Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Auster explained

There is a distinctive pattern to Lawrence Auster's behaviour in relation to Islam, liberalism and other anti-Jihadists. Yesterday I wrote a comment at Gates of Vienna that captures it succinctly.

In a thread at Gates of Vienna where essayist Westerner suggests that Islam must be defeated and destroyed, Auster enters to counter the approach of Baron Bodissey and many others. According to Auster the whole case has to be presented at once, and according to him that's the only way to convince people. Presenting the whole case involves suggesting the deportation of Muslims from our lands. But it also involves stating that liberalism must be defeated (in the world of traditionalist conservatism liberalism is sufficient to frame everything that is wrong with the West today). Baron Bodissey instead suggests that our goal is reached in many smaller steps from A to Z.

Lawrence Auster had written: "we can and should make the whole case right now, including the diagnosis, the cure, and the rejection of liberalism that prohibits a cure." To which I respond:

Isn't the real reason for your approach, that your real goal is to defeat liberalism? That's why you want to jump directly to step P. The steps before interest you little, since they do not specify the terminal ending of liberalism. But neither are the steps after of much interest to you, since you are not interested in defeating Islam. It's liberalism that you see as the real enemy. Islam you see as more benevolent and therefore worthy of surviving; a grace that you are not willing to give to liberalism.

Furthermore, you spend a disproportionate amount of time attacking (and often fiercely) conuterjihad people working on steps A, B and C. Why? For the same reason. People walking up this staircase like 1,2,3 are not seen as having proven their anti-liberal credentials in your eyes. The usage of liberal arguments against Islam is seen as a way of promoting liberalism by you, and is therefore attacked by you. It goes along with your declared agenda. Defeating liberalism--our prime and only real enemy according to you--is your focus.
I think this summarizes succinctly Auster's posture, and the many sides of it, in these debates. It's all derived from the nature of traditionalist conservatism to which Auster adheres. The conclusion is solely based on the nature of traditionalist conservatism, yet it explains all sides of Auster attitude and behaviour in these debates. Auster hasn't answered to this comment yet.

There are many aspects of the collective mental wall that we are up against when presenting our case to the general public: political correctness, people being lulled into false sense of security after so long time under prosperity and peace, fear of change, the decay of Christianity, effects of the industrial age, the bourgeoisification of the entire population, the post-modern distancing from reality, ignorance about Islam and about history in general, etc. In the book of traditionalist conservatism this can all be captured as liberalism. And in the book of traditionalist conservatism no case is worth presenting if it does not include the rejection of liberalism as a whole.

Let's start with what traditionalist conservatism has gotten right. It's true that the whole thing is bigger than just political correctness and the failure to see the true face of Islam. It's also true that the current ruling elites have to be entirely rejected, however this does not necessarily imply the complete rejection of liberalism.

According to traditionalist conservatism liberalism is both a necessary and sufficient criterion to set the whole diagnosis. But while it can serve as a good enough approximation in many contexts it's neither necessary nor sufficient as a criterion. It's not sufficient since liberalism didn't come from out of the blue, but is rooted in deeper structures of our culture. Christian ethics, with it's egalitarianism, universalism and inversion of values is the root of liberalism. And we find how Christianity has weaknesses towards Islam, that has nothing to do with what Christianity has in common with liberalism, but is based on the Abrahamic connection that many Christians feel towards Islam.

But at the same time it's not a necessary criterion. In spite of my criticism of Christianity, I cannot know that Christianity will be rejected as a solution to our problems. This is very much an open question, and a very likely development is that Christianity will be calibrated, such as to mend the suicidal weaknesses of Christianity sufficiently for our civilizational survival (I'm speaking in a century long perspective here). The same with liberalism (which overlaps the case of Christianity predominantly). Already a national liberalism that is rejecting universalism and calibrating its egalitarianism would take us far. Actually this is a good way to describe the new political stance of Denmark today. Denmark has not abandoned liberalism, they have calibrated it, changed it's character to make it stronger for national defence.

The same with my criticism of democracy. It's very much an open question what will happen on that front, in a century long perspective. We might end up with a calibrated version where only the ones paying taxes will have the right to vote. We might end up with a traditional republic. Or we might end up with a more truly mixed constitution. or with a despot or a tyrant.

These are all open questions. What will work will work. And one thing is for sure, we will end up with mishmash solutions full of paradoxes. Social paradigms never change properly into something that is intellectually stringent. Social institutions and concepts are the result of evolution, and will therefore always hold inner contradictions.

Polticial views that are heavily ideologized infallibly fall into becoming permanent opponents to our civilization. Communists see our civilization as Capitalistic, and are therefore enemies of it. They will always be enemies of it since no matter what is its real character, they will always see it as Capitalistic. Libertarians see our civilization as oppression by evil states, and are therefore enemies of it. They will always be enemies of it since no matter what is its real character, they will always see it as oppression by evil states. Traditionalist conservatives see our civilization as liberal, and are therefore enemies of it. They will always be enemies of it since it will never be un-liberal enough for them. This is the reason why traditionalist conservatives will often operate in a similar manner as Communist sectarians within any specific movement. They have an agenda of their own and that's the one they are driving.

Islam is a very real enemy, that has declared total war upon us. The problem of the West though, that is often referred to as "liberalism", is a set of demons that need to be exorcised. These demons are based on fears, which are based on myths; the strongest of which (the hardest nuts to crack) are rooted in WWII, but the roots of these myths go far back.

Lawrence Auster simply cannot make himself say that we are in a total war with Islam, that Islam is wicked, and that Islam needs to be defeated and destroyed. But when it comes to "liberalism" he has no problem in saying that it is wicked and must be defeated.

Auster has gotten it all upside down. First of all his term "liberalism" is just a construction, quite as the term "Islamism" is. The purpose of this construction is to catch a wide-ranging phenomenon of the West that surely is in need of a common characterization and name. So far I'm with him. But when he takes this construction into being the ultimate evil and our ultimate enemy, he has taken this approximate term so far out on so thin ice that it won't carry. And the whole thing becomes as Quixotic as when the neocons declare war on "Islamism".

[End of post]

1 comment:

Baron Bodissey said...

Yes, to tilt at liberalism and yet have moral scruples about what may be required to do to deal with Islam leads us to a dead end.

We have to think about the possibility that a lot of very morally correct and totally virtuous dead Christians will litter the landscape when Islam is through with us, and decide whether our superior morality requires that we accept that outcome.