Conservative Colloquium

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Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Culture War as Stigma War

Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville

A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”

This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.

Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.

Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”

If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.

Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.

When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.

We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)

We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.

Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).

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Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Freedom Creates Diversity, Government Creates Uniformity

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Diversity is inextricably linked to freedom. Economic freedom naturally produces a diversity of income levels. Freedom of speech naturally produces a diversity of speech and opinions. And so on.

Uniformity is inextricably linked to coercion of some sort. Government is inherently an instrument of coercion that reduces freedom.

Therefore, because conservatism is for limited government and thus a champion of freedom, conservatism  (NOT liberalism) is the true proponent of responsible diversity!

Global economic inequality is merely economic diversity; each country practices different economic theories (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) and are free to do so. Seems liberals do not like economic diversity and that is why they despise economic freedom.

Capitalism, because it is inherently a system of freedom, creates a greater diversity of goods and services than any other economic system (a diversity relative to consumer demand). Because capitalism is based on voluntary exchange, it creates a just diversity.

Now conservatives are NOT devotees of every kind of diversity. Unlike liberals, we are not worshippers of the Idols of Difference and Change. Rather conservatives uphold a value system and a moral code. Therefore, a diversity of moralities is abhorrent to conservatism. Serial killing and living in peace, or homosexuality and heterosexuality, may be merely “diverse lifestyles” according to liberalism, but conservatism upholds and proclaims these differences to have absolute normative value. One is bad and one is good. Now, for the conservative, it is a matter of prudence whether certain tenets of his moral code should be imposed on society. The law is a teacher, but sometimes its good intentions can create more harm than good.

Posted in Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Conservative Approach to “International Awareness”

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Conservatives are not opposed to learning about other countries and cultures around the world. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. Americans need to be aware of the diversity of beliefs around the world and what their implications are for international relations. In fact, such knowledge can increase the peace and prosperity of the US.

However, international awareness can easily devolve into cultural relativism, a form of moral relativism. And this is what conservatives vehemently oppose. In an atmosphere of multiculturalism, mere knowledge often devolves into mindless, politically correct, approval and appreciation of morally inferior elements of certain cultures.

Moreover, though, conservatives believe that younger generations of Americans hardly have any knowledge of their own heritage. Young people do not learn about and understand the value of Western civilization that has been passed down to us from Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian traditions. They do not understand the ideas and reasoning that went into the Founding of America. SO, with this in mind, why should young people be traveling abroad and studying other cultures when they don’t even understand their own cultural heritage?

The American, ignorant of his own heritage and the reasoning behind it, is unable to think critically about other cultures. And this inability will lead to confusion and error. And such confusion and error will weaken the US and the values and beliefs that have made it great.

I’d like to end with this very interest commentary on international travel by G.K. Chesterton:
“I have never managed to lose my old conviction that travel narrows the mind. At least a man must make a double effort of moral humility and imaginative energy to prevent it from narrowing his mind. Indeed there is something touching and even tragic about the thought of the thoughtless tourist, who might have stayed at home loving Laplanders, embracing Chinamen, and clasping Patagonians to his heart in Hampstead or Surbiton, but for his blind and suicidal impulse to go and see what they looked like. This is not meant for nonsense; still less is it meant for the silliest sort of nonsense, which is cynicism. The human bond that he feels at home is not an illusion. On the contrary, it is rather an inner reality. Man is inside all men. In a real sense any man may be inside any men. But to travel is to leave the inside and draw dangerously near the outside. So long as he thought of men in the abstract, like naked toiling figures in some classic frieze, merely as those who labor and love their children and die, he was thinking the fundamental truth about them. By going to look at their unfamiliar manners and customs he is inviting them to disguise themselves in fantastic masks and costumes. Many modern internationalists talk as if men of different nationalities had only to meet and mix and understand each other. In reality that is the moment of supreme danger-the moment when they meet. We might shiver, as at the old euphemism by which a meeting meant a duel.

Travel ought to combine amusement with instruction; but most travelers are so much amused that they refuse to be instructed. I do not blame them for being amused; it is perfectly natural to be amused at a Dutchman for being Dutch or a Chinaman for being Chinese. Where they are wrong is that they take their own amusement seriously. They base on it their serious ideas of international instruction. It was said that the Englishman takes his pleasures sadly; and the pleasure of despising foreigners is one which he takes most sadly of all. He comes to scoff and does not remain to pray, but rather to excommunicate. Hence in international relations there is far too little laughing, and far too much sneering. But I believe that there is a better way which largely consists of laughter; a form of friendship between nations which is actually founded on differences.”

Posted in American Culture, Education, Government and Politics, Texas A&M, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »