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Sunday, April 06, 2014
The Eich affair: why conservatives are wrong, Part 2
I my last post I explained that the liberal state to which conservatives are now appealing against the persecution of Brandon Eich for opposing Same Sex Marriage, has a certain logical structure which these conservatives, as far as I can see, do not understand. The whole purpose of it is to allow each person to pursue a conception of the good without conflicting with other people doing the same thing. This 'pursuit of happiness' is even written into the American Constitution.
To be exact, this is understood as the pursuit of one's own desires for oneself (and consenting partners). Barriers to the fulfillment of these desires, ie barriers to happiness, should be demolished. They are unjust. Those who maintain such barriers are being hypocritical, enjoying the benefits of the liberal system (since they are free to pursue their own happiness) while trying to stop others doing the same thing, or doing so as successfully as they might.
As I have explained before at greater length, it was always just a matter of time before liberals moved on from the demolition of the more concrete barriers to pursuing the fulfilment of one's desires, such as laws prohibiting certain persons from entering certain professions, or company policies which effectively do the same thing, to the less concrete barriers which come from attitudes. It is perfectly true that hostile attitudes can make life a misery for the misfit. Everyone with socially conservative views is about to experience this personally, if they don't already. So attitudes hostile to the 'gay lifestyle' - yes, we are talking about sexual behaviour - should logically, in the liberal system, be prohibited, if not by law then by social pressure, in order to allow homosexuals to pursue their chosen lifestyle without being shamed. There you have it.
Is this a paradox? That social conservatives are shamed about their views so that progressives need no be shamed about theirs? Not really. Each person has the right to pursue his own lifestyle. The conservative is trying to stop other people from pursuing the gay lifestyle. That's wrong. The gay campaigners are trying to stop other people from trying to stop people from pursuing their chosen lifestyle. That's right.
Yes, it is simple, it is coherent, it is consistent. To allow conservatives to attack the gay lifestyle would be inconsistent with the liberal project in just the same way, and for the same reason, as allowing people to beat up gays in bars. Everyone is protected equally: everyone can pursue their own conception of the good as long as they don't stop anyone else doing the same thing.
American (neo-)conservatives and Catholics, especially, have fallen into a trap which should have been obvious, by going along with the liberal / neutral state / free speech system. They thought that if they conceded the free speech of others, their own free speech, including the freedom to proclaim the Gospel, would be protected. Sorry, guys, you were fooled; it was never going to work. A system of 'tolerance' cannot tolerate intolerance. Because Christianity wants to change people, because it holds up a higher ideal than the impulses of the belly and the groin, it is intrinsically intolerant. It has no secure place in a system of tolerance, any more than fascism.
Countless popes warned us that rather than concede the public realm to a liberal theory of 'liberty', we should strive to have society organised on Catholic principles. They were right. The problem I have outlined is what Pope Leo XIII was talking about in his condemnation of Americanism, it is what Pius XI was talking about in calling for the reign of Christ the King over societies, it is what St Pius X and Pius IX and many others were talking about in condemning the establishment of the state on 'natural' principles rather than on Catholic ones. Our anger today should be directed not at the liberals: they are just being consistent. It should be directed at the useful idiots who stopped Catholics from opposing liberalism itself, especially in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, and are still whinging about freedom of expression and religion as if these phrases are going to protect us.
Those 'conservatives', in fact, are nothing more or less than conservative liberals. They get annoyed at the more radical liberals from time to time, when they 'go too far'. But they are part of the problem, not part of the solution, because the more things go wrong the more they cling to the liberal principles which are actually causing the damage, instead of criticising them.
Today, what we need to do is not - except tactically, in the very short term - appeal to our right to free expression, but do our best to persuade our fellow citizens that original sin is not such a stupid idea, and that the life of grace yields genuine joys: in short, to counter the basic assumptions of the liberal system which are contrary to the Faith. To the extent we can do that, we can wear down the principles underlying the coming persecution. It is nothing more nor less, in fact, than a genuine proclamation of the Gospel.
In another post I will talk about some implications of what I've just argued.
Posted by Joseph Shaw at 10:18 am
Labels: Eich affair, Liberal neutrality
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"Everyone is protected equally: everyone can pursue their own conception of the good as long as they don't stop anyone else doing the same thing."ReplyDelete
But what if we were to say that the 'homosexualists' are preventing Catholics from pursuing their conception of the good, namely the construction of Christendom? Doesn't the liberal view, in order to be internally consistent, also require some substantive account of what the good life is?
I would say that the liberal view sees man in an "atomistic" existence, each man unconnected to those around him. So the idea of men constructing a society together that held principles AGAINST the liberal state would worry them. The liberal state will bode no mediating structures (family, church, hobby group, etc) that would allow man to assemble with like minded people who might (gasp) revolt against their masters.Delete
The only "common" good in their view is to facilitate the greatest amount of INDIVIDUAL desire fulfillment in a man.
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
Fr. Thomas, you have to look past the gay adult to the "gay child".Delete
The gay movement would like to ensure that no child ever has to endure the disapproval of his or her parents while the child explores his sexuality. The pursuit of happiness requires the unimpeded pursuit of sexual pleasure in whatever consensual form it may take... from birth.
Barriers to the fulfillment of these [sexual] desires, ie [parental] barriers to happiness, should be demolished.
It is critical for the gay movement that no parent anywhere ever teaches chastity anymore to a child under the age of 18. It is as though age 18 is the new "age of consent" to receive instruction in self-control. Pretty weird, huh? But, consistent. They really, really want to protect what they see as the interests of the child.
Not at all, the whole point is that it is not committed to any substantive view of the good life. It only excludes those, like the true one, which interfere with other people pursuing their own (false) ones.ReplyDelete
I was thinking that both groups might say that they were pursuing their conception of the good, and that in each case this involved hindering others who would try to prevent them from doing so, whether 'the good' is Christendom or same-sex marriage. But I suppose one could respond that in building Christendom the note of 'restraining others from living according to their desires' is intrinsic to the object aimed at, since a necessary part of the project is passing laws forbidding violation of natural law insofar as this is prudently possible; whereas in promoting 'same sex marriage', restraining others who disapprove of this is not a constitutive part of the object aimed at but only contingently required, i.e. when there are in fact people disapproving of it.Delete
"This 'pursuit of happiness' is even written into the American Constitution."ReplyDelete
No. It is not. Check again. (Hint: Declaration of Independence)
"Much is often made of the fact that Jefferson inserted “the pursuit of happiness” in place of “property” from earlier formulations of fundamental rights." http://nation.time.com/2013/06/27/free-to-be-happy/2/
More should have been made of that here.
I think you have nailed it Dr. Shaw! I have been thinking the same thing and wondering why on earth do Bishops think the way out of the system is through a realization of this current system of thought (which is liberalism) more fully.ReplyDelete
My guess is that the Bishops probably feel there is no other choice. It is probably seen as easier to try and fight within the system than oppose the axioms of the system itself.
But I do personally agree with you that such efforts get us nowhere and it is only a matter of time before we are caged in well beyond any attempt to fight the system itself. So it is now or never that we start preaching the gospel and ask for a change in the system of thought than try to play the system.
We must oppose evil....always. Never accept it.ReplyDelete
The liberalism/conservative attitudes you are describing are a product of Freemasonry and in more recent times, the Frankfurt School.ReplyDelete
Dangerous stuff with echoes of integralism, Action Francais, Falangism & Vichy. Just the sort of stuff which gives Catholic traditionalism a bad name. As for freemasonry, it's pretty conservative unless you are resurrecting the myths of the Britons, Protocals & the British Fascisti. Even Mosley knew it was rubbish.ReplyDelete
This piece is coherent especially as we have a primeminister, educated at Eton and Oxford, who is a cultural marxist. It's a classic Orwellian paradigm - is the old Etonian hosting marxism or is project marxism now welcoming members of the landed gentry?ReplyDelete
Essentially, the article suggests that there is truth in the allegations that Catholic traditionalists have links to the International a Third Position. Why not tell the truth: it's not really Freemasons you are going on about, is it?ReplyDelete
Robert Ihave no idea what you are talking about.Delete
Don't worry. Neither does he.Delete
Look it up. There are links between RC trads and the extreme right. "Bishop" Williamson is an example. The same tradition can be traced from the Britons in the 1920, Action Francais, Vichy and Falangism in Spain. It's the old rubbish about Judeo-masonic plots. I write as a Tory, but I fin this flirting with fascism deeply disturbing.ReplyDelete
No, I'm not going to look it up. I have no interest in conspiracy theories and I have no idea why you are talking about them here.Delete
I'm not talking about them, it is the nutters above who are going on about Marxists and Masons. I think it is all rubbish.Delete
Your type are legion on the best of the blogs. You throw out words and end up saying nothing. Mr. Shaw, by any standard is NOT a nutter; so why, WHY would you show up here, pick a stupid argument and contribute nothing?Delete
Not that the American Constitution is without problems, and not that you aren't more or less right about our culturally held philosophy of the good (we could hardly get a good philosophy when it has to affirm the good of rebellion), so far as I can tell, but our faults are quite bad enough without exaggerating them. I know it's a very little thing that makes even less difference when it comes down to it, but we have at least not gone so far as to actually enshrine "pursuit of happiness" in law. The phrase appeared in the Declaration of Independence, which has no legal force, predating as it does the actual American constitutional government by about a decade.ReplyDelete
Regarding the rest, the clearest way of putting it that I can see is that both liberals and at least most conservatives are really liberals; they merely differ in unprincipled exceptions (http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/005864.html).
You might also find some congruences between your thought and those of another blogger who goes by the name of Zippy, if you haven't already read him. His work on usury has been particularly noteworthy, but as I read your article I kept thinking of this: https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/definition-of-liberalism/.
I'm actually more interested in modern political theory than in the American Comstitution. The theoretical justification of the modern political state has been described by people like John Rawls.Delete