In my decade of working in academia, I have never met a conservative at the faculty or post-doctoral level. Not one. Furthermore, I have never met a professor or postdoc who was not an adamantly committed liberal. In fact, in informal gatherings among faculty, postdocs, or graduate students, I have never encounted any ideological diversity whatsoever. (I keep my mouth shut, of course, but I’m the only one.) So I am not at all surprised by the findings reported on Arts and Letters Daily today that liberals are on average much smarter than conservatives. The question is, what does it mean?
I’ve begun work on the defense of religion essay. As I said earlier, this will be a big project–I expect it to take me several months. Due to the urgency of the atheist onslaught, I’ll be posting chapters as a write them. Below is chapter 1 (about 3 pages).
One of the more annoying things about being a reactionary is that one ends up spending most of one’s time arguing against positions that no one really believes. Many of the default beliefs of our culture are like this, the sort of thing one tends to hear from political independents, liberal Christians, Europeans, and the like. Let me give three examples.
I caught a few minutes of the Nancy Grace show on CNN the other night. Apparently some scoundrel named Jon Gosselin has abandoned his wife and eight children and then cleared out their bank account to support his shameless life of extravagance and fornication. That’s not important. What did make an impression on me was one of the experts on the show, who told us that the lesson in all of this is that married couples should always have separate bank accounts. This brought to mind one of my maxims. I’ve been carrying this around in my head for a while; now I have an excuse to give it to you.
A country where people can get divorced is a country where people can’t really get married.
Really, what does marriage mean, if society actually encourages us to plan ahead for the divorce? We are supposed to arrange it so that husbands could get by without their wives, and wives without their husbands. There can be no real dependency, no real self-offering.
I now hear that the TLC network is suing Mr. Gosselin because he signed a contract to put his family on their television show, and he’s refusing to deliver on it. He’ll go to court for this. Of course, he made another contract to someone else–to love, cherish, and support her, and to forsake all others for her. He’s violated that contract too, but the state would never dream of punishing him for that. No, no, divorce is our filthy culture’s most sacred right. Marriage isn’t like a real contract, not something important like a business contract. Nothing can be allowed to hinder an American’s sacred right to sexual gratification. Men can abandon their families; women can murder their own children in the womb. That’s a price we’re willing to pay.
To hell with this vile culture.
I started this blog about half a year ago. Its purpose has been to defend traditional cultures against a reductionistic attitude that I’ve called “liberalism”, but which might equally be identified as atheism, utilitarianism, or modernity in general. The basic premise of this modern view, as I explain in my first essay, is that the world is nothing but a number of individual wills and the raw material for their satisfaction. From this assumption, all relationships, all communal life, all nature–including our own bodies–are reconcieved as means to the end of individual preference satisfaction. So, for example, the nation is reduced to a social contract; marriage is seen in terms of self-fulfillment rather than duty, leading to the erosion of gender roles, to contraception, and to divorce. Even our relations to God Himself are reduced to matters of comfort and self-expression. Against liberalism, I maintain that there are things, relationships, etc. which are good in themselves independent of their usefulness to any particular individual Such things can make valid claims to the loyalty and reverence, not only of each of us individually, but to societies collectively. The defense of a collective recognition of some good through law or custom I call “conservatism”.
The war between liberal and conservative conceptions of reality is waged on many fronts: theories on the basis of authority, the liberal/communitarian debate, the essentialist/nominalist debate, sexual morality, religion, and the interpretation of history. In my book reviews, I’ve tried to provide resources on some of these fronts for fellow reactionary combatants. These pages are still very incomplete.
In the last couple of months, I’ve focused on reviewing the conservative “classics” as a sort of basis to buid from. I’ve put up pages on the major works of Burke, de Bonald, de Maistre, Hegel, Brownson, and Voegelin. There are only two conservative classics that I haven’t gotten to yet: “The Meaning of Conservatism” by Roger Scruton, and “I’ll Take My Stand” by the 12 Southerners. Otherwise, the alleged great works of 20th century conservatism can be safely ignored. Most of them are crap. The best are just popularized versions of great nineteenth century thinkers (e.g. Kirk just repeats Burke, and Nisbet just repeats Tocqueville).
The trouble with being a reactionary is that we’re always on defense, so the enemy always gets to pick the point of attack. Up till now, I’ve acted on the assumption that most liberals are motivated by hatred of traditional sexual morality, and that if I could lay out clearly enough the reasons for the patriarchal family, their opposition to Christianity, tradition, and the rest would just disappear. I’m no longer sure this is true. It seems that the most aggressive liberal offensive these days is in their attack on religion. Therefore, that’s where we should move our forces to defend. In the next several months, I plan to review a number of books on natural theology and the phenomenology of the sacred. I’ll also be starting an extended essay on the analogy of being in my own effort to refute the claim that belief in God is somehow silly.
Thanks for spending time here. I hope you’ve found it helpful.
I’m glad somebody besides me has thought of this. Carson Holloway on the First Things weblog discusses Hollywood’s ideas of sexual morality in light of their recent support for a notorious child rapist. Liberals adamantly deny that sex has any intrinsic meaning, i.e. it only signifies what we choose it to signify. Liberals must maintain this if they are to defend all the kinds of licentiousness to which they are committed. The only limit, they say, is that everything must be consentual. It’s really bad to have sex with someone without his or her full consent. But this doesn’t make any sense. If sex is meaningless, then forcing someone to have sex with you is no worse than forcing someone to shake your hand. Forcing someone to shake your hand is a rude thing to do, no doubt, but it’s not a really big deal. The only way to defend the claim that rape is uniquely horrible is to admit that sex is uniquely significant, and that’s something that the sexual libertines who control the entertainment industry would never do.