INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

 
The True Meaning of Liberalism
Written by: Answerman

I have lately been a vocal opponent of what I call the "wrong-turn" school of American conservatism, according to which everything was going great in this wonderful propositional nation of ours, until some horrible political development occurred that set us on the path to the modern nihilistic leftism now surrounding us. The "wrong-turners" would have us believe that, if we could only turn back the clock on the 1960s, or the New Deal, or the Progressive Era, or whatever particular horrible political development they pick, then we'd be back on track.

Believers in this school of thought are classical liberals who mistakenly call themselves conservatives. They think that freedom is the ultimate value, they believe in abstract utopian notions such as equality (admittedly qualified as "equality of opportunity"), and they are extraordinarily ideological. They are best represented in the modern political debate by the neocons, but many so-called "movement conservatives," such as the folks over at National Review, fit the bill as well. Obviously, these are not the beliefs of a true conservative, who refuses to elevate an abstract notion of freedom above the social and moral order, who rejects elusive and destructive equality, and who is informed by a sense of history and an understanding of human nature rather than by dogma.

"Wrong-turn" conservatives fail to grasp a key insight -- most of the nihilistic leftism by which we are surrounded in 2004 is not an overreaction to, a perversion of, or a betrayal of classical liberalism circa 1850; it is a NECESSARY and LOGICAL consequence of the hopelessly utopian, soulless, and therefore tremendously destructive classical liberal philosophy. Lawrence Auster (who, at a personal level, is a piece of shit to whom I refuse to link), makes just this point in the specific context of the homosexual "marriage" issue:

It has always seemed to many conservative critics (1) that the demand for gay marriage is excessive and unnecessary (since homosexuals are already protected in their individual rights), and (2) that therefore the attacks on critics of homosexual marriage as anti-gay bigots are absurdly overblown. But since, as Gallagher points out, the institution of marriage is not merely private but public and normative, it follows that to exclude single-sex couples from that institution is to treat them unequally with regard to a fundamental value, and constitutes horrible discrimination.
As with so many other liberal phenomena such as political correctness, it turns out that the demand for gay marriage and the demonization of its opponents are not, as they initially appear to be, an irrational excess of liberalism; they are a logical and necessary outcome of liberalism. A consistent believer in equality must support gay marriage as a fundamental right. Which further suggests that in the long run gay marriage can only be effectively opposed by those who are prepared to challenge liberalism at the most basic level.

"Wrong-turn" conservatives are guilty of a superficial analysis of the classical liberal tenets to which they cling so desperately. They believe in empty and abstract propositions that seem so rational when bandied about debating societies in a very general manner, but which have resulted in horrendous death and mayhem when applied in the real world. Classical liberalism was not defeated or perverted by nihilistic leftism; rather, nihilistic leftism is its natural heir.


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