Behind all the Liberal hoo-haw celebrating individual autonomy, choice, moral relativism, and atheism, there stands a deontology (and a rigorous one at that) and a corresponding theology. This theology dares not speak its name, nor the name of the God it worships, but it can clearly be seen at work in the discourses and practices of Liberalism if you look at them closely enough. And it turns out, under the microscope, that Liberalism isn’t quite as Liberal as it likes to make itself out to be. This is the subject I wrote about in my latest article for Thermidor Magazine. Check it out…

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8 thoughts on “Liberalism: The God with no Name

  1. The use von Mises quote seems intentionally malicious. Don’t take it out of context, von Mises speaks of human action as a statement of fact, independed of time, and place. Men always act in accordance with what they value, it cannot be denied, it’s always true. For example “human desire” he speaks of can just as well be achieving salvation. An ascete that retreats to desert in pursuits of venerability and perfection has attached the highest value to venerability and perfection. The fact that he chose to pursue perfection above doing other things proves that he values pursuit of perfection above any other thing – his actions speak for him!

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    1. Of course, this does not mean that von Mises is beyond critique. There are many things to critique him for, yes one is his utilitarianism, then his liberalism, his Kantism, his naïveté with regards to sovereignty, and of course, his support for the Girondins. Still, considering that he spent his life shunned and ostracized by powers that be and the establishment, a lone voice crying in the wilderness, and that he allied himself with reactionaries when the push came to shove in Austria, he probably isn’t a good example of a destructive liberal intellectual (unlike those Johns).

      Reactionaries, of course, find first-generation Austrian economists more likeable, because they weren’t classical liberals, nor libertarians. Von Wieser’s “Law of Power” makes Carlyle look like a lukewarm liberal in comparison.

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    2. Nothing against Mises personally. I’m actually a big fan, and in the past I have recommended Human Action (notwithstanding its many serious defects) to people as an accessible way to gain exposure to the subject of foundations in social theory. The passage quoted was simply the most vivid example I could think of a type of thinking that is much bigger and older than Mises. I agree that it is scientifically useful (within limits). On the other hand, the historical appearance of the strictly scientific concept is inseparable from, and absolutely dependent upon, the rise of the wider Liberal worldview I analyze in the article.

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      1. > On the other hand, the historical appearance of the strictly scientific concept is inseparable from, and absolutely dependent upon, the rise of the wider Liberal worldview I analyze in the article.

        Yes it is very unfortunate. The economic concepts were discovered by the Scolastics, who were shunned by the Enlightenment thinkers… so economics had to be purged from any and all content that sounded “unscientific”, or “religious”. Austrian economics hasn’t managed to shake off its Scholastic roots however, which is why it is commonly attacked as being “unscientific” by positivist, mainstream economists, indeed even the name “Austrian” was derogatory, implying thatit was “feudal” and “backward”.

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  2. “An ascete that retreats to desert in pursuits of venerability and perfection has attached the highest value to venerability and perfection.”

    In general, I understand what you are saying. But, in the specific, it can (not always) break down. The ascete has perhaps retreated to the desert in pursuits of venerability and perfection because he has learned that these things will help him achieve something else, a something else with a higher value. We can’t always deduce the ultimate goal just by looking at someone’s current or future choices.

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    1. Time is a dimension of utmost importance here. In a more materialistic example, I may value a car more than money, so I work to earn money, to buy a car. However, when we analyze my action at the given moment when I chose to go to work, we infer that, at the given moment, I value work, that is, earning money the most, or else I would be doing something else at the given moment. The end towards which I act, of course, remains. The example was merely to show that values needn’t be attached to hedonistic stuff. In the Middle Ages, when peoples’ end was salvation, and people acted towards that end, high value was attached to anything that would help people achieve that end, thus people would donate large sums of money to the church, pay whatever it takes to get their hands on some relic, etc. etc.

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  3. This recording is completely unique on the internet. You have to listen to it:

    No one should have to fight to be heard when they advocate for the welfare of children in our churches. There are powerful forces in our society arrayed against men holding women accountable when they mistreat children.

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