The Great Revolution–From Whiggery to Marxism in one easy lesson

The Liberal Premise is not so much a collection of ethical and political positions as it is an ideological posture, or, to take a metaphor from everyday life in the new millennium, it is a virus that is forever mutating to meet new challenges to its advance.  Since the virus has infected everyone in the modern world—without ever seeming to produce immunity—it is hard to detect.  Imagine a world in which everyone you knew was suffering the symptoms of Long COVID through his entire lifetime.  That would make it more difficult to discern the those suffering from a new onset of the disease from those who will never recover.  

As in the case of Long COVID, the disease of Liberalism is marked by lethargy and a supine acceptance of everything that happens.  Resistance is futile, as they used to say in Sci Fi movies.  Occasionally someone suffering from Long COVID might become irritable and impatient with any demands upon his time or attention.  If a medical advisor suggests he needs more exercise in the sunlight—or at least a regimen of vitamins C and D, he will ignore the advice or even insult the advisor.  In the parallel case of those suffering from Long Liberalism, the impatient grouch is called a Conservative, a term of abuse applied to victims of assault, who have never known what hit them and are content to wave their arms around blindly  without ever landing a blow on the assailant.

To identify the more virulent strains of Liberalism, we must seek them out among the unprincipled, undereducated gurus who readily embrace the latest anti-human fantasy.  Sometimes, as in the case of Pope Francis, they are obtuse enough to blurt out the motive a more prudent enemy would conceal, as when he declared recently that Catholics who cling to tradition are holding onto a “dead memory.”  Authentic traditions, he explains, are not perpetual models but rough sketches for what he clearly envisions as a perpetual revolution.

As I suggested earlier in this series—and in several books and essays—the ideological posture of Liberalism is based on three basic principles:  1) that all aspects of human life can and must be subjected to rational analysis that will provide all criteria of right and wrong, good and evil; 2) that all rational analysis must be conducted in a manner detached from all local and particular interests or obligations; 3) that the only moral actors are human individuals whose interests are protected by the collective entity known as the state.

Of the first criterion, rationality, enough has already been said in this series.  The implications of the second and third are pretty obvious—the rejection of all traditional institutions intermediate between the individual and the state.  Among these institutions are local and provincial cultural and political ties, religious bodies, cultural traditions, and—above all—marriage, family, and kinship.  As Marx and Engels said, in their Left-Liberal critique of Classical Liberalism, Liberal Capitalist governments in the 19th century dissolved every bond between man and man and left only the cash nexus.  What they did not say in their Manifesto was that they regarded the bourgeois capitalist revolution as a necessary and positive step toward the communist revolution that would take away even the cash nexus and leave men and women to the untender mercies of the Marxist state.

For the requirement of moral distance in making moral decisions, Adam Smith set the tone when he called upon us to consult the “impartial spectator” within us to make decisions as if neither we nor our friends and kinsmen had any stake in the outcome.  As I have said elsewhere, this means that we are to act like a politician whose assets are put in a blind trust, though in the case of Smith and disciples like Thomas Nagel even our wives and children are in the blind trust.

Long before Mao Tse Tung coined the phrase, Liberals—Classical and Marxist—had been conducting a systematic long march through the institutions, appropriating what they could when it was possible (for example, preserving certain aspects of marriage, while allowing for divorce on demand) and destroying whatever was nailed down too tight to be stolen.  I hardly need to make an exhaustive list, but here is a brief resume:

The English Civil War that murdered Charles I, cashiered James II, and installed a grotesque family of German puppets on the throne.

The French Revolution that murdered king and queen and a good portion of the aristocracy, disestablished the Church and stole its property, and “canceled” the entire history of the French nation.

The Classical Liberal war against kinship and property that gradually outlawed entail and primogeniture, made no-fault divorce the reality in most American states even before 1900, “liberated” women and children from their families; and step by step converted independent peasant proprietors and skilled craftsmen into automata dominated by vast economic interests.

The Socialist/Neocapitalist campaign against private property that confiscated lands in Marxist states and, in capitalist states, used tax laws and eminent domain to attenuate the meaning of property which they reduced to a dangerous illusion.

And that was only the beginning….

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

3 Responses

  1. Michael Strenk says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how similar the development of Islam, especially in its early centuries, seems to be paralleled in many ways by the development of modern parasitic ideologies.

  2. Allen Wilson says:

    All along, the revolution has claimed to be liberating everyone from “oppressive” bonds but in fact has made everyone more and more slaves with each passing generation. Most of those “oppressive ” bonds which were eliminated were normal organic ties that made life worth living. Now, isolated and alienated, we are all slaves in chains made by central banking, the state, and big corporations, and those chains are as much inside our own minds as they are out in the physical world, a world which is increasingly becoming one not worth living in.

    The Davos idea of putting everyone in tiny little habitats where they spend their days lost in virtual reality and eating bugs must be the epitome, the acme, the ultimate subhuman climax of the revolution, refined down to it’s purest, basest, most concentrated form, an expression of it’s very essence. Given the nature of the revolution itself, wouldn’t such an end have been inevitable all along?

  3. David E. Bomar says:

    The continuing Liberal Revolution is marked by the subjection of human reason to disordered appetites. As these appetites become increasingly unruly and even downright psychotic, the poor intellect is reduced to a mere instrument producing rationalizations for disordered wants. These rationalizations are what we call Ideologies. Hence, the Liberal Revolution will always be an Ideological Revolution, and given enough time will become increasingly psychotic.