At ARC Media, Damn Yankee speaks of university students as wards of the state, coddled and helicoptered by an administration that answers to state funds. I will not say the university campus is where liberalism assumes its most grotesque proportions, but it is enough – or ought to be enough – for the observer to see its sickliness. This is no esoteric knowledge. It is commonly enough known that, even while making noises against the fearsome authoritarianism of Donald Trump, today’s American university is an institution that makes much of free enquiry in name but suppresses it in practice.
The liberal ideology that animates many universities, the ideology of ‘freedom’, protects itself from what is foreign to it. The liberal system, by its own logic, would exclude what was exclusive, till all that was left was nonexclusion. For this reason T. S. Eliot says in ‘The Idea of a Christian Society’ that liberalism has no positive content of its own, only a negation. As paraphrased by a 1970 review in the Times Literary Supplement,
The tradition of ‘liberalism’ derives from our achievement and successful practice of religious toleration; but that worked because in fact the members of the various communions were all substantially agreed in their assumptions concerning social morality. The comfortable distinction between public and private morality is no longer valid; now the individual is increasingly implicated in a network of social and economic institutions from which, even when he is aware of their control of his behavior, he cannot extricate himself. The operation of these institutions is no longer neutral, but non-Christian.
Losing pieces that were extrinsic to itself but native to the Protestant tradition of which it was a development, liberalism has borne the sickly fruits proper to an unsustainable parasite. The end is not the beginning, because the parasite eats its own beginning, like an Ouroboros eating its own serpentine tail; yet this thing cannot keep on eating itself for ever. Liberalism, having by its nature destroyed the foundation it stood on, has taken a form that classical liberals at turns decry and mock – now dismay, now derision – but only as one shakes one’s fist at the rain.
Liberalism has had to protect itself from full-throated Protestant Christianity, which by nature opposed a mere marketplace of ideas as much as Jesus opposed the buying and selling of (access to) God in the temple’s Court of the Nations. Still liberalism goes on, opposing any Christianity that cannot be bought and sold, even while its newer forms welcome in an Islam by which it would be destroyed. Such a parasite both Christian and Muslim ought staunchly to oppose, as the continual manufacturing of a nothingness that vainly calls itself peace.
Thus it is unthinkable to the liberal system that its approach to sexual responsibility should be anything but value-free. All the values it can take are the ones that appear not to be values at all. Condoms it will distribute, but never the word chastity. At last, through a technologically enabled amnesia, it is even forgotten in the ‘adult’ world that sexual relations by nature produce children. To this extent the liberal system has had to inure itself against God and nature, and no mere reset to 1689 or 1782 can change the leopard’s spots. The liberal system brings the full power of public propaganda, with the implicit or even explicit threat of force, to bear against what would challenge – even well within the liberal frame, even through such a culturally libertarian degenerate as Milo Yiannopoulos – its newest liberal mores. Seeing this self-protection, one is reminded of Macbeth, who must wade deeper and deeper into blood to keep the throne he has won by shedding blood.
For this self-protection, the liberal system cannot be faulted morally. But persons can be faulted, for persons are not inert things but living, breathing beings made in the image of God, endowed with reason. A system may be wicked in structure, and worthy to be destroyed in favour of another; but those responsible, for sin or for good works, are persons. A system cannot hold itself responsible, but persons can hold themselves responsible in relation to a wicked system, and they can also call upon the Name of the Lord to fight the angels of Satan.