About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We're Naively Buying Into The Left's Conception Of An Amoral Culture

The Herman Cain debacle is illustrative of the extent to which good, moral individuals in this country are buying into the Left's notion of a public and national policy of amorality.

I haven't been on a college campus for years but I am told that campus life these days is ruled by political correctness, intolerance, factionalism, mandated diversity, and mandated sexual mores that accept homosexuality and promiscuity as the norm. Sound familiar? These are the same ills that plague the broader American culture today. Leftist academe strikes again.

It's time for Americans who believe in and practice traditional, conservative morality to speak out against the amoral trend in our culture. I don't mean accept the Left's morality and then pick at its edges. I mean reject the entire mess lock, stock and barrel. The key to accomplishing this is to return to a culture which understands and respects property, freedom and peace.

How so? Let me try to explain.

The means used by the Left to control our culture is political. Arguing that the personal, moral vices of intolerance, racism, sexism, agism and all the other politically incorrect "isms" are corrupt, the Left elects politicians eager to legislate against these personal vices, making them a matter for public discussion, public law and government mandates based on bureaucratic interpretations of that law. As a result, the very personal, moral vices that are legislated against -- intolerance, racism, sexism and the like -- become in some strange way the norm. By the way, the Right is not innocent of this tact, practicing it with the best of the Left.

Here's an example of what I mean. We all are aware of sordid episodes in American history: slavery, denying women the vote and Prohibition to name a few. Men of good will and sound moral character know instinctively that slavery is evil. Though good Christians held slaves in early America, they understood slavery was ultimately an immoral practice. I'll wager that even Southern Christians, who rationalized the institution on traditional or economic grounds, knew in their heart that enslaving other human beings was against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Eventually, good Christian men decide that such blatant injustices must be outlawed. All men and women born in America must enjoy equal freedom under the law. This principle justifies the 13th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution. The problem is that ideologues on the Left and Right are never satisfied by simply changing the law to guarantee basic human rights for all. They insist on changing people's hearts and minds as well. So they kick it up a notch. They pass tons of laws and bureaucratic rules and regulations designed to regulate individual behavior with regard to the basic principle in question. In doing so they violate property rights and take away basic, individual liberty.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and restored human rights to blacks. The politicians should have stopped there. Most Americans agreed in their hearts with the Amendment. The hardheads who didn't would slowly, begrudgingly and inevitably accept the reality of black equality. Societal and cultural pressure would have forced recalcitrant and racist shop owners and restauranteurs to assimilate. Indeed, the profit motive would have worked to ease latent resentments and eliminate outright racism.

But no. The Left couldn't let well enough alone. They passed affirmative action and equal opportunity laws with their attendent jumble of bureaucratic rules and paperwork. The result? The property rights of racist shopowners and restauranteurs were violated. Moreover, the property rights of all businesses and organizations in America were weakened or eliminated as they were forced to comply with racial quotas, hiring guidelines and other such onerous, federal government directives.

The federal government's activism in matters of race encouraged the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to form an entire industry based on race baiting and racial advocacy. These unscrupulous gentlemen, with the help of threats of federal lawsuits, extorted money from businesses and publicity from the media. All of which further diminished individual property rights and liberty. The result? An inevitable backlash.

Middle Americans are basically good people. They are generally quick to admit and correct wrongs. They are generally eager to get over it, to move on. They'd rather wounds scab over and heal on their own. They resent being told to think and act in a certain, politically correct way, especially if those doing the telling are arrogant and obnoxious federal bureaucrats and holier-than-thou political advocates. Consequently, rather than allowing racial tension to dissipate in the normal course of human life and learning, Jackson, Sharpton and the federal government continued to pick at the scab, finding racism virtually everywhere, demanding apologies and reparations. Since the federal government had made racism politically incorrect by rule and regulations, racists were forced to ply their hideous trade undergound. Characters like David Duke and George Wallace thrived.

A similar story can be told about the women's suffrage movement. Politicians passed the 19th Amendment but couldn't leave it there. Americans were mandated to change their hearts and minds not merely about women's right to vote, but also about the proper relationship between men and women in society. Businesses and institutions were forced to comply with the wishes of federal bureaucrats and crusaders by means like Title IX. Women's suffrage led to feminism and women's advocates like Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin set out to redefine traditional American culture and attitudes with regard to women. Now, few if any social differences remain with regard to men and women, putting centuries of deferential attitudes toward women in doubt and disparaging traditional female roles of caregiving and mothering.

Today the Left is pushing the gay agenda down the same path of political and bureaucratic directives, further eroding the property rights and freedoms of individuals in this country.

The point I am trying to make is that Americans need to recognize the difference between correcting inequities in the public system we use to govern ourselves and using that very political system to force individuals to think and act according to a particular morality or amorality. We must make sure that all human beings have an equal right of participation in our political system and that each man is treated equally by the law of the land, i.e., our Constitution, but that's as far as it should go.

Equality under the law does not mean and should not mean that we all think and act the same by government edict and that this edict should be enforced by federal bureaucratic coercion. Americans are above all individuals who must be allowed the freedom to think and act as they wish, so long as they do not tread on the Constitutional rights of others to participate in government. Above all, the right of all Americans to use their property as they see fit, not as the government sees fit, should be protected at all costs. In the long run, these protections of property and freedom will lead to lasting peace. There are no other means available to man to reach a lasting peace.

There is an old saying that you can't legislate morality. Americans know this instinctively. Yet, every day Americans go against their good instincts and support the efforts of politicians to impose their morality -- or amorality -- on the entire American population. Such efforts inexorably result in conflict, disputation, factionalism, social unrest and cultural strife. In the end the price is the crackup of our society.

Given the inevitable consequences of legislating morality, Americans must resist every effort to do so on both the Right and the Left. No matter the extent to which individual Americans sympathize with the personal morality or amorality advocated by a particular political agenda, they must never buy into the idea that there exists a preferred, objective, public morality or amorality that must be imposed by the government equally on all American individuals.


LD Jackson said...

This has got to be one of the most amazing posts I have ever read. The danger of us falling into the trap of believing we can use the government to legislate morality is very real. I've been guilty of that very thing. The trouble is, that sword cuts both ways, indiscriminately.

Sherman Broder said...

LD, you have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words. It is a great encouragement to me. Thanks.

Of course you're right about the sword cutting both ways. If only more people could see it as we do.

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