Friday, 25 June 2010

Why the future is theocratic not libertarian

Societies with a transcendental aim or purpose (i.e. some kind of 'theocracy' aiming for the salvation of mankind) will eventually displace secular modern societies based on the primacy of lifestyle freedom and guided by the pursuit of individual gratification.

This will happen (like it or not) because only ‘theocracies’ are potentially (although not necessarily) coherent, large-scale, self-renewing and expansive in aspiration.

Secular modern societies will continue to tear themselves apart with nothing to arrest the process or generate coherence – they will self-weaken until they self-collapse. More likely before this is complete they will taken over by a theocracy.

Secular modern societies very clearly have *for a while* potential capabilities far beyond that of any theocracy past or present; but they are not stable, nor self-renewing. They cannot/ will not (it amounts to the same thing) – over the long term - use these superior capabilities to sustain themselves.

The triumph of secular modernity was therefore only a temporary phase - contingent upon cultural inertia. And once the inertia of religious tradition was overcome, and individual gratification by free lifestyle choice was established as primary; then secular modernity became first weakened, then directionless, and now is actively self-destroying.

Mainstream left-liberalism is self-hating and suicidal in its aspiration for universal (undiscriminative) egalitarian altruism. The incoherence of this ideology is obvious, and the stronger that liberalism gets, the faster will society destroy-itself.

Although mainstream liberalism is mostly passive in its guilt, any dynamic social cohesion that it is able to generate depends upon using lies, propaganda and indoctrination to inspire people to unite in the objective of organizing their own ideological-destruction and physical replacement.

(Liberals have ignored Karl Popper’s warning that for toleration to survive it must not tolerate the intolerant – that when intolerance is tolerated it grows in strength until it displaces tolerance. But such a view of discriminative tolerance requires belief in the reality of ultimate, transcendental values such as truth, beauty and virtue – and these are dissolved by secularism and the principle of universal tolerance as a primary process. When universal tolerance becomes a positive lifestyle choice, the days of tolerance are numbered. What remains is a choice between varieties of intolerance – and that is indeed the future of humanity.)

The dark side of liberalism (liberal fascism) adds the unifying fervor of organized hatred, systematic scape-goating and zealous persecution of those who oppose cultural suicide. These attributes characterize the mainstream intellectual group movements of the past 45 years.

But libertarianism is not a viable alternative to liberalism. (I speak as an ex-libertarian, one whose libertarian writings are all over the internet!) Libertarianism replaces the self-loathing, paralysis and ideological group submission of liberalism with a high-minded but actually psychopathic selfishness and a focus on personal, individual gratification. Libertarians escape the enervating psychological trap of liberalism (tender-minded hedonism, wishful-thinking, suicidal guilt and submission), and instead promote a guilt-free, ‘tough-minded’, cynical, worldly, hard-nosed self-gratification.

Since this is socially unacceptable, indeed criminal, libertarian theory (based on a broadly utilitarian ethic) necessarily purports to show how a *process* of competition and evolution will combines numerous instances of short-termist selfish individualism to benefit the long term interests of the group.

But a libertarian society would be self-destroying to the extent it was implemented, since libertarianism positively encourages free-riding. Libertarianism merely hopes-for long-termist utilitarianism, but it guarantees short-termist selfishness.

The libertarian ethic is that the highest value is each individual being maximally free to take the choices which best enable self-gratification. While the libertarian may sincerely *hope* that other people will exercise these choices in a way which promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number (however that might be measured) it is a more direct route to personal gratification simply to seek gratification for oneself rather than for society. Even in the ‘perfect’ libertarian society it is always possible for an individual to further increase their own gratification at the expense of others – while some choices (e.g. to be the highest status, most desired, most creative) intrinsically entail the deprivation of others.

And if gratification is the goal of human life, because human life is unpredictable then *immediate* gratification – right here, right now - is vastly surer and more dependable than undergoing the risks and uncertainties involved in pursuing long term gratification. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

In other words, social cohesion in a secular libertarian society depends on individuals being long-termist utilitarians rather than selfish short-termist gratification-seekers. Yet libertarianism will self-destroy from free-riding; each zealous libertarian individual rationally seeking to gratify themselves at the present moment - not later – and selfishly at the expense of the gratification of others.

Where are the libertarian saints and martyrs? Libertarians are intrinsically and on principle cowardly and hedonistic loners who will not suffer privation, take risks or undergo personal suffering either for the good of the group or for transcendental goals (unless they subjectively, arbitrarily happen to enjoy doing so!). Instead, libertarians tend to minimize their losses, to cut and run. In sum, libertarian group goals are continually undercut by the selfish-short-termism which is itself the prime directive of libertarianism. Hence libertarianism is unable to generate cohesion beyond the level of a leisure club - not even enough cohesion to run a political party!

This is why so many libertarians are ‘pacifists’ and isolationists, fantasize about emigration and other forms of personal escape, and consider suicide/ euthanasia as an obvious – first-line - solution to suffering. Libertarians have no compelling reason why they themselves should suffer for a larger or longer term cause – indeed libertarians cynically regard heroic self-sacrifice with pity or scorn, as evidence of stupidity or insanity.

The consequence is that libertarianism – a collection of self-interested and self-preserving individuals – will submit (one at a time) to any group that can mobilize relentless heroic self-sacrifice in pursuit of group goals.

So, liberals are crushed with a guilty conscience to the point of denying their own right to exist, but libertarians are conscienceless hedonists for whom life has no point except to attain that state which most pleases them and escape from states which are distressing. Devout liberals are morally restricted, warped and incoherent; but devout libertarians are just plain amoral!

Neither can withstand pressure from an unrelenting foe prepared to sacrifice themselves or to die for a cause. Both will submit: liberals will submit on principle, libertarians from expediency.


The medium term alternatives (over the next few decades) are chaos or theocracy.

Over the longer term theocracies which can maintain their devoutness will win.

The ultimate choice is therefore between theocracies.

Note of clarification: I believe the future is a choice between theocracies. And my preference is for something like a Byzantine monarchial Christian Orthodox theocracy. Other alternatives include Orthodox Judaism, Islam and (perhaps) Roman Catholic Christianity (where national rule is divided between the national monarch and an international religious hierarchy ultimately under papal authority).

However, even the ideal theocracy would probably not suit me personally very well, and might indeed make me very unhappy. I fully acknowledge that most theocracies would be unpleasant for modern intellectuals such as myself. Neither do I believe that theocracy is the *happiest* kind of human society (when happiness is conceptualized in this-worldly terms).

I believe that the happiest societies, overall, were the simple hunter gatherer groups – i.e. the kind of social arrangements in which humans evolved. I also believe that – in an everyday sense) secular modernity in its decadent phase (i.e. now) is probably overall happier than many or most theocracies – especially in terms of the relief of suffering.

Theocracy is based on the primacy of human salvation, not human happiness; therefore if this-worldly individual happiness is your objective, then theocracy is not likely to appeal.

However, appeal or not, the main point I am trying to make here is that a society based-on pursuit of individual happiness through lifestyle liberty is incoherent: at first merely fragmentary and weak but eventually organized in self-destruction (a process led by the intellectual ruling elite, whether liberal or libertarian). Secular modernity will therefore decline to either a ‘Dark Age’ state of segmentary, tribalistic chaos; or (at a higher level of social complexity) a more ‘Medieval’ type of monarchial theocracy comprising large states or empires which will sooner or later displace small-scale chaotic tribalism.

Again I emphasize the choice for the long-term future: which is your preferred theocracy? Or, to put it another way – which is your preferred variety of intolerance?