Postmodern Conservative

More Legutko

Here’s a little more from Ryszard Legutko’s just-released-in-English The Demon in Democracy:  Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies.  

…liberal democracy has become an all-permeating system.  There is no, or in any case, cannot be, any segment of reality that would be arguably and acceptably non-liberal democratic.  Whatever happens in school must follow the same pattern in politics, in politics the same pattern as in art, and in art the same pattern as in economy:  the same problems, the same mechanisms, the same type of thinking, the same language, the same habits. (22)

As Blur put it back in the 90s: We wear the same clothes, ‘cause we feel the same…, or as Mark Judge asks in a recent Acculturated piece also about Legutko’s book (reprinted today on the NRO main page), “Is Contemporary Liberalism Creating a Souless Monoculture?”  

Of course it is.  And I like that title, so much that I think it will shape my new term of choice for my most direct political adversaries, whom I may henceforth begin referring to as monoculturalist progressivesProgressive is too complimentary, liberal is becoming increasingly absurd, except for those—call them old-school liberals–who actually stand up for the things the ACLU used to, and a more aggressive label like, say, despotic democrats or totalitarian progressives is premature.  Anyhow, back to Legutko, whose term of choice, liberal-democratic, cannot but be a bit awkward for most American conservatives.

Both sides—communist and liberal-democratic—share their dislike, sometimes bordering on hatred, toward the same enemies:  the Church and religion, the nation, classical metaphysics, moral conservatism, and the family.  Both are unable to mitigate their arrogance toward everything that their ideology despises, and which, in their revolutionary ardor, they seek to remove from the public space and from private lives.  Both are fixated on one or two things they refer to ad nauseam because those things delineate the unbreachable boundaries of their mental horizon.  In every sentence from the Leninist and Stalinist catechisms one can replace “proletariat” with “women” or with “homosexuals,” make few other minor adjustments, and no one will recognize the original source. (138)

It is true that both [elites]—those in the communist countries and those throughout the Western world after the demise of communism—were and still are quite frequently an object of jokes, and the latter case are still evoking, feelings of fear or at least a sense of the clear message that opposing these people is not safe.  [emphasis added]  Finally, both sides had spectacular victories among the intellectual and artistic elite; this is particularly puzzling because one would think that the people endowed with artistic and intellectual talents would be the first to reject with contempt something whose repulsive primitivism only persons with serious mental deficiencies could miss. (139)

That is not too strong.  The fear of offending liberal-democratic elites is spreading everywhere, and the cowardice of our artists and intellectuals in the face of these linguistic primitives is becoming one of the great disgraces of our era.  So, the totalitarian moments of modern democracy really are becoming more and more frequent, but I still think we need to use the term totalitarian with care.  “Totalitarian temptations” is an example of the right way to do it.  That is, the time has come to sound more serious alarms about the trajectory of the monoculturalist progressive statists, but we do need to get the tone right before we pump the volume.  America’s Trump-fiasco is in part the result of premature alarms being sounded, and tunelessly.  Real prepping for the struggles to come involves reading men like Legutko, and learning to employ language with the needed precision and tactical acumen.

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