The glue of civilization

Jed Gladstein
I read an interesting article by Selwyn Duke recently, who pointed out the principal vice of Libertarianism. He rightly notes that the meme "Live and Let Live" can act as a siren song that may lead to the destruction of the American Republic. The Libertarian mantra, he says, implicitly legitimates the dissolution of the moral consensus that holds society together, and may lead to a situation in which a totalitarian government attempts to fill the social void with dictatorial legislation.Mr. Duke has a point. Moral consensus is the glue that binds civilization together, and when the glue begins to dissolve, the will of the people becomes too weak to resist subversion from within and conquest from without. As Mr. Duke warns:

"... insofar as this social control [based on a moral consensus] is lacking, governmental control fills the vacuum. As freedom from morality waxes, freedom from legality wanes. Ultimately, the tragic consequence of the libertarian mentality is that it guarantees the left's victory in the battle for civilization."

This warning should be taken seriously. Anyone familiar with the collapse of the Roman Republic recognizes the danger that attends the dissolution of society's moral consensus. A Republic without a viable moral consensus is a place where liberty becomes license and freedom becomes excess. No such Republic will long endure.

Yet, there are two points Mr. Duke's article fails to address. First, the danger isn't simply from the "left." It is from any totalitarian movement or despotic political impulse, whether propagated in the name of Social Justice, Sharia, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, or anything else. Second, the victory of despotism will never be final. While totalitarian governments can temporarily overcome the human impulse to be free, they can never extinguish that impulse altogether, for the need to be free is an expression of Free Will, which is rooted more deeply in human consciousness than any political philosophy.

So, the question is not whether freedom is going to prevail in the end. It is how many bodies will be mangled on the wheel of history before people develop the moral wisdom to secure freedom in perpetuity. As to that, only time will tell. But one thing is certain - if we care about personal freedom in America, we must reestablish a moral consensus to hold our society together. If we fail to do that, chaos will reign. And history tells us that tyranny feeds on chaos.


I read an interesting article by Selwyn Duke recently, who pointed out the principal vice of Libertarianism. He rightly notes that the meme "Live and Let Live" can act as a siren song that may lead to the destruction of the American Republic. The Libertarian mantra, he says, implicitly legitimates the dissolution of the moral consensus that holds society together, and may lead to a situation in which a totalitarian government attempts to fill the social void with dictatorial legislation.

Mr. Duke has a point. Moral consensus is the glue that binds civilization together, and when the glue begins to dissolve, the will of the people becomes too weak to resist subversion from within and conquest from without. As Mr. Duke warns:

"... insofar as this social control [based on a moral consensus] is lacking, governmental control fills the vacuum. As freedom from morality waxes, freedom from legality wanes. Ultimately, the tragic consequence of the libertarian mentality is that it guarantees the left's victory in the battle for civilization."

This warning should be taken seriously. Anyone familiar with the collapse of the Roman Republic recognizes the danger that attends the dissolution of society's moral consensus. A Republic without a viable moral consensus is a place where liberty becomes license and freedom becomes excess. No such Republic will long endure.

Yet, there are two points Mr. Duke's article fails to address. First, the danger isn't simply from the "left." It is from any totalitarian movement or despotic political impulse, whether propagated in the name of Social Justice, Sharia, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, or anything else. Second, the victory of despotism will never be final. While totalitarian governments can temporarily overcome the human impulse to be free, they can never extinguish that impulse altogether, for the need to be free is an expression of Free Will, which is rooted more deeply in human consciousness than any political philosophy.

So, the question is not whether freedom is going to prevail in the end. It is how many bodies will be mangled on the wheel of history before people develop the moral wisdom to secure freedom in perpetuity. As to that, only time will tell. But one thing is certain - if we care about personal freedom in America, we must reestablish a moral consensus to hold our society together. If we fail to do that, chaos will reign. And history tells us that tyranny feeds on chaos.