♦ Boys and girls are different. There, I’ve said it, a heresy of our time. We’re not supposed to suggest that a woman shouldn’t fight in combat, or that an athletic girl doesn’t have a right to play on the boys’ football team—or that a young woman doesn’t run a greater risk than a young man when binge drinking. We are not supposed to reject the conceit that the sexes are interchangeable, and therefore a man can become a “woman” and use the ladies’ bathroom.
Male and female God created us. I commend this heresy to readers. Remind people that boys in girls’ bathrooms put girls at risk, and that Obergefell is a grotesque distortion of the Constitution. True—and don’t miss the opportunity to say, in public, that men and women are different. This is the deepest reason why gender ideology is perverse. As Peter Hitchens observes in this issue (“The Fantasy of Addiction”), there’s a great liberation that comes when, against the spirit of the age, one blurts out what one knows to be true.
♦ Great Britain recently announced regulatory approval for scientists to introduce third-party DNA into the reproductive process. The technological innovation that allows for interventions into the most fundamental dimensions of reproduction and human identity is sure to accelerate. Which is a good reason for incoming President Trump to revive the President’s Council on Bioethics. (It existed under President Obama, but was told to do and say nothing.) We need sober reflection on the coming revolution in reproductive technology. Trump should appoint Princeton professor Robert P. George to head the Bioethics Commission. He has the expertise in legal and moral philosophy, and he knows what’s at stake. (See “Gnostic Liberalism,” December 2016.)
♦ On the strength of Adrian Vermeule’s review last month (“Liturgy of Liberalism,” January 2017), I picked up Ryszard Legutko’s The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Legutko sees many parallels between the communism that dominated the Poland of his youth and the political-social outlook now treated as obligatory by Eurocrats and dominant in America, which he calls “liberal democracy.”
One parallel struck me as especially important: “Communism and liberal democracy are related by a similarly paradoxical approach to politics: both promised to reduce the role of politics in human life, yet induced politicization on a scale unknown in previous history.” We’re aware of the totalitarian dimension of communism. But liberalism? Isn’t it supposed to be neutral with respect to substantive outlooks, endorsing only the constitutional and legal frameworks for free and fair political debate? Actually, no. Liberals always assert that liberalism is the view of politics, society, and morality “most adequate of and for modern times.”
This gives liberalism a partisan spirit all the more powerful because it is denied.
Although such words as “dialogue” and “pluralism” appear among its favorite motifs, as do “tolerance” and other similarly hospitable notions, this overtly generous rhetorical orchestration covers up something entirely different. In its essence, liberalism is unabashedly aggressive because it is determined to hunt down all nonliberal agents and ideas, which it treats as a threat to itself and to humanity.
Liberalism, Legutko points out, is committed to dualism, not pluralism. He gives the example of Isaiah Berlin, who made a great deal out of the importance of the pluralism of the liberal spirit. Yet “Berlin himself, a superbly educated man, knew very well and admitted quite frankly that the most important and most valuable fruits of Western philosophy were monistic in nature.” This means that liberalism, as Berlin defines it, must classify nearly the entire history of Western thought (and that of other cultures as well) as “nonliberal.” Thus, “the effect of this supposed liberal pluralism” is not a welcoming, open society in which a wide range of substantive thought flourishes, but “a gigantic purge of Western philosophy, bringing an inevitable degradation of the human mind.”