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Monday, January 31, 2005

Good Conduct Comes from a Moral Code, Not Regulations

Huge numbers of regulations signify a breakdown in society, not a means of improvement.

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Peter Jones’s Ancient and Modern, in the January 29th issue of The Spectator (UK), amplifies the point made in What, Not How.  In that posting, I wrote:

“Historically, education was conceived as a process of character formation.  Today in the United States it’s a cross between trade school and Socialist Youth indoctrination.  The end product is a confused mush of “self esteem” with little solid content.

“Character formation was the foundation of western civilization, first articulated by the Jews, then by the Greeks.  The bible’s Old Testament is a chronicle of God-given laws, standards, and traditions, with prophets continually instructing the Jews to return to God’s path.  Plato said that Homer was the teacher of the Greeks.

“In practical terms what this meant was that education was a process of preserving and passing along the traditions and virtues of society.  Job remained steadfast in his love of God, despite seemingly unjust treatment.  Daniel’s companions survived the fiery furnace and Daniel escaped unharmed from the lion’s den, because they remained true to God and refused to worship false gods.  Greek heroes in the Iliad display all too human and petty character flaws, but nonetheless take the battlefield to fight for their comrades and their city state….....

“The Constitution was deliberately structured to effect a balance between maximum personal freedom and sufficient power to protect citizens from domestic outlaws and foreign enemies.  But it created a government of defined and limited powers. 

“For such a government to succeed, individual citizens had to be self-restrained by personal morality.”

In contrast, an essential aspect of liberal-socialism is its obsession with regulating every aspect of economic and social activity.  Individuals have no meaning outside the web of political-state directives, nor are individuals believed to be capable of doing the right thing or of caring for themselves on their own.  Liberal intellectuals both tell us the latest definitions of social justice, and devise the educational, regulatory, and judicial means to impose them upon us.