Friday, August 01, 2003

True libertarianism and social order:

I've been thinking about writing a book, or something here, entitled "Socialism in a conservative context", and that's what I'm going to write about here today.

Notice the title doesn't say "Socialist Conservatism" or "Beyond Socialism and Conservatism", implying some sort of "Third Way" ideology, allied to fascism, which claims to be beyond left and right.

Instead, it refers to leftist programs and ideas which can flourish best, in my opinion, within a social context which recognizes a minimum of conservatism with regards to the social and cultural spheres.

What do I mean by this? Well, to quote a woman writing against the Beats, I mean that knowing the customs of a place, knowing the appropriate way to act, the history, etc... allowes one to do more, experience more, and ultimately excersize more liberty in practice than simply saying : "I can do whatever the fuck I want, I don't recognize any laws at all, fuck all of that, fuck history, I'm beyond it all" allows.

I submit that liberalism today has gotten off on the wrong foot in accepting a sort of vulgar materialism when it comes to explanations of society, explanations which, while emancipating the individual from all supposed fetters, leave nothing to point the way to how to make a decent life in the newly found free state.

Instead of pointing the way to the exercise of freedom, modern liberalism in the U.S. has condemned people to being just one more atom in a world determined by biology, where if you're not a genius then, well, sorry, you can't participate in cultural production, and where economic theory combined with an individualist social darwinism destroy all hope for individual meaning in most other areas. What we're left with is dependency on a mass throwaway culture, where no meaning sticks, where the good isn't pursued, but where where pop stars, songs, styles, wars, politicians, etc... are all paraded out in the appropriate season for the passive approval of the masses, who then are told to wait until the next season for the next dose of meaning, and are shooed away from history by the admonition that, well, it's all too hard for you anyways so don't even try....

In short, our culture has fallen on it's own sword in an attempt to use vulgar materialism as a thorough explanatory tool for social, cultural, and political phenomenon.

Can't we do better than this, or, more to the point of this essay, is this really what liberty is all about? Freedom to know that your brain chemistry and genetics determine everything, and that if those don't cover it, studies in ethnology and primate behavior do? Where beauty is reduced to a hormone and romance is similarly reduced to ape behavior added to the quirks of the human nervous system?

I propose, then, that the vulgar materialism of American culture isn't a fit basis on which to really practice liberty, it's not a foundation from which liberty can really be found or exercised because it doesn't recognize what other ages have deemed valuable in the living of a human life to have the status of autonomous phenomenon at all.

So history becomes worthless, culture becomes worthless, just another thing to throw away, live in the moment, just let the commercial buzz run through your brain.

Instead, for the actual living of liberty I believe that what's needed is a basic recognition that there are things which we may call social facts, features of something called society, which are inherited collectively through our culture and which in fact give meaning to and open up avenues to get greater meaning from society.

Only a culture which recognizes it's own history can allow an individual to navigate through the present in an intelligent way in order to try to determine and effect the future as best he can. Only a culture that recognizes the value of human interactions, customary human interactions, can allow the individual to locate meaning through his personal interactions and push for greater variety and multiplicity in his ways of living and interacting with others. Only a society which knows about it's artists can allow an artist to produce good art today. Only knowing political history allows one to judge the politics of the day.

So, I propose, that there be a social minimum, a minimum of social and cultural history recognized as inviolable and irreducable for human society, for any decent form of human society to actually exist as such.

Once one is no longer thinking about how one's conduct fares against the biologists and psychologists one looks to explore and create meaning out of the contexts qua content that have been opened up because of such.

And from there, in the exploration of content, provided by society, history, learning, books, people, music, one can proceed to action in true liberty, in the truest liberty which human society can afford---the actual production of society, in it's economic, cultural, political, and social, facets--as opposed to being a passive docile consumer of what society puts out.

We need this reevaluation of things desperately; without society, beating back all of the psychologists from it's door, we can have no liberty, because without society it's all determined, to a degree far beyond that accepted by Marxists and Anarchists. At least, within society, there is room for change and growth.

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