Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chambers On the Two Faiths: Freedom and Communism

In the second page of his book Witness, Whittaker Chambers talks of “this sick society, which we call Western civilization,” locked in a deadly struggle between “the two irreconcilable faiths of our time—Communism and Freedom.” Chambers is correct in describing “freedom” as a faith. The philosophy of freedom, like communism, is a religion, which preaches the establishment of a promised land where there is total freedom. The classical liberal notion of freedom, developed between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, is founded on the principle of individual and social perfectibility—the classical liberals believe that through their “rational” philosophy a perfectly free and atheistic society, a utopia, can be created. In the twentieth century, the idea of freedom has become fully utopian through the work of several classical liberal and leftist thinkers: I can think of the nihilistic notion of total freedom developed by the Neo-Marxists (the Frankfurt School, the Fabian Society, and the anti-fascists like Antonio Gramsci), the ersatz individualism in Ayn Rand’s utopian fiction, and the utopian stateless society of Murray Rothbard.

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