Quote of the Week: James Kalb, “The Tyranny of Liberalism”

james b kalbThe technocratic society they prefer promotes liberal understandings. Market, bureaucratic and industrial forms of organization abolish durable ties and treat everything as interchangeable. The electronic media destroys fixed character by continually fragmenting, reformatting, and repackaging experience. Modern communications, jet travel, city life, and the automobile make every person, place and thing equally present to every other, so that each has the same environment and status. That situation destroys differences of implication and significance, so that nothing means anything definite and everything becomes either an object of simple desire or aversion, or else a resource to be used for some further purpose. Money, government decree, and technical rationality become the sole principles of order, and the whole of life – work, education, entertainment, everyday routine, the relations between the sexes and generations – is swallowed up by a universal rationalized system that treats the world as a resource to be exploited for the efficient equal satisfaction of preferences. Under such conditions it becomes difficult for those discussing any issue to take nontechnocratic approaches seriously. Even common sense must put on technocratic garb to get a hearing: one cannot speak of the commonest and most evident features of daily life today without citing social science studies.

▪ James Kalb, The Tyranny of Liberalism (ISI Books, 2008) extract from page 27.

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