In this long-form interview, with Arktos’ podcast Interregnum, host John Bruce Leonard raised what we hope FRN readers will find to be a series of in-depth and very engaging questions about the dominant paradigm of our time – liberalism.
While this subject has many dimensions, in this two-hour interview, which we hope readers will get something out of, we focus quite narrowly on the question of the relationship between the Copernican Revolution and the rise of naturalism in the sciences, and how that was ultimately transplanted over into the areas of the humanities by the close of the 18th century.
In short Mr. Leonard rightly sees that we should focus our discussion on the sciences, and pushes me to explain how the naturalistic advances in the sciences led to the present problem.
Science, Nature, and the Mind of God
In short, the naturalistic advances are ones then explained in context, and laud. However, by reasons which may have been perfectly natural, a perfect storm arose, and over time the naturalistic approach to the sciences was transplanted into the humanities – political science, sociology, economics, and socio-political practice.
Mr. Leonard pushes me further to explain how in short, in naturalistic sciences, the scientific revolution produced an epistemology which limited explanations of phenomenon without reference to consciousness, i.e., a mover, intelligence, or agency. I explain that this began as an endeavor to understand the mind of God. The endeavor had nothing to do with the question of whether God, rather, science developed as a critical approach to understanding the functioning of the creator.
Because describing the ‘why‘ reason for rain as ‘god willed it’ may have been understood to be true in the broad and simple sense, it did not explain ‘how‘ the rainfall occurred. So the exploration into the ‘hows‘ was separated from the ‘whys‘, an important step in the development of human knowledge, broadly, the sciences.
How is descriptive, why is explanatory. While these are popularly confused and ‘why’ and ‘how’ are today often treated as synonyms in the natural and biological sciences, they clearly are not, and therein lies the rub. Whereas how and why were onetime understood singularly with a deference to why, it was an advancement to separate why and how – explanations vs. descriptions. While the Ancient Greeks and other ancient civilizations correctly arrived at this difference, in more concrete history, it was not until the middle Renaissance that again this separation was properly appreciated. Science progressed tremendously during this period, and laudably so, however over time, as modernity developed, ‘why’ was collapsed into ‘how’.
Overtime, this naturalistic approach, which worked very well, but then developed into its own dogma and presupposition on matters of ontology (existence and reality) itself, which was not the original foundation of the natural sciences as an epistemology (theory and method of gaining knowledge).
Worse then, was when this was ported over into the humanities. While it is perfectly reasonable to ascribe natural, non-intentional, agency-free reasons for the rotation of the planets around the sun, this type of epistemic framework utterly fails when describing the cycles of the economy, the stock market, the nature of decisions of those in power – yes, they are decisions. Yet when agency-based explanations for global events in geopolitics, economics, social and political movements are given, these are written off as ‘conspiratorial’ in nature simply because they defy the naturalistic epistemology.
And yet the fact that it is so convenient to collapse the naturalist scientific method into the humanities, as it provides agency-free cover for precisely moving agents who benefit – indeed rule, in part based on this broad confusion – it leads back to the possibility that this was not a perfect storm, but an organized coup against human reason.
One thing that shows a break-down now, even in the natural sciences applied rightly to the non-agency world itself, is when describing the observable movement of light as a wave or particle. This is because light changes based upon whether it is being observed or not, and the position of the observer. This has tremendous ramifications as we move into the the zenith of the 21st century.
It is inferred that the French Revolution, for all its merits – along with all the notable merits of liberalism which do not ignore – was perhaps the first ‘sociological’ revolution, in the sense that it had within it a high-level of self-awareness of its own social-engineering elements.
We can look at, even superficially, how the Jacobins understood the relationship between ruling, governmental systems and the broader, encapsulating, paradigmatic framework of a society – they proceeded for example to rename and reorganize the months of the calendar, and reset to ‘year 1’.
Is there anything good to be salvaged from Liberalism?
I think what readers will find of interest in this investigatory conversation, is that there are some core liberal ideas which are very important for any possibly just or good society. What is noted and underscored in this conversation, is that it is neoliberalism, or liberalism 2.0, or ‘liberalism in its late-modern or post-modern incarnation’ which indeed goes against those just or good engendering elements of liberalism for society.
We look primarily at these pluses, like the freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to be held as innocent and other rights regarding persecution, and the right to have otherwise dissenting views.
Indeed, in that last point, the right to dissenting views is also an important part of a healthy scientific process. And it is noted that even in the ‘hard’ sciences, a crisis is taking place in which neoliberal, specifically, market-based pressures have contorted science, pushed it far into the speculative realm and ‘economized’ it. It therefore has produced ostensibly scientific claims, that are also highly marketable, but which cannot be repeated by other groups of scientists testing for the same. In short, it is not science in that it fails the test of repeatability, also known as test-retest reliability.
The Fight We Are In
While this was recorded a few weeks ago, it is now in light of the arrest of Assange that we can see how the social regime of neoliberalism has worked against basic liberal freedoms that otherwise would see Assange as an important justice watch-dog, doing his due diligence as a journalist.
Likewise, the entire power-structure is fearful of our work, and has worked to stigmatize and deplatform us, shadow-ban, and intimidate us. Those who know the FRN-CSS story, know that the power-structure has operationalized elements of the Fake Left as well as the conservative establishment legacy media. Together, under the guidance of the NATO/CIA ‘Atlantic Council’, they work through both media and academic institutions, lending the veneer of objectivity and a false sense of integrity to their work.
Specifically, this has been, on the part of the Fake Left, through Counter Punch Magazine, which has engaged in a long-term defamation campaign against us, for which we need your help to ensure we can mount a fight to make them answer for. We can’t say more now, but we hope you know what this means we need from you.
Alongside this has been the Washington Post, Vice Magazine, and Columbia University at minimum. We don’t want to go exhaustively now into the background, but our search feature on the site works, and these terms will yield some solid results, where we have written about these attacks on us before.
All that said, while we meet the legal criteria of a victim, we are not ‘victims’ in the sense that we view ourselves that way in terms of what motivates our work. No, we are in engaged in a fight for human freedom, in all its forms; which includes practical, economic, political, and spiritual, religious freedom. And as analysts and journalists, and activists, we are indeed in a very serious fight, the fight of our lives, and one we thank you too for being a part of, and at minimum, helping us in doing our part in it.
This conversation also delves from the start into some taxonomic questions – when we refer to liberalism, what do we mean? I think its sufficient to say that other words like late-modernity, late-capitalism, post-modernity, and ‘inverse’ or ‘liberal totalitarianism’ can describe the present system. Each of these terms focuses on different aspects of the same thing being described, and is influenced by various schools of thought, ranging from liberal and libertarian, to Marxist, to Heideggerian.
To wit, some Heideggerian themes are raised insofar as the critique of the entire ideological corpus of liberalism has come to mean certain things regarding progress. We confirm that instead, as technology has progressed, the lives of human beings have come to resemble machines more than machines have been made to be suited to the lives of human beings
These problems with liberalism as the fount of modernity are things can be separated, however, from the important historical lessons learned from liberalism, and which things can be taken from liberalism and even saved from neoliberalism’s clutches. In other words, a question is posed, can Libertarian Socialist, Anarchist, or Meritocratic-Hierarchical concepts which employ the ‘good’ of liberalism, show in some ways that these can be separated from commodity culture, ultra-individualism, and ‘capitalism’ as such?
I very much hope you found this discussion useful in some way. Thank you