SODOM & GOMORRAH: In part three, I define some key terms.
In order to argue that liberalism cannot survive a conflict with mythical politics, we need to define each of these terms.
Liberalism is understood as a set of political assumptions that place an emphasis on individual rights and a commitment to be “value-free.” These individual rights include free speech, free religion, free press, the right to peacefully assemble, and the right to property. The political organization of a society is established in order to guarantee these rights. Liberal government will institute a series of checks and balances, which is to say a division of sovereignty into different micro-sections in order to prevent any one individual or group from holding too much power. Liberal government will typically promote free markets, which is to say a general “hands-off” policy when it comes to managing the economy or, depending on the circumstances, intervention in the market only if it can be demonstrated that this intervention will better attain liberal goals. Liberalism’s stance toward ethics is related to its insistence on individual rights. Liberal thinkers offer no judgment of individual conduct since each individual has the right to choose their lifestyle without any interference from others, meaning that ethical decisions, religion, political views, etc. are all in the realm of private opinion.
Survival can be misunderstood. By this word, we do not mean that liberalism will cease to exist everywhere once a mythical politics comes into being. Instead, we can define survival as being the ability of liberalism to function in a society. In a closed, geographic location (such as within the borders of Germany), when liberalism stands alongside mythical politics, this essay argues that liberalism will not be able to function for very long. The mythical politics will eventually take over the apparatus of government (through armed revolution or peaceful elections) and negate the framework under which liberalism functions in order to fulfill its mythology. This requires an analogy.
Let us assume a parliament with five respective parties: four of which want to preserve the liberal democracy, and one of which is a party similar to the Nazis (in that it is loyal to an ideology that is not rooted in human reason but a larger ideal that stands outside of it). While the parliament stands and democratic competition takes place, a free speech is allowed to everyone, liberalism functions. As soon as the mythical party gains a constitutional-changing majority, and proceeds to institute its myth, liberalism ceases to function. Particular parties are generally barred from office, new methods of ruler selection are instituted, and the end of government changes from a simple preservation of individual rights into whatever supreme good is advocated for by the myth.
This brings us, naturally, to the definition of conflict. We do not necessarily mean violent clashes, though political conflict can consist of this. We mean instead the opposition of two mutually exclusive political ideologies that can manifest itself through electoral competition or violent exchanges. When liberalism, which advocates free markets and individual rights, stands in opposition to a ideology such as communism, which advocates public ownership of the means of production, these two forces are in conflict. One cannot have both communism and liberalism, just as one cannot have Nazism and communism or Nazism and liberalism since the basic assumptions of each call into question the validity of the other’s method at attaining knowledge. The communist will not view the liberal’s claim to justice as worthy of consideration because the communist assumption is that liberal ideology is just a manifestation of class ideals; the communist will view the liberal as an enemy other to be combated in order to bring about the communist ideal rather than a competing opinion that deserves fair and open consideration. They may exist as simultaneous groups, they might even meet in the same parliament building for a time, but individuals cannot be both liberals and communists. There may be intermediate compromises between the two in a practical setting (perhaps even in the same mind) but when either is pushed to the extreme, a choice must be made.
Mythical politics are politics that aim to serve a supernatural force. This can be a god, a world spirit, History, or racial instincts. Any number of things can be considered a supernatural force by participants in mythical politics. Under a mythical framework, the end of political society is the benefit or dictate of this force.