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The New Dogma: ‘I Desire, Therefore I Am’

Mark Lilla has an important and provocative essay [1] in The New Republic, in which he says our political thinking in the West has grown “shallow and clueless,” because we have lost the ability to describe the world we now find ourselves in. He calls it an “illegible age,” and a libertarian one. What does he mean? Here’s the heart of the matter:

The social liberalization that began in a few Western countries in the 1960s is meeting less resistance among educated urban elites nearly everywhere, and a new cultural outlook, or at least questioning, has emerged. This outlook treats as axiomatic the primacy of individual self-determination over traditional social ties, indifference in matters of religion and sex, and the a priori obligation to tolerate others. Of course there have also been powerful reactions against this outlook, even in the West. But outside the Islamic world, where theological principles still have authority, there are fewer and fewer objections that persuade people who have no such principles. The recent, and astonishingly rapid, acceptance of homosexuality and even gay marriage in so many Western countries—a historically unprecedented transformation of traditional morality and customs—says more about our time than anything else.

It tells us that this is a libertarian age. That is not because democracy is on the march (it is regressing in many places), or because the bounty of the free market has reached everyone (we have a new class of paupers), or because we are now all free to do as we wish (since wishes inevitably conflict). No, ours is a libertarian age by default: whatever ideas or beliefs or feelings muted the demand for individual autonomy in the past have atrophied. There were no public debates on this and no votes were taken. Since the cold war ended we have simply found ourselves in a world in which every advance of the principle of freedom in one sphere advances it in the others, whether we wish it to or not. The only freedom we are losing is the freedom to choose our freedoms.

Not everyone is happy about this. The left, especially in Europe and Latin America, wants to limit economic autonomy for the public good. Yet they reject out of hand legal limits to individual autonomy in other spheres, such as surveillance and censorship of the Internet, which might also serve the public good. They want an uncontrolled cyberspace in a controlled economy—a technological and sociological impossibility. Those on the right, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere, would like the inverse: a permissive economy with a restrictive culture, which is equally impossible in the long run. We find ourselves like the man on the speeding train who tried to stop it by pulling on the seat in front of him.


Yet our libertarianism is not an ideology in the old sense. It is a dogma. The distinction between ideology and dogma is worth bearing in mind. Ideology tries to master the historical forces shaping society by first understanding them. The grand ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did just that, and much too well; since they were intellectually “totalizing,” they countenanced political totalitarianism. Our libertarianism operates differently: it is supremely dogmatic, and like every dogma it sanctions ignorance about the world, and therefore blinds adherents to its effects in that world. It begins with basic liberal principles—the sanctity of the individual, the priority of freedom, distrust of public authority, tolerance—and advances no further. It has no taste for reality, no curiosity about how we got here or where we are going. There is no libertarian sociology (an oxymoron) or psychology or philosophy of history. Nor, strictly speaking, is there a libertarian political theory, since it has no interest in institutions and has nothing to say about the necessary, and productive, tension between individual and collective purposes. It is not liberal in a sense that Montesquieu, the American Framers, Tocqueville, or Mill would have recognized. They would have seen it as a creed little different from Luther’s sola fide: give individuals maximum freedom in every aspect of their lives and all will be well. And if not, then pereat mundus.

Libertarianism’s dogmatic simplicity explains why people who otherwise share little can subscribe to it: small-government fundamentalists on the American right, anarchists on the European and Latin American left, democratization prophets, civil liberties absolutists, human rights crusaders, neoliberal growth evangelists, rogue hackers, gun fanatics, porn manufacturers, and Chicago School economists the world over. The dogma that unites them is implicit and does not require explication; it is a mentality, a mood, a presumption—what used to be called, non-pejoratively, a prejudice. Maintaining an ideology requires work because political developments always threaten its plausibility. Theories must be tweaked, revisions must be revised. Since ideology makes a claim about the way the world actually works, it invites and resists refutation. A dogma, by contrast, does not. That is why our libertarian age is an illegible age.

 Read the whole thing.  [1] Lilla points out that we stumble along with the utterly unjustified view that everybody wants to be as free to choose as possible, to determine their own political futures, and to be materially at ease. What Americans don’t understand is that not everybody in the world wants radical American-style individualism:

 No peoples are as libertarian as Americans have become today; they prize goods that individualism destroys, like deference to tradition, a commitment to place, respect for elders, obligations to family and clan, a devotion to piety and virtue. If they and we think that they can have it all, then they and we are very much mistaken. These are the rocks on which the hopes for Arab democracy keep shattering.

We Americans think we can have it all too, and we are mistaken. But it’s going to take a while for us to learn that. What I find most insightful about Lilla’s essay is that libertarianism (as he defines it) has become a dogma. You cannot dissent from it. Most people do not know how to think beyond it, because it is the politics of the sovereign self. If you challenge it, to many you are challenging not just their ideas, but their existence. I desire, therefore I am.

Build a coherent politics on that. Build a stable society on that. Good luck.

73 Comments (Open | Close)

73 Comments To "The New Dogma: ‘I Desire, Therefore I Am’"

#1 Comment By Travis Moore Hearne On June 20, 2014 @ 9:51 am

Simple observation of the world around us might cure the bizarre misperception that

“Most people do not know how to think beyond [libertarianism], because it is the politics of the sovereign self.”

Is it really the politics of the sovereign self? I would argue instead that the intuitive politics of the sovereign self have a totalitarian flavor (or that the two tendencies co-exist). The argument that in order to achieve social ends, freedoms ought to be curtailed feels quite natural and intuitive to almost anyone, particularly when it is the freedoms of others that are being curtailed. Most non-libertarian political ideologies conveniently function in this manner. Examining our political landscape would suggest that this type of reasoning wins the day more often than not.

Most polling data does not show that majorities intuit their way to ideological libertarianism. Many libertarian ideas are in fact quite counter-intuitive – take the arguments for legalizing markets in human kidneys and drastically expanding immigration, for example. Most people do not intuitively hold these views. They only come to hold them after examining counter-intuitive arguments, usually made by economists.

Another assertion which runs contrary to a great deal of literature is that

“There is no libertarian sociology (an oxymoron)… since it has… nothing to say about the necessary, and productive, tension between individual and collective purposes”

Libertarians argue that the market is itself a model of natural social cooperation through which the efforts of individuals are coordinated. The market is a major part of the ultimate everyday human social experience. Contrary to the statement above, libertarian thinkers have produced quite robust models of how individual and collective ends are traded off through the vehicle of the market.

The sense of unreality of some of these arguments is really driven home by this bizarre bit:

“Libertarianism’s dogmatic simplicity explains why people who otherwise share little can subscribe to it”

Since when is broad appeal an argument against a political idea? How utterly strange.

#2 Comment By Franklin Evans On June 20, 2014 @ 10:06 am


I start further back and from a superficially originalist position.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“Libertarian dogma” is ironic and even more accurate than some have noted so far. It is a corruption of that foundational statement. It in fact contradicts the notion that The People are a defined entity, with distinct attributes and burdened with obligations and duties as an entity not imposed on any subset of The People, however that subset may be defined.

I personally find it to be hypocritical. I find the calls for “smaller government” equally hypocritical, and roll it all up into my deeply felt contempt for the eligible voters at-large throughout the nation. We, the People are in passive violation of our obligations and duties. Start with the voter turnout percentages, and work your way up the chain to legislatures and their behaviors often without fear of adverse consequences.

Who were the founders who objected to political parties per se? I don’t remember the reference for that, and we are living the proof of their fears.

#3 Comment By Sean Scallon On June 20, 2014 @ 10:28 am

“If libertarianism was central dogma, then either the Libertarian Party would actually get more than a microscopic percentage of the vote or the two major parties would incorporate libertarian thinking.”

The Constitution Party is a right-wing party and the Greens are a left-wing party and they get the same miniscule amounts. Pure ideological parties don’t do well in the U.S. system and never have. That’s Ronald Reagan stuck with the GOP and never entertained thoughts a conservative third party.

#4 Comment By Rob G On June 20, 2014 @ 10:32 am

“The problem is Americans don’t prize these goods, they pretend to.”

On the contrary, many do, but the pull of individualism is strong, and thus as Lilla states, we are torn, because think we can have it all.

#5 Comment By Jeff R. On June 20, 2014 @ 10:32 am

There is no libertarian sociology (an oxymoron) or psychology or philosophy of history. Nor, strictly speaking, is there a libertarian political theory, since it has no interest in institutions and has nothing to say about the necessary, and productive, tension between individual and collective purposes.

The author is simply broadcasting his ignorance. Nobody who was actually familiar with any of the ideas of folks like F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, or Robert Nozick would write something like that.

It seems to me this guy is just grouping everything he doesn’t like about the modern era under one heading and slapping a label on it, whether it fits or not.

#6 Comment By Rob G On June 20, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

~~Just because you don’t understand it and it doesn’t seem “common sense” doesn’t mean it can’t work.~~

Well, when you try it make sure to have it videoed. I’d like to see it, whether it works or not, purely for entertainment value.

#7 Comment By Ampersand On June 20, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

“And for my next trick, I shall pull myself up off the ground by my own hair!”

If you’re saying that it’s impossible for an individual to fully define themselves, given all of the other social influences around–I agree.

If you’re saying that it’s impossible for an individual to define themselves without the involvement of some deity or deities–I disagree.

I define myself as much as is humanly possible.

#8 Comment By Andrew S. On June 20, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

Is what we have here in the States really “radical individualism”? The vast majority of people with whom I’m personally acquainted, including members of my own family, have shown great willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others and for their communities. Whether that means moving to a small town to care for an aging relative or putting personal ambition or a “dream” aside to care for a newborn child, the bonds of love and duty are still powerful forces in the non-theoretical world.

I think we let ourselves become too distracted by celebrity outliers like the Kardashians, whose soulless fame-grubbing vanity is only matched by their witless vapidity. These Hollywood-engineered freak-bots are, in all likelihood, not your neighbors.

To the extent that we have witnessed an increase in individual autonomy and choice, this, to me at least, is a matter of technological advances. The sexual revolution would never have happened without the birth control pill. Women working outside the home and therefore becoming less dependent on their husbands for economic stability was partly a result of the growing service economy, partly a result of disruption caused by mass automation, and partly a result of the corporate cost-cutting by off-shoring and out-sourcing. A woman who can control her own fertility and provide for herself economically no longer has the same incentives to stay in an abusive marriage. Of course, this opens the door for couple to seek divorce for frivolous reasons as well. This is the trouble – every system of social organization is ripe for some abuse. A society without divorce would leave many women trapped in abusive relationships for life, but society with too lax divorce laws would lead to too many hasty, frivolous break-ups. In both case, the children suffer.

Ultimately though, the social model that will win out will be the one fits best with the potentialities of currently available technology. Rod has mentioned that folks in WEIRD countries have a diminished appreciation for the numinous and/or the supernatural in part because of their palpable disconnection with the natural world. All of our interactions with that world are now mediated by fairly advanced technologies – it’s not enough to look at a beautiful mountain’s peak, we must imagine it through just the right Instagram filter and consider how many likes it will garner from out online “friends” and “followers”. Our lives have become almost non-stop PR campaigns for how freaking amazing our lives are. Our rootlessness, our dependence on social networks crafted in cyberspace rather than in the real world, weaken our ties to our actual on-the-ground communities, communities that foster the sort of indigenous animism that commenter Thursday writes so much about.

Nevertheless, I believe that the things that make us human: compassion, self-sacrifice, love, will always be with us. The ways in which these virtues show themselves will be different however.

I’m really rambling here, but I guess to boil it down this: the number one threat to social stability and the “permanent things” is technological advancement and change. The only true conservative hope is to halt that change, and considering the actions required to do so would in all likelihood involve a great deal of violence and a high risk of death, I don’t see it happening.

#9 Comment By Andrew S. On June 20, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

Good Lord, my last comment is brimming with contradictions. Sorry for the confusion, I jotted it down during my lunch break.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 20, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

Lilla’s essay is long-winded, boring, and devotes far too many words to labeling what is going on rather than describing it. But this is a pithy statement that gets right to the point:

If you challenge it, to many you are challenging not just their ideas, but their existence. I desire, therefore I am.

That’s the fundamental weakness in the whole gay “identity.” Its all about how I feel, not about who and what I am … or, how I feel has been substituted for who and what I am.

#11 Comment By Joan On June 20, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

If you challenge it, to many you are challenging not just their ideas, but their existence. I desire, therefore I am.

Maybe you actually know people like this. The world is a big place. I’ve never met any. I do know people who are so attached to their modern lifestyle freedoms that, if you challenge those ideas, they take it very personally. Those I have known well enough to hear their life stories have reported adolescent lives of such profound misery that the break from the traditional way of life looked to them like a ticket out of Hell. When they hear proposals of return to those traditional mores, what it sounds like to them is “We should send you back to Hell and keep you there for life.”

#12 Comment By Andrew S. On June 20, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

Siarlys Jenkins said: “That’s the fundamental weakness in the whole gay ‘identity.’ Its all about how I feel, not about who and what I am … or, how I feel has been substituted for who and what I am.”

As a gay man, I have to say that this is total nonsense. Does the fact that I “feel” romantically attracted to other men, a feeling that includes the desire to settle down, to form a household, to provide mutual support for one another, etc, have nothing to do with “who [or] what I am”? I could only buy into such a distinction if I believed, like Rod and other orthodox Christians do, in a divine and objectively real cosmology which posits homosexual orientation to exist as some form of false consciousness.

If I do not affirm such a cosmology or similar arguments from natural law, I see no reason why I should not include my aforementioned “feelings” as part of “who and what I am”.

#13 Comment By Franklin Evans On June 20, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

Siarlys, there’s no way to put this politely: You’re pompously, arrogantly wrong in your assertion about the homosexual experience and homosexual identity.

There is no need to specify the context: The science of consciousness and identity is rife with refutation of your “substitution” fallacy. Indeed — and this part is from an informed layman’s perspective — psychopathology defines and examines the conflict between “who and what I am” with “how I feel” in pathological behaviors.

Homosexuals don’t “choose” to be attracted to their own gender. They “choose” to behave from it and act on it by the exact same process as any sexually mature person who is primarily attracted to the other gender.

The science is out there for your examination. Psychology is correctly denied the same confidence status of the “hard” sciences, but that is not a cause to dismiss it entirely. They know what they know, to the best of their ability under rigorous methodology, and rejecting it is… egotistical at best, confirmation bias as a general rule, and grasping at straws to justify branding homosexuals as evil (or sinners) at its worst.

I was going to offer my own take on “I desire, therefore I am.” Instead, after this, I’m going to just reject it as completely false and insist that the only verifiable phrasing is “I am, therefore I desire.”

#14 Comment By Mont D. Law On June 20, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

(On the contrary, many do, but the pull of individualism is strong, and thus as Lilla states, we are torn, because think we can have it all.)

What’s the difference between torn and too weak to resist temptation? How can the many value not having it all and be convinced they can have it all at the same time? Is the pull of individualism the same as freedom? If we eliminate the pull of individualism, what society in any time or place would ours most resemble?

#15 Comment By Roland de Chanson On June 20, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

The soul is composed of both intellect and will.

Cogito ergo sum.

Desidero ergo sum.

And the soul is part of the body. “Ergo” the ground of being is:

Cacito ergo sum.

#16 Comment By Charlieford On June 20, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

Thought you’d enjoy this. It’s a FB status from an about 25 year-old, evangelical Christian, quite conservative politically and theologically, and thoroughly Midwestern and conventional in lifestyle:

“My problem is not with your pride. It’s not with your sexual orientation, your race, your religion or lack thereof, your age, your gender, your political views, or your cultural tastes. My problem is you get all up in my face, unwarranted. If I’m not disturbing you and I’m going about my business stay up out my face. It’s not that I don’t respect our differences. It’s not that I don’t love you… I just don’t want you all up in my face.”

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 20, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

Franklin, the “science” of consciousness is a pompous exercise in subjectivity. But let me get back to Andrew, who is at least speaking of his own mind.

Andrew, the fact that you feel attracted to other men may be a part of who and what you are, but it is far from THE defining characteristic of a whole person.

There is a finite possibility that homosexuality is a form of false consciousness, or, as I prefer to think of it, a misfiring of biochemistry that produces a slightly different result than the statistically normative result that made sexuality an evolutionary advantage over asexual reproduction.

But it may be something you are stuck with, whether you like it or not, just as a redhead doesn’t have black hair, someone with sickle-cell anemia has a painful, life-threatening condition (which has its advantages if the family lives in an area rife with malaria — fifty percent of the kids die young, the other fifty percent survive), etc. You have to make the best of it, and forming a stable partnership with a man who desired to enter into one is one way to do so.

There is also a finite possibility that there IS “a divine and objectively real cosmology” which doesn’t conform to your own preferences. If it is objectively true, it doesn’t matter that you don’t believe it. If it is objectively nonexistent, it doesn’t matter that Rod believes it to be True.

No, you don’t have to follow the discipline of a cosmology in which you do not believe. The First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Lawrence v. Texas see to that.

But “I feel, therefore I am” is a dubious foundation for arriving at a sense of self. Feelings may be instructive, or destructive. I like to say that God gave me taste buds so I know what’s good for me. Although my lab tests are sometimes borderline, they aren’t way out of normal range, so I guess I can go on thinking that way. But, someone whose taste buds lead them into a choice and volume of foods that drives them to obesity and frequent heart attacks might have to take a different tack.

I don’t feel in the least threatened by the fact that gay couples can live together, buy a home together, that they develop deeply affectionate, mutually supportive bonds which go far beyond the hormonal pleasures of sexual stimulation.

But if FEELINGS are the measurement and touchstone… well, many if not most pedophiles are stuck on feelings that sex with children is what they were made for. There are significant differences — Lawrence concerned mature choices by consenting adults, whereas pedophiles prey on vulnerable children. Which simply highlights that “this is how I feel” is not a reliable criterion for disposing of a question.

I think that answers Franklin as well.

#18 Comment By Franklin Evans On June 21, 2014 @ 9:03 am

No, my friend, it doesn’t answer. It conflates and runs in a circle.

Being careful, as I warn others, of context:

You start with a blithe dismissal of the science, as I warned you would not be acceptable. I must take that as your personal opinion on it, since neither of us is such a scientist and we are not going to find agreement there.

Then you offer a rational argument, the “finite possibility” that there is in fact a scientific explanation that supports your initial premise.

Finally, you offer what I can only take as a spiritual argument, a “finite possibility” of some sort of overarching (cosmic?) debunking of homosexuality.

Unless I’m missing some subtle tone there which makes my impression completely wrong, my objective assessment of your argument is hypocrisy wrapped in circular logic.

There is no dichotomy here, no binary assessment with a boundary between the choices. I am. I feel. I have consciousness and identity. I am, arguable to those who take a different rational path for it, a spiritual being. I am everything all at once, but I have a physical structure that limits my modes of expression. Communication is equal parts rational meaning and emotional content.

The only thing that makes me different from my homosexual friends is entirely secondary and superficial to the everything that I am. Elevating sexuality to a primary criterion, let alone the first, defining criterion, is false on its face: we are everything that we are before becoming sexual beings, and we are everything that we are long after sex fades into a nostalgic background. We are left with a simple truth: I love the people I love, and our various sexual orientations influence how we might express that love to each other, not the feeling itself.

If you insist on rejecting the science — something that people do out of ignorance of its methodological discipline, which coming from you is personally surprising — try my final statement above as a replacement.

#19 Comment By J_A On June 21, 2014 @ 9:11 am

@ Charlieford

The ultraorthodox jews that throw rocks at women that walk past them are also objecting that these women are shoving their gender on their face.

If also the women stayed closeted in their house, they would not be stoned

The people in those towns that advised black persons not to let the sun set on them there did not object to their race. They objected to having the blackness shoved in their face while going in their business. Hence black people stepped out of the sidewalk (to the surprise of my Spaniard mother visiting New Orleans in 1965) so they would not get their race up in the face of nice white people.

And of course, no one had a problem with Rock Hudson sexuality. He died closeted. How considerate of him, not shoving his sexuality in the face of straight people. Not like Nate Silver for example. How dare “a man of very small stature” and “a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice” person -as Dean Chambers described him- be a statistician (and a good one to boot).

It’s so clear I don’t know how anybody could fail to see it

The closet for everyone, so that evangelical Christian, quite conservative politically and theologically, and thoroughly Midwestern and conventional in lifestyle people don’t have to see things they don’t like.

#20 Comment By Rob G On June 21, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

“What’s the difference between torn and too weak to resist temptation?”

No one can resist all temptation all the time. A person is “torn” when they feel themselves being pulled in two directions. You know — the angel on one shoulder, the devil on the other?

“How can the many value not having it all and be convinced they can have it all at the same time?”

Not everyone who believes they could have it all necessarily wants it all. Some people are more content with their state than others.

“Is the pull of individualism the same as freedom? If we eliminate the pull of individualism, what society in any time or place would ours most resemble?”

There is more than one type of individualism. Writers like Wendell Berry and Richard Weaver have argued that there is a selfish sort and a non-selfish sort, for instance.

#21 Comment By AnotherBeliever On June 21, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

This libertarianism is what I criticize on both the left and right in America today. On the left it’s framed in a rejection of tradition for its own sake, without examination or moral reason. At least there is some appeal to social obligation, though limited as it is to economics it is not satisfying. On the right, traditional appeals to community and personal virtues like duty and respect can scarcely be heard over the clamor of the overbearing individualism which is anti government, anti tax, anti urban planning, anti curriculum, anti everything. Except individualism, and more guns, in some corners.

America needs to realize soon that is had advanced the interests of the individual quite far enough. I’m not saying roll back civil rights or gay rights, but rediscover the sense of community and shared endeavor which enabled the pioneers to not just survive but thrive. (It sure wasn’t endless consumer goods or self fulfillment.)

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 21, 2014 @ 9:13 pm

Elevating sexuality to a primary criterion, let alone the first, defining criterion, is false on its face: we are everything that we are before becoming sexual beings, and we are everything that we are long after sex fades into a nostalgic background.

My point exactly, Franklin. Why are we arguing?

As to the referenced science, I am skeptical of social science in general, of psychology in particular, and of psychiatry as a field of medicine, and specifically of the “science of consciousness” because there are too many unknown, undefined, variables, AND, with regard to any science of the mind, because there is an inevitable manipulation of the very thought process of one person by the preconceived notions or plausible hypotheses of another.

Chemists still debate why proteins fold the way they do, so consistently, but there is no doubt what the chemical structure of most proteins relevant to life on earth consists of. (Not even Biblical fundamentalists argue about the present chemistry.) Nor do proteins have will and consciousness.

Bi-polar disorder is a real, measurable, diagnosible, bio-chemical disorder, e.g., and medical science can, somewhat crudely, but often beneficially, treat it. But a good deal of what’s called ADD and ADHD is really “Administrative Deficiency Disorder.” The kids mental and physical capacities aren’t being occupied, which is a very unnatural condition. (On the other hand, I have read testimonies from people with real chemical imbalances who said ritalin was the best thing that every happened to them, and I take their word for it.)

J_A, I suppose every community sets some sort of minimum or maximum standards for what we have a right to expect of each other. In America, we still more or less expect people to keep at least a short pair of pants on, and preferably something covering a bit of their upper body. Orthodox Jews stoning women who wear short sleeves are demanding that individuals, under no legal obligation to do so conform to the preferences of a minority powerless to enact that preference into law, because most of their co-nationals don’t support it. That renders it a kind of vigilante action.

As for the basis of Jim Crow, you are engaging in the Mad Lib fallacy. What “white” people objected to was not having “blackness” up in their face, but to any diminution of subservience from people who were known to be black. Southern law went to great length to try to codify and identify blackness — by no means did they want to ignore and overlook it. They wanted to root out people who were “just passing.”

#23 Comment By Reinhold On June 21, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

I see now, rereading parts of the article, that Mr. Lilla is trying to make a distinction between ideological systems and presumptive dogmas; but presumptive dogmas, as I said before, are basically what ideological systems are founded on, and that’s why some people in this forum are angry that Mr. Lilla’s depiction of libertarian dogma––basically the presupposition that individual freedom of some variety is the absolute value, if I understand it right––is not the theory or the system of (usually right-wing) libertarianism (though the left-wing, with the same ideological presupposition, has its own libertarian, theoretical and practical, tradition). But, Mr. Lilla, again, doesn’t seem to want to allow prejudicial dogmas their role as foundations for actually articulated theories of politics and economics.