Stages of the same deviation

[…] when a few people have become conscious of the disorder of these days [...] and when these people try to 'react’ in one way or another, the best means for making their desire for ‘reaction' ineffective is surely to direct it toward one of the earlier and less 'advanced’ stages of the same deviation, some stage in which disorder had not yet become so apparent, and was as it here presented under an outward aspect more acceptable to anyone not yet completely blinded by certain suggestions.

Anyone who considers himself a 'traditionalist' must normally declare himself ‘anti-modern', but he may not be any the less affected, though he be unaware of the fact, by modern ideas in a more or less attenuated form; they are then less easily detected, but they always correspond in fact to one or another of the stages passed through by these same ideas in the course of their development; no concession, even unconscious or involuntary, is admissible on this point, for from the very beginning up to the present day, and beyond that too, everything holds together and is inexorably interlinked.

In that connection, this much more must be said: the work that has as its object to prevent all ‘reaction' from aiming at anything further back than a return to a lesser disorder, while at the same time concealing the character of the lesser disorder so that it may pass as ‘order', fits in very exactly with the other work carried out with a view to securing the penetration of the modern spirit into the interior of whatever is left of traditional organizations of any kind in the West; the same ‘neutralizing’ effect on forces of which the opposition might become formidable is obtained in both cases.

Moreover, something more than mere ‘neutralization' is involved, for a struggle must necessarily take place between the elements thus brought together as it were on the same level and on the same ground, and their reciprocal enmity is therefore no more than an enmity between the various and apparently opposed productions of one and the same modern deviation; thus the final result can only be a fresh increase in disorder and confusion, which simply amounts to one more step toward final dissolution.

As between all the more or less incoherent things that are today in constant agitation and mutual collision, as between all external ‘movements’ of whatever kind they may be, there is no occasion to ‘take sides’, to use the common expression, whether from a traditional or from a merely 'traditionalist’ point of view, for to do so is to become a dupe. Since the same influences are really operating behind all these things, it is really playing their game to join in the struggles promoted and directed by them; therefore the mere fact of ‘taking sides’ under such conditions is necessarily to adopt, however unwittingly, a truly anti-traditional attitude.

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p.212-4

Accepting the premise that there is an underlying symbiotic relationship between right- and left-liberalism would undermine the deepest commitments of the various sides - in spite of the diurnal spectacle of highly contested politics - to what is ultimately the same project.

[…] what is bemoaned by the right is due not to the left but to the consequences of its own deepest commitments, especially to liberal economics. And […] what is bemoaned by the left is due not to the right but to the consequences of its own deepest commitments, especially to the dissolution of social norms, particularly those regarding sexual behavior and identity.

The "wedding” between global corporations and this sexual agenda is one of the most revealing yet widely ignored manifestations of this deeper synergy.

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.xxi

Early-modern liberalism held the view that human nature was unchangeable - human beings were, by nature, self-interested creatures whose base impulses could be harnessed but not fundamentally altered.

But this self-interested, possessive aspect of our nature could, if usefully harnessed, promote an economic and scientific system that increased human freedom through the capacity of human beings to exert mastery over natural phenomena.

The second wave of this revolution begins as an explicit criticism of this view of humanity. Thinkers ranging from Rousseau to Marx, from Mill to Dewey, and from Richard Rorty to contemporary “transhumanists” reject the idea that human nature is fixed. They adopt the first-wave theorists' idea that nature is subject to human conquest and apply it to human nature itself.

First wave liberals are today represented by “conservatives,” who stress the need for scientific and economic mastery of nature but stop short of extending this project to human nature. They support any utilitarian use of the world for economic ends but oppose most forms of biotechnological “enhancement.”

Second-wave liberals increasingly approve nearly any technical means of liberating humans from the biological nature of our own bodies.

Today's political debates occur largely and almost exclusively between these two varieties of liberals. Neither side confronts the fundamentally alternative understanding of human nature and the human relationship to nature defended by the preliberal tradition.

Today's classical liberals and progressive liberals remain locked in a battle for their preferred end game—whether we will be a society of ever more perfectly liberated, autonomous individuals or ever more egalitarian members of the global “community”—but while this debate continues apace, the two sides agree on their end while absorbing our attention in disputes over the means, thus combining in a pincer movement to destroy the vestiges of the classical practices and virtues that they both despise.

Liberalism is thus not merely, as is often portrayed, a narrowly political project of constitutional government and juridical defense of rights. Rather, it seeks to transform all of human life and the world. Its two revolutions - its anthropological individualism and the voluntarist conception of choice, and its insistence on the human separation from and opposition to nature - created its distinctive and new understanding of liberty as the most extensive possible expansion of the human sphere of autonomous activity.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.36-7, 62

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