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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Boundaries

I get the sense that a primary element missing from the liberal (as in "generous" or "free-thinking") mind is a developed, coherent sense of boundaries. This is not an original thought from me. Sailer has talked about it in terms of leapfrogging loyalties, as opposed to a more ordered view of society as concentric circles of diminishing loyalties, from individual to family to clan to township to nation, etc. There's also the view of liberalism as ingroup status competition unique to modern Anglos and northwest Europeans, by which one gains status by more enthusiastically embracing ever more remote and exotic Others.

The common theme among liberal individuals seems to be a lack of any sense of external proportion or boundaries, like people who can't appreciate why the first gesture toward strangers shouldn't be to move within one foot of them. A person with no sense of limiting principle would be perplexed over why I might prefer my surplus wealth go toward people within my concentric rings of loyalties, instead of to strangers via a middleman in Washington D.C. Christ said to love others, right? God's love is infinite, and so should be ours.

Thus, it seems the most righteous thing in the world that, in the mind of this French Catholic bishop, restrictive immigration policy is nothing less than a betrayal of Christ:
It would be betraying Christ not to proclaim over and over again today his message of love for all, without discrimination of any sort. Remaining silent would be to renounce him. Is the Church like one of those luxury hotels rising arrogantly over shanty towns where everything is arranged so that tourists don't have to come into contact with the misery and poverty? And are the walls of our cathedrals too thick to be permeated by the voices of those who suffer? God speaks through immigrants also. And what if it were the face he takes on to make us rediscover that which is essential? While our indifference and our disdain do not grasp the full relevance for today of Christ's words: "They have eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear." (Via Oz Conservative, who provides his own critique.)
But what's the limiting principle which keeps the Vatican from opening its gates as well? There are plenty of Africans who would be grateful just to pitch a tent in St. Peter's Square. And having brought them to St. Peter's Square, who could deny them the hospitality of the surrounding buildings. And having let them in the buildings, surely you can find some place for them to roll out their prayer rugs. And is it too much to ask that one of their elders be given some time to say a few inspirational words. Say, isn't that a pulpit over there?

The lack of limiting principle comes from casting immigration in terms of a categorical imperative ("betraying Christ"). Immigration becomes not just a "mere" matter of public policy, something to be weighed for its effect on the citizens to whom the State owes its first duty. Rather, immigration becomes the Eleventh Commandment. If France is good, and sharing is good, then goodness demands we share France. The fact that such a process can only end with no France left to share is not considered. Categorical imperative.

Presumably the bishop would argue that if the Vatican (or his own cathedral) let Muslim immigrants swamp the place, then it would no longer be the Vatican. So why is he calling for French Christians to extinguish their own culture? The bishop is a shepherd with no sense of boundaries. The entire planet is his flock: the sheep, the goats, the fleas on the sheep and the goats, the wolves that attack the sheep and the goats, and on and on. No boundaries, lest we betray Christ Himself.

This lack of any sense of proportion or boundary struck me while browsing another part of the Internet, where some are suggesting joint Catholic-Orthodox Forgiveness Vespers. For those who don't know, this is an Orthodox evening prayer service which culminates in the parishioners all walking the gauntlet of clergy and laity, greeting each other with the kiss of peace and asking each person's forgiveness. It is a moment of communal and sacred intimacy which marks the start of Lent. And to the liberal mind the thought springs, surely this moving and beautiful ceremony could be extended to our Roman Catholic brethren. What stingy soul could possibly think otherwise? And so the categorical imperative-snowball just keeps on rolling. Why stop there, as one commenter enthusiastically points out. Invite the Protestants too. Invite the whole town.

Intimacy is a tonic and surely, the generous spirit thinks, must needs be shared. But once you knock all the barriers down--if to use a crude and admittedly extreme example, I sleep with my wife, and then my sister-in-law whom I know and love, and then some other women I'd like to know and love--then it's no longer intimacy. Rather, it's a perverted simulacrum of intimacy. Even Lady Gaga has figured that out.

5 comments:

J said...

So I'm a mid-20-something single Manhattanite (not your normal blog audience demographic I imagine, haha). I'm unusual in that I think I'd like to have a good amount of kids, like four or maybe even as many as five. You wouldn't believe the looks and reactions I get, especially from girls. Most relevant to this post is, "but isn't the Earth overpopulated? Shouldn't people be having fewer kids?" To which I just...I mean...haven't you people ever heard of a prisoners' dilemma? Even if humanity is having too many babies, the solution is not for you to non-breed yourself and your culture to extinction to make room for people in the countries with high fertility rates. If there's one thing I find bizarre about modern life, it's the way in which it's totally neutered people's concerns about their own line, society, and culture. Anyway the whole "leapfrogging loyalty" thing made me think of that.

I'm not sure if you watch Game of Thrones or have read the book series, but one of the things I love about it is the way it takes our modern mindsets and harshly exposes them to the "my clan vs. your clan" mentality that existed in the Malthusian world of the past. For example, this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47MazYDnmaU

Anyway, I ramble, but I think you get the idea.

Gyan said...

I express the liberal attitude as the denial of the political nature of man whereby mankind is organized into particular, self-ruling morally authoritative communities we call nations.

Libertarians make precisely the same denial as they deny moral authority to the community. The result is identical-erasure of any difference between the neighbor and the stranger.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Gyan - thanks for your comment. I'm going to post some "reactionary" bullet points one day, and I think one of them is abolishing jus soli in favor of jus sanguinis. I've often pointed out to libertarians that unlike administrative designations, the State can't regulate who your ancestors are. They refuse to even consider the idea.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I'd add that what you're talking about is a volk, that is, a nation of natives and not a nation of immigrants. Verboten.

president borat said...

except the state always ends up defining the blood by the administering designation.
the law of the soil is always the norm, even if that means looking an earlier generation.

most people will subscribe to vague ideas patched together from a gloss of buzzwords and tropes, without once imagining such thing as a standard of evidence. How do you know I'm Japanese/Aryan/White/Indian/Jew/Swiss/Whatever... the paper says so. Even your own eyes willl lie when the delusion of state idolatry thrives.