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Cultural Luddism for beginners

David produced a useful guide to Tranzian for beginners. I thought it apt to follow with a guide to Cultural Luddism – the language of those who reject modern cosmopolitan capitalism – for those who might otherwise be perplexed at the offerings of this group of pseudo-libertarians.

“I’m an economic libertarian only”

This means: “I am not really a libertarian at all, but I quite like the idea of paying little or no tax. I am intensely relaxed about the prospect of a large intrusive government so long as it is large and intrusive in the furtherance of my own personal preferences about society”. The irony is that Cultural Luddites and Leftists from moderate to extreme subscribe to the same canard: That there can be a meaningful line drawn between economic and ‘other’ activity.

“Discriminating against someone who belongs to group x which tends to exhibit trait y is not prejudice, it’s post-judice”

This means; “It is prejudice really, making a judgement about someone prior to receiving complete information based on nothing more than smug assumptions, but post-judice sounds less irrational, don’t you think?”

See also:

“I am a race-realist”

Which translates as: “I am racist, I believe my own race to be superior to at least one more race but I am prepared to consider the possibility that another race may be superior to mine and I wish to avoid the social opprobrium attached to avowed racists”

“Race is an extremely extended family”

This means: “I barely know my own extended family but I like to bask in the reflected glow of famous people who have the same skin colour as me”

“I am running a little ahead of the science on this at the moment but I am confident that cherished notion z will be proven very soon”

This means “There is not a shred of evidence which supports my fervent belief in notion z, but just you wait and see, I’ll be vindicated!”

38 comments to Cultural Luddism for beginners

  • Julian Morrison

    Hah! Thank you. Left-bashing is valid and worthy, but it’s good to see the neanderthals getting their thumping too.

    Still, you missed a major catchphrase. “X is an evolutionary good for Society, and so should be imposed upon the antisocial”. This means: “I don’t understand evolution, cling to a 19th-century version of Darwinism, couldn’t spot a demographic trend if it bit me, and conflate ideas with ancestry, but I will happily put on a white coat and act the boffin if it will sell my foregone concusions.”

  • Charles Copeland

    Libertarianism is about being in favour of small government on the empirical grounds that governments normally do more harm than good, except (possibly) when regulating externalities. Besides, a libertarian will normally be opposed to state involvement in private life, on the grounds that what people do privately may be society’s business, it’s not generally the state’s business. But whether libertarians privately approve or disapprove of certain behaviour or like or dislike people of a specific ethnic origin is quite beside the point. A libertarian who throws his son out of the house because his son is homosexual remains a libertarian, though perhaps not the most pleasant person one might like to meet. Likewise, an Orthodox Jewish libertarian whose family sits shivah because his daughter marries a white gentile remains a libertarian. However, an egalitarian who approves of his son’s homosexual orientation remains an egalitarian.

    In fact, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out some sixty years ago, the right to discriminate privately – for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all – is a core tenet of libertarianism. In the US, the first mortal attack on a free society (outside the economic sphere) was masterminded by Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, since they aimed to criminalise private discrimination and force different population groups to intermix whether they liked it or not. They succeeded in their aim, and prepared the path for further restrictions on individual freedom – the soft-totalitarian laws which make it illegal privately to discriminate against other people on the grounds of their gender, age, sexual orientation, or ‘disability’ status, to mention some examples.

    At any rate, while a libertarian may well be personally opposed to discrimination based on race or any other grounds, he will also be passionately opposed to any attempt to criminalise such discrimination – unless, of course, he belongs to what Frank calls the ‘economic libertarian’ category, in which case personal freedom outside the field of economic activity is of no interest to him. Any individual who does not passionately defend his fellow citizens’ rights to be as prejudiced as they like in their private life is certainly no libertarian.

    A libertarian may in his private life be a prude, a prig, a dyed-in-the-wool racist who hates the sight of blacks, Aryans, Chinese or Jews, a homophobe, a homophile, a gay, a bisexual, a coprophile, a swinger, a libertine or a bestialist. Naturally, a libertarian can also choose to belong to a gated community that refuses to open its fences to people of whose lifestyle he disapproves.

    BTW I’d suggest Frank familiarise himself with such libertarians as Hans Hermann Hoppe – Frank is clearly a bright lad, but he just hasn’t done his homework. Try here

  • Guy Herbert

    Curious. I call myself a libertarian (the meaning of “liberal” being lost in confusion) precisely because I don’t generally evaluate government on empirical grounds. I think doing so would make me an utilitarian of some sort, and leave open the question of the criteria of evaluation.

    Some government is undoubtably necessary–in the sense of unavoidable. But the libertarian position as normally understood proceeds from the assumption that government ought in principle to be minimised: that smaller government is a good because it means less control of our lives, not because it is an efficient means to other ends.

    Apropos something else, Mark Stein encapsulates the point neatly in today’s Torygraph: “It’s the expansion of the state that’s wrong. The funding of it is secondary.” That conservative formulation is one this libertarian wholeheartedly endorses. Likewise the Marxist view: “Whatever it is, I’m against it.”

    Charles is of course quite correct to suggest a libertarian need not have any particular tastes, and may be as arbitrary (or inhumane) as he likes in his personal dealings. But it is a perverse conception of libertarianism (akin to Mr Blair’s professed admiration for Thatcherism) that holds it legitimate to suppress different tastes and choices in other individuals on grounds of group interest.

    Equally perverse (to the point of trolling) is his characterisation of Martin Luther King as a campaigning to remove the rights of private individuals to their prejudice. We can be confident that King didn’t approve of private prejudice, but the target of his campaigns was a state-enforced racial segregation that lasted almost until his death. Whatever bureaucratic empire-builders and his various self-proclaimed heirs have made of it subsequently, King’s civil rights movement was a move towards a free society.

  • Charles Copeland

    Guy,

    I wasn’t trolling about MLK. Apart from plagiarising almost every line he ever wrote – including the “I have a dream” speech – MLK was determined not just to eradicate racial discrimination against blacks (a good thing) but to make racial discrimination against whites legally mandatory (in the form of ‘affirmative action’, busing, etc.). His policy was to beg, steal and borrow as much as possible out of the state kitty in favour of his own racial group.

    More about this shameful conman and intellectual fraudster at lewrockwell.com, ma bruddas:
    Myths of Martin Luther King

  • Charles Copeland

    Just to spell out the points I made above (for those of you too lazy or too buzy to check out my refererence), here’s a quotation from the article in question:

    “The problem with this view [i.e. the myth that MLK only wanted equal rights - CC] is that King openly advocated quotas and racial set-asides. He wrote that the “Negro today is not struggling for some abstract, vague rights, but for concrete improvement in his way of life.” When equal opportunity laws failed to achieve this, King looked for other ways. In his book Where Do We Go From Here, he suggested that “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.” To do this he expressed support for quotas. In a 1968 Playboy interview, he said, “If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas.” King was more than just talk in this regard. Working through his Operation Breadbasket, King threatened boycotts of businesses that did not hire blacks in proportion to their population. ”

    Sorry, but MLK was an intellectual and moral basket case.

  • Guy Herbert

    It’s an interesting claim, Charles, and certainly worth examining.

    Personally I intend to follow up–as far as I conveniently can–the sources of the lewrockwell.com article too. Epstein explicitly draws his case from “[...]I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King by black leftist Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson shows that King supported black power, reparations, affirmative action, and socialism.” So no-one in the critical chain has much interest in seeing King as a non-racist, rather than an affirmative-action bully.

    If he was wholeheartedly the latter, I’d be disappointed. It wouldn’t devalue the abolition of segregation laws, though.

  • Simon Jester

    Every time I read an article on LewRockwell.com, I find it to be an outpouring of paleocon idiotarianism.

    The “Myths” article cited by Charles Copeland is no exception.

    I tried following the link purporting to show that Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights movement. The article I found showed Goldwater objecting to the civil rights movement abusing the constitution to override States’ rights, even though he was in agreement with the objectives of the Supreme Court’s decision.

  • Charles Copeland is correct when he writes that:

    A libertarian may in his private life be a prude, a prig, a dyed-in-the-wool racist who hates the sight of blacks, Aryans, Chinese or Jews, a homophobe, a homophile, a gay, a bisexual, a coprophile, a swinger, a libertine or a bestialist. Naturally, a libertarian can also choose to belong to a gated community that refuses to open its fences to people of whose lifestyle he disapproves.

    Though, strictly speaking, this is the view of orthodox libertarian Walter Block and not the paleo-libertarian view of Hoppe. Hoppe strongly identifes ultra-conservative social mores as being the only cultural mileaux compatible with libertarianism. This strong view is false and Hoppe’s arguments are radically flawed.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Charles Copeland is quite right to state that libertarians can favour private property rights and so forth while also holding all kinds of different views, which some may describe less kindly as prejudices. On a broader point, though, I think it unlikely that a libertarian society can function if a significant number of its members were, say, racists or religious fanatics. To flourish in the face of adversity, a libertarian community needs the soil of a life-affirming, pro-reason, pro-science, pro-individualistic culture, pro-progress culture.

    Or put it another way – culture matters. Which is why we write about culture stuff a lot on this blog, even if it includes TV soaps or tastes in sport.

  • Charles Copeland

    I think Paul Coulam does Hans Hermann Hoppe something of an injustice. HHH is basically a gut-reaction libertarian who has transmuted his guts into consequentalist argumentation. His core empirical argument is that in a minimalist, rule-of-law non-welfare state only those who live in a responsible fashion will be successful in evolutionary terms – as opposed to the democratic welfare state, where it is the irresponsible and ‘havenots’ who exploit the ‘havers’ until such time as the system collapses. Unfortunately, like many libertarians, HHH throws in the occasional off-the-cuff value judgment and yuk reaction into his otherwise pellucid prose. Don’t we all.

    He is certainly one of the few libertarians who has argued convincingly that a free and prosperous society is in the long term incompatible with a liberal immigration policy and multiculturalism. I presume that Paul Coulam is familiar with Hoppe’s seminal essay on this topic in the Journal of Libertarian Studies. See here.

  • More translations:

    HHH is basically a gut-reaction libertarian who has transmuted his guts into consequentalist argumentation

    means: “He makes it up as he goes along”

  • Julian Morrison

    HHH argues sensibly up to a point, but in regards of immigration and traditionalism, there’s always a point in his argument where a convenient assertion gets inserted as a premise. For example: that traditional marriage is best for the family. Upon which he then builds castles in the air. (Should that be “gated communities in the air”? Heh.)

    Two things are wrong with this: (1) the evidence is lacking or ambiguous (2) the alternatives aren’t explored. For example, traditional extended families are fine and dandy, but might not a superextended polyamorous family be even better still? Never considered. In fact, he often talks as if “X is good” implied “anything but X must be bad”. Meat is good for you, so carrots must be poison.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    “Economic Libertarian Only” accurately describes my country’s situation.

    As for Hoppe, I’m beginning to sympathize with some of his conclusions. It’s all human nature.

    And that stuff about MLK was interesting indeed. Did he really write all that stuff?

    Looks another sacred lamb just became dinner.

  • Shawn

    I dont always agree with HHH, especially on defense issues, but I think his arguments on immigration, multiculturalism, and traditionalism are spot on. A libertarian society based on open boarders, multiculturalism, and social liberalism will end up self destructing, and in the end result in a worse tyranny than we have now.

    Libertarianism as a political and economic system must go hand in hand with a commitment on the part of the majority to Western civilisation and tradition, and the Judeo-Christian moral values that are part of its essential foundations.

  • I had better translate:

    Libertarianism as a political and economic system must go hand in hand with a commitment on the part of the majority to Western civilisation and tradition and the Judeo-Christian moral values that are part of its essential foundations.

    means: “I have no interest in freedom at all and favour an authoritarian government but I like the sound of the word ‘libertarianism'”

  • Julian:

    It doesn’t really matter whether you think the nuclear family is the optimum unit or not – you will have a hard job convincing me that a “super-extended polyamorous family” will be anything other than a seething bed of resentment and alienation – it is only an illibertarian social engineer who is interested in this subject in order to “design society” towards some ideal while a libertarian would presumably want to let society work itself out without interference.

    As for the “libertarians don’t have to be nice” meme: I have no problem with the most obnoxious misanthropic libertarian so long as he doesn’t wish to inflict his poisonous preferences on the rest of us.

  • Shawn

    Frank, I strongly object to you putting words in my mouth that I have not said. This is a shallow and childish way to engage in debate. If you had bothered to read any of my other comments here at Samizdata you would know that I am commited to the non-initiation of force principle without reservation. I support minimal and strongly limited government based on that principle.

    A commitment to traditional cultural and religious values does not automatically mean a commitment to authoritarianism, though it is useful for the lazy to make this silly argument because it frees them from having to excersise their minds in the effort to make an intelligent one. It also ignores the fact that traditionalists (Russell Kirk as just one example) have always been suspicious and opposed to large authoritarian government. For anyone who wants to learn about genuine traditionalism rather than Frank’s biased fantasies about it here is a good place to start:

    http://jkalb.org/webpages/on_to_restoration.php

    I do believe that we need in the West, and in the Europa cultural sphere in general, a cultural renewal and re-commitment to traditional values and religion. I also believe that such a renewal must and should be a purely voluntary one, and must not in any way whatsoever be imposed by the state.

    In fact using authoritarian government to impose traditional values would be pointless anyway. Unless such a renewal comes from the heart and from the free choice of individuals, it will not be genuine and will have no real transformative power and it will not in the long run renew and defend Western civilisation in any kind of deep and long term way.

    Now that I have made my position crystal clear you should be under no illusions. If you want to debate the merits of a freely chosen traditional cultural and moral renewal fine. If you want to lie about what people here believe, then what do you think your achieving? Worse, what does this say about Samizdata.net? Is it going to be a place for all libertarians of all stripes to engage in civil and intelligent conversation and debate, or is it just going to be a club for those of a liberal persuasion to sneer at, insult and lie about conservatives or anyone else they disagree with?

  • Guy Herbert

    And there was me thinking that Judeo-Christian[-Islamic] morals are part of the problem, that aggressive monotheism is a root of totalitarianism. We should pray for the further dilution of the Christian in Western society, and a parallel disintegration of Islam’s hold in the East.

    Of course it is possible to hold traditional cultural and religious values personally without giving in to the impulse to impose them on others. It is similarly possible to have a personal committment to voluntarist socialism. Those individuals who can maintain such positions are frequently among the most personally likeable and admirable of humankind.

    However it is difficult for most who believe there is a single, closely defined, correct way to live–whether mandated by an unique God, or revealed by a secular prophetic line–not to seek to impose it on others. The self-evident greater good of (and, less consciously, the danger of counterexample of not) doing so is too great for them to bear.

  • Shawn

    “And there was me thinking that Judeo-Christian[-Islamic] morals are part of the problem, that aggressive monotheism is a root of totalitarianism.”

    In the West it is the dissolution of Judeo-Christian morals that is the problem, and the root of this problem is left wing liberalism. However, it is not simply the loss of religious values specifically, but the more general loss of traditional Western values, and those values also include the Classical Roman and Greek civilisational values. Traditional religion is only one part of the whole that makes up the West, though I do think G.K Chesterton was right when he said that “Europe is the Faith”.

    The loss of these values, and the rise of liberalism in its socialist, “progressive”, and post-modern forms, is destroying the West, and will certainly, unless checked, lead to tyranny, either by totalitarian poltically correct statists, or by Islam. I fear that both forms of tyranny will become common, as they already are, in different parts of Europe and the West as this century proceeds. The cultural shift away from God, Country and Family, and the rise of creeds such as pacifism, multiculturalism, sexual promiscuity and Western “guilt”, is sowing the seeds of our civilisational death.

    The argument that a society committed to traditional values will inevitably attempt to impose those values on others, is not really an argument about religion or Tradition, but an argument about human nature. The argument can as easily be levelled at liberalism. Rather than simply accepting a live and let live social system, liberals are busy finding ways to impose their ideology by force on others. Whether its through such things as criminalising “hate speech”, enforcing U.N. human “rights” charters, denying the right to free association, banning any and all expressions of religion from the public sphere, or forcing PC notions of equality on private institutions, right now it is liberals who are creating a totalitrarian society, not traditionalist Christians. The E.U. wants to close down the ancient Orthodox monastery of Mt Athos in Greece, on tha basis that it doeas not allow women to visit it. In fact liberals are proving themselves far more prone to fascist tyranny than Christianity at the height of the Middle Ages ever was. In truth, you had far more real freedom in Medieval Europe than you do in much of the Western world today.

    Totalitariansim is an invention not of religion, or monotheism, but of the modern world. The worst totalitarian societies in history all existed in the 20th century, including Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, both based on essentially liberal ideals, the modernist anti-religious ravings of Nietzsche and Marx respectively.

    Totalitarian societies can be based on any idea, and are not peculiar to monotheism. Japan was a polytheist society during the Imperial period, and the authoritarian BJP Indian party is also polythiest.

    Islam cannot be included in any understanding of the traditionalist West, as it is an alien creed. Despite its claims, it has no real relation to Judaism or Christianity. The Judeo-Christian worldview, and its view of the human person, is radically different to Islam, as can be seen from the very different cultures and societies each has created. Moreover, conflating the two is little more than a silly ploy used by liberals since 911, and simply suggests that those using it are in need of a good history lesson.

  • Charles Copeland

    Good stuff, Shawn.
    Glad to see there’s another Jim Kalb fan at Samizdata.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’m glad the classical tradition does get some credit. To my mind, that’s the key difference between Christianity and Islam: the one never had a heartland of purity and grew up intertwined with, rather than by direct conquest of, the pluralist societies which preceded it–though it, too, was definitely an alien Middle Eastern creed once upon a time.

  • Shawn:

    Perhaps you can explain to me how a “system” which requires a “commitment on the part of the majority” to subscribe to traditional values is compatible with a voluntary society and avoids coercion to prevent people freely choosing “socially liberal” lifestyle options?

    Please note that I oppose enforced liberalism and enforced conservatism. My objection is to the “enforced” part. A civil, voluntary society – which can contain socially-liberal individuals and socially-conservative individuals – is robust enough to thrive without government enforcement. The threat to freedom, however, is not restricted to that from the “PC” left. There are very real threats to freedom from social conservatives who wish to impose their own lifestyle options on everybody else.

  • Shawn,

    and those values also include the Classical Roman and Greek civilisational values.

    What is it that you admire most about the values of classical civilization, the slavery, the gladiatorial combat, the subjection of women, the militarism, collectivism and compulsory homosexuality of Sparta or the centuries of oppression and conquest of the Roman Empire?

  • Mark Ellott

    Then of course, there’s the burning of heretics, systematic religious persecution of other christians and jews during much of European history from mediaeval times to the present day. The way to combat Islam is not with christianity (just another dreadful middle eastern belief system) but reason and logic.

    I am reminded of John Major’s “back to basics” a theme dear Tony is attempting to ape.

  • James

    Then of course, there’s the burning of heretics, systematic religious persecution of other christians and jews during much of European history from mediaeval times to the present day.

    At least there’d be no worries about a smoking ban then, eh?

    Seriously though, Christianity as a panacea for the ills of the world? Cliff Richard for PM!

    If that’s Libertarianism, you can count me out.

    James…

  • Mark Ellott

    At least there’d be no worries about a smoking ban then, eh?

    Very droll… ;-) Smoking is bad for your health. If you’re a heretic; terminal.

    I always worry when folk suggest religion as a way of solving problems – given the amount it has caused….

    I can never quite make up my mind which is worse – state or church. Both see themselves as guardians of our morality and well being. Both are full of sanctimonuous hypocricy. Both think they know better than we what is best for us. I am reminded vaguely of that Orwellian vision in Animal Farm – which is worse, people or pigs – and you can’t tell the difference.

    The only thing that could be worse than either is both together – now that just doesn’t bear thinking about.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    If not classicial western values, how about some Lao-Tzu and populist buddhism? After all, some of their sayings seem well suited to libertarian sensibilities.

    The Wobbly Guy

  • Shawn

    Frank:

    All libertarians, whether liberal or traditionalist/Christian, have a long road to walk in convincing our fellow citizens of the virtue and necessity of liberty. I believe that in order for libertarianism to work in the West, it must be based on a society that respects God, Tradition, Country and Family. Such a society can and will come about only through voluntary individual choice. As to how such a society can avoid coercion, this is a problem regardles of whether the society is traditionalist or liberal. Only through a minimalist state, with severely limited powers, and a constitutional and legal framework based on the non-initiation of force principle.

    Just as liberal libertarians have a responsibility to stand against liberal pc totalitarianism, so Traditionalist Christians commited to liberty have a special responsibilty to stand up publicly against the theocratic ravings of the so-called Christian Right (I should not have to point out to any educated or self-eduacted people that the Evangelical Christian Right, and its spokesman such as Pat Robertson, with their literalist cartoon version of God, are as far from Traditionalism as you can get, and are manifestions of the modern world).

    Paul:

    Your statement is so absurd that it is barely worth an answer. Reducing Classical civilisation only to its worse features is intellectually dishonest. Classical civilisation gave us many gifts, only some of which were the first stirrings of republican democracy, science, philosphical enquiry, the idea citizenship and the rights of the citizen, the idea of the individual as a free agent who was more than just a part of a tribe, the rule of law, and many many others. I suggest finding a book on Classical Rome and Greece and doing some reading.

    Mark:

    “Then of course, there’s the burning of heretics, systematic religious persecution of other christians and jews during much of European history from mediaeval times to the present day.”

    If you want to talk about violence, persecution and genocide, then the Christian era was far more peaceful and non-violent than the modern. More people have been persecuted and murdered by secular anti-Christian regimes in the 20th century alone than were during the entire period from St Constantine to the 19th century. From the horrors of the Nazi’s, to Soviet Russia (a regime based on secularism, “logic” and “reason”), to industrial scale genocide, to Maoist China, Pol Pot, and the holocaust of 20th century abortion, modern secularism has been violent, anti-human and anti-life beyond measure. People who accuse the Christian era of violence are standing on the corpses of over a billion people, persecuted, murdered and ripped from their mothers wombs by anti-Christian secularists and liberals. By comaprison to the 20th century, the Christian era was vastly more civilised.

    James:

    I did not say that Christianity was a pancea for “all the ills of the world”, but that Western traditionalism, which includes but is not limited to Christianity, is the panacea specifically for Western civilisation.

    Cliff Richards is about as far from being a traditionalist, Christian or otherwise, as it is possible to get. The modernist evangelical Christianity he practices is not traditionalist. Traditionalist Christianity means Classical Protestantism (Lutheran/Calvinist), Roman Catholicism, Anglo-Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Evangelical literalist fundamentalism is simply the other side of the coin to liberalism. Both are children of the modern world.

  • John Maxwell

    Reducing classical civilization only to its worse features is intellectually dishonest.

    Certainly that the Greeks and Romans achieved many great things. So what? Not a single one of them in any way, shape or form excuses a single case of the abominations Paul Coulam cited.

    People who accuse the Chrstian era of violence are standing on the corpses of over a billion people, persecuted, murdered and ripped from their mothers wombs by anti-Christian secularists and liberals.

    I believe the upper bound for direct State deaths in the twentieth century is about two hundred million. Adding in the the forty million (I believe that is the upper bound) abortions in the US since Roe v. Wade, nonetheless your figure seems to be short three quarters of a billion people somewhere. I concede you could list a number of atrocities which belong in the count. But that many?

    And in any case on what basis to you claim that the twentieth century certainly totalled more deaths than those fifteen centuries of the Christian faith? I do not mean this question in an adversial manner, for have I no reason to believe that your statement is false. But I equally have no reason to think it true; fifteen hundred years is ample time for numbers to mount.

    Also, it is irrelevant to what Mark Elliot said if the Chrstian era were actually more civilized. Regardless, agents of that faith caused butchery and death for which they should be condemned, and pointing out some other group which also did evil things is merely to direct attention away from this.

  • Mark Ellott

    Shawn, unfortunately, I won’t be a convert. Comparing one horror with another and passing it off as less awful, just won’t wash. Christianity is as nasty as the other middle eastern religions – none of its persecutions whenever they took place are forgivable. As for communists Russia – do me a favour. Communism may be secular, but is isn’t based on reason and logic – the simple application of both exposes it for the fraud that it is.

    To suggest that the greatness of the west is based upon nothing more than fairy tales and propaganda written by religious prophets thousands of years ago is stretching it.

  • I believe that in order for libertarianism to work in the West, it must be based on a society that respects God, Tradition, Country and Family.

    You are of course entitled to your beliefs and I am entitled to disagree with them, specifically about that little word “must”. I would also point out that you appear to retain a “social engineering” focus. I have no interested in designing society towards any kind of ideal, “libertarian” or other. I am interested in achieving, incrementally if necessary, an ever diminishing government. I’m happy that society will take care of itself.

    Such a society can and will come about only through voluntary individual choice.

    If it does, well and good, but human nature dictates that there will always be someone who bucks against society’s conventions. This is the argument against social engineering: if it requires 100% compliance, coercion is unavoidable. This is why I prefer an emphasis on the “voluntary” as opposed to an emphasis on some supposed goal.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’m a little more confused than I was about what Shawn wants:

    “[...]Western traditionalism, which includes but is not limited to Christianity, is the panacea specifically for Western civilisation.”

    But not for others? If it is so great for us, wouldn’t it be good for everyone? If not, why not?

    If the reaction against modernity that is biblical fundamentalism doesn’t count as traditional, then why does the Catholic church, whose role and doctrine have been profoundly changed in the 20th century?

    How does at the same time the Orthodox church count as “Western”, when its development has been so separate for so long from that of European secular civilisation that Samuel Huntingdon marks it up as a distinct “civilisation”?

    And where does Judaism fit in? Traditionally churches were quite keen on the exclusion of the Jews from civil society. Yet Shawn originally wrote of Judeo-Christian moral values.

    How do we know which of the value-systems among the more respectable Protestantisms, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or Judaism we must follow for panacean purposes when they conflict?

  • Perhaps I might describe Shawn’s view thus:

    That non-Islamic religious practice serves a utilitarian purpose. Societies composed of the religiously observant tend to be cohesive, stable and the social networks which extend from church and family, private charities etc. obviate the need for the type of intrusive, redistributive state. Thus, the framework of a minimal government is best provided by such traditional societies.

    I am sympathetic to some of this, but I have two principal problems, one theoretical and one practical. The theoretical problem is that there is a huge difference between recognising a beneficial system which has evolved “naturally” and creating such a system and creating that system is inevitably social engineering. The practical problem is that there is a refusal to recognise the contemporary, less-religiously-observant, cosmopolitan, non-traditionalist, society which is already in place and can in no means be said to be propped up by PC liberal governments. It has also evolved and is also beneficial, albeit in different ways to “traditional” religiously observant societies.

  • Guy Herbert

    Doesn’t Islamic (and other non-Western, and/or non-traditional) religious practice serve that purpose too?

    The traditional religious solution to the theoretical problem is mission. Of significant surviving faiths Christians, Buddhists and Mormons have all done peaceful mission, and lots of others have tried with lesser success. I don’t have a problem with that–even directed at me, as long as they aren’t wearyingly importunate. Indeed I’d defend missionaries’ being allowed to operate in places where they are currently forbidden, such as Nepal and much of the Islamic world.

    I suspect that the practical problem is really the core of the matter: cosmopolitan societies in which many people have learned to tolerate a lot of difference and a lot of change, don’t suit some traditionalists because they are not content to maintain tradition only for themselves. They are disposed to see social change only as a source of social friction, and stability as a good in itself.

  • Shawn

    John:

    “Regardless, agents of that faith caused butchery and death for which they should be condemned, and pointing out some other group which also did evil things is merely to direct attention away from this.”

    Repenting of the sins of the past is necessary, but this is not an excuse for tearing down the whole edifice of Western/Christian civilisation. My point was that those who say we should on the basis that sometimes crimes were commited by those who represented the Church is both hypocritical and a logical fallacy.

    Mark:

    I dont suggest that, I suggest it is based on the entire culture of the West, which includes, but is not limited to Christianity. As to fairy tales, that is a matter in part of opinion. I would say that the West is based on God’s Truth.

    Guy:

    “But not for others? If it is so great for us, wouldn’t it be good for everyone? If not, why not?”

    Because other peoples already have their own cultural traditions which are appropriate to them. The Japanese, Chinese, Indians and others have rich cultural traditions. We are talking here about saving the West, not the world. Other peoples have to work out their own salvation. This is so even if they adopt Christianity.

    “If the reaction against modernity that is biblical fundamentalism doesn’t count as traditional, then why does the Catholic church, whose role and doctrine have been profoundly changed in the 20th century?”

    I dont think they have. There is clear continuity between post Vatican2 teaching and pre. However, I’m not Catholic, and this issue is obviously disputed, with some traditionalists claiming that it has changed radically, so I would suggest asking a Catholic. That said, there is still a wide gulf between the current R.C. and evangelical fundamentalism.

    “How does at the same time the Orthodox church count as “Western”, when its development has been so separate for so long from that of European secular civilisation that Samuel Huntingdon marks it up as a distinct “civilisation”?”

    Scholars and historians dispute this issue. My opinion is that at the root both the Orthodox East and the Roman/Protestant West are based on Roman and especially Greek culture, as well as Hebrew (and of course even early Christianity grew up in the Greek diaspora. In many respects the New Testament is a work of Greek culture and language) Despite a degree of seperate development I agree with those scholars who say that Eastern and Western Europe are two streams of the same civilisation rather than a radically distinct one. I am however biased on the issue as I am a convert to the Orthodox church.

    “How do we know which of the value-systems among the more respectable Protestantisms, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or Judaism we must follow for panacean purposes when they conflict?”

    Any of the above. I am not advocating cultural/religious uniformity without any diversity at all. The contribution of all the above traditions can contribute to the renewal of European civilisation.

    Frank:

    “That non-Islamic religious practice serves a utilitarian purpose. Societies composed of the religiously observant tend to be cohesive, stable and the social networks which extend from church and family, private charities etc. obviate the need for the type of intrusive, redistributive state. Thus, the framework of a minimal government is best provided by such traditional societies.”

    Exactly. Although as a Christian my motivations are not purely utilitarian.

    I dont have the space or time to answer fairly your concerns. I would say though that much depends on your definition of the words liberal and cosmopolitan. From a certain point of view I am not opposed to either of these things. Prior to the modern era many great European cities were liberal and cosmopolotan and still grounded in Tradition. Constantinople was just one example. Rome and Venice during the Rennassiance. I live in a fairly large city. I like city life. I like the culture. I like free trade, and scientific/technological progress. It all depends on where you set the boundaries. A traditionalist is not ooposed to progress, which is what differentiates us from fundamentalists. It could be said that a traditionalist is someone who, while not opposed to progress and change, believes that change should build on the past and on tradition rather than rejecting them outright (as leftist liberalism does), and believes in applying the precautionary principle to cultural and social change.

  • Julian Morrison

    Shawn, please don’t call communism

    a regime based on secularism, “logic” and “reason”

    Looking at its form rather than self description, it would be better described as a hierarchical doctrinal theocracy, sometimes combined with king-worship.

  • antidemocrat

    i am against democracy and have good reasons for it… i do not want to discuss it with those whoes reasons for this stand or the other are childish…

  • (Link)The above comments , in many cases , appear to imply that diversity is not especially compatible with the maximum freedom from aggression. If this freedom depends on several western traditions , then diversity from these will undercut the retention of them, and likely result in less freedom. Diversity from freedom is not a serviceable value. In general , diversity-enhancing characteristics that take away from the value of something would, at the same time and in respect of the same evaluation, also be said to increase its value, on the premise of diversity-value , but that is a contradiction-in-terms. Such is the argument of ‘diversity the anti-merit people’ at the link ….