Stronger Together (for now), or: Make Weddings Great Again

I’ve been listening to more of Bill Kristol’s Conversations; especially those with Harvey Mansfield. The first effect of which has been to expand my list of classics; Tocqueville, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, J.S.Mills, Strauss, Mansfield himself…

Since those books yet remain for me in that classical state, I can only comment on what he briefly explains. There are over 12 hours of Mansfield speaking though, and he returns to the same topics over and again. So I have probably learned a few things which I will test as I remove titles from  my personal list of classics.

  • Zippy is right: I have been a right-liberal. I previously admitted to be a right-liberal before, but limited it to an accordance with his interpretation of things, i.e., “on his blog”. That was wrong. Modernity (a whole ‘nother thing which I’m only now seeing from outside) is what we live in, and it taught me that its (modernity’s) notions of right and left were true. They’re not. It turns out that there is a very long conversation about politics and the dichotomy was established a long time ago. The character, or spirit, of each side is probably beyond dispute: Democracy (Liberalism/Left) or Aristocracy (Authoritarianism/Right). There are several/many forms of each, but there are only two real philosophies (or principles). Every mixture of the two requires some kind of mental investment in a paradox. That’s in the best case. In the worst mixtures one requires doublethink. I like the former and hate the latter. My problem, and not just mine, is that the unstoppable force of democracy is crashing full-speed into the immovable object of reality. Unfortunately I’m between them, and quite squishable. Paradoxes are a kind of crash-cage protection, but fear causes one to grasp at doublethinks as a kind of insulation…but at some point enough pillows will smother you.
  • All these old guys (Kristol, Mansfield, Larry Summers, Charles Murray, etc.) are hesitant to say that men do good things too, and often at times and in ways that women can’t, and they take pains to say that women might do it, too. They really put men down. Mansfield at least makes the case that this is a problem (even as he does it) and makes snide comments that the powers-that-be are who muzzle us.
  • There’s this argument called the fact value distinction of which I did not know that I had picked a side (value). In modernity–because of modernity–democracy has elected fact. I am at odds again with the majority; though I confess that my preference was instinctual, subconscious, or in some other way less-than-consciously-reasoned. Irrational, but correct. A great deal of Right thought is irrational. It (knowledge or wisdom) can’t always be logically deduced, or logically consistent. I’m good with that, but then we get into accepting paradoxes, and also threatened by doublethinks.
  • One thing that I extracted from the spaces between Mansfield’s words is that No-Fault Divorce was probably an inevitable “innovation” of democracy. Democracy’s spirit is not just consent, but retractable consent, or arguable consent; a consent that is always up for debate. Here we get to one of those doublethinks because consent that is debatable is not really consent. If it is debatable, then it’s not real. So when some feminist (who is a kind of democrat/liberal/leftist) argues that she didn’t really consent to marriage, or sex, or whathaveyou: She is correct in the sense that she is more in-line with the spirit of liberalism. Her correctness matters and resonates because our society just is ruled by Liberalism. According to that spirit, No-Fault Divorce corrects an oversight of our forebears: The right of a wife (theoretically any spouse but effectually a wife) to hold a new election for Husband. A democracy with only one binding election does not keep with the spirit of democracy/liberalism. Binding isn’t what liberty does. No-Fault Divorce is a call to stand for election to office.

So, as I was saying, I was a right-liberal…I do not think I will stand for election again.

22 thoughts on “Stronger Together (for now), or: Make Weddings Great Again

  1. In general, this is why I think that the disciples and early Christians were disengaged from the political system altogether and strove to live quiet and peaceable lives.

    In a fallen world all governmental systems are flawed, even though we know that God is sovereign and ordains sovereigns (whether people, governments, and so on).

  2. Zippy’s comments on liberalism have been swirling around in my head as well. I find him difficult to understand most the time, unfortunately. This topic is one I am still puzzling through.

    If liberalism is bad, from root to bough, then what is right? A pseudo free theocracy where God rules and we all follow (e.g. Judges from Bible), or is a more traditional theocracy like Roman Catholicism the correct form of government.

    As Zippy notes in a post, I find myself trying to determine a new philosophy based on liberalism tools and concepts. I fail to have the language to think of something else. I find myself, as in 1984, unable to think properly with the newspeak (liberalism) words.

  3. @ Mwcain says:
    November 22, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    “If liberalism is bad, from root to bough, then what is right? A pseudo free theocracy where God rules and we all follow (e.g. Judges from Bible)…”

    The time of the Judges was an era of horrible spiritual decline. Read Judges 19-21 to understand how bad it got. In the mean time…

    Judges 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

    “… or is a more traditional theocracy like Roman Catholicism the correct form of government.”

    I like reading the Bible in English or Spanish, and I prefer to not be burned at the stake for obeying Deuteronomy 11:18-21.

    Deut 11:18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

  4. My point in mentioning judges is this:

    The people did what was right in their own eyes. This corresponds to America, and liberalism in general.

    Politically, there were no kings in Israel. God didn’t want them to have kings. So, therefore periodic judges are what was needed for a kingless people. Is this the proper political structure to have in a non-liberlism world? In my mind, it is this, or a Pope as a pseudo king.

    Does that make sense? If liberalism is wrong, per Zippy (and I agree with him after much pondering), then there has to be a better system. I lean towards the Judge model. Maybe that is because I am a protestant.

  5. @Mwcain

    If liberalism is bad, from root to bough, then what is right?

    Zippy’s definition of liberalism is “the political doctrine that securing individual freedom and equal rights is the primary legitimate purpose of government.”

    That bit is his best writing on why liberalism is bad. The primary legitimate purpose of government is to govern; which is to discriminate. Personal liberty can be a high priority of government, but it cannot have primacy.

    His further explanations and examples are less helpful, in my view. Some of the same criticisms marshaled against excesses of liberalism could be directed at illiberalisms, too. And that’s not all Zippy’s fault, either. Sometimes we don’t have the language, or we ahve the same word with different meanings. Very often someone coopts and abuses language to deceive. For example: The freedom rhetoric of the American Revolution was never meant to be in service to modern forms of liberalism; forms which are polluted with Marxist criticism. It’s from Marx that we get the idea that in a free and equal world the man with $100 in his bank account is not “free” to buy a $100,000 yacht, so therefore he’s not really free.

    Like you I’ve been thinking about these things often. It’s been slow going, and here’s why: Liberalism is one thing. But it’s not the only thing. There’s also modernism. They’re not the same things. (Though modernism is an excellent soil for liberalism.) Democracy is another separate thing. Many anti-liberals are against democracy (and maybe they are right), but democracy isn’t liberalism. There have been illiberal democracies. These different things have had different effects on us, but really I think my main enemy/stumbling block is modernism. Authoritarian government is no defense against it, either.

    I highly recommend this playlist. Harvey Mansfield touches on many of the topics Zippy talks about, but Mansfield has the privilege of not having to explain himself to dopey commenters like me. They are listed in descending order so watch 10 first and 1 last. You can find the same audio as podcasts, as well. I listen to them while I’m working.

  6. @SFC Ton

    Sounds like some form of authoritarianism.

    Aristocrat is another of those loaded words, like freedom in my comment to Mwcain. I like it when it means “best men”. I don’t like it when it means “duke”.


    Thanks. Who knows where I’ll end up, but I think monarchist is unlikely.

  7. Cane,

    I will think on your words. I started listening to the Mansfield videos. Unfortunately I have found I cannot do so while working. They require to much brain power to digest. I’ll report back on my thoughts.

  8. @SFC TON
    I wonder where kinist fall on the right left line? Neither democracy but rule by father’s instead of aristocratics or some such.

    What you describe is what I imagine God’s preferred basic structure looks like. Each father ruled his household. But the Isrealites ASKED for judges. They seemingly couldn’t handle that much freedom (or needed another “Authority” besides God )
    Even the twelve “TRIBES” of Israel are simply Family lines from the twelve sons of Jacob. Of course they grew and became tribes long after the original patriarch dies off. This Lineage could then be passed down to the oldest son (Dynastic Monarchy) or seized in a political or military overthrow.
    So maybe its the EVOLUTION of government into what it is today. But democracy does seem to be about as far away from a biblically sanctioned form of government as I can imagine. It is bottom up instead of top down. It is ruled by the popular majority. It evolves, changes, and nothing is ever final or absolute. Liberating maybe,but confusing.

  9. @Mwcain: “If liberalism is bad, from root to bough, then what is right? A pseudo free theocracy where God rules and we all follow (e.g. Judges from Bible)”

    Your (e.g. Judges from Bible) is not how God set himself up to rule initially.

    The Children of Israel (how many; hundreds of thousands?) gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai. God had been leading them out of Egypt with pillars of smoke and fire. But at Sinai, he began leading them personally.

    God spoke. And scared the daylights out of everyone. They petitioned Moses to tell God to not ever do that again, to tell God to speak to them through a man. That is what led to judges and kings and prophets – the men through whom God spoke, rather than speaking directly as he had started out to do.

    Think about how life throughout the Old Testament would have proceeded if the masses had responded differently, if they had welcomed God’s voice rather than been scared by it. No judges or kings or prophets. Just each man and his family responding to the direct voice of God.

    What would that society look like? Would each man and his family have responded exactly alike to the voice of God? And, if they had not, would a strong man have arisen to force everyone into a uniform response? And, if such a man had arisen, would God have struck him down – since all the people still welcomed God to speak directly to them?

    God initially intended to rule his people directly, without any form of government intervening. In thinking through all that has been said above, filter that through this question: could you live under such an arrangement – no intervening government, only the voice of God directly? And what would your thoughts be when you see others responding to God’s voice in ways different from how you think they should be responding, how you yourself are responding?

    Would your thoughts be liberal or conservative?

    Would God’s direct governance be considered liberal or conservative? That is, if God governed through grace and mercy, would that governance be liberal or conservative? If liberal, should we reject it?

    It’s Christmas morning. Merry Christmas all. A Savior was born, who will save all of us who need saving (not DESERVE saving; need saving). Is that liberal or conservative?

    Are we to be like Christ (him going after those who need, rather than those who deserve?) Does God call us to a life that is something more than the definitions of liberal or consevative?

  10. @Hose_B: ” It is ruled by the popular majority. It evolves, changes, and nothing is ever final or absolute.”

    “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48 NIV)

    Can you get any more confusing than that? The implication is that there is whole range of punishment, from light to heavy, based on what one knows and when one knows it.

    If we were living today in the situation imagined in my post above, where the people welcomed God speaking to them directly, so no judges or kings or prophets – would God have created the Great List? Know this little, so get this little punishment all the way up to know this much so get this much punishment – with hundreds of gradations in between?

    “Final or absolute” have meaning to us only if we know what they are. They can exist, and be applied – but if we don’t know what they are, we can be just as confused as you expressed in your post. How would we be any less confused if God ruled us directly, imposed punishment per the previous paragraph, but did not publish a list for us to see what punishment was for what level of knowledge? We can probably make the case that it is in God’s plan for us to be confused – even if he were to rule us directly. Even with the word he gave us in the Bible, confusion reigns. Look at the number of denominations that have resulted from different interpretations of what the Bible means. Look at any given post at Dalrock’s and the great debate over whether the Bible says we can’t have sex with prostitutes.

    If we were supposed to have certainty and not be confused, why are there so many denominations. Each of them is certain in their own way. But their conclusions are all different.

    Lack of confusion is no guarantee of being correct.

    Something I heard once: Education is the process of going from a state of cocksure ignorance to one of thoughtful uncertainty.

    I don’t think thoughtful uncertainty about everything is a desired end-state. But being certain about something, and being wrong about it, is not a desired end-state either. What is the solution? There isn’t one, outside of the Resurrection. Which is what Christmas day is actually about – the hope for the end of our ignorance. (Now I see through a glass, darkly, but then … etc. etc.)

  11. @RichardP
    “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48 NIV)

    Actually I don’t find this passage confusing, although I can see how some might. I agree there is is not a “Great List” implies here.
    But still the concepts seems pretty straightforward.
    1)If you break Gods law in true ignorance, he is merciful. Note that ignorance isn’t a “free pass” only that they will be beaten with “few blows” God is just.
    2) God give us each gifts and abilities, at birth and throughout our lives. To some he gave relatively few gifts, and he expects a relatively low return. But of those whom he has entrusted great gifts, he expects a great return from.
    This passage (and others of the same ilk) has man/God application and man/man application. Just remember that GOD KNOWS OUR HEARTS and we do not know the hearts of men. That usually screws up our human application of the scripture above.

  12. Pingback: A Fact About Women | Things that We have Heard and Known

  13. Cane:

    I do not think I will stand for election again.

    I feel like a running politician
    Just trying to please you all the time

    — Van Halen (Sammy Hagar), 5150

  14. Pingback: Objective freedom, or, the allure of the formless void | Zippy Catholic

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