Originally published here

“Equality is a false god.”

You will be familiar with this phrase if you have spent any time in right-wing spaces online. Well-known among the Right, this aphorism represents the fundamental rejection of the left-wing worldview. It is a recognition of the fact that ‘equality’, as imagined and espoused by leftists, is a lie and an impossibility; a fanciful promise made by and for idealistic midwits whose political vision begins from the lofty heights of abstract theory, far removed from anything tangible, possible, or achievable, and whose understanding of power, nature, and man himself is insufficient.

It is a rejection of equality as “god”; that is, the supreme good, the political and philosophical summum bonum. That position, however, must be occupied by something. So if not equality, then what? Many on the Right might answer “freedom”; and in light of the increasing authoritarianism of the so-called ‘woke’, the doomed and ruinous pandemic policies, and the emergence of insidious proposals like 15-minute cities, digital IDs, central bank digital currencies, and—the prize—the social credit system, this is entirely understandable. Yet, I would like to put forward the case that freedom, like equality, is a false god, and that conservatives should be wary of adopting it as their prime value.

The appeal to freedom is wedded to no particular political position. It is employed by many different groups, from tax-hating libertarians to class-conscious communists. Thus, the language of freedom can be easily adopted by those whose goals we thoroughly oppose. For example, it is in the name of freedom that leftists demand universal access to elective abortion. It is in the name of freedom that we are demanded to recognise and respect make-believe identities and use the accompanying make-believe language. It is in the name of freedom that we allow vulnerable people to undergo irreversible surgeries and become lifelong medical patients in service of “living their truth.” It is in the name of freedom that we open our borders to any and all who wish to come here. The French Revolutionaries butchered their enemies in their thousands as “enemies of freedom.” The devilish philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau that underpinned their campaign has freedom as its ultimate goal. Equality itself is cited as a means to freedom, and Marx argues that the communist utopia alone will yield this end. If you state “freedom” as your ultimate value, opposition to any of this will have you branded a hypocrite; and this is, in fact, quite justifiable.

Part of the problem is the flexibility of the term ‘freedom’. Different groups claim it to mean different things, and, as such, it has no one fixed definition. Some, like Thomas Hobbes, believe freedom to be purely negative; that is, a condition in which a subjective agent can act unimpeded by external obstacles. Others, like Rousseau, believe in a ‘positive’ freedom; that is, freedom from any restriction at all facilitated by access to power and resources.

Whichever definition one subscribes to, the appeal to a general freedom tends to be employed by those speaking from a position outside of power. Hence, why the Right are currently the ones primarily associated with it. Yet, the alliance that the Right has with the cause of freedom is merely one of circumstance, and we must not allow transient circumstances to cloud our view of what we truly value. The appeal to freedom can be a powerful rhetorical technique, but freedom itself should not be held as the prime conservative ideal.

Conservatives must recognise that what modern people—especially young people—lack is not freedom, but purpose. The modern world offers us freedom, but freedom to do what? To merely pursue our appetites? To endlessly consume? To drift, aimlessly, through the wilderness of modernity? Freedom is valuable, but in the absence of purpose, it invites nihilism. The individualistic, Rousseauian form of freedom towards which our societies have drifted over the decades sees sentimental attachment and personal responsibility as burdens from which we must be liberated. And now, we see a generation that is ‘free’, but entirely directionless.

Thus, we should not be promising freedom as the ultimate teleology of our political movement. Rather, conservatives must step over the appeal to freedom, and instead offer heroic purpose, a call to duty, a demand for discipline, propriety, and standards, and, ultimately, a path to a sense of satisfaction and belonging. Modern man’s spirit yearns for these things.

This is to say nothing of the present political conditions. The Right is finding its feet, but we face a towering edifice. We are less organised, less monied, and less serious than our enemies. Thus, the situation demands men of vision, focus, and will. Men who possess the level of conviction that the circumstances demand. Men who seek not mere freedom, but duty and greatness. We must call forth these men, appealing to their hunger for meaningful purpose.

Beneath mere politics lies the hunger for a deeper, more fundamental form of duty. I argued in my previous article that the man of conservative temperament recognises that much of the substance of life is to be found in those relationships with places, things, and, above all, people which are, first and foremost, sentimental, not transactional, utilitarian, or otherwise rationally justified. Attachment which exists at the spiritual level; a love of what one has because it is his. It is what he knows and what he loves; he has no need for some ‘objectively superior’ model. Such attachment to home, family, faith, community, country, and nation calls forth a sense of duty that can offer modern man the purpose he lacks. Parenthood, for instance, is one of the deepest of sentimental relationships, calling the individual to embrace their duty as father or mother. The same is true of all familial roles. Love of home, community, and country likewise fosters a sense of duty. A sense that one does, in fact, have responsibilities that have been imposed upon him by history and circumstance, and that to reject such responsibility in the name of “freedom” or anything else would be to shirk his duty. Such a person may not be living Rousseau’s vision of freedom, but that is quite alright with me.

Duty and freedom are at odds with one another, and conservatives must choose which is more valuable. Freedom can be valuable, but it is vague, easily subverted, and offers no purpose or sense of belonging. Heroic duty to home, family, faith, and nation, on the other hand, is something that only the conservative can authentically offer, and represents a route to the meaningful purpose that modern people desperately lack. Reject the false god of freedom; embrace duty.