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On Liberty

The West, including Europe and the U.S., is approaching the tyranny of ‘Absolute Relativism’.

Liberalism has become self-contradictory and will lead to bondage.

Under ‘Absolute Relativism’, there is no moral bottom. A society cannot survive if it believes ‘there is no absolute right and wrong’, let alone ‘there is absolutely no right and wrong’.

Liberalism

In 1859, John Mill published a book called On Liberty. This book became a representative work of Western liberalism.

On Liberty, an essay-length book, was influential because it was not based on simple individual liberty, but on an even more fundamental aspect of human society, and proposed what the author considered to be a systemic solution to the fundamental relationship between individuals and society as a whole:

Liberalism.

In other words, Mill formally introduced systematic liberalism that would provide the world with a unified system of thought and politics.

Mill’s idea is both a philosophical argument and a logical explanation of the importance and necessity of individual freedom. It advocates maximization of individual freedom and prevention or abolishment of all kinds of tyranny, not only in the form of the dictatorship of the few over the many but also the tyranny of the many over the few, as well as the tyranny of tradition and custom over the different.

Over the past hundred years, Mill’s ideas have had a great influence on American liberal thought, and liberalism in general has had a great influence on American society. For example, most people agree that liberal ideas drove the civil rights movement.

The inherent paradox of liberalism

However, in conceiving his liberal system of thought and politics, Mill faced a fundamental question to which he did not have an answer. The subsequent history over the past hundred years or so, especially in recent decades, reveals the following: not only has this question not found an answer within the liberal system, but it increasingly proves that there can be no answer at all.

The intrinsic and essential question facing liberalism is related to the following question;

Is there truth in this world?

Or, specifically, is there something intrinsically right or wrong about some things?

Increasingly, for the followers of liberalism, the answer to this question is becoming more and more straightforward with fewer and fewer qualifications:

“No, there is none. “

That is, according to liberalism today, the world has nothing intrinsically right or wrong; everything is relative. (Mill himself held this view of the world, but did not explicitly state it in his On Liberty.)

This “absolute relativism” is increasingly necessary in the face of the self-contradiction of liberalism, but it does not solve the problem, because the answer immediately leads to an inherent paradox in liberalism:

If someone believes that there is a right and a wrong in something, does that person have the freedom to assert his or her opinion?

If you think this is a fanciful theoretical question, then you probably haven’t been paying attention to the dynamics of current social affairs in Europe and the United States in recent decades.

The Tyranny of Political Correctness

Today, the liberalism Mill envisioned has itself been elevated to a position of religion, kidnapped by “political correctness” and become a type of tyranny Mill himself wound against at the time. (I’m not sure that “kidnapped” is the right word because I think that whatever Mill’s intentions were, this result is now inevitable, not accidental.)

For example, today, any suggestion that Islamic terrorism is somewhat related to the teachings of Islam would be labeled as a bias or hate crime. One must understand that this labeling is not to express a different view on the relationship between Islamic doctrine and terrorism but to assert a preconceived notion that no one can say that something is wrong in principle. If he does, he is to be branded with all sorts of horrible labels for suggesting (not even preaching) that Islamic terrorism had something to do with Islamic teachings (especially the Islamic concept of God). The labeling is not a rebuttal by expressing a different viewpoint but rather a preemptive assertion that there is no right or wrong in religious beliefs, and therefore no criticism of any doctrine is permissible in principle.

For another example, any study or statement about the biological differences between men and women must be labeled a prejudice or even a hate crime; any suggestion of a security profiling analysis is automatically considered racist; any argument about the inefficiency or ineffectiveness of the social welfare system is considered discrimination; and so on. Again, note that the issue here is not that anyone disagrees, but rather that, under the dictatorship of political correctness, these topics are simply not allowed to be discussed.

In 2018, after the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that a Colorado cake baker had the right to refuse to make a cake for a gay couple due to their freedom of religion, the person who originally challenged the cake maker went ahead and asked for a cake to be made that depicted worship of Satan, alleging it was their right to worship the Devil.

It was a very clever approach because it directly exposed a weakness of the reasoning on which the highest court in the United States based its decision. That is, the court’s decision would be untenable if it were based on logic alone unless the court recognizes that there is a difference between right and wrong, good and evil in this world. In today’s political atmosphere, however, it would be politically incorrect for the highest court in the United States to acknowledge that outright.

(Note: The point above is not that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was wrong, but that in the current political climate, the court did not have the courage to give an honest reason to support its decision and to admit that the world needs not only logic to function properly, but it also needs truth as its foundation, and that while truth is necessarily logical, logic alone does not necessarily lead to truth. The most fundamental truths are not a result of logic but are given or presupposed.)

Freedom and equality, who pays the bill?

Today, whether you are liberal or conservative, the real question facing everyone is:

Can a society survive that believes there is absolutely no right and wrong in this world?

The answer is certainly no.

If this answer is not already evident today, it is precisely because this society in which we live is actually based, at least in part, on a common recognition of truth. A society in which absolutely no one believes in common truth and everyone insists only on pure individual freedom does not exist today.

But when fewer and fewer people believe and adhere to the truth, liberalism will become a completely hypocritical and self-contradictory system, which will soon be dead.

For there is a universal law: truth is the guarantor of freedom.

Unfortunately, many libertarians, out of rebellion and disobedience, have decided that truth is the enemy of freedom.

Mill’s liberalism overturns all the biblical principles, all the lessons and experiences of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history, all the practices and achievements of nearly 2,000 years of the spread and practice of Christianity in Europe and America, and takes a whole new set of “utilitarianism principles” conceived from scratch by intelligentsia (like Mill himself) as a starting point for framing a new system of thought.

It is important not to judge Mill by the word “pragmatism”, thinking that he might have been a vulgar pragmatist who was concerned only with immediate interests. He was not. His pragmatism is based on dignified principles, the most rational, reasonable, far-reaching, and unified ground that man can find after denying that there is a God and ultimate truth.

If what people generally think of as “pragmatism” is building a nest for themselves, Mill’s pragmatism is building a tower of Babel for all mankind. If what people generally think of as liberalism is seeking their own personal convenience, Mill’s liberalism is framed for the happiness of all mankind.

You may say this is strange. Isn’t the banner of “liberty and equality” of Western liberalism an idea from the Bible and Christianity?

The key lies in who defines liberty and equality, for whom it is defined, and who pays for it in the end.

If liberty and equality are revealed from the true and only God, an objective creator and sovereign of the universe, and embodied in individuals and groups who believe in this true God, then both individuals and society may enjoy true liberty and equality on a common basis thanks to the guarantee by the objective truth. There would be sufficient moral capital in that society. More specifically, the common moral base results in a large enough “moral middle class” to pay for “liberty and equality” at the individual level.

But if liberty and equality are mere ideas from the human mind and are themselves elevated to the status of a religion, becoming not only an artificial religion but also a dictatorship and tyranny intolerant of truth, then the result is the opposite. That society will not have enough moral capital to sustain the idea of liberty and equality, because there will not be a large enough “moral middle class” to pay for the expensive welfare of “liberty and equality” at the individual level.

The history of Europe and the history of the United States, both the positive and the negative, bear clear witness to the above economics of moral capital.

Freedom and Sin

Those who aspire to libertarianism and admire Mill go back to the ancient Chuang Tzu and Diogenes and see them as the forerunners of humanism and liberalism, believing that only libertarianism is compatible with human nature and that doing otherwise is anti-human.

However, the positions of the ancient Chuang Tzu and Diogenes, and that of the modern Mill and the present-day libertarians, no matter how reasonable and natural they may sound, all have the false premise of not knowing or not acknowledging that there is a huge “force field” within the dynamic equation of human society, namely human sin.

Sin is a force field, even a tremendous force field that cannot be dissolved by reasoning or moral systems.

Chuang Tzu, Diogenes, and Mill, no matter how dashing their philosophies were, could not get rid of the weight of sin. They thought they could “return to the true nature” but did not know that after “returning to the true nature”, man would have just gone back to the garden of Eden where Adam had just sinned. There was no “return to the true nature”, but precisely a beginning of the evil consequences of the Lie. (But it is also the beginning of God’s salvation, another topic.)

A social, political, or economic theory or system leads to a different conclusion once it takes into account the enormous force field of sin. This is because such an accounting realizes not a quantitative difference but a qualitative difference of a black-and-white reversal.

Marx’s theory is a strong illustration of this outcome. The practice of Marxism always leads to the opposite of what it purports to achieve because sin is a reality, not a theory.

And Mill’s libertarian system is having the same outcome.

The freedom spoken of in the Bible is the freedom of man from the bondage of sin. Whereas the freedom that the so-called liberals want today is the opposite, the freedom of man to sin as he pleases (but in reality, that is not freedom, but slavery to sin, only that man has listened to Satan’s lies and mistakenly believes he is free.)

The reason why we say “so-called liberals” here is that, if we are referring to the true meaning of the word ‘liberal’, only those who believe and accept the truth are true liberals.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32.

The battle between liberals and conservatives

Today, the battle between liberals and conservatives in the United States may have reached the point of incompatibility.

To mention liberals and conservatives here as completely opposite sides is itself an unfortunate thing. Throughout American history, conservatives, many of whom are devout Christians, have been the staunchest advocates and defenders of human rights and liberty. But when liberalism was kidnapped by political correctness, and liberalism itself was elevated to a position of religion, the landscape of the world changed.

I recently read an article written in Chinese on the strategies and policies of the Trump administration. The article provides some in-depth analyses from the perspectives of the “left” and the “right”, the liberals and conservatives, etc. The article concludes that by and large, Trumpism is driving history backward. The author assumes the role of an enlightened liberal to expose the darkness of Trumpism.

At the same time, the author believes that Trumpism is a return to the “public politics” modeled according to the Old Testament system with a military iron fist to enforce a New Testament “private morality”. According to the author, Trumpism aims to pull the United States back to the traditional culture of the U.S. The author alleges that the traditional culture of the United States of America dates back to the Old Testament era (despite its being only about 300 years old) because the founding of the United States was an embodiment of the Old Testament tradition and spirit.

Note that the author’s theory emphasizes the distinction and connection between public and private, as well as the distinction and connection between the Old and New Testaments.

But the author’s theory is false.

First, Trumpism, contrary to what the author contends, does not go back to the Old Testament system of “public politics” under which the “private morality” of the New Testament is enforced.

This supposedly shocking uncovering of a “secret” of Americanism is just a figment of the author’s imagination. In reality, Trump himself is not that deeply ideological, much less spiritual. What Trumpism represents is more directly the practical interests of the United States as a nation in terms of international economics, military, and institutions. These interests, while somewhat more biblical relative to that of other nations and governments (due to the founding history and social foundations of the United States, etc.), do not mean that what the United States has established is a system of “public politics” according to the Old Testament. Far from it. In the most important ways, it is the opposite.

Second, even if what the author theorizes is true, the Trumpism strategy exposed is simply unbiblical. It does not come from the Bible and is not a defense of biblical truth.

The author may have knowledge of European cultural and intellectual history, but his understanding of the Bible is clearly incorrect.

The Bible has ideas, philosophies, cultures, and politics in it for sure. But one misses the primary point of the Bible by looking at it from these perspectives. The Bible is a revelation from above (the heavenly), not from within (the earthly and the flesh), and its spiritual meaning is not rooted in earthly ideas, philosophies, cultures, or politics. The opposite is true. That is, the earthly ideas are rooted in the heavenly revelation, not the other way around.

The Bible is about the Kingdom of God. And unlike the kingdoms of the earth, the Kingdom of God is not visible to the eyes of the flesh but only to the spiritual.

It is also in this sense that, while the above author’s view of human nature and history is false, Trumpism is not on the side of truth either.

In June 2016, before Trump was elected, I wrote an article on the “Trump phenomenon is an American tragedy”, in which I wrote that Trump’s election was electing a wrong person to do the right thing. I still believe that is the case. I understand the pragmatist’s view of Trump supporters, which is that there is a need for an unconventional person to break the dysfunctional routine, and Trump is exactly what is needed, but I am looking at this from a more fundamental perspective.

What’s even sadder is that Trump may well be the last chance for American conservatives to stop the liberal wheel in its tracks. The reason is that after Trump is over, American society will probably move more disdainfully away from the conservative positions due to its disgust with Trump’s personality and behavior and use it as evidence and a judgment against conservatives, and therefore will accelerate in a leftist direction.

The reason why the masses (the crowds) will despise and reject conservative ideas is not because the masses are more correct and closer to the truth, but precisely because the masses do not understand nor accept the truth. If a generation with passion decides to jump on the train going in a direction that will drive America as a nation into a rapid decline, no man can stop them.

There will be no fear of danger before it is too late because people don’t know who the real driver of this train is.

It is Sin that is driving the liberal train, even though it is not people’s intention to do so.

Even a smart man like John Mill did not know. Or, more accurately, smart people like Mill especially do not know that the driver of the train is sin, because they think themselves are the driver.

How shall we then walk?

If you are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, let us seek true freedom. But first, we must seek the truth and stand on its side with deliberate obedience.

If the history of mankind (the children of Adam) testifies and proves only one thing, it is that lies enslave the people, especially when the lies are appealing to the flesh (note the story of the Garden of Eden); only the truth leads to freedom (the story of the cross).

Let us not seek the truth in philosophy, sociology, political science, or moralism. Truth is a narrow path that can only be found by the leading of the Spirit of God.

Let us not expect a social system to promote and maintain the truth, nor expect an institution to maintain the faith. “Religious systems” have always been in the name of truth but, in the end, stand in opposition to it. Religious systems are not biblical and are precisely what the founding fathers of the United States deliberately avoided because they had suffered enough religious persecution. They chose separation of church and state and freedom of religion when they could have easily established a nation ruled according to Christian doctrine (noting that almost all of the leaders at the time were Christians).

Let us not expect that the truth will reign in the kingdoms of the earth in the last days. Truth reigns in the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of God is different from the earthly kingdom. On earth, although the truth itself stands on itself, men are sinners and will either reject the truth or abuse the authority of the truth. The only exception is the yet-to-come Millennium revealed in the book of Revelation, when the truth will reign over all the earth, and the sinless King himself shall come to reign.

But finally, eternity shall conclude at the end of time, and all the conditions of the temporary great contradiction and conflict will be gone forever and not found in heaven. We shall be free from the bondage of sin and enter into true freedom in the light.

Today, let us be alert, and let us have the courage to say no to “politically correct tyranny”. This is our personal responsibility. Even if we are in a dark and corrupt environment, we still have the obligation as well as the right to be light and salt to the world (Matthew 5:13-14).

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