Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Nunc in Quidnuncitate. — “It is true there is in such a population, of itself, no help at all towards reconstruction of the wreck of your Niagara plunge; of themselves they, with whatever cry of ‘liberty’ in their mouths, are inexorably marked by Destiny as slaves ; and not even the immortal gods could make them free,—except by making them anew and on a different pattern. No help in them at all, to your model Aristocrat, or to any noble man or thing. But then likewise there is no hindrance, or a minimum of it! Nothing there in bar of the noble Few, who we always trust will be born to us, generation after generation; and on whom and whose living of a noble and valiantly cosmic life amid the worst impediments and hugest anarchies, the whole of our hope depends. Yes, on them only! If amid the thickest welter of surrounding gluttony and baseness, and what must be reckoned bottomless anarchy from shore to shore, there be found no man, no small but invincible minority of men, capable of keeping themselves free from all that, and of living a heroically human life, while the millions round them are noisily living a mere beaverish or doglike one, then truly all hope is gone. But we always struggle to believe Not. Aristocracy by title, by fortune and position, who can doubt but there are still precious possibilities among the chosen of that class? And if that fail us, there is still, we hope, the unclassed Aristocracy by nature, not inconsiderable in numbers, and supreme in faculty, in wisdom, human talent, nobleness and courage, ‘who derive their patent of nobility direct from Almighty God’. If indeed these also fail us, and are trodden out under the unanimous torrent of brutish hoofs and hobnails, and cannot vindicate themselves into clearness here and there, but at length cease even to try it,—then indeed it is all ended: national death, scandalous ‘Copper-Captaincy’ as of France, stern Russian Abolition and Erasure as of Poland; in one form or another, well deserved annihilation, and dismissal from God’s universe, that and nothing else lies ahead for our once heroic England too.” [1]

Englishmen have contracted a kind of sickness, maybe incurable, perhaps now inbred, in the fever whereof they trade whatever dear and irrecoverable goods they might hold in return for cheap consumable goods and shiny visions of a marketed future. If it is incurable, if it is innate and inalienable, then they cannot persist for long on the earth, not even as the magpie-vulgarians that they now are. Even the essentials of their existence they would trade for the inessentials of comfort and image. A mindless congratulation of their own ideological kind is so engrained in them by whiggish habit that, even if and whilst deploring the state in which they find themselves, they still praise and take as sacrosanct the very way by which they reached it — and they demand and plead to go further by the same way! The egalitarian-libertarian spirit amongst them has all but destroyed a titled aristocracy set apart from beaverish existence, and it will surely do its best to destroy an untitled kind too. Genius, talent, even finally the meanest advantage, would all be thwarted by their insane demand — their eleutheromania — for that impossible condition, for men at least, of equal liberty for all. The world might have done well long ago to have set the body of their nation in quarantine, and have sought a cure, or, failing that, to have driven a stake through the heart of that old vampire of the continent, but now it is a little too late.

[1] Thomas Carlyle, Shooting Niagara: and After? (London: Chapman & Hall, 1867), pp.23-4; original emphases.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Liberal Mockery of Rights and Duties. — The odd thing about liberals is that they believe they are being magnanimous and not absurd or malevolent in seeking to impose on everyone the non-existent duty of defending the non-existent right to falsehood, stupidity, vice, or whatever other depravities they cannot be bothered to oppose. [1] From their featherbrained credal belief that everyone has the right to believe whatever he wishes, it follows that everyone has the right to false and vicious beliefs, from which it follows in turn that everyone has the corresponding duty of defending the right of their maintenance and growth. Naturally there is no such duty and therefore no right to impose it. Given that every man has the duty and the right to pursue and uphold the true, the good, and the beautiful, it follows that he cannot also have the duty and the right to the contrary. [2] Where morality by reason imposes a duty, liberalism by whim imposes a mockery of it. In seeking to impose the mock-duty of defending the mock-right to the false, the bad, and the ugly, such that they flourish thereunder, liberalism shows itself to be the enemy of the true, the good, and the beautiful, that is to say, of knowledge, culture, society, personhood, and mankind itself, and it is consequently the duty of every man to oppose it.

[1] An example: Rod Liddle, “We must defend the right to be stupid, vile and obnoxious”, The Sunday Times, 17th January 2010. Tim Worstall calls Mr Liddle’s screed “impeccably liberal”, and he is right to do so: it is stupid and smug and seeks to spread its own miscreancy as widely as possible. (Tim Worstall, “One for the anti-Liddle crowd”, Tim Worstall (weblog), 17th January 2010.)
[2] For more depth and discussion, see: David S. Oderberg, “Is There a Right to be Wrong?”, Philosophy, 75 (2000), pp.517-537.