Did the 5th century Roman watching the Germanic tribes storm through his gates know his world was ending? As half of Europe perished, thrashing in the final agonies of the black death, did some perceptive observer know the end of an era was at hand? As the Berliner watched his countrymen tear down the wall, did he know that his actions would cause the fall of the Soviet Union? As the Parisian relaxing on a Friday night heard the shots ring out in the Bataclan, did he in the terror of the moment suspect that the events signified not just the end of his life, but the hollowness of his social order, and the system of thought from which that order sprang?
The 5th century Roman did not know that from the ashes of Rome would arise a new civilization, feudal Europe and that the fall was the result of a loss of vitality centuries in the making. He only knew that his future had become uncertain. The 14th century European did not know that end of the Feudal system was at hand, he only knew that order had been replaced with chaos, and tried to cope as best he could. The Berliner taking a hammer to the wall did not know the Soviet Union was doomed, he only sensed the weakness of the East German Soviet puppet state, and capitalized on it. Even if he did not fully understand it on an intellectual level, he sensed instinctively that the Communist ideology had lost legitimacy. These brief moments were distillations of broad historical trends which were the products of decades, or even centuries, foretelling the end of a way of life. In a single instant confidence in the established order of things was shattered; creating the seeds of a new order.
As we watch the chaos unfold in Europe, we know that something is changing. As the refugees pillage Europe, seeds of doubt are planted. As we watch Ferguson and Baltimore burn, we begin to doubt “E Pluribus Unum”. We feel a certain uneasiness. We have a sense of uncertainty, of foreboding, that we can’t quite put our finger on. We know that what was certain has become uncertain, the unquestionable has become open to question. We, like the 5th century Roman, the 13th century European, and 20th century Berliner know that something is ending.
What we are witnessing is not a momentary setback for the current order, we are witnessing a paradigm shift on par with the fall of Rome, the end of the Feudal era, the beginning of the Enlightenment, and the end of Communism. We are witnessing the death of system of thought which has been dominant in the Western world of the last three centuries. Liberalism is losing legitimacy. It is losing legitimacy because Liberal regimes can no longer defend their borders, win their wars, pay their debts, or protect their citizens.
At first glance, the assertion that Liberalism is losing legitimacy seems laughable. Liberal regimes are the most militarily and economically powerful entities on the face of the earth that have ever existed in human history. America, a nation founded upon liberal principles, has become the world’s sole super power as a result of winning the Cold War. The multi-polar world of the Cold War has quickly become a uni-polar one in which the United States is a hegemon: dominant militarily, economically, and culturally.
Political theorist Francis Fukuyama speculated that this development constituted the end of history. The end of history, according to Fukuyama, is the idea that “a remarkable consensus concerning the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a system of government had emerged throughout the world…as it conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and most recently communism… liberal democracy may constitute the ‘end point of mankind’s ideological evolution’ and the “final form of human government”. The decade following the Cold War would seem to confirm Fukuyama’s assertion, America boomed economically due to the tech bubble and asserted its will through the use of military power in the First Gulf War and in the Balkans.
Liberalism’s ideological hegemony will be its undoing. Its strength, bolstered by American military and economic global supremacy, is the source of Liberalism’s collapse. The post-Cold War era is the first time Liberal regimes have operated without constraint. Internationally, Liberalism was restrained by having to deal with major illiberal powers which could hamper its actions. Domestically, the situation is similar, in the past Liberal ideology was restrained by countervailing forces such as nationalism, traditional religious beliefs, and racial consciousness. These restraints have lost legitimacy in the eyes of elites which control the institutions that create and disseminate culture. For the first time in history, Liberalism is free of restraint internationally and domestically; Liberal regimes have almost total freedom of action. This strength has allowed the contradictions inherent in the ideology to fully manifest themselves.
These contradictions stem from Enlightenment philosophy, from which Liberalism receives its intellectual and moral foundation, and its founding mythology. Enlightenment philosophy holds that man is by nature a rational being, and that through the use of reason man can discover both truths about himself and the natural world, this is the epistemological core of the Enlightenment, from which the scientific method is derived. It also holds that man in a state of nature is solitary, equal, and free; that the individual is by nature autonomous, and predates the community, which was founded by these autonomous individuals to secure their property. Community is regarded as artificial, as are all social hierarchies. For this reason, individual liberty and equality are the core ethical beliefs of the Enlightenment, the political expression of which is liberal democracy. As a result of its belief in the primacy and equality of the individual, and the artificiality of community, Liberalism is by necessity a universalist ideology.
The epistemological and ethical components of the Enlightenment conflict with one another. Casual observation, the record of history, and scientific study reveal that human equality is a myth, that man is by nature hierarchical, that man is a social being rather than a solitary one, and that community, and the defining feature of community, identity, are essential parts of what it means to be human. Any ideology which denies these truths is doomed to fail. Thus it is no accident that at the peak of their power Liberal regimes cannot win their wars, pay their debts, secure their borders, or protect their citizens.
The goal of U.S. foreign policy for the last thirteen years has been to attempt to bring about the end of history, to establish a global Liberal order. In service of this goal, America, and other Liberal regimes have attempted to use military force to convert the Muslim world into secular, liberal democracies. Such efforts were doomed to failure from the start because they are dependent on the assumption that the majority of Muslims have same self-conception and desires as a Postmodern European. Efforts to democratize Iraq could succeed only if the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish tribesmen of Iraq conceived of themselves primarily as individuals who desired “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This is not the case, the identity of the average Iraqi is defined by tribal, religious, and family ties. The average Iraqi conceives of himself as a Shia, Sunni, or Kurd, not as an atomized, autonomous individual. His family, tribal and religious ties are the foundations of his identity, thus any attempt to impose a system of government which is organized around the autonomy and equality of the individual is doomed to failure.
Liberalism requires a high trust society in order to function, such as those found in Western Europe, and the United States. These high trust societies are the product of millennia of evolutionary development, and centuries of historical trends. The Middle East, by contrast, is comprised of low trust societies, thus any attempt to turn these nations into liberal democracies is akin to building a house without a foundation. Liberal regimes cannot accept this because to do so would be an admission that the core ethical ideas of the Enlightenment, individual autonomy and human equality are not universally applicable. To admit this is to deny that the idea that “all men are created equal” and that their foremost desire is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
Liberal regimes cannot pay their debts because Liberal regimes do not have the population base necessary to sustain a modern welfare state. All Liberal regimes have below replacement birth rates, creating a situation in which there are not enough workers to produce the wealth required to provide for medical care for retirees and benefits for those unable to find work in an economy increasingly geared towards those on the right-hand side of the bell curve. As this trend is found in every Liberal regime, it is not an accident. This fall in population is the direct result of the sexual revolution, the deconstruction of the family, and the pursuit of economic growth at all costs, all of which are a natural outgrowth of Liberalism’s belief in the autonomy and equality of the individual.
The sexual revolution separated sex from fertility; it desacralized sex, made it just another recreational activity instead of the foundation of the family. The patriarchal family itself came under attack by feminism, which objected to male leadership in both the public and private sphere, and actively worked to delegitimize the family and the mores and institutions which supported it. This project was aided by businesses which wished to increase the supply of labor, thus reducing its value. All of these trends contributed to falling fertility rates, and are products of principles of equality and individual autonomy followed to their logical conclusion.
Liberal regimes cannot defend their borders or protect their citizens from crime because Liberalism cannot delineate an “Us” or a “Them”. They are unable to do this because Liberalism contends that human society is merely an aggregation of autonomous and equal individuals each pursuing their own rational self interest. It thus must deny the existence of the Other. It is not possible to conceive of an Other because to do so would be to “discriminate”. Discrimination is the act the valuing of one thing over another, thus the act by its very nature violates the Liberal moral principle of equality. Because of this, a Liberal regime cannot consider questions of identity when shaping its immigration policy without contradicting its highest moral principles. It is no accident that Liberal regimes are importing millions of “refugees” who have open disdain for the values and culture of Europe and have nothing in common with the European populations which they are “enriching”. It also why Liberal regimes throughout the world have long allowed their inner cities to become third world slums.
The inability of Liberal regimes to fulfill the functions and responsibilities of a state are the direct result of the contradictions within the ideology which were previously suppressed by competition with illiberal powers at the international level, and by piety, nationalism, and racial consciousness domestically. These failures have eroded the legitimacy of the ideology both in the eyes of their own citizens and internationally. This, in itself, is not enough to ensure its demise. For that to occur there must be an alternative system of thought strong enough to challenge it. This system of thought must have a mythic foundation capable of appealing to all levels of consciousness, as well as a philosophic core which is compelling to the few capable of philosophic thought. The job of our movement is to create a system of thought capable of replacing the dying Liberal status quo. We must take advantage of the chaos caused by the current paradigm shift to create a new order which is life affirming.
F. Roger Devlin, Sexual Utopia in Power.
Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man.