The Enlightenment’s great mistake — from which the whole catalog of Revolutionary horrors flowed — was portraying Man as a free agent. A person without ties of family, country, or creed, the Enlightened said, was the only truly free man, which is the same thing as the only real man. Only he who has cast off the shackles of “tradition” can ever be “self-actualized,” as the modern witch-doctors of psychotherapy would say.
Like all the Enlightened’s pronouncements, this was old wine in new wineskins. Jesus (just to stick with a metaphor) said the same thing. So did the Buddha. The only difference is, those guys knew that when you strip away all that “tradition” stuff — that is, the illusion of this so-called “real world” — you’re left with… nothing.
Both of them gave specific, detailed instructions about leaving behind everyone and everything that stood between one’s Self and the Truth. And both were quite clear that, in the process of removing everything between one’s Self and the Truth, one will come to realize that the “self” itself is just one more barrier to the Truth. Call it the “Unmoved Mover,” or “Nirvana,” or what have you, you — this temporary nexus of causes and conditions, as Buddhists would say — are literally nothing. Only the Truth truly IS.
That insight — that “you” are nothing but your self, and your “self” is nothing — is the key to Leftist psychology. It’s a hard thing for anyone to grasp — and even we believers see only through a glass darkly — but for the Left it’s an unbearable, crushing contradiction, because of course there’s no Magic Sky Fairy holding the world in existence through a continuous act of divine will. Which means that whatever you are today, you can’t be tomorrow, because time moves on and nothing in this world — which is the only world — ever stands still. Thus everything a Leftist does — every word, every action, every silence, every inaction — is frantic displacement activity against the inexorable decay of her “self.”*
Which is why such people — by no means all of them on the political Left — are cancers who destroy every group to which they’re admitted. I don’t know if they can be fixed — personally, I very much doubt it — but unless and until they are, they must be avoided at all costs.
Fortunately, there’s a way to do it.
Most “conservatives” (using the term strictly for convenience) were blown away by the Enlightenment, for the same reason we Normals are blown away by transgenderism etc. — it’s just so cockeyed, so cattywampus to the real world, that we’re utterly stumped for arguments. Actually arguing for the proposition “boys have a penis; girls have a vagina” seems, to us, like trying to “argue” for the “proposition” that humans need air to breathe. By the time you’ve looked up “axiom” in the dictionary and pulled the Biology 101 textbook off the shelf, they’ve already granted several PhDs in “gender studies.” To modify Orwell just a bit, in insane times it takes a special kind of man just to state the obvious.
A man like Joseph de Maistre. The original “reactionary,” de Maistre argued that there’s no such thing as a “rational” polity, because any attempt to frame one will always devolve into arguments about ends, means, and above all, legitimacy. This is because people are people and not cells on a spreadsheet. In other words, there are lots of individual men, and many different types of men, but no such thing as Man.
The Founding Fathers understood this. That’s why, even as they let Thomas Jefferson gas on about “all Men are created equal,” they designed a system specifically to safeguard man’s inequality. No, I don’t mean the 3/5 Compromise or any of that hooey. I mean federalism itself. Whether or not slavery was an integral part of being a “Virginian” in 1789 (it wasn’t), it was clear to everyone that Virginians and Massachussans were different — irreconciliably different — and that any political system which required them to be on the same page for any but the biggest of national questions would rapidly devolve into anarchy.
Words mean what they mean. “Unequal” doesn’t mean “inferior;” it means “not the same.” A man like Light Horse Harry Lee would cheerfully agree that Virginians and Massachussans are “unequal,” but suggesting that Massachussans are therefore superior to Virginians would be met with an invitation to debate the issue with pistols at dawn. Everyone at the Constitutional Convention understood this, because they’d just fought a big nasty war together, and everyone there had seen the color of everyone else’s blood.
Just as every sin in the Bible, then, can be reduced to Envy, so can every right in the Constitution be reduced to the right of free association. If I’m not free to associate with whomever I wish — and equally free to exclude whomever I wish from my society — then whatever other “freedoms” I have are meaningless, because there’s no such thing as Man, only men. If I can be compelled to violate my conscience because some lesbians can’t bake their own damn cake, them what does it matter that I’m “free” to complain about it afterwards?
The linked article suggests a pushback tactic. If you didn’t read it, it says that the Supreme Court dodged another gay wedding cake case — they sent it back down to the lower court, to “reconsider” in the light of the recent Colorado decision. But that decision, you’ll recall, was deliberately written in such a way as to establish no precedent. It didn’t say that bakers can’t be compelled to violate their consciences; it only held that, in this particular case, the Colorado authorities showed “animus” in going after the bakers. Presumably, then, a sufficiently “neutral” group of bureaucrats could compel folks to violate their consciences….
I wonder what they’d say about that, though, if someone decided to force a different group to violate its conscience. I’m sure there are out-and-proud gay bakeries out there. What if, say, a group decided that this bakery, and this bakery alone, must bake a cake for their “Straight Pride” parade? After all, nobody, from the Supreme Court on down, has ever made the point that there are a zillion other bakeries out there — everyone involved takes it as read that this bakery, and this one alone, is the only one that can do it. What about halal meat shops? Kosher delis? Do they get a pass too? Even if Trump appoints Ray Guy to the federal bench, our black-robed overlords can only punt so many times. Either we have free association, or we don’t….
… which means we either have our freedom, or we don’t. It’ll be enlightening to find out.