Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life after Liberalism

Women yearn for love; men yearn for victory. Our liberal friends yearn for the perfect ten-point program. Alas, our dreams are fantasies. Yearning for love, women live with the grief of loss; yearning for victory, men live with the humiliations of defeat. And liberal government programs end in perfect failure.

The beginning of wisdom is to dissolve our fantasies, to surrender to loss while ever keeping the light of love shining, to accept defeat while continuing to fight the good fight. But what of the perfect government program?

For two hundred years our liberal friends have pursued a chimera. They have longed to create a perfect world of peace and justice through a system of centralized administrative government. Their method has been to remove certain socially necessary activities from the economic sector and subject them to the administrative control of the government, the political sector. This, of course, has the effect of stripping these activities of their social character and reducing them to a transaction of force, for government is force, and politics is power.

Each act of force is the victory of the strong over the weak; it is the triumph of power over love. And so, wherever liberal programs hold sway, there is no peace and no justice. At best, liberal government produces a society of envy policed by surly officiousness. At worst it descends into the hell of political terror. At its best it operates with the Keystone Kops incompetence of the US Transportation Security Administration; at worst it slashes through history with the murderous rage of the Soviet KGB.

Every life ends in death; every government ends in default. It is our task to imagine and to build a life after the default of liberal government.

It is possible to set forth on this quest because we now know that the trajectory of liberalism has passed its apogee. It must now end in default, because it cannot deliver on its promises. It must either default on its promises, or default on its debt.

As liberal government defaults on its promises, it will lose its power. It creates a space for a new power, a new foundation and a new order. We already know what this foundation must be. It must be a new dedication to the principles of limited government set forth in the US Constitution. Our society is not a single government monolith nor can it flourish and grow when all social transactions are collapsed into the political sector.

Our modern commercial society is founded upon a differentiation of the public square into three sectors. There is the political sector, the realm of force where people jostle for power. There is the economic sector, the realm of trust where people cooperate to serve each other's needs. Finally, there is the moral-cultural sector, the realm of faith where people search for the meaning of it all. The differentiation of society into these three institutional sectors means that society cannot be yoked to a single purpose or moral vision. It is a plural society, with many competing moral visions, many economic actors competing to serve, and many political actors lusting for power.

Our liberal friends, in their century-long liberal dynasty, have used their power to blur, and sometimes collapse the separations between the three sectors. With their secular religions, socialism, fascism, and communism, they sought to fold the moral-cultural sector into the political. Whenever they succeeded, the result was tyranny. With their war on business they sought to fold the economic sector into the political. Whenever they succeeded, the result was poverty.

Our task is simple. We must renew the promise of the differentiated society. There must be a renewal of the separation of church and state, to keep the political power from co-opting and corrupting the moral-cultural power. And there must be a renewal of the separation between economy and state, to keep the political power from dominating and corrupting the economic power.

Of course, this practical and honorable project will not bring in the millennium. But it will heal the corruption of the centralized liberal administrative state. It will let women dream of a love free of liberal rapine, and it will let men dream of victory in a life free of the liberal kowtow.

And people will rejoice in Life after Liberalism.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liberal Government as Secular Theocracy

If you give conservatives a chance, says the Angry Left, they will create "theocracy" and "legislate morality."

That was the way in the 2000s that our liberal friends experienced the Bush administration, led by a self-confessed Christian. And that is how our liberal friends experienced the Bush administration decision on embryonic stem-cell research.

Theocracy, as defined in Wikipedia, means the rule of the priests, or a society in which the church and the state are more or less unified into a single organization. Using Michael Novak's three-sector analysis of modern society, we could say that a theocracy occurs when the moral/cultural and political sectors are pretty well unified. Obviously, any such organization would quickly get itself into the business of legislating morality--the moral system of the church implemented in the legislative output of the legislature full of priests and ministers.

That's exactly the model of the administrative welfare state run by our liberal friends. There is only one difference. When liberals complain about "legislating morality" they are talking about laws that attempt to regulate personal sexual morality. But the whole point of liberalism is to translate their views on social morality into law.

Liberals experience unregulated capitalism as fundamentally immoral. They see poverty, they see economic exploitation, and they call it immoral. They demand that society do something about it. And what do they demand? They demand that everyone be forced to support their moral vision of government programs to ameliorate the social evils of capitalism.

What can you call this but legislating morality? Liberals emphatically reject the idea of laws to regulate individual morality. But they emphatically support the idea of laws to regulate social morality. They call it "social justice" or "economic justice." What is that other than legislating economic morality?

In liberalism, the functions of moral commentary and political action are combined, collapsed into a single operation. The liberal intellectual experiences himself as both moral arbiter and political strategist. The classic liberal intellectual product is the political manifesto, identifying a moral outrage in society, analyzing it, and proposing a political, legislative, big-government solution.

It's really pretty simple. Liberal government is a "secular theocracy."