The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

The Common Enemy of Authoritarianism

The right-wing joke, Conservapedia, claims the so-called homosexual “agenda is a self-centered set of beliefs and objectives” and among “all the liberal belief systems…the most self-centered or selfish.”

The antigay Family Research Institute claims “the very existence of our society depends upon each individual contributing to the survival and well-being of all” and lead productive lives, which means they “brought children into the world to replenish the community.” They claim homosexuals — they can’t bring themselves to say gay — are “selfish and irresponsible” and “self-indulgent.” They claim gay people are “inimical to the well-being and even the survival of the community.” According to them “their selfish preoccupation” means they “rebel against the natural order of human life itself — the mutual responsibility of one for all that forms the basis of the social contract.”

Alan Keyes, the fundamentalist perennial Republican candidate, claimed because gay relationships don’t produce children they are “selfish, that is oriented towards oneself; hedonism, which is the pursuit of pleasure.” He is unable to conceive of a loving relationship where a couple is happy being together, for him it is merely the pursuit of pleasure — not the pursuit of happiness.

As for Pope Francis, the supposed “tolerant” pope, he labeled today’s generation “the greedy generation” and said “The choice not to have children is selfish.” The more-Catholic-than-the-pope Acton Institute published a piece by Anthony Bradley who was quite upset about modern sins.

He noted the decline of religious fervor among the young, especially among men, and said if men give up religion—women don’t count for much in their circles—we will “reap the consequences of high numbers of male Nones.” Among these sins were “strip clubs, more misogynistic rap music ), more adulterty and divorce, more broken sexuality, more fatherlessness, more corruption in government and business, more individualism, and more loneliness.”

Another Acton “Adjunct Scholar,” E. Calvin Beisner openly called for a rather authoritarian theocracy: “In enforcing the Seventh Commandment, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ government properly prohibits rape, incest, and other sexual relations outside marriage and protects the sanctity of the family. In economic application, this means government may properly use its coercive power to prohibit and punish prostitution, the production and distribution of pornography… Laws restricting divorce also fall under this commandment.”

In a bizarre example of Orwellian logic, Acton claims less religion leads to more government even as they are arguing for an vastly larger state regulating the most private aspects of people’s lives.

How does any of this differ from every collectivist doctrine that has been preached by socialists, communists, national socialists, fascists and those of similar ilk? In each case they have damned “selfish” individuals seeking their own happiness and demanded they live for the sake of the collective, or the state, or the race, or the people — but NEVER for themselves.

Compare the rhetoric.

“The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and for the good of all.” That’s from the Nazi party platform, 1920.

“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole…that above all the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual….This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture…. The basic attitude form which such activity arises, we call — to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness — idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.” That’s from a speech by Hitler in 1933.

Fascist theorist Alfredo Rocco attacked classical liberalism because it made the rights of the individual central to it’s beliefs. “For Liberalism, the individual is the end and society the means; nor is it conceivable that the individual, considered in the dignity of an ulitmate finality, be lowered to mere instrumentality. For Fascism, society is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends. Mussolini argued, “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”

He also said, “Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State … It is opposed to Classical Liberalism … Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual.”

In each case authoritarians of varying stripes see individuals, not as ends in themselves, but as a means to another end. They are breeding stock, living for the sake of the collective, not for the pursuit of their own happiness. And to sacrifice the lives of these “individuals,” when you assert the collective is at risk, is unimportant. Once you can kill individuals you can slaughter dozens, hundreds, thousands and move on to open genocide. It doesn’t matter if you’re Mao, Hitler or Putin, the individual is nothing.

Ayn Rand defined collectivism as the “subjugation of the individual to a group — whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called ‘the common good.’” She also noted this concept of collectivism can only be implemented “by means of brute force — and statism has always been the political corollary of collectivism.”

How can anyone still preach conservatives are allies of liberty? Their rhetoric is the rhetoric of the mass killers and the tyrants of history. This is particularly true today.


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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.