A new report from the noted blogger Fjordman, on the distortions of equality and liberty.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.
What is the driving force behind the ideology of absolute equality and total non-discrimination in the Western world? I’ve seen many different explanations blaming it on Christianity, democracy of universal suffrage, Marxism, decolonization or - perhaps most likely - on Nazism and the devastation caused by the Second World War. This triggered a rejection of absolutely everything perceived to be divisive, including the nation state, and has enabled a Multicultural ideology that is, ironically, itself becoming increasingly totalitarian.
American blogger Lawrence Auster believes that this civilization-wide epiphany that intolerance is the worst thing and must be eliminated “is the logical outcome of the older, more moderate-seeming liberalism, not of radical leftism. But even if I am mistaken and the present insane liberalism is the child of the radical left, it doesn’t matter, because that leftist-born liberalism is now the mainstream orthodoxy of the Western world.”
According to Auster, “liberalism” has meant many things over the last 300 years and has provided significant benefits to the human race. He distinguishes between three main stages of liberalism, which can overlap and co-exist with each other:
Classical liberalism, where “All men are created equal” meant no one is born to a different order, above other men. Liberalism meant the removal of traditional or arbitrary distinctions that were imposed on people. Liberalism meant restraints on the power of the state and a government of laws, not of men. It meant the self-government of a people, through their constitution and system of laws.
The Progressive Era, with its New Deal and Great Society liberalism, came to mean the use of government to prevent the economically powerful from having too much power, and to improve and raise up people’s condition and (in its Great Society phase). It was designed to make all people equal. Instead restraining government (because unrestrained government had earlier been seen as the main threat to liberty), liberalism now meant the indefinite increase of government in order to expand the provision of concrete social goods.
Finally, we have modern liberalism, established after the Second World War and especially after the 1960s: “Liberalism then came to mean that there is nothing outside or above the human self, that any higher or collective social reality (or even natural reality, such as sex distinctions) is an oppression. It came to mean that nations, religions, families are not legitimate because they impose a collective order on individual selves. It came to mean that the only legitimate order is a global world consisting of radically free persons, as in John Lennon’s ‘Imagine.’ It came to mean that truth itself is an oppression because if there is truth then the person is not absolutely free to do as he likes. It came to mean the elimination of self-government, because a people acting through its majority will still be exercising power over minorities and individuals. Therefore it came to mean unelected, unaccountable elites enforcing the individual rights of the whole of humanity.”
In Auster’s view, liberalism has formed much of the modern world and is associated with all kinds of goods, but has now been carried to an extreme that is destructive of civilization itself. Yet because people still have a positive image of liberalism, they are unable to see the destruction it is wreaking or to imagine a social order that goes beyond it.
I have a couple of comments to this. What Auster calls classical liberalism is exemplified by the quote “All men are created equal” from the United States Declaration of Independence written by Tomas Jefferson in 1776. It states that: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I like many things in the American Declaration of Independence. It embodies the concept of self-determination and the right to institute a new government if the present one is hostile to your interests. However, I have reservations about the phrase “all men are created equal.” This is followed by the concept of “rights,” but it is still problematic. I am in favor of equality before the law, but this can be distorted into a demand for equality of outcome in all walks of life. Having equal rights does not mean we are created possessing equal potential. Some are more talented than others. This distinction is of great importance, as the idea that all human beings are not just equal before the law but equal in ability is now common.
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Perhaps this is rooted in older, cultural ideas of egalitarianism. One could make a strong case that it has also been strengthened by the nature of the democratic system with universal suffrage, part of which stipulates that the political opinions of all human beings are equally valid. This political equivalence could lead to cultural democratization and the idea that the lifestyle choices of all human beings share a moral equivalence , one choice being as valid as another. In other words, this view leads to Multiculturalism and to cultural relativism.
To put it in another way: Will abolishing all social and political hierarchies sooner or later also lead to abolishing all cultural and even natural hierarchies? Were the seeds of the modern liberalism of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries sown already during the classical liberalism of the eighteenth century?
Cathy Young writes at the newspaper The Boston Globe and is a contributing editor to Reason magazine, which is dedicated to libertarian ideas, individual choice and to “free minds and free markets.” Young immigrated to the Unites States as a refugee from the Soviet Union. Whatever her politics, she cannot remotely be labelled a Marxist.
However, she has warned against the Islamophobia of writers such as Robert Spencer:
“Spencer cites the atrocities perpetuated by medieval Muslim armies in Jerusalem,Constantinople, and other conquered cities as evidence that barbaric ‘jihadism’ is endemic to Islam, without acknowledging that the Christian crusaders’ actions were at least as bad.”
Spencer himself points out in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) that he does in fact call the Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem in 1099 an “atrocity,” an “outrage,” and a “heinous crime.” Young’s conclusion regarding Islam is that “The best hope for peaceful coexistence is for the Islamic world to embrace modernization and individual liberty, not for the West to turn its back on those values.”
Exactly how this is going to happen she doesn’t say. Cathy Young sticks to the belief that Western liberalism can be exported to the Islamic world, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Instead, they are currently exporting sharia to us.
As Canadian journalist Ken MacQueen writes, should polygamists win recognition for their view of marriage in court - a real possibility - Canada’s already suspect polygamy law would be blown out of the water:
“Marriage has already been legally redefined to include same-sex unions to meet equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As the Supreme Court of Canada noted in the same-sex marriage reference, the notion of a ‘Christian’ marriage is no longer relevant. ‘Canada is a pluralistic society,’ the court ruled.”
“Anecdotally, we hear that in Toronto and Ottawa some so-called religious leaders are performing Muslim [polygamous] marriages,” says Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. Asad Dean, chair of the Meadowvale Islamic Centre, agrees many multiple Islamic marriages are conducted in Canada but are simply not registered. It’s no different than others who live common-law, he says. “No one says, ‘hey, you have to be married to live together.’ Those days are over.”
Polygamous families emigrating to Canada are less fortunate. Their marriages aren’t recognized, so multiple wives and their children don’t gain entry. “We should allow it,” Hogben says. “We should respect different people.” Queen’s professor Bala warns if polygamy is decriminalized, polygamous immigration would certainly follow. “We can’t discriminate against someone from, say, Afghanistan, who wants to move here with their four wives, or indeed, 30 wives and their 20 or 100 children.”
Exactly why can we not “discriminate” against polygamy or Islamic culture? This assertion that a law against polygamy is discriminatioin is never explained, its "unfairness" is simply taken for granted. However,the emphasis on monogamy, even among kings and nobility in the West, enforced by the Church, was of great importance in shaping our civilization. Abolishing the institution of monogamous marriage will destabilize this civilization.
I have seen suggestions in Western countries that polygamy should be legalized. Some of the advocates for this are free market libertarians who justify their position from the point of view that states should not interfere with individual liberty. This is why Lawrence Auster talks about “right-wing liberals” and “left-wing liberals,” claiming that there is little difference between the two. In some cases this is probably correct. In immigration, many of the so-called right-wing factions, too, embrace the idea of total non-discrimination regarding the ethnic and cultural background of immigrants.
Professor Helmuth Nyborg at Aarhus University did research which revealed that there are differences between the sexes when it comes to intelligence. This triggered massive resistance and accusations, later disproved, of flawed scientific practices. According to Nyborg -
“Within the realms of psychology you are not allowed to talk about intelligence. You cannot measure intelligence and you cannot rank people according to intelligence. The entire field of intelligence is a so-called ‘no-go-area.’“If you still choose to proceed, you are a bad person, one who is willing to rank other human beings according to their worth. If you also look at differences between groups of people, sexes or races, you are simply immoral.
According to Professor Annica Dahlstrom, an expert in neuroscience, men are found at the extremes of high and low intelligence, and although female geniuses do exist, they are much less frequent than their male counterparts. She has also stated that children should be left primarily in the care of their mother during their first years of living. The feminist establishment are angry and claim that she has misused her position as a scientist to reinforce gender stereotypes.
As Dahlström says, “The difference between boys and girls, in terms of their biology and brain, is greater than we could ever have imagined.” Differences between the sexes emerge even in fetuses and are clearly recognizable at the age of three. The centers of the brain dealing with communication, the interpretation of facial expressions, body language and tone of voice are more developed in girls even at this early age. Forcing boys to behave like girls are vice versa is unnatural and will inevitably hurt them. Such a policy could even be viewed as “mental abuse” of children in her view. Yet this is exactly what is happening, and sometimes with government support.
Journalist Kurt Lundgren reported on his blog about a magazine aimed at preschool teachers who take care of children between the ages of 0-6 years old. It included recommendations to promote “gender equality” and “sexual equality.” He said that in a kindergarten in Stockholm, parents were encouraged by the preschool teachers to equip their sons with dresses and female first names. There are now weeks in some places when boys HAVE TO wear a dress. Lundgren considers this sexual indoctrination to be worse than political propaganda:
“To give sex education to preschool children, to force them to have an opinion on gay sex and queer (lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuality, fetishism, cross over, sex change etc..) I regard as abuse of children. (…) Little children, we are talking about three to six-year-olds here, cannot in the preschool protect themselves from these sexual assaults. Their parents are not there, the children are totally left to themselves.”
This is presented as sexual liberation, but it is actually about breaking down the traditional Judeo-Christian culture and the nuclear family. Such practices leave the state more powerful since it can regulate all aspects of life and indoctrinate children without undue parental influence.
In Norway, a specialist in early childhood education stirred debate by supporting “sexual games” for children of pre-school age. “The only thing that is absolutely certain is that children, sooner or later, will play sexual games and examine each other,” pre-school specialist Pia Friis said. She thought children should be able -
“to look at each other and examine each other’s bodies. They can play doctor, play mother and father, dance naked and masturbate. But their sexuality must also be socialized, so they are not, for example, allowed to masturbate while sitting and eating. Nor can they be allowed to pressure other children into doing things they don’t want to.”Family therapist Jesper Juul conceded that “many are disturbed by children’s sexuality, but I think it’s important to put it on the agenda.”
Most Norwegians send their children to the kindergartens before they begin school at age six, and many average citizens were shocked by this. “I thought at first that this was a joke,” said Karin Ståhl Woldseth, a spokesman for the Progress Party. “Children don’t need more exposure to this in kindergartens. We think it will damage their health.”
Child psychologist Thore Langfeldt in an interview apparently admitted that these sex games were encouraged by those who feared we could become infected by conservative Christian groups and wanted to make children immune to Christian morality as early as possible.
I do not believe sex in itself is sinful and disagree with the celibacy rules of Catholic priests because I don’t think it is natural for most human beings, men in particular, to totally repress these instincts throughout their lives. However, being civilized means precisely that you have to control your urges and natural impulses. Sex in this situation isn’t “natural,” it is specifically being used for destructive ideological purposes.
This sexualization of childhood is prevalent all over the Western world. A report published by the American Psychological Association (APA) warned against the early sexualizing of young girls, especially through media and marketing. They also found that teachers and parents are among the influences in the over-sexualization of children. Joseph D’Agostino of the Population Research Institute (PRI) wrote that radical feminism teaches girls that chastity is a form of oppression:
“They have taught that there are no natural limits to sexuality. Based on feminist principles, why shouldn’t little girls sexualize themselves? And why shouldn’t adult men and women view them as sexual if there is no such thing as unnatural sexuality?”
One interpretation of this trend is that its promoters want to destroy any form of civilization whatsoever. French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed civilization corrupts human beings. This could be a reflection of the Rousseauan idea of liberation through dismantling all forms of social restrictions imposed upon us by society. Perhaps it is also the result of people who lack any religion and transcendental purpose to their lives.
Eric Hoffer has explained this in his book The True Believer:
“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.”
“There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed.”
“It is obvious that a proselytizing mass movement must break down all existing group ties if it is to win a considerable following. The ideal potential convert is the individual who stands alone, who has no collective body he can blend with and lose himself in and so mask the pettiness, meaninglessness and shabbiness of his individual existence. Where a mass movement finds the corporate pattern of family, tribe, country, etcetera, in a state of disruption and decay, it moves in and gathers the harvest. Where it finds the corporate pattern in good repair, it must attack and disrupt.”
Hoffer encapsulates well what is happening in post-Christian Western Europe. However, I suspect the obsession with equality in Socialist nations such as Sweden comes from the influences of Marxism, at least Marxism in a particular form.
Marxists theoretician Gramsci concluded after WW1, when the Revolution in Russia failed to spread, that the Marxist was blocked by the “Christian soul” of the West. Hence, breaking down this identity became a matter of great importance. In 1919, cultural Marxist Georg Lukacs became Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Communist regime in Hungary. He set plans to de-Christianize the country by undermining Christian sexual ethics among children.
It is not difficult to hear an echo of this strategy now. The sexualization of children is promoted in order to break down their sense of modesty. However, some of the people advocating this show much more respect for Islam than for Christianity. Muhammad married a six year old child, so maybe sexualizing children is a form of soft-Islamization?
In general, Leftists hate Judeo-Christian values far more than they like Islam. Perhaps they think they can control Islam, or perhaps they are attracted to its totalitarian mindset. Either way, it is a fact that many of them are more aggressive against Christianity than against Islam.
Maybe I have a conspiratorial mindset, but the way left-wingers condemn Christianity and praise Islam is so consistent and aggressive that I cannot help but ask whether some of them have deliberately set out to uproot the plague of Christianity from our culture once and for all. They ridicule it at any given opportunity and destroy the values of the native culture, and at the same time they import a rival religion and groom it to replace the traditional one. When the day comes that people get sufficiently tired of nihilism, Christianity will have become so discredited as to have been eliminated as a viable alternative, and people are left with Islam.
In Sweden, the natives have been subject to ridicule of Western culture -- and Christianity in particular -- for generations. They are supposed to abase themselves in front of immigrants and tell them how worthless their culture is, or alternatively how much they lament the fact that they don’t have a culture. Swedish girls are told to be sexually liberated and end up getting raped and called “ infidel whores“ by Muslim immigrants. Meanwhile, Swedish boys are taught to be as “gender neutral” as possible.
To sum it up, I see some indications that our obsession with non-discrimination is rooted in classical liberalism, which became more radical after the Second World War. However, there are also impulses from Marxism at work. The notion that men and women are identical would have been considered ridiculous by most human cultures throughout history. It was pushed in the West by radical Leftists groups, but has since become adopted by society as a whole. In this case, conservatives fought a rearguard battle which they have constantly lost. At best they have managed to slow down the advances of ideas emanating from the Left, without ever being able to stop them.
It remains to be seen whether this trend can be reversed.