What is to be done?
So what does a traditionalist conservative do when he becomes convinced that public life is proceeding on fundamentally bad principles? The usual resources of the extremist are unavailable to him, because traditionalism is adverse to dogmatism, conspiracy theories and cure-alls. On the other hand, he can no longer participate in what passes for the mainstream. The following, extracted from a longer piece I wrote, outlines one possiblity:
So what is to be done? Basic matters like following traditional morality in daily life are clear enough. More and more the world enforces other demands as the price of integrity. The situation of traditionalists is becoming that of religious minorities in Europe before 19th century emancipation. Technocracy makes traditional beliefs on matters such as relations between the sexes and the place of the transcendent in social life hopelessly opposed to the understandings now demanded. Official insistence on commitment to antitraditional views has begun to make it difficult for a traditionalist to accept a responsible job in a mainstream institution, or permit his children to be educated by the public system. In the coming years such difficulties are likely to affect more and more of life.
Posted by Jim Kalb at June 09, 2002 10:34 AM | Send
What do you mean here by good? Good is defined by an individuals perspective seemingly , a person with a particular opinion say, sees good as different from another person. a part of their own particular nature rather than a general human nature. How can I participate in an order for good if my fundamental sense of what is good differs from the majority, if i dont have a general sense but an individual one? I’m not a super-smartie obviously but actually why is technocracy bad? Is it simply that it is presenting incomplete solutions as a way to live or is it more?
Posted by: stephen on June 9, 2002 6:56 PM
“Good” just means a goal that makes action reasonable. For example, if it’s reasonable to try to get a jar of peanut butter then a jar of peanut butter is a good. If it’s reasonable to sacrifice life and reputation for the sake of getting a jar of peanut butter then a jar of peanut butter is a greater good than life and reputation. From these examples it seems clear that a jar of peanut butter is a good, but it’s not the greatest good!
You’re right that people believe different things about what is good. Still, they believe a lot of different things, whether IBM stock will go up or down for example. Some beliefs are right and some are wrong. From the peanut butter example it seems clear that some beliefs about what is good are wrong - for example, a man who really thought a jar of peanut butter worth sacrifice of life and reputation would simply be crazy. He would have a belief about what is good that is plainly wrong.
Also, to act thoughtfully, to discuss with other people what to do and come to a decision, requires an idea of what goals are reasonable - that is, of what is good. For that reason any social order has to be based on common understandings of what is good and bad. Without that common understanding no common action is possible, because unless people can agree on what goals are reasonable they can’t agree on what to do.
So you ask a question that applies to every possible society - what happens to someone who disagrees with the beliefs about good and evil that the society is based on? It’s a very good question, and not one that has an answer that can be applied in all cases. Sometimes a peaceful arrangement is possible, sometimes it isn’t, sometimes you can persuade people to your way of thinking, sometimes you can’t, and sometimes if you’re odd man out that’s just too bad for you. The world can’t be set up to suit everyone, and it’s quite possible you’re just wrong and if so then it’s better if things don’t suit you.
In my view technocracy has several problems. One is that its understanding of the good, that it simply means people getting what they want, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because people do not in fact understand good that way. When I say for example that it is good for my children to be healthy and happy I do not at all mean simply that I want them to be healthy and happy, although that is true too. I mean that even if I went crazy so I wanted my children to be diseased and miserable it would still be good for them to be healthy and happy - that the goodness of their well-being is independent of my feelings or anyone’s feelings about the matter, so even if I died and the whole world hated them and they were depressed and didn’t care any more it would still be good for them to be healthy and happy.Posted by: Jim Kalb on June 9, 2002 7:48 PM