Shared standards of behavior are necessary for the preservation of freedom. The proposition that everyone should be allowed to do everything only works until one person bumps into another, and the other pushes back. At that point, unless rules of behavior apply, we slide into the Wild West: freedom of action will depend on how fast one draws one’s gun.
Lack of standards leads to rule by violence. This is an obvious truth — a truism, in fact — known to all peoples since the dawn of our species. For reasons that bear some explaining, however, this truism seems to have been forgotten by the most highly educated and articulate individuals in our country.
I have put forward one possible explanation: the vice of self-loathing, which holds that democracy unleashes selfishness, and implies that a cadre of virtuous right-thinkers should be allowed to control our way of life. While this attitude is often ascribed to religious zealots, today it is far more prevalent among liberals and postmodernists.
Evan Sayet, a self-described “New York Jew” and repentant liberal, proposes (via protein wisdom) a different explanation: the fury of what Sayet calls the “Modern Liberal” against inequalities. This mindset leads by a series of semi-logical steps to a declaration of war against all standards of discrimination — whether of morality, beauty, or justice.
Sayet’s argument is highly personal, as might be expected from someone who has suffered a deep disillusionment and a subsequent reversal of beliefs. He works in the entertainment industry, where most of his friends and acquaintances share the liberal faith. The prophecies of doom and raging against the American way of life he heard from this group Sayet took to be so much meaningless small talk. Until 9/11:
For years and years I’d hear my friends from the Left say how evil and horrible and racist and imperialistic and oppressive America is, and I’d chuckle to myself and think, “Oh, they always say that; they love America.” Then on 9/11, we were beaten up, and when I grabbed them by the collar, and I said, “Come on, let’s help her. Let’s help America,” and they said, “Nah, she deserves it.”
At that moment, I realized: They really do hate America.
The explanation Sayet proposes can be boiled down to a “cult of indiscriminateness.” In his view, the “Modern Liberal” believes that breaking down every standard will eliminate tribalism, prejudice, and conflict, and by so doing promote the onset of some sort of peaceable kingdom.
What I discovered is that the Modern Liberal looks back on 50,000 years, 100,000 years of human civilization, and knows only one thing for sure: that none of the ideas that mankind has come up with–none of the religions, none of the philosophies, none of the ideologies, none of the forms of government–have succeeded in creating a world devoid of war, poverty, crime, and injustice. So they’re convinced that since all of these ideas of man have proved to be wrong, the real cause of war, poverty, crime, and injustice must be found–can only be found–in the attempt to be right.
If nobody ever thought they were right, what would we disagree about? If we didn’t disagree, surely we wouldn’t fight. If we didn’t fight, of course we wouldn’t go to war. Without war, there would be no poverty; without poverty, there would be no crime; without crime, there would be no injustice. It’s a utopian vision, and all that’s required to usher in this utopia is the rejection of all fact, reason, evidence, logic, truth, morality, and decency . . .
[. . .] But indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policy. Indiscriminateness of thought invariably leads the Modern Liberal to side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success. Why? Because in a world where you are indiscriminate, where no behavior is to be deemed better or worse than any other, your expectation is that all behavior should lead to equally good outcomes. When, in the real world, different behaviors lead to different outcomes, you and I know why– because we think. We know why communities that promote teenage promiscuity tend to fail at a greater rate than communities that promote teenage abstinence: Teenage promiscuity and teenage abstinence are not the same behaviors. Teenage abstinence is a better behavior. . . . But to the Modern Liberal who cannot make that judgment–must not make that judgment–that would be discriminating.
To the extent such a cult of indiscriminateness exists, it is a form of self-loathing. If I turn against the rules and behaviors that made me who I am, I’m mutilating myself, I’m cutting off the roots that nourish me and keep me upright.
I am on record as being an optimist, at least in the long term. I believe the people who espouse the ideas Sayet mentions are a small minority — a fact that adds to their rage and loathing. Their perspective rarely wins elections (think Dennis Kucinich). More importantly, their ideals, though preached from many pulpits — schools, media, academia — seem to have had minimal influence on the way we raise our children. American parents believe in rules, and the only ones available are found in the old, traditional standards of morality.
Still, the cult of indiscriminateness — the vice of self-loathing — must be opposed head on. The arguments for morality and freedom must be made, or we will find ourselves descending, by slow degrees, not to some peaceable utopia but to the short, violent existence of the Wild West.