On the futility of right-liberals who look to Mill for refuge from the progressivism that Mill helped create
“ It’s Gnosticism all the way down” (NS Lyons, the Upheaval substack).
Pride truly is a sin; They take their access to advanced learning as proof that they are superior. They have the Gnostic’s self delusion of superior knowledge and understanding. It’s a mystical thing they just feel it and it is only right that they should have power and set our course. With that certainty, and considering our recalcitrance, who can blame the liberal for speaking to us in such angry tones of compassion.
When they look at us, NASCAR nation, they seethe with hatred, we are truly deplorable in their eyes. They need to lie to us, clearly we fail to comprehend; It is for our own good.
Well, I suppose the feeling of hatred is mutual. If we were in charge we would be just as bad. If you accept that - power corrupts - then you are lead to a single conclusion. The problem is the overreach of the managed state. A minimalist approach to government and governance properly compensates for human duplicity. Overreach is the problem. And the problem with erstwhile right liberals is greed, they display magical thinking about market forces. Government is needed to ameliorate capitalism with a simple goal: give all members of society sufficient income to live.
Freddie DeBoer, substack
“ in late stage capitalism we have created a culture where it is widely understood that people can’t earn enough money to live “
“ education without values, as useful as it is, seems to make man more clever devil.”
Both sides of liberalism are equally guilty of devilment.
It’s kind of easy to see that my solution is correct. Ask the Proles, they will agree.
Millians also elevate harm to both “stochastic” harm and to self-harm to disarm their opponents, not to arrive at truth. They take the libertarian principle that your rights stop at my nose and say your rights to speech stop if anything happens to my nose, including if I do it to myself.
Mill was smarter than Marx, who thought the masses would rise up against the ruling class. Mill knew the masses were the defenders of custom, the literal repositories of tradition, of submission to unchosen bonds, and therefore that they had to be defeated and mastered by the Enlightened elite in order to assure Progress.
Mill would have been totally in favor of the elites fortifying an election against the possibility of those deplorables prevailing. He did not believe in democracy. He did not believe, like Lenin, in “one man, one vote, one time.” No, Mill believed, like the EU, in “one man, many votes, until he gets it right.”
The tragedy of late 20th/early21st century Western conservatism has been its failure - for half a century and more - to notice Progressivism's long march through the institutions via tertiary education. It deluded itself that success at the ballot box was the whole story. So much so that - in my own country (Great Britain) - there are now very few conservatives even in the Conservative Party.
In the past it's disappointed me when Mill is read, by most, it isn't followed up by a generous reading of James Fitzjames Stephens.
Thanks, Patrick, for this fascinating complication of how Mill's writing has been received. While reading, I was reminded of Hannah Arendt's essay "The Concept of History," where she describes the emergence of a notion of history as process that intertwined with notions of progress. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how this quasi irresistible model of "historical progress" relates to a models of freedom. Might it be necessary to rethink our conceptual models of history as such?
I just posted a tweet beneath this article:
Without wimping out, sometimes our strongest positions need less to be changed than chastened. That's what happens to me when I listen to Patrick Deneen. Thank you.
Cf. the posting a while ago at @tnr on "persuasion" with Maurice Mitchell.
cf. @tmbejan "Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Tolration" (Harvard 2017).