Friday, July 4, 2008

Does sexual liberation deter white men from being traditionalists?

When you've been a traditionalist for a while, you become accustomed to the obviousness of non-liberal truths. You wonder why everyone can't see, for example, that Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate to Western countries, or that whites should recognize and be conscious of ourselves as a group and celebrate our heritage, or that homosexuality should not be publicly recognized by society. Yet you also know that the vast majority of your countrymen, including most "conservatives," would brand you a racist and a Nazi, compare you to a Klansman or Hitler, for saying these things. Still, the obviousness of them is on your mind, and you can't help but wonder whether, given enough time and a chance for a non-threatening conversation, you could make converts.

Therefore, it was inevitable that over the past year I would find myself from time to time imagining "coming out" as a traditionalist to my classmates, calmly trying to convince them, and wondering what their reactions might be. They are overwhelmingly liberal, but some of them seem like reasonable people who could be persuaded of a non-liberal view with sufficient evidence. So, I tried to imagine with whom I might broach the subject some day, perhaps in the midst of shooting the breeze during some downtime on a call night during 3rd year. Obviously, the black students are out of the question. There aren't many of them, but they have an enormous amount to lose if the affirmative action regime and American society's current practice of treating them deferentially were to come crashing down. Not only would I be called a racist, I'd probably be reported to the Dean and face disciplinary action. The Asian students, being at the top of the heap IQ-wise, would probably be more sympathetic to arguments about racial differences, but no more sympathetic than the blacks to arguments that America should take conscious steps to remain a white, Western European, Christian country.

Then there are the white students. Half of them are women, and I can just imagine the jaws hitting the floor when I say that, while there will always be exceptions, the general rule should be that women stay home as housewives while men are leaders of the society. Again, Dean's office, here I come. That leaves the white men. If no one else would, wouldn't they be able to be convinced of how much better life would be in a traditionalist America?

Blacks, Asians, women... in my mind's eye, those in these groups call me racist, sexist, bigot, etc. But the predicted white men's reaction to my traditionalist views is: "you're never going to get laid with an attitude like that." Young men know that most single young women are liberal, and, except for those with strong religious convictions about sexual behavior, the overarching concern in life is to have sex with women. So the truth or falsity of non-liberal views is almost irrelevant; the question for the young man is "will women be attracted to me if I accept this view versus that one?" This phenomenon has spilled over to religious conservatives as well; a few weeks ago I remarked to some evangelical Christian friends that I thought that by and large, women should not be doctors, and one of them said to me, "you're never going to get married!"

One would think that white men would realize how the liberal regime has made the life they plan to lead so much worse: the expectation that women will work and children will be placed in day care leading to a fractured family life, affirmative action programs causing the white man to fail to get the promotion he deserves, refusal to acknowledge racial differences leading to his children being placed in classrooms full of unruly low-achieving minority children, preventing them from learning at the level they're capable of, no-fault divorce laws making it easy for his wife to walk out on him, and the very same sexual liberation he prizes when young creating the view that sexual fulfillment is paramount in life, making it likely that his wife will walk out on him when she becomes "bored." Instead, non-liberalism is out of the question, because if they adopt it women won't want to have sex with them.

There is much more to say about this topic; in particular, the direction my thoughts are going is toward the inversion of the concept of manhood, of what is masculine vs. what isn't; how in the past restraining one's sexual desires was seen as manly, whereas today to bend over backwards for liberal women in order to "get laid" is seen as manly while to care more about standing on principle than about opportunistically having cheap sex will get one labeled weak, feminine, wimpy, etc. But that is for another post. I admit here that I could be wrong; I haven't talked to any of these men about the big questions facing our society and I don't know for sure what their reaction would be. But based on everything I can surmise from interaction with those of my own generation, their reaction would be what I described. Which means, if we can just somehow free them from this enslavement to sexual desire, somehow help them gain just a little more foresight, we could potentially convert large numbers of white men to traditionalism. What do others think?


John Savage said...

Well, Hermes, I take it you're not married yourself. If you had proof that the lifestyle you favor works, in the form of a wife who shares your traditional views, then it would be easier for your classmates to conclude that traditional views wouldn't doom them to celibacy. The fact that they demand such proof, to me, doesn't seem like evidence that they suffer from "enslavement to sexual desire" -- surely you don't expect them to never want marriage, do you?

Then the question becomes, "Where do I find the kind of woman I want?" Of course you are not going to find her at a top university; that may be part of your problem. If she grew up in a truly traditional family, chances are she didn't aspire to that kind of education. Provided she can meet the right man without attending a top college, it doesn't make any sense for her to do so. (My experience is that the only traditional-minded women who attend most top colleges are Asian, and they have a reasonable chance of meeting a like-minded Asian man. But as far as traditional-minded white women, good luck finding any on a campus.)

I would bet that once you find a woman who supports your traditional lifestyle, you can make the argument to your male friends, "See, marriage such as my wife and I have, works! What you seem to aspire to -- marrying a career woman -- doesn't work." Your friends may be unsure whether a marriage to a career woman will work, but as long as they think the alternative is even worse, they'll either take the risk of marrying such a woman anyway, or will avoid marriage altogether. You have to show them by example that you advocate the best alternative. That's what I intend, anyway. Luckily for me, I am out of the academic setting, and don't intend to ever return. I meet a broader cross-section of people these days, which I find refreshing.

Terry Morris said...

a few weeks ago I remarked to some evangelical Christian friends that I thought that by and large, women should not be doctors, and one of them said to me, "you're never going to get married!"


It is a wonderfully humorous world we live in, is it not. Don't you just hate people sometimes?

I'm married and have been for twenty two years (to the same woman no doubt) in spite of the fact that my wife understood early on in our relationship that I did not believe a woman should work outside the home under most any circumstances generally speaking; that her job was/is primarily a homemaker, AND that she knew full well that I thought, even then, that woman's suffrage was a huge mistake in American history, that I did not look on her as my "equal" in many respects, among other non-liberal things.

But considering the radicalism of my beliefs, how could I ever expect to stay married? ;-)

Laurel1861 said...

Hallo, Hermes,

I have to disagree a little with my friend John Savage here; there is at least some small likelihood of meeting a conservative young lady at a "top school." I know three personally. One is in a MLS program, one getting a PhD, and another is in the workforce after earning a BA. All were the "braintrust" girls at their Christian high school, and because they were smart and good at book learning, they were funneled into the career slot by counselors and teachers.

Every single one of these girls wishes a man would see them as something other than a brain and a "friend."

I call these kind of young ladies "collateral damage" of the feminist movement, which has infiltrated even Christian high schools. They really were given little encouragement to seek other career options, like wife and motherhood; those are not consciously devalued, just overlooked.

But that's neither here nor there.

What John has to say about your example is cogent. Success at anything speaks volumes.

What I despair over is your sense of isolation. Even the White males seem to have been lost to complete cultural decadence. And that can be discouraging.

I would not give up, however, casual conversations with other men can often show tiny symptoms of their incipient conservatism (once you get past the "if you wanna get laid stuff); and intelligent questioning of those with the symptoms can often call forth the full-blown syndrome.

God bless you in your efforts,

p.s. The Art of Manliness blog is very interesting...and, amazingly enough, popular. A little surfacy, perhaps, but interesting.

Hermes said...

John, I don't think the objection is that traditional views doom one to celibacy; it's that they doom one to chastity. By which I mean that what most men in our society expect is that they will spend their teens and twenties having a sequence of sexual relationships and/or one-night-stands, having their fun, sowing their wild oats so to speak, then maybe starting to think about getting married around age 30. What I think the're afraid of is losing that "fun" period of life, having to go straight to "settling down" without getting to have sex with multiple different women first. Think of the dread that a man in our society is supposed to feel about an approaching wedding day, all the jokes about how sex stops once you're married (that's when it should start!), the bachelor parties with all manner of debauchery and ribaldry as though this was your last chance to do what men are really supposed to do. That is the attitude I was trying to describe. And while you're right that my having a happy, traditional marriage would do a world of good in convincing them, it wouldn't necessarily steer them away from that belief in the need to "sow one's wild oats."

I didn't intend for this post to be about my own personal effort to find a wife, but you raise some interesting points. I currently have one foot in each of two camps: medical school, and a church group for young adults. For the reasons you give, I have no interest or desire to look for a wife at school. The church group is a different story, but it's not always easy. I've long had a theory that, among evangelical women, the ones who 1) want to get married and be housewives and 2) are half-decent looking always manage to come out of college married. I currently have no interaction with that set, leaving two remaining types: those who did not focus on getting a husband in college, meaning they're either career-oriented or somewhat immature and worldly and more concerned with how cool a guy is, and thus socially out of my league; and those who would like to be housewives, but have not managed to find themselves a husband yet because, frankly, they're rather homely. Haven't quite worked out that conundrum yet. (Whether traditionalist men have an obligation to bite the bullet and marry plain/overweight girls would be an interesting topic for discussion.)

Terry, yes, your wife should divorce you post haste. ;) Seriously, congratulations for finding such a woman. Further along those lines, last weekend I was visiting with my uncle, an evangelical-raised convert to Roman Catholicism and a physician, and he advised me to keep some of my more, uh, extreme views on the down-low when meeting women. I envisioned some woman marrying me, then divorcing me and writing a memoir--"I Married a Racist." For it's true, as I've written before, that evangelicals are textbook right-liberals: they stand firm on a few social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, but were I to say aloud that America should take steps to remain a white, Western country, a good evangelical girl would recoil in horror. Now, obviously, that's not the first thing I say when I meet someone new, but you can't keep secrets like that in marriage. Sooner or later, my future wife will have to accept that I understand there are innate racial differences in intelligence.

It might not be as bad as it seems, though. Mark Richardson once had a post arguing persuasively that if you can find a woman who wants to stay home and raise children, in effect it doesn't matter what her other views are. I'll look it up later if I have time.

Laurel, I know there are a few conservative Christian girls in the university or workplace who were pushed in that direciton but really would rather give it up and stay home. I wouldn't at all mind marrying such a girl and being her "way out," but they are so few and far between that I don't consider it worthwhile to try to actually meet them at the university; instead, it's more likely that I will meet a girl at church and find out that that is the situation she's in.

Laurel1861 said...

Hi, Hermes,

I do think a lot of men feel the cultural pressure to "sow wild oats." Most eventually settle down. It's too bad that culturally the wild oats thing is expected.

The girls I mentioned in my email are not bad looking at all; never were, although two of them are very tall (5'10" or thereabouts, and no, they're not related to each other, just good friends). But that wasn't my point. I was just saying that sometimes girls feel pushed into becoming what the culture says a woman must be, just as men feel pushed. "Honors College" girls have a whole different set of expectations placed on them than standard level students; sometimes that kills the rest of life.

But that's neither here nor there. I sincerely hope you find a gracious and loving wife in your church group (or wherever) who can support you in all your undertakings. My take on her knowing your racial views (which it's probably obvious I share) is that it's smartest to establish relationship first, and a level of caring on her part, then educate her regarding the truth. Women tend to work from the heart outward, no matter how brainy they are, and if one cares for you deeply, she will do her level best to adapt to your views.

"It might not be as bad as it seems, though. Mark Richardson once had a post arguing persuasively that if you can find a woman who wants to stay home and raise children, in effect it doesn't matter what her other views are."

Perhaps. But it seems a wee bit like a kind of unequal yoking, doesn't it? Having been unequally yoked myself, I think I can speak for how difficult that path is.

God bless,

Mark Richardson said...

Hermes, I've been happily married now for five years, so perhaps it's worth relating how I found the right woman.

It wasn't easy. In my mid-20s, I went looking for a traditionalist woman in various church congregations and conservative political organisations. There simply weren't women there in the right age bracket.

It looked grim for a while, but then several things changed.

First, I decided to stop looking for a ready made traditionalist woman, reasoning that they weren't likely to exist in such a liberal society. Instead, I thought it better to look for an apolitical woman 'with potential'.

Second, as the female cohort pushed toward 30 they became much more openly family oriented. A lot of them began to make it clear that career was no longer their first concern and that they wanted husband, house and baby.

It's interesting to observe women making this change. They stop mucking about and playing games. They present themselves in a nicer, more respectful way. They play it "straight".

I met a woman I "clicked with" and who I definitely found physically attractive (still do). She spoke early on, as most of the women were starting to do, of how she wanted children. She wasn't in a particularly high-powered job and was stressed at work.

She wasn't into politics. Like most non-political people, she gravitated between the politically correct and incorrect.

I thought she was right in her cell structure, so to speak. That if she was given a chance to have a good family life that her feminine instincts would kick in and that she would choose a more traditional arrangement.

And that's what has happened. About two months after our son was born her maternal instincts kicked in in a big way and she became devoted to being a mother. She enjoys having a couple of afternoons off when our son is at kinder, but otherwise she wants to be with him rather than at paid work.

What she expects from me is that I spend time interacting with our son, and that I spend some time in the evening with her. She sees it as her job to look after the house.

My one regret is that I married in my 30s rather than my 20s. So my advice would be to work your way into a good position in terms of your career and finances, and to keep your social circle as wide as possible.

Try to be in a position in which, once the women you meet start to take family seriously, you can take advantage of the situation at an earlier age than I did.

Adam T. said...

Hermes, as usual, you - as well as your commenters - echo so many of my thoughts exactly; it would take me all night just to sit here and type up what I agree with!

Rather than simply cheerleading, though, I like to try and add something original to the discussion, so here are my two points:

1) Mark talks about finding an 'apolitical' woman. As a matter of fact, I agree with an awful lot of Mark's comment, but particularly this. If you ever get chance, it's worth listening to a sermon by Paul Washer of - the central theme of the sermon is that in marriage, over time, your wife will become what you, as her husband, guide her to become through the way you treat her.

2) I'm a medical student too, with views similar to yours, and these days I don't really interact a lot with anyone else other than fellow med students. For my own personal sanity, I have found it absolutely critical to remind myself every so often that medical students do not represent mainstream views. We're a small minority! So even if 99% of your classmates profess beliefs that you find bizarre, remember that they're merely the majority of a small minority, if you see what I mean.

Adam T. said...

And yeah, it's heartbreakingly disappointing to see even fellow Christians adopting the culture's views (re: the guys who said you'd never get married with views like yours...).

Adam T. said...

One more thing for now -

I've long had a theory that, among evangelical women...

...(Whether traditionalist men have an obligation to bite the bullet and marry plain/overweight girls would be an interesting topic for discussion.)

It absolutely would, Herm, and I would have a ton to say on it, partially because of past experiences. I have a related theory which says that the less attractive a girl is, the more she is likely to embrace traditionalist concepts of family. (And we could talk about the reasons for that.)

Still, I wanted to combine your theory (which I agree with) with something Mark said:

Second, as the female cohort pushed toward 30 they became much more openly family oriented. A lot of them began to make it clear that career was no longer their first concern and that they wanted husband, house and baby.

As a matter of fact, I think I've finally hit pay dirt with the woman I'm currently involved with. She's slightly older than me (and I'm late 20s), and because of that she's reached the 'I want family' stage. She's also more traditionalist because, per my theory, she used to be very overweight, but she's since gotten in shape and is actually quite attractive now. The White Whale, indeed - I'm really hoping it works out with her.

(The downside to the fact that us traditionalist men are often having to wait for women in their late 20s or even early 30s is that a) they're less able to bear children, and b) it's a long time for us to be struggling with our own chastity. But finding a traditionalist woman at any age is better than never finding one, right?)

I also agree with John:

If you had proof that the lifestyle you favor works, in the form of a wife who shares your traditional views, then it would be easier for your classmates to conclude that traditional views wouldn't doom them to celibacy.

I agree; the problem is that in our society traditionalist views do doom you to celibacy throughout your early 20s, at least. No easy answers here, I guess.

Hermes said...

Mark, thanks for the info. I remembered reading a post or comment on your blog where you made that point, but I hadn't known it was based on personal experience.

I've seen the change you're talking about in women as they reach their late twenties. The ones who are just out of college (or, as I believe you Aussies call it, university) are still like schoolgirls in so many ways--cliquish, gossipy, not willing to give the time of day to a man they don't happen to have a "crush" on. (Even the conservative Christian ones.) The ones in their late twenties are much more sincere, friendly, and down-to-earth. Interestingly, before I moved to attend medical school, I was talking about this subject with the pastor of my church, and he described the same phenomenon. He told me I should look for a girl in her late twenties because it's then that they begin realizing that the career they've been sold on their whole life isn't all it was cracked up to be, become much more interested in being a wife and mother, and become much more accepting of what their prospects realistically are.

The one area where I can't follow your advice is my age. Medical school is a bit of a career change for me, so unfortunately, I am already 31 years old. I would have liked to marry in my twenties, but various circumstances precluded this. Because of my age, though, I am all the more sensitive to this issue--I don't want to be too old as a father, nor do I want to reach an age where the majority of late-twenties women consider me too old for them.

Adam, I don't have time to listen to that sermon right now, but I think you're right. Our expectations of total equality between the sexes blind us to the fact that women naturally tend to follow men's lead. I don't have the citation right now, but I remember reading somewhere in the midst of a discussion on women's suffrage that the vast majority of married women vote exactly the same way as their husbands. So it doesn't surprise me, and in fact it's encouraging, that as long as a woman is not a committed liberal she will wind up drifting toward the attitudes of her traditionalist husband.

On your final point, I don't think it's necessarily true that having traditionalist views dooms you to celibacy through your early twenties. You may already know this, but there is still a common phenomenon within the evangelical subculture in which a good portion of young people attending Christian colleges get engaged while still in school and get married immediately upon graduation, around age 22. It's common enough that there's a whole collection of sayings around it, like the idea that a girl goes to college to get her M.R.S. degree, or that girls who remain not spoken for their senior year get "ring-by-spring fever" as graduation approaches. This was not an option for me, since I didn't become a Christian believer until the summer between high school and college, and thus choosing an evangelical college hadn't crossed my mind, but sometimes I wish it had. Based on my own personal observations, a good number of the best girls get married off this way: the ones who want to make marriage and family their priority, have nice personalities, AND are good-looking. They get married before they have a chance to graduate and become, so to speak, worldly.

Laurel Loflund said...

Hi, Hermes,

Good discussion! Just thought I'd let you know that I excerpted some of your post and comments on this topic and posted them into a discussion at titled: Are Women Frightened by Kinism? or is it Just Change They are Frightened Of?

The discussion wanders a bit, but I thought your post fit in well with the wander...

Hope that was all right.

lina said...

I disagree that you will have to settle for an older or fatter woman than you would prefer.

A lot of young(pretty and thin even) women realize that feminism has sold tham an empty bag of goods but they view the life of a simple wife and mother as closed off to them now. They think most men want the driven, 'independent' feminist types as that is the message they get from their female friends, magazines, TV, movies. They play along with what they think men want.

As a former young women, I'll tell you we are totally mpotivated by attracting a husband. We are just no longer taught how to do it and encourage in behavior that will hurt those endeavors.

Reach these women by befreinding them. It may take time. And you will certainly face rejection so just steel yourself that some will still be duped. Slowly spoon feed them the reasons that society is better under the traditional arrangement. Slowly show them how families lead happier lives. But plenty aren't. You just can't tell who they are from the outside.

Now about the racialist viewpoint, I'm guessing you aren't in the southeast. Boy, would you ever find like minded men there!

It would be nice if there was a way for people who cht about similar views online could meet up in realife. Some type of regional event or even just diner meetings. Jared Taylor speaks at Universities occasionally. Maybe he will come to yours. You could meet people there.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I apologize in advance for digressing from the topics you have been discussing.

I just find it interesting that you find open recognition of homosexuals abhorrent, yet spend the remainder of your post complaining about how you should be recognized for your conservative views.

You are effectively in the same position homosexuals were some decades ago -- yet you feel homosexuals should continue to feel this oppression while your conservative views should not. If I understand correctly, you are opposed to the mere expression/public acknowledgment of their sexuality. On the other hand, you are distraught by the fact that you cannot openly express your conservative views without being ridiculed. In fact, you go even further in that you actually feel "converting" people to traditionalism should be permissible.

Don't get me wrong, I empathize for your position. I do feel you should be able to express yourself, but by the same logic so should homosexuals.

Hermes said...

Anonymous, I think you misunderstood my post. I was not complaining about being ridiculed for my views; I was speculating on the likelihood of success in articulating those views to various groups of people. And of course, the purpose of articulating those views is to convince people that they are true. Do you think that converting people to traditionalism should be impermissible? If so, do you think converting people to liberalism should be impermissible as well?

You seem to be laboring under the liberal assumption that all views are equally valid and must be treated as such. Logically, that principle would ultimately lead to the abolition of all views, since as long as some views exist which are distinct from other views, they are unequal. In order to have a society, a civilization, we have to have a set of principles which are considered normative for the entire society.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily believe converting someone to traditionalism/liberalism should be impermissible. I merely pointed it out to draw a contrast between society unwilling to accept your views and society unwilling to accept homosexuals. Whereas homosexuals simply exist, you exist and furthermore want to convert people to traditionalism. Which has more potential to be offensive?

Even if we were to dismiss aforementioned goal of "converting" people -- it's obvious you feel some form of despondency in being able to even express your views because your peers are not receptive towards them. This is similar to how, I imagine, homosexuals feel. They are (generally) not trying to convert, but rather want to live and be able to express themselves. You seem to have a problem towards society accepting that, and oddly enough also have a problem with society NOT accepting your views.

fyi, I do not operate under the assumption that all views are equal. However, I do operate under the assumption that the ordinal ranking of said views are subjective to an individual. I also agree that we need to have normative principles for our society to function (as a matter of fact, most people agree). The difference between us is that your ideas of which principles should be necessarily standardized are far more rigid than mine.

Hermes said...

But, while homosexuals might not want to convert people to homosexuality, people who think homosexuality should be publically accepted and considered normal by society do want to convert others to that view.

Here's the thing. There are two opposing views: one which says that homosexuality is OK and should be accepted, the other which says that traditional morality should be accepted, which excludes the acceptance of homosexuality. What you seem to be trying to do is establish a third view which is "above" the level of these two views and governs them. This view says that the expression of both views is legitimate and in both cases should be considered acceptable by society. There are two problems with this.

The first is that the two views are mutually exclusive. By dint of subscribing to the one, a person necessarily wishes the other to wane in acceptance. The second problem is that I think this third view, this uberview, is illusory. It cannot really exist. By stating that mutually exclusive views are both valid and that it should be acceptable to publically express any view without being looked down upon or considered abhorrent, it places itself on the same side as the liberal, morally liberationist views, such as the idea that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. It pretends to be neutral, and you may wish it to be neutral for the time being, but it will inevitably evolve into a view that says it is not acceptable to think there is something wrong with homosexuality. It must do this because if it does not, it will be seen as siding with those who promote discrimination against those who are trying to stamp out discrimination.

Basically, I think you are trying to promote some sort of third way that allows for both liberalism and conservatism, but your view is really a liberal one; it's just not as far down the path of liberalism as those who do want to expunge disapproval of homosexuality from polite society. But it will eventually get there.

Anonymous said...

Oh, let there be no confusion -- I stand with the liberal agenda when it comes to the rights of homosexuals.

In its simplest form, my post asserts, "the apprehension you exhibit in expressing your views is precisely what homosexuals feel." Perhaps now you can empathize with what it is like to be afraid, not for your safety, but for how society views you (which we both know can be quite debilitating, otherwise you wouldn't have made your post in the first place).

I do believe you are wrong in your stance on homosexuals, let there be no mistake. By default this also means I am opposed to the view that homosexuals should be shunned by society. I do not side with any 'superior, neutral' position -- I am very much so to the left on this issue.

Here is my take-home point: I acknowledge the fact that in my saying you are wrong, the ranking of "freedom of expression" lies above "traditionalist approach." Yours, on the other hand, is the inverse. This is also NOT objective.

I think by stating that you should be able to express yourself and your traditionalist views, you've mistaken me for implying that I agree with you or find your views equally as valid. I do not, and if you read my posts again you will see I never claimed your views as correct/equal to mine. I simply stand by the opinion that you should be able to express them (the same logic applies to homosexuals). This is, unequivocally, a liberal standpoint.

Hermes said...

But of course, I can express my views. There is, as of yet, no legal consequence to my doing so. The only consequence is that I would be considered a bigot and would be shunned by liberal society. I take it that you, as a liberal, think that that is the correct response for people to have. So what about the present situation would you change? It's not as though there's a "hate speech" law on the books which I'm violating, and which you want to repeal in order to protect freedom of speech.

It seems we're back to the question of my feelings, despite my insistence that this is not about me nor how I feel, but rather specifically about why I think attempting to convert different groups of people to traditionalism would fail, and what, in the case of white men, could be done about it. I'd say this is a consequence of the liberal view that there is no transcendent truth, nor any moral principles beyond the maximization of satisfaction and autonomy of the self. Everything then must keep coming back to feelings, since there is nothing higher than nor external to people's feelings. This makes it impossible to have a rational debate about concrete principles.

Anonymous said...

No, actually, I don't believe you should be shunned by society. I certainly don't agree with you, but would be perfectly OK with a scenario in which you touted, "Women should sit at home and care for their children," without any opposition.

I do not see why both opinions cannot co-exist. What I mean is you are welcome to live your life/have a family according to those principles, and I am welcome to do the same abiding by a set of principles directly contradictory to yours. The actual conflict in them being mutually exclusive occurs when government, a body that governs both of us, gets involved.

I think you need to research precisely what rationality is (in a logical sense). There is nothing irrational about autonomic principles. If by "concrete" you mean "absolute," then yes, it is irrational because of the constraints you've applied to the argument. By granting the liberal autonomy as an overarching principle, you're allowing for variability at lower levels of decision-making. You're effectively saying, "I grant you variability, now where's the constancy? Therefore it is irrational."

I apologize for nitpicking on the word, "rational." I do, however, see your point -- that because liberalism allows for such variability, it's difficult to ascertain what laws should be imposed. The theory is abstract which is why it's so hard to definitively convince yourself that ANY consistent stance can be held by liberals in the first place. Allow me to elude to an example: abortion.

Conservatives feel abortions should be banned, while liberals feel they should not. The conservative position is more restrictive, while the liberal one allows for variability (that is, you have a choice). According to your argument, the liberals have no real "concrete principles" because the decision of whether or not to abort is contingent on the feelings of the parents. You can see that is clearly not true, for the concrete principle itself is autonomy -- that is, the notion of choice is the common, concrete principle by which liberals abide. So while it may be a convenient conservative argument to state, "feelings = variability = lack of concrete principles," it's simply not true. I'd like to point out that conservatives also use autonomic principles like "choice" in other issues, such as healthcare. Would it be fair for me to say that you have no concrete principles with regards to healthcare because you believe Americans should pick which doctor they *feel* like getting?

Backtracking to what I would change about today's society. I think our take on what your situation's problem is differs. Your problem is the futility you would witness in trying to convert people. My problem is the hard-headed, ignorant resistance with which you would be met. Note that your problem is a consequence of my problem. So if I were to change something in today's society, it would be the attitude in which liberals hold. We like to proclaim how open-minded we are, but quite frankly we are rather closed-minded to conservative views. It is an awful hypocrisy which I feel needs to change.

Hermes said...

Anonymous, this has the potential to continue as a heady debate that I unfortunately don't have time for.

I brought up the issue of rationality and concrete principles because you seemed to keep trying to bring the discussion back to my feelings, while I insisted that was not the issue. I agree that you're trying to be rational, but I think that's just because you're not taking liberalism to its logical conclusion. Reason is one of the things that has made our civilization possible, so it's natural that people would like it and want to perpetuate it, that even people who believe in liberal principles would stop short of carrying those principles through to the point where they abnegate reason. But I maintain that the logical endpoint of liberalism makes rational debate impossible, since individual happiness is seen as paramount, so each person must be able to define truth for himself (cf. the famous "sweet mystery of life" passage from the Supreme Court's decision in Casey v. Planned Parenthood.)

The overarching point is that a society must, and necessarily will, have some kind of public, shared set of mores. To use homosexuality as an example, those mores can amount to either "homosexuality is OK" or "homosexuality is not OK." If the generally accepted view is that homosexuality is OK, the view that it is not OK will inevitably be seen as morally wrong and deserving of scorn, what you call "hard-headed resistance," and vice-versa. I don't think the neutrality of public debate you propose is possible with such wildly divergent views.

Regarding your example of abortion, the problem with the view of neutrality there is that once abortion becomes legal and accepted, that fact in and of itself influences women's choice about whether to have one. Women who might otherwise be more careful about being married before they get pregnant (not to mention the fathers of their children being similarly careful as well,) or who might give the baby up for adoption, will instead have an abortion. This phenomenon, the necessity of social taboos in order to minimize bad behaviors and discourage good behaviors, is something I've been meaning to do a separate post on, specifically how the accceptance of unwed motherhood, the liberal removal of "judgmentalism" from the situation, led to a massive increase in illegitimacy.