Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word LONGEUR, and remarks in passing that though we happen not to have the WORD, we have the THING in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word 'liberalism', but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not usually attach itself to what is called liberty – that is, the absence of imposition. On the contrary, it is generally found attached to the most abjectly contrived situations allowing less than no degree of freedom whatsoever ; and to equally contrived intellectual constructs, often so restricted as to be in practice impossible, like that fabled triangle which in spite of the name is possessed of no more than two angles and no less than five sides.
By 'liberalism' I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be flattened like putty and that whole blocks of millions or even billions of people can be confidently considered as a single thing. Not only is this paradoxical approach to thought unsupported by the faintest whiff of sense or any other consideration (outside of the "thinker's" own laziness) but one would generally be observant enough, even if afflicted by the liberal deformity of thought, to notice that if we gradually expand the referent of discussion, from cattle to ruminants to quadripeds to mammals to life forms we also gradually lose the ability to speak of hooves or beaks or stomachs even, until at long last nothing remains of our "subject" than a strange addition of apples with pears to be balanced against a division of walnuts to pine-cones. But laziness prevails, and so to the born and bred liberal "all the people" , "everyone" and similar constructs mean something, or at the very least he likes to make believe they did.
Secondly – and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a sort of divine Calculator, a sort of metaphysicali entity that might not have created all that exists, but can certainly and necessarily understand it all, and select optimal paths for and through it!ii This nonsense is usually seen at work in so vague and unstated a manner that any definition is liable to be challenged, but no actually meaningful challenge can be brought. The world of thinking subjects is sharply divided between they who understand computability and decidability problems and the limits imposed upon the world and they who do not. From this latter set (along scarce straggling elements of the former, coping emotionally) liberals are selected.
So long as the application of this observation is restricted only to the more notoriously ridiculous liberal nonsense it's all obvious enough. Confronted with amusing monuments of intellectual apishness such as political correctness, or with nude displays of infantile greed on the lines of "why should anyone have more than I do!!1" the observer can nod and smile, "he's lazy", "she's jealous", nothing remarkable or surprising or even much worth the mention. Yet the behaviour is pervasive, probably universal. The "leftist" will speak quite liberally of "racists", something that exists in his mind and there only. At the same time, the "conservative" will speak just as liberally of "immigrants", something that exactly idem exists in his mind only. Individual people who, for various individual reasons have stumbled upon anecdotally miraculous cures will liberally discuss "the medical profession" and its varied conspiracies to attain improbable goals through unlikely means, while anyone even modestly educated who's ever picked up a newspaper will mention "media" in disgust, as a collection of biological fermentation agents closely related to what's found in septic tanks (and perhaps justifiedly so).
Individuals perceiving systematic slights against their own private interests, be those interests financial, imagological, amorous or otherwise, be the slights actual or imaginary, significant or negligible, nevertheless meet little internal resistence when deploying the "government" symbol to represent a few million people who constitute the most internecine minority that was ever seen or could ever be devised. Men with litte sexual experience find in this circumstance no impediment but actually a driver to discuss "women", as if somehow this crate "women" in which all individual female humans are packed could exist, and who knows, perhaps at some point did exist. Thus, there is no single liberalism, to be formally identified and guarded against through filtering. This nevertheless does not suffice to say liberalism altogether doesn't exist.
It is also worth emphasising once again that liberal feeling can be purely negative. There are, for example, environmentalists who have become simply enemies of "industry" altogether, without bothering to develop a corresponding loyalty to any other alternative approach to the problems industry resolves. When one grasps the implications of this, the nature of what I mean by nationalism becomes a good deal clearer. A liberal is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative liberal–that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating–but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade. But finally, it is important not to confuse liberalism with mere worship of success. The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it IS the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Liberalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every liberal is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also–since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself–unshakeably certain of being in the right.
Now that I have given this lengthy definition, I think it will be admitted that the habit of mind I am talking about is widespread among the English speaking world, and more widespread online than among the mass of the people. For those who feel deeply about contemporary politics, certain topics have become so infected by considerations of prestige that a genuinely rational approach to them is almost impossible. Out of the hundreds of examples that one might choose, take this question: Which of the three great emancipations, the emancipation of blacks, of women, or of gays has been the most important success of the civil rights movement ? In theory, it should be possible to give a reasoned and perhaps even a conclusive answer to this question. In practice, however, the necessary calculations cannot be made, because anyone likely to bother his head about such a question would inevitably see it in terms of competitive prestige. He would therefore START by deciding in favour of one of the three, and only AFTER this would begin searching for arguments that seemed to support his case, unless he were to outright reject the question.
There are whole strings of kindred questions to which you can only get an honest answer from someone who is indifferent to the whole subject involved, and whose opinion on it is probably worthless in any case. Hence, partly, the remarkable failure in our time of political, social and economic prediction. It is curious to reflect that out of all the 'experts' of all the schools, there was not a single one who was able to foresee so likely an event as the recent crisis (and should one care to review Greenspan testimony and statements before and after, he might laugh yet again). The first black woman in a position of any sort of importance in the US government is chiefly remembered today for her "nobody could have foreseen" contribution to public discourse. When news of either event broke, the most wildly divergent explanations were given, and predictions were made which were falsified almost immediately, being based in nearly every case not on a study of probabilities but on a desire to make whatever pet interest seem good or bad, strong or weak. Political or social commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of their liberal loyalties. Needless to say aesthetic judgements, especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones, but to a greater and usually more glaring degree. It is rare for a professed feminist to enjoy nonconsensual porn, or for a neoconservative to see merit in the wardwobe of a transvestite, and there is always a temptation to claim that any cultural production whose tendency one disagrees with must be a bad item from an artistic point of view. People of strongly liberal outlook often perform this sleight of hand without being conscious of dishonesty, and without limit of any kind. Any exercise in censorship can readily wear the proud label of "protecting free speech" just as long as it doesn't impinge on the specific agenda of one group of liberalsiii or another.
If one simply considers the headcounts involved, it is probable that the dominant form of liberalism is old fashioned adolescent rebellion. It would seem on the face such is improbable, as any sort of checks adult society might have imposed on the adolescent spirit have disappeared a few decades before the outright dissolution of adult society altogether, gone the way of the cafe society in these past decades. Nevertheless, adolescent rebellion has outlasted it, and is now in full process of disputing the much less tolerant strictures of reality, at first as it pertains to the biology of gender, more recently as it pertains to the mechanics of mass and gravity...
However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom puberal nonsense is usually covered in one or more layers of insulation material. Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of liberalism is socialism – using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely open ideologues, but all sorts of etatists and people who have difficulty understanding capitalism generally. A socialist, for my purpose here, is one who looks upon the state to provide solutions to the problems of individuals, and feels it his duty to justify statal policy and advance statal interests at all costs. Obviously such people abound today, and their direct and indirect influence is allegedly significant. But many other forms of liberalism also flourish, and it is by noticing the points of resemblance between different and even seemingly opposed currents of thought that one can best get the matter into perspective.
Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to socialism today was politically activist Hollywood. The efforts of people of considerable talent who had to suppress both their sensibilities and their intellectual honesty in the cause of liberal propaganda, mixed in with a lot of more dubious production from the merely ambitious, and served on a large platter of wasted capital goods of all kinds, all for an output that entirely consisted of an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians.'
Full length and feature movies, assorted footage packaged for various mediums and an endless torrent of written material in all formats has poured forth, busy at the ignominous task of demonstrating beyond the possibility of mistake the superiority of the liberal over the conservative or the pagan. But Hollywood was not content to think of this imagined superiority as merely intellectual or spiritual: it had to be translated into terms of national prestige and military power, which entailed an ignorant idealisation of the Latin countries, especially France. Hollywood has never had much truck with France, and its picture of it – as a land of Iowa State educated peasants incessantly singing La Marseillaise over glasses of red wine – had about as much relation to reality as "black supremacy" has to the everyday sexual life of Europe.
And with this went not only an enormous overestimation of French intellectual power, but a silly and vulgar glorification of the actual process of cultural production. Hollywood's war films read like a pacifist tract: they are perhaps the most tawdry bits of bombast to be found in our space. The interesting thing is that had the romantic rubbish which Hollywood habitually output about France and the French "atmosphere" been written by somebody else about the US and the US atmosphere, it would have been the first to jeer - as in fact it did jeer whenever it encountered Bollywood or Mexican idealisation, coming from little Hollywoods arbitrarily finding their France North of Rio Grande.
Obviously there are considerable resemblances between political socialism, as exemplified by Hollywood, and idiocy. So there are between either of these and for instance Scottish nationalism, Zionism, Antisemitism or Trotskyism. It would be an oversimplification to say that all forms of liberalism are the same, even in their mental atmosphere, but there are certain rules that hold good in all cases. The following are the principal characteristics of liberal thought:
OBSESSION. As nearly as possible, no liberal ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any liberal to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual identified group, such as gay men, or faux women, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in sensible fields but in the most outlandisly improbable (the more outlandish the better!). Be it military power, political virtue, artistic production, literature, sport, use of the language, or of clothing, the physical beauty of the inhabitants... An expectation that the very atmospheric events and movements of planets either favour (or, restated in the negative, but equal - disfavour) his chosen group, of which they couldn't possibly be ignorant altogether (they may guiltily claim ignorance, which isn't the same thing - in fact, it's quite the opposite).
He will show great sensitivity about such things as the correct display of flags, relative size of headlines and the order in which different groups are named. Nomenclature plays a very important part in liberal thought. Groups which have won their "independence" or gone through a liberal revolution usually are to be known under new names, and any unit round which strong feelings revolve is likely to have several names, each of them carrying a different implication. The two sides of the Spanish Civil War had between them nine or ten names expressing different degrees of love and hatred, and very much so today you're welcome to distinguish gays, faggots, queers and others I'm ignorant of (probably guiltily, as it's not really conceivable I could simply not give a shit for the very sound reason that they do not in any sense matter).
Some of these names are frankly question-begging, and there was no single one of the which the two rival factions could have agreed to use. All liberals consider it a duty to spread their own pidgin to the detriment of rival pidgins, and among English-speakers this struggle rekindles an ancient wound in the form of endless parades of dialects which superficially appear mutually understandable but in point of fact are engineered deliberately to frustrate such. This is usually carried to such extreme lengths to give the impression of being perhaps tinged by belief in sympathetic magic – a belief which probably comes out in the widespread custom of burning political enemies in effigy, or using pictures of them as targets in shooting galleries.
INSTABILITY. The intensity with which they are held does not prevent liberal loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened upon some foreign entity - often times the liberal in question is not even vaguely acquainted with any bona fide members of the chosen group. One quite commonly finds that great liberal leaders, or the starters of liberal agitation, do not even belong to the groups they belabour to glorify. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where appartenence is doubtful.
For the past fifty or a hundred years, transferred liberalism has been a common phenomenon among literary intellectuals, but the peculiarly interesting fact is that re-transference is also possible. A group or other unit which has been worshipped for years may suddenly become detestable, and some other object of affection may take its place with almost no interval. The bigoted environmentalist who changes in a space of weeks, or even days, into an equally bigoted feminist is a common spectacle, and it is also not rare to see that once the internal conflict has been resolved (new [imaginary] girlfriend ends the relationship, usually), the nut reverts to his previous state (of pining secretly & most chivalrously for some other unattainable lady). What remains constant in the liberal is his state of mind: the object of his feelings is changeable, and may be imaginary.
For an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly : it makes it possible for him to be much MORE liberal – more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest – than he could ever be on behalf of his actual group, or of any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about the group du jour by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realises that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own ilk. Public opinion – that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware – will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of liberalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely universalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. All the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognised for what they are they can be worshipped with the original abandon but in good conscience. Transferred liberalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining the subjective impression of salvation without going to the trouble of actually altering one's conduct.
INDIFFERENCE TO REALITY. All liberals have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A millitant gender warrior will defend people's rights to wear whatever they may wish to wear, provided, of course, it's not blackface. A female emancipator will gladly support the notion that women are to make their own choices, provided those pests don't make the choice to live their lives as a man's slaves. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side. Sixty years ago the Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians. Nothing has changed on this score, nor is it liable to soon change. History was and remains a subject largely seen in liberal terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the bombing of the Dalmatian nations, the tortures of the Star Chamber, the terrorist invasion of the Ukraine, the Reign of Terror, the various invasions in the Middle East or Cromwell's soldiers slashing Irishwomen's faces with razors all become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the 'right' cause. If one looks back over the past quarter of a century, one finds that there was hardly a single year when atrocity stories were not being reported from some part of the world; and yet in not one single case were these atrocities believed in and disapproved of by the English speaking world as a whole. Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.
The liberal not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years a half century ago, the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. Those who were loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps were often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia : more of them, harsher, with more victims, going on for longer. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English speaking russophiles. Today, identically, the thousands massacred and the millions disenfranchised by the liberal's own side not only do not figure into his thoughts, but in "fact" do not exist, nor could they ever exist. In liberal thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one's own mind.
Every liberal is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should – in which, for example, there existed notable black uprisings against slavery, or significant rather than exceptional female contributions in science and technology – and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible. Much of the propagandist writing of our time amounts to plain forgery. Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning. Events which it is felt ought not to have happened are left unmentioned and ultimately denied. In 2000 Hillary told Paul "You fucking Jew bastard" Fray to either get the foreskin reattached or forget about working for her husband. The threat seemingly worked, as Fray is not Jewish any longer, and within ten years she's become one of the heroes of the left. The re-alignment of parochial politics had brought her into the "racial justice" camp, and as "racial justice" isn't concerned with Jews it was perhaps felt that her previous racism 'didn't count', or perhaps had not even happened.
The primary aim of propaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past. When one considers the elaborate forgeries that have been committed in order to compose the record of patent insanity spiked with nonsense commonly known as "wikipedia", it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.
Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within trillions, perhaps even quadrillions, how much the United States government owes. The calamities that are constantly being reported – battles, massacres, famines, revolutions – tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the sundering of the Ukraine ? Or Syria or Yugoslavia or Iraq ? Or Afghanistan or Korea or any other of fifty or so cases distributed over barely fifty years ? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any source that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion.
The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the liberal is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to FEEL that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All liberal controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some liberals are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.
All the way through I have said, 'the liberal does this' or 'the liberal does that', using for purposes of illustration the extreme, barely sane type of liberal who has no neutral areas in his mind and no interest in anything except the struggle for power. Actually such people are fairly common, but they are not worth the powder and shot. In real life Obama and Clinton and Blasio and Reid all the rest of their dreary tribe have to be fought against, but their intellectual deficiencies hardly need pointing out. Monomania is not interesting, and the fact that no liberal of the more bigoted kind can write a book which still seems worth reading after a lapse of years has a certain deodorising effect. But when one has admitted that liberalism has not triumphed everywhere, that there are still peoples whose judgements are not at the mercy of their desires, the fact does remain that the actual, pressing problems cannot be, or at least never are, discussed upon a reasonable level. The Obamas and the Clintons and the Pelosis, each of them simply an enormous mouth bellowing the same lie over and over again, are obviously extreme cases, but we deceive ourselves if we do not realise that we can all resemble them in unguarded moments. Let a certain note be struck, let this or that corn be trodden on – and it may be corn whose very existence has been unsuspected hitherto – and the most fair-minded and sweet-tempered person may suddenly be transformed into a vicious partisan, anxious only to 'score' over his adversary and indifferent as to how many lies he tells or how many logical errors he commits in doing so. One prod to the nerve of liberalism, and the intellectual decencies can vanish, the past can be altered, and the plainest facts can be denied.
If one harbours anywhere in one's mind a liberal loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. Here are just a few examples. I list below five types of liberal, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts:
Feminist : by and large, women are happiest once they find a man to submit to.
Trans-warrior : no systematic alteration of the human body is an improvement thereof.
Communist : the principal determinant in any individual's lot in life is the individual in question.
Socialist : a police force exists to count the bodies, not to prevent their making.
Body positivist : obesity is the outward sign of deep, personal, moral failure.
Race justicar : as the outside expenditure with propping up "black lives" increases, their useful production decreases. Blacks had jazz and rock-n-roll before that mustachioed nigglet "saved them", and rap ever since.
All of these facts are grossly obvious if one's emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also INTOLERABLE, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial, and an entire string of obscenities of all sorts directed at whosoever dared make the denial necessary.
There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. As soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged, and the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when 'our' side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified – still one cannot FEEL that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.
The reason for the rise and spread of liberalism is far too big a question to be raised here. It is enough to say that, in the forms in which it appears among English speakers, it is a distorted reflection of the frightful battles actually happening in the external world, and that its worst follies have been made possible by the breakdown of patriotism and religious belief. If one follows up this train of thought, one is in danger of being led into a species of Conservatism, or into political quietism. It can be plausibly argued, for instance – it is even possibly true – that patriotism is the only effectual inoculation against liberalism, that monarchy is the only guard against dictatorship, and that organised religion is the only available alternative to superstition. While fairly obvious, and certainly uncontroversial throughout history, these points have by and large become intolerable to the more diffuse sort of liberal that doesn't fall into any of the easy caricatures above, but nevertheless behaves in the same manner.
It is essentially pointless to speculate as to what the future may bring, outside of the general remark that it will necessarily be the same stuff : the idiots on stage will change their costumes, yes. But to other costumes which will still fit them. And they will be, as they forever have been, as they forever will be, entirely yours, with you, of yourself.
As you might have noticed, if you are literateiv, this text owes a lot to Eric Arthur Blair, an Englishman principally famous for his monstrous ability to perceive the straws in the eyes of those around him while remaining blessfully unobservant of the cedar under his own eyelid. It owes the rest to a casual observation in #bitcoin-assets, about the polyphormity of the stupid party over the decades.———
- In the strictest sense metaphysical - one who is outside reality. One who creates "gameplans" to lift untold others from famine while living in squalor. [↩]
- This is an undefeatably impossible task, for the record. Even admitting one could be possessed of perfect understanding, which pre-supposes that such an understanding can even exist! and in that presupposition reduces the possible universe under discussion to something no more complex than a MMORPG, which is to say a computer simulation, it still does not follow that optimal solutions can in fact be identified in finite time. Eulora's divinity, for the record, was surprisingly defeated after nine weeks of play by scarcely more than a dozen people. [↩]
- You will notice that when I mean group of liberals I say group of liberals, as opposed to the more commonly used "liberal group". This because there's really no such thing as "black lives". Merely the lives of blacks. [↩]
- And if you are not literate - straight to the logs! [↩]