Liberalism has many paradoxes. It is, historically, a jealous and publicly authoritative anti-tradition Tradition - a political philosophy intended to liberate man from the "tyranny" of tradition - and is therefore a hopeless bundle of contradictions. Liberalism tolerates every religion or point of view that claims no public authority, which means it tolerates nothing but itself. (Only an honest, coherent, self-respecting tradition can genuinely tolerate other traditions.) Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski of Wyoming Catholic College exposes the cult of Liberalism in two recent essays: "The Tradition of Nothing Worship", Part One and Part Two.
Part Two reveals the essence of Liberalism as follows:
People in the modern west may use the term liberalism, and identify “other” points of view in contrast to it, but because they are inside liberalism, and do not know it, they do not recognize the liberalism of liberalism. They do not see it as an alien, artificial ideology projected upon the walls of their minds by the elitist puppeteers of academia, religion, bureaucracy, and media, but simply as “just the way things are.” They are like fish that never recognize their immersion in water because they know of nothing else.
What then is liberalism? MacIntyre gives a popular definition of liberalism here:
"Initially, the liberal claim was to provide a political, legal, and economic framework in which assent to one and the same set of rationally justifiable principles would enable those who espouse widely different and incompatible conceptions of the good life for human beings to live together peaceably within the same society. Every individual is to be equally free to propose and to live by whatever theory or tradition he or she may adhere to…"
Up to this point, we have a “cave definition” of liberalism. As we read on, however, light begins to shine upon the shadows:
"… unless that conception of the good involves reshaping the life of the rest of the community in accordance with it …"
And this qualification of course entails not only that liberal individualism does indeed have its own broad conception of the good, which it is engaged in imposing politically, legally, socially, and culturally wherever it has the power to do so, but also that in so doing its toleration of rival conceptions of the good in the public arena is severely limited.
Liberalism claims to provide a religiously neutral social framework within which individuals can autonomously determine their own vision of the world in perfect freedom. MacIntyre rejects liberalism’s official public claim that it lacks any particular conception of the good and any restrictions on the conceptions of the good of others. If MacIntyre’s characterization of liberalism is correct, then liberalism is unmasked as a liar.
And it is a particularly pernicious lie. Since liberal culture is, according to MacIntyre, founded upon a particular conception of the good and a particular doctrine of truth, namely the good of the privatization of all claims to truth, and the truth of the irreducible plurality of conceptions of the good, and since the publicly authoritative rhetoric of liberal culture denies having any substantive conceptions of its own, then what liberalism amounts to is an established and intolerant belief system—a religion that indoctrinates citizens into disbelieving in its very existence. Just as the puppeteers must ensure that the shadows are never seen as shadows, else the cave be identified as a cave and the prisoners break their chains, liberalism must never be exposed as liberalism, that is, as a historically contingent, non-necessary, manmade ideology. It must at all costs be identified with “the facts,” “the way things are,” as the inexorable social reality. In short, as the great Nietzschean ironist Stanley Fish, a cave-puppeteer with a genius for exposing his fellow puppeteers to the light, has confessed: “Liberalism doesn’t exist.”
The problem, however, is that it does, and its existence is no longer limited to an abstract idea or a revolutionary experiment—it is now a well-established social reality. The liberal incubus has found a willing consort in the decrepit culture of the secularized west, and, as MacIntyre tells us, has begotten a son, a living tradition:
"In the course of history liberalism, which began as an appeal to alleged principles of shared rationality against what was felt to be the tyranny of tradition, has itself been transformed into a tradition."
And unfortunately, we citizens of the modern liberal democracies of the west are its traditionalists.