Liberalism is more Dangerous than Ukrainian Nazism

We are an empire, as the heirs of the monarchy and as the heirs of the Soviet Union.

There can be no neutral position in this war, because there are only two camps. And that is all. Anyone who hesitates or is indecisive, sooner or later (it seems to me much sooner than it seems), will be forced to take up arms and simply go to the front, and the front is everywhere today. It is impossible to return this long, difficult and terrible war to where it was before February 24, 2022; nor can it be stopped; it can only be won. Or it can still be left to human history. Then there will be no winner. Death will win.

For now, it’s war, which means we’re alive.

If you do not support the Special Military Operation, then you are not for Russia, you are not for the country, you are not for our people, and then the time will come when you will have to kill Russians, destroy Russia as a country, blow up cars, houses and railways, hide terrorists in your homes, shoot. There is no more security.

So, it is better to decide now, and this applies to all Russians; but it also applies to all other countries.

If you want to preserve sovereignty, it is clear that it is impossible under the auspices of the collective West, because liberalism in international relations cancels sovereignty and recognizes only the World Government, in other words, Western hegemony; and in the fight for a multipolar world in which sovereignty is possible, you have to fight with the West, and that is what Russia is doing now. And, it is doing that for everyone.

That’s what World War III is all about. Anyone who really cares about sovereignty will either have to side with us or willfully and forever give up and submit completely to the West—and the West is now at war with Russia and will force others to do the same.

This is what happened to Ukraine; this is what is happening to Georgia and Moldova and what is threatening Turkey and even China.

Us and them.

Ukrainians have been massively, actively, obsessively and constantly taught to hate Russians and everything Russian for the last thirty years. Entire generations were raised with Russophobia.

And since 2014, Ukrainians have been trained to kill, burn, dismember, fry, roast and remove Russians from the face of the earth. They were all trained—men, women and children. This is how the image of the enemy, “Moskal”, was created. He is presented as a cruel “lower being,” “a monster,” “stupid,” “merciless,” “crude,” an undefined mass who only wants to make fun of the peaceful Ukrainian paradise and turn it into rivers of blood; and in order to prevent that, the Ukrainian had to be ready to attack first, to bring war to enemy territory, to reduce it to a bloody mess, so that Ukraine would not turn into such a mess. And so it went on, for years, decades.

Many people wonder why Ukrainians resist so fiercely? Because they are not even at war with us, but with the image that lives in their heads. In the TV series Black Mirror, there was an episode where people fight scary monsters; but it turns out that they are monsters made with special optical devices, which people had to wear (to avoid being punished) and what appeared to them to be “monsters” were only people.

Ukrainians see us as monsters, as chimeras imposed on them. And those chimeras are creepy, but they can’t see anything else.

We did not prepare for this war. We didn’t understand what we were dealing with. We did not create such an image of the enemy. That’s why we don’t even understand what is happening. Perhaps it is right that it is so; but it is clear that we did not understand the full weight of what was happening.

The fiercer the battles, the greater the anger of our people. At the same time, on the front, in a certain sense, an image of the enemy was created. On the domestic front, we are still in doubt. How can they do things like that? At the front, this question no longer arises, but another: how to defeat the enemy and, frankly, how to destroy him. You can only destroy what you hate; and those who hate the most fight fiercely and achieve the most in this war.

I am convinced that Russia should not allow this process to develop. If we allow it, hatred will gradually spill over from the front to the rear and we will be more and more like the enemy. That is, hatred will also enter our hearts. It has been in the hearts of Ukrainians for a long time. Now it’s up to us. One cannot but notice that during the duration of the war we gradually adopted the characteristics of the enemy. Reluctantly and belatedly, but still.

The authorities are currently only trying to contain the events, but they are like a river. At some point, the “humanist dam” will burst and the whole society will remember Simonov’s words: “Whenever you meet him, kill him.” No one will care what the authorities allow or forbid.

We need a different way, a true ideologization of war, complete and systematic, not partial and patchy, as it is now.

First, we are at war with the West. The main enemy is the West. Ukrainians are not the main enemy. That is why the West is the one that really needs to be rejected. And this is where Simonov is important: he believes that we must banish the West from ourselves, otherwise we cultivate double standards: the West kills us and we bow to it. Liberalism is more dangerous than Ukrainian Nazism, because Western liberals are the ones who started, created and armed Ukrainian Nazism. Consistent de-liberalization is necessary (because it is more important than the ongoing denazification of the country).

Denazification is also necessary, but it is a consequence, not a cause; it is a symptom, not the essence of the disease.

Furthermore, we are fighting against nationalism, but we must not turn into nationalists ourselves. We are the Empire, as the heirs of the monarchy and as the heirs of the Soviet Union, we are more than a nation. Our ideology must be imperial, open, clear and aggressive. The empire must present itself charismatically. Our Empire, Rome, is fighting a deadly battle with the opposite “Empire,” and essentially the anti-Empire, Carthage.

Only when the army, people, state and society fight against Carthage—the liberal West—we will defeat Ukrainian Nazism. The only thing left for us is to trample the enemy. Before that formidable and serious enemy, this obsessive pettiness will be insignificant.

If you tell a Russian that Russia does not exist, he will shrug his shoulders. If you tell an American that America doesn’t exist, he’ll shrug his shoulders too. And, if you tell a Ukrainian that Ukraine doesn’t exist, he will get mad like a beast, because Ukraine doesn’t exist. But that is when we are an empire, and our consciousness is imperial. A firm, strong, self-confident, determined conscience.

The strong identity of the enemy can be overcome not by an equally strong identity (Russian nationalism), but by a stronger identity: the imperial identity.

This ideological transformation of society is inevitable. It can be delayed for some time, but it cannot be prevented.

I am convinced that our authorities did not want this war. They tried really hard to put it off. It was possible to postpone it, but also impossible to avoid it. And now it’s impossible to stop it. Either you win or you disappear. It is clear that part of the elite is in a panic. They are unable to accept the perniciousness of what is happening, hoping, despite all common sense, to somehow return to the state of the past. Not possible. It is possible to postpone and procrastinate, but it is impossible to stop and go back to the old way. All that awaits us is war and a difficult, incredibly arduous victory. Our country will be irrevocably changed along the way. The country will change, society will change.

No one is ever so desperate to change themselves, but anything else has become impossible. It’s about fate. Change will be imposed with iron necessity.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured: La esfinge (The Sphinx), by Davegore; painted in 1988.

Blind Liberalism

A Comment on Alexander Dugin’s “Liberalism is more Dangerous than Ukrainian Nazism.

The immanent untruth within liberalism, even at its finest, which is to say classical liberalism, was always its idolization of abstractions, beginning with the unassailable primacy—the fundamental rights—of liberty and property. Ideologies may single out aspects of life to valorize them, but life is ever dependent upon relationships, most of which we simply do not recognize (but take for granted) or fathom tacitly, and hence only vaguely notice. The collision of an abstraction with reality always requires remaking or redefining reality to fit the still certainty of a fixed principle. Hence as liberal societies have evolved over time, the founding principles had to be adjusted to the real relationships and the various conflicts of interests that are built into the division of labour, necessary for economic prosperity and development and the diverse claims made by individuals and groups for the protection and accruement of resources (including recourse to the law and police force) provided by the state.

Liberty as such and the right to property are, in other words, abstract absolutes whose reach is modulated by the claims and powers, brought into play by various social actors and political authorities. Liberal democracy certainly solved one major political problem, of succession being handed peacefully, that had frequently played out in wars, unleashed by different claimants to the throne, when disputes occurred over the legitimacy of an heir (and dynasty).

But the various disputes over what liberty means and who should get what have created the modern liberal state which has increasingly used the law and political authority to reach into almost every aspect of our lives. That expansion of the state has been legitimated through sufficiently organized and/or powerful groups, including the pedagogical class, demanding that it protect us from acts, once considered “liberties,” which harm us and others (i.e., acts that do not emancipate us).

Likewise it has become increasingly accepted within liberal states that our property—including our own lives—must be subjected to the power of corporations working in conjunction with the state—the COVID response completed a process that has been developing at least over the last two generations, as the state, inter alia, has provided contracts (most notably in the area of defense, and health) and bail outs for corporations and financial institutions which are vital to national interests. What, in other words, began as a developing constellation of abstract absolutes, predicated on liberty and protection of property, the freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, voluntary association, and so on, has turned into its opposite.

Thus, identity trumps the individual. Protocols punishing those who use hate speech and the curtailment of access to social media platforms for those who spread information that the state and its educators, media mouthpieces, and intelligence operatives deem as misinformation—trump free speech. The rule of law has once more resorted to “show me the man and I will show you the crime,” and pertinent factors in what is deemed a crime, as the show trials against the “insurrectionists” of January 6 and the money handed out to Antifa “victims of police brutality” have illustrated, are based upon political factors.

If one supports or opposes the tapestry of interests and socio-political objectives that bind the contemporary alliance of identity group “victims” and oligarchs in tearing down the traditional bulwarks of social cultivation to replace them with a globalist, libertine “utopia” of the ultra-wealthy and their clients and economic dependents, one will be politically protected, (unless one’s past misdemeanors are seized upon by a grievance group or in media frenzy, caught up in some new tidal wave of outrage, as the once invincible Harvey Weinstein discovered to his great surprise, as women who once were prepared to do anything to be famous dealt with their shame and regret by finding a new form of celebrity—as defiant voices against the patriarchy.)

In sum, as liberalism has mutated, its abstractness has become ever more socially destructive because what is, is re-presented as something not only different from what it is, but as something that it is not.

Thus today, the truth of liberalism’s denial of life is conspicuous in the denial of biological reality in favour of abstract ideas of the will, so that now a man who deems himself to be a woman, or vice-versa, must be completely accepted as identical to a woman, and vice-versa. To appeal to a biological reality, a natural, or, for those who still can hear the spirit of more ancestral powers, a divinely imposed, limit who prefer their willed identity to their biology, which after all can be changed by entrusting oneself into the hands of professionals who are also bound to accept the willed self as the true self, and who are dependent upon the corporate powers which enable their surgery and drugs to fashion nature. To oppose this, is to be endorsing “genocide.”

The politics of civility, a politics in which diverse interests can argue vigorously for their contrary desired ends, has been buried by the language of moral hyperbole. The great social concordance which was said to be another of liberalism’s greatest political benefits has collapsed into a culture of complete discord, in which there are no longer any traces of political civility. One is a “phobe” or an “-ist,” if one does not accept the latest demand or narrative regarding justice by a representative of a victim designated group.

Indeed, on the home front, it seems that the issue of the right of children to change their sexual organs and be “entertained”/”educated” by twerking, lap-dancing drag-queens and transexuals is the most pressing of all issues in Liberal America, and other Western countries.

A couple of days ago a woman who identified as a man stormed into a school to kill children and adults to drive home how important identity is. She/he was just the latest in a line of other trans/ non-binary people shooting out their frustration – see https://www.revolver.news/2023/03/if-you-tell-mentally-ill-kids-that-people-disagreeing-with-them-is-genocide-eventually-theyll-pick-up-weapons/ .

While some trans activists blamed her decision to kill on her intolerant Christian upbringing, other trans activists are publicizing a “Day of Vengeance” as they pose with semi-automatic rifles, while Joselyn Berry the press secretary (she has now resigned) to Katie Holmes, only hours after the shooting, posted a picture of a woman with pistols drawn to the ready, bearing the captions: “Us when we see transphobes.” Meanwhile a professor at a university was proclaiming that those who espouse conservative values should not be cancelled but shot.

All these people, killers and advocates of killing, believe themselves to be creating a better and more peaceful future in which all will be emancipated—provided they do not get in the way of the march of liberal progress.

The wrath of the trans movement is but one part of a far larger push by progressives to burn down the world and replace it with one of their own morally superior making. Even if there is a contagion of gender confusion being cultivated amongst children, the far greater threat, if we are to take demographics seriously, to the USA is what happens when the liberal pyre of race hatred, more often than not stacked higher and higher by white educators, as they identify ever more things, from the use of a word to clothes and hair styles and musical taste (“cultural appropriation”) to non-segregated spaces and educational curricula in which reading, writing and the cultural heritage of Western societies is set aflame.

The present, and economically unviable, demands for reparations are not the means for bringing races together but one more step in the direction of dispossessing whites, who inevitably will no more part with their property and livelihoods without a fight, than those whites urging other whites are prepared to give up their privilege by giving up their careers, bank accounts, houses and cars to random black people they claim to be helping by telling how racists all (other) whites are. What black “conservatives” call the plantation of welfare dependency is, indeed, a breeding ground of impoverishment, discontent, crime and drug dependency, and broken homes.

But it is the universities that are cultivating narratives of violent dispossession and race hatred in the name of equity and diversity, at the expense of inculcating habits like love of learning, civility and independent-mindedness and strong moral character. The hood provides the crack addicts, drug dealers, gangsters, and squalor of broken lives—the universities provide a professional class of blacks who live middle class lives by trading on their blackness. The latter class while representing blackness by speaking “truth to power” and calling out racism wherever they see it (which is everywhere) can do absolutely nothing—and are not in the position to have the slightest idea of offering anything other than abstract absolutes, far away from anything real—for those in prisons, the hood, or in the family home.

There are also the race grifters in the political class; but the decent, hardworking people rearing children, whether working in lower paid jobs, or running businesses, or having a profession hold no interest for the race-baiting Liberals because they are not their clients.

The riots of the summer of 2020, in which white college kids, who will go on to be lawyers, judges, business professionals, financiers, doctors and educators, cheered on members of the black underclass to burn and loot businesses is the reality of contemporary race relations in progressive Liberal America. None is happy, and nor can they be. Because its abstract view of social justice drives out the convivial relationships that occur when people love things more than themselves and love doing things with other people who share the same loves. In addition to the working class and middle class black Americans who contribute to making their way in the daily realities of triumph, and suffering, love and loss, despair, hope and faith, the real triumph of American race relationships is not to be found in any political program based upon racial identity, but upon shared practices in which a natural identity is dissolved into becoming something more, something better. No greater example exists than in the areas of popular music and sport.

But the pedagogical class only takes an interest in an area of human activity in so far as it confirms the abstractions and the narratives that are their own will to power. They cannot understand how someone who loves the great black jazz players and bluesmen and women realizes without any need for theory that racism is stupid and destructive. But then again people who know this also know that all real solidarity comes from sharing common commitments, in which the differences of potential grievance are simply dropped as one gets on with creating something far more beautiful and important in our lives than simply returning over and over to a natural feature such as skin.

This does not mean pretending there have not been injustices in which race has featured; but the past cannot be removed, nor undone, nor even compensated for because the people who would deserve recompense are dead. The new reparation is a trick in which one group purports to assuage its guilt by paying anyone it thinks might relieve it, and another group can receive cash for who they are rather than what they have done. It is, in other words, just one more example of Liberalism’s substitution racket of the untruth and the unreal, for the truth and the real; in my eyes, made even more disgusting by the smug moral phonies who clamor loudest about their doing justice.

If the idea of the march of liberal progress representing emancipation is a delusion based upon an abstraction, the reality is that faith in complete emancipation is based upon a preference for death. Modern liberalism’s most vital moments are moments of collective wrath and destruction, like the race riots of the summer of 2020, or straight-out war.

The world’s foremost liberal state, at least in its own eyes, has had one President who did not take his country into a new war—and he was the President liberals most hated, and the one who was insufficiently astute to the neo-cons who had no interest in his base or in anything more than having him do their bidding. Of course, Liberals believe they stand for peace, but what they do and what they believe they do no longer have any correspondence to reality. The marriage of Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland is the perfect symbol of the marriage between the neo-cons and the liberal progressives—what the one does through bombs, the other does by cultural destruction. They still end up under the same roof, and both have given us American imperialism as globalist hegemon destroying anything in its way.

The liberal West’s attack upon its own self is driven, albeit not exclusively, but still substantively enough, by its educators whose abstractions also require denying any reality which does not neatly enfold to the narrative that consolidates and enhances the authority of the pedagogue and the “knowledge” they have accumulated by their studies.

The most conspicuous abstraction of all is that those who “critique” the privilege and wealth that has been created out of an imperial and colonial past morally transcend their past reality, even though they still accrue material benefits from that past, and find ever new ways to receive professional appointments on the basis of their moral purity, and the knowledge they must impart to the ignorant who do not know the vast amount of things they know, whether it be about gender fluidity or race or capitalism being bad—and not much else, I’m afraid.

If justice is traditionally represented as blind, social justice of the liberal variety is based upon blindness to one self and one’s own motives, as a culture of unbound appetites (the thrill of transgression now the norm for children) is presented as justice incarnate. That blindness is manifest in how the same people who insist that children should choose their gender, that gay experiences be taught in school, also believe that they stand up against Islamophobia, and that Muslims would all love them for their liberal largess.

But these internal substitutions of the non-real for reality, and the learnt blindness which enables the substitution, are almost as naught when compared to the greatest act of willful blindness and self-delusion of the present historical moment, and it is this delusion that Alexander Dugin in his essay addresses (“Liberalism is more Dangerous than Ukrainian Nazism”). The great delusion is that World War III is not taking place and that we—the collective West—are not fighting it, even though we build weapons and send them along with supplies to troops “we” train, whilst providing logistics of targets to be hit.

We in the West are on the side of peace: the war in Ukraine is the fault of Vladimir Putin’s psychotic imperial ambitions, while the European Union exercises soft power and the United States respects and fights for diversity. All of this is a lie.

And if most of our intellectuals are too blinded by their own self-importance and intellectual inability to see what is happening, Alexander Dugin sees it. And when he says that Liberalism is more dangerous not only to Russians but to world peace than the Ukrainian Nazis, that have been weaponised by the West, he is telling the truth

I do not like what Alexander Dugin is saying in this essay—for it drives home the fact that we are in a World War; that the West’s insistence on its innocence and the innocence of the Ukrainians has helped support in turning Russians into “monsters” who do not deserve to live—is a lie. Dugin, in other words, is repeating Vladimir Putin’s observation that the West is an Empire of lies. And they are both right.

Dugin also makes the salient point that we are witnessing the collision of empires.

When I taught International Relations, while still working in a university, I would regularly be asked to consider the textbooks that various publishers were trying to sell—and they were all dreadful testaments to the pedagogical failure in Western universities for its academics to see beyond its own imperial purview whether that be in the various “-isms” (feminist IR, environmental IR, queer IR, Marxist IR, etc.) and US led IR theories that it wishes its students to imbibe, or in the way that it promoted international institutions working toward a unipolar world—in which democratic institutions marching in step with the UN will solve all our problems, as if democracy is something really working well in the West, and as if it is not a cultural product formed over multiple experiences and generations, which is now in its death throes.

Dugin is right to notice that great conflicts are conflicts of empire—a little history, of the sort so conspicuously lacking in so much IR theory and textbooks, would confirm that—e.g., what came out of the French and Russian revolutions? What fed into and out of World War I? And what came out of the ostensible ideological Second World War?

Dugin is also right to urge his fellow Russians to embrace their past legacy of the Soviet Union as an empire, which it was. And unlike the Western students who are taught to denounce their history as they denounce each other for being too white, straight, cisgender or God knows what the next new academic in-thing will be in the West as it consumes itself in its own flames—possibly taking the rest of the world with it—Dugin knows that people with a future must live up to the terrible burdens of their own past, not because that part was all good, or pure, but because it was and still is an inescapable part of the real of a people.

Also terrible in Dugin’s essay is the choice he lays down—it is the choice of all those in a war unto the death: be with us or die. I can easily imagine my “good natured,” morally benign academic friends in the West agreeing how blood thirsty and mad and bad Dugin is and pointing to this—and yet we in the West have made exactly this point. The only reason that some people who are critical of the West’s war against Russia are able to be critical is because we are in such a tiny minority that we are barely worth the trouble of imprisoning or shooting, but that day may well and truly come. In the tumult, all things are possible, and we in the West have manufactured that tumult.

There is though one point of disagreement I have with Mr. Dugin. It is not obvious to me that a multipolar world will suffice to stop the oligarchical globalist interests which benefit from the war and the West’s self-destruction. They are more than capable of dealing with different poles. But this is a very minor point in the context of World War III and what is transpiring before our very eyes, but which is simply invisible to a society which is based on the modern metaphysical grounding which laid the basis for what would ideologically evolve into liberalism, communism and fascism and our current globalist corporatist-statist fusion of these and other ideologies in the new world order, due to ideas in the heads of men replacing the multigenerational experiences of peoples.

As those ideas have become ever more inane and as the numbers of people who swear and live by and off inane ideas in the West has expanded and who have become sources of authority in our social, political and judicial and even commercial structures we now find ourself in a World at War that most in the West do not have the ability to see or call it out for what it is. Mr. Dugin sees it and calls it. If that is distressing so be it—anyone who does not realize the distressing nature of our time is no longer amongst the living.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen booksHe also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.


Featured: The Blind Leading the Blind, by Sebastian Vrancx (Antwerp 1573-1647).

Liberals Lack a “Collective Consciousness”

According to Émile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, every society in the world has a collective consciousness, a set of shared beliefs, attitudes, and ideas, which every member of that society takes for granted and “finds already formed” when they are born: “collective ways of acting or thinking [that] have a reality outside the individuals who, at any moment of time, conform to it” [Selected Writings, p. 71]. This collective consciousness is what provides humans with a sense of belonging and identity, what’s right and wrong, acceptable and deviant. Durkheim, who came from a long lineage of devout French Jews, developed this concept to explain how societies are bound together, how individuals with conflicting personal and family interests reach consensual values and avoid the Hobbesian “war of all against all.”

Western Individualism

Durkheim criticized Marx for believing that societies were held together through the coercive powers of the ruling class in control of the means of production. But he also criticized “utilitarian liberals” for believing that in the modern West the individual had been emancipated from the collective consciousness of society with the growth of individual liberties, freedom of speech, and the separation of church and state. According to Durkheim, the emergence of individualism, and the spread of capitalist economic ties based on personal interests, did not bring about a “weakening but a transformation of the social bonds.” The “progressive emancipation” of the individual did not mean that the individual had “separated himself from society.” It meant that individuals were now joined to society “in a new manner” [Selected Writings, p. 115].

Durkheim drew a distinction between the “mechanical solidarity” of traditional societies and the “organic solidarity” of modern European societies. He did not call it “mechanical” because the solidarity that exists in traditional cultures is “produced by mechanical and artificial means,” but because the individuals in such a society are linked similarly to the way homogeneous molecules of inorganic bodies are linked, in contrast to the unity of organic bodies where each part has “greater individualization” and autonomy of functions. In traditional cultures, the collective consciousness “completely envelops” the consciousness of its members. The individual “does not belong to himself” but is “literally a thing at the disposal of society.” The collective conscience consists of a rigid set of beliefs with very little opportunity for each member to develop particular personality characteristics [Division of Labor, pp. 84-5].

The beliefs and values inherent in the collective conscience of organic societies stress the dignity and worth of the human individual. Modern European societies encourage individuals to develop their own talents, happiness and inclinations. But this does not mean that the individual has been extricated from society. Rather, the individual becomes the supreme principle of the collective consciousness. This modern European collective consciousness affords the individual with “a sphere of action that is peculiarly his own, and consequently a personality.” “The human person…is considered as sacred.”

Whoever makes an attempt on a man’s life, on a man’s liberty…inspires us with a feeling of revulsion, in everyway comparable to that which the believer experiences when he sees his idol profaned…Nowhere are the rights of man affirmed more energetically, since the individuals is here placed on the level of sacrosanct objects [Selected Writings, p. 149].

The collective consciousness of modern Western peoples is thus very peculiar in that it “leaves uncovered a part of the individual consciousness” [Division of Labor, p. 85]. It does not demand the subordination of the individual to any religion, custom, or tradition, but encourages each person to affirm his right to freedom of association and expression and to “form ideas about the world that seem to him most fitting and to freely develop his own nature” [Selected Writings, p. 195]. Humans in this type of society become more aware of themselves as distinct personalities.

Durkheim observes that the “more primitive societies are, the more resemblances there are between the individuals from which they have been formed.” He cites these words from an anthropologist: “He who has seen one native of America has seen them all” [Division of Labor, p. 87]. And these words from another observer:

this physical resemblance among natives arises essentially from the absence of any strong psychological individuality and from the inferior state of intellectual culture in general…The homogeneity of characters within a Negro tribe is indisputable…Differences between individuals of the same tribe are insignificant [Division of Labor, p. 89].

While it is true that the spread of modernization in Europe broke down distinctive dialects, reduced local characteristics and coalesced separate ethnic groupings within one nation, this “does not prevent Frenchmen today from being much more different from one another than they were once.” “There are no longer as many differences as there are large regions, but there are almost as many differences as there are individuals” [Division of Labor, p. 91].

Anomie

For all these observations, however, Durkheim believed that modern Europeans were facing a problem never seen before in history: Anomie. The discrediting of traditionally mandated values, the erosion of the authority of patriarchal relations, the loosening of individuals from communal economic ties, along with the liberation of markets and the pursuit of unlimited wealth—were creating individuals who were no longer morally constrained but were instead encouraged to give free reign to the satisfaction of their unlimited desires and appetites.

Humans need to be guided and restrained by society. “Men’s passions are only stayed by a moral presence they respect” [Division of Labor, p. xxxii]. They cannot decide on their own what is the meaning of life without direction, without a sense of responsibility and connectedness to others. Durkheim observed that the reason suicide rates were higher among Protestants than Catholics was their lack of communal ties, smaller families, and their emphasis on individuals developing a personal relationship with God without relying on common religious authorities. Catholic individuals were more connected to society through their greater reliance on ritualistic practices, stronger family ties, and a collective credo interpreted through the authority of priests [Selected Writings, p. 242].

Durkheim thus came to the conclusion that in order to overcome the anomic tendencies of modern societies, individuals should be encouraged to create “secondary groupings” or “occupational corporations” for the purpose of representing their interests as members of distinct classes and for the purpose of nurturing a sense of belonging and meaning beyond the sphere of their private existences. In writing about these “occupational corporations,” Durkheim was thinking about the capitalist societies of his day, the hostility and conflicts between labor and capital, the commercial crises and the associated bankruptcies. He believed that the state was too distant from the lives of individuals; only corporations that were intermediate between the mass of the population and the government could provide a direct collegial life, mutual obligations and responsibilities, to ameliorate anomic feelings. These corporations would be organized on the basis of values and norms decided upon by individuals, not on the basis of pre-established kinship ties, divine authority, noble birth, or Christian values.

Liberalism is Inherently Devoid of a Collective Consciousness

We may thus be tempted to conclude that with the spread of socialism in the twentieth century, the creation of trade unions, public schools with a common curriculum, patriotic anthems and multiple symbols reinforcing the civic identity of the peoples of liberal nations, the West managed to create a reasonably healthy collective consciousness, within the framework of the sacrosanct principles of individual rights, private property and enterprise. The way I see it, a society based on liberal principles is inherently incapable of generating a collective consciousness. This judgement may strike some as absurd. Haven’t Western liberals assumed immense collective powers through the expansion of government bureaucracies, massive spending in public goods, regulation of businesses, and surveillance for hate speech? And how about the institutional and normative enforcement of feminism, equality of the races, the sacralization of the black civil rights movement, the holocaust, the rainbow flag, multiculturalism, human rights, and immigrant diversity? Don’t these mandates speak of a rather intolerant collective conscience? These salient realities have indeed prompted dissidents to argue that Western nations are now controlled by “cultural Marxists” who “marched through all the institutions,” replacing the liberals of old who believed in freedom of expression.

I used to argue along these lines—until recently. The way I see it now, individualism remains the defining, all encompassing ideology permeating every aspect of Western culture, a liberalism that is inherently about the right of individuals to choose their own way of life, but which, by the same token, demands the subordination of the individual to this ideology. Western governments are neutral in competitions between different lifestyles or different definitions of the “good life.” In the West, one is socialized to be tolerant, inclusive, and respectful of a wide variety of lifestyles. Religious peoples are allowed, and so are people who believe in “traditional” values, with a small “t,” as long as they don’t “demonstrably limit the liberties of others.” A liberal society cannot be tolerant to the point of tolerating individuals who promote collective consciences that threatens to destroy liberal tolerance. Classical liberalism became postmodern liberalism without any march through the institutions through its in-built progressive logic “to free the individual from the traditional restraints of society” or from any institution, norm, kinship group, gender bias or racial prejudice, that constricts the right of the individuals to choose their own way of life without restricting the right of others. Therefore, what liberalism does not tolerate is Traditionalism, with a capital “T,” the preservation of heritages that constrict individual choice, the affirmation of national identities that preclude the human right of other nationalities to be included as equal citizens.

The essence of classical liberalism was expressed succinctly in the American Declaration of Independence: “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.” All individuals have these “unalienable rights” regardless of race, nationality, sex, or religious beliefs. The progressive liberalism, which came to fruition in the 20C, aimed at enlarging the scope of “free action” of those who lacked the economic means to exercise their freedom of choice. Progressive liberals thus added, in the course of time, the right to a good education, right to work, paid parental leave, adequate standard of living, and medical care. Freedom was no longer defined as “negative liberty” from an intrusive and regulating government, but as the right to democratically push the government to provide these “positive” freedoms as well. Today, this positive liberalism has managed to persuade millions, particularly the new generation now in our universities, that the old negative freedom of speech should be limited if such freedom has a “harmful” impact on the “self-development” of individuals and their right to feel safe, and equal in “dignity.” The civil rights movement that abolished legalized institutional racial segregation, job discrimination, and disenfranchisement throughout the United States, was consistent with liberalism. So was the abolition of white only immigration policies. A policy that treats immigrants differently based on their race violates the right and dignity of all humans to be treated as individuals.

Postmodernists are also consistent with liberal principles in their effort to afford individuals the right to decide which sexual identities they prefer to be identified with, rather than being boxed into a male-female “collectivist binary.” The same logic applies to the way critical race theorists use racial categories. They don’t believe in races. They believe that in our current society minorities are “racialized” by dominant whites, and that overcoming this racial hierarchy necessitates race identity politics. Their aim is to transcend altogether any form of racial identity for the sake of a society in which everyone is judged as an individual. Both multiculturalism and the replacement of whites are consistent with liberalism. The aim of multiculturalism is to afford immigrant minorities with resources to enhance their opportunities for individual integration while encouraging members of the “dominant” Western culture to respect their private ethnic identity and customs as long as the principle of individual rights is not trampled upon. The replacement of whites simply means that individuals with equal rights and dignity who have a different skin color will replace individuals of another skin color.

Of course, there have been heated debates among liberals about all these issues and progressions, particularly between those who emphasize “negative” rights and those who emphasize “positive” rights. Yet, today, libertarians or conservatives agree that no private business has a right to discriminate on the basis of color or sex. Classical liberals long ago accepted the positive liberalism of Keynesian government intervention. Not a single academic, politician, lawyer…including the leaders of populist parties, questions diversity, even if privately they hold prejudicial attitudes towards immigrants, because liberalism precludes any collective beliefs about the inherent significance of the West’s “European” or “Christian” heritage. Liberalism makes no decisions about what are the “best” values, the best ways of life, the supra-individual significance of past heritages or traditions. The best way of life is the right of the individual to decide what is the best way of life. The main role of the government is to ensure the security of “tolerance” and the institutions of liberty, in the name of which it has a right to curtail, demonize, and suppress, beliefs and acts of “intolerance” that would limit the liberty of others to pursue their own happiness.

In other words, liberalism, an ideology that is unique to the West, does not believe that the heritage of the West, Christianity, its uniquely creative architectural, literary, and artistic traditions, are of any higher worthiness to the cultural identity of Westerners than the individually preferred choices of any newly arrived immigrant citizen. Therefore, as long as Westerners remain liberals, there is nothing they can do to counter the eradication of Western civilization, its collective traditions, all the national anthems of Europe that sound too Eurocentric, as well as the biased notion that only a man and woman with children constitute a family. At the root of contemporary liberalism is not a collective conscience but the belief that a state cannot determine what is worthwhile, meaningful, and sacred in life other than to allow individuals to find their own subjective meaning and lifestyle in a world devoid of any collective meanings.


Ricardo Duchesne has written a number of articles on Western uniqueness. He the author of The Uniqueness of Western CivilizationFaustian Man in a Multicultural AgeCanada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians.


Featured: Decalcomania, by René Magritte; painted in 1966.

Are You Aware?

And are you aware of your unawareness?

The general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find about the truth but also become unable to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language (Josef Pieper).

Vision will blind. Severance ties. Median am I. True are all lies (Meshuggah).

There is a broad spectrum, as broad as the distance between heaven and hell, describing the level of awareness of people as to what is truly happening now in the world today, and why. The awareness abyss between those who know the truth and those who don’t is a result of many things, including bad education and formation, a culture of lies, and the effect of the innumerable choices for or against reality people have made in their lives, from the moment they became responsible for their choices, at the dawning of the age of reason, to the present moment. But the main reason for where people stand today vis-à-vis reality is the state of their souls vis-à-vis God. If I know and love God as a saint does, I will be aware of reality as it is; if I know and love God as a demon does, I will not be.

Let me try to describe the awareness of someone on the lower side of the spectrum. There are myriad varieties of these people, depending on accidents of education, culture, socio-economic status, belief system, and political leanings, but at core the lack of awareness and alienation from reality is the same for all of them, and for the same reasons. I will begin from the most specific and superficial, in terms of geopolitical awareness, and end with the most general and profound, in terms of spiritual awareness. I don’t pretend to be at the highest level of awareness, but as Plato teaches us, it is true that when we leave one cave, we do know that we’ve left it, even if there are many more to discover and escape from.

The low-level-awareness persons think that there actually was a global pandemic, and that it is, for all intents and purposes, over, as Biden has told them, thanks to the Vaccine, the wise leadership of people like Tedros and Biden and Fauci and Gates, the heroic efforts of the best and brightest scientists and doctors, and the sacrifices and cooperation of the many good, responsible, loving citizens throughout the world—and it would have been over a long time ago if it weren’t for Trump and the small number of his selfish, irresponsible, and disobedient followers, who, like spoiled children, wouldn’t lockdown and mask-up and get the shot, and who believed in and promoted conspiracy theories that endangered public health and led to many deaths that could have been avoided. Biden said that they are an imminent and grave threat to our democracy, and he told the truth.

These low-level-awareness persons think that in Ukraine the entire world is defending freedom from Russia that is led by an insane new Hitler, and who is being opposed by a courageous hero and new leader of the free world. Such persons think that Ukraine is winning and will win, thanks to American assistance, just like in World War II when America rescued the Jews and the entire world from Hitler. These persons think that once Ukraine is liberated and Russia justly punished and chastised into submission (like Germany was), we can get back to the real and most formidable evil the world is facing, climate change. Such persons are ready for all the sacrifices our leaders will ask us to do in order to bring about the final unification of the world under a global government, which will come about when divisive, racist, and outdated nations disappear; and just like with the pandemic, we will vanquish this great evil of nationhood that our unenlightened predecessors bequeathed to us, which is the final obstacle preventing us from establishing a new world order of peace and prosperity and happiness for all. Oh, and the high gas and food prices? Those will go away soon, these persons assure us, just as soon as the MAGA people are eradicated, Putin is assassinated, and everyone gets their eighth booster. Sit tight and be patient and get used to less white privilege. Eating bugs isn’t that bad. Less calories.

Such persons see the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade as only a temporary setback in the ongoing and inexorable struggle for individual freedom, whose victory is assured and imminent, as witnessed by the exponential increase in freedom over the last decade, with the right to gender-reassignment surgery for children being only the latest triumph among many more to come. These persons await eagerly the new technological advances that will, like contraception and abortion pills, mRNA vaccines, and the Metaverse, enable humans to further evolve into full adulthood and take control over that evolution, so that the last vestiges of our imprisoning givenness can be sloughed off and we can finally become the kind of beings that we for way too long have projected onto gods and God due to the ignorance, self-hatred, and cowardice of our religious forebears. These persons like what they sees in Pope Francis, and especially the German Synod, because he is taking the Catholic Church in the right direction, although it has a lot of catching up to do.

Why these views? For the answer, we have to move from a description of these persons’ low-level, reality-averse awareness of what is happening socially, culturally, and politically to their even lower-level awareness of historical, metaphysical, and moral reality from which they derive their asinine opinions. The following is one version of their historical narrative, translated into the highfalutin English of the typical idiotic academic:

Only in secular modernity did man finally achieve his liberation from oppression and ignorance, from superstition, magic, tyranny, and priestcraft, from the dark forces of religious power, fanatical belief, and sectarianism. Man achieved this liberation primarily through the secularization of reason, morality and society, which included the separation of religion from the political order, the church from the state. Ever-increasing religious and ideological pluralism ensued as soon as men of good will were permitted to exercise freely their reason and act on their consciences. It is certainly the case that when Christendom was finally broken up in the wake of the Reformation, religiously intolerant, confessional, monarchical states emerged, but these evolved quite quickly, historically speaking, into the secular, tolerant, pluralistic, democratic states we have today. The rise of secular society after the sixteenth and seventeenth-century wars of religion was rendered possible only by the removal of religion from all positions of political significance and power. Good-willed, reasonable people were ready and willing to accept the desacralization of the state after decades of incessant bloodshed over religion. Sequestered, depoliticized, and privatized, religion and the sacred would now no longer cause war, divisiveness, and oppression, and the newly liberated, autonomous, politically secular individual could finally thrive. In the religiously tolerant, secular, pluralistic liberal democracy governed by the rights of men, not God, the sacred would still have a place and a capacity to exert influence over politics, but now it would have to coexist with the many competing sacreds residing in the same city, proliferating and dwelling together in peace precisely because none are permitted to obtain societal, cultural, and political power, let alone a monopoly on power.

In short, secular modernity was born when the archaic, violence-inducing sacred lost its public, political hegemony and influence, being relegated to the sub-political, private sphere of men’s fancies and hearts. What took its place in the public square is what should have always been there in the first place, the right of individuals to self-determination, to freedom of thought, action, speech, and religion. In modernity man had the courage and intelligence to attempt, for the first time in human history, to construct a political order not based upon the religious, the sacred. While not denying the right of every citizen to believe in a sacred, superhuman, cosmic, divine, transcendent power as the true ground of man’s existence, both personal and social, the theoreticians of the modern paradigm, people such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Madison, decided that secular values and rights, codified in a social contract, would replace any supposed power or will higher than man. And we are so thankful they did.

Such are these persons core metaphysical beliefs: Mindless Matter is all there is, well, except for my Mind, which is free and limitless, though determined by economics—but I’m free. I am a free spirit. And truth is the opinion of the powerful, which is oppressive and untrue, unless I’m in power; or perhaps it’s the opinion of the marginalized. And all opinions are equal, except those that aren’t, like Science and Critical Race Theory.

And as for morality—it’s relative, period. Except for racism and sexism and homophobia, which are absolute evils. And MAGA is evil. But good and evil are the labels of the intolerant, or the rationalizations of class consciousness, but vaccines are absolutely good and people should be forced to get them, and Putin is evil. And we today in the 21st century are morally superior to everyone who lived before us, except that we’re all equal. And abortion is good, so it should be imposed on everyone, but morality is relative. Freedom is the Good, and the Good is Freedom—except for the freedom to try to make something other than freedom the Good, which must be stopped, by force if need be.

Spiritually, these persons believe in love, or power, or both, or nothing. The diversity of religions is willed by God, except those religions that claim to be the true religion, which God, who probably doesn’t exist because we are God, hates. Jesus was a nice man and a good moral teacher, but some of his disciples were antisemitic, such as St. John and St. Paul. Crusades. Inquisition. Nazism. Trump. We know this now, and have sought or demanded forgiveness and groveling, and that’s why we love Pope Francis. The universal religion of love is sweeping across the planet, as we await its definitive spokesperson. It is already showing itself, as evidenced by divinely inspired masterpieces of art like this one:

The lockdowns were the first fruits of the New Spirit, bringing us all together in sacrificial love and Science. And the Vaccine is our new sacrament:

The moral, metaphysical, and spiritual beliefs of the low-level awareness people are, in a word, incoherent, a mishmash of relativism, absolutism, particularism, universalism, self-righteousness and self-deprecation, individualism and collectivism, nihilism and crusaderism, materialism and idealism, atheism and idolatry. They indicate the lowest level possible of spiritual awareness because, in spite of the illusion of diversity, they all reject the law of non-contradiction, which is the first principle without which truth-knowing and truth-telling are impossible. It would evince a higher level of metaphysical awareness to be a full-fledged materialist or atheist or nihilist, for at least there would be an implicit recognition of the possibility of truth, even if the truth claim itself is self-contradictory and false. But this eclectic spirituality, rooted in a chaotic moral and metaphysical soup, is the very nadir of human consciousness and is the perfect breeding ground for global totalitarianism and the Antichrist who will soon embody it, literally.

Why would someone holding this set of moral, metaphysical, and spiritual attitudes or moods—let us not dignify them with the word beliefs—endorse the forced covering of one’s face and injections into one’s body, the placing of the entire world under house arrest, the censoring of all speech not in line with arbitrary “expert” claims, the requiring of papers to merely exist in society, the greatest wealth transfer in history to the richest elites on the planet, and a NATO war of aggression against a nuclear power, on the one hand, and the genital mutilation and sexualization of children, the goodness of murdering babies, sodomy, and cannibalism (coming soon), and the replacement of popular entertainment with satanic occult rituals, on the other? It is because the upshot of those “beliefs” is the promise of power to their adherents, for they are all predicted on the rejection of any authority above man’s will, either his individual or collective will. And since the collective will always trumps the individual one due to the dynamic of sheer power, which is all that is left when there is nothing above the human will; since the most powerful and ruthless elites always dominate the collective will; and since Satan always dominates the most powerful and ruthless, the will of Satan will be done on earth as it is in Hell when the conditions are ripest for his enthronement, and those conditions exist perfectly among the lowest-level awareness people, and to only a slightly lesser extent among those of higher-level awareness, which, apart from the very highest, is still very, very low. It is only those with the very highest-level awareness who stand in the way of the Antichrist at this time.

What are the geopolitical, moral, metaphysical, and spiritual beliefs of those with this highest level of awareness? Well, I wish I knew them, and to say that I do is to arrogantly imply that I am among these. I daresay that I try to follow those institutions, traditions, and personages that have proven their exquisite level of awareness by their works and fruits, their holiness, integrity, courage, charity, and prophetic witness. Suffice it to say, I try to know, love, and obey reality, a sign of a high-level awareness in an Age of Unreality. What is this reality according to these authorities?

For geopolitical reality, if it is true that we are in a state of full-fledged global totalitarianism, and to see this one must already have a high level of awareness, then those institutions and people telling the full truth would be infallibly detected by the vehemence of the attacks against them by the Global Regime of Lies. The highest level of awareness, then, can be described accurately and simply by compiling the claims of these.

There is no institution that is attacked more frequently, ferociously, and insidiously than the Catholic Church, both from without and within, both by intimidation and persecution, seduction and infiltration. Therefore, just read the Catechism of the Catholic Church for an infallible description of the highest level of awareness in terms of moral, metaphysical, and spiritual truth. For a more detailed account of metaphysical awareness in terms of the history of philosophy, I would recommend E. Michael Jones’ Logos Rising: A History of Ultimate Reality:

In terms of historical narrative, the highest level of awareness can thus be found by rejecting any political history that denigrates the Catholic Church and rejects its true reality as the Mystical Body of Christ, and that doesn’t see the Incarnation as the center of human history. For example, awareness knows that The City of God is founded on a love of God that leads its citizens to contempt for themselves, counting all earthly things as worthless…. Augustine argues that the temporal ought to be ordered to the eternal (Civ. Dei XIX,17), but that this ordering will never be achieved entirely harmoniously till the second coming of the Lord. For, there is a second city here on earth in addition to the city of God— the civitas terrena, the earthly city. This city is founded on a love of self to the contempt of God (Civ. Dei XIV,28). And these two cities are in conflict… The earthly city is always opposed to true religion…. Justice consists in giving each his own, thus no society is just that does not give God the worship due to Him.

The following narrative of liberal democracy and the so-called Enlightenment is the high-awareness counterpoint to the low-awareness narrative described above, based upon the fact that anyone holding anything like this narrative would be immediately fired from any mainstream academic or government position:

Since his creation, man has attempted to flee the ubiquitous reality of God through creative abstraction from the natural things of His creation and the supernatural plan of His redemption. Fallen man has always been offended at the “scandal of particularity,” always seeking to live in a universe of his own devising, always abstracting from the concrete, contingent, particular, fleshy, historical realities in which he, as a creature of matter and spirit, finds himself, and through which God has chosen to communicate Himself to him.

All was well in the Garden until Adam and Eve began abstracting: “It can’t be this particular fruit on this particular tree that could be so significant to God and to our happiness!” For the ancient Greek philosophers, God’s existence was knowable; for the Jews, He was a living presence. But that he would limit Himself to a backwater village in the Middle East, or become anything less than a divine conqueror, was foolishness to the former and a stumbling block to the latter. Martin Luther accepted the truth that the universal became particular in the Incarnation, but denied that this Incarnation should be seen as continuing mystically in a particular, historical, visible institution demanding man’s obedience. Enlightenment man accepted the existence of God and absolute truth, but demanded that these be universally accessible solely through man’s reason. “Enlightenment” would be the result of abstracting from one’s particular and contingent cultural and religious “superstitions” to attain the universal truth transcending them. But such a position was tantamount to abstracting the Incarnation out of reality, to rejecting the entire supernatural order made manifest in and through Our Lord, and denying the necessity of His grace and teachings for an accurate understanding and practice of even natural truth and virtue. Postmodern man appeared to have overcome this error, rightly rejecting Enlightenment man’s facile claim to have discovered self-evident absolute truths in abstraction from particularist commitments. He discovered that the historical, the cultural, the societal, that is, the particular, cannot be so easily cut out of the picture. “Self-evident”—to whom? A fair question, that. Yet by denying the possibility of attaining universal truth through and in its particular embodiments, the atheist-oriented postmodernists rejected the reality of transcendence for the abstraction of pure immanence. In short, every error of man throughout history has been the result of missing the balance between immanence and transcendence, the human and the divine, the particular and the universal, by abstracting out some particular realm of natural or supernatural reality.

The diabolically fomented World Wars of our past century, the plandemic, and the WWIII we are now in, sapped the life out of the religious and cultural tradition of the West, with the anti-traditional abstractions of communism, fascism, Nazism, neo-liberalism, and the Great Reset serving as demonic parodies of the Catholic Church. But Lucifer’s coup de grâce would be saved for our century. To his dismay, his all-out destructive assault on tradition in the first half of the twentieth century had provoked a robust counterattack by men of goodwill in the second half. Lucifer learned his lesson: men cannot exist without some sort of tradition. Thus, instead of attempting again the direct destruction of the Western Christian tradition (rendered rather vestigial, decrepit, and paltry, it must be admitted, from his first assault), this time he pursued a subtler but more effective method. Realizing that any authentic tradition, even a barely-breathing one, is a receiver and transmitter of the divine, his stroke of genius was to inspire the construction and establishment of an abstract anti-tradition that would receive and transmit nothing. Although similar in its unreality to the abstractions of communism, fascism, Nazism, and globalism, it would bear such a striking resemblance to the Christian tradition that it would escape detection. Implemented surreptitiously and cloaking itself in the form of its host, it would serve as the tradition to end all tradition. Not only would there be no counterattack this time, men of good will would have no idea what hit them—or even that they had been hit.

Secular liberal democracy is the cave, liberalism the shadows on its walls, and “conservative,” “liberal,” and “radical” shadows of various shapes and sizes. For those in the cave, reality is contacted by comparing and choosing among the shadows; certain shadows appear “true,” while other shadows seem “false.” But since shadows are all they know, it cannot be said that they really know any of these shadows at all. They do not know the shadows as shadows. They may use the word “shadow” in their many echoey, cave discussions, but they do not know of what the shadows are. Indeed, if they ever recognized the shadows as shadows, they would escape the cave.

Liberalism is just such a cave. People in the modern West may use the term “liberalism,” and identify “other” points of view in contrast to it, but because they are inside liberalism and do not know it, they do not recognize the liberalism of liberalism. They do not see it as an alien, artificial ideology projected upon the walls of their minds by the elitist puppeteers of academia, religion, bureaucracy, and media, but simply as “just the way things are.” They are like fish that never recognize their immersion in water because they know of nothing else.

Liberalism claims to provide a religiously neutral social framework within which individuals can autonomously determine their own vision of the world in perfect freedom. But we must reject liberalism’s official public claim that it lacks any particular conception of the good and any restrictions on others’ conceptions of the good. Since liberal culture is founded upon a particular conception of the good and a particular doctrine of truth—namely, the good of the privatization of all claims to truth, and the truth of the irreducible plurality of conceptions of the good—and since the publicly authoritative rhetoric of liberal culture denies having any substantive conceptions of its own, what liberalism amounts to is an established and intolerant belief system—a religion—that indoctrinates citizens into disbelieving in its very existence. Just as the puppeteers must ensure that the shadows are never recognized as shadows, lest the cave be identified as a cave and the prisoners break their chains; liberalism must never be exposed as liberalism, that is, as a historically contingent, non-necessary, manmade ideology. It must at all costs be identified with “the facts,” “the way things are,” as the inexorable social reality. In short, as the great Nietzschean ironist Stanley Fish, a cave-puppeteer with a genius for exposing his fellow puppeteers to the light, has confessed: “liberalism doesn’t exist.”

The problem, however, is that it does, and its existence is no longer limited to an abstract idea or a revolutionary experiment—it is now a well-established social reality. The liberal incubus has found a willing consort in the decrepit culture of the secularized West, and unfortunately, we citizens of the modern liberal democracies of the West are its traditionalists. Cavanaugh’s name for liberalism is the “worship of the empty shrine”:

“The public shrine has been emptied of any one particular God or creed, so that the government can never claim divine sanction and each person may be free to worship as she sees fit…. There is no single visible idol, no golden calf, to make the idolatry obvious . . . officially the shrine remains empty…. The empty shrine, however, threatens to make a deity not out of God but out of our freedom to worship God. Our freedom comes to occupy the empty shrine. Worship becomes worship of our collective self, and civil religion tends to marginalize the worship of the true God. Our freedom, finally, becomes the one thing we will die and kill for.”

And the priests of the empty shrine have become quite zealous of late to evangelize, both through preaching in a variety of media (McDonalds, MTV, pornography, gender-reassignment surgery, poison “vaccines”…) and, especially since 2003, through inquisition—democracy and freedom at the end of a gun, a white phosphorous bomb, or an electric shock to the genitals. The god of the liberal state is a jealous god, commanding its devotees to kill for it. As Cavanaugh writes: “You may confess on your lips any god you like, provided you are willing to kill” for the State—and to be killed for it. As MacIntyre wryly put it: “It is like being asked to die for the telephone company.”

With a track record of human sacrifice, how has the empty shrine of liberal nothing-worship (to conflate names for a moment) managed to escape our detection? The short answer is that it has removed our eyes. Authentic traditions, both natural and supernatural, embody and transmit the ultimate realities of man’s existence, the transcendent origin, end, and meaning of things that cannot be grasped by the isolated individual, and cannot be fully rationalized or defined.

Ultimate reality must be experienced through and in its incarnation in tradition. It is in this sense that tradition is the eye that allows men to see the spiritual, eternal, and transcendent meanings hidden in the physical, temporal, and mundane facts of everyday existence. Participants in the anti-tradition of liberalism, however, are prevented from ever seeing themselves as participants in a tradition, even though they are its slaves. They are blinded to their God-given identity as members of a common good higher than themselves, even as they serve as mere cogs in the liberal machine. The freedom cult includes all others, even the cult of the Eucharist, and so it is more universal, more “catholic,” and therefore more divine than the Eucharist. By not prescribing any particular object of public devotion, the State’s empty shrine appears to allow all devotions to exist and thrive more successfully than if there were an exclusivist, established cult, such as Catholicism. However, all of this is a grand illusion. As David Schindler points out: “The state cannot finally avoid affirming, in the matter of religion, a priority of either ‘freedom from’ or ‘freedom for’—both of these imply a theology.”

As for the geopolitical reality described by high-level awareness, if you look at what those whom the Regime of Unreality hate the most are saying, it amounts to something like this:

The incredible evil we have witnessed and suffered over the past two years amounts to the greatest crime against humanity ever committed. The plandemic was an all-out assault on every human being on the planet. Though its most obvious effects were economic and political, at its core it was a spiritual and psychological-terror operation knowingly and deliberately orchestrated by a small global elite of unspeakably evil and psychopathic people. It was executed by a larger group of lower-tier cooperators ignorant of the master plan but vicious enough to use their power and influence to inflict untold harm on those in their charge. And it was enabled by the masses of idolatrous, fearful, alienated, rootless, selfish, and cowardly men, the rotten fruit of a godless and decadent liberalism, a liberalism that encourages children to mutilate their bodies, allows mothers to murder their babies, and celebrates when men penetrate the rectums of other men.

In the end, we are each responsible for our level of awareness, and God created us to aspire to the highest level possible, the intimate awareness of Him. We can only become aware of our unawareness by His grace, and we need His minute-by-minute help to ascend to higher and higher levels, lest we fall backwards into our own darkness and blindness. Let us practice the presence of God always so that we become more and more aware of His indescribable love for us and share this awareness with all whom we meet.


Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski is former Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Wyoming Catholic College and Academic Dean. He teaches Political Philosophy at John Adams Academy and Great Books for Angelicum Academy. He is also a tutor for the Catherine Project. His latest books are Modernity as Apocalypse: Sacred Nihilism and the Counterfeits of Logos, and Words, Concepts, Reality: Aristotelian Logic for Teenagers.


Featured: “Allegory of Human Folly,” by Cornelis Saftleven; painted in 1629.

Civilization State, or the Multi-Polar World

The Special Military Operation in Ukraine (SMO) is widely recognized by competent experts in International Relations as the final and decisive moment in the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world.

Multipolarity often seems intuitively clear; but as soon as we try to give a precise definition or a correct theoretical description, everything becomes less obvious. I believe that my work A Theory of a Multi-polar World is more relevant today than ever before. But since people have forgotten how to read—especially lengthy theoretical texts, I will try to share the main points.

The main actor of a multipolar world order is neither a nation-state (as in the realist theory of International Relations), nor a unified World Government (as in the liberalist theory of International Relations). It is civilization state. Other names for it are “big space,” “Empire,” “ecumenism.”

The term “civilization state” is most often applied to China. Both ancient and modern. As early as ancient times, the Chinese developed the theory of “Tianxia” (天下), the “Celestial Empire,” according to which China is the center of the world, being the meeting place of unifying Heaven and dividing Earth. And the “Celestial Empire” may be a single state; or it may be broken up into its components and then reassembled. In addition, Han China itself acted as a culture-forming force for neighboring nations that were not directly part of China—primarily Korea, Vietnam, the Indochina countries and even Japan, which is quite independent.

The nation-state is a product of the European New Age, and in some cases a post-colonial construct. The civilization state has ancient roots and uncertain, shifting boundaries. The civilization state at times pulsates, expanding and contracting, while always remaining a constant phenomenon. (This is what, above all else, we need to know about our SMO.)

Contemporary China behaves strictly according to the principle of “Tianxia” in international politics. The One Belt, One Road Initiative is a prime example of what this looks like in practice. And China’s Internet, which cuts off any networks and resources that might weaken the civilizational identity at the entrance to China, demonstrates how the defense mechanisms are built.

The civilization state may interact with the outside world, but it never becomes dependent on it and always maintains self-sufficiency, autonomy and autarchy.

Civilization state is always more than just a state in both spatial and temporal (historical) terms.

Russia is increasingly gravitating toward the same status. After the beginning of the SMO, this was no longer mere wishful thinking, but an urgent necessity. As in the case of China, Russia has every reason to claim to be precisely a civilization. This theory was most fully developed by the Russian Eurasians, who introduced the notion of a “world-state,” or—which is the same thing—”Russian world. Actually, the concept of Russia-Eurasia is a direct indication of the civilizational status of Russia. Russia is more than a nation-state (which the Russian Federation is). Russia is a separate world.

Russia was a civilization in the era of the Empire, and remained so in Soviet times. Ideologies and regimes changed, but the identity remained the same.

The struggle for Ukraine is nothing less than a struggle for the civilization state. The same as the peaceful Union State of Russia and Belarus and the economic integration of the post-Soviet Eurasian space.

A multipolar world consists of civilization states. This is a kind of world of worlds, a megacosmos that includes entire galaxies. And here it is important to determine how many such civilization states can even theoretically exist?

Undoubtedly, this type includes India, a typical civilization state, which even today has enough potential to become a full-fledged actor in international politics.

Then there is the Islamic world, from Indonesia to Morocco. Here the fragmentation into states and different ethno-cultural enclaves does not yet allow us to speak of political unity. Islamic civilization exists, but the question of its assembly into a civilization state is rather problematic. Moreover, the history of Islam knows several types of civilization states, from the Caliphate (the First, Umayyad, Abbasid, etc.) to the three components of Genghis Khan’s Empire that converted to Islam (the Golden Horde, the Ilkhan and Chagatai ulus), the Persian Safavid Empire, the Great Moghul state, and finally, the Ottoman Empire. The borders once drawn are still relevant today in many respects. But the process of gathering them into a single structure requires considerable time and effort.

Latin America and Africa, two macro-civilizations that remain quite separate, are in a similar position. But a multipolar world will somehow push integration processes in all these zones.

Now the most important thing—what to do with the West? The theory of a multipolar world in the nomenclature of theories of International Relations in the modern West is absent.

The dominant paradigm there today is liberalism, which denies any sort of sovereignty and autonomy, abolishes civilizations and religions, ethnicities and cultures, replacing them by a forced liberal ideology, the concept of “human rights,” individualism (in the extreme leading to gender and transgender politics), materialism and technical progress elevated to the highest value (Artificial Intelligence). The goal of liberalism is to abolish nation-states and establish a World Government based on Western norms and rules.

This is the line pursued by Biden and the modern Democrat Party in the U.S., as well as most European rulers. This is what globalism is all about. It categorically rejects civilization state and any hint of multipolarity. That is why the West is ready for war with Russia and China. In a sense, this war is already going on in Ukraine and in the Pacific (the problem of Taiwan)—but so far via proxy-actors.

In the West, there is another influential school—realism in International Relations. Here the nation-state is considered a necessary element of the world order; but only those who have achieved a high level of economic, military-strategic and technological development—almost always at the expense of others—have sovereignty. While liberals see the future in a World Government, realists see it in an alliance of major Western powers setting global rules in their own interests. Again, both in theory and in practice, civilization state and a multipolar world are categorically rejected.

This creates a fundamental conflict already at the level of theory. And the lack of mutual understanding here leads to the most radical consequences at the level of direct collision.

In the eyes of supporters of multipolarity, the West is also a civilization state or even two—North American and European. But Western intellectuals do not agree with this; they have no theoretical frame for this—they know either liberalism or realism, and no multipolarity.

However, there are exceptions among Western theorists, such as Samuel Huntington or Fabio Petito. They—unlike the vast majority—recognize multipolarity and the emergence of new actors in the form of civilizations. This is gratifying, because through such ideas it is possible to build a bridge for supporters of multipolarity (Russia, China, etc.) to the West. Such a bridge would at least make negotiations possible. As long as the West categorically rejects multipolarity and the very notion of the civilization state, the conversation will be conducted only at the level of a clash of brute force—from military operations to economic blockade, information and sanction wars, and so on.

Finally, to win this war and defend itself, Russia itself must first clearly comprehend multipolarity. We are already fighting for it, but still do not fully understand what it is. It is necessary to urgently dissolve the liberal structures created in the Gorbachev-Yeltsin period and establish new multipolar structures. It is also necessary to restructure the educational paradigm itself—first of all at MGIMO, MGU, PFUR, the Maurice Thorez Institute, the Diplomatic Academy, and other specialized universities. Lastly, we need to really turn to a developed and fully-fledged Eurasian school of thought, which has proven to be highly relevant, but against which the overt and covert Atlantists and foreign agents, who deeply penetrate our society, continue to fight.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured image: “The Course of Empire: Consummation,” by Thomas Cole; painted in 1836.

The Clash of Realism and Liberalism

We need to understand what is happening to us and around us. To do this, common sense is not enough; there must be methodologies. So, let us consider the SMO (the Special Military Operation in the Ukraine), in the context of a discipline like International Relations (IR).

There are two main schools of thought in international relations: realism and liberalism. These we will discuss, although there are others; but these two are the main ones. If you are not familiar with these theories, don’t try to guess what is meant here by “realism” and “liberalism.” The meaning of the terms is taken from the context.

Thus, realism in IR is based on the recognition of the absolute sovereignty of the nation state. This corresponds to the Westphalian system of international relations that emerged in Europe as a result of the 30 Years War that ended in 1648. Since then, the principle of sovereignty has remained fundamental to the system of International Law.

IR realists are those who draw the most radical conclusions from the principle of sovereignty and believe that sovereign nation states will always exist. This is justified by the realists’ understanding of human nature: they are convinced that man in his natural state is prone to chaos and violence against the weakest, and that a state is therefore necessary to prevent this. Furthermore, there should be no authority above the state to limit sovereignty. The landscape of international politics thus consists of a constantly shifting balance of power between sovereign states. The strong attacks the weak; but the weak can always turn to the stronger for help. Coalitions, pacts and alliances are formed. Each sovereign state defends its national interests on the basis of cold, rational calculation.

The principle of sovereignty makes wars between states possible (no one can forbid someone from above to wage a war, because there is nothing higher than a state); but at the same time peace is also possible, if it is advantageous for the states; or in a war there is no unambiguous outcome.

This is how realists see the world. In the West, this school has always been quite strong and even prevalent. In the US, it remains quite influential today: about half of American politicians and IR experts follow this approach, which during the Trump presidency dominated. Most Republicans (except neocons) and some Democrats lean towards it.

Now consider liberalism in IR. Here the concept is very different. History is seen as a continuous social progress. The state is only a stage, on the road to progress; and sooner or later it is bound to fade away. Since sovereignty is fraught with the possibility of war, one must try to overcome it and create supranational structures that first limit it and then abolish it altogether.

Liberals in IR are convinced that a world government must be established and humanity united under the most ‘progressive’ forces—i.e., the liberals themselves. For liberals in IR, human nature is not a constant (as it is for realists) but can and must be changed. Education, indoctrination, media, propaganda of liberal values and other forms of mind control are used for this purpose. Humanity must be turned liberal and everything illiberal must be exterminated and banished. These are the “enemies of the open society,” the “illiberals.”

After the destruction of the “illiberals,” there will be global peace—and no one will be at war with anyone. For now, war is necessary, but only against the “illiberals” who “impede progress,” challenge the power of the liberal global elites and are therefore not “human” at all, and can therefore be dealt with in any way—up to and including total extermination (including the use of artificial pandemics and biological weapons).

In the near future, according to this concept, states will be abolished and all humans will intermingle, creating a planetary civil society, one world. This is what is called “globalism.” Globalism is the theory and practice of liberalism in IR.

The new version of liberalism has an addition: artificial intelligence will dominate humanity; people will become first genderless and then “immortal;” they will live in cyberspace and their consciousness and memory will be stored on cloud servers. New generations will be created in a test tube or printed by a 3D printer.

All this is reflected in the Great Reset project of the founder of the Davos Forum, Klaus Schwab.

Liberals make up the other half of politicians and international relations experts in the West. Their influence is gradually growing and sometimes exceeds that of IR realists. The current Biden administration and the majority of the US Democratic Party are liberals in this sense. Liberals are also dominant in the EU, which is the implementation of such a project, as it aims to build a supranational structure. It was IR liberals who conceived and created the League of Nations and then the UN, the Hague Tribunal, the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the IMF, the World Bank, the WHO, the Bologna education system, digitalisation. All globalist projects and networks are all the work of liberals. Russian liberals are an integral part of this global sect, which has all the characteristics of a totalitarian sect.

Now let us apply this explanation to the NWO (New World Order). After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine became a tool of both liberals and realists in IR—precisely a tool of the West. The liberals in the MoD encouraged Ukraine’s integration into the global world and supported its aspirations to join the European Union and NATO (the military wing of globalism). The realists in the MoD used Ukraine in their interests against Russia. To do so, it was necessary to make Ukraine a nation-state, which contradicted the purely liberal agenda. This is how the synthesis of Ukrainian liberalism and Nazism, against which the SMO fights, was formed. Nazism (Extreme Right, Azov and other structures banned in Russia) was necessary to build a nation and a sovereign state as quickly as possible. Integration into the European Union required a playful and comically pacifist image (Zelensky). The common denominator was NATO. This is how liberals and IR realists achieved Russophobic consensus in Ukraine. When necessary, they turned a blind eye to Nazism, liberal values and gay pride parades.

Now to Russia. In Russia since the early 1990s under Yeltsin, Chubais and Gaidar liberalism has firmly dominated IR. Russia then, like Ukraine today, dreamed of joining Europe and joining NATO. If this had required further disintegration, the Kremlin liberals would have been willing to do that too. But at some point Yeltsin himself and his foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov adjusted the agenda slightly: Yeltsin resented separatism in Chechnya; Primakov deployed a plane over the Atlantic during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. These were weak signs of realism. Sovereignty and national interests were invoked, but only hesitantly, tentatively.

Real realism began when Putin came to power. He saw that his predecessors had weakened sovereignty to the extreme, caught up in globalisation; and that the country was consequently under foreign control. Putin began to restore sovereignty. First of all, in the Russian Federation itself—the second Chechen campaign, the deletion of sovereignty clauses from the Constitution, etc. Then he began to deal with the post-Soviet space—the August 2008 events in the South Caucasus; Crimea and Donbass in 2014. At the same time, it is indicative that the international expert community (SWOP, RIAC, etc.) and MGIMO continued to be completely dominated by the line of liberalism. Realism was never mentioned. The elites remained liberal—those who openly opposed Putin and those who reluctantly agreed to submit to him.

The SMO has, like a flashback, illuminated the situation in the Russian Ministry of Defence. Behind Ukraine there is an alliance of liberals and partly realists in the Ministry of Defence, i.e., the forces of globalism that have turned against Russia. For liberals (and Biden and his administration [Blinken and Co.], like Clinton and Obama before him, belong precisely to this school), Russia is the absolute enemy, because it is a serious obstacle to globalisation, to the establishment of a world government and a unipolar world. For American realists (and in Europe realists are very weak and barely represented), Russia is a competitor in controlling the space of the planet. They are generally hostile; but for them supporting Ukraine against Russia is not a matter of life and death. The fundamental interests of the United States are not affected by this conflict. It is possible to find common ground with them; not with liberals.

For IR liberals, however, it is a matter of principle. The outcome of the SMO will determine whether or not there will be a world government. Russia’s victory would mean the creation of a fully multipolar world in which Russia (and China and, in the near future, India) would enjoy real and strong sovereignty, while the positions of the allied entities of the liberal West, which accept globalisation and are willing to compromise their sovereignty, would be dramatically weakened.

In conclusion, liberalism in IR is changing to include gender politics, information and hybrid warfare, artificial intelligence and post-humanism. But realism is also changing: confirming the logic of S. Huntington (incidentally, a proponent of realism in IR), who spoke of the “clash of civilisations;” the main actors are not states but civilisations, what he calls Big Spaces. Thus, realism is gradually shifting towards the theory of the multipolar world, where the poles are no longer nation-states, but states-continents, empires. This is also clearly visible in the course of the SMO.

In terms of various theories of international relations, the SMO is simultaneously a conflict between:

  • unipolarity and multipolarity
  • realism and liberalism in IR
  • small identity (artificial Ukrainian Nazism) and large identity (Eurasian brotherhood of Russia)
  • the civilisation of the land (Land Power) versus the civilisation of the sea (Sea Power), in the battle for the coastal zone (Rimland), which geopolitics claims
  • the failed state and the resurgent empire

Before our eyes, and with our hands and blood now—right now—the great history of ideas is being made.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured image: “Monopoly” by Bernhard Gillam; published in 1883.

What’s Wrong With Liberalism?

To many, liberalism seems the best; the only platform, in fact, that enables political leaders and social groups to cooperate and to introduce social change and political reform. At any rate, this is the situation in Eastern Europe; but I believe that to a considerable degree it is also the case in other countries of what we call the West. Liberalism is regarded not only as synonymous with a free society, but also as the destiny of the modern world; the basic binding force of civilization, and the only basis for a political language through which we can all communicate. When the East Europeans freed themselves from the Soviet hegemony, the first thing they were told, and many of them told themselves, was that they must follow the liberal pattern. What “the liberal pattern” meant was not clear. What was clear, however, was that any open rejection of this recommendation, even if only barely spoken, or a deliberate replacement of the word “liberal” by “non-liberal” or “illiberal” would provoke unpleasant consequences in international institutions and in international public opinion.

Liberalism is obviously a loose and rather obscure concept, covering several ideas, not always compatible with one another in different historical contexts. It extends from radical free market capitalism to certain forms of the welfare state; from Ludwig von Mises to John Rawls, from Reaganomics to the European Union. Shifting from a narrow understanding of liberalism to a large one and then back to a narrow one is, especially in polemics, a common practice among politicians, political commentators, and the public at large. This makes a coherent and exhaustive rendering of “liberalism” extremely difficult. This should not, however, be sufficient reason to abandon the search for a more or less unifying definition. Coherent and exhaustive renderings of socialism or conservatism are no less difficult; yet this has never prevented critics from formulating objections against socialism as such, or against conservatism as such.

Let me offer my own formula by way of definition. A liberal is someone who takes a rather thin view of man, society, morality, religion, history, and philosophy, believing this to be the safest approach to organizing human cooperation. He does not deny that thicker, non-procedural principles and norms are possible, but believes these to be particular preferences which possess validity only within particular groups and communities. For this reason, he refuses to attribute to such principles and norms any universal value and he protests whenever someone attempts to impose his profound beliefs, however true they may seem to him, on the entire social body. Liberals might have divergent opinions on economic freedoms and the role of government, but they are united in their conviction that thinness of anthropological, moral, and metaphysical assumptions is the prerequisite for freedom and peace. Whoever would thicken such assumptions generates ideological conflicts and is believed to undermine the basis of peaceful cooperation and opening the door to unjust discrimination.

Can one have non-liberal or even anti-liberal views today without becoming, at best, a laughing stock, or at worst, a dangerous supporter of authoritarianism? Is the thinness of basic assumptions indeed the only way to secure liberal ends? I, for one, think that the identification of liberalism and liberty, so characteristic of modern times, is largely unfounded. Liberalism is one of several systems whose aim is to establish a certain ordering of the world. Whether this ordering is good, or preferable to other orderings, or to what extent this ordering increases our freedom, are open questions, and no definite answer seems compelling.

In what will follow I will present five arguments against liberalism, of which some will be against the theory as such, while others will be against some of its claims.

First Argument

The first and most immediate reason for my lukewarm attitude toward liberalism is its modest position in the entirety of human experience. To put it simply: liberalism as a theory is not interesting. Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky were not liberals. One cannot think of any outstanding writer who could be qualified simply and solely as a liberal. What is most fascinating in the picture of man and the world, in the understanding of our relation to God, to nature, to one another, was all formulated outside the realm of liberal thought. The most intriguing thinkers whom we regard as belonging to the liberal tradition in the largest sense of the word — Kant, Ortega y Gasset, or Tocqueville are all interesting to the degree to which they transcend liberal orthodoxy.

A thought experiment will make this clear. Let us imagine a man educated exclusively in Aristotelianism, or Hegelianism, or phenomenology, or Thomism. Such a man could be accused of one-sidedness, but he certainly could, other conditions being fulfilled, achieve wisdom in the most basic meaning of the word. Then let us imagine someone who is educated only in the works of liberalism. Such a man could never attain wisdom because the works he studies leave out the most important problems that have preoccupied human beings from time immemorial. The liberal ignores those questions because he considers them either irrelevant, or — for reasons I will explain later — dangerous. My experience with liberals is that whenever I raise those questions in their company, I encounter two kinds of reaction: either reluctance to discuss those issues as secondary, or irritation which results from my interlocutor’s conviction that he has located this problem within his system long ago and finds no reason to revisit it.

The lack of weight which one feels whenever one reads liberal works is an obvious consequence of the thinness of liberal assumptions, from which one cannot derive any profound insights. It is not that the tree of literary art is always greener than the tree of political theory, and that no poet or writer of significance was a propounder of a particular theory. The root of the problem lies in the program of consistent reductionism which closes the liberal mind to the issues that men have always thought constitutive of the human condition. The dilemma is inescapable: either one makes bolder assumptions — and then one is bound to depart from strict liberalism — or one sticks to the original thinness, and then one falls into sterility.

Second Argument

What has been said so far can immediately be countered with the following reply. Liberalism does not address the fundamental metaphysical and anthropological — which is to say, human — problems because it has a far more modest objective. Liberalism’s purpose is merely to create a framework within which people can function as acting, thinking, and creating beings. Liberals want to construct a model of public order spacious enough to secure maximum freedom for everyone, including the Aristotelians, the Hegelians, the Thomists, as well as their opponents — in short, for anyone, regardless of the priority or the profundity of his problems.

This reply is well known, but I do not think much of it. What we find in the reply reveals another level of liberal problems and explains why liberals are so difficult to communicate with. This leads me to my second argument. Liberals always place themselves in a higher position than their interlocutors, and from that position they have an irresistible urge to dominate. What they usually say is something like this: We are not interested in deciding any particular issue; all we want to do is to create a system within which you will make your own decisions. By saying this they do two things which I find rather dubious. First, they always usurp for themselves — without asking anyone for permission and without any permission being granted — the role of the architectonic organizer of society; thus, they always want to dominate by performing the roles of the guardians of the whole of the social system and the judges of the procedural rules within the system. Second, they declare “neutrality” towards concrete solutions and decisions within the system, but such “neutrality” is impossible to maintain; one cannot be an organizer of everything while at the same time refraining from imposing substantively in specific cases.

At least since John Locke, the liberals — declaring that all they are interested in is freedom of individuals and not the content of their choices — have made categorical judgments about what government should look like, how it should govern, how social life should be arranged, how families should be constructed, how our minds should work, and how we should relate to God. They had definitive answers — believed to follow from the principles underlying their framework — about which institutions are inferior and which superior, how children should be educated and what objectives schools and universities should have, what is the best structure of churches and families, what are acceptable relations between spouses, between parents and children, between teachers and pupils. The answers, “I don’t know” or “a decision is not possible within the accepted assumptions” are not something one often hears from liberals. In the system of liberty which they have constructed, everything is predictably known and accordingly regulated.

This openly declared focus on “procedural” issues rather than “substantive” issues is one of the greatest and most effective liberal mystifications, not to say sleights of hand. There are no non-substantive procedures. And once a radical change is made, whether in a school system, family life, the university, or the church, it does not make the slightest difference if the nature of the change was procedural or substantive. The liberals have legalized abortion, are in the process of legalizing homosexual marriages, are inclined to legalize euthanasia; they have changed or supported changes in family life, in religious discipline, in school curricula, in sexual conduct. None of these actions of support or inspiration were, strictly speaking, based on “substantive” claims; all were based on legalistic and formal arguments. But the practical effects in social and moral life were profound. Not only is liberalism not modest, its ambition to have a decisive voice is unquenchable: because it is the result of self-deception. The socialists, the conservatives, the monarchists are ambitious too, but they all know very well how far they want to penetrate the social fabric; and at least some of them are well aware that reality often resists, and that giving in to reality is sometimes a sound decision. The liberals, however, live in a world of self-delusion about their mildness and modesty, believing that even their most arrogant interference somehow does not touch moral or social “substance.”

The liberal framework is sometimes said to be limited only to the general structure of society, while leaving room for non-liberal communities, on the condition that they comply with the liberal principles of the whole. But such a promise, even if sincere, is incongruent with the nature of liberalism. Once it is assumed — as all the liberals do assume — that individuals are the basic agents, then communities, particularly non-liberal communities, lose any privileges that may stem from experience, custom, tradition, or human nature. There is no compelling argument that would make a liberal uncompromising with respect to the principles of the whole while tolerant with respect to the principles of particular groups or communities. All communities are understood as aggregates of individuals; and it is individuals, not communities, that are said to need liberal protections.

Consequently, non-liberal social structures and traditions — those that still exist — are merely tolerated “for the time being;” and they are under constant and minute supervision. When the time for toleration is over, when “the time being” comes to an end, a non-liberal social structure immediately becomes the object of attack. The most recurrent example is the liberals’ relation to the Roman Catholic Church, which is either formally tolerated in the name of the freedom that allows non-liberals to form non-liberal communities, or else formally attacked, also in the name of the freedom which the Church as a non-liberal institution is accused of lacking. But as everyone seriously interested in religion knows, the key to understanding the Church lies not in organizational questions but in substantive propositions about human nature, metaphysics, etc. Churches may be liberal or not; but the fact that they are liberal does not make them “by definition” better churches; it does not make them better adapted to the essential needs of human nature and more appropriate as responses to metaphysical problems. To acquiesce in the existence of the Catholic Church — regardless of its non-liberal organizational structure — as an irreducible expression of human experience, an experience from which one can learn or profit, is impossible for liberals. This would be for them a betrayal of liberal principles. Learning from others is something liberals never do.

Third Argument

One can hardly deny the moral impulse behind liberal thinking: to free men from bondage because bondage is humiliating. The primary reason one becomes a liberal is to create a situation in which men, to use Kant’s expression, are “freed from tutelage” and become sovereign agents themselves. But what would the world look like when men are in this blessed state? To this question, the liberals reply that it is precisely a world which corresponds to the liberal order. In other words, liberals — and this is my third argument — confuse two kinds of aspiration to freedom, or better, and to put it differently, two claims about freedom.

The first claim is that people are mature beings and their free actions should not be impeded by arbitrary will. The second claim is that what free people in fact want is a liberal order which best satisfies their need for freedom. These two claims are not necessarily identical, but liberals have no doubt about their equivalence. In the first case we have the belief that relying on people’s maturity benefits society as a whole since every human agent makes the best use of his capacities. In the second case, we have the belief that there is a single system which secures the maximum of freedom for everyone and that for all those who value freedom such a system must be the object of their aspiration. By identifying these two beliefs, liberals assume that whoever wants freedom must necessarily want liberalism, and whoever wants liberalism must necessarily want freedom. Armed with this assumption, liberals assess the progress of freedom by the yardstick of acceptance of their own system.

Liberals thus reconcile — in their minds as well as in their consciences — two tendencies which are essentially irreconcilable: acquiescence in the spontaneous development of social reality, and a desire to reshape society radically in accordance with a priori principles. Since those two things are not differentiated in their minds, the liberals believe that not only does the future of freedom depend on whether people accept the system they consider optimal, but also that the implementation of this system is in fact indistinguishable from the satisfaction of the deepest desires of sovereign individuals.

This, I think, explains an otherwise inexplicable paradox: that modern liberal discourse is not a language of freedom, but a language of necessity. Modernity, we are told, makes it imperative to embrace the liberal system and to reject whatever is not liberal. Whoever thinks otherwise should be placed in the dustbin of history. In no place is this imperative more palpable than in Eastern Europe. Almost immediately after the fall of the old communist regime — whose ideologues also believed in the inexorable laws of history — the peoples of Eastern Europe were told that in order to become free societies they would have to conform to one political model. In order to be free, they had to submit to liberal tutelage. There was to be no nonsense about experimenting, trial and error, drawing lessons from one’s own historical experience or traditions. Schools, universities, the media, families — all had to become liberal. And this did not mean making creative use of one’s freedom, one’s intelligence, and one’s experience, but following a blueprint that was said to be obligatory today and even more obligatory tomorrow.

Fourth Argument

Many liberals, particularly in recent decades, while never ceasing to preach the superiority of pluralism, have in fact been propagating a dualistic vision of the world: on the one hand, they see pluralism; on the other, what they consider pluralism’s antithesis, which they sometimes call monism. This dichotomy is believed to describe not only the modern world but the entirety of human history, past and future. For liberals, the claim that in the human drama there have always been two antagonists — pluralists and monists — has acquired the status of a dogma, more self-evident than the Ten Commandments. The monists are ayatollahs, Adolf Hitlers, Christian fundamentalists, Catholic integrists, Islamists, conservatives, and many more. Tertium non datur. Whoever does not belong to the camp of the pluralists, the camp of the liberals, will inevitably find himself sooner or later in the camp of their enemies.

Let us take a well-known but very bad essay by Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” where pluralism is exemplified by “negative liberty” and monism by “positive liberty.” In that essay Berlin argues that those who defend the notion of positive liberty are in fact propounding a theory that justifies political authoritarianism, perhaps even totalitarianism. If, for instance, someone maintains that the human soul consists of two parts — i.e., higher and lower, rational and non-rational — and that the former should control the latter, then he intentionally or unintentionally opens the possibility that a certain institution or group of people will claim the right to take power and, in the name of the higher part of the human soul, impose one ideological and political system on another group representing the lower part of the soul. As it is easy to see, Berlin employs here a slippery slope argument, perhaps the most often used argument in this context, which says that monistic philosophies all lead, sooner or later, to disastrous political consequences by sanctioning discrimination, domination, and other equally reprehensible practices.

The only problem with this argument is that to the group of “monists” belong all the greatest and the most important philosophers, from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, to Hegel and Husserl. The dualistic perspective of the pluralists leads to discrediting what is most valuable in philosophy itself, and surprisingly, this act of discrediting is done in the name of “freedom” and “plurality.” Once this dualistic perspective becomes accepted as legitimate, it must entail intellectual degradation similar to what we once had in Marxism, where the entirety of human thought was also divided between two currents: materialism (which was good) and idealism (which was bad). There is no point in studying the “bad” part — whether monism or idealism — unless one either subscribes to the well-known critique of it, or else defends the “bad” part by indicating that it has some elements of the “good” part (pluralism or materialism). Studying the “bad” part for reasons that have nothing to do with the dichotomy makes no sense.

This also explains the liberals’ tendency to make sweeping judgments, positive or negative, about everything in the past, present, and future. This tendency derives from the simple criterion which they so often apply, and which is essentially political. The liberals do not analyze whether this or that theory is true or false, whether this or that moral position is good or bad, but whether those positions are politically safe — that is, whether they are not too monistic and therefore too authoritarian. And because in the light of the slippery slope argument nothing (other than liberalism) is safe, and because all non-trivial propositions may be placed on the slippery slope, the liberals are moral busybodies, never ceasing to warn, reprimand, condemn, praise, or lament.

Fifth Argument

Obsessed with the specter of discrimination and enslavement looming within every social practice, philosophy, or moral norm, liberals fall prey to the rhetoric of emancipation and are helpless when faced with modern ideological mystifications, which are often created in bad faith and from evidently erroneous assumptions. During the last century, there have appeared many ideologies that proclaim their noble aim of opposing unjust historically-entrenched discrimination by the dominant Western white Christian male majority. There is practically no minority today that, making recourse to these ideologies, cannot make a convincing case that it is a victim of a particularly sinister form of discrimination.

Who is today a liberal, and who is not, is often difficult to say since emancipatory rhetoric has become so omnipresent. The true-breed liberals — for whom the idea of freedom is so dear — are extremely generous in co-opting new groups into the ever-expanding circle of freedom fighters. But their generosity is not always reciprocated. Such radical groups as homosexual activists or feminists do not have any profound sympathy with liberalism, but they use its tools to promote their own goals. In fact, they are egalitarians, and the idea of equality, not liberty, is their principal value. The problem is that the liberals cannot reject the claims of such groups because they are paralyzed by the rhetoric of liberation and by their own conviction that saying “no” to these groups would amount to the renunciation of the liberal creed.

Sometimes the desire to co-opt everyone may express itself in a vision of society which is infinitely spacious — a utopia of utopias, as Robert Nozick once called it — which could be compared to a department store where all possible goods are available, and where people are not forced to buy only those that are currently fashionable or recommended by some authoritative agency. In a department store, there is no ethical hierarchy that would tell producers what to produce and customers what to purchase. A society which is modeled on the department store is said to stock goods for hedonists and spiritualists, for Jews and Muslims, for illiterate pleasure-seekers and for refined intellectuals; there is pornography and the Bible, Plato and Stalin, communism and laissez-faire. No one is deprived of the opportunity to find what he is looking for. Muslims are not coerced to accept the Christian faith, homosexuals are not forced to marry the other sex, monks are not distracted from their search for the absolute, and usurers are not constantly reminded about the Sermon on the Mount. The diversity produced by these arrangements eliminates any need for the distasteful logic of political trade-offs.

The problems with this vision are two. The first is conceptual. Such a system is in fact egalitarian, not libertarian: a world of no discrimination is a world of perfect equality. It is an illusion to believe that the egalitarian logic of the whole will not influence what people think within each community. The entire system will either have to create a spontaneous acceptance of the assumption that all ethical creeds are essentially equal, or else a supreme authority will have to impose the rule of equality on all groups. In both cases we might talk of the emergence of a sort of multiculturalism, which — as some think — may be a good thing in itself, but this puts an end to a dream of real cultural diversity. Multiculturalism is always either a highly regulated system or a homogenizing ideology which conceals its homogeneity by selecting some fashionable minority “culture” — homosexuals, Africans, feminists — to which its adherents kowtow and make this kowtowing the criterion of “openness” to plurality.

The second problem is practical. The effect of the increasing number of individual and group claims and the supportive toleration of those claims by liberals creates social and political chaos. The liberals try to bring some order to the situation, but in practice they encourage new groups to make ever more claims and thus to increase the chaos. Liberals resemble a traffic specialist trying to find traffic rules that would enable an increasing number of cars to drive efficiently and without collision and who at the same time is an automobile manufacturer interested in selling as many cars as possible. This task is not feasible. The rules are more and more inclusive, but at the expense of being more and more remote from reality. The result is a loss of a sense of proportion.

Once, “violence” was associated with torturing people; today it is spanking a child. Freedom of speech once meant the fight for the publication of Solzhenitsyn; today, the measure of free speech is pornography. The liberals seem to believe that the rules that secure freedom should be so inclusive that they cover both prohibition of torture and prohibition of spanking, the publication of Solzhenitsyn and the publication of pornography. They do not doubt that the moral principle is in each case the same. Most causes célèbres today have a similar element of absurdity.

But although the inclusive rules are more and more remote from reality, their application is becoming more and more specific. Those specific goals are provided by the emancipatory groups that the liberals, naturally as it were, took to be their allies. Thus, not only are we against racism, but against a specific form of racism which is said to exist in mathematics and its categorical conclusions; not only for toleration, but for that specific form of toleration that permits the students to violate the rules of grammar; not only for a fluid non-binary view of human sexuality but a particular regulation of toilets in public spaces. These are only samples of innumerable cases of the current politics of diversity in liberal societies. No wonder that the inclusiveness has turned into its opposite. The inclusive world the liberals and their allies organized has created far more limitations of freedom than the world they wanted to open for diversity.

Classical liberals, such as John Stuart Mill, believed that enlarging freedom by encouraging dissentience would result in an explosion of human creativity. Liberals today are less interested in creativity. They are on the one hand pedantic doctrinaires who never tire of constructing ever-more complex and ever-more dubious ideologies of inclusion; and on the other hand, they are ideological commissars who have acquired remarkable abilities to silence their critics and to enforce the way we speak and think. Never, since the demise of communism, have we had such an all-out assault on freedom.

[An earlier version of this essay appeared in Modern Age].


Ryszard Legutko, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, is a member of the European Parliament. His scholarly focus includes ancient philosophy. He has published a massive study of Socrates and the Pre-Socratics (in Polish). His books in English include, Society as a Department Store: Critical Reflections on the Liberal State, The Demon in Democracy and more recently, The Cunning of Freedom.


The featured images shows, “La Liberté ou la Mort (Liberty or Death),” by Jean-Baptiste Regnault; painted in 1795.

Liberalism Yes – No? But Which Liberalism?

“If we exclude the minority of those who do not want to be liberal, everyone declares himself to be liberal or is liberal without knowing it,” many liberals like to say. Others, on the other hand, less optimistic or more demanding, see our era as one of triumphant statism. In France, isn’t there always more regulation and more government? Doesn’t public spending in France represent more than 57% of GDP? So, what is liberalism then?

Heir to the Enlightenment, liberalism is defined as the doctrine that advocates the defense of individual rights. A doctrine that has prevailed in the West for nearly four centuries, although the word is much more recent; neither Montesquieu nor Locke, to name but two, ever called themselves “liberals.” The term liberales (liberals) seems to have first appeared in Spain, in the years 1810-1811. In the Cortes of Cadiz, when the 1812 Constitution was adopted, there were three tendencies: the traditionalists, the Spanish-American deputies, and the liberals. One third of the members of this constituent assembly belonged to the clergy, an active minority of whom were liberals.

But for the majority of French authors, it is indeed the Revolution of 1789, which, daughter of the Enlightenment, is fundamentally liberal (it is only marginally socialist with Gracchus Babeuf). The Revolution is the (or a) decisive moment of rupture in the history of France. It marks the beginning of the period of offensive liberalism. Liberalism was then a left-wing doctrine, which was rejected on the right only after the birth and expansion of socialism. In the aftermath of the great national event, in the tradition of Chateaubriand and Tocqueville, Christian liberals developed the thesis that modern European and Western political history could not be the product of a struggle against Christianity; there was no break with the Revolution – but, on the contrary, continuity and adaptation, a sort of “secularization” of evangelical values. The classic work of Pierre Manent, Histoire intellectuelle du libéralisme. Dix leçons (1987), on the philosophical foundations of liberal thought, is part and parcel of this tradition.

Finally, on the other hand, many other authors, especially foreign ones, insist on the fact that the democratic-liberal history is that of a long and slow evolution, marked by numerous stages, well before the French Revolution. They enumerate in very board strokes, the Cortes of Leon (1188), the Catalan Cortes (1192), the English Magna Carta (1215), the Hungarian Golden Bull (1222), the Swiss Federal Charter (1291), the Swedish General Code of Magnus Erikson (ca. 1350), the Union of Utrecht (1579), the Petition for Rights (England, 1628), the Mayflower Compact of the American Pilgrim Fathers (1620), the Bill of Rights (England, 1689), the Swedish Constitution (1720), the Declaration of Independence (1776), the United States Constitution (1789), etc.

Beyond the differences, according to the times, of countries and leanings (notably with those who grant more to civil society or more to the state), liberalism possesses a fundamental unity which makes it possible to characterize it on the political and economic level. It is the doctrinal foundation, on the one hand, of parliamentary or representative democracy, and, on the other, of the market economy or capitalism. The philosophical conception in which it is rooted makes the individual reason the measure and judge of truth. It is an individualistic rationalism, which, at the origin and in France, is mostly anti-Catholic, anti-clerical and even anti-Christian (which is not the case in the rest of Europe, neither in the Catholic South, in Italy, Austria or Spain, nor in the Protestant countries).

The glorious claims, asserted by the majority of liberals up to the 1980s, allow us to define the liberal system of thought. These claims are numerous and imposing – philosophical eclecticism; individual freedom and freedom from everything beyond the individual; freedom of conscience; freedom of the press; habeas corpus; distinction between civil society and the state; free trade; laissez-faire; religion of the market; defense of private property; distrust of the state; limited government; separation of political and religious powers; taste for savings; respect for balanced budgets; sympathy for representative assemblies and parties of notables; defense of political and associative pluralism; bourgeois relativist morality based on the exaltation of work; contractual freedom; politics of the lesser evil; search for the middle way; compromise as a rule of government; respect for legality; equality before the law; social rights guaranteed by the state (not all liberals agree on this point, of course); the right of citizens to choose and periodically elect their political representatives; and finally, the power of elected officials of wealth and knowledge, if not of true intelligence.

Criticism of liberalism developed very early, from the beginning of the 19th century. The first indictments were drawn up by a host of traditionalist Catholic authors, four of the best known being the Frenchmen Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald, and the Spaniard Jaime Balmes and the former liberal Juan Donoso Cortes. All of them denounced the disease of individualism and economism. As early as the end of the 1840s, Donoso Cortés affirmed that every great political and human question presupposes and envelops a great theological question, that a society sooner or later loses its culture when it loses its religion, that liberal individualism has its natural counterpart in socialist collectivism. There was no severer critic of economism and the great mortar of world revolution than the Marquis de Valdegamas (see the anthology of works by Donoso Cortés, who was secretary to Queen Isabel II, deputy and minister plenipotentiary, Théologie de l’histoire et crise de civilisation (Theology of History and the Crisis of Civilization).

The founding fathers of anti-capitalism were not only the non-Marxist socialists (before Marx and the Marxists), but also, and rather, the counter-revolutionary thinkers, who were succeeded by the social-legitimists. Nowadays, the radical critique of liberalism remains largely indebted to the thinkers of the 19th century, and to the legions of later authors, socialists, socialist-nationalists, nationalist-republicans, monarchist-legitimists, conservative-revolutionaries (such as, Carl Schmitt), non-conformist personalists of the 1930s, fascists, revolutionary syndicalists, anarchists, and Marxist socialists.

Nearly forty years ago, two Sorbonne academics, Raymond Polin and his son Claude Polin, opposed and debated each other in a suggestive essay: Le libéralisme oui, non. Espoir ou peril? (Liberalism, Yes or No? Hope or Peril?). The recent criticisms of Christopher Lasch, Michel Onfray, Jean-Claude Michéa, Alain de Benoist, even the communist Michel Clouscard, or the economist and supporter of the Woke movement, Thomas Piketty, to name but a few, are only recent echoes of an already old controversy. Pleas and accusations hardly vary; only the number of followers of one camp or the other fluctuates.

Liberalism is reproached above all for being the carrier of the disease of individualism. It is said to have the defect of seeing the world as a market; its logic, purely economic, is that of profit. It enslaves the producing classes, strengthens the power of finance, tramples traditional values, dissolves societies, foments ethnic and religious divisions in the name of multiculturalism.

Besides individualism, the most solid accusation against liberalism is twofold. First, is its ideological link with the capitalist economic system (freedom of exchange must allow the substitution of the bad politics of men by the natural and beneficial circulation of goods). Second, is its negation of politics, or its unpolitical character, which follows directly from its defense of individualism. The negation of the “permanent imperatives of politics,” which results from any consequent individualism, leads to a political practice of distrust, to a negative attitude towards any political power and any form of state. From a philosophical-political point of view, there is no liberal politics of a general character – but only a liberal critique of politics.

Anti-liberals thus claim that liberalism always tends to underestimate the state and the political, and that it is always associated with capitalism, whatever its form, private or public, agrarian, industrial, entrepreneurial, managerial or financial. But is this always the case? “No,” resolutely answers the Italian sociologist, Carlo Gambescia, professor at the Scuola di Liberalismo of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi (Rome). His thesis, debatable but solidly argued, is expounded in an essential work that was published in Italy under the title, Liberalismo triste. Un percorso de Burke a Berlin (Sad Liberalism. From Burke to Berlin). It was then translated and prefaced in Spain by the political scientist, Jerónimo Molina Cano, a recognized specialist in the works of Raymond Aron, Julien Freund and Gaston Bouthoul. One can only deplore the absence of a French version of this work, which has no equivalent in France.

Let us summarize and comment on the main arguments of this innovative work. Gambescia distinguishes four liberalisms; to do so, he uses in each case the suffix -archic (which corresponds to a notion of command, power, regime or political theory). There is, he says, micro-archic, an-archic, macro-archic and archic liberalism. The reader will now forgive me for having to quote a whole series of thinkers, but Gambescia’s classification cannot be understood otherwise.

The first liberalism, micro-archic, is a current of thought going back to David Hume, Adam Smith and the Scottish precursors of the 18th century. It continued in the 19th and 20th centuries with Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, the early first Robert Nozick and even Ayn Rand. One could also compare it to the authors of the Chicago School of Economics (with Nobel Prize winners, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Gary Stanley Becker, Ronald Coase and Robert E. Lucas). It is a legal-economic liberalism, based on the idea of a “minimum state,” of a power with reduced dimensions, and thus, “micro-archic,” This liberalism pursues individual interest, guided by the invisible hand of the market. It dislikes the state and taxes, without calling for their abolition. The state fulfills here only a residual function, as the legitimate holder of force for its internal and external use.

The second liberalism is an-archic. It is libertarianism; or, to better translate the American expression, “libertarianism,” which has many points in common with the Austrian School. It is represented in the twentieth century by thinkers, such as, Murray N. Rothbard, Hans Hermann Hope and Walter Block. These an-archic or libertarian thinkers reject the very idea of a minimum or residual state, which they replace with the utopia of the absolute free exercise of individual rights, in particular life, liberty and property. For them, the state, whether democratic or dictatorial, is always the worst aggressor of the persons and properties of the citizens.

The third, macro-archical liberalism, was born with the English utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham, in the 18th-19th centuries and developed with John Stuart Mill in the 19th century. In the twentieth century, this third filiation led to the early John Rawls, to Rolf Dahrendorf and John Dewey. We can also link it to John Locke (17th century), Emmanuel Kant (18th century) and John Maynard Keynes (20th century). What is important here is the prevalence of the idea of a specific form of common good. The state is not content to be the guarantor of laws and law; it must be interventionist. It must impose upon itself the task of fostering equal starting conditions for all citizens.

These thinkers allow and justify an increasingly invasive power, in particular through fiscalism. The aim is to artificially level the interests of individuals, which, in experience, does not really generate a more just society, but rather a public bureaucracy that is more invasive and suffocating every day. This macro-archical liberalism is contractualist (supporter of the social contract of Hobbes and Locke). It is very close to social liberalism and redistributive social democracy. It is perhaps worth recalling here that, paradoxically, not only did Roosevelt’s and Truman’s economists admire Keynes, but also Hitler’s economists, such as Dr. Schacht. The Keynesians, for their part, admired Hitler’s economic policies (see Keynes’ preface to the German edition of the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936).

Finally, there is a fourth liberalism, archaic, realist, possibilist, without illusions; or, as Pierre Manent puts it, “melancholic,” which does not trust the market, and which wants to serve the individual, while defending the importance of political science. The pages that Carlo Gambescia dedicates to this liberalism are among the most original and substantial. Archaic liberalism, he explains, admits reality, and recognizes the existence of power as an inescapable component of social and political life. Politics is for him the sociological articulation of polemos, the theater of conflicts and recurring struggles. He is conscious of the imperfect nature of man and society, of the fragility and the precariousness of the human conquests, and of the possible corruption of all the institutions. For this liberalism, the conjunction of individual interests does not always lead spontaneously and artificially to the general interest.

As history shows, it is sometimes necessary to resort to iron and fire. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the names of the arch liberals are Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Max Weber, Guglielmo Ferrero, Robert Michels, Benedetto Croce, Simone Weil, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Jules Monnerot, José Ortega y Gasset, Wilhelm Röpke (and all the proponents of the social market economy), Raymond Aron, Gaston Bouthoul, Julien Freund, Jules Monnerot, Maurice Allais, Harold Laski, Giovanni Sartori, Eric Voegelin, Isaiah Berlin, and nowadays Dalmacio Negro Pavón, Pierre Manent, Chantal Delsol, etc.

Archaic liberalism abhors utopian unrealism. Four works, chosen from among those Gambescia cites, exemplify and measure this. In Socialist Systems (1902-1903), Pareto writes: “Every society, if it is to survive, must sooner or later adopt measures to prevent acts that would endanger its very existence. There are only two ways to proceed. One can take away the freedom of men to perform these acts, and thus prevent the dreaded evil; or, on the contrary, one can leave men free and repress harmful acts, directly or indirectly, leaving men to bear the consequences of their acts. Freedom has, as its complement and correction, responsibility – the two are inseparable. If one does not want to have recourse to the second of the means indicated [one can liberate men by making them bear the consequences], one must necessarily have recourse to the first [suppressing liberty to prevent], unless one wants the ruin of society.”

In History as Thought and as Action (1938), the famous Italian anti-fascist thinker, Benedetto Croce, takes the opposite view from Fukuyama and the American democrats and neo-conservatives who advocate the export and establishment of democracy in the world (a doctrine that we know today is in reality a screen for American imperialism). Croce, well known for rejecting the possibility of a strong identity between a contingent economic system (liberism) and an immanent principle (liberalism), writes these words: “The liberal conception, as a religion of development and history, excludes and condemns, under the name of ‘utopia,’ the idea of a definitive and perfect state, or a state of rest, in whatever form it has been proposed or may be proposed, from the Edenic forms of earthly paradise, from those of the golden ages and the lost paradise of Jauja, to the variously political ones of ‘one flock and one shepherd,’ of a humanity enlightened by reason or calculation, of a totally communist and egalitarian society, without external or internal struggles; from those conceived by the naive popular spirit, to those reasoned by philosophers like Immanuel Kant.”

Gambescia drives the point home with a timely reference to the sad experience of “exporting Western democracy” to Afghanistan, a “pride of reason” that has led to a disregard for the country’s traditions and cultural substratum. He recalls the role played by President Hamid Karzai, the man from the United States, later accused of having received CIA funding. These few premonitory pages would deserve to be updated because we know since then that the opium trade has been increasingly flourishing under Karzai’s mandates (2001-2014), that he was dropped by the Americans when he got closer to Iran and Pakistan, that he was then an advisor to the government in Kabul, and that he finally negotiated with the Taliban in August 2021 (the Taliban suddenly became “moderate” through the magic of words and propaganda), as part of a “national reconciliation process” and a “peaceful transfer of power.”

The third characteristic text of realist liberalism, which we shall quote, is that of Wilhelm Röpke. The German ordo-liberal writes in The Social Crisis of Our Time (1942): “… a free market and performance competition do not just occur—as the laissez-faire philosophers of historical liberalism have asserted—because the state remains completely passive; they are by no means the surprisingly positive product of a negative economic policy. They are, rather, extremely fragile artificial products which depend on many other circumstances and pre- suppose not only a high degree of business ethics but also a state constantly concerned to maintain the freedom of the market and of competition in its legislation, administration, law courts, financial policy and spiritual and moral leadership, by creating the necessary framework of laws and institutions, by laying down the rules for competition and watching over their observance with relentless but just severity.”

Finally, the fourth example is that of the French sociologist and professor at the University of Strasbourg, Julien Freund. The author of The Essence of Politics (1965), said evocatively: “Politics passes, politics remains.” According to Freund, the political constitutes an essence for two reasons: on the one hand, it is one of the constant, fundamental, impossible to remove categories of human nature and existence; and, on the other hand, it is a reality that remains identical to itself, in spite of variations in power, regimes and changes in borders.” Man “is capable of transforming society like a demiurge, but only within the limits of the presuppositions of politics. In other words, society allows itself to be disciplined, to be formed, to be deformed…. The demiurge is the master of the forms, not of the essences.” He added without wavering: when a political unit ceases to fight it ceases to exist.

For the archaic liberal or realist thinker, without a political decision and a public force to defend it, the right to property has no chance of enduring. The political force pre-exists the right. This means that the conjunction of interests always has a political nature in the sense of polemos. Law without a sword to guarantee and defend it can easily be trampled and violated. No written constitution can last, if there is no solid executive, no coherent oligarchy able to defend it. There can be no serious international policy without knowing and admitting the place, and determining role of, force and reason of state.

The archaic liberal respects the constants of politics or meta-politics that are the distinction between the governors and the governed, the Iron Law of the oligarchy (subject of Dalmacio Negro Pavón’s book, 2015); the alternation of phases of progress and decadence, of order and disorder; and finally, it recognizes or never excludes the distinction between friend and foe, fundamental and recurrent in the political sphere.

The explanatory model of liberalism that Gambescia proposes has many merits, but it is obviously not perfect. Thomas Hobbes and Montesquieu, who belong to the history of liberalism, are absent from his classification. “They are,” he says, “two problematic thinkers, difficult to classify in my schema.” Hobbes, a progressive individualist, who trusts the role of the state, could be brought closer to the macro-archical liberals, while Montesquieu, who believes in the spirit of laws and gentle commerce, could be a fellow traveler of micro-archical liberals.

On the other hand, Gambescia’s judgment of Rousseau remains partial and uncertain. He takes up the thesis of the Israeli historian, Yaakov Talmon, on the totalitarian democracy of Rousseau (Robespierre’s teacher) and on the similarities between Jacobinism and Stalinism. Indeed, in the thought of the author of the Social Contract, the citizen is subjected to a higher law that Rousseau is compelled to admit as yje citizen’s own ignored will. And this is enough, according to the Italian sociologist, to exclude him definitively and without other form of trial, from the liberal tradition. But the reality is perhaps more complex and more subtle. Without the triple influence of Rousseau (the anti-Christian democrat-republican), Voltaire (the anti-Christian monarchist absolutist) and Montesquieu (the liberal-conservative monarchist who does not confuse the Christian religion with the forms it may have taken in political society), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen becomes difficult to understand.

Usually, one associates Rousseau correctly with the democratic-republican tradition opposed to the liberal tradition. But Rousseau’s critique is carried out in the name of the demands of liberalism, within liberalism and not outside it. Rousseau appropriates the promises of liberalism. He admits the premises but denounces the consequences. He is a thinker of freedom; he is attached to individual freedom and to the right of property, even though he criticizes the absolute right or the unlimited enjoyment of it, which moreover makes him join here paradoxically Christian traditionalism [Liberalism establishes solidly the right of property and makes of it a strictly individual right, whereas the Christian tradition, regarded it as a natural but social right, limited by the law and the social duties of the owner].

Like all the philosophers of the Enlightenment and liberal thinkers, Rousseau seeks to answer the question of how to be free while obeying laws. Like them, he recognizes the need for a regulating criterion of freedom to counterbalance the individualist conception. Like them, he looks for it but does not manage to find it. His answer is ultimately a sophism – one is free when one obeys the general will. In Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good (1955), Bertrand de Jouvenel writes on this subject: “Insofar as progress develops hedonism and moral relativism, and individual freedom is conceived as the right to obey appetites, society can only be maintained by means of a very strong power.” Rousseau had undoubtedly the taste of the paradox and the contradiction, but nevertheless the majority of the French republican democrats followed him or were influenced by him. This was the case of Pierre Leroux, Ledru-Rollin, Proudhon (even if he criticizes him), Georges Sand, Napoleon III, etc. and this is not nothing.

Another questionable point in Gambescia’s book is the lightness with which he treats the question of the enemies of liberalism. There is, he says, a so-called “holy alliance between reactionaries, traditionalists and revolutionaries.” Behind the criticism of liberalism lies hidden the radical criticism of modernity, the hatred of the present, common to reactionary traditionalists and revolutionaries. At both extremes, there is the same gnostic rejection of man, marked, for some, by pessimism (the evil in Louis de Bonald or Christopher Lasch); and, for others, by optimism (the good in Karl Marx or Slavoj Zizek). Revolutionary Gnosticism, the main enemy of liberalism, is a sort of vein inspiring the different movements that are traditionalism, positivism, Marxism, anarchism, psychoanalysis, fascism, national socialism, ecologism, progressivism, etc. According to Gambescia, they are all based on the conviction that it is possible to eliminate evil from the world, thanks to the knowledge (gnosis) of the right method to change the course of history. Anti-capitalist and anti-liberal gnosticism implies a real disdain for the real man and facts.

Carlo Gambescia, a rigorous and honest sociologist, slips up here and gives way to being a fiery pamphleteer: “In short, why don’t intellectuals like liberalism?” The answer he gives is confoundingly simple: “To put it bluntly, it’s because they are mental lazybones, who aspire at the same time to social recognition, a distinction that in the marketplace of ideas is within the reach of all those who propose a false but useful idea.”

After having, not without reason, criticized the amalgams and the summary Manichaeism of Zeev Sternhell in The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, Gambescia falls into the same trap. He claims to support his demonstration by relying on Bonald’s thought. Michel Toda, who to my knowledge is the only French specialist in the thought of the Viscount, is in a better position to give an opinion.

However, in order to take the measure of Gambescia’s misguidance on this point, it is enough to recall here the importance of the dogma of original sin for Donoso Cortès: human nature is neither good nor perverse, but only fallen. “The disruptive heresy, which, on the one hand, denies original sin, while affirming, on the other hand, that man does not need divine guidance – this heresy leads first to affirm the sovereignty of the mind, then to affirm the sovereignty of the will, and finally to affirm the sovereignty of the passions – three disruptive sovereignties. Donoso Cortès also explains: “This is my whole doctrine: the natural triumph of evil over good and the supernatural triumph of God over evil. Therein lies the condemnation of all progressive systems, by means of which modern philosophers, deceivers by profession, lull the people to sleep, those children who never leave childhood.”

It remains to be seen whether, as Gambescia seems to think, liberalism is an inescapable basis of the history of ideas from which variations are possible but only if they are minor. And even more, if the realist liberalism that he rightly defends in his brilliant and enlightening book is still a bearer of future and hope when it has been marginalized and murdered by the other liberalisms?


Arnaud Imatz, a Basque-French political scientist and historian, holds a State Doctorate (DrE) in political science and is a correspondent-member of the Royal Academy of History (Spain), and a former international civil servant at OECDHe is a specialist in the Spanish Civil War, European populism, and the political struggles of the Right and the Left – all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles on the political thought of the founder and theoretician of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, as well as the Liberal philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, and the Catholic traditionalist, Juan Donoso Cortés.


The featured image shows, “A Dirge,” by John Byam Liston Shaw; painyed in 1899.

Me And Liberalism

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” No, Voltaire didn’t write this (it was one, Evelyn Hall), but it sums up what I regard as the quintessence of liberalism.

Till maybe 25 years ago, I was perfectly happy being called a classic liberal and many people did so. It meant being at ease with yourself and yet not complacent – an enemy of injustice and a believer in the rule of law. All too often the latter has been travestied by the so-called liberals of today as being “law and order,” “lock up the crims,” etc. Only it doesn’t mean that at all. It means a belief in the law, essential to any civilised nation state, and a belief in the equality of all to the access and due process of law. A noble, liberal idea.

I use the word “travesty,” and sadly it applies to all too many so-called liberals of today: liberalism has become confused with, and almost inextricably entangled with, a kind of leftism that would disavow Evelyn Scott’s statement. With it comes an exponential increase in cancel culture, in “no platform,” and in vehement opposition to “your right to say it” if “it” is equated with hate speech.

No, liberalism should be all about learning from opinions different than yours and being ready to modify them in the process. For me a moment of epiphany was when I took on the thankless task of lead speaker defending Edward Heath’s failing government in a high school debate. I was no Tory (and I’m still not) but I found myself writing, “Capitalism is surely the least worst system we’ve got. It has its weaknesses, even its evils. But to his credit Mr Heath is aware of these and has pitted himself against what he calls, ‘The unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.’ He wants to reform it, not overthrow it.”

I lost heavily – partly because one Jeremy Black was in brilliant form on the other side (and he personally supported Heath). I was dog-tucker, as we say in Australasia, but I had learnt a lot by putting myself in the government’s shoes.

I was aided and abetted in my speech by my father, who realised late in life that his mistake was to have had too much faith in essentially illiberal Marxism and too little in fighting – to repeat Heath’s phrase – “the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.” Liberalism ultimately overcame socialism for him, even though it took a lifetime.

A question: do you think we can have a debate with the decency and at the same time the robust intelligence, on the same theme, at any high school today?

Traditional liberalism has always run the risk of looking feeble, flaccid and wishy-washy. We are the “best people” who seem to “lack all conviction” to the extremists around us. Liberalism’s belief in respecting the constitution, law and institutions like the monarchy, parliament and the church (yet enjoying constructive criticism of them) can mean that it is prone to gradualism – which is only one step away from the ‘masterly inactivity’ practised as a fine art by the British politician A.J. Balfour.

But that reading of liberalism ignores the “defend to death” element of Scott’s quotation and its vehement opposition to injustice and extremism – circumstances in which liberals may risk being momentarily illiberal without losing sight of the big picture.

Historically, I know I would have been a Girondist in the French Revolution, a Parliamentary Reformer in 1832 (sorry, Professor Clark), a Dreyfusard, a Menshevik in 1917, a civil rights and anti-apartheid marcher back in the 1960s – oh, and add to the mix being pro National Health Service and Prague Spring.

Probably the last great political liberal was Roy Jenkins (d. 2003), a pioneering Home Secretary in the 1960s, as well as a distinguished Chancellor of the Exchequer, upholding capitalism in difficult times. His last great work was a biography of Churchill, never an easy fit in the Liberal Party (nor indeed the Conservatives, who think they understand him but don’t); considerably to the right of Jenkins in many ways, and today a target for mindless defacers of his statue outside parliament. Jenkins’s unequivocal verdict? The greatest British prime minister of the 20th century.

Roy Jenkins, where are you when we need you? And, I ask in the same breath, oh Guardian, Guardian, what crimes of journalism and fake news have in the last 20 years been committed in your name? Why have you stopped publishing my letters and why do all your journalists ignore me when I factually correct them? I lament for liberalism.

Zbigniew Janowski, who commissioned this essay, has tried his damnedest to work on this and purge my threatened, and probably by most people’s definition, vestigial liberalism. I commend his vigour in doing so – but he won’t ever quite succeed. This is because liberalism is a thing I cling on to.

We classic liberals are the hardest to convert to socialism (perish the thought), but equally to conservatism. Our religious equivalent is agnosticism; and anyone can tell you it’s far easier to convert an atheist into a true believer – or the reverse. We would have lasted for about 5 minutes under Stalin, Pol Pot or the Chief Executive of the Museum of New Zealand in the late 1990s. We are the easiest and softest targets of “passionate intensity” to quote Yeats. And yet we’re quietly proud of who we are and what, as a threatened species, we stand for.


Mark

Mark Stocker is an art hiostoran who writes books and articles on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art.

The featured image shows, “Launceston, Cornwall,” by JMW Turner; painted ca. 1814-1827.

Liberalism And Totalitarianism. A Conversation with Ryszard Legutko

Harrison Koehli from MindMatters talks with Ryzard Legutko about his work, life under communism, editing samizdat, the recent controversy with his university’s “office of safety and equality,” and the time he got sued for calling some students “spoiled brats.”

This is insightful and riveting discussion.


The featured image shows, “The Genius Of France Extirpating Despotism, Tyranny, and Oppression frokm the Face of the Earth,” an engraving by Isaac Cruikshank, published 1792.