If You Want Freedom, Advocate Reason

January 15, 2008 by  

W wrote:

Ezra Levant would be a good draw as a guest speaker at [Freedom Party’s next] dinner.

I responded:So would a host of other “freedom” fighters, but I think it would be a mistake to invite them to be guest speakers. Ezra is not pro-reason, even if he is – in some morphing, caricaturish, opportunistic sense – in favour of freedom of this thing or that thing (but not of the other thing). At best, he is a traditionalist or sentimental conservative. At worst, he is a libertarian.

There can be no denying that if a political party wants large audiences at its guest-speaker-featured dinners, it needs to feature popular guest speakers (even if they are only transiently popular). If one wants quickly to have a bigger political party that is in favour of freedom of this or freedom of that (but not necessarily freedom of the other thing), one should invite people like Ezra to speak at ones dinners. However, if we want a political party that is in favour of a society in which rational conduct is not illegal (in some circles, this is called a “free” society), we should not be expecting large audiences in the short term, and we will not be promoting such a society by having Ezra Levants (or Stephen Harpers, or Ron Pauls, or [insert libertarian false hope du jour here] ) speak at our dinners.

Thinking rationally is extremely unpopular. We are faced with so many other opportunities to survive without thinking: we can work on an assembly line; we can eat, bathe, defecate, copulate and pray exactly at the times, and in the manner, and with the people, that our parents, or church, or politicians, or friends told us to; we can get intoxicated at all times except where it would cause us to lose our jobs or to be imprisoned; we can watch the news and pretend that we are thinking about the world around us (thereby alleviating whatever guilt we might have about living life unconsciously); we can refrain from ensuring that our children learn how to think rationally and instead offload the structuring of their minds to the government and its anti-reality, anti-reason, anti-moral, pro-collectivism schools; we can get promotions by taking credit for the work done by others and by blaming others for the discreditable work we do; we can blame our unhappiness on the government, or on immigrants, or on the lack of good TV programs, or on a god (i.e., on a god having imposed unhappiness upon us as a consequence of having violated his laws by putting cheese on our burgers, or by shopping on Sunday, or by failing to cover our bodies with clothing from head to toe), or on the failure of people to just “get together”, to “unify”, and to just “give peace a chance” (because we all know that “love is all you need”).

And we believe, so easily and so eagerly, that it is possible to have our cake and eat it too; that we can have a free country led by god-fearin’ mystics, and by democratic committees of depressed moral subjectivists so long as we all just recognize – as an axiom, no less – that the government should not initiate coercive physical force. Why, as evidence, all we need do is look at how Ezra Levant, who dispenses with all of that philosophy nonsense, gives the Human Rights Commission a tongue-lashing. The bloggers pause their ripped version of “V for Vendetta” long enough to rejoice: “Boy, he showed them. The future’s bright for freedom. The government’s learning that the rights that god has given no government has the right to take away! The silent majority are waking up and demanding to be released from their shackles” (the shackles in which they put themselves so that government could do the thinking for them).

Society is a house. The roof is politics, the walls ethics, the foundation epistemology, and the building site metaphysics. Our house is teetering on the brink of a muddy, eroding cliff. Our foundation is splitting and tilting. The mortar is falling from the bricks. The roof is threatening to come down on all of our heads. The critical priorities are to move the house from the brink and to enter the basement, even if largely unseen by passers-by, so as to repair and level the foundation. The roof may be leaking, but replacing the shingles is not going to save us from our demise. And if, as renovators of society, we promote ourselves by featuring our roofers, we will eventually find ourselves trying to serve a dead market.

All of that said, I despise erasers that do not come with pencils. Having done some erasing, let me offer some penciling. Given the current attention being drawn to freedom of speech and human rights commissions in Canada, and given the amoral, oh-so-libertarian response to it all (and, implicitly, the threatened loss of a chance to focus attention on the metaphysical and epistemological nature of what ultimately draws Ezra Levants and Mark Steyns into legal proceedings), I think we could do no better than to have Peter Schwartz address our dinner audience.


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!