Sunday, July 30, 2006

Metaphysical totalitarianism at the heart of liberalism


Do people support Islamic terror because it offers armed destruction of the ephemeral architectures of the West?

Toward understanding the modern support of terror


The latest Hezbollah tactics are such a blatant strike at Israel's existence, a promise of what is to come [in attempted total destruction], that I've been trying to understand how so many world players tacitly support this terror.

Several thinkers offer the suggestion that liberalism is actually making common cause with Islamic terror, because Islamic terror currently provides an armed destruction of the ephemeral and physical structures of Western [Judeo-Christian] Civilization. This this a shocking idea, but it must be countenanced, especially when observing the use of force that liberalism supports, and the concurrent calls for peace that liberalism authors -- generally speaking, of course [note: a discussion of liberalism as opposed to liberals]. But it is worthy of more thought, a theme that serious minded persons cannot ignore.

In this train of thought, I ran across a quote on Gail's blog, Crossing the Rubicon2. She quotes a thinker by the name of Benjamin Kerstein, who authors three incisive paragraphs on the subject. Kerstein itemizes a metaphysical totalitarianism at the heart of liberalism -- a postmodern application of Nietzschean will to power, its raison d'etre.

He suggests that metaphysical totalitarianism can brook no rival, ruthlessly destroying any person or structure that stands in its way. This being the case, Israel is a hated rival: a Jew that clings to her land and heritage is a threat, a virus to be removed. Thus Kerstein demonstrates that deep anti-Semitism is an unconscious outflow of liberal thought, reflected in conscious actions.

Antisemitism is not only representative of the "liberal community," it is the essence of liberalism itself. Liberalism is a bid for power first, and an ideology second. Its advocacy of racial and ethnic equality is, in fact, an expression of the imperialism inherent in liberal universalism. Liberalism must expand, its ambitions are total. Its desire is not, in fact, to make all peoples equal, but to make all peoples liberal. Its desire is not to equalize, but to conquer. When peoples are not liberal, they must be destroyed. This is not confined to antisemitism. Witness the brutal and inhuman racism directed at black and Hispanic conservatives. But in the case of the Jews, we have an absolute rejectionism.

The reason is that liberalism must seek to annihilate the Jews because the very fact of Jewish existence is, in the end, a rejection of the metaphysical totalitarianism at the heart of liberalism. Judaism is particular, rooted in place, uncompromising in its pride and its belief in its unique and divinely connected existence. This is called Chosenness. I am at best an agnostic, but I do not deny Chosenness. It is a fact of history. Albert Camus wrote that "a mission exists for any human group which knows how to derive pride and fecundity from its labors and its sufferings." He was speaking of the working class. He could easily be speaking of the Jewish people. This too is Chosenness. In the eyes of liberalism, this is not only offensive, but an existential threat.

This principle was summed up by the avatars of the French revolution, who proclaimed that the glorious new order of reason would grant everything to the Jew as a citizen and nothing to the Jews as a people. In other words, for the Jew who is not a Jew, everything. For the Jew who is a Jew, who willfully embraces the ephemeral architectures that make him a Jew, nothing. The reason is obvious. It is rooted in the essentially destructive nature of liberalism. Liberalism is based on the rejection of all connections or values beyond the material. We are all human beings, we are all flesh and blood, and this is our only legitimate value. The architectures of the past which make us human are demolished by liberalism, and those who hold to them are considered enemies of the one true faith. Thus, liberalism becomes an inquisition dedicated to the reduction of man to the biological. The medieval Inquisition named its justification the immortal soul. Liberalism calls it equality. It is still, ultimately, only another name for the will to power. And the destruction of those who would stand in the way of its absolute consummation.

Study these words:

In other words, for the Jew who is not a Jew, everything. For the Jew who is a Jew, who willfully embraces the ephemeral architectures that make him a Jew, nothing.

Thus, liberalism becomes an inquisition dedicated to the reduction of man to the biological. The medieval Inquisition named its justification the immortal soul. Liberalism calls it equality. It is still, ultimately, only another name for the will to power. And the destruction of those who would stand in the way of its absolute consummation.

Here, I think, is the key to understanding the world onslaught against Israel, those who would seemingly give their lives to ensure the success of those who radically seek Israeli and Jewish destruction...

Selah.

2 comments:

d_Brit said...

Loy,

I am less enamored with Kerstein's 'incisiveness' than you appear to be.

"the avatars of the French revolution, who proclaimed that the glorious new order of reason would grant everything to the Jew as a citizen and nothing to the Jews as a people."

Setting aside Kerstein's 'explanation' for what the 'avatars' meant, I would suggest that you consider another explanation...

As an individual in a democracy based upon reason, we are due the same 'natural' rights and priviledges as any other law abiding citizen.

Sex, Race, ethnicity and religious persuasion having no rational basis for exclusion from equal access to those rights.

Groups however have no 'rights' as there is no rational basis for granting an individual 'group' any priviledges, exclusive or not.

There is only 'legal' one group, individual citizens.

As for "Antisemitism is ...the essence of liberalism itself. Liberalism is a bid for power first, and an ideology second."

Practical experience does not support this view. We all know many, many liberals. Misguided they are but liberals are no more nor less antisemitic than conservatives or independents.

Conservativism may be accused of being foremost a bid for power using the same 'logic'. As conservatives are overwhelmingly supporters of capitalism, arguably a stronger case can be made that a 'lust' for power lies at the core of conservatism.

However, either point of view would be in error.

Liberalism springs from the juvenile protest that "it's not fair!" It is based in feeling and rejects any logic that opposes the perceptions upon which the 'feelings' are based.

Conservatism springs from the intellectual recognition that we are all individually responsible and accountable for our own actions.

Since compassion and empathy are feelings, a tendency toward alienation from those 'qualities' is conservatism's greatest failing.

There is much active antisemiticism at work in the world and liberals, at this time, encompass much of it, just as conservatives did in a earlier time.

Antisemiticism is an 'equal employer'. I would suggest it's roots lie far more in the spiritual realm than in any 'human' configuration.

Like its close relation racism, it is fear based, fear of the 'other'.

As soon as the Jews publically laid claim to be the 'chosen people', favored by God, whether accurate or not, the door to hate was opened.

Loy Mershimer said...

Hi d_Brit,

Thanks for your comments – well spoken, even if we may disagree somewhat. And that may be a function of talking past re: terms and contextual nuance. And by way of reply, let me just clarify a couple points:

1. This analysis of Kerstein is regarding liberalism, not liberals. Kerstein is careful not to use the term liberal, as that would open his analysis to your critique immediately [and similar critiques]. He’s painting in necessarily broad brush strokes, which do not consistently apply to individual liberals. An individual liberal [or conservative] may be far better or worse than the metaphysic of his or her commitment. For instance, I have liberal friends whom I believe are better humans than myself in many respects – even though I also believe their metaphysic and subsequent enabling actions [political and otherwise] have far more destructive societal effects than would an essentially conservative framework. The fact that “many liberals are not anti-Semitic,” as you state, in no way addresses Kerstein’s analysis of liberalism as metaphysic. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as it were. To use individual parts as argument against the sum is too simplistic – it atomizes and conflates the discussion to “practical experience,” which is not the purview of Kerstein’s critique, as I read it.

2. To point out the flaws of liberalism is not to gloss over the flaws of conservatism. Both have their sins; it’s just an argument of degree – and I’m pretty sure Kerstein would agree. But the point was not a comparative justification; it was a prophetic analysis of how in current terms, Western liberalism is necessarily feeding into Eastern anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment. To argue that conservatism also has its strains of anti-Semitism is a non sequitur for this discussion, as the context of the discussion is the enablement of virulent theocratic forms of Jewish hatred [Islamic totalitarianism] – a very “conservative” metaphysic in the widest terms.

3. To discuss it in these terms is not to deny the underlying spiritual realities, by any means.

4. Perhaps some of my appreciation, and your lack of appreciation, for Kerstein’s words stems from differing understandings of liberalism and conservatism. You state, quote:

"Liberalism springs from the juvenile protest that 'it's not fair!' It is based in feeling and rejects any logic that opposes the perceptions upon which the 'feelings' are based.

"Conservatism springs from the intellectual recognition that we are all individually responsible and accountable for our own actions.
"

I think this is the stem of our disagreement. Liberalism as I understand it in no way springs from lack of perceived fairness. That is a corollary, yes, and feeling is its epistemology, but liberalism is far more intellectual and rooted than that.

Without going into laborious history of philosophy, liberalism begins in post-Enlightenment rationalism, and its breakdown, as reason was admitted as the basis of knowing, only to discover that it had its fatal limits [the Nietzschean and Kantian problems, et al]. Liberalism in its post-Enlightenment iterations, whether scientific liberalism or existential liberalism, springs from the assumption of epistemology and life-authority as centered in the human self; or, by extension, the human community [postmodern iterations].

Liberalism, in these forms, claims agnosticism toward transcendent epistemology, a rejection of supra-human ethic or revelation. To use a mathematical analogy, it rejects the vertical axis of knowing in favor of the horizontal; it claims agnosticism of the vertical and self-evidentiary faith in the horizontal. For the scientific liberal, this takes the form of evidentialism. For the more postmodern liberal, this takes the form of mystical existentialism, or even raising it beyond person [or community] to a quasi-transcendent definition of nature, cosmos or environment. Ever wonder why Carl Sagan capitalized Cosmos?

In all this, the self becomes the epicenter of knowing [and life-authority] and by extension, the self’s chosen community. Liberalism is expressed in varying degrees of humanism, then socialism [political application of metaphysic].

This is theoretical, yes, but it is demonstrated in epochal terms when one analyzes the subcurrents of 20th, century political and religious streams: Russia, China, France, European Union, Latin America, and yes, even Germany, embraced some form of this metaphysic, with levels of social application.

Theologically, it now looks like agnosticism or Liberation Theology, et al, which rejects transcendence in spiritual life, and re-invests the social plane with salvific significance. The human, the natural self, is taken as the point of departure as authority of life and justification of action.

To use Kierkegaard's or Merton's terms, Liberalism has chosen the natural self and made it the enemy of the true self [the true self with all its "ephemeral architecture," as Kerstein might put it].

The utter brilliance of Kerstein’s three paragraphs, in my mind, is that, even as an quasi-agnostic, he could see the ephemeral structures of the Jewish people – which clearly link Jews to the Land – as completely incompatible with the overarching metaphysic of liberalism.

There’s much more to be said here, obviously, but I must quit for tonight, lol!

Have a good night, and I hope this is clearer than mud, lol.

Loy