The previous post ended with the question as to whether the liberal values animating the Enlightenment inevitably redound to the anti- and illiberal values of the contemporary left.
As great as our founders were, did they create a damn slippery slope leading to today's slippery Dem dopes? Why does the left's vaunted "progress" always proceed backwards? How does George Washington end in Nancy Pelosi? Is there some sort of cosmo-historical law we're ignoring? Is it just political entropy, or something worse?
3,545 posts far exceeds the carrying capacity of my head, but I'm sure we've discussed this in the distant past. I no longer recall the details, but one book that described the plunge was Fr. Seraphim Rose's Nihilism: The Roots of the Revolution of the Modern Age. At risk of reinventing the historical wheel of karma, let's refresh our memories.
A note in the book indicates that I read this in July of 2004, some 15 months prior to the birth of the blog. Another life. A different Bob entirely. Just as each generation must engage the past anew, I suppose each new iteration of ourselves must do so as well. Can't change the past? Of course you can.
In tracing the path from liberalism to nihilism, Rose suggests that once we abandon the Absolute, we are on the path to... where we are today:
Nihilism -- the belief that there is no Absolute Truth, that all truth is relative -- is... the basic philosophy of the 20th century (from the Introduction).
Rose characterizes classical liberalism as a "passive Nihilism," or "the neutral breeding-ground of the more advanced stages of Nihilism." Why? What's the problem with freedom?
Jumping ahead a bit, the problem (in my opinion) is the ontological distinction between "freedom from" and "freedom to." Once reduced to the former, then freedom is robbed of its proper telos, which is conformity to truth, beauty, virtue, and ultimately to God.
But the immature, stupid, and crazy tend to reduce freedom to merely freedom-from: from maturity, from objective truth, and from psychological integration, precisely. See any Democrat street protest for details. When a progressive uses the term "revolution," he always means against the order of reality.
Many liberals don't even know this permanent revolution has passed them by -- beginning with Joe Biden. Speaking of former selves, whoever Joe Biden was 50 or 25 or even 10 years ago cannot possibly be reconciled with the Joe Biden that exists today, since there's no way to reconcile the vacuous liberalism of the former with the hateful leftism of the latter.
Thus we see the Nihilist dialectic unfold in Biden himself:
Liberalism is the first stage of the Nihilist dialectic, both because its own faith is empty, and because this emptiness calls into being a yet more Nihilist reaction...
As predicted by Fr. Rose, this "becomes a perfect parody of the Christian love of truth" that "sees only 'race' or 'sex'" in its place," or an "absolute truth from below."
But our real freedom is rooted in a kind of soft necessity in the absence of which liberty reduces to the anarchy of Antifa and BLM:
This necessity is found in the mind's assent to first principles, in which there can never be a defect of truth, and by which certitude of knowledge is acquired. In this sense we are determined. There is no liberty regarding first principles, as there is no liberty for an acorn not to become an oak. Our assent to first principles is necessary and spontaneous (Sheen).
Necessary and spontaneous. That right there is quite... pregnant with meaning, but we're out of time.