The End Of Liberal Democracy?

The End Of Liberal Democracy? by Rod Dreher.

What if the problem is not that liberal democracy has gone off the rails, but that it has not. In a 2014 essay in TAC, Patrick Deneen talked about this problem in a specific Catholic context. Excerpt:

The “radical” school rejects the view that Catholicism and liberal democracy are fundamentally compatible. Rather, liberalism cannot be understood to be merely neutral and ultimately tolerant toward (and even potentially benefitting from) Catholicism. Rather, liberalism is premised on a contrary view of human nature (and even a competing theology) to Catholicism. Liberalism holds that human beings are essentially separate, sovereign selves who will cooperate based upon grounds of utility. According to this view, liberalism is not a “shell” philosophy that allows a thousand flowers to bloom. Rather, liberalism is constituted by a substantive set of philosophical commitments that are deeply contrary to the basic beliefs of Catholicism, among which (Catholics hold) are the belief that we are by nature relational, social and political creatures; that social units like the family, community and Church are “natural,” not merely the result of individuals contracting temporary arrangements; that liberty is not a condition in which we experience the absence of constraint, but the exercise of self-limitation; and that both the “social” realm and the economic realm must be governed by a thick set of moral norms, above all, self-limitation and virtue.

A clever quip with a deal of truth:

In the 1930s, fellow travelers of the Bolsheviks tried to take the sting out of communism by referring to it as “liberalism in a hurry.” Decades later, the conservative writer Joe Sobran quipped, “If communism was liberalism in a hurry, liberalism is communism in slow motion.”

Any totalitarian system is ultimately evil:

The power of both communism and liberal democracy is that the people inside each system cannot conceive of any better way of organizing society. That is, they are acculturated according to the system’s totalizing values, such that any deviation from the progress promised by the system is seen as an impermissible deviation — impermissible because it makes things worse.

The communist would say: if communism is rejected or prevented, then society will continue to be subjected to class exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, and fascism. The liberal democrats would say: if liberal democracy is not accepted, then society will fall prey to authoritarianism, fascism, and theocracy.

hat-tip Stephen Neil