It’s now been a long time since classical liberalism was stampeded to death by the ethnic hordes and progressive demons it nurtured in its breast over its long rule of condescension in the West. This calls for something fittingly pointless and insufficient to mark the passing. An indifferent epitaph.
Liberalism, to the extent it was genuinely held, was at base faith, for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from religious faith, despite its proceeding from Enlightenment values. I won’t criticize liberalism for being Utopian–to dissent against the well-entrenched madness of the present is Utopian, by virtue of its hopelessness. We are all Utopians now.
But the faith is in the possibility of the given Utopia; it’s in the pursuit of it against all historic evidence, against popular resistance, in spite of the endless depredations of malicious free riders; it was faith in unilateral disarmament before the illiberal world. Liberalism’s severing of society from the old restraints was a world-historic leap of faith, taken in a fit of romanticism and vanity.
Destruction is the ultimate act of faith. Something built as an alternative can simply fail. But the destruction of that which is forces a fait accompli on society, which has no choice but to rebuild, and the destroyer himself is Johnny on the Spot, with his plan, admonishing us that the destruction just proves how necessary and self-evidently just his plan was the whole time.
Liberalism had to have faith in the destruction of the sacred and time-honored; liberals had to have faith that they were dragging society, kicking and screaming, into a better world.
Liberalism foundered on its faith in the wisdom of a society ordered around the individual and therefore determined by the aggregate greed and desire of the mass. Post-liberal progressivism’s contempt for the common and working man follows logically the disillusion of liberalism: the common man let the left down, with his bourgeois aspirations and preference for patriotism over internationalism. Now we’re to get it good and hard, from the left’s new favorites, racial and sexual minorities. I’m reminded of the scene in Rocky, where the black actor Stan Shaw has been given Rock’s locker, by Mickey the Jewish trainer, because Dipper’s a contender and Rocky isn’t.
The Working Man coulda been a contender, a new man for the new age, studiously consuming the uplift offered by his betters. But in the postwar prosperity people were content to work and raise families and take their modest share of happiness and indulge in patriotism (our ill-placed faith); the regular guy’s definition of happiness held, through years of propaganda belittling his aspirations, his leisure, his faith, even his hobbies: how pathetic, how gauche to the elite to, say, have a small boat you take out on the lake weekends. There’s resentment in the post-liberal left’s assault on those habits of the working and middle class, on their assault on home ownership, cars, even outdoor recreation (in the name of environmentalism).
Ironically liberalism ended in outright opposition to its Enlightenment sibling, science, arguing with less credibility than creationists against the plain reality of human biology, against the very existence of race and sex. Even the edifice supporting liberalism’s ever-growing Rube Goldberg of rationalization refuting biology itself is one big appeal to consequences: if we aren’t all blandly equal under the skin it would be the worst possible thing. You are evil to even suspect it.
As for sex, the post-liberal Frankenstein that rules the present wears a skin suit knit out of the past’s naïve liberal proponents of the sexual revolution–our parents and grandparents, who scoffed at notions of familial decline and widespread degeneracy, and, if they’ve survived into the present, can only nod along obliviously as the kids praise these things they once reassured us would never happen, as progress. This is their dotage, and liberalism’s.