Thursday, March 19, 2009

Classic Robert Bork

by Smitty

Hard Truths About the Culture War is 14 years old, but one of those pieces upon which the ink never dries.

Individualism and egalitarianism may seem an odd pair, since liberty in any degree produces inequality, while equality of outcomes requires coercion that destroys liberty. If they are to operate simultaneously, radical egalitarianism and radical individualism, where they do not complement one another, must operate in different areas of life, and that is precisely what we see in today's culture.
Radical egalitarianism advances, on the one hand, in areas of life and society where superior achievement is possible and would be rewarded but for coerced equality: quotas, affirmative action, income redistribution through progressive taxation for some, entitlement programs for others, and the tyranny of political correctness spreading through universities, primary and secondary schools, government, and even the private sector. Radical individualism, on the other hand, is demanded when there is no danger that achievement will produce inequality and people wish to be unhindered in the pursuit of pleasure. This finds expression particularly in the areas of sexuality and violence, and their vicarious enjoyment in popular entertainment.
Given a standard normal distribution of talent, egalitarianism must try to regress everyone to the mean where there are any "materialistic" side-effects. The modern liberal overlords will trumpet radical individualism as both a distractor, and a means of enslavement. Break down families, desensitize people to the violence of abortion, etc. in the name of guiltless "freedom".

Individualism and egalitarianism do not always divide the labor of producing cultural decay. Often enough they collaborate. When egalitarianism reinforces individualism, denying the possibility that one culture or moral view can be superior to another, the result is cultural and moral relativism, whose end products include multiculturalism, sexual license, obscenity in the popular arts, an unwillingness to punish crime adequately and, sometimes, even to convict the obviously guilty. Both the individualist and the egalitarian (usually in the same skin) are antagonistic to society's traditional hierarchies or lines of authority-the one because his pleasures can be maximized only by freedom from authority, the other because he resents any distinction among people or forms of behavior that suggests superiority in one or the other.
This thought is developed and expanded with great wit by Mr. Sayet.

Modern liberalism employs the rhetoric of "rights" incessantly to delegitimize restraints on individuals by communities. It is a pernicious rhetoric because it asserts a right without giving reasons. If there is to be anything that can be called a community, the case for previously unrecognized individual freedoms must be thought through, and "rights" cannot win every time.
And do note the Federal government championing new rights (sans responsibilities) which always seem to trade freedom of action for freedom from fear. "Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry..." as Roger Waters put it.

Are there any other such nuggets as this piece out there?

Commenter TomM alludes to an outing on martinis.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing Bork will ever write will beat his essay on martinis.