Think Forward.

The Ark

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The Death of Liberalism: Nature and the Steppe

Liberalism has failed. The liberal paradigm, which began during the Enlightenment, is collapsing. We are at the end of a great civilizational cycle. Another dark age is upon us. But out of this dark age will emerge afresh the doctrine of nature, and new barbarians to revitalize the West and direct it towards a new destiny. The fundamental failure of liberalism is that it does not address the problem of nature, and it moreover conceals it with the idea of natural rights, when no such thing exists. Failing to recognize the fundamental laws of nature and concealing them with idealistic human laws of convention is one of the most fatal errors a civilization can make, and may in fact be why all civilizations fall. The Greeks devoted much of their philosophy to the relationship between Physis, nature, and Nomos, law. Yet the idea of nature, the discovery of nature, is quite rare throughout human history. In Selective Breeding and the Birth of Philosophy, Costin Alamariu argues that the idea of nature emerges out of a “refinement, abstraction, or radicalization of the aristocratic way of life and of the principle that underlies aristocratic life and the aristocratic worldview.” He writes, “When the idea of nature merged, it did so in opposition to convention or ‘custom.’ Cows graze, wolves hunt by nature; but different tribes of people deal differently with the dead—cremation, burial, etc.—by custom or convention. It is a notion distinctly similar to our ‘nature versus nurture’ or ‘nature versus culture’ or ‘nature versus social construct.’ The question of what was ‘by nature’ or ‘by convention’ animated much of Greek intellectual life, and had important political meaning, for example, with the aristocratic party generally favoring the side of nature and the democratic party generally favoring the side of convention. In the first chapter I try to explain how a rudimentary idea of nature could have emerged out of the ‘primitive’ or ‘prehistoric’ mind, out of the mind as ruled exclusively by ancestral convention or custom.” He later continues, “The answer is that it could not. The moment us discovery of nature—which is the precondition of both philosophy and science—is the preserve of one very unusual people, the ancient Greeks, and, long thereafter, those parts of Europe where Hellenistic civilization was promoted, first by Rome, and later in a considerably modified form in Christianity and various Christian states that had inherited some of the roman institutions.” The idea of nature emerged in the late stages of Athenian aristocracy, as a response to the aristocracies many critics; as a solidification and abstraction of the aristocratic worldview. But we then must ask the origins of the aristocratic worldview. As we have talked about at length on this channel, the first aristocracies were formed out of nomadic, pastoralist peoples conquering sedentary farmer populations and imposing their hierarchies and worldview upon them. This means that the aristocratic worldview, and the first seeds of the idea of nature, was born among pastoralists peoples. The sedentary, tribal life of the farmer is ruled by convention and custom, and he is therefore unable to separate what behaviors he has inherited through custom or religion and which through biology and nature. However, a nomadic people would have been able to observe a great many peoples and their differing way of life, allowing them to see the behaviors which remain consistent across the species and formulate a rudimentary idea of ‘human nature.’ Further, the harsh conditions of the nomadic way of life, which relied on the breeding of strong herds, and later, the domestication and breeding of horses, would have made ideas of heredity and breeding, of nature and biology, especially important. Darwin’s natural selection would have been self-evident: only the strong—the fittest specimens—survive the harsh life on the steppe. And sexual selection would have been just as evident: if the fittest specimens are bred, they will improve the quality of the herd over time and even lead to behavior alterations, like the domestication of horses.