This is another of these posts written to be a reference point for something that’s been talked about quite a bit.

There was once this political philosophy called Liberalism. It was based on the idea that a person shouldn’t be under the authority of another more than was absolutely necessary.

(For the purposes of this post, I am referring to advocates of this philosophy as liberals — do not confuse that with later users of the same label.)

Codified by twentieth-century autists, this became the Non-Aggression Principle — that the only justifiable reason to interfere with anyone else’s actions is because those actions harm someone else.

In its less rigid form, from the 18th century on, the idea that individuals should have wide latitude over their own behaviour, subject to protection of other people, and also subject to various unprincipled exceptions that I’ll get to in a moment, was the foundation of the modern world. Industry and science flourished in conditions of freedom.

Successful and beneficial as liberalism was, it was never entirely logically coherent. First, there were many restrictions on freedom that didn’t have to be justified because they were too obvious to question. Most early liberals were Christian. Even those that weren’t had all been raised in Christian society, and absorbed some degree of Christian morality, often weakened but still present. The few who managed to overcome any trace were far from the mainstream. (Thomas Paine comes to mind).

Second, not every form of liberalism respected private property, but all the ones that worked did. There are theoretical arguments for why liberalism necessarily implies private property, but as I wrote once before, they aren’t very convincing.

Third, and most crucially, the limits of what constitutes harm from one person’s actions on another person are entirely arbitrary. Every action has an expanding and diminishing wave of effects. Every fire has smoke, every building has a shadow, every animal produces waste. Harms such as slander or distress can be caused simply by speaking, even by speaking the truth.

(In the twitter thread that this started from, I linked this excellent piece by Ed West, on just how much outcomes on people’s lives depends on the behaviour of their neighours)

Liberalism worked because there were fairly common understanding of what harms were “de minimis” and what were not, that had been inherited from former much less liberal societies. This common understanding wasn’t rational, it was only traditional. Now those traditions have been lost, there is no way to get them back.

The chief harm that is recognised today, that makes liberalism a dead letter, is not a new one. It is the one that opponents of liberalism always advanced as its chief cost, and which has a history going all the way back to the trial of Socrates.

In the twenty-first century, any public action at all can be seen by one group or another as corrupting the minds of the youth.

So be it. I quite like the results of old-school liberalism, but as a philosophy it is bunk. Since everyone now acts in accordance with the idea that the minds of the youth should be protected from corruption, it is defeatist to be half-hearted about it. Twitter today is full of two controversies: a mild joke about women, and drag shows for children. If the war is to be fought over what corrupts the minds of the youth more, let battle begin.

Some new theoretical justification for freedom would be nice, but it can wait until the cult of universal queerdom has been, if not defeated, then at least fought to a truce to the extent of being one religion among many, not the compulsory True Faith.

2 thoughts on “Post-Liberalism”

  1. The health and viability of a society depends on achieving an exact balance between what people want to enjoy and what they want to contribute. What we want to enjoy is firstly food and clothing, then housing and infra-structure, medical care, holidays and recreation, then education and child-minding. So if everyone could find themselves a niche in this tree, we would all be perfectly fed, housed, trained, rested and recreated.

    However, what people want to do is usually widely at variance with the conduct of a balanced society. Popular musician is usually the first choice: footballer will be up there too. The Victorians had a rhyme which warned of the dangers of following your inclinations rather than economic need:-

    Man, to the plough;
    Wife, to the cow;
    Girl, to the yarn;
    Boy, to the barn,
    And your rent will be netted.

    Man, Tally Ho;
    Wife, Piano;
    Girl, silk and satin;
    Boy, Greek and Latin,
    And you’ll all be gazetted.

    Gazetted means listed in the London Gazette as bankrupt.

    The most remarkable inequality is with drag-queens. It sometimes seems that 80% of male homosexuals want to dress up as women and parade themselves on stage, however disastrous, ill-favoured and implausible the final product is. In no other field of endeavour does the supply so vastly exceed the demand.

    Getting the right balance is importance. I have known many people who have achieved qualifications in an eminently practical subject and then found that they cannot stand the work, going on to do something more attuned to their desires. But the drag-queens are people who demand that their employment provides them with sexual titillation. This is a bit of an ask, though I suppose that professions which involve the wearing of a uniform and the display of heroics (cliff top and fire rescue, life-guards, body-guard) may give the same frisson to heterosexual males—as well as the opportunity for social advancement, given the number of high-ranking females who have married their proletarian body-guard.

    It seems (I was unaware of the development till I looked it up, being Twitter free) that some section of the superfluous drag queen population have hit on the idea of combining their redundant self-indulgence of drag-queening with the useful profession of child-minding.

    It so often happens that children are made to be the victims of our self indulgent career choices. I have observed more than one person who spent their college years playing football and then achieved all too brief fame in a lower ranking professional football team, who was not then obliged to commit suicide when this brief flowering was over, because they were then able to retire into the role of P.E. Master, and pretend that this was their intention all along.

    The idea that school-children need to spend significant parts of their time in pointless, repetitive, non-productive games strikes me as unfounded. No office that I have worked in, no building site has ever enjoined compulsory football and gymnastics, or even agreed to pay their employees for voluntary exercise of the same. If children need exercise, then it makes more sense to teach them to build and garden. (Note heavy influence of Ivan Ilyich’s Deschooling Society) Personally, I would regard P.E. masters as more likely to damage their charges than story-telling drag queens, who are more easily chaperoned by the opposite sex: not that I am arguing in favour of them.

    1. The suggestion above is that supply creates its own demand – if there are washed-out professional footballers then a job of P.E. master will be created; if there are exhibitionist homosexuals then the school drag show will be the result. I disagree — a supply of useless workers is not notable, the choice of those in power to create a matching demand is the phenomenon that demands explanation.

      In the case of the drag shows, the only credible motivation behind it that I can imagine is desire to upset the people who are upset by it. It is the equivalent of a paramilitary march – a demonstration that a movement is able to hurt its enemies in this way, and that those enemies cannot stop them.

      On the evidently larger question of sport, I must confess to somewhat banal, “normie” opinions — that voluntary participation in competitive sport is a good and healthy thing, and that the industry of televised professional sport is at the very least distasteful, and might plausibly be seriously socially damaging. My own experience of school sport was such as to put me completely off the concept for many years, only to discover its pleasures for myself later in life. Then again, I could say exactly the same about other subjects of compulsory schooling, including literature and history. Over-education is surely one of the great curses of our society, and I agree that exposure to practical education like building or gardening is preferable to compulsory participation in Rugby or Shakespeare. On the other hand, I have no issue with children or adults who exhibit interest in Rugby or Shakespeare being encouraged or even helped. I don’t put sexual exhibitionism in the same category.

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