I recently discovered an entertaining, old View from the Right thread about “gynocracy” and liberalism. It features some frank discussion on what “feminism” has wrought in the West. Among other worthwhile aspects of the post, Auster once again shows his knack for analyzing the Left:
Liberalism means seeing the world as a single collection of individuals, all possessing the same rights, and distinguished only by their “individual worth.” Liberalism rejects, as a fundamental principle, the idea that individuals may belong to different categories—categories not chosen by the individual himself—that may affect the individual’s rights. So, from the point of view of liberalism, there is no reason why women cannot be, say, soldiers or police officers, so long as the women in question can “do the job.” This leads to a few women, who have the requisite qualifications, becoming soldiers or police officers, which in turn leads to changes in the institution to adjust to those women (e.g., separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters, the elimination of hazing at VMI), and thence to an attack on the “culture of masculinity” in those institutions and to never-ending demands for ever more women to be admitted and to be promoted at the same rate as men. Starting with a liberal individual-rights paradigm aimed at the non-discriminatory inclusion of qualified individuals, we end up with cultural radicalism aimed at transforming or destroying the institution itself.
In the area of immigration, U.S. immigration in 1965 was opened up equally to immigrants from all countries on the basis that the only criterion for admission should be the “individual worth” of prospective immigrants, rather than their nationality, race, or religion. But since these notions of individual worth were necessarily minimalistic (since the very purpose of the law was to eliminate group discrimination, not to admit high quality immigrants, an impossible task in any case when you’re talking about mass immigration), the people we permitted as worthy individuals in fact carried cultural differences with them that inevitably have changed American culture and created demands for far more sweeping changes, in the process also leading to the prohibition of any criticism of these changes. Once again, pure liberal individualism, based on “individual worth,” leads to cultural radicalism and the loss of an institution’s or a whole society’s legitimate liberty to govern itself.
By contrast, traditionalism acknowledges that we as human beings are not just individuals possessing rights and desires, that there are things about us that matter that do not come from ourselves. Our nature as men or women is not created by ourselves; it is a given that comes from outside ourselves and that structures our existence. From the point of view of traditionalism, such larger categories as sex, religion, nationality, ethnicity, and race (not to mention species) matter. How much they matter varies. In some cases they may not matter at all, and the issue can be determined on a pure basis of individual rights; in other cases they may matter very much, and liberal rights must take a back seat to other considerations. How much they matter in any case is something to be determined by prudence. As President Kennedy once said about brains, there is no substitute for prudence.
Therefore the proper role of women and men in society is a legitimate topic of political discussion. But liberalism denies that it is a legitimate topic, because liberalism denies the existence, or at least the importance, of those larger categories or essences.
Of course I am not denying the evils that have been done in the name of putting people into determined categories of race, class, sex, and so on. Liberalism is however an extreme solution to that problem which creates horrible problems of its own. The result of denying that group categories can ever matter socially or be a legitimate topic of discussion can be seen in the paralyzing political correctness that controls Britain and other European countries at this moment, with the U.S. not far behind.
May Auster keep writing and enlightening for many, many years!
Last week, Auster linked to a fascinating photographic article by El Marco of Looking at the Left. You may see the motley crew whose images he captured in “Evil Clowns and Radical Ringmasters of the Anti-Capitalist Revolution in Denver.” After reading about these Occupy Wherever types, I often wonder what they would be like in one on one conversation. I have known many “radicals,” some personally pleasant and some reprehensibly foul. Foolish political and anthropological views do not necessarily correspond with vice, and there are many sweet souled anarchists and socialists on the American campus. As my friend Andrew often remarks, the reason that democracy is mad is the same reason that we ought not to hold political opinions against their adherents. It is unreasonable to expect everyone to be a philosopher or to have been raised and educated by the sane and the wise in contemporary America.