Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Joshua Tartovsky on Liberalism alias the Mystery of the Fig Leaf Unmasked on the Road to Athens

Joshua Tartovsky's thoughtful and thought-provoking article on Greece and liberalism is worth reading and reflecting on.

Among various interesting things, Joshua nails very well liberalism: "Liberals have no real values they will die for, since their hedonism is masqueraded by a concern for “human rights." In other words, liberalism (as Hobbes and Locke knew very well) is hedonism, but hedonism, which comes with a mask and under a mask. Lately, it has been hedonism masqueraded by a concern for human rights. As long as such hedonism appears to be mutually consensual  or, at least, contractual (a good deal, proposal, or business), it appears as a "comfort position," to borrow Joshua's own term. It seems that, as one is moving more toward a more right-wing liberalism, one starts running to or through some kind of Hobessian realism, which, says, as if citing an inscription on the gate to the dark realm, that this comfort position was never meant literally and was never really about (mutually assured) comfort. In other words, at a certain point, more right-wing liberals start hating more left-wing liberals for their too comforting masks and lies, and more left-wing liberals would accuse more-right wing liberals of more self-centered and cold-hearted hedonism.

Yet, there are times when such liberal hedonism starts developing a hedonistic empathy for masochistic and sadistic tyranny (and every tyranny is either masochistic or sadistic or both; loving tyranny is an oxymoron) or very illiberal appetites. That's where the recent adulation of the Saudi tyrant by Christine Lagard the head of the very liberal IMF, shows a way. Joshua writes: "Christine Lagarde, the head of IMF, eulogized King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a 'strong advocate of women.' This is liberalism today: A French female running a bank that brought down entire economies praising an Arab man [tyrant] for his tolerance towards women, thereby showing she is open-minded and can see liberal values in others. She must be proud of herself for this.'"

That's a moment when a liberal begins to "adore a fascist," to paraphrase Sylvia Plath, and starts flipping dialectically into Satanism. Hedonism in its consummately apocalyptic form.

Yet, the reader ought to be reminded that Joshua started off his article with a title that suggests seemingly something else--it "exposes liberalism as a fig leaf." A fig leaf left behind in the Garden of Eden? But, strictly speaking, the title was just the beginning. Just like the story of Eden, its initially almost happy hedonism (do anything you want, but that one thing, which you thus must do), and the ensuing trickery, fall, and the original sin which only a death of God can atone). We also know how this story is supposed to end unless God changes his mind--in the apocalyptic slaughters and eternal damnation for all except a small chosen elite.

Liberalism was never about the Golden Rule. Really. Hedonism, which would want to do unto others only and nothing but what it would want others to do to oneself is a theoretically possible position, but as precarious as splitting with a sword a thin line drawn on paper.

And one problem with liberalism (among others) is that, indeed, it too has something almost fundamentalist or religious about it. But, as such, liberalism is like a religion that does not dare to name its real God. Unless it possesses self-consciousness comparable to Thomas Hobbes or Leo Strauss or Nietzsche. Or Alexander Dugin.


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