The internal contradictions of liberalism

By John Orth

Over the years, as I listened to liberals talk, I have noticed that many of their key beliefs are directly contradicted by other values they hold strongly. As I started documenting these contradictions, I realized that virtually every tenet of modern liberalism is logically inconsistent with another of its main principles. Worse, liberalism embodies not only competing ideas, but it counts among its supporters antagonistic groups of people.

Viewed in scientific terms, the most basic test that any hypothesis must pass, before a more detailed examination would be considered, is the test of internal coherence. That is, the theory must not contradict itself, or embody mutually exclusive concepts. A political philosophy should be no different in this regard.

I must point out that only a spectacularly stupid hypothesis would be self-contradictory. Indeed, I can think of no example of such a thing in the physical sciences. To the best of my knowledge, no scientist in the past hundred years has been dumb enough to allow his name to be attached to a self-repudiating theory. It is quite surprising then, from a scientific standpoint, to see that such a philosophy has not only taken root in the political arena, but that it has almost completely overwhelmed competing ideologies.

Allow me to list the logical conflicts of liberalism that I have noticed. I make no claim that this constitutes a definitive list. I am sure any intelligent person, who put some thought into it, would have no difficulty coming up with additional inconsistencies.

Feminism versus ethno-cultural equity. One key doctrine of modern liberalism is feminism – the belief that women have the same rights as men. Fair enough. However, another key belief is ethno-cultural equity – the belief that all cultures are equal in value. Ethno-cultural equity forms the basis of multiculturalism. If all cultures are equal in value, the reasoning goes, then people of European heritage have no right forcing newcomers to this country to adopt our culture. The trouble is, as we saw during the invasion of Afghanistan, some cultures treat their women worse than they treat their dogs. Some cultures will not let women leave their house unless they are accompanied by a male relative. They must dress all the time in hot, heavy, black burkas. They are not permitted to work outside the home, or attain any more than a grade school education. There are cultures that perform genital mutilations on pubescent girls, or burn women to death on their husband’s funeral pyre.

 Consider this story, from the Fox News website: "A 16-year-old Kurdish girl, Heshu Yones, moved to England with her family who were refugees from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. She embraced the ways of her new home but was still proud to be a Kurd — she dressed up, wore makeup and fell in love. For that, her father stabbed her 17 times with a kitchen knife last October and killed her. He recently pleaded guilty to the murder. The girl apparently planned to run away but decided not to because she thought it would ruin her family. The killing apparently was sparked by the belief that she brought shame to the family. Women who want a divorce, reject an arranged marriage or have a boyfriend while living with their parents sometimes are killed because their actions are perceived as a dishonor to the family. [1]

Clearly, these ideas cannot be reconciled with the modern feminist viewpoint.

‘Gay rights’ versus ethno-cultural equity. Some religions take an even stronger stand against homosexuality than the most strident Christian fundamentalist. The majority of Muslim countries outlaw homosexual relationships. The seven countries in the world that carry the death penalty for persons presumed guilty of homosexual acts, justify this punishment with the Shari'a, or standard interpretation of Muslim jurisprudence. [2]

Consider how the liberal press characterized the recently (2002) assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Mr. Fortuyn was almost universally described as a member of the ‘far right’ or as a ‘right wing extremist’ because of his blunt views on immigration and multiculturalism. Yet Mr. Fortuyn was openly gay, and his politics were quasi libertarian. Mr. Fortuyn was intelligent enough to see that gay rights and multiculturalism become incompatible when the country’s second largest culture is openly hostile towards homosexuals. Rather than stick his head up his ass (like most liberals) and pretend this conflict did not exist, he spoke out. For this, he was shot to death.

Feminism versus restrictive gun control. The September 25, 1999 Toronto Star carried an editorial from Michelle Landsberg titled "Time for women to fight back against rape". Ms. Landsberg cited US studies that showed 70% of women who physically resist a rapist escape without being harmed. The trouble is, virtually all prominent feminists, including Landsberg, have been vocal and persistent supporters of restrictive gun control.

In 1966 the city of Orlando embarked on a highly publicized program to train 2,500 women in defensive firearm use. The next year the number of rapes in Orlando fell by 88 percent. Vermont has the lowest incidence of rape of all American states. Not coincidentally, it is the only U.S. jurisdiction that does not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. [3] Potential rapists are clearly deterred by the prospect of receiving a .44 caliber vasectomy.

The average male has twice the upper body strength of the average woman. It is only with a firearm that women can overcome this inherent disadvantage and protect themselves from rape and assault. Those who claim safety can be achieved with martial arts and weight training delude themselves. For every karate trained woman who can bench press 150 pounds, there are ten men who can bench press 300.

Landsberg and other feminists offer advice that is confused and contradictory. It makes no sense to tell women to fight back, then campaign determinedly to deprive them of the most effective tool for doing so.

Environmentalism versus massive immigration. During the last few years of the Trudeau regime net immigration into Canada averaged less than 100,000 persons per year. Between 1984 and 1993 Brian Mulroney continuously increased immigration levels until they reached nearly 250,000 a year. Now, the Liberals have set a target of one percent of our population - over 300,000 a year.

But where are all these people going? Into already overcrowded cities of course. We are paving over our best farmland to build highways, houses, and strip malls. We are clear cutting forests to get building materials. We are driving more cars longer distances and spewing more pollution. We are producing more solid waste and more sewage. We need larger and larger amounts of electricity, which can only be generated (realistically) by building more thermal or nuclear plants. How is all this good for the environment?

Nowhere is the incompatibility of these two liberal ideals revealed more starkly than with the recently (December 2002) ratified Kyoto Protocol. When Canada signed this asinine accord, we pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to six percent below 1990 levels by 2012. But 1990 was a recession year, and energy consumption has grown substantially since then. On April 12, 2004 Environment Canada released its 2002 greenhouse gas inventory which showed Canada released 731 million tons of greenhouse gases that year. To achieve our Kyoto commitment of 572 million tons by 2012 would require a reduction of over twenty one percent in ten years. [4] Incredibly, liberal immigration policies seek to increase our population by ten percent over the same period. Do they think all these newcomers are going to be burning cow dung for fuel? Liberal immigration targets have moved the Kyoto commitments from the realm of the preposterous to the realm of the insane. Nonetheless, if you have the audacity to question either one of these policies, liberals will call you all sorts of nasty names.

Concern for the working poor versus massive immigration. As Diane Francis noted in her book ‘Immigration, the economic case’ the one proven effect of large scale immigration of unskilled workers is to drive down wages at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Immigration supporters often argue that newcomers will only take the jobs that established Canadians refuse. This is backwards reasoning. These low paying jobs only exist in the first place because of the large number of people who are willing to take them. Let me give a concrete example.

Twenty years ago, the janitors at my place of employment (a major communications company) were unionized workers who enjoyed the same benefits as the technicians. Of course their wages were lower (in today’s terms they probably made about twenty dollars an hour), but they had the same dental plan, pension plan, and drug benefits. Today, the cleaning is done by a sub-contractor to a sub-contractor. Employees make just over minimum wage, have no benefits, must provide their own car, and often work only part time.

Twenty years ago a young man might have started as a janitor and made enough money (although barely) to support a family. Had the company tried to reduce this job to minimum wage at the time, no one would have taken it. Today, there is an endless supply of poorly educated, unskilled immigrants who are more than willing to work for $7.50 an hour. After all, a minimum wage job in Canada is still vastly superior to life in a Somalian refugee camp.

Wealthy corporations that want their buildings cleaned cheaply may have benefited from this change, but the working poor certainly have not.

Environmentalism versus trade unionism. There is no intrinsic reason why environmentalists and trade unionists have to be in conflict. However, environmentalists today are tending less and less towards rationality, and more and more towards a type of doomsday cult mentality. Consider this quote from Maurice Strong, organizer of the 1992 Earth Summit "We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse."[5] Needless to say, if industries collapse, the unionized jobs that went with them will disappear as well.

A secret government document leaked to the National Post estimated that compliance with Kyoto would cause the loss of 200,000 jobs in Canada. These aren’t jobs at Burger King, but primarily unionized jobs in the energy and auto sectors.

Anti-logging activists in BC have spiked trees, hoping to cause the death or injury of unionized forestry workers when their chain saws kick back.

It has been noted by political commentators both here and in the US that unionized workers no longer show the brand loyalty towards political parties that they once did. (The Democrats in the US and the NDP in Canada). Of course they don’t. Most workers are smart enough to see that by embracing environmentalists and immigration activists, these parties are now working against the best interests of unionized workers.

Aboriginal rights versus gun control. It is hardly a secret that liberals will look for any excuse to throw money and special hunting and fishing rights at aboriginals. The creation of the territory of Nunavut is a perfect example of this liberal largesse. $1.2 billion will be transferred from the federal government (or more precisely, from Canadian taxpayers) to the citizens of Nunavut over the first fourteen years of its existence. This is in addition to transfer payments of about 500 million dollars annually needed just to keep the territorial government solvent. This is a truly staggering sum of money, considering the entire territory has a population of only 28,000. Consider also the $152 million spent to relocate the village of Davis Inlet, Labrador. This tiny community contains only 680 people. The money spent on relocation represents almost $225,000 for every man, woman and child in the village!

The National Post reported recently (March 2004) that the federal government spends a total of eight billion dollars per year on aboriginals. Since most of this money goes to the 400,000 natives who live on reserves, the paper observed, this amounts to $80,000 per year for every family of four. Reserve Indians in Canada are probably the most heavily subsidized population on the face of the earth.

Yet Bill C-68 is a clear infringement of aboriginal hunting rights and violates numerous treaties. This contradiction will be thrust into public view shortly, as there is a Supreme Court challenge pending over just this issue. As I have stated before, we are about to see liberal policy makers be forced to choose between two of their sacred cows. It will be interesting to see which herbivore they think is the holiest.

Anti-discrimination versus affirmative action. This conflict has been dissected numerous times by numerous writers, so there is no reason for me to beat it to death here. In the US, the 1964 Civil Rights Act explicitly banned racial quotas. Within a few years, government officials, primarily in the courts and in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had turned the Act completely upside down. Instead of banning quotas, they now claimed it mandated them. It is ironic that the same liberals who fought to end discrimination in the sixties were, within less than a decade, fighting to make discrimination mandatory.

Aboriginal rights versus animal rights. Animal rights activists are yet another group of green haired, tongue pierced, wing nuts that seem to have found a comfortable home in liberal parties in many Western countries. Bill C-10(b) is a measure of their influence in Canada. Animal rights groups are stridently opposed to such ‘barbaric’ practices as hunting, fishing, and trapping. Too bad these three activities form the backbone of many aboriginal societies, and aboriginal rights are also high on the liberal agenda. Huh? I’m confused.

Opposition to the death penalty but support for unlimited abortion. Liberals have sometimes argued that conservatives are hypocritical because we support capital punishment but are generally opposed to abortion. How can you sanction the killing of a fully developed human being, they ask, while opposing the termination of an undeveloped fetus? My response to this question is that the morality of taking a life has little to do with whether or not that life is ‘fully developed’. The critical factor is whether the person being executed is innocent or not.

However, liberals should be more cautious about using this argument. That sword has two edges, and it is much sharper on the other side. How can liberals oppose capital punishment while sanctioning abortion right up until the moment of delivery? If they really believe human life is sacred, then why not the life of unborn humans as well? How can you fight for the right to suck the brains out of an innocent and perfectly viable unborn baby, while opposing the death of mass murderers?

The welfare state versus multiculturalism. Research by Frank Salter (a political scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany) demonstrates that people tend to be more altruistic it they perceive the receiving party to be ethnically similar to themselves.

Mr. Salter studied beggars in Moscow. Some were ethnic Russians. Some were Moldavians. (Moldavia is a small Eastern European republic that gained independence in 1991.) Finally, some were dark skinned gypsies, who were obviously of South Asian origin.

"Unbeknownst to them, the beggars were being monitored by a team of ethologists (students of the science of behavior). The researchers counted each time a passerby gave money to a beggar. A pattern soon emerged. The Russian pedestrians preferred to give to their fellow Russians, with the Moldavians, their fellow Eastern Europeans, as their second choice. The Asiatic Gypsies were so unpopular that they had to resort to a wide variety of tactics to scrounge spare change, ranging from singing and dancing, to importuning tightwads, to dressing up their children in crutches and eye-patches."

Salter comments further: "The liberal left supports generous welfare but also policies that add to ethnic heterogeneity, such as high levels of immigration. It does not seem to have occurred to them that they must choose between maximizing the two."

The basic assumption of the welfare state is that Canadian taxpayers will be endlessly willing to donate a large portion of our income to those less fortunate than us. But is it reasonable to expect this generosity to continue when we perceive the beneficiaries have nothing in common with us other than the fact that they walk upright? It is not a coincidence that the most successful welfare states have been in those countries, such as Sweden, where the population was (until recently) ethnically homogenous. (Ironically, the architects of Swedish socialism, Gunmar and Alva Myrdal, seem to have recognized this quirk of human nature. Commenting partly on the racial homogeneity of Sweden they noted in 1932 that if socialism did not succeed in Sweden "it would probably not work anywhere else".) [6]

The welfare state versus massive immigration. As economist Milton Friedman has pointed out, wide open immigration is incompatible with welfare statism. Mr. Friedman is not an anti-immigration activist. He is a libertarian, and many libertarians believe there should be no restrictions at all placed on the ability of people to cross national boundaries. However, he is smart enough to realize that under a system similar to this, such as the one dictated by current Canadian immigration policy, the welfare state is ultimately unsustainable. Eventually, programs simply become too expensive to maintain.

It has been about twelve years since Canada suffered a major economic downturn. I believe the next one, whenever it happens, will force this contradiction into public view.

Free speech versus restrictions on speech. Back in the early 70’s I remember listening to John Lennon’s song ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ on AM radio. I was puzzled by the fact that the music seemed to skip half a beat right before the line "You know it ain't easy." Eventually, I heard the song played directly from a record and realized why. The actual line was "Christ, you know it ain't easy." Radio stations at the time would remove the word "Christ" before airing the song.

Those of us who are old enough might remember the Rolling Stones’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Before they were permitted to sing their hit song "Let’s spend the night together" network censors forced them to change the lyrics to "Let’s spend some time together". I can still recall Mick Jagger rolling his eyes upward whenever he sang the modified line.

Now we have Janet Jackson’s pierced nipple, Howard Stern, women kissing women, and raunchy videos on Much Music. It is liberals who have been responsible for this change. Whenever conservatives lament this descent into degeneracy, liberals climb on their high horse and start lecturing us about the importance of free speech.

But it is liberals, both in Canada and the US, that have been responsible for the most egregious assaults on free speech – hate crime legislation and campaign finance reform.

Here in Canada, publisher Ernst Zundel has, at the time of this writing, been held in solitary confinement for over a year. He has never committed a violent act nor advocated the commission of a violent act. The Canadian government even admits this. His only ‘crime’ was to promote a revisionist view of the holocaust – that a maximum of 500,000 Jews were killed by Hitler instead of the generally accepted figure of six million.

The only scholarly work I have read on this topic is ‘Death by Government’ by R. J. Rummel. He places the number of Jews killed by the Nazis at 5,291,000. This is 709,000 less than the magic figure of six million. Should Mr. Rummel be jailed as well? What if he claimed only three million were killed? Two million? What is the cut off point? Please tell me, because I don’t want to go to jail.

Another Canadian, Brad Love, was jailed for writing letters critical of Canada’s immigration policy to MP’s. It is not clear what was said in these letters, since, to the best of my knowledge, this information was never published in any paper. Judging from the meager information that was provided, Mr. Love did not personally threaten any of the people he wrote to. He simply criticized Canadian immigration policy in strongly worded terms. Once again, we are left wondering what we can and cannot say. Step over the line and you’ll end up in jail. Where, exactly, is the line? They won’t say. Just don’t cross it. Understandably, people will be reluctant to say anything under these conditions. But of course, that is exactly what liberals want.

Both Canada and the US have placed restrictions on the amount of money that can be spent by so called third parties at election time. [7] This is the most unforgivable assault on free speech that these two countries have ever experienced. The Republicans who colluded with the Democrats to give birth to this monstrosity should be expelled from the party. Political speech is the one kind of speech that should never be censored. On top of that, an election period is the most critically important time for the promotion of political ideas, since most people only pay attention to politics at that time. Liberals have silenced the most important type of speech, and done so at the exact time when the free exchange of ideas should be least restricted.

When it comes to profanity, bad taste, pornography, flag burning, and insulting Christians, liberals are tireless champions of free speech. When it comes to political ideas they disagree with, they suddenly turn into Joe Stalin.


Modern liberalism may well be the most confused philosophy in the history of the world. A convoluted tangle of mutually exclusive ideas and mutually antagonistic groups of people, I don’t think it could be any more incoherent had it been designed by someone who was clinically insane.

In spite of this, there is no denying that liberalism is now the intellectual foundation of every major political party in every Western nation. Even our new Conservative Party, which we are told is much more conservative than the old PC party, is built upon liberal ideals. The party is not opposed to abortion, is not in favor of capital punishment, supports gay rights (though perhaps not gay marriage), supports multiculturalism, and echoes the Liberal platform on immigration. The Party is opposed to the idiotic gun registry, but is suspiciously silent on mandatory licensing, and the prohibition of short barrel handguns, semi-auto rifles, and high capacity magazines. Conservative leaders refuse to criticize our Soviet style health care system. In fact, the reluctance of Steven Harper, Belinda Stronach, and Tony Clement to discuss ‘two tier health care’ during the recent leadership campaign became almost comical. All three of them were terrified of even muttering the phrase, unless it was to accuse one of their rivals of supporting this idea. [8]

It is a sad testimony to the intelligence of the average Canadian that we have allowed our entire political system, even the so called right wing Parties, to be hijacked by a philosophy that appears to have been designed by drunken, dope smoking, delusional idiots. [9]



  1. Fox News November 14, 2003

  3. Holy Hatred – Homosexuality in Muslim Countries
  4. Just recently (October 2003) Alaska became the second State to allow unlicensed concealed carry.
  5. CBC News web site.
  6. No Turning Back, by Wallace Kaufman, Basic Books, 1994. As an interesting aside, Prime Minister Paul Martin is so far up Mr. Strong’s ass that only the soles of his shoes remain visible. As author Ezra Levant points out, Strong gave Martin a summer job during university, then hired Martin into Power Corporation’s executive suite. Martin climbed the ladder in Strong’s company, and eventually acquired control of Canada Steamship Lines.
  7. The Trouble with Canada, by William Gairdner, Stoddart books, 1990. Page 132.
  8. The Canadian restrictions have been overturned in an Alberta appeals court. It is unclear at this time (May 2004) whether the federal government will choose to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. The American restrictions have (incredibly) been upheld by the US Supreme Court.
  9. At the time of this writing, (May 2004) the new Conservative Party has not yet held a national convention, hence exact policies have not been decided. My assumption is that the new Party will not be further to the right than its predecessor, the Canadian Alliance.
  10. There is an interesting aside to this essay. Psychologists use the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ to describe the state of mind that occurs when a person finds himself holding mutually exclusive beliefs. According to psychological theory, this creates a type of internal tension that the person will seek to relieve, usually by discarding or modifying one of the conflicting ideas. Liberals defy conventional psychological theory. They appear to be infinitely capable of holding conflicting beliefs without any sign of internal conflict.