Since liberalism stems from an unmet psychological need, namely the need for our sins to be forgiven, it is not useful to rationalize an inherently irrational movement. The problem of trying to find a rational definition, in the same vein as dialectical materialism explaining communism, is that the rational components of liberalism are far looser and much more ad hoc than Marxist ideologies. Certainly, there are some bright-lines which distinguish liberal and non-liberal, but remember that the ideology itself claims John Locke, John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and John Rawls as liberal ancestors, despite the massive distance between their respective works.
According to Burnham, liberalism is “a set of unexamined prejudices and conjoined sentiments,” which undergird a post-Christian society and which emerge from the high verbal IQ “opinion-makers” which he defines as, “teachers, publishers, writers, Jewish and Mainline clergy, some Catholic bishops, the Civil Service, and the leaders of the monied Foundations.” These sentiments and prejudices are largely unspoken and unacknowledged by the liberals which hold them, but form the foundation of their perception of the world and reality, from their idealistic doctrine of Man’s perfectibility to their moral preference for anyone who is not them.
What this means is that the liberal’s notions are not derived from principles but from instinctive, gut-level reactions to situations which are then rationalized post-facto into the categories of Peace, Justice, Freedom, and Liberty. Trying to understand liberal thought by beginning with these principles is working backward, and theorists who attempt to do this create theories which lack in predictive accuracy; in short, it’s bad science.
Instinctive drives form the basis for the majority of human behavior. They are virtually unavoidable outside of God’s grace.
When it comes to Northwest European’s capacity for guilt, one can argue that this pro-social phenomenon has been co-opted by liberalism according to the excerpt. The point of moral life is to not merely act on impulse, but to discover the reasons for those impulses and feelings. Otherwise, it is impossible to address the root problem as one operates according to their various drives and sentiments.