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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why Liberalism is a Reactionary Ideology

The narrative that liberal pundits have constructed and continually replayed over the last year is one in which progress minded and enlightened liberals are working to reform America into a modern society, while being stymied by a bunch of knuckle dragging reactionary conservatives who are anti-Science and want to drag America back into the dark ages. There's only one problem with this narrative, it's actually a mirror image of reality.



When it comes to holding on to reactionary ideas or maintaining an ideological worldview built on a reflexive hostility to modernity; nobody can top the modern leftist or his tamer liberal cousin. If you took away leader worship, fear of technology, the state as the solution to all problems, the supremacy of the group over the individual and the belief that the "enlightened" should rule over the common masses for their own good and control every aspect of their lives-- there would be nothing left of the modern liberal. Literally nothing at all.

The modern liberal is wedded to a thoroughly reactionary worldview in which he worships the institutions he control and is full of paranoia and suspicion of those he does not. He disdains the common man and longs for enlightened leaders to uplift him and to transform his country into a messianic vision of a kingdom of heaven in which no one ever goes hungry and everyone is perfectly equalized-- a pseudo-religious vision of government as religion that is wholly primitive in its conflation of theology and civics.

Every time a liberal pundit self-righteously trots out the stereotype of the ignorant science bashing conservative who just won't accept the science of the environmentalist movement, he needs to be reminded that the entire environmentalist movement is founded on a fear of the products of science, namely technology and modern civilization.

Unlike conservationism, which was a genuinely progressive attempt to address species decline, environmentalism dabbles in pseudo-religious mysticism about mother earth, and treats technology as the evil villain behind every global temperature change and polar bear cough. Even setting aside environmentalism's well known links to the "crystals and shamans" New Age movement, its mystical notion that the human race is somehow accountable to the orbiting ball of rock and the biological organisms on it that we call Earth, or its even more bizarre notion that those biological organisms have equal or even greater rights to the planet than we do-- environmentalism would still be wholly anti-science for its insistence that everything wrong with the planet can be reduced to technology and human civilization.

When environmentalists demand that the government legislate against carbon emissions, they are humorlessly replicating the Dihydrogen Monoxide hoax, in which Penn and Teller gathered signatures from concerned environmentalists to ban water as a dangerous element. The point of the hoax was that public ignorance and alarmism over pollution from any scientifically named substance could lead people to call for a ban of the most common element on earth. But this time the liberals aren't joking in their crusade against one of the most common elements on earth and in the universe.

Environmentalists demand that we respect the scientific process, except that it's only their process that they demand respect for. and as the leaked East Anglia emails show, their process consists of burying the original data, manipulating the existing data and silencing all their critics. That is not a scientific process, that is Lysenkoism, a perfect paradigm of how totalitarian leftism can create a wholly distorted scientific theory by demanding that science align with its ideological agenda, rather than the other way around.


Nor do environmentalists have a great track record of respecting science, except when they can stack the deck so it comes out on their side. When the scientific process found that there was no reason to ban DDT, the environmentalists shrieked and marched and denounced the experts, just as they now accuse conservatives of doing, until they got their way. DDT was banned, mosquitoes thrived and millions around the world died of malaria. One can hardly think of a clearer example of anti-science reactionary behavior than using a popularized book, written by Rachel Carson, (who got her "start in science" penning episodes of "Romance Under the Waters" for the Bureau of Fisheries), to generate baseless public hysteria over a commonly used pesticide and then exploiting that hysteria to push through a ban, even when the science showed otherwise.

The entire environmentalist movement is one long string of hysterical alarmist warnings that threaten us with imminent destruction if we don't stop using technology, if we don't stop being productive, if we don't stop traveling, using modern food packaging and production technology and fall on our faces to pay homage to Mother Earth by crawling back into the caves on a quest for some kind of mystical Edenistic quest for our inner Noble Savage. But despite the fact that their prophesied environmental armageddons have never come to pass, environmental liberalism continues to demand that we put aside the tools and techniques of modern science, in order to go backward in time, to rely again on wind power, reusable packaging, pedal powered vehicles and all the other primitive methods we left behind.

Liberal Luddites might argue that they can't be accused of being anti-science and anti-technology, after all they have blogs, webpages, iPhones and Twitter. But there is a fundamental difference between the use of technology and the conception of technology. Islamic fundamentalists make use of the same social media, even as they work to impose a reactionary ideology that is just as anti-technology on the world. Environmentalists who Twitter the latest claims that technology is killing us, and we should be riding bicycles and living in a shack in the woods, are no different than them.

Anyone can use technology, but not just anyone can accept technology as a praiseworthy and useful tool. Environmentalists may exploit science and technology, but only in order to undermine it. Just as Islamic fundamentalists post Islamic lectures on YouTube, environmentalists post videos of themselves living in trees. Both are examples in which technology is used to advocate a society that minimizes the use of technology.

Like Lysenkoism, the environmental movement is built on bad science created around an ideology. It is not scientific, it is inherently anti-scientific because it transforms science into a tool of dogma and then suppresses the views of everyone who disagrees. When liberals insist that their opponents are anti-science, they mean that in the same way that they mean their opponents are anti-democratic-- because in their minds once they have appropriated an institution, be it scientific or political, they also feel that they now own its name as well. Accordingly when liberals denounce their political opponents as anti-science or anti-education or anti-democratic, or for that matter racist or misogynist, they are not only accusing others of their own sins, but treating entire fields, ideas and billions of people as their wholly owned property in whose name they alone can speak.

But the reactionary nature of liberalism does not begin or end with its quasi-mystical faith in Gaia. Liberalism does not simply demand that we cast aside modern technology, it also demands that we cast aside modern ideas of individualism, nationalism and economic freedom... in favor of submitting to the power of an overriding state that will care for us for our own good.


When liberal pundits accuse tea party protesters of longing for the good old days, it is in fact the pundits themselves who in true reactionary fashion long for the good old days. Not just the good old days of the USSR, but the good old days when the common people kept their heads down and listened to their betters. To hear the MSNBC talking heads bewail the danger of the armed mobs at Town Halls, you might think that you were listening to  royalists bemoaning the French Revolution. But theirs is an equally elitist worldview in which power comes not from the voice of the people telling their representatives, but from the people listening to their representatives telling them what to do.

The American experiment was based on the radical progressive notion that the people as individuals were best suited to conduct their own lives. Socialism by contrast is a reactionary ideology that rejects individual freedom in favor of a rule of the enlightened elite. The pundits who swoon over Obama's intelligence and speechmaking, make a point of drawing a contrast with their perception of the backward crudity of a George W. Bush or Sarah Palin who in their minds represent those hopeless commoners sticking to their guns and their religion. To hear the adulation wash over Obama, is to hear an echo of the slavish worship of the Sun King or a divinely appointed emperor. It is not simply messianic, a vein of political mysticism long common among liberals, but royalist in nature. Obama's own emphasis on his lineage rather than his political accomplishments, the leader worship of his ubiquitous stylized portraits and a press that has transformed itself into the bewigged and perfumed courtiers of an European monarchy is a sight both repugnant and reactionary. A window looking back on ugly centuries of rulers and servants, of kings and tyrants who are to be flattered and worshiped for their benevolent wisdom, no matter how naked they might be.

Like the kings of old, liberals pledge to rule the people for their own benefit, while at the same time fearing the people. Even as they designate themselves the "Protectors of the People", they set up endless barricades against the will of the people. Because the essential idea of socialism is that the people are incapable of caring for themselves, that they need a thousand benevolent dictators overseeing their lives and protecting them from their own foolishness and from being exploited by the capitalists and imperialists.

By promoting socialism in America, liberals are engaging in a reactionary campaign to stamp out the American experiment in favor of yet another all-powerful state that intervenes in every aspect of the lives of its citizens. While the Tea Party protesters are fighting for a fundamentally progressive cause, the right of individuals to lead their lives as they see fit, liberals are fighting for a reactionary cause to impose an overriding government on the people against their will. And there can hardly be anything more reactionary than the tyrannical belief that the will of the people must be subservient to the will of their rulers.

The socialist dream is the ancient dream of a supreme state, that is somehow all-wise and all-benevolent, whose rulers are somehow more enlightened than ordinary people, and who supply everyone with their needs. Such a vision is wholly reactionary and at odds with modernity itself which vests power in the individual and with thousands of years of history which have demonstrated conclusively that no class of rulers can be wiser or superior to those they rule.

Nevertheless the reactionary program of liberalism has been to remove autonomy from the individual and vest it in state and party institutions. To place the individual into economic and racial classes, and to provide political representation to those classes, rather than to the individual. This tribalism, this caste system revived in the false guise of progressive politics is what liberals have used to try and stamp out democratic representation. This is the heart of their battle cry, "power to the poor", "power to the Latinos", "power to the unions", power to every subdivided and conquered group, but not power to the individual.

The denial of the individual is the great liberal reactionary crime against the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, against a form of government specifically constructed to restrict government authority and to liberate the individual from the legislative chains of its authority. Liberalism and socialism are an old form of tyranny in flashy new clothes. But the flashy new clothes cannot disguise its reactionary totalitarianism, its distrust of popular elections and legislative authority vested in the people, rather than in an enlightened elite.


When its flashy clothes are stripped away, liberalism stands revealed as a fear of modernity. There is nothing progressive about liberalism, it is the ideology of a political, cultural and economic elite that reviles everything modern, that longs for a mystical right of kings and well ordered oligarchies, denounces technology as the tool of the pollution devil, distrusts all science that is not in the service of its ideology and is threatened by any sort of debate or opposition.

Today liberalism is the second most backward, most paranoid, most reactionary and totalitarian ideology in the West after Islamism. Both are based on the fear of the modern, the fear of the liberated individual, technology and the nation state. Their great dream is the same, a vast mystical world-state ruled over by the enlightened and providing an inhumanly perfect justice for all. Both believe that the only solution for mankind is to go backward, to crawl instead of walk, to fear instead of know and to obey rather than think. That is Liberalism and Islamism in a nutshell, two reactionary ideologies walking together into the dark ages.

16 comments:

Jesterhead45 said...

Great Post

I've recently read a book by Eugene Narrett called the Culture of Terror, where he notes that the liberals seek to create a sterile, depopulated and impoverished world without distictions along with other elements you're highlighted in your posts.

My questions are:

1- Why would the liberal elite have reason to fear modernity and the future if it could offer them (in theory at least) greater levels of control, management as well as a better chance in allowing them to finally "remake man" (ridding man of that pesky human nature) then current methods?

2- Though one can easily imagine islam and the liberal elite's vision for mankind and the world (as a harsh arrakis-like desert and a darwinian jungle respectively), what is the Jewish solution or vision compared to those two reactionary systems?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

2. There is more than one Jewish solution, depending on which aspect you emphasize.

But essentially to my mind the Jewish tradition does not emphasize the state, let alone centralization, but individual nations, and each man under his own fig tree, living by his own labor with none to make him afraid.

Languille Lady said...

Really, really excellent article. I have emailed to friends, and also posted link on Facebook. Mr. G., you have "nailed" it once again!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

thank you, glad to hear that

ronny said...

The problem with this article is that it gives me no real reason for why Liberals do their thing. Yes, I know the title says they're reactionary, but you may as well have said they are simply "demon spawn" it would have had as much meaning.

There must be a reason why so many people will find solace in ridiculous power structures. Look, it's one thing to be deceived, another to lie, and quite another to be utterly and hopelessly deluded.

When a mass movement exists that is so inimical to the obvious good, there is usually a real reason for it.

Putting aside those who are simply dupes and too young to know better. What emptiness is there in people that Liberalism replaces? Why do I stand in a Barnes and Nobles listening to some furious well dressed lunatic spew out "Republicans JUST. DONT. READ!" (well, it was more like screaming).

That is the real question. And I say that there MUST be some terrible emptiness in our society to create such foolishness. The question is - what is that emptiness? What should really be there?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I have written other articles on the appeal of some of liberal dogmas, in this article I set out to rebut a particular liberal construct.

That said the appeal of liberalism is that it is essentially a secular theology, with god as government, an all knowing state that can provide perfect equality and justice.

DP111 said...

Every time a liberal pundit self-righteously trots out the stereotype of the ignorant science bashing conservative who just won't accept the science of the environmentalist movement, he needs to be reminded that the entire environmentalist movement is founded on a fear of the products of science, namely technology and modern civilization.

Brilliant. Will quote it and refer to it.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent article and perfect analysis of liberalism!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!
From the homeland of ozero...more now than ever.

Morry Rotenberg said...

Ultimately, the collectivists will be banished by the individualists. They will use internet technology as you so elegantly and effectively do, Sultan. So many people have forgotten the lessons of history that the refresher course that we are going through now will peak people’s memories about why liberalism has really no new ideas for ordering society. And every time it has been tried it has led to misery, poverty and death.

TBS said...

This is brilliant. I know I echo others who have said, but it really is.

My only point of sympathy for you is that you evidently had to mire yourself in the liberal creed to analyse it so well.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

it's rather hard to avoid it around here

Amit said...

Good essay, though I've seen the DDT issue mentioned elsewhere, and based on what I've read, it's not true that the science conclusively proved that it was safe to use.

Another example is that of CFCs - DuPont resisted efforts of scientists, whose research showed that it could react with ozone layer and deplete it.

So, I don't quite buy the argument that liberals are anti-science whereas conservatives are pro-science, and that too, based on one data point of DDT. Whatever your objections are to climate change science, the same objections can be raised against science proving the safety of DDT.

Anonymous said...

I've just discovered your blog. A superb article. I've mailed it to numerous friends.

Anonymous said...

I have two things to add. The New Holy wars is definately worth reading. It finds only old fashioned Calvinist Puritans in environmentalism.

Also, the move to lock up resources and land reminds me of the king's forest. But we are all obin Hoods now, because this claim to being elite is just self agrandizement that we need not participate in.

Whenever I hear that Hillary Clinton is the smartest woman in the world I point out that there were hundreds of her Welsley classmates who have made more money and had successful marriages.

Anonymous said...

Todays progressive only proves Machiavelli's dictum: The treacherous are ever fearful of treachery

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