Dear Mr. Tingley,
I read the below comment of yours over at the post called “Western secularism’s bi-polar problem with the disabled” on the Greatest Group Blog in the World and I thought that since I’m short on time at the moment and that this was a brilliant comment, I would steal it for my blog. I hope you don’t mind.
Compassion is the soul of liberalism? No, sentiment is.
A compassionate man understands the suffering of another and then acts to help him. A sentimental man is disturbed by the suffering of another. What moves him is his own discomfort. The satisfaction he seeks is relief from that discomfort, which may or may not involve helping the sufferer. The compassionate man seeks relief for the sufferer. The sentimental man seeks relief for himself.
This is why we all know sentiment is cheap. It is about how WE feel, not the sufferer. So, it makes no demand upon us on behalf of the sufferer.
Liberalism is the political manifestation of this. Liberals demand that the welfare state must address the suffering of others, so that they can be satisfied that the right thing is being done – without having to do anything. (Jacking your jaw or wringing your hands doesn’t count.) If this were not so, why is it that liberals contribute much less of their time and money to charity than non-liberals? They expect, despite its impossibility, the welfare state to be compassionate in their place.
So, liberals gain banal self-satisfaction by pulling the lever for the welfare state. Whether or not the welfare state actually relieves suffering is the bureaucrat’s job. Any acknowledgment that the welfare state causes suffering is to notice that the emperor wears no clothing, thus puts the onus of compassion back on the liberal. That will not do. Reality must not intrude upon the liberal’s fix for his sentimentalism.
The phrase “pornography of compassion” was used earlier. This is an apt description of the rationalisms that liberals rely upon to keep the awful wreckage the welfare state visits upon their fellow human beings out of mind. Just as pornography perverts the ends of eros towards lust, the liberal’s dehumanizing abstractions of suffering perverts the ends of compassion towards sentiment. So, the unborn are sacrificed to “reproductive health”, the mentally ill to “homeless rights”, the disabled to “death with dignity”, and so on. Whatever blinder keeps suffering out of sight and so out of mind.
This explains the perverse contradictions of liberalism.