate or collegiate) or public—to prevent highly subjective claims of psychological or perceived “harm” and thereby enforce an increasingly liberationist ethos. [Regime Change]
Note the last phrase, “a liberationist ethos”. As mentioned above, Mill was profoundly suspicious of established custom, so much so that he referred to it as a ‘despotism’ and instead advocated ‘experiments in living’ to advance the cause of progress. Like progressives today, Mill viewed the conservatives of his day as stupid and backwards for their reluctance towards the more radical policy proposals of progressives.
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. Suppose any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party must, by the law of its constitution, be the stupidest party; and I do not see why honorable gentlemen should see that position at all offensive to them, for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party. [Regime Change]
One can almost hear the haughtiness and smug self-satisfied tone in Mills’ words, a little more snark and he’d sound like the host of a primetime program on MSNBC or CNN.
What progress means on the ground is never-ending social and economic change. It means never being tied to a place, land or a way of life. It means a never-ending cultural and economic revolution, where – in the winner-take-all colosseum of an allegedly meritocratic global economy – those who come out on top are patted on the back and told they’ve earned what they have and are therefore better then the so-called losers. While the losers are divided into two camps: on the one hand, you’ve got the client groups of the elites, particularly non-white peoples, who are told their failure is due to systemic oppression and thus their inability to succeed isn’t really their fault.
While, on the other hand, whites are told they are failures despite being the possessors of some ephemeral undefined “privilege”, and therefore doubly deserve their lot.
It means a never-ending social disruption in the revolutionary quest for a more perfect liberated state of being. It means throwing away thousands of years of history, custom and culture, demolishing beautiful historical buildings to build hideous post-modern monstrosities that are an offence to the senses, an evermore degraded art, because the ‘old-styles’ represent something rooted and permanent. It means a degradation of all forms of high culture as we discard everything that is deemed by the cultural critics as ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘dated’ in the constant, frantic pursuit of ever more liberationist art forms and styles.
It means that primordial institutions like the family are radically revolutionized, so much so that Mao Zedong himself would be shocked at how extreme the social changes in the West have become. While one can argue that the nuclear family is a recent modern convention, a mother, a father and children living alone in a one-family dwelling, and that extended families were more often the historical norm, a man has always been a man – expected to perform the tasks assigned to his station – and a woman has always been a woman – expected to perform the tasks assigned to her station – both were acknowledged to have a unique and essential nature. The recent gender confusion, where a man can really be a woman and a woman can really be a man, and if someone says they’re neither, we are legally obligated to indulge them in their delusion, is completely unprecedented.
In regards to “experiments in living”, it’s hard to think of anything more experimental then the complete normalization of sexual libertinism, particularly the celebration of homosexuality and other aberrant sexual behaviours, which for most of human history were seen as a vice with varying levels of disgust and contempt. Perhaps that’s why progressives have such a reverential view of homosexuality, transgenderism and these un-traditional unions — it excites their enthusiasm of being on the cutting edge of moral progress. Like Mills, they dismiss the wisdom of our forefathers as despotism and delight in their smug sense of superiority as they arrogantly look down their nose at all they perceive as being ‘traditional’ or ‘conservative’. At one level, progressivism is just parental issues. People who have an unhealthy family life are often drawn to transgressive behaviour as a way of lashing out at parental authority. However, there is something much deeper. It’s a hubris tied to a fundamental rejection of divine order or justice. It is a rejection that anything in the universe is as it should be, and that there is anything resembling a divine order. While many progressives play at being religious or having faith, they only do so insofar as they can inject their modern ideology into their religion. In this way, progressives are humanists in the most literal meaning of the word; they worship profane secular man. By attempting to tear down the primordial distinction between human beings, progressive ideologues are attempting to rebuild humanity in their grotesque image.
This is the fruit of the modern linear view of history. In the next article we will examine the modern historical paradigms found in the twin ideologies of modernity.