History and Historiography

Modernity: Yes or No?

Keith Preston says yes. Chase Madden says no.

Chase Madden writes:

I don’t agree with this view at all. The fact of the matter is we human beings are not “Autonomous Individuals”. We are from our very conception in our mothers womb dependent on the will of others for our survival. Even after birth we depend on others for food and education to increase our survival. From the get go this is a major flaw of the Liberal World View. When examining Mills view even closer an individual must still consider “the harm” that their actions could cause to others individuality thus limiting their own individual autonomy which calls into question the very view that human beings are even autonomous in the first place.

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Keith Preston responds:

Where I depart company with many of my friends on the traditionalist right or socialist left is that I think the individualism of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism were major leaps forward for human civilization, and the evidence shows this.

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It doesn’t mean I think the legacy of liberalism and the Enlightenment is perfect or paradisical. But problem is not that it was too radical but that it was not radical enough. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism:_A_Counter-History

Chase Madden: What do you mean by “not radical enough”?

Keith Preston responds:

Classical liberalism was intrinsically linked with colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, bourgeois morality, nationalism, remnant quasi-theocracy, statism (albeit in a republican rather than monarchical form), and other things criticized by classical anarchists. The anarchist movements which began in the 19th century were the corrective to these.

Meanwhile, I regard socialism as a quasi-conservative reaction against liberalism, influenced by the Counter-Enlightenment, Romanticism, German Idealism, and the Counter-Revolutionaries. That doesn’t mean that I am not interested in what those on the losing side of history had to say. I even had a book about that. https://www.amazon.com/Thinkers-Against…/dp/1910881236

But the idea that half of all children dying in childhood, a life expectancy of 40, disease, starvation, and slavery are preferable to supposed “atomized individualism” is absurd beyond belief. That thinking frankly appeals to folks who are malcontents and failures in their own lives and fantasize about some idyllic past that never was and is at least as fanciful and utopian as anything the radical futurists have thought up.

Chase Madden:

What is being argued here isn’t whether or not “Enlightenment Liberalism has been beneficial for Humanity.” What is being argued here is the idea that human beings are somehow Autonomous Individuals which, as I have argued in the post, there is no valid evidence to back up this claim especially not when considering the very social nature of the human animal.

Paradoxically the very idea that, according to Liberal Individualist thinkers such as Locke and Mills, an individual has to consider whether or not their actions “harms the Liberty of others” in itself refutes that very claim that we are Autonomous Individuals. If a person has to consider the well-being of others before making a decision within their activities then they aren’t truly “Autonomous Individuals”.
“But the idea that half of all children dying in childhood, a life expectancy of 40, disease, starvation, and slavery are preferable to supposed “atomized individualism” is absurd beyond belief.”
On the issue of Slavery it does not help your position that a large portion of consumer goods on the global market are made by Forced Slave labor especially if said goods originate from places such as Africa or Asia, or even in some parts of Latin America for that matter. You and I both are beneficiaries of products made by Slaves. Just because we do not see it personally does not mean that it is not happening and that we are not benefitting from it. It’s an ancient human institution that WILL NEVER be eradicated and to think otherwise in itself is a Utopian position. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history. https://www.nydailynews.com/…/slaves-time-human-history…
Furthermore on the issues of disease, because of the blind belief in “Technological Progress” we are in a whole new era of Biological Warfare whose main weapon is Genetically Engineered Virusrs, whose DNA has been modifed by computer programming to make them impervious to the effects of modern medicine. We have already gotten a taste of this with Covid and many experts are saying that there will be more outbreaks and pandemics to come. https://sites.dartmouth.edu/…/genetically-engineered…/
Also, contrary to the Fukuyamanian view, history has not been settled. If this was the case then Liberal Democracy would have already triumphed by now but it hasn’t. There are just as many Illiberal Societies and States in the world today than Liberal Democracies, and that number keeps rising every year, which shows that “The losers of history” are slowly rising to be the winners once more. https://www.cfr.org/event/rise-illiberal-democracies
One last thing: yes the Enlightenment, to a certain extent, played a role in the wave of Technological Progress of the last 200 or so years, which some what helped with the issues of Childhood mortality, disease, and starvation. But with every action there is a reaction. Many biologists agree that man’s high Exploitation of the Earth’s resources to feed, clothe, house, and take care of the 7 Billion and rising people of the global population has caused one of the greatest environmental disasters since the extinction of the Dinosaurs.
The majority of Biologists agree that we are in a 6th mass extinction because of this very issue. There is a lot of books written on this subject. One that I recommend is Tom Wessels 2006 book ‘The Myth of Progress’. https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Progress-Toward…/dp/1611684161

1 reply »

  1. Keith Preston’s arguments about technology don’t really hold. There have been advances in technology before liberalism and there will be advances after liberalism. Also we have to ask “whence technology?”. If rapid technological advances is just going to be used for VR porn, and other bourgeois decadences which qualitatively reduces the quality of people’s life then to hell with technology. What good is being not-dead of we are not able to live. The illiberal view is that we can use technology for higher goals rather than let technology run on its own anti-human teleology. Russian cosmism over western trans/post-humanism

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