Unprincipled Exceptions

When in doubt, I seek out Shri Lawrence Auster. He makes, at a basic level, more sense to me than most folks do. His truths are too bitter and too harsh to accept and become acceptable – but there is this quality about them that makes one spy round the corner and whisper : “That man is actually right you know”. Perhaps it take courage to own such truths.

It’s not about Shri Auster being Christian and/or espousing White Western nationalism. It’s all about his logic of traditionalism being universal. Sounds strange? Think about it more and you’ll see the point i’m trying to get across. Better still, read him.

How does a Hindu traditionalist find so much common ground with Shri Auster’s White Western traditionalism? It’s the principle of traditionalism that provides the bedrock. In his words –

Traditionalism is not an ideology. It doesn’t have a formula of truth. It doesn’t have a formula for the organization of society. It is an orientation toward the order of being, a recognition of basic facts about existence which are universal to all cultures, but which take different forms in different cultures. (Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that all cultures are equal.)

Makes sense? It does to me.

So when ‘Gandhi‘ (eventhough I don’t believe Gandhi was a liberal) got me thinking, I remembered an old post of Shri Auster that spoke of the “Unprincipled Exception”. It explains how liberals, when they choose “not to be” liberals, i.e. when they find their liberal values not holding up or up to the challenges circumstances and their own liberalism lead them to, do so in the manner of an exception. This means they take a detour not in consonance with their liberal principles and perhaps in direct conflict with them; and yet they never really admit to the failure of liberalism as an ideological light house.

What this does is keeps them on the liberal track allowing them to be constantly faced with similar situations that they again and again, and as many last resorts, employ illiberal measures to deal with. To them, the liberal principle can never fail nor be faulted. But it might need help from the devil to succeed…sometimes…hopefully when no one’s watching.

– Namaste

Einstein—The Man of Unprincipled Exceptions

It seems appropriate that Albert Einstein, declared by Time magazine the Man of the (Liberal) Century, was in fact the Man of the Unprincipled Exception. As we have often argued at VFR, liberalism posits ideals and goals that are both untrue in themselves and, if pursued consistently, incompatible with a tolerable earthly existence, or, indeed, with any earthly existence at all. Therefore, so long as they want to keep living in this world, liberals are repeatedly forced to make exceptions to their own ideals. But, so long as they are unwilling to give up their liberalism, they must always regard these exceptions as merely pragmatic and situational rather than as based in fundamental reason. These continual compromises between its own internal logic and the demands of reality are what distinguish liberalism from leftism, which could be understood as consistent liberalism.

A major exhibit on Einstein’s life and work at the American Museum of Natural History focuses to a surprising degree on the political causes he supported. While the exhibit text lauds him for his progressive and humanitarian ideals, it keeps recounting, without a hint of irony, Einstein’s repeated and expeditious abandonment of those beliefs under the pressure of real-world circumstances.


  From World War I onward, Einstein had been ardently and vocally against war and militarism, becoming a leading figure in the global pacifist movement. But, during World War II, in his sixties, he came to feel that the U.S. had no choice but to fight Hitler. (Indeed, so much had his views on war changed that when a young man wrote to him saying he was a pacifist, Einstein sternly reproved him: “If every one felt as you do, we would lose the war and end up in slavery.”)



  Einstein deplored the idea of weaponry coming out of his discovery of atomic energy. But, when he realized that Hitler might build an atomic bomb, he consented to sign the famous letter to President Roosevelt urging the U.S. to develop the A-bomb first.



  Einstein was against nationalism his whole life and espoused the cause of one-world government. But, because of the terrible plight of the Jews after World War II, he came to support the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.



  Einstein (like many moderate Zionists) initially favored cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, even a binational state. But, because of Arab intransigence, he came to support partition and a Jewish state.


Now I’m not criticizing Einstein for changing his mind and taking these prudent and necessary positions. My point is that, as a liberal, he could only embrace them half-heartedly and apologetically, seeing them as a violation of his ideals, as an unfortunate compromise. He couldn’t state a general principle that showed why in each case the policy he favored was morally and politically right. His refusal to provide a principled defense of his non-liberal positions, and thus his rejection of reason in politics, assured his continued reputation as a great liberal. By contrast, if he had said he believed in the nation-state as a good that is not simply instrumental; if he had said he supported ethnic nationalism, not just for the Jews in their emergency, but for all nations; if he had said that aggression and conflict are built into human existence and therefore military preparedness is a vital requirement of a nation-state, then he would have instantly become a non-person as far as liberals were concerned. But because he adopted the militaristic and nationalist views of his later years with regret, all the while clinging to his pacifist and globalist ideals, he became a liberal icon–and, ultimately, the “Man of the Century.”

Funny that liberals never seem to ask what kind of political philosophy it is that requires its apostles continually to betray it.


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