Friday, April 04, 2008

American Liberal: A Friend of the People.

I recall the look on Truepeer's face one evening early on in our meetings of a Thursday when I, in all innocence, proclaimed myself to be a Liberal. I didn't have a cell phone or I might have dialed for an ambulance straight away. After some long explanation I got through to him that 'Liberal' doesn't mean I'm a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada, which he assumed. When he made plain that was his understanding I begged him to call an ambulance.

Liberal is to me, then, if not so much now, one of those from Britain in support of the merchant class, a supporter of industrialism and the marketplace monetary economy as opposed to the agricultural economy based on goods and services outside the money economy, the economy of entitlements, feudal duties, seigneurial rights and noblesse oblige. To me, at that time, Conservative meant, and means to a lesser extent today, a peasant economy, i.e. one based on labour without money, sans Capital. I still find myself, on rare occasions, reaching automatically under my arm for a persuasive counter-argument when I hear "Conservative." But then I remember, ha ha, that this doesn't mean a manorial economy, no latifundista class and smiling, happy peasants in the distance, the starving clad in traditional costumes, waving from afar. So, yes, let us define what we mean when we loosely use such terms as liberal and conservative. Liberal means free markets, money economy, free exchange of goods and labour.

What Peers and others refer to as Conservative I think of in terms of the French Revolution, and frankly, so do most today, whether they know it or not: The Liberals are the Right in that sense, i.e the manufacturing classes, the owners of the means of production, those who employ and utilize manu / labour and machinery that is used to produce further from others with same; and the Left are the latifundista adjuncts, such as disaffected lawyers. The whole fiasco of Left and Right today comes from the National Assembly in 1788ish when the profit group sat on the right side of the building, the lawyers on the left side. It was a seating arrangement then; it is less than that now. The Liberals on the Right sided with the business /profit interests, the Capitalists, the bourgeios. They stood for market freedom, including labour freedom, i.e for workers' freedom to move to better paying jobs and for social mobility. When others speak of conservatives, I don't assume they mean free marketeers.

By the most remarkable co-incidence, the photograph of my smiling face here makes me look almost exactly like a sketch of Jean-Paul Marat, a leader of sorts during the Terror after the initial Revolution of 1789. Marat was so far to the Left that he was more or less on the Right. I see it clearly in Robespierre's lament, as he wrote shortly before shooting himself in the jaw in a failed suicide attempt, "Extremes meet." And so I find it is true in real life.

Marat, to his ever-lasting credit, understood and acted upon the knowledge that one cannot leave the remnants of the reactionary classes intact to restore the status quo ante if one is a revolutionary; one cannot allow the preservation of the classes who would restore the period prior to the Revolution, i.e. the reactionary classes, those reacting negatively to the Revolution. Marat's solution to the problem of the reactionary classes' attempts to restore privilege was to cut off their fucking heads. I, being a kinder, gentler version of Marat, find the solution we require in, for example, the retrograde world of Islam, to be the imposition on the reluctant reactionary world to be School Teachers with Guns. I argue for a Rational Terror as an integral aspect of neo-colonialist "America of the Mind" manifest destiny, all of which is nicely put throughout the past years at No Dhimmitude.

You want "middle-class" values" of Universal Modernity, i.e. universal Human rights, a market economy across a free world of individualist members of free nation states? Not all democrats do. If you do, then you might agree with me that the way to bring about the furtherance of our beautiful revolutions of Modernity-- the Industrial, American, and French Revolutions-- is to invade "places" as free individuals, as filibusters, i.e. privately interested colonialists whose interest is in overthrowing the powers that be, of reducing the populations to order, and of bringing forth a self-colonization of the locals through education and brute force till the force is so overwhelming and terrifying that only the most ardent native will survive it as self-identifiers and promoters. The meek masses, having lived through the destruction of their previous epistemologies, will succumb to power and will obey the revolutionary norm; and in time, with the winnowing by armed philosophers, the colonialist Revolution will produce democrat children as American in the mind as any American in America today.

What? Am I some kind of fascist? A Rightwing religious bigot? A monster without concern for individual life? I'll get back to you on that one. A social engineer? A Platonist Philosopher King? A Leninist party hack? Uh, I'm busy right now but I'll have my secretary look into the files and she'll send you a form letter.

American did not exterminate its feudal classes in the Revolution. You ask me why. You say, "Dag, why didn't America exterminate the feudal classes in the Revolution?"

'Cause we had none! There was no one needing to die. The Muslim world? Let me count the ways. I must borrow briefly your fingers and toes as well. We, only we, we colonial members of democracies in the West, are Revolutionaries alone. No other people are revolutionaries. Even many of our own are reactionaries who wish to restore the world to a neo-feudalism, those, our so-called Left, not a spit of difference between them and the so-called Right. There is no difference between Left and Right. There is no meaningful distinction to be made between liberal and conservative. Meaning is found only in Revolutionary and Reactionary.

Rational debate of this kind of project is fine right up till such time as those who think as I do are organized and armed. Then it's a matter of which side one opts to support. I'm a liberal kind of guy. I stand for freedom and individualism. I take it with me wherever I go.Revolutonary Americanism. It's free, portable, and importable. It grows everywhere it's planted. But it has to be guarded till it's strong enough to flourish alone. I defend it. That's why I'm proud to be a Liberal and a friend of the People.


truepeers said...

Hmmm, I have that look on my face again.

There were a lot of people (if not strictly feudal classes, at least some old Tory buggers) exterminated in the American "Revolution" - really a very bitter civil war, and many sent packing, e.g. to the cold white north (including some of my ancestors). The losers of that civil war were neither revolutionaries nor reactionaries.

I think there is a meaningful difference between conservative and liberal. One is a defender of the normal, of the established forms of sacrality (seeing creative renewal as a living potential in the normal or constitutional); the other questions them, sometimes with reason and sometimes with Gnostic fantasy (seeing creativity in the powers of the untold imagination).

The serious revolutionary is the same as the serious reactionary. These are the two extremes that meet in the land of fantasy where an inability to understand the nature of human freedom reigns. Thus we get Marxist revolutionaries who are only a worse form of the Czar or Emperor, or a Robespierre or Napoleon in comparison to a Louis. Feudalism ended in New France/Lower Canada without a Revolution; could that not also have happened in an old France that came to terms with the British (non-revolutionary) revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries and saw the superiority of the new market-oriented order?

The seriously giddy revolutionary creates nothing new, only an inferior version of the previous tyranny. This is because expanding human freedom requires a compact between past and future that doesn't rob the social system of much necessary information/sociocultural distinctions, but reiterates the received understandings in ways that open them up, dropping only what is truly anachronistic, incompatible with the new understnadings. Likewise, the serious reactionary creates nothing new because he's afraid of freedom just like the revolutionary who wants the revolution to overcome human politics in some "modernity" that entails the triumph of mechanistic and naturalistic notions of order replacing traditionally human ones. True human order cannot be radically revolutionary because it draws on the full range of human self-understandings from the birth of one's culture to the present.

Meanwhile, both the conservative and liberal can create new things as they play and articulate the two sides of the necessary compact between past and future. The problem with the present Liberal Party of Canada is that it is neither: it is now a supporter of Transnational Progressivism (a kind of fantasy ideology that wants to end politics in the name of the victims they see as a product of politics) and thus an enemy of both serious Canadian conservatives and liberals.

None of this is to suggest that there can't be a role for missionaries and fighters for modernity in other countries around the world. But if they have no respect for the need to work with the existing culture to change it from within, or no desire to kill off of demographically drown the indigenous people of a given country, I can't see how they can succeed.

truepeers said...


do you know that old line "the real traditionalist doesn't know he is one"?

Well, that's to say that both a conservative and liberal as I use the terms are people aware of living in an unfolding history. They're just differently betting on what kind of "progress" is fantasy and what real...

maccusgermanis said...

I prefer to fall back upon prior, more clear, definitions when common usage has made such a current mess of "liberal."

I don't believe that which is "befitting free men" has changed since nobles, that saw themselves as free and others as serfs, fought for what we now see as privilege. Rather our concept of who is free has become universal. And so true "liberals" and "conservatives" find themselves in fundamental, if not strategic or tactical, agreement on what is "befitting free men."

Dag said...

I'm spending my weekend coming up with a further installment here. Please bear with me.

Dag said...

Macc, if only I'd gotten word from you sooner I could have reached over to my book case and pulled out Bierce.

"Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others." [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary,"

Thanks for the link.