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Middle Class Family Values Middle Class Self-Government

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What Liberals Know That Isn't So

by Christopher Chantrill
March 27, 2004 at 7:00 pm


WHEN LIBERALS put down The New York Times on Sunday afternoon or turn off Morning Edition as they arrive at work they sigh with satisfaction in the knowledge they are better educated and informed than other people.  And so they are.  But then there’s the stuff they know that isn’t so.  And if liberals are pretty good in the education department, they are also pretty strong in the self-delusion department.  Let us count the ways.

First of all there is economics.  Seventy years ago when Keynes published his General Theory to teach politicians how to fight the Great Depression, liberals felt they had died and gone to heaven.  For Keynes had proposed that the economy could not function successfully unless disinterested experts could manipulate aggregate demand and short-circuit the middle class’s excessive propensity to save.  Disinterested experts, liberals exclaimed?  That’s us!  And they plunged into a fifty year love affair with targeted tax cuts and stimulus plans that all ended in tears in the Carter malaise of 1979.  Ever since, liberals have steadfastly refused to believe that the Reagan tax rate cuts and strong dollar had anything to do with the twenty year boom that followed the bankruptcy of Keynesian economics. 

Then there is religion.  Liberals believe with Nietzsche that God is Dead, and that “fundamentalist” religion will soon die out, a superstition no longer relevant to the modern world, if indeed it ever was.  The sooner that religion dies out, the sooner we can say good-bye for ever to religious wars, inquisitions, witch hunts, and the marginalization of women.  This splendid sentiment rather overlooks the fact, reported by Finke and Stark in The Churching of America, that religious adherence has increased in the United States over the years from about 15 percent in 1776 to about 60 percent today.  And it also refuses to notice the elephant in the living room: the most successful, most militant, most inquisitorial, most bloody religion in history is socialism.  It also ignores the gathering evidence that religion, particularly enthusiastic Protestant Christianity, is exploding worldwide in South America, in sub-Saharan Africa, and in China—in fact, everywhere except Eurabia and Manhattan. 

Then there is the complementary of the sexes.  Second Wave feminists believed, nay demanded, that women could and should leave domestic life and live a public life just like men.  From time immemorial women had wanted to participate in politics, in the university, and in business, but men had prevented them.  If only women could take control of their own bodies and escape from the boredom of suburban domesticity, well, then you’d see.  Well, yes, we do see, only too well.  We know now that there’s a cost to it all.  There’s the cost of the nanny for the kids; there’s the cost in divorce and ruined childhoods; there’s the cost of the 40 million abortions; there’s the cost of the guilt.  We have learned that women can live like men, but what’s the point?  Why would they want to?  Years ago, Playboy stumbled on the truth when they had a young woman writer crank up her testosterone level to male levels with a testosterone patch.  She found that she was thinking about sex all the time, and even lusting after her best friend’s husband when sitting next to him at dinner.  And she didn’t like it.  Women and men are different, and the differences are complementary.

Why do liberals insist on knowing things that ain’t so?  The answer is: Power.  Ever since the North German burghers discovered that they were perfectly capable of governing themselves without elite assistance, the equestrian classes have been frantically trying to justify their power.  It could not be, they kept telling themselves, that the middle class with its businesses, its churches, its associations, and its nuclear family really could govern itself without their help.  So they decided that the new corporations were a dreadful threat to civilization.  But corporate giants like Rockefeller and Carnegie had no interest in political power and submitted gracefully to political regulation.  J.P. Morgan?  He just wanted the trains to run on time.  Then they decided that the middle class was exploiting the poor.  But the middle class wanted the poor to thrive as much as anyone, and to prove its bona fides submitted to the yoke of income tax.  Then they decided that the middle class was oppressing its women.  Tell that to Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, or Joanna Schopenhauer, girls.

Liberals cling to their myths for good reason.  Without them, they’d go out of business as national nags and nannies.  That would never do, for what would the robin do then, poor thing?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

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

What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

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

Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008

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

Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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