Monticello. Prints & Photograph Division, Library Of Congress LC-F8-1046
My two cents:
As have done many universities, one by one, many mainstream American publications have taken the logic of social activism on board. Whether as feature or undercard, a certain percentage of the institution’s resources become devoted to negotiations between activists (soft and hard radicals) and points centerward.
Shared claims to knowledge, along with shared political ideals, compel many moderate liberals to unify around blaming any political/social/moral oppostion, even while taking upon the challenge of internal dialog with radicals.
Anti-fascists, of course, derive primary meaning in life from joining an anonymous mob dedicated to driving evil fascists from the public sphere. In my opinion, they deserve the violent embrace of the incredibly small number of actual neo-Nazis and fascists they publicly and continually invoke.
Meanwhile, the rest of us get dragged, to some extent, into framing civilizational norms, rules and expected behavior by semi-incoherent anarchic radicals willing to do violence.
This blog rejects the notion that the civilizational norms, rules and expected behavior should be driven by far-Left radicals and their doppelgangers.
Just as should have been done by many old-liberal guards in the 1960’s, or should be done now by many professionals, politicos, and mainstream publishers, the totalitarian radicals should be pushed from institutional influence and polite society.
I have my doubts about Donald Trump, and the fracturing of conservative coalitions into warring factions under his leadership, and the conditions which have made his election possible.
From where I stand, though, I have even more doubts about liberal and Left coalitions fracturing into an anarchic violent base, Democratic Socialism (one more perfectly equal majoritarian election/uprising should do it), and the neo-liberal and high-liberal secular humanist elite above them.
There’s a lot of failure to go around, and reasons for hope.
On this site, see:
Repost: Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’
Link sent in by a reader.
Without a stronger moral core, will liberalism necessarily corrode into the soft tyranny of an ever-expanding State?
Since the 60’s, and with a lot of postmodern nihilism making advances in our society, is a liberal politics of consent possible given the dangers of cultivating a kind of majoritarian politics: Dirty, easily corrupt, with everyone fighting for a piece of the pie?
As an example, Civil Rights activists showed moral courage and high idealism, to be sure, but we’ve also seen a devolution of the Civil Rights crowd into squabbling factions, many of whom seem more interested in money, self-promotion, influence, and political power.
The 60’s protest model, too, washed over our universities, demanding freedom against injustice, but it has since devolved into a kind of politically correct farce, with comically illiberal and intolerant people claiming they seek liberty and tolerance for all in the name of similar ideals.
Who are they to decide what’s best for everyone? How ‘liberal’ were they ever, really?
Kelley Ross responds to a correspondent on Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism, while discussing John Gray as well:
‘Now, I do not regard Berlin’s value pluralism as objectionable or even as wrong, except to the extend that it is irrelevant to the MORAL issue and so proves nothing for or against liberalism. Liberalism will indeed recommend itself if one wishes to have a regime that will respect, within limits, a value pluralism. I have no doubt that respecting a considerable value pluralism in society is a good thing and that a nomocratic regime that, mostly, leaves people alone is morally superior to a teleocratic regime that specifies and engineers the kinds of values that people should have. However, the project of showing that such a regime IS a good thing and IS morally superior is precisely the kind of thing that Gray decided was a failure.
Thus, I believe Gray himself sees clearly enough that a thoroughgoing “value pluralism” would mean that the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini is just as morally justified as the regime of Thomas Jefferson. Gray prefers liberalism (or its wreckage) for the very same reason that the deconstructionist philosopher Richard Rorty prefers his leftism: it is “ours” and “we” like it better. Why Gray, or Rorty, should think that they speak for the rest of “us” is a good question. ‘
and about providing a core to liberalism:
‘Why should the state need a “sufficient rational justificaton” to impose a certain set of values? The whole project of “rational justification” is what Gray, and earlier philosophers like Hume, gave up on as hopeless. All the state need do, which it has often done, is claim that its values are favored by the majority, by the General Will, by the Blood of the Volk, or by God, and it is in business.’
And that business can quickly lead to ever-greater intrusion into our lives:
‘J.S. Mill, etc., continue to be better philosophers than Berlin or Gray because they understand that there must be an absolute moral claim in the end to fundamental rights and negative liberty, however it is thought, or not thought, to be justified. Surrendering the rational case does not even mean accepting the overall “value pluralism” thesis, since Hume himself did not do so. ‘
Are libertarians the true classical liberals? Much closer to our founding fathers?
Related On This Site: From The NY Times Book Review-Thomas Nagel On John Gray’s New ‘Silence Of Animals’…From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’…
From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…
John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’
Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’
What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…
Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’
Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’