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Classical liberalism’s excremental excuses

Classical liberalism’s excremental excuses
Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis / Unsplash

According to recent reports, a gay Spanish politician who belongs to the country’s left-wing governing party has been forced to resign after pictures surfaced of the municipal councilor eating his own excrement. While disgusting, the existence of yet another degenerate politician would be unremarkable, if not for the fact that he was defended by an unlikely ally: Peter Boghossian.

Boghossian has made a name for himself in the conservative sphere as a non-woke classical liberal willing to stand against the corruption of academia. The former professor of philosophy felt a bizarre compulsion to take to Twitter and ward off those who would question the Spanish politician’s behavior, urging his followers to “mind your own business and leave the guy alone.”Subscribe

As expectations for political leadership go, not eating excrement is a pretty low bar.

When Boghossian received pushback for his strange reaction, he attacked his critics for their “pervasive normative rigidity that comes from Christian fear of judgment.” Many were confused at this absurd reaction from a man who a portrayed himself as a champion of returning rational standards to the university system.

But Boghossian’s outburst reveals an important contradiction that lies at the heart of liberalism and makes it incompatible with those who seek to return order and civilization to the West.

Like many non-woke liberals of our era, Boghossian began his political journey as a militant New Atheist progressive who spent much of his academic career attacking religion. The philosopher joined forces with prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer, hosting debates with Christian apologists to drive out the last vestiges of religious dogma from the enlightened West.

As New Atheism waned, many public intellectuals involved with the movement discovered a new target for their acerbic deconstruction: wokeness. The social justice warriors who dominated college campuses in the late 2000s had grown up and taken positions as professors or administrators in the university system. Woke dogma was threatening the liberal order in academia, and the New Atheists framed this successor ideology as the next in a long line of religions that needed to be defeated.

Boghossian’s most famous salvo against wokeness in academia came in 2017 when he teamed up with fellow New Atheists James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose to submit a series of fake scholarly papers to peer-reviewed journals. The papers were filled with a jumble of critical theory jargon designed to draw the adoration of woke academics despite saying nothing of substance. Some of the papers drew praise from reviewers, and a few even got published before the hoax was uncovered.

Peer review is the linchpin of legitimacy for modern academic expertise, and discrediting the process threatened to deal a huge blow to the foundations underlying the power of our managerial elite. This revealing glimpse into the absurd system that had come to dominate many scholarly fields won Boghossian a fair amount of credit among conservatives and classical liberals who were not interested in joining the woke revolution.

As I have written previously, conservatives have a nasty habit of immediately accepting and even elevating to leadership liberals who hate them simply because they agree on a few issues. Many disgruntled liberal atheists have suddenly found themselves on the side of the conservative Christians they loathed for decades in the fight against wokeness, but that does not mean they have had a change of heart. “I didn’t leave the left, the left left me” is the refrain most often uttered by these liberal castoffs, and they rarely take any responsibility for what their movement became.

Despite his temporary embarrassment with the pace at which progressivism accelerated, Boghossian is still an unrepentant revolutionary who clings to every belief that inevitably led to the very woke order he now claims to oppose.

As expectations for political leadership go, not eating excrement is a pretty low bar. It would be nice if we demanded more from those who rule over us, but asking them not to be so degenerate that they literally consume their own feces seems reasonable.

This appears to be a bridge too far for Boghossian, who sees any standard for sexual behavior as an absurd relic from our religious past. Like most liberal atheists, Boghossian refuses to connect his purposeful deconstruction of spiritual and moral sentiments with the dysfunctional world in which he finds himself. The philosopher’s radical commitment to individual freedom dissolved every barrier to wokeness, but he simply refuses to own the consequences of his beliefs. When asked to place even the slightest restrictions on personal freedom, Boghossian reflexively strikes out at Christianity, which he still perceives as his true enemy.

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