2016 December 06 Tuesday
Liberal Manifest Destiny Not Happening

I've been reading a lot of books and articles to understand why, in academia and mainstream media, the West is going so wrong. In academia the lunatics are increasingly in charge. Also, in foreign policy the elites are pushing liberal universalism in spite of running up against increasing resistance. Elite promoters of the spread of liberalism (e.g. George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton) refuse to process and learn from the last 20 years of consequences from US interventions. Parenthetically, what's a bit strange about the push for liberal universalism at the global level is the extent to which this is happening while the cultural left in America are increasingly against free speech, reason, and truth.

Some secular liberals think there is a single right set of liberal values that everyone in the world will some day embrace. Some call this liberal universalism. But my favorite phrase to describe this is liberal manifest destiny. It seems to capture the idea better. In the 19th century manifest destiny was the idea that the USA was destined to rule north America coast-to-coast. This was a triumphant, expansionist, and justifiably confident view of America since its advocates actually won. Today's liberals and progressives believe their values are destined to sweep the world and the more hawkish among them (e.g. George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton) willing to use military force to achieve their manifest destiny.

The problem is that today's liberal manifest destiny is not so destined to succeed. Liberalism even seems to be going into retreat for a number of reasons including varying degrees of rejection of liberalism by other civilizations, most notably the Islamic realm. Samuel Huntington, in his Clash Of Civilizations, argued that liberal universalism was a cause of conflict between the major world civilizations because liberalism isn't really universal in appeal. I agree with that view.

Huntington points to China and the Islamic countries as the two civilizations which are most willing to resist Western civilization. As the US and Western countries have intervened in Islamic countries the resistance to the the West has grown and taken a number of forms including terrorism. Liberals and progressives are having a hard time trying to reconcile their universalism with the demands and anger of Muslims. The most left-leaning see all of the world in terms of who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed. Many of them have tried to Islam fit within their belief system by painting Muslims as the oppressed. This allows them to claim that morally inferior oppressors in the West are to blame for why Muslims are unhappy with the West. This view demonstrates a failure to understand the extent of incompatibilities between civilizations and the intractable nature of these incompatibilities. Here is an essay on this topic: Islam is the rock on which the liberal order broke?

THIS challenge proved most difficult for Western liberalism to process; large numbers (probably clear majorities) of Muslims simply did not accept the most fundamental assumptions of the post-enlightenment Western worldview. This was such an alien thought (especially to those on the Left side of the liberal spectrum) that it was repeatedly obfuscated under other categories ("poverty" , "colonialism", etc). For this resistance exposed and undermined the universal validity of the whole liberal project. And it continues to do so. And as these events multiply, they evoke rethinking in other groups. The emperor can start looking ragged, if not completely naked.

This rejection of liberalism outside of the West (and by immigrants from other civilizations) is happening while at the same time classical liberalism is under an escalating attack by postmodernists within the West. These postmoderns hold a number of other values above free speech and truth seeking. The "Safe Spaces" postmoderns in universities - and increasingly in other institutions - are attacking free speech and free thought and the unrestricted search for truth. See this video: "Two incompatible sacred values in American universities" Jon Haidt, Hayek Lecture Series

For another excellent discussion of what's going wrong with the Left and academia see: Joe Rogan Experience #877 - Jordan Peterson

It is a long discussion but worth your time.

Why has the Left gotten so crazy with safe spaces, microaggressions, and political correctness? Are they aware they do not make sense? Razib Khan argues they know they aren't making sense but see their absurd arguments as boosting their power and increasing their odds of victory. The cultural Left do not pretend to be liberal any more and we are watching The Ending of the Liberal Interregnum. This makes the use of the term "liberal" problematic. With a rising fraction of the Left no longer like 20th century welfare state liberals, let alone like 19th century classical liberals, terms like cultural Left and cultural Marxism seem potentially useful. Also, progressives as a separate sort of creature from liberals also seems to make more sense.

The failure of communist economic systems and the growing success of capitalism damaged the Left's faith in their own Marxist manifest destiny. But they did not want to just give up. So they shifted tactics and strategy. With reason no longer on their side they responded by attacking the Enlightenment and reason. They promoted philosophers who attacked the Enlightenment. Political correctness is a manifestation of this, an attempt to assert power by defining what is morally legitimate to say and therefore control which policy options are morally legitimate.

Academics who are anti-enlightenment and anti-Western have grown in number and conquered whole departments and disciplines. The left-leaning professors who value open debate and truth have been put very much on the defensive. These increasingly archaic liberals on the Left fear speaking honestly to students and to present thinking that contradicts assorted progressive doctrines. Democracy-supporting liberals are faced with losses on that front as well. Support for democracy is declining globally. Also, countries that are democracies go thru periods of declining support of democracy before they cease to be democratic.

Some of liberals are trying to organize a defense of truth-seeking, viewpoint diversity, open debate, and free speech. See Heterodox Academy as a notable attempt. I think they are fighting a losing cause because their opponents are more numerous and far more dedicated to winning than to truth. The truth seekers probably need to surrender some universities and cluster in a smaller number of other universities where they could possibly establish an academic majority against postmodern progressive intellectual thugs.

You can see how absurd academia has gotten under the postmoderns by following RealPeerReview on Twitter.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2016 December 06 08:12 PM 

wcubed said at December 7, 2016 11:38 AM:

There are 4 road blocks to Liberal Manifest Destiny / End of History

1) socio culturally --- Never-Liberal Identity --> as Huntington et. al. point out, for many cultures (Islam most directly), "liberalization" is synonymous with "Westernization" and thus there's a hefty bit of "identity" to be given up. And modern, western elite political culture being what it is, identity trumps ideology
2) socio politically --- Public Choice Economics --> It's Moldbuggian, but PCE is an inherent democratic flaw. Ever expanding direct expenditure, indirect regs & expenditure (Obamacare) with costs pushed onto our children via debt and a dwindling population of net-tax-payers who can/will one day stash assets en masse.
3) socio biologically --- r vs. k reproduction --> pre-globalization, R's were left to their own devices (largely)... now K's bail 'em out to K's own long term detriment.
4) economically -- production vs. consumption --> when consumption grows as fast as production, there's net employment. When production grows much faster (the Internet, robotics, AI, etc. ) then 1 Amazon replaces 1000s of retail chains, 100K's of storefronts & M's of retail clerks to sell products to 100M's of consumers (for ex.)

Get your bunkers ready.

Jim said at December 8, 2016 2:10 PM:

What would happen if public funding of the humanities were cut way back? Public universities would cease to have departments of sociology, philosophy, etc. Government funding for college education would be limited to subjects of economic value mainly STEM or business subjects. Apparently China is proceeding along these lines. The Chinese government may have seen the disastrous influence of academic intellectuals on the West and wants to prevent such a class of drones developing in Chinese society.

Dain said at December 13, 2016 1:34 PM:

Old school liberal Wendy Kaminer wrote a depressing take on trends in free speech for Spiked in July: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/how-campus-censorship-is-conquering-the-world-free-speech/18586#.WFBohKIrI_U

"Old-fashioned liberals and civil libertarians do strongly contest this view of censorship as a civil right, but they seem a dwindling, ageing minority unlikely architects of the future. In providing constitutional protection to allegedly hateful speech, the US is an outlier among Western nations. You have to wonder how long it will remain one."

chris said at December 13, 2016 10:02 PM:

"Some of liberals are trying to organize a defense of truth-seeking, viewpoint diversity, open debate, and free speech. See Heterodox Academy as a notable attempt. I think they are fighting a losing cause because their opponents are more numerous and far more dedicated to winning than to truth."

That's what these liberals need to understand and adopt themselves. Being true means squat if you are not in power. In the end, you will just be the truthful loser, and no one will believe you because the vast swaths of the populace believe people based on credibility, as they do not have the knowledge or intelligence to discern what is truth by reason and evidence themselves. And credibility is more subject to power than intellectual honesty. These liberals need to become more focussed on obtaining and maintaining power to counter the left. The only thing that can stop the authoritarian left is an authoritarian counter movement. Hence why Fascism emerged as a reaction to 20th century Bolshevism.

Jim said at December 15, 2016 7:53 AM:

Chris - You're probably right about that. The future probably will involve intense conflict between different groups. For much of this conflict the traditional Western distinction between left and right may not be very relevant. For example Islam may prove much more successful at gaining power than Marxism. And just as there is violent conflict between different sects within Islam both the "left" and the "right" will split into many different subgroups often in violent conflict with each other. We will be living in "interesting times". Sorta like present day Venezuela. Only probably worst.

Wolf-Dog said at December 21, 2016 9:13 PM:

Had the elections of this year taken place in 2026, Hillary would have won even in the Electoral College system because the younger generation that is growing up now is much more leftist.

Leftist politicians temporarily colluded with the business elite for two reasons:

1) By supporting not-so-free trade agreements that favored Asian manufacturers, the leftist American politicians consciously caused millions of American jobs to disappear, and with the resulting poverty the majority became more dependent on the big government, exactly as the leftist politicians planned. This scheme worked extremely well, but the only thing that went wrong for the left is that the displaced middle aged and older workers revolted before the more indoctrinated younger voters grew up to give the absolute majority to the leftist politicians.

2) I admit this is more true in Europe than in the United States, but even in the US the leftist politicians insisted on a policy of immigration that favors bringing in new groups that will be loyal voters for the left, even if the new generation of immigrants are not interested in assimilating as in the previous generation of immigrants who were very eager to assimilate to the point of losing all their heritage. The conservative business elites cooperated with the left because of the short term profits that would have materialized due to the steady supply of cheap labor and growing consumption.

Wolf-Dog said at December 21, 2016 9:21 PM:

In any case, both 1) and 2) above are unsustainable. Regardless of who won the elections in 2016, the problems would (and perhaps still will) grow to catastrophic levels.

William Vadi said at December 23, 2016 12:47 PM:

"Some secular liberals think there is a single right set of liberal values that everyone in the world will some day embrace."
There will be. Today we have the phenomenon of globalization and that can very well enable it.

"Huntington points to China and the Islamic countries as the two civilizations which are most willing to resist Western civilization."
Yes, and there are also Western regions strongly opposed to the so called "Western" civilization, like great portions of Latin America.

Well, if the US and Western countries have intervened in Islamic countries it is only a consecuence that practically everybody but us sees all of the world in terms of who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed. Besides, it's not only Muslims who are unhappy with the West (to say the least). It's more like the rest of the World is unhappy with 3 or four powerful Western countries. Noam Chomsky enlightens us comprehensively about it.

Jim said at December 25, 2016 9:49 AM:

William Vadi - Middle Easterners are profoundly different from Western Europeans. There will be a horrendous level of conflict between them in the future. In general the human species shows an enormous genetic variety across the world. Melanesians for example are about 6% Denisovan whereas Denisovan admixture in Amerindians is virtually zero. Humanity is not any kind of unity but consists of a great number of subspecies with very different past evolutionary histories.

Popular support for globalization is collapsing both in the US and Europe. The elites of the US and Europe have no more idea of how to respond to this collapse than the ancien regime in France knew what to do in 1789.

Jim said at December 25, 2016 9:58 AM:

William Vadi - Humanity is no kind of unity but consists of many different subspecies with very different past evolutionary histories. Western Europeans are profoundly different from Middle Easterners. The two have been in conflict for over a thousand years and bloody conflict between them in the future is inevitable. Although Northeast Asians are probably less prone to conflict with Western Europeans the two are still very different kinds of people.

Popular support for globalization is collapsing both in the US and Europe. The US and European elites are as clueless as what to do as the ancien regime in France was in 1789.

Mark Frerichs said at December 29, 2016 12:13 PM:

It's all the mess the U.S. created. Any person paying US Federal taxes is breaking the law by financing a known terrorist organization.

Here, take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqw2yUQdACs

I'm sure Randall could appreciate this man's wisdom.

Mark Frerichs said at December 29, 2016 12:48 PM:


The problem is monetary. Yes, it's all about money. When (or if) there be an equal distribution of wealth in the world you'll see how similar we all humans are. No more significant cultural differences there would be.

Do you really think Middle Easterners and Western Europeans are more "profoundly different" than blacks and whites in the US? Give me a break... Rich blacks and rich whites can get along just fine in the US, as long as everybody has enough. Just take a look at rich basketball and golf players. Race doesn't really matter, not even religion. Where have you ever seen a rich radical Muslim? Where have you ever seen a rich radical Afroamerican? Bill Cosby? Tiger Woods? Michael Jordan? Will Smith? If you say "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi", I'll say wrong again: He's just another Capitalist. Those with explosives wrapped around their chests you call "terrorists" or "radical", are just poor. That's all.

By the way, what do you mean by "subspecies"? Did you mean "races"? Because they are two very, very different things. Among different subspecies there cannot be reproduction, but among different races there can. I'll save you time: There are no "subspecies" within the homo sapiens species. Homo sapiens as a species is only 200,000 years old, which has not allowed for any significant genetic diversification yet, and our DNA is 99.99% similar.

Mark Frerichs said at December 29, 2016 1:08 PM:

"Humanity is not any kind of unity but consists of a great number of subspecies with very different past evolutionary histories."

Different evolutionary histories? And they are...?

All humans share a common ancestor, call it Hilderbergensis, Ergaster, Erectust or whatever.

Also, the term "history" has to do with the time from invention of writing or so up to this day. Think about Sumer, Babylon, Egypt as some starting points in History. (6000 - 7000 years BC more or less), that's History. The evolution of man is not History, but Prehistory. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory.

Jim said at December 29, 2016 5:11 PM:

"rich radical Muslim" - Wouldn't Osama bin Laden qualify on all counts? According to you his wealth should have meant that Osama would be just like Bill Gates. But that wasn't the case. You are nave to think that everybody is just like you except for economic circumstances. Differences between human races are extremely obvious. There are hundreds of millions of very poor people in India and China. Well over a hundred million people in India have no toilet facilities or access to public sanitation or clean water. These people are abysmally poor compared to the black residents of Detroit or Chicago but the crime rates of the black ghettos in the US are more than two orders of magnitude higher than among the poor of China who have virtually nothing.

Inability to reproduce does not necessarily define species. Tigers and lions can produce fertile offspring yet are considered different species. Domestic dogs and wolves can produce fertile offspring but are considered different species. Whether they are called races, subspecies or varieties they certainly exist among homo sapiens. Homo sapiens in fact has more genetic diversity than any other mammalian species.

You say that our genetics is "99.99% similar". But among Melanesians Denisovan introgression amounts to 6% of their genome whereas on the other hand Denisovan introgression is essentially zero in Amerindians. Your figure of "99.99%" similar is utter nonsense.

The genetic evidence indicates rapid human evolution during the last 10,000 years. Cf. "The 10,000 Years Explosion" by Cochran & Harpending.

Jim said at December 29, 2016 5:26 PM:

Frerichs - Writing wasn't developed in 6000-7000 BC. That date is too early to be talking about Sumer, Babylon, and Egyptian civilization. Agriculture was in existence then but that date is well before the Ubaid culture which was one of the earliest "proto-civilizations". Ubaid culture appeared about 5000 BC. They did not have writing so we don't know whether they spoke Sumerian. Sumerian culture is documented from about 3500 BC. Egyptian civilization begins at roughly the same time. Babylon was much later.

Jim said at December 29, 2016 5:54 PM:

Frerichs - Distinguishing between "history" and "pre-history" on the basis of writing is too artificial. For example writing only appears in Olmec civilization about two thirds of the way through it's history. To distinguish between the first two-thirds of Olmec history as "pre-history" and the last third as "history" really doesn't make any sense especially as we cannot read Olmec writing. The appearance of Olmec writing does not seem to mark any particularly strong discontinuity.

Mark Frerichs said at December 30, 2016 2:20 PM:

Wow, Jim really knows his history...

Jim, I think you should think for just a minute about what you're saying. The Olmecs are no older than 1500 b.C. It is estimated that the oldest hints of Olmec culture are around 1200 b.C. and the most recent around 400 a.C. What are you talking about "the first two-thirds of Olmec history as "pre-history"? WTF?

All I'm saying is the term "history" has to do with the time from invention of writing (or record keeping) approximately, up to this day. I never said writing was invented in 6000-7000 BC. We both know that Moses could never have written the Pentateuch, because Egyptians were still using hieroglyph.

I SAID the time and processes of the evolution of man is not considered History, but Prehistory. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory.

I SAID: Think about Sumer, Babylon, Egypt as some starting points in History. (6000 - 7000 years BC more or less), that's History.

Of course we can go on talking about the Basque People (the oldest etnic group in Europe) as being about 10,000 years old, but even that would NOT be consider Prehistory. If the word "writing" doesn't cut it for you we can call it "recorded events". That's history. There were Zigurats and there is Carbon 14 dating, etc, etc...

Now I'm willing to concede that 30,000 years ago can be called "Prehistory", yes, but even then humans were fully evolved into Homo Sapiens. So there's no evolutionary history of humanity, nor are there any "human subspecies" nowadays, as you so cheerfully believe. Anyway, What's with you? What do you really want? What point are you trying to make?

It's simple. One thing is History and another is Prehistory. Don't make up things about the Olmecs and don't make up "subspecies" in modern humans. If you're a healthy man, you can perfectly well reproduce with any healthy woman of any existing human race. Just look it up, it's not like either one of us can make much argument about that.

chris said at December 31, 2016 1:01 AM:

Subspecies can breed together, and race is often used as a synonymn for subspecies.


a taxonomic category that ranks below species, usually a fairly permanent geographically isolated race. Subspecies are designated by a Latin trinomial, e.g., (in zoology) Ursus arctos horribilis or (in botany) Beta vulgaris subsp. crassa.


Definition of history:
1:the branch of knowledge dealing with past events.


Jim said at January 1, 2017 12:24 PM:

Mark - You said that "history" begins with writing and then gave dates of 7000-6000 BC and mentioned Sumer, dynastic Egypt and Babylon. 6000 BC is way too early for writing and way before any of the civilizations you mention. Sumerian civilization and dynastic Egypt begin about 3500 BC which is also the time of the first writing. Babylon dates from about 1500 BC. Babylon is nearer in time to today than to 6000 BC.

The 6% of the Melanesian genome just due to Denisovan introgression compared with 0% Denisovan introgression in Amerindians is 600 times as great as your mythical ".01%" maximum difference.

The fact that Osama bin Laden was wealthy didn't make him at all like a Western European. The Saudi family is immensely wealthy but they are totally different from Westerners. Middle Eastern populations are totally incompatible with European populations as is now becoming increasingly obvious. For one thing Middle Eastern populations have average IQ's in the 80-90 range whereas most European populations are close to or even exceed 100.

James Bowery said at January 9, 2017 9:01 PM:

Culture is artificial selection. The result is racial separation and ultimately speciation. We are given our race -- always in flux -- by the culture of our ancestors. Race is given, not chosen by, one. True liberalism maximizes one's power to invest in a preferred culture. What we have in the West is about as far from true liberalism as one can imagine. Panmixia is antithetical to racial separation let alone speciation.

Check it out said at January 10, 2017 3:00 PM:

Now that Trump has won we can only expect some real Fascism in America. Just look what the last 5 Mexican presidents have done for Mexico these past 30 years of economic Neo-liberalism.

The problem with Trump is not his racist white trash talk, but that he actually believes a country should be run as a corporation; his private business.

When we have a businessman as president we can only expect government to become subordinated to the dictatorship of the capital, or better said, the unrestrained dictatorship of the parasite bourgeoise elite fucks.

James Bowery said at January 11, 2017 7:45 AM:

The dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie elite fucks is the status quo. Trump is simply offering the same but with some restraint of the prior nomenklatura who seemed hell bent on race replacement. The Bourgeoisie elite fucks were bucking for the guillotine and a few of them, like Trump, realize that's not the winning strategy one might think. If Trump read Machiavelli's Discourses, he might have realized there is really only one way out of this trap, and that is to run an insurgency campaign so he could be seen as the the enemy of the Bourgeoisie elite fucks and thereby lead the "revolution". In other words, he's likely saved the asses of the idiots running the country, and their immediate families. However, the idiot nomenklatura may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and precipitate civil war. In that event, they are all dead along with all of their Apparatchiks in the public and private sectors.

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