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The Ordered Road to Freedom

Published in Blog on April 24, 2024 by Jakob Fay

One year ago, Mark Meckler and I penned an op-ed for The Epoch Times titled “The Transgressive Road to Slavery,” in which we posited that left-wing America’s “transgressive” bent, couched in great swelling words about “freedom” and “liberty,” insidiously threatens to enslave us. But that was only half of the equation; if transgression paves the road to servitude, as we believe it does, how can we reverse that trend in America and set us back on a better path? Here, I endeavor to answer that timely question.

“When authenticity is god,” Mark and I wrote, “transgression is a necessary sacrament…. Personal autonomy has [become] unmoored from reality, and now we’re free to pursue authenticity at the expense of tradition and order.”

We argued that liberal modernity’s obsession with indulgence, heterodoxy, and boundary-breaking is leading us down a path of animalism and slavery, not unlike Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” In Huxley’s vision of dystopia, while the citizens of the World State are technically enslaved, they are too sated with sex, drugs, and pleasure—or, as Christopher Hitchens put it, too “painless, amusement-sodden, and stress-free”—to care.

Also, in this chaotic but comfortable society, religion and God are strictly forbidden. After all, as one character describes, “If you allowed yourselves to think of God, you wouldn’t allow yourselves to be degraded by pleasant vices…. If you had a God, you’d have a reason for self-denial…. You’d have a reason for chastity!”

SEE ALSO: National Day of Prayer in Kingston, MA

Clearly, Huxley—despite being personally agnostic—is cautioning against the horrors ripe in a post-religious society (but then again, how horrible is it really if everyone is “free” to do whatever they want?); he’s describing what we have called the transgressive road to slavery. Remember, our path toward societal decay and collapse very well may be pleasurable—with unlimited sex, boundless expressive individualism, the list goes on—but it ends in destruction, all the same.

What, then, is the antidote to the chaos of transgressive liberalism? Order. More God, religion, and orthodoxy. More discipline, restraint, responsibility, and self-governance.

“Order” is a scary word, and rightfully so. Tyrants are obsessed with order. The Nazi-like Valin Hess, an Imperial general from “Star Wars,” perfectly described fascism's great delusion (and pretext) when he said, “Everybody thinks they want freedom, but what they really want is order.” The idea is that order and freedom are mutually exclusive; that order destroys the latter. In some cases, this certainly is true.

But what if order is also a necessary building block for the survival of freedom? Think of it this way: what’s the alternative to a well-ordered society? A chaotic one? Surely, freedom cannot survive in such an environment, either.

There is a growing misconception that conservatives are anti-rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conservatives are interested in who makes the rules. When rules are enacted by top-down bureaucrats or despotic feds, they can quickly become dangerous. But rules in and of themselves are not a bad thing.

Ironically, the same left that proposes licentiousness on the local level also tends to be almost illiberal on the federal. Conservatives propose the exact opposite: libertarian laxity on the federal level (meaning the federal government should stay out of our personal lives) but an ethical, rules- and tradition-based ordering of society more parochially. It’s not a matter of whether conservatives will submit to rules or not; it’s a matter of who decides what rules they submit to. They rightly tend to be suspicious of federal regulation yet are usually more than happy to submit themselves to regulatory religions and religious communities. Transgressives, on the other hand, while propping up a government nanny state, have a serious problem with following rules, period.

As conservatives, we must learn the difference between civil disobedience and moral anarchy; rebellion to tyrants and lawlessness. We must learn to prize our independence without wielding it against all authority. When authority falls, chaos ensues. And tyranny is almost always born out of chaos. It is for this reason that Alexis de Tocqueville warned that democracy, particularly democratic individualism—which inevitably turns on authority—is often its own greatest undoer.

SEE ALSO: Tocqueville on the deceptive nature of tyranny

Sociologist Robert Bellah, author of “Habits of the Heart,”
agreed with Tocqueville, noting that  “today it is ‘intolerable’ to compel the individual to defer uncritically to the authority of others. He or she should be free to live however he or she thinks best. All assertions of the existence of a common moral authority in matters of personal morality, for example, in matters concerning sex and family, are manifestations of ‘authoritarianism.’”

Both Tocqueville and Bellah agreed that this “destruction of authority” would prove fatal. Even as democracy plants the seeds for the destruction of authority, the destruction of authority plants the seeds for the destruction of democracy. This is the fundamental struggle at the heart of every free society.

Limited government cannot compel us to do that which is necessary for its own survival. If it tried, freedom would be lost. But if we stopped—and who’s to say that we won’t?—freedom would still be lost. Everything hinges on us doing the right things and for the right reasons. Founding Father John Adams said as much when he warned, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, and revenge… would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”

“Our Constitution,” he believed, “was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In many ways, true freedom is like a dance. Everyone must play their choreographed part, uncompelled and of their own accord. We must discipline ourselves, start families, raise kids responsibly, prioritize religion, emphasize fitness, embrace patriotism, sacrifice, and servant leadership, restore masculinity and femininity, and return to God and virtue—not because the government makes us, but because all of Western Civilization depends on it. Our path forward—our path out of chaos and into freedom—is along the fine line between obsessive, top-heavy authority and liberal anarchy. We everyday people must learn to order society, or surely, the government will do it for us.

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