MAHON: Why don’t people care about the loss of individual liberty?

BY: ANDREW MAHON

We hear so much about minorities these days. But, as Ayn Rand put it, the smallest minority of all is the individual, and individual freedom is now being suppressed to a degree most of us have never experienced in our lives.

Christianity places a strong emphasis on the individual. This is derived from the Judeo-Christian idea that man is made in the image of God, and every person is therefore of equal, infinite value. 

Christianity also emphasises the family and the community – groups comprised of individuals living out the exhortation to love one another. And then Christianity extends that exhortation to an especial love of the poor, the oppressed and even of one’s enemies. But the value of the individual comes first. 

The Founding Fathers of the United States thought that it was self-evident that all men are created equal. It isn’t. The central idea underpinning all liberal democracies rests squarely upon a revealed axiom: man is divine. Take that away, and there can be no freedom.

Human beings can only be treated equally when they are regarded as having equal value and dignity as individuals. But when we lose sight of the value of the individual, we can then only regard people as members of groups, and that is the point at which a society begins to lose its way. 

The Nazis did this and tried to push already marginalised groups, such as Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals, further to the margins, eventually resolving to remove them from the face of the earth altogether. Like a massive clean-up job to establish the permanent dominance of one group over all others. Nazism was a neopagan rejection of Christianity in that there was no pretence to equality of the individual or even of the groups. Some groups (white, Aryan) were deemed inherently superior to others (Semitic, black). If that’s your axiom, there’s only ever going to be one final solution.

Communism, on the other hand, isn’t so much an outright rejection of Christian ideas, as a perversion of them. It’s like Christianity with a missing piece. Communists do not claim to act on behalf of an inherently superior group like the Nazis did, but on behalf of an historically oppressed group. The axiom upon which communism is built is that there is a zero-sum game of wealth distribution – the rich have what they have solely at the expense of the poor. This obviously false premise (that wealth is finite) lies unquestioned at the bottom of the communist ideology, which proceeds to advocate an overthrowing of the oppressor group in the name of the oppressed (as if there were no other plausible solution). 

Thence, utopia. Communism is Christian in that it claims to defend the poor, lift up the oppressed and work towards equality. But it is unchristian in that in order to achieve its goals, it necessarily treats people unequally as individuals, thereby denying their inherent value and dignity. Whatever is Christian in the communist agenda is only achieved by state force rather than by individual charity. That is why, in the name of this communist ideal of equal wealth distribution, individuals in the Soviet Union could be treated with a cruelty unimaginable to those who have always known liberty.

But in the West, where communism has never been able to take root in its traditional form, the philosophy of post-modernism augmented the basic Marxist structure, extending the falsehood of the zero-sum game to different types of oppression. 

Critical theory emerged out of post-modernism, which, in its different forms, stipulates that blacks, women, gays, trans are all distinct oppressed groups, which are held back, underrepresented, or marginalised, solely because of their white, male, straight, cis fellows. It pits certain of society’s groups against each other as a starting point, falsely assuming the finitude of opportunity and success, and positing only one destructive solution.

Once this idea is accepted, the revealed axiom at the bottom of Western society is displaced. The primary goal of society becomes to eliminate perceived disparity and oppression, not to value the individual, which, on the traditional view, presents the only possible path to the elimination of disparity and oppression – the living out of Christian charity. The missing piece turns out to be vital.

In 2020, a public health crisis came along, and governments jumped immediately to the removal of liberty as the solution, offering no cost/benefit analysis and no scientific proof as justification, dismissing other solutions out of hand. Nobody seemed much to mind that liberty was removed, that the presumption of liberty was entirely ignored, or that the power of the state was consolidated in the hands of a few government ministers and their advisers.

Then George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, which, through the lens of critical race theory, illustrated and proved the systemic oppression of people of colour by the white establishment, and protests ensued all over the Western world. Any protests against state removal of personal liberty were quashed with disproportionate force from the police, but these Black Lives Matter protests about the structural imbalance of groups in society were permitted and even encouraged to proceed.

People, businesses and governments unquestioningly accepted Black Lives Matter’s message – a message predicated on the communist/post-modernist lie of the zero-sum game. Police, politicians and priests knelt in deference to the mob. In so doing they forfeited the foundational truth of democracy – that we are not merely members of groups competing in a zero-sum game, but are individuals, made in the image of God, of infinite, equal, absolute value. 

The coinciding of these two seemingly unrelated phenomena heralds nothing less than the gestation of a totalitarian neocommunist society. The rebalancing of groups that critical race theory calls for can only be accomplished by an authoritarian government. Authoritarian government can only be accomplished by a removal of individual liberty. And a continuing public health crisis provides the ideal conditions under which liberty can be removed. The perpetual prospect of future crises will ensure liberty does not return.

Charity can only come from a free individual – in other words, without liberty, there can be no love, and therefore no communities bound together by love. But the primary value of the individual has now been removed from its position at the foundation of Western society. Western society will collapse without it. Under the tenets of critical theory, that will be a good thing. The new authoritarianism will restructure society and a loveless utopia will be achieved. In the post-Christian West, far too many people can’t see this as anything but progress.

Those who still value the individual and love liberty will be increasingly marginalized, their protests ignored, their voices silenced. Their very existence will be seen as nothing but a stubborn threat to utopian progress. For, if the individual is not valued, liberty is no longer comprehensible. And that is why people don’t care about the loss of liberty. They can’t understand what it is.

Andrew Mahon is a writer based in London, England. He has written for the Post Millennial, the Daily Wire, the Conservative Woman, the Spectator and others.

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