"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bernard Goldberg Is Back!

The author of Bias does the neocon turn by explaining why it became impossible for him to remain a modern liberal:

Over the years, we grew tolerant of all the right things. We grew tolerant of civil rights, we became more tolerant of women’s rights. We became tolerant of various kinds of rights, and it was a good thing that we did. But over the years, we became indiscriminately tolerant. We became tolerant of crap! To tell somebody, to make a comment about this crap is to be judgmental somehow. And somehow, being judgmental of crap has become a bad thing.

Preach it, Bernie. Certainly fits with S.T. Karnick's desire to remain in the classical liberal fold.

25 comments:

Tlaloc said...

Some people lack the personal courage to tackle moral relativism.

James Elliott said...

Here's what doesn't make any sense with the whole "culture war, morality police" hoopla. Television, radio, etc., all of it is market-based. They produce what sells. They produce what Americans want to consume. That's the market. If the majority of Americans cared, or were worried, they wouldn't consume. Then, the market would correct itself, no?

So, if the majority of Americans don't care, how is the media or Liberals for that matter, out of step with America?

Shouldn't we just trust in the market? Eh? Eh?

Hunter Baker said...

No, James, we don't endorse the market's ability to handle everything. For instance, I'm confident there would be a thriving market for hit men if we generally approved of such a thing. As it is, we know there is a market for it underground.

James Elliott said...

Ah, so a minority of people are forcing their sexual mores on people and forcing them to consume their wicked products? So you're saying the market has no power.

Hunter Baker said...

I didn't say anything of the sort, but I generally agree with Adam Smith (in A Theory of Moral Sentiments) where he said that the "people of fashion" can withstand the damage of a wayward lifestyle, but the rest of society cannot. Chesterton reflected on the same situation and said the rich preach their vices to the poor. I think that's what happens in the market. It is used by social elites to bring about a certain moral climate.

James Elliott said...

I agree with that in a broader sense, but not specifically in regards to sexual mores. I think media has helped to create a consumer culture in America that hypes materialism as the ultimate value. We are exhorted to consume clothes, electronics, and other people. It is through this objectification, exacerbated by Western culture's focus on the individual, that we arrive at our current (if I may borrow a phrase from my Marine friends) "Semper Fi, f--- the other guy" mentality. The "elites" (and when did elite stop meaning "better?" I ask)may have started it, but it cannot be wholly laid at their feet.

The problem is broader than mere sex on television, nor is demonizing the expression of sexuality the answer. The current revival of fundamentalist religions is merely the extreme end of the inevitable backlash. It's like when David Horowitz got fed up with the Black Panthers or Irving Kristol gave up on the Trotskyites: people just go to the other extreme, thinking things will balance.

Not to say that religion isn't to blame in some ways. Calvinism, by preaching that the rich are the chosen of God, created a system in which emulation of the rich was inevitable. So, if the "elites" do preach their avarice to the other classes, the other classes are just as indoctrinated to want it.

Morality is a nice buzzword for socially acceptable behavior. Social consensus is merely changing. As always, there's going to be some hotly contested debate over the direction.

Hunter Baker said...

I'm guessing you aren't a believer in natural law, much less revealed law. I can understand how you avoid the latter, but not the former. We know what a coward is the whole world over. Where does that come from?

Tlaloc said...

"We know what a coward is the whole world over. Where does that come from?"

We do? Don't you recall the arguments about whether the 9/11 hijackers were brave or cowards? It would appear we don't even have a universal sense of what "cowardice" means in just this country.

Consider murder. Everyone agrees murder is bad right? But the definition of what constitutes murder varies enormously. If the most fundamental moral dilemma (when is it okay to kill) is not universal how can any lesser question be?

S. T. Karnick said...

The post-9/11 argument was not over whether cowardice is bad; it was over whether the attackers fit the description. Same with murder: all sensible people agree that it is bad, and that is exactly what makes it important to know whether any particular case constitutes a murder. In both cases the doubt is not about whether the activity is bad but whether an individual instance fits the definition.

Hunter Baker said...

Yep, the natural law is clear to all who do not deceive themselves. James, you and I know what a coward is. We know the difference between righteous anger and a selfish regard for one's own prerogatives. We know it is good to help a poor man. We know it is bad to harm an innocent person. The list of things we know (just like it was programmed in our DNA) is long.

James Elliott said...

Perhaps, but I think the difference between us is that I believe such traits are gene-inheritability survival traits designed to perpetuate the species. Just as I believe religion descends from schizophrenic-like social control mechanisms man has evolved past using.

It's all in the 99% of our genetic code we share with the monkeys, Hunter. It's all about the monkeys. And why not? Monkeys are good.

Tlaloc said...

"The post-9/11 argument was not over whether cowardice is bad; it was over whether the attackers fit the description. Same with murder: all sensible people agree that it is bad, and that is exactly what makes it important to know whether any particular case constitutes a murder. In both cases the doubt is not about whether the activity is bad but whether an individual instance fits the definition."

That's what I said, we agree these words have certain connotations but cannot agree on a common definition. That supports my contention not Hunters. Hunter believes in a universal natural law, so then what is the universal definition of murder? Without a universal definition there can be no universal law.

Tlaloc said...

" Yep, the natural law is clear to all who do not deceive themselves."

Ah so now it's not a universal law it's a law for all those who don't decieve themselves. nd conveniently your definition of "doesn't decieve themselves" will be "agrees with me."

You've engaged in a tautology hunter: "I believe in the universal natural law which is proved by all those who agree with me but anyone who doesn't agree with me is just not seeing the universal natural law."

Hunter Baker said...

No, Tlaloc, the natural law is universal. We all know it, but you and I both know that we can deny reality. Isn't that the whole premise of your group's "reality based community?" -- that some people are refusing to face facts?

James Elliott said...

Wow, Hunter, way to change the entire meaning of "reality-based community." That isn't the Left's name for itself, that term was coined by the Bush White House. The whole crux of which was as "faith-based" the Bush Administration, and by extension, the Right, "create our own realities." The Left, by implication was "reality-based" because it was limited to what IS and don't "create their own realities."

But nice try muddling the issue. Play again next time.

Tlaloc said...

" No, Tlaloc, the natural law is universal. We all know it, but you and I both know that we can deny reality."

If it's real then you should be able to demonstrate a universal definition for murder. You can give me one and I'll give you an example of a people who disagree with your "universal" definition.

Without a universal definition you cannot claim a universal law. All you do is shift the relativity from the definition to the word choice.



"Isn't that the whole premise of your group's "reality based community?" -- that some people are refusing to face facts?"

No hunter that's completely different. The issue with reality or faith based is whether they pay attention to facts, not morals. Claiming Iraq has WMD is a factual matter, they do or they don't. Claiming Saddam was a murderer depends entirely on the moral definition of murder you use (whereas saying he was a killer would be factual).

Are you saying you don't see the difference between externally verifiable facts and internal moral judgements?

Hunter Baker said...

You're trying to tell me that we can't agree on what a murder is or what stealing is? How can that be? Have you denied your own moral compass so thoroughly that you don't know what these things are?

The Liberal Anonymous said...

I think he challenged you to provide a definition, Hunter. Implying that he is immoral for asking such a question is not a convincing response.

Tlaloc said...

" You're trying to tell me that we can't agree on what a murder is or what stealing is?"

You and I probably can agree but as we are both products of the same culture all that indicates is a cultural definition not a universal one.

Is it murder to kill a human being for money? In war? As punishment for a crime?

Different cultures and people will answer these questions differently which means there is no universal "North" to which our individual moral compasses can point.

Hunter Baker said...

Read C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man. I think he might convince you that the natural law is extremely cross-cultural.

The Liberal Anonymous said...

James has made some comments regarding the evolutionary advantage of the group cohesion that certain attitudes towards morality create. But cultures evolve faster than species, so it is understandable that ideas about morality are different from place to place.

Hunter Baker said...

There is no doubt at all that certain moral practices contribute to the success of a cultural group. That fact doesn't at all speak to whether or not there exists a natural law of which we are all primally aware.

James Elliott said...

C.S. Lewis was writing from a Christian, Western-centric point of view. This is not to pass judgment on whether or not he was accurate, merely to point out that we must take into account every author's cultural bias.

Bias, in this case, does not indicate an active discrimination (which can occur) but whether or not the author recognizes that he or she evaluates other cultures' norms from the point of the cultural norms he or she ascribes to.

Many things affect cultural norms. I invite you to look at the work of Ronald Inglehart at UMich Ann Arbor and Pippa Norris of Harvard on how economic development affects notions of gender equality as just one example. It's pretty interesting, and indicates just how much other cultural factors play in so-called "universal" norms.

Tlaloc said...

"Read C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man. I think he might convince you that the natural law is extremely cross-cultural."

Dopn't hide behind Lewis' coattails Hunter. You're an intelligent guy reason it out for yourself.

Is there a universal sense of morality?

Is there a universal definition for any given question of morality(i.e. what constitutes murder)?

Hunter Baker said...

Believe it or not, T, I have a fairly vigorous set of things to do each day, so I expect readers who want to know more to go ahead and read something to which I refer once in a while if they are truly interested.