Sunday, May 24, 2015

The dawning horror

Commenter Raskolnik over at Rod Dreher's blog gets it:
Rod, you write:
All of us Americans, whether we call ourselves liberals or conservatives, are liberals in this sense. I am no different. I believe in free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights and the other hallmarks of liberalism.
Here’s my question: why? Why do you still believe in those things?
I ask because the history that you trace seems to me a kind of proof by contradiction. Given the epistemological and anthropological assumptions of modern liberalism, the outcome you describe in this post inexorably results. But that outcome conflicts with what you know to be true. Clearly, then, those assumptions are wrong, and therefore so are the “liberal” and “democratic” legal and political structure that legitimize them.
People often talk as if the only possible alternative to secular liberal democracy were totalitarianism of the most repressive and rapacious sort. But to me this grants entirely too much credence to those falsified assumptions from up above. As I never tire of pointing out, Hitler was legally and democratically elected. Bhutan, as close to a traditional monarchy as exists today, is perhaps the happiest society on the planet. 
The idea that our choice is between tyranny and “democracy” (or what passes for it in 2015 America, anyway) is a false dilemma posed to us by our cultural enemies. But this false dilemma really only masks the exercise of their naked will-to-power: accept the bureaucratic liberal regime, or else.
We Americans were much freer under poor old King George III than we are today with all of our self-congratulatory talk of freedom and democracy. Even if the kings of old had access to 21st century technology, it wouldn't occur to them to police our thoughts the way secular liberals do. Moderns tend to believe that kings were all-powerful dictators. Medieval kings were essentially the most powerful nobles in the land, but they weren't strong enough to take on any two or three nobles who might ally against them. And of course the Church acted as a check on kings who attempted to exercise dictatorial powers: imagine King Henry II doing penance on his knees for the murder of St. Thomas Becket.

It's unlikely Dreher will go so far as to question liberalism itself. Mainstream conservatives sometimes describe themselves as wishing to conserve the classical liberalism of America's Founding Fathers. It's an enormous mental leap, comparable to the one portrayed in the Matrix, to realize that the liberalism of today is classical liberalism all grown up. Conservatives believed that they could draw a line in the sand; William F. Buckley said that the purpose of his National Review was to stand athwart history and yell, "Stop!" It was a noble intention but ultimately futile. Mainstream conservatives are the tail end of the long liberal march through history, impotently grumbling that they're moving too quickly without disagreeing on the destination:
Rod concludes his latest outreach in the mutual titty twister he and Sullivan are currently engaged in by nailing these theses to the bathhouse door:
I am glad we don’t live in that world anymore. We don’t live in that world anymore because people like Andrew insisted that gay lives had more dignity than the majority of Americans believed. Again, they did us all a favor by awakening us morally to what it is like to live in a country where what matters the most to you is treated in custom and in law as anathema. But I do not look forward to the world Andrew and his righteous allies are building for those religious people who do not conform. They will demonize dissent, and pat themselves on the back for their moral courage the whole time.

This perplexes conservative commenter Joseph Dooley, who writes
Not sure why Dreher comes out in favor of civil unions and tolerance of homosexuality. It’s a middle ground that is merely a transition stage between hedonism and Judeo-Christian civil society.

Conservative commenter Thursday is more direct:
I honestly do think America is a better place for what they’ve done, on the whole, because it has made us more tolerant and understanding.

I’ll be blunt: this is insane.

If a movement promoting gay sex (however monogamously practiced, or not, as the case may be) has somehow resulted in making American society morally superior to what it was before, then logically gay sex can’t really be that big of a deal. I mean it clearly has to be less of a sin than intolerance for that to be the case. And, if that’s true, then why exactly are we opposing gay marriage?
Why indeed. Dreher and other mainstream conservatives can't bring themselves to say in public that sodomy is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance because that would get them DISQUALIFIED from the public square. I say that if our enemies deny us a platform, then we need to build our own.


  1. Well said.

    “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.”
    ― Aristotle

  2. "William F. Buckley said that the purpose of his National Review was to stand athwart history and yell, "Stop!""

    Made more hilarious now that the head of National Review has endorsed same-sex marriage. Sounds like they're yelling, "right this way!"

    Just when I think Dreher is getting it, he sinks back into the 'Conservative quagmire. Thankfully, it seems his readers are getting wise. Reaction is the only true form of rightist thought, and the only political position open to the sincere and informed Christian.

  3. Dreher has some good insights but is less useful beyond his limited area of expertise in cultural/religious reporting. I think his buddy Ross Douthat is something of a reactionary at heart who has to play nice to keep his job at the New York Times.