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Hope and Change in the Real World Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

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The Rape of Honor

by Christopher Chantrill
November 12, 2008 at 8:28 pm

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LAST WEEK’S election really was the best possible result that conservatives could have hoped for. The Democrats got a solid presidential win (but not a landslide). They increased their Congressional majorities (but did not get a filibuster-proof Senate). And best of all, the American electorate showed the world that it could vote a black man into the presidency.

The first thing to do is to stop the silly recriminations of he-said-she-said. We have bigger fish to fry. Now that the Reagan-Bush era is history it is time to think about where we conservatives are and where we want to go.

To analyze the state of America let us use the three sector model of Michael Novak in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism: political, economic, and moral/cultural And let us begin with the crisis in the “moral/cultural” sector, the zone of values, of religion, education, media, movies, literature, science, philosophy, and all that.

At the end of Sources of the Self, liberal Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor writes about the “moral imperatives” of our “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.

Taylor argues that we all today agree about freedom, benevolence, and ordinary life. We all agree on science, except on how it all began. We all agree about the importance of “creativity” and self-expression. We just disagree passionately about the details.

This would be great, conservatives would say, if only. If only freedom weren’t limited, benevolence mandated, and ordinary life belittled. If only theistic thinking weren’t derided, science politicized, and self-expression twisted into a transgressive Cult of Creativity. And we see all these wrongs issuing from a single source: the vanity and the arrogance of a progressive, educated elite that has betrayed the high principles so elegantly enunciated by Taylor with a squalid lust for power and a corrupt taste for license.

At the center of the conservative critique is an outrage that we might call the Rape of Honor.

In Honor: A History, James Bowman describes honor. In men it is the courage to stand in line with your brothers defending your community. In women it is chastity, experienced as the good opinion of other women. If you don’t believe this, then try calling a man a wimp and a woman a whore and see where it gets you.

But our liberal friends celebrate a cult of the anti-hero. They celebrate the man who stands with his progressive pals to challenge the broad community. They educate young women to a rejection of chastity and encourage sexual adventure and a liberation from the age-old status of the “victim of the species.”

It all seems tremendously edgy, but the outcome looks like this:

The chart is Figure 2.7 from “The Spread of Single-Parent Families in the United States since 1960” by David T. Ellwood and Christopher Jencks. The numbers come from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. They do not tell a tale of challenge or of liberation. They tell a tale of neglect and squalor.

You could call it the Rape of Ordinary Life. The social revolution of the 1960s has not really touched educated people like you and me. The Sixties jacked up the single-parent rate among the children of the educated from five percent to ten percent. Nothing to worry about there.

But over a third of the children of the uneducated live with a single parent, and over a quarter of the children of the partly educated live with a single parent.

For this we surrender up our liberty and one third of our national income in taxes every year?

Ellwood and Jencks talk about this social revolution in neutral social-science terms: the “spread of single-parent families.” But the Eeyores of the world know better. They know you don’t just happen to fall into the water. “‘I was BOUNCED,’” said Eeyore.” And it all happened in 1965 when the liberal Tiggers bounced the War on Poverty upon us.

When you rape men of their courage and encourage them to do their own thing rather than stay true to their commitments there is a consequence in fatherless children. When you rape women of their chastity and the good opinion of other women there is a consequence in social pathology and a general coarsening of the culture.

Conservatives know that this is wrong. It is cruel and it is unjust. It is ground zero in the liberal Waste Land.

If we believe that this betrayal of our kids is wrong, if we believe that America can be better than this, then there is only one thing to say. This shall not stand.

And the long march to back up words with action begins today.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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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


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


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


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


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.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
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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


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


Drang nach Osten

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Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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