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by Christopher Chantrill
May 10, 2016 at 12:00 am
FOR CONSERVATIVES the sudden urgency of accommodating the transgendered in the nation’s bathrooms is incomprehensible. Where could such madness come from?
I’m glad you asked, because my Three Peoples theory explains the whole procedure to you.
The point is that ever since the Death of God — with Hume in the 18th century, or Nietzsche in the 19th or Time magazine in 1965 — the folks I call the People of the Creative Self have been imagining new gods.
In our age the reigning gods are now the gods of creativity. Young scions of the ruling class express a yearn to “do something creative” with their lives — videography, or activism, perhaps. And it all started with the Death of God to the educated classes beginning in the late 18th century, although I like to push the start date back a bit to Michelangelo’s “David” as the Birth of the Ego. When I look at the David I do not see David, or the beauty of marble, but the self-advertisement of a creative genius: a Trump for the early 1500s.
The point of the creative life is self-invention, and the story of the religion of creativity is the story of the various roles that creative genius could play upon the stage of life. In Romanticism there is the agonizing depth of feeling, in the Marx the rage against injustice. In Baudelaire there is the courage to look into the heart of darkness, in the Fabians the cool competence of the rational expert, in Dada the glomming onto the new physics of uncertainty, in feminism a revolt against domesticity, in environmentalism a new birth of upper-class asceticism.
But all these journeys of creativity are difficult, and made harder by the old saw that many are called [to creativity] but few are chosen. We should expect, therefore, that those not chosen would seek out creativity on the cheap, much as we moderns imagine ourselves as bold adventurers when we travel the world in the utter safety of jumbo-jets and cruise ships.
The easiest way to get creative is with sex. Now the arc of human sexuality is the most profoundly creative, perhaps the only creative, thing we ordinary humans can do, because every baby is a miracle. But really, darling, where is the creativity in falling in love, getting married and raising children, compared to advocating for global health?
So here you are, at 20, all kitted out in artistical black in some creative yeasty urban ideopolis. Now what? Art? Activism? The easiest way to get creative is with sex. Why not make a cult out of ringing the changes on sex, LGBT-wise? And why not haul in the tools of cultural Marxism to épater the bourgeoisie when they recoil in horror from your brave new world of non-binary gendering?
But why can’t the sexual creatives just go off and do it in their Manhattan lofts and wherever? Isn’t it enough for them to insist on the right to be creative in any way they choose?
Not quite. The culture of the People of the Creative Self has two strains. On the one hand is the absolute right to be creative and challenge the status quo; that is what they demand for themselves. But creatives also advocate for the People of the Subordinate Self using the politics of rights. Hillary Clinton said it the other day: “we’re going to defend our rights—civil rights, voting rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and rights for people with disabilities.” Because we’re all helpless subordinate victims.
Rights talk has turned out to be political gold for liberals, so why not combine the right to be creative with the rights of helpless victims? You demand your right to be edgy and out there with the demand to be cosseted as a helpless victim in your safe space. You launch your activist Panzer divisions into a double envelopment on the racist, sexist, bigoted god-botherers: it ends in a Kesselschlacht that would make a German general proud.
If you are a liberal the fight for inclusive bathrooms must look like the dawn of a Thousand Year Progressive Reich as the arc of history bends towards justice.
Unless it isn’t.
There’s another take on this, starting with my favorite quote from Nicholas Wade of The Faith Instinct: “Men like power and will seize it if they can. But if they can’t rule, their next preference is that no one rule over them.” That’s why I say that government is injustice and politics is violence.
People just hate being bossed around by sanctimonious hypocrites, whether they are Puritan or Progressive. And when they force us to accommodate their sad-faced gender benders, progressives really have jumped the shark.
In response Americans might easily start to look around for someone to lead us out of our slavery to the progressive Pharaohs in the land of Egypt unto a Promised Land.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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.
[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 Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, 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
[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
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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