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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What are Moral Values?

In their agonized reassessment of Senator Kerry’s election loss, liberal-socialists have conjured a false picture of traditionalists’ moral values.

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Liberal-socialists are ascribing to traditionalists expectations about moral values that are based on liberals’ own methods.  Because they are quick to force everyone to conform to academia’s latest theories of social justice, they expect traditionalists to do likewise.  Because liberals’ version of values must in most cases be imposed on an unwilling public majority via judicial or executive fiat, liberals assume that traditionalists will also resort to fiat to impose Judeo-Christian moral values.

This assumption was described by Washington Post columnist David S. Broder in “‘Darkness’? Hardly,” appearing in the Sunday, November 14, 2004 edition; Page B07.

“Some of my colleagues in the pundit business have become unhinged by the election results. The always diverting Maureen Dowd of the New York Times suggested the other day that “the forces of darkness” are taking over the country.  The voters’ confirmation of Republican-led government brings with it “a scary, paranoid, regressive reality,” Dowd said, with “strains of isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism.” After a campaign of “blatant distortions and character assassination,” Republicans have returned to Washington bent on “messing with our psyches” and punishing “society’s most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different.”... The exaggerated reaction to the election among many liberals was set off by the belief that Bush owes his victory to a bunch of religious zealots bent on imposing their views on the whole society.”

Political imposition of sectarian religious dogma, in the guise of morals, was a characteristic of established churches in England and Continental Europe.  By 1787 when the Constitution was written, it was clear that the people of the United States would never tolerate an autocratic established church, hence the First Amendment.  The United States then had more different religious denominations, each worshipping freely, than any other nation.

While some few religious and moral people today want to legislate morality, their chances are slim.  However laudable the moral aims of a crusade like Prohibition, we have seen that legally imposed morality is counter-productive.  Morality must instead come from each individual’s heart and soul.

Contrary to liberals’ expectations, the means of establishing Judeo-Christian morality are the opposite of liberal-socialism’s methods of imposing regulatory social justice.  The Judeo-Christian heritage is individual and voluntary.  It abjures every individual to look within his own soul and strive to do the right thing, not just for his own benefit, but for the larger good of his family and society.  Forced conformity to religious morality is false and worse than meaningless.

Traditionalists don’t demand that everybody conform to their beliefs.  But they adamantly resist liberal-socialists’ sledge-hammer methods of imposing socialism upon all of society.

In addition to this false understanding of traditionalists’ intentions, liberals appear also not to comprehend the moral basis of Western civilization.  The separation point is liberal-socialists’ conception of the world and of human nature.

Liberalism is the American version of the materialistic and secular religion of socialism (see What is Liberalism?).  In that paradigm, there is no God and no intelligent design underlying the cosmos.  Everything, per Darwinian evolutionary theory, is continually in flux, and whatever we see around us is the result of nothing more than random chance.

One ramification of that paradigm is that liberal intellectuals, unfettered by the moral scruples of religion, believe themselves capable of reshaping society and human behavior into whatever pattern their rationalizing tells them would best promote the latest theories of social justice. 

Another ramification is that, there being no God, no metaphysical realm, and no human soul, people are viewed as no more than mechanisms that respond to pleasure or pain.  There is no moral right or wrong.  Thus liberal-socialist intellectuals believe that they can control human behavior with government regulations that reward or punish behavior.  That was the supposedly scientific point of Pavlov’s demonstrating that his dogs could be conditioned to produce the gastric response of hunger to the sound of a bell alone, after training in which the bell always rang when they were being fed. 

Liberal-socialists, in effect, see human behavior, en masse, as no different from that of Pavlov’s dogs.  Liberal media like the New York Times, playing the role of Pavlov’s bell, merely have to train the ignorant masses by repeatedly proclaiming a new Constitutional “right” or a new theory of class behavior.  The only exception, of course, is the liberal intellectuals themselves, who, by dint of superior genetic gifts and university training, are above it all.  Needless to say, most liberals consider themselves to be intellectuals.

An additional ramification is that liberal-socialists’ version of moral values is what they call social justice, a catalog of material goods and services, along with special privileges accorded to selected social, ethnic, economic, and sexual classes.  This flows directly from the secular and materialistic aspect of socialist religious doctrine. 

Plato and Aristotle defined justice as aspiring to live a moral life within a political society that supported customs, laws, and religions fostering spiritual morality.  They distinguished between pleasure that came from external, material goods such as wealth and power, and true happiness, which came only from pursuit of moral virtue, as in Thomas Jefferson’s “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence.

President Franklin Roosevelt summarized liberal values, the purely materialistic definition of social justice, in his January 1944 annual message to Congress. 

?The one supreme objective for the future?can be summed up in one word: Security.?We can not be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people?is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.  This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of of certain inalienable rights ? among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.  They were our rights to life and liberty.  As our nation has grown in size and stature, however ? as our industrial economy expanded ? these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.?

We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all?Among these are: the right to a useful and remunerative job?The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.?The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care?The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; The right to a good education.  All these rights spell security.?

President Roosevelt, who campaigned for the Presidency in 1932 on the promise to impose Soviet-style central planning in the United States, was voicing a central dogma of liberal-socialism: individuals are powerless to fend for themselves against the power elite of property-owning capitalists.  Therefore, the general welfare of American citizens can be assured only by collectivized power exercised by the Federal government.

America’s ethos was to be, not the individualism and personal morality of the founding generations, but the submersion of individuality within the collective political state.  It was no longer to be striving for individual excellence, particularly in education, but the mindless narcotic of “security” in the arms of Big Brother.  Not to love Big Brother, in the liberal-socialist catechism, is to hate the poor and the unfortunate in our midst.

Note however that, for 313 years before 1933, Americans prospered mightily and became the greatest nation in the world relying on Judeo-Christian, individualistic morality, without secular and materialistic regulatory constraints imposed by the Federal government. 

President Johnson’s large-scale essay at socialism in the Great Society of the mid-1960s produced catastrophic disintegration of American society: rampant drug addiction, soaring crimes of violence, explosion of the welfare rolls, collapse of public education, and the highest rates of illegitimate births and single-parent families in the history of the world.