Why Whig History is Wrong

First for a definition: Whig history is essentially progressive history, an idea that presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, with liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy being at the apex of development and thus objectively the best political systems.

Problem is, every single element of Whig theory is wrong.

Inevitability of progression

Whigs define progression in terms of liberty and enlightenment. But progress, in general, is not inevitable. Change is inevitable, but change can go in one direction, other direction, loop, play billiards… assuming that change is automatically good, or even that a certain change is always good, is extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous is the idea that change that introduces new stuff is automatically good: new things are by their nature untested, and are more likely to be dangerous and destructive, than they are to be constructive.

Progression towards liberty

Progress towards liberty is neither inevitable nor obvious. But first, what is liberty? One good definition is “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behaviour, or political views”. Traditional definition focuses on restrictions by the state and the government, but this is now insufficient.

Modern society is in fact much more restrictive than medieval society was. We have guaranteed political freedoms, but restrictions are present on all sides, and are hardly less extensive and excessive for being extralegal. Bullying and oppression are as an acceptable mode of behaviour as they ever were, as long as they are targeted against undesireables. And where in medieval times one had the liberty of relative isolation and anonimity from everybody except the immediate neighbours and tax collectors, this is no longer true. The moment you do something “problematic”, everybody and their laundry will be aware of it.

Further, defining liberty in individual terms is insufficient. Society is an organism as well, and it too deserves liberty of developing along its natural paths. This is even more sorely lacking. And if society as a whole is not allowed liberty, how will individual have it?

Progression towards enlightenment

Enlightenment is defined as sovereignity of reason and the senses. But there is a major problem here: enlightenment is self-destroying. Humans are not beings of only reason: we have reason and emotions both, and both are necessary. Trying to establish reason as a sole ruling force ends in there being no reason at all. Modern society is no more “enlightened” than medieval society was. We are, in fact, extremely ignorant – of the past, of the future, of the human nature. Modern-day Westerners pat themselves on their backs, basking in the supposed enlightenment, while not seeing any of the flaws of the modern society – or if they do, typical response is to suggest something even worse. They are also unwilling to see advantages and flaws present in the societies unlike their own – which of these ignorances is given priority depends on their feelings towards the society in question. And trying to point any of that out results in a, generally, extremely emotionally charged reaction devoid of any reason at all.

Liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy – best or worst?

Liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy are seen as best options due to rule of law. But what is law, and what does “rule of law” really mean? Premodern monarchies and societies were, in general, ruled by tradition. Laws were a matter of interpretation of tradition. Modern society is ruled not by tradition, but by laws written by a bunch of corrupt professional liars. Laws thus no more reflect society and tradition; rather, they reflect the ideology and philosophy promoted by the people with money. Whoever can buy the lawmakers can make the laws, and that is exactly what happens.

Even if one assumes that lawmakers follow the popular will, question still remains on whether that is a good thing at all. I personally do not know anyone who knows even a single law (I certainly don’t). You do things because you were taught them by parents. And if laws follow the tradition, then it is merely a matter of clarification and expansion of the already existing foundations. If they do not, however, then laws will naturally be broken en masse – people who do not come from the culture which produced the laws will not follow the laws anyway. And so laws are useless. Yet liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy by their nature assume that laws are the foundation of the society, and thus can replace the tradition and the custom. This alone makes them dangerous, as it leads to acceptance of things (such as mass immigration, constant lawmaking, excessive state regulation etc.) which destroy the functional society.

5 Comments

  1. I would add that liberty itself isn’t necessarily conducive towards a good life. It matters “liberty… for what end.”

    Philosophers since at least Plato and Aristotle have thought some lives were better than others, and mere amusement is among the lower of lives, the sort of life one can only fool oneself into thinking is good. You may have tons of things to do, under some regime, but if none are worthwhile or satisfying — amusements like video games, hollywood, causal sex, etc. — it’s hardly worth having that freedom in the first place.

    Maybe you (1) start a family without expecting it to disintegrate and your kids to hate you or be brainwashed by blue haired freaks, (2) buy and tend land, (3) pass on your tradition to the next generation, a lot of these hedonistic “freedoms” offered by modernity start to seem quite suspect.

    I’d personally rather have a fulfilling life than most of these “freedoms” offered today. (Though a few like medical advances are nifty.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. In fact, humans seem to despise liberty… they want to be told what to do and what to think. Progressives have thrown off the “shackles of tradition”, only to get shackled by overnumerous laws. And they think it a good thing! Meanwhile, rates of depression are on the increase because (post)modern relativism and materialism means that there is no purpose to, or in, the life. Medieval peasant had more spiritual quality to life than modern man, despite inferior material conditions. And what many today refuse to realize is that humans do need a balance of material and spiritual for a healthy life.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s