05 April 2009

I Can't Resist a Juicy Subtitle

An excellent interview on the tendency of liberalism (in the broad, philosophical sense, not the narrow political sense) to degrade into tyranny is over at Zenit.
The attempt [to eradicate oppressive customs and viewpoints] puts liberal government at odds with natural human tendencies. If the way someone acts seems odd to me, and I look at him strangely, that helps construct the social world he's forced to live in. He will find that oppressive. Liberal government can't accept that, so it eventually feels compelled to supervise all my attitudes about how people live and how I express them.

The end result is a comprehensive system of control over all human relations run by an expert elite responsible only to itself. That, of course, is tyranny.

The whole interview is an apt diagnosis of the inherent mechanisms of the liberal political project, particularly as its strengths are recognized even as its weaknesses are unveiled. The idea that the liberal democratic project in the US has followed a trajectory towards secularism and tyranny inherent in its founding is a much more compelling thesis than the conspiracy theories about socialist infiltrators and Haters of All Things American that are slowly and deviously subverting our republic from the inside. The latter certainly makes for more effective boilerplate (and therefore will always find a voice in such venues as talk radio) but ultimately it fails to articulate a compelling response to the encroaching threat of the self-destruction of freedom.

Kalb's book sounds like a helpful contribution to the Church's mission to the post-Christian West. If you get a chance to read it, let me know your thoughts. I'd love to compare notes.

The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command

by James Kalb

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