July 5, 2012

I Don't Need Your (Culture) War. However...

In response to my post Law of the Day on Tuesday, Brother jk notes "I tend to run from this stuff because it is tainted with "The Cuture War" which I avoid."

Amen, brother. The "Culture War" belongs with the Wars on poverty, drugs, cancer, etc. They aren't "wars" and they can't be won. However, neither can we disconnect our love of liberty from the culture that sustains it.

I'm not planning to make this an wide-ranging essay, just a few observations and assertions that can be tested and critiqued. I am a huge fan of Paul Johnson's epic Modern Times, and on the Fourth of July Ed Driscoll of PJ Media taps it, if only to partly disagree with Johnson's main thesis.

It's a great, wide-ranging piece, but I don't think Driscoll has quite hit the nail squarely on every point, this time. The New Man theme, the "starting from zero" conceit, got its big debut with the French Revolutionaries, not the scientific socialist eugenics technocrats of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. About a million died in that 18th century effort to change the very nature of humanity, admittedly a pittance compared to the tolls of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and their heirs, but given the old technology the French had available, pretty large, non?

One of the many, many wonderful things about the U.S. of A. is that we managed to have our culture "wars" over the last five decades with hardly a handful of persons actually killed on either side. Lots of court battles, from Griswold to Roe to Lawrence and all points in between, have broken the legal power of the State to ban birth control, abortion, adultery and sodomy. The battle in most educational institutions to "celebrate" homosexuality, teenage oral sex and condoms for every 12-year-old has been won, and our third graders are being drilled on how "proud" people should be about, well, you know, THAT.

We are in the middle portion of a vast experiment in yes, moral relativism. Nothing is bad, except "trying to tell other people what to do." The funny thing is, the Founders, who ranged in religious conviction from hard-core Christian to Deist to (closeted) atheist, all seemed to believe that individual liberty and continued self government would have to stand on a base of a moral people.

I consider myself a libertarian. I don't believe the power of the state should be used to enforce all of my personal beliefs about the Good, the True and the Beautiful. However, I don't believe that a culture that says it's beautiful to have children with no fathers and no means of support except the state, to screw who- or what-ever you want without social censure and to "tolerate" the intolerable is going to continue to thrive.

I don't want a war, for sure, but I want to be able to apply social pressure to meet the standards that allow for freedom and prosperity. These standards include some restraint and delayed gratification. I'll keep speaking up for those, call it what you may.

Rant Posted by Ellis Wyatt at July 5, 2012 2:37 PM

Speak up, by all means available. Convince, cajole, even tell "other people what to do." But do so privately. Keep the power of the state out of it.

I'm reiterating rather than contradicting (except on the point that humanity can't win a "war" on cancer) but the focus of your ire should not be those engaged in anti-success behavior, rather the government policies which enable and encourage them. The Siamese-twin of liberal social policies must be a complete dedication to allowing individuals to succeed or fail by their own lifestyle choices. The social safety net is the root cause of cultural decay, not freedom.

I'm reminded at this point of an awesome Tweet by brother Robert last week: "Reality doesn't listen to speeches."

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2012 5:24 PM

"The social safety net is the root cause of cultural decay, not freedom."

I would add that the government coerced social safety net is the root cause of decay.

The VOLUNTARY social safety net that indicates that we have the wealth to support our children, parents, friends and neighbors and even complete strangers if we wish to is the hallmark of a hugely successful society.

Posted by: dagny at July 5, 2012 6:23 PM

Your points are well taken, and I could have been clearer--all of the things I see as undermining the culture are indeed national government approved or supported laws, programs or education system initiatives. I would argue that states should have the right to restrict or ban some of the things I rant about, see Justice Scalia's many dissenting opinions...

I fight with myself on whether I would vote for them, though.

"Nobody ever said it was gonna be semi-tough."

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 5, 2012 6:25 PM | What do you think? [3]