Monday, October 15, 2018

Our Culture is Living in an Alternate Reality

In today’s world entertainment is not just a pastime or style, but a substance that permeates everything: schools and universities, upbringing of children, intellectual life, art, morality, and religion. It has become dear to the hearts of students, professors, entrepreneurs, journalists, engineers, scientists, writers, even priests. Entertainment imposes itself psychologically, intellectually, socially, and also, strange as it might sound, spiritually. A failure to provide human endeavors—even the most noble ones—with an entertaining wrapping is today unthinkable and borders on sin.

The modern sense of entertainment increasingly resembles what Pascal long ago called divertissement: that is, an activity…that separates us from the seriousness of existence and fills this existence with false content. Divertissement is thus not only being entertained in the ordinary sense of the word, but living and acting within artificial rules that organize our lives, setting conventional and mostly trivial goals which we pursue, getting involved in disputes and competitions, aspiring to honors-making careers, and doing everything that would turn our thoughts away from fundamental existential matters. By escaping the questions of the ultimate meaning of our own lives, or of human life in general, our minds slowly get used to that fictitious reality, which we take for the real one, and are lured by its attractions.

The difference between Pascal’s divertissement and today’s entertainment—or rather, having fun, as it has become customary to say—is that the modern man, no matter how much a desire to have fun has captured his soul, knows very well that it is an artificial construction, not the real thing. Whether some other, more objective reality exists is to him a matter of indifference, and if told there is not, he would probably still remain unmoved. Having neutralized all musings about objectivity, the modern man takes pride in his deep involvement in entertainment, which in the absence of other objective references he considers natural.

Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg.36-37

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Invented “Dignity”

Since the issue of the [1948] Universal Declaration [of Human Rights], dignity has no longer been about obligation, but about claims and entitlements. The new dignity did not oblige people to strive for any moral merits or deserts; it allowed them to submit whatever claims they wished, and to justify these claims by referring to a dignity that they possessed by the mere fact of being born, without any moral achievement or effort. A person who desired to achieve the satisfaction of a pig was thus equally entitled to appeal to dignity to justify his goals as another who tried to follow the path of Socrates, and each time, for a pig and for a Socrates, this was the same dignity. A right to be a pig and a right to be a Socrates were, in fact, equal and stemmed from the same moral (or rather nonmoral, as the new dignity practically broke off with morality) source.

Having armed himself with rights, modern man found himself in a most comfortable situation with no precedent: he no longer had to justify his claims and actions as long as he qualified them as rights. Regardless of what demands he would make on the basis of those rights and for what purpose he would use them, he did not and, in fact, could not lose his dignity, which he had acquired for life simply by being born human. And since having this dignity carried no obligation to do anything particularly good or worthy, he could, while constantly invoking it, make claims that were increasingly more absurd and demand justification for ever more questionable activities. Sinking more and more into arrogant vulgarity, he could argue that this vulgarity not only did not contradict his inborn dignity, but it could even, by a stretch of the imagination, be treated as some sort of an achievement. After all, can a dignity that is inborn and constitutes the essence of humanness, generate anything that would be essentially undignified and nonhuman?


Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg.33

Friday, October 12, 2018

Being Lured to the Common and Mediocre

Man, feeling secure and enjoying the increasingly abundant benefits of a modern civilization, was slowly releasing himself from the compelling pressure of strict and demanding rules derived from religion and classical ethics. He was no longer in the mood to embark on a painful and uncertain journey to higher goals…. 
The gradual process in which the higher aspirations were being replaced by the lower tells us, no doubt, something about human nature: namely, that unless met with strong resistance or an attractive inspiration it shows a powerful tendency to be lured by the common and the mediocre. “Common,” indeed, has ceased to be a word of disapproval in a liberal-democratic rhetoric, or rather, has ceased to be used at all. When so much is common, nothing really is. This change is but a small signal of corruption of basic categories by which for centuries people described and evaluated their conduct.

Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg.30, 31.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Questions Rendering Darwinism Useless

If the Theory of Evolution has so much evidence backing it up, then why are critics so heavily assaulted with ad hominem attacks? How does one account for the times when proponents of Darwinism made forgeries? (Examples would include Piltdown Man and the Archaeoraptor.)  Why are there contradictory results when geologists use dating methods? How does one account for the fact that humans have characteristics that provide no advantages for survival such as music and religion? Why do living organisms have symmetry? Where did all the elements originate? How does one account for their precise design? When and where did compounds come into being? (Many compounds must have came into existence as compounds because interaction between elements is relatively scarce.) Which elements and compounds were included in the primordial soup? Where did gravity and energy come from? Why are babies still born helpless? How could the precise, natural process of blood clotting arise from blind, unguided chance? These are only some of the countless questions that render Darwinism useless.

Jesse Lange, Why I Reject Darwinism As Science

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

When You Lower Standards

Lowering the requirements is a process that has no end. Once people become used to disqualifying certain standards as too high, impractical, or unnecessary, it is only a matter of time before natural inertia takes its course and even the new lowered standards are deemed unacceptable. One can look at the history of liberal democracy as a gradual sliding down from the high to the low, from the refined to the coarse. Quite often a step down has been welcomed as a refreshing, natural, and healthy, and indeed it sometimes was. But whatever the merits of this process of simplification, it too often brought vulgarity to language, behavior, education, and moral rules. The growing vulgarity of form was particularly striking, especially in the last decades, moving away from sophistication and decorum. A liberal-democratic man refused to learn these artificial and awkward arrangements, the usefulness of which seemed to him at first doubtful, and soon—null. He felt he had no time for them, apparently believing that their absence would make life easier and more enjoyable. In their place he established new criteria: ease, practicality, usefulness, pleasure, convenience, and immediate gratification, the combination of which turned out be a deadly weapon against the old social forms. The old customs crumbled, and so did rules of propriety, a sense of decorum, a respect for hierarchy. 

Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg. 29-30.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Inevitable Consequences of Liberal Democracy

In a liberal democracy everyone knows—and only a fool or a fanatic can deny—that sooner or later a family will have to liberalize of democratize, which means that the parental authority has to crumble, the children will quickly liberate themselves from the parental tutelage, and family relationships will increasingly become more negotiatory and less authoritarian. These are the inevitable consequences of the civilizational and political development, giving people more and more opportunities for independence; moreover, these processes are essentially beneficial because they enhance equality and freedom in the world. Thus there is no legitimate reason to defend the traditional family—the very name evokes the smell of mothballs—and whoever does it is self-condemned to a losing proposition and in addition perpetrates harm by delaying the old despotism: with its demise the despotic system loses its base. The liberalism and democratization of the familiar therefore to be supported—wholeheartedly and energetically—mainly be appropriate legislation that will give children more power: for example, allowing increasingly younger girls to have abortions without parental consent, or providing children with legal instruments to combat their claims against their parents, or depriving parents of their rights and transferring those rights to the government and the courts. …

In a liberal democracy everyone knows—and only a fool or a fanatic can deny—that schools have to become more and more liberal and democratic for the same reasons. Again, this inevitable process requires that the state, the law, and public opinion harshly counteract against all stragglers—those who are trying to put a stick in the spokes of progress, dreamers who imagine that in the twenty-first century we can return to the school as it existed in the nineteenth, pests who want to build an old-time museum in the forward-rushing world. And so on, and so forth. Similar reasoning can be applied to churches, communities, associations.

As a result, liberal democracy has become an all-permeating system. … Whatever happens in school must follow the same pattern as in politics, in politics the same pattern as in art, and in art the same pattern as in the economy: the same language, the same habits. Just as in real socialism, so in real democracy it is difficult to find some nondoctrinal slice of the world, a nondoctrinal image, narrative, tone, or thought.


Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg. 21-22

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Political Desires of the Left

In their view, today also consciously or unconsciously professed by millions, the political system should permeate every section of public and private life, analogously to the view of the erstwhile accoucheurs of the communist system. Not only should the state and the economy be liberal, democratic, or liberal-democratic, but the entire society as well, including ethics and mores, family, churches, schools, universities, community organizations, culture, and even human sentiments and aspirations. The people, structures, thoughts that exist outside the liberal-democratic pattern are deemed outdated, backward-looking, useless, but at the same time extremely dangerous as preserving the remnants of old authoritarianisms. Some may still be tolerated for some time, but as anyone with a minimum of intelligence is believed to know, sooner or later they will end up in the dustbin of history. Their continued existent will most likely threaten the liberal-democratic progress and therefore they should be treated with the harshness they deserve.

Once one sends one’s opponents to the dustbin of history, any debate with them becomes superfluous. Why waste time, they think, arguing with someone whom the march of history condemned to nothingness and oblivion? Why should anyone seriously enter into a debate with the opponent who represents what is historically indefensible and what will sooner or later perish? People who are not liberal democrats are to be condemned, laughed at, and repelled, not debated. Debating with them is like debating with alchemists or geocentrists.


Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg. 20-21.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Nothing True About Evolution

Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, anything that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence.  I tried it on members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time, and eventually one person said, “I do know one thing—it ought not be taught in high school.”

Colon Patterson (Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History), keynote address to the American Museum of Natural History, 11/5/81.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Socialist “Modernization”

Both communism and liberal democracy are regimes whose intent is to change for the better. They are—to use the current jargon—modernization projects. Both are nourished by the belief that the world cannot be tolerated as it is and that it should be changed: that the old should be replaced with the new. Both systems strongly and—so to speak—impatiently intrude into the social fabric and both justify their intrusion with the argument that it leads to the improvement of the state of affairs by “modernizing” it.

Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, pg.5-6

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Liberal Democracy Is Like Communism

[H]e is able to demonstrate that liberal democracy, as it has developed in recent decades, shares a number of alarming features with communism. Both are utopian and look forward to “an end of history” where their systems will prevail as a permanent status quo. Both are historicist and insist that history is inevitably moving in their directions. Both therefore require that all social institutions—family, churches, private associations—must conform to liberal-democratic rules in their internal functioning. Because that is not so at present, both are devoted to social engineering to bring about this transformation. And because such engineering is naturally resisted, albeit slowly and in a confused way, both are engaged in a never-ending struggle against enemies of society (superstition, tradition, the past, intolerance, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, etc., etc). In short, like Marxism before it, liberal democracy is becoming an all-encompassing ideology that, behind a veil of tolerance, brooks little or no disagreement.


John O’Sullivan, Forward to Ryszard Legutko’s book, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Punishment of God

That rabble had a mighty power over minds, for when the Lord God sends punishment on a nation he first deprives its citizens of reason. And so the wiser heads dared not resist the fops, and the whole nation feared them as some pestilence, for within itself it already felt the germs of the disease. They cried out against the dandies but took pattern by them; they changed faith, speech, laws, and costumes. That was a masquerade, the license of the Carnival season, after which was soon to follow the Lent of slavery.

Adam Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz

Friday, September 28, 2018

Leftists Will Abuse You for Your Beliefs

I have found from many observations that our liberals are incapable of allowing anyone to have his own convictions and immediately answer their opponent with abuse or something worse.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot