29 Nov 2015

After Liberalism

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Rod Dreher posts a letter from an anonymous (and not entirely grammatical) conservative college professor.

[W]hen people my parents’ age scoff at the whole trans thing and dismiss it as just the cause du jour (remember Darfur? neither do any of the SJWs), I shake my head and tell them they have no idea what’s coming. The project of the Willed Self is a natural outgrowth of Enlightenment thinking. (I share your opinion that Submission is not a great book, but a very important one in terms of exposing the internal contradictions of the Enlightenment.) The whole intellectual movement of the last three centuries has at its core the principle of freeing the willed self from all constraints. The trans movement represents this idea’s apex: if we can free ourselves from basic biology and anatomy, then truly we have become gods. “I am that I am” is no longer confined to Exodus 3; it is the mantra of the willed self freed from all external barriers. There is nothing beyond the subjective, the personal, the therapeutic, because all that matters is how I define my own self, my own existence, and my own gratification. There can be no society or community within this worldview. Patrick Deneen was right in that “After Liberalism” lecture he gave: Enlightenment liberalism has been scary for we [sic] traditional conservatives, but what’s coming next — what’s coming now — is terrifying.

2 Feedbacks on "After Liberalism"

T. Shaw

Need to buy more ammunition and refuse to deny the scientific fact of biological gender.

bob sykes

He’s right about the dissolving power of the Enlightenment, of course. The immediate reaction was Romanticism, which is an explicit rejection of reason and science and an embrace of feeling and union with Nature. German Romanticism, which includes Naziism, is the extreme example. So, I am not sure whether trans is an Enlightenment movement or a Romantic movement. I tend to the latter.

PS. If “we traditional conservatives” is regarded as a noun phrase, which I think it is, no correction is needed. Certainly, “us traditional conservatives” is awkward.


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