Hypocrisy and the good
Sage McLaughlin wrote in the March 16th thread about England:
It might seem hard to believe, but the ’60s generation really did establish a new public standard according to which honest depravity was vastly preferable to the hypocrisy that naturally comes with affirming the good.
I can’t seem to pinpoint what he is trying to say. What does he mean when he states that “hypocrisy naturally comes with affirming the good”?
When people affirm the good, but in reality they are, inevitably, less than good themselves, that makes them hypocrites to one extent or another. The conservative idea is that hypocrisy is an inevitable price of civilization. But modern liberals and nihilists constantly attack society for its hypocrisy. They point to people’s actual moral failings as proof that the moral standards society upholds are fake. The conservative response is that it’s better for people to affirm the good, even if they are flawed in their personal lives, than (as the left demands) not affirm the good at all, in order to avoid being hypocrites.
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The conservative understanding is that the good is higher than we are. We don’t possess it or embody it; we strive, imperfectly, toward it. Thus conservatism understands the co-existence of the objective good and human frailty.
Liberals reject both those ideas. Believing there is nothing higher than man, liberals think that if a person says he believes in the moral good, that means he is saying that he himself is good, or rather that he is identical with the good. (Thus a New York Post reporter many years ago absurdly misquoted Rush Limbaugh’s famous slogan, “Talent on loan from God,” as, “I am God.” The reporter was translating Limbaugh’s traditional idea of the relation of man and God into a liberal idea ) In the liberal view, any actual moral failing by a person who says there is a moral good shows him to be a hypocrite, and morality to be a lie. Liberals thus conclude that the traditional idea of the moral good should be dropped, and people should be content with the “merely human,” to use a favorite leftist phrase.
Having gotten rid of the traditional, religious-based idea of the moral good, liberals embrace the liberal idea of the moral good, which is compassion, equality, diversity, inclusion, stopping global warming, etc. Unlike believing in the traditional moral good, believing in the liberal moral good does not involve hypocrisy, because for a person to be good in the liberal sense no actual moral behavior, with its inevitable failures, is required: the person merely needs to affirm that he believes in compassion, equality, diversity, inclusion, and stopping global warming. By signing on to liberalism, one is simply and truly good. This is the source of liberals’ inordinate self-esteem. Believing in a liberal good that is not higher than the self but identical to the self, liberals feel themselves to be perfectly good, even as they look with contempt and hatred at conservatives who hypocritically affirm, and seek to impose on society, some false higher good that they themselves don’t follow.
Alan Roebuck writes:
Dennis Prager has been saying something similar, albeit not as completely explained, for years. He says that for a liberal, being moral means supporting (or saying you support) the right liberal causes, whereas for a conservative, being moral is acting, or striving to act, a certain way.
But you perfected Prager’s insight by observing that liberal morality means, not what you do, but what you affirm. Being moral means having the right attitude toward nondiscrimination and the liberal causes du jour, which automatically sanctifies you regardless of your actual behavior. It’s the liberal perversion of justification faith! So once again, liberalism is shown to be a pseudo-Christian heresy.
Come to think of it, this gives a good explanation of why liberals hate conservatives so much: It isn’t just that conservatives believe the wrong things, it’s that they simply are bad on account of affirming the wrong beliefs.
Leonard D. writes:
I agree with you that to progressives (my preferred label for people you call liberals), morality is about intention, not action. However, I do not think that “no actual moral behavior, with its inevitable failures, is required“—quite the opposite. Certain behaviors are required, but it is not the behavior as such that matters, it is the belief underlying it. If you believe the right thing, then right action must follow.
For example, for progressives, nondiscrimination is an important aspect of the faith, rooted in the brotherhood of man (perhaps I should say “the siblinghood of humankind”). To discriminate is to think discriminatory thoughts—and that is evil. Progressives certainly do think that nondiscrimination is required. They insist on it, and not just for them. But enforcing nondiscriminatory action is merely the first stage. What they really want is nondiscriminatory thoughts, as attested by their attempts at speech codes, hate crime laws, and indoctrination in goodthink at all levels of society.
the brotherhood of man (perhaps I should say “the siblinghood of humankind”).
But why privilege humankind over other species? It should be the “Oneness of All Life.” But that is the kind of Big Concept that the left also rejects, along with Brotherhood of Man. When Ken Hechtman expressed his devotion to that ideal at VFR last year, he sounded like an old-fashioned leftist; that’s not the way the left expressed itself any more. The whole point about the modern lieft is that it doesn’t express itself in conceptual terms. It expresses various desires, goals, demands, it will attack the things it doesn’t like, but it doesn’t use concepts.
Michael S. writes:
This is why Jesus gave us the sacrament of Conversion/Penance/Confession/Forgiveness/Reconciliation. I guess Jesus was really a conservative after all.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 25, 2009 06:01 PM | Send