On the Left – Free or Good?

I recently read Nikos Malliaris’s Freedom from progress: Donald Trump, Christopher Lasch, and a Left in fear of America in the March Platypus Review and am hoping to write more on his positive discussion of “reactionary leftism” and its Laschian critique of progressivism – but that’s for another post.

In reading this piece his repeated description of the left’s commitment to “the emancipatory project” caused me to reflect a bit on how the nature of the left has changed.  Obviously, the use of this phrase to describe the fundamental goal of the left has become pretty typical over the past decades, so I don’t present that here as any revelation (and, to give Malliaris credit, he argues that what distinguishes the “reactionary left” for which he advocates is its recognition of the need for limits).

Still, I can’t help thinking back to my own years on the left.  For me, the end was not freedom but virtue – the goal was the creation of a right and good social order, not “emancipation” as an end in itself.  (While one might argue that my leftism was just a secularized version of an internalized – and mainly pre-Vatican II – Catholicism, I think that it was also consistent with the “old” left – probably the reason why I was always drawn to those elements of the pre-60s left which lived on for a time within the New.)

No matter how elaborately its proponents dress this concept up in Theory and no matter how deeply they genuflect at the feet of Marx, et al, its adoption is a reflection – and a particularly telling one – of the left’s absorption by the system as a loyal, albeit utopian, opposition.



From Nicolás Gómez Dávila

“Thinking to open its arms to the modern world, the Church opened its legs instead.gomez-davila-escolios

“Modern society surpasses previous societies in only two things: its vulgarity and its technology”.

“We don’t condemn capitalism because it promotes inequality, but because it favors the rise of inferior human types”.

Nicolás Gómez Dávila: escolios contra el mundo moderno at Cultura Transversal.

For more (in English) see Don Colacho’s Aphorisms. A pdf volume of his aphorisms in Spanish is available here.

“The Treachery of Change”

“Alongside our ignoble life – there is another: ceremonial, incorruptible, immutable: the life of the church. The same words, the same movements – everything as it was centuries ago. Outside time, that is, outside the treachery of change.” – Marina Tsvetaeva

I was reading Marina Tsvetaeva’s Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922 just at the time that Wikileaks revealed the scandalous efforts on the part of the Clinton crowd to infiltrate and subvert the Catholic Church.

So many others have spoken on this outrage that there’s no need for me to add anything, but I have to say that it gives Tsvetaeva’s “treachery of change” a whole new meaning…


Tsvetaeva is speaking here about the Orthodox church in Moscow in 1919 or 1920, just as it was about to be suppressed by the Bolsheviks.  While the fate of our Church will doubtlessly be less dramatic, I don’t know that our rulers’ plans for it are fundamentally different – only less open,

For more on the Fifth Column within the Catholic Church, see Is there a deeper network behind the ‘Catholic Spring’?.

For more on Earthly Signs, see Charles Simic’s Tsvetaeva, The Tragic Life.