Liberalism And Evil

Excerpts from David Solway's essay titled above.


Neville Chamberlain

THE SERIOUS ANTIDOTE TO LIBERALISM is not, as many writers and thinkers of the past have argued, authoritative control, but political humility—the conservative recognition that the world is insolubly complex, that topdown intervention in the social, political and economic life of the nation is often counterproductive, and that one must not attribute to one’s fellow man, and especially to one’s enemies, an a priori commitment to communal benefit or reasonable accommodation.

Broadly speaking, the conservative project is what is known in philosophy as an “axiological” ethic, in which the determination of the rightness of an action is contingent upon the value or goodness of that action as embodied in results, however deferred. It is concerned with consequences. The liberal ethic on the other hand is “deontological,” that is, it holds that an action may be considered right if it conforms to a prior set of values even if it does not bring as much good into the world as some alternative action may have. It is concerned with motives.

This is why “the liberal mind” seems incapable of learning from past mistakes or failed initiatives, why predictions that have not come to pass do not prevent it from making similar predictions in the future, and why the spirit of Neville Chamberlain crops up in every generation. From its perspective, the hurdle to peace and understanding is the result of miscommunication. The liberal-left has taken aboard wholesale the trendy theories of one its most revered mentors, German social philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who argued, under the lemmas of “communicative action” and “explicative discourses,” that world conflicts stem from poor communication modes. Accordingly, the generic Left says talk, unperturbed by the fact that its enemies say fire!

One thinks, in this connection, of the film Cool Hand Luke where the naïve protagonist tells his pursuers, “What we got here is a failure to communicate,” and is immediately shot.

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