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Our Unserious Liberals Lee Harris: We Want More

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Changing the Minds of Judges

by Christopher Chantrill
February 28, 2004 at 7:00 pm

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THE DAY AFTER the president’s endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment, Rush Limbaugh was livid.  It made him feel powerless, he said, to realize that an unelected court in Massachusetts could change the age-old definition of marriage and the president could do nothing about it.

Sure, Rush said, we can pass a constitutional amendment to protect marriage from the depredations of the left, but “we can’t amend the Constitutions every damn time a rogue court or an out-of-control judge decides to start violating his oath of office.”

But why do the judges do it?  The reason, according to Thomas Sowell, is simple.  Judges want to be liked: not, of course, by the American people at large, but among their legal peers and liberal friends.

The remedy is obvious.  We must change the culture.  We must fill the world with our ideas.  We must create a world in which judges would feel embarrassed to legislate from the bench.  They would fear the disapproval of their friends.  They would fear the arched eyebrows at the next bar association dinner.  But how do we get there from here?

The truth is that we have a little problem.   F.S.C. Northrop in his Meeting of East and West pointed it out fifty years ago.  Wonderful as it is, Anglo-American democracy under the rule of law is based on three hundred year old ideas that cut no ice with modern minds burning with a compassionate rage against oppression and marginalization and a dogmatic demand for relevance.  Who did these modern minds turn to?  They turned to Germans.

It was Kant who took up Locke and Hume’s problems and solved them with his transcendental idealism. It was Kant who first suggested that matter and energy are interchangeable.  His suggestion led to Einstein’s equation.  It was Schopenhauer who first developed a theory of unconscious motivation.  His work led to von Hartmann’s Philosophy of the Unconscious and thence to Freud and modern psychology.

Other German thinkers were just as brilliant, but not so beneficial.  The ideas of Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche are imperishable, but they gave us socialism, communism, fascism, and eventually postmodernism.  We need to develop taxonomy of German thinkers that can differentiate the beneficial from the merely brilliant.  Stable Germans are safe around children and animals, but radioactive Germans should be handled only with care, for as liberal environmentalists have taught us, you can’t be too careful with radioactivity.

Stable Germans are thinkers like Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud, Jung, Wittgenstein, Mises, Hayek, and Voegelin.  Radioactive Germans are thinkers like Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger.  Stable Germans blended harmoniously into the Anglosphere.  Radioactive Germans inspired the insurgents who turned the academy into a left-wing echo chamber.

With the stable Germans we can construct a narrative that starts where Locke and Hume left off and that builds a bridge to the conservative icons of the late twentieth century.  And we can fence off the lefty chaps, the ones that inspired the nuclear explosions of bolshevism and fascism, into an enclosure marked “Danger: Radioactivity.” 

But wait!  How come Freud is in both lists?  Because 150 years after Schopenhauer, conservatives still don’t have a decent psychology, and it is killing us.  We must take Freud away from the left and build our own modern psychology. 

Fortunately, the heavy lifting has already been done.  Americans Clare Graves, Don Beck, and Ken Wilber have devised a developmental psychology that finally makes sense to conservatives.  It is called (unfortunately) Spiral Dynamics.  It says that there are all kinds of people in the modern world, but that principally there are impulsive red victims, purposeful blue believers, creative orange adventurers, and compassionate green communitarians.  It’s hierarchical in that red impulsives grow up to be blue purposives, blue believers grow up to be orange creatives, and orange egos grow up to be caring communitarians.

Here’s a question.  If your caring green communitarians try to cut out the evil orange corporate entrepreneurs and the rigid blue Christian fundamentalists, guess what happens.  The theory predicts that the lefties will regress society back to a red hell of pure power. 

Here’s another question.  If the government operates a welfare state that assumes that everyone is a red victim, a red exploiter, or a compassionate green social activist what happens to society?

Here’s a question.  If judges redefine marriage for the convenience of orange sexual experimenters and kick purposeful blues, who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, in the teeth, what happens?

That’s what we want the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to think about.

That’s what we want the friends of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to think about. 

So Rush Limbaugh doesn’t get to feel powerless.

And the president doesn’t have to spend his political capital on a constitutional amendment.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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