Thursday, July 06, 2006

Today's Score: Conservatives 25, Progressives 0

My dear cosmonaughts, we’re still discussing all the central conservative truths found in Lawrence Harrison’s new book, The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself. On pp. 36-37 of the book, Harrison lays out a helpful summary of those traits that are characteristic of the “progress-prone” culture vs. the “progress-resistant” one. They fall under four main headings: “Worldview,” “Values and Virtues,” “Economic Behavior,” and “Social Behavior,” with a total of 25 subcategories, or "factors."

Beginning with Worldview, it seems to me that the characteristics of progress-resistant cultures are almost an exact description of modern liberal victimology. Regarding the subcategory of “destiny,” the liberal victim is beset by “fatalism and resignation.” With respect to “time orientation,” their obsessive focus on past or even present grievances discourages working hard for the future. Under the heading of “wealth,” liberals clearly regard it as a “zero-sum” enterprise, which lies at the heart of their income-redistributing policies. Likewise, knowledge is “abstract, theoretical, cosmological [hey! I heard that], not verifiable.” Exactly. As we have had occasion to discuss many times, liberal academia (specifically, the humanities) is filled with deranged, kooky, abstract, unverifiable and utopian cranks. The rest are just crazy.

The one last subcategory for Worldview is religion. Here you might think that the left has the upper hand, and in most contexts you might be correct. But Harrison makes no distinction between pre- or irrational religiosity vs. the type of sophisticated religiosity we discuss on this blog. Thus, there is no question that the secular left is more rational than primitive African animists or practitioners of Haitian voodoo (even if they themselves would deny that fact because of their PC belief in cultural relativism). But I don’t believe for a moment that modern secularism is more rational than my transrational religious philosophy. In fact, by comparison, merely secular philosophy is a sophisticated child's game. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if the secularized, hyper-rational societies of Western Europe will even be able to survive their irreligiosity. By and large American religion hardly dismisses the world--rather, it promotes achievement and material pursuits. It is probably too material for my tastes.

So for the category of “worldview,” conservatives trounce the left four to one or possibly even five-zip.

The next heading is Values and Virtues, which has three subcategories, “ethical code,” “the lesser virtues,” and “education.” Here again, I don’t see how any intellectually honest person can give the nod to the left. Progress-resistant cultures have “elastic” values, while progress-prone ones are “rigorous within realistic norms.” Progress-prone cultures emphasize small virtues that actually end up making a huge difference, such as tidiness, courtesy, “a job well done”.... to which I might add, politeness, not cursing in public, and being free of off-putting tattoos, tongue piercings, and pagan "body art." To the progress-resistant culture, these small virtues are unimportant. (The thing that most strikes me about dailykos or huffingtonpissed, aside from the shrill adolescent anger, is the constant, unnecessary profanity. I'm all for the necessary kind.)

The last subcategory is Education, and here again you might think that progressives are at least in the game. But just look what the progressive educational establishment has done to our educational system. They have been in complete control of lower and higher education in this country for at least 50 years, and it is a disgrace. Furthermore, they are specifically opposed to truly progressive policies that could turn things around, such as fostering competition by introducing vouchers into the system. And let’s not even talk about what progressives have done to the university in my lifetime. For one thing, I don’t have enough time. I have to be out of the house in 45 minutes.

The next main factor is Economic behavior, which has seven subcategories. This one is so self-evidently in favor of conservatives that it’s hardly worth debating. Progress-prone cultures believe that competition leads to excellence, that advancement should be based on merit, and that work is one of the primary purposes of life (the “protestant work ethic”). They try to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, innovation and investment.

Conversely, the progress-resistant are suspicious of prosperity--it is a threat to equality because some will get rich, thus provoking envy. They are uncomfortable with competition, as it is a sign of aggression and a threat to both equality and privilege (such as the privileges enjoyed by the teachers union or by tenured wackademics or New York Times editors). And, of course, they are constitutionally opposed to the idea of merit, and instead believe that the government should get involved in giving special privileges to different racial, cultural and gender categories.

So for economic behavior, it’s conservatives 7, progressives bupkis.

The last main factor is Social Behavior, which has the most subcategories, ten. Some of these are frankly rather bland and neutral, and it is fair to say that most Americans of whatever political stripe share them: belief in the rule of law, a belief in checks and balances and dispersed authority, and the responsibility of elites to society. Others are a bit misleading, for conservatives clearly believe in gender equality, they just don’t believe in gender equivalence.

Other categories that are less innocuous fall clearly in favor of conservatives. For example, the progress-resistant culture has a much stronger identification with the narrow community--i.e., multiculturalism. Progressives believe in dividing the country along racial and gender lines, so that one’s primary identification is not, say, “American” but “African American.” Likewise, the progress-resistant culture emphasizes the collectivity rather than the individual (except when it comes to the right to show your breast on TV or ride a bicycle naked in public to protest the war).

The last category is Church-State relations. According to Harrison, the progress-prone culture is “secularized” and believes in a “wall between church and state,” whereas the for the progress-resistant culture, “religion plays a major role in the civic sphere.” How true. The adverse impact of mixing church and state is never more clear than when the religion in question is “Progressivism.”


Michael Andreyakovich said...

Where did this myth come from that the Right wants to tear down the wall between church and state? Other than the natterings of Pat Robertson and some lefty alarmism about public displays of the Ten Commandments, I don't see any real sign of it; the only real problem is that for the Right, freedom of religion still includes that brutal outrage against human rights and human dignity, Christianity.

"Freedom of religion" is apparently intended to mean "freedom of any religion except the ones our parents raised us with."

Anonymous said...

What is "transrational" about a religious philosophy that despises and hates other people?

Hoarhey said...

>>"Anonymous said...
What is "transrational" about a religious philosophy that despises and hates other people? "<<

You're speaking of the religion of "progessivism", correct?

Anonymous said...

No, I'm speaking of "One Comos" under Bob Godwin's God.

jwm said...

So which nameless heckler would this anonymous be? Here we have another faceless coward so ashamed of his meager ideas that he won't even put a name to them.
GAZE at the troll.


Hoarhey said...

>>"Anonymous said...
Love the sinner, hate the sin. Especially if the sin is stupidity or a closed mind.

And when I say that, I'm not referring to Bob."<<

Are you referring to yourself?

Somehow I'm just not feelin' the love from you Anon.

Anonymous said...

I'm no "heckler," and, as usual, you don't have a substantive answer to a substantive point, jwm.

Jake (former anonymous) said...

I don't find any policy of despising people in Bob's take on morality. You can recognize that people are making horrible mistakes, and simultaneously refuse to hate them for it. That's not contradictory in the least.

But there are some who, apparently, feel that to disparage a mistake is to disparage the people who made the mistake. I can be embarrassed about a person's promiscuity or habitual drunkenness without going so far as to HATE them personally; at worst, I feel sorry for them, but that's still too much for some people.

Must we accept the wrongheaded actions of others in order to avoid accusations of hate and prejudice?

Jake said...

There is a difference between our definitions of a mistake.

A person who makes as many ethical misjudgments as, say, Kim Jong-il, opens us to a distinct possibility that he is doing so on purpose. At which point we should realize that he is NOT merely morally clumsy and prone to mistakes, but that something about his morality is basically wrong.

This is the juncture where a certain moral relativism can enter: Who are we to say what's right and wrong? Well, there are many different yardsticks by which we can measure such a person, and on all of them, Kim comes up rather short - even taking into account his thick-soled shoes and Eraserhead hairstyle.

Despite the existence of moral equivalency and relativism, we are still permitted to say that we believe certain things are WRONG. If you won't grant us that right, then go away and leave us to stew in our own prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Jake, I agree with you that it's possible to disparage a mistake without disparaging the person who made it. I also agree with you that people can make terrible mistakes without deserving to be hated for them. In fact, it seems that you and I would agree that this is an attribute of genuine spirituality rather than of the naive or false spirituality that Bob says it is.

I agree that someone can deliberately do what he believes is wrong, although it remains to be seen whether Kim Jong-il believes he's doing wrong. But what has this do do with whether we should either hate or despise him?

I agree with you that some acts are wrong and that some people consistently do wrong. I have never suggested otherwise or that you don't have the right to say it. I've simply asked why a "transrationally" spiritual person should and would hate or despise a wrongdoer, and how this kind of spirituality is superior to a "liberal" spirituality that advises against hating anyone for any reason.

Jake, apologizing for the tangent said...

Anon: Because we recognize the degree to which their irresponsibility endangers the rest of us. I think we have the right to be pissed off at someone who recklessly endangers fellow men, not in a cause that he believes is right, but in the cause of his self-aggrandization. It's clear that George Bush is not doing what he's doing out of some ambition or desire for greatness; if that were the case, he'd be much more forceful in his responses to his critics. Kim doesn't HAVE critics in his own land, because they know that to criticize him is to bring down a metric ton of brutal negative consequences on their own heads.

It's easy to call a man evil when you're not worried that he might be evil enough to have you silenced. If George Bush were a truly evil man, America would look a hell of a lot more like the DPRK. True evil cannot bear to be spoken against.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily share your view of George Bush, but that is rather beside the point of our discussion.

I agree with you that we can be "pissed off" with people who "recklessly endanger" us. But is that the same as hating or despising them? Do you agree with Bob that a superior spirituality not only hates or despises wrongdoing, but also despises the wrongdoer, and that only a naive, simplistic, inferior, or inauthentic spirituality counsels otherwise?

Danny said...


I am off topic here, but have your read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis? I don't recall you mentioning it before. I read it about 20 years ago, and recently grabbed it off the bookshelf for bathroom reading, and was amazed how closely he dovetails with you.

His terms are different, but the first section is titled "Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Universe", and he presents a very compelling arguement that the vertical exists. It could very well be a preamble to your book.

Gagdad Bob said...

I did read it, but it's been quite awhile.... Leave it to him to steal my ideas before I thought of them....

Alan said...

Hmmm...he even had the gall to steal them before you were born and could stand up for yourself ;-)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Mere Christianity, does have a bit to offer this topic. I suggest that Lewis's Abolition of Man or That Hideous Strength have even more.

If you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the local chapter meeting for hating and despising other people.

Anonymous said...

Would you care to summarize Lewis' thinking on this matter? After you return from your meeting, of course. :-)

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

"The Sabarimala controversy tests India's dual secular guarantee of religious freedom and social justice for all. Every citizen has the right to profess, practice, propagate and manage one's own affairs in matters of religion including the myriad of essential practices that define a faith...But, religious freedom is subject to gender equality. The Ayyappan temple at Sabarimala is undoubtedly a public temple which must normally be open to all including women. The core question is whether temple entry or social reform can override what is sacral to a faith...For the moment we must proceed on the basis that the practice of excluding women from the Sabarimala temple lacks critical, moral and religious foundation." -Rajeev Dhavan THE TIMES OF INDIA Friday, July 7, 2006

ben usn (ret) said...

Good post, Bob.
Almost like clockwork, whenever a leftist stops by,
there is little to no discussion about the daily topic.
However, there are alot of assumptions and pre-conceived notions.
Hence, a typical example:
Why do we hate liberals.
It's no surprise that Bob never said "Hey, we should hate liberals", and yet, here we have anonomous who believes that Bob actually said that.
Then anon expounds on that false belief by claiing that liberal spirituality advises against hating anyone for any reason.
Excuse me while I laugh ..............
Ok, I'm back.
I personally don't hate most liberals, for they are misguided, forthe most part.
The ones in power, who have the blood of our military on their hands, are evil, so I do hate them (Kerry, Fonda, Cindy, etc.).
I also hate evil monsters, such as terrorists, including Kim the ill, Castro, and others of his ilk.
People like that aren't human, they are monsters, just like serial killers, except capable of killing hundreds, thousands, and even millions.
Maybe most liberals don't hate Kimmie, Osama, Castro, or the rest, but they do hate conservatives, and if you deny that, then you don't read, watch or hear the news, and you don't read liberal blogs, watch hollywood or pop stars, or know any other leftist liberals.
Look how fast leftists turn on their own, if they don't toe the entire leftist party line.

dilys said...

Moving the discussion into this "hating" stuff one way or another misses the point IMO. It's a diversionary tactic and ad hominem argument ["Bobbleheads hate, thus are hypocrites and unreliable, unevolved people."] Add to this the ever-on-display proclivity of many progressives to feel "hated" if someone disagrees with them, points out errors, or even fails to "accept" them on their terms.

If you look at the forces at work in Lewis' Abolition of Man or That Hideous Strength, they are drawn as embodied Principalities and Powers bent on undermining even the possibility of decent human life (as well as, eventually, history shows, murdering all in their path and then some). The individuals in question are deluded and pathetic, though sometimes ill-informed and well-intentioned useful idiots.

So to engage these questions in terms of "hating" or "not hating" is being diverted to the progressives' sentimentality of intention and "feelings" -- in New Age terms, the second erotic-affiliative chakra.

Discerning and standing against foolishness and evil is a matter of the third, "having the guts to do the right thing" chakra.

Only when these matters are handled with integrity, does the issue rise to the heart, or "harmony" center, where love and inclusion have anything at all to do with it.

[Pretty airy-fairy framework I know, but it's common parlance, useful shorthand, and tracks the rather more systematic Kabbalistic Tree of Life.]

Anonymous said...

Ben, you don't know my politics. Yet, you call me a "leftist."

Then you falsely accuse me of stating that Bob says that people should hate liberals. What I said was that he considers superior, authentic, "transrational" spirituality to be one that legitimizes hating people who do wrong. He subsquently corrected me, and I acknowledged his correction. At least he sort of corrected me. He says that he used the word "despise" rather than hate. But I'm still not clear on just how big a difference there is between hating on the one hand, and despising and regarding with "scorn" and "contempt" on the other. And I said nothing about him urging people to hate liberals.

Then you "laugh" at my having said that "liberal spirituality" "advises against hating anyone for any reason." Why do you laugh? Can you cite me an instance of any authentic spirituality or spiritual tradition, liberal or otherwise, that says we should hate anyone for any reason? If not, then what was "false" about my claim?

You say you "hate" John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and Cindy Sheehan. Why? What have they done and why have they done it that deserves hatred? You also hate Castro and other leaders and terrorists. Fine. Go on hating to your heart's content for all the good it does you or the rest of the world. But don't call this "spiritual" unless you can present a damn sight better reason than anyone here has so far for why hating people (as opposed to their deeds) is compatible with spirituality. Or call it "spiritual" and expect to be challenged.

I think your point about many liberals hating conservatives is probably true, unfortunately, just as I think it's probably equally true that many conservatives hate liberals. But that doesn't mean that authentic spirituality embraces hatred from either side. Don't you agree?

Anonymous said...

Dilys, I didn't argue that Bobbleheads hate and are therefore unevolved. I argued that a spirituality that hates or despises people rather than their deeds is unevolved and not to be held up as "transrational" and superior. If you disagree, please explain why. And it won't do to say that spriritually evolved people practice hatred of other people as a means of "Discerning and standing against foolishness and evil" unless you can explain why this discernment and opposition to evil requires hating the evildoers in addition to their evildoing.

Gagdad Bob said...

Anonymous, I don't understand your point. The Bible says repeatedly that we must despise evil and fight against it. What is your point? As long as you can identify evil and help to extinguish it from our midst, I couldn't really care less how you feel about "the sinner." That's your own private issue. Put it this way: if your theology doesn't distinguish between good and evil and do battle against the latter--beginning in yourself--it is of no earthly good to me or anyone else--except to the evildoer.

Anonymous said...

My point is that I don't see how authentic, "transrational" spirituality tells us to hate or despise people for what they do. Even if we are to hate (or despise) the sin, we are not to hate (or despise) the sinner. And I don't know of any great wisdom tradition or representative of that tradition that says otherwise. In fact, it seems to me that they all say just the opposite. Do not hate or despise people. Hating and despising people only leads to their hating and despising you and to more and more evil coming from everyone.

As for waging constant war against evil in an effort to eliminate it, it seems to me that many of the great wisdom traditions have something to say about this as well. They say that good and evil are like the opposite poles of a magnet and that chopping off the evil end merely creates another one. In other words, an obsession with evil and a compulsive effort to eliminate it only generate more of the same. This doesn't mean turning one's back on evil and letting it take over the world. But it does mean that love for the good rather than hatred or contempt for evil should be the primary force that motivates and shapes our actions.

What I see here is an overriding focus not on loving and fostering the good but on hating, despising, condemning, scorning, ridiculing, and, in some instances, destroying an "enemy" that either commits or abets evil, and this is held up as not only exemplary politics but also authentic spirituality that makes its adherents superior to those who don't partake in it.

Gagdad Bob said...


Your new-age or exoteric view is certainly one way of looking at it. In my opinion it is a deeply morally confused way of looking at it, but it takes all kinds to make a world, so I won't try to to disabuse you of what I regard as solipsistic, narcissistic, and frankly magical beliefs. This blog is clearly not addressed to someone at your level of spiritual development, regardless of whether you consider that level above or below ours. Let's just stipulate that one of us is deeply, even catastrophically, wrong, and leave it at that. Just because you disagree with us, it doesn't mean we hate you. That's just projection.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't planned to continue this line of discussion, but you've raised some points I'd like to address, not because I'm trying to change your mind, but because I'm trying to understand precisely how and why we differ on this matter of hating or despising wrongdoers. I'm also trying to understand why we seem to be having such a difficult time communicating with each other regarding precisely what we mean.

You say that my view is "new-age" or "exoteric." But, as I've repeatedly asked before, could you provide examples of "old-age" or esoteric spiritual figures or traditions that tell us to hate or despise wrongdoers along with their wrongdoing? Indeed, aren't these traditions and leaders virtually unanimous in speaking out against hating or despising people?

Next, you say that you regard my view as consisting of "solipsistic, narcissistic, and frankly magical beliefs." How does my view of authentic spirituality reflect any, much less all, of these qualities? It seems that when you're presented with political or spiritual views different from your own, you have a tendency to simply and smugly dismiss them as pathological or infantile in some way rather than actually explain why they're wrong. Maybe my views are all of the things you say. But how or why are they these things? If the best answer you can give is your time-honored "If you have to ask the question, you're obviously incapable of understanding the answer," perhaps what this really points out is that you don't really have an answer. On the other hand, if you do have one, I'd like to hear it, and I suspect that others would too.

Next, you say that this blog is not addressed to someone at my level of spiritual development. What level do you see this as being, and why?

Next, you say that one of us is "deeply, even catastrophically, wrong." What do you think is deeply and catastrophically wrong about my view?

Finally, you suggest that I falsely believe that you hate me because I'm projecting onto you the hatred that I feel toward you. For the record, I don't hate you, and I don't think you hate me. Some of your "Bobbleheads" may (or may not) hate me, but I don't believe that you do.

You don't need to respond to any of this if you think there's no point in it. But you raised points that I thought merited a response.

Gagdad Bob said...


I may write a formal post on the subject in the future. But until then, we'll just have to let things stand as they are.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bearing with me this long, and if you ever do write that post, I'll be delighted to read it and gain a better understanding of your thinking on this matter in particular and on spirituality in general.

Anonymous said...

"Judge not, lest ye be judged." It's notable that this text from the Bible has replaced John 3:16 as liberal's favorite scriptural quotation—but what does it actually mean? Is this ageless admonition really a call to unmitigated tolerance over discernment between right and wrong? Is it really a biblical nod of the head to the virtues of postmodern amorality and multiculturalism?

Of course not. As Christ's imperative against judgment appears in the Gospel accounts, a different picture emerges. With the Pharisees clearly in view, in the Sermon on the Mount account of Matthew 7, and again in Luke 6, "judge not" appears in the context of the proverbial man who perceives the speck that is in his brother's eye, but not the log that is in his own. The context, then, suggests a warning against hypocrisy, not moral discernment. Indeed, the full imperative of the passage encourages righteous judgment: "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Then, in John 7:24, taking aim at the Pharisees once again, Jesus makes another extraordinary statement: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." So, does Jesus really call his followers to "judge not"? Of course not. In the vocabulary of theologians, this practice of isolating and thereby misinterpreting a phrase or passage from its context is called isogesis.

Anonymous said...

That's all well and fine. But please bear in mind that no one here is suggesting that people shouldn't discriminate between right and wrong or that they shouldn't oppose wrongdoing. And I doubt that most so-called liberals would suggest this either, despite conservative claims to the contrary. But does the Bible exhort us to hate or despise those we judge as doing wrong? Or does it, at most, tell us to hate or despise the wrongdoing?

LTA said...

I just found your blog through Pajamas Media today. I love it. I'm going to add it to my blogroll and will be checking in with you regularly. Keep it up!

jake said...

Anon: Scripture does teach us to hate "sin", or the commission of a wrong, for what it is - a rejection of what is good, of what is higher up on the vertical axis. It also teaches us that despite the forgiving attitude we should adopt toward an isolated instance of wrongdoing, habitual and unreformable wrongdoers are unworthy of trust.

Anonymous said...

Jake, with all due respect, you didn't directly answer my question, although you indirectly appear to be saying that the Bible doesn't tell us to hate or despise anyone. Mistrust them if they persistently do wrong, maybe. But not hate or despise them.

As for wrongdoers being "unreformable," doesn't Christianity say that we all have free will and a God-given capacity for reformation and redemption as long as we're alive?