Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kristor separates the MEN from the boys, and the boys from the screaming belligerant undisciplined toddlers

In the event that you haven't had the opportunity to read Kristor's excellent analysis on the distinctions which separate Traditionalists from liberal Republicans and liberal Republicans from liberal Democrats over at VFR, I'll make it easy for you:

Kristor writes:

That's the problem with gnosticism: the perfect drives out the good. The liberal gnostics quite properly hate evil, but are not prepared to admit that, albeit corrupted by evil, the world is basically good. For them, any evil anywhere ruins the whole shooting match. It is the moral stance of the two year old who wants both to keep his cake and eat it. Nothing is ever good enough for them. That is why they have difficulty with any wholehearted allegiance to any concrete entity like America. Their allegiances are to abstract ideas, which by nature cannot ever be perfectly instantiated in the world. They love ideas; they hate the world; and, logically, they would hate any world, because worlds as such are congeries of disparate entities that are forced to reconcile themselves to each other (so as to constitute a world), and thus to compromise on their ideals, and thus to introduce to the world some defect or other in the perfect actualization thereof. This is why there are conservation laws in physics; There is No Free Lunch is the conservation laws of physics at work in society.

None of this is acceptable to the liberal gnostic. Liberal gnostics want all the possible goods, without recognizing that there cannot be such a thing as a world in which all goods are compossible. So, e.g., they want cheap gas, but they don't want domestic drilling; they want to encourage people to reduce gas consumption and seek alternatives, but they want cheap gas; they want to tax the bejesus out of the oil companies, but they want cheap gas. They want to stop burning coal, but don't want to build nuclear plants, or site windmills where they might kill some birds. They want the poor to stop being poor, but they don't want anyone to do well. They want the Grand Canyon to be wheelchair accessible, but they want to reduce public access to the Grand Canyon. They want religious freedom, but they don't want religion to constrain anything. They want the government to make us all perfectly safe, but they don't want the government to do anything at all that would interfere with anyone's freedoms anywhere. The logical endpoint of all this is the destruction of humanity as a blot upon the earth. But that would be evil, too (thus James Taranto's archetypal liberal headline, "World Ends: Poor Hardest Hit").

When the liberal gnostics can't get everything they want, what do they do? They scream at the Daddy or Mommy who is telling them "no." That's why the gnostics of the first century were mad at Yahweh. That's why the liberal gnostics of today hate the mean nasty Republicans, even though Republicans are mostly liberals, too. The difference between the liberal gnostics and the liberal Republicans is that the latter are not gnostics. Liberal Republicans share the liberal goal of perfection: perfect safety, prosperity, health, and so forth, for everyone--but they recognize the limitations of reality. They tend to know something about economics. They are liberals, but they are realists.

The difference between the liberal realist and the traditionalist is that the traditionalist is not interested in perfection in this world; does not expect it; understands that the worship of creaturely perfection is both an exercise in idolatry and simply inapposite to our basic creaturely predicament. To the traditionalist, the limits imposed upon us in this world are instances of Providence, that secure for us the very structure of the world, and, thus, because the world is the platform from which we mount, as rungs to Jacob's ladder.

The liberal gnostic hates and abhors the limit, and all things subject thereto (thus also himself); the liberal realist recognizes and respects the limit; the traditionalist cherishes and celebrates the limit.

It's by sheer force of will alone that I resist the overwhelming urge to add to Kristor's list of grievances against liberal gnostics several of my own complaints, albeit that mine are of a more general variety.


feminizedwesternmale said...

you should post the link to vfr.