Year: 2013

The Fusion of Nature and Virtue

Under progressivism, nature and virtue fuse. To newthinkers, the more natural, the more virtuous.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
• The more natural, the more virtuous.

Many entailments branch out of this particular belief. The unconscious logic is: The more natural, the more virtuous. Additionally:

• Emoting is natural and therefore virtuous; thinking is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Expressing yourself is natural and therefore virtuous; stoicism is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Sex is natural and therefore virtuous; sexual inhibitions or modesty are unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• A simple life is natural and therefore virtuous; a complex life is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Whole foods are natural and therefore virtuous; processed foods are unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Holistic medicine is natural and therefore virtuous; traditional medicine is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• The environment is natural and therefore virtuous; humanity’s physical presence is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Human will is unimportant in understanding human behavior. Human behavior can be completely understood through natural influences: genetics and environment.
• So-called primitive societies are closer to nature and therefore superior to our society. The social achievements and wisdom our society has gained since primitive times are therefore bogus.

 

…the ultimate expression of newthink’s nature/virtue conflation is the environmental movement.

Nature and “the environment” are synonymous, so the ultimate expression of newthink’s nature/virtue conflation is the environmental movement. In the 1960s and 1970s, many of the hippies headed back to the land clutching copies of Mother Earth News. As the hippie movement faded, many switched from the antiwar movement to the environment. Environmentalists as guardians of nature in progressive society perform a function psychologically analogous to soldiers as guardians of freedom in traditional American society – without the pesky bullets, bombs and dying part. Also analogous is the virtue attached to the environmentalist and the soldier. Like conspicuous worshipers in the temple, anyone associated with the green movement is touched by progressive virtue, which helps account for its current ubiquity in the media and the sanctimony with which its message is delivered.

Definitions: Political Correctness and Progressive Virtue

Traditional America used good and evil to measure virtue. Newthink replaces them with progressive virtue and progressive vice.

People need to feel virtuous. Therefore, all worldviews contain a system of measuring self-virtue. Traditional America used good and evil to measure virtue. Newthink replaces them with progressive virtue and progressive vice. The name of newthink’s morality, political correctness, provides a language clue to this: correctness implies keeping score. What is being scored is one’s level of progressive virtue.

Here are some definitions:

political correctness n : progressive morality

progressive virtue n : 1 : conformity to a standard of political correctness 2 : moral merit as measured under the newthink worldview

politically correct (PC) adj : adhering to progressive morality

progressively virtuous (PV) adj : having progressive virtue –(antonym: progressively unvirtuous (unPV))

Let’s review.  Political correctness = progressive morality.  Progressive virtue = moral merit under the progressive worldview.  Under newthink, the more one conforms to a standard of political correctness, the more progressive virtue one accrues.  Please understand these concepts.  There will be a test.

A Progressive Belief: Our Bodies are Inherently Noble

While traditional Americans weren’t the prudes they are sometimes caricatured as, they did believe in personal modesty and privacy.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
• Our bodies are inherently noble.

The unconscious logic of this belief’s single entailment is:

• Privacy and modesty are unnatural.

 

The sense that our bodies are inherently noble logically leads to the conviction that bodily modesty and privacy are unnatural anachronisms. The salient coarsening of American culture over the last 60 years arose from this unconscious belief.

Worldviews at War

Let’s step back a little and take a look at the big picture I am describing in theprogressiveworldview.com blog and in my book Newthink.

…what I am talking about is the usurpation of the traditional American worldview (which I call Americanism) by the progressive worldview (which I call newthink).

Not to spoil the ending, but what I am talking about is the usurpation of the traditional American worldview (which I call Americanism) by the progressive worldview (which I call newthink).

Worldviews exist broadly across geography and over history. They don’t just pop up like mushrooms. They evolve over time, with general themes modified by local variations. A really new worldview is an epochal development.

When two significantly different worldviews exist as geographic neighbors or contemporaneously in the same society, friction occurs. If the unconscious beliefs of a worldview posit the necessity of conversion or overthrow of societies with other worldviews, it creates an existential struggle for domination, such as the current worldview struggle between the Muslim world and all its neighbors.

Historically, the western civilization worldview with its Society is a Wilderness metaphor compelled its members to either convert (civilize) other societies or overthrow them. The western civilization worldview overthrew the barbaric worldview throughout the earth. Whether Huns, Goths, Vandals, Tartars, Visigoths, Vikings, Celts, Indians, Native Americans or African tribes, they were all seen by westerners as godless, primitive and inferior societies. Good civilized people felt it was their duty of to educate, convert and, if necessary, overthrow them.

Americanism emerged from the western civilization worldview and inherited its tenets of right-and-wrong from it. The main difference in the two worldviews was in Americanism’s government metaphor: Government is Fire. This metaphor shaped the American belief in the necessity of small government restrained by checks and balances, which exists for only a few essential functions such as defending the nation and protecting the individual rights of citizens. Although Americanism was not as radical a departure from the western civilization worldview as the latter was from Barbarism, it still required an overthrow – the American Revolution. In its wake, a separating ocean then provided Americanism room to grow.

World history for over a century has been dominated by newthink’s evolution and its encroachment upon other cultures and worldviews around the globe.

But what goes around comes around. Now newthink, a relatively new worldview which because of modern technology has quickly achieved worldwide scope, is carrying out its own cultural takeover. World history for over a century has been dominated by newthink’s evolution and its encroachment upon other cultures and worldviews around the globe. In Europe, its overthrow of the western civilization worldview is nearly complete. In America, its overthrow of Americanism is well under way. America’s 20th and 21st century history has largely been the story of newthink’s usurpation of the traditional American worldview.

Newthink is replacing Americanism. But this usurpation, while monumental, is nebulous, masked by its own mostly unconscious nature and the great technological change of our times. Thus, its logic is hidden. Newthink looms over us, its powerful dynamics buffet our world, but it is only dimly perceived and little understood. Traditional America may never see it clearly until it is beyond challenge.

See? Told Ya So: The Boston Bomber

In my March 21, 2013 blog post, I said, “Newthinkers sympathize with those who behave badly. Progressive sympathy often goes more to traditional evildoers than their victims because newthink tends to see traditional evildoers as damaged goods – inherently noble beings damaged or corrupted by society. They are tragic figures; the victims are just props in their drama.”

Now read this:

tn_Boston BomberSympathy for the Devil

Apparently there’s been a wave of sympathy and even attraction to Boston Bomber #2, despite the 8-year-old boy he (allegedly) killed and the scores he (allegedly) maimed.  Why?  Because progressives don’t generally recognize evil.  It’s not part of their worldview.  Instead they see dysfunction or oppression.  When they are presented with an evil act, they unconsciously search for justifications.  The justification usually involves seeing the evildoer as a victim or a freedom fighter.  More on this later.

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The Beats

The belief that we need to return to a natural state generates an unconscious group rebellion against tradition. Newthinkers rebel, not because tradition is truly bad, but because they believe it ties them down or sullies their built-in grandeur. Newthink promotes the tossing of old values. For instance, it undermines a justification of the traditional liberal arts education – that it promotes wisdom – because the validity of traditional wisdom itself is questioned. Newthinkers unconsciously begin to suspect everything they’ve been taught because it leads them away from their innocence. So we enter what Dennis Prager calls “the age of stupidity.” Newthinkers unconsciously believe that if they could only unlearn what they’ve been taught, then true peace, happiness and wisdom would flow from the inherent and transcendent nobility within.

The false emotional association of fun and freedom with newthink, and of ordeal and restriction with Americanism, is newthink’s most powerful promotional force among youth. It created the Beat character archetype and fed progressivism’s various utopian movements.

The Beats:
Modern noble savages who “drop out” of society with the intention of living better and more simply. They unconsciously desire to regain their lost innocence, to uncover their inherent and transcendent nobility. They have a lack of social drive because of their conviction that traditional society only taints them. They prefer freer forms of thinking and expression because of their conviction that society confines them. They tend to purposely live more simply, with less and more primitive technology. Because they think society is corrupt, they are introspective, more interested in the interior world.

My baby-boom generation, led by Progressive Missionaries and Beats, barring a late-in-life redemption, may well be remembered as a generation of fools; our children, led by modern thugs, unless they can redeem themselves and change direction, may be remembered as a generation of thugs.

Much of the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s was powered by the Beat character archetype, as was the beatnik movement that preceded it, and the new age movement that followed it. The Beat character archetype also explains the progressive resonance with Buddhism, which contains similar themes regarding the need to unlearn old thinking patterns. All these social movements had strains running through them which extolled innocence  and emphasized the necessity of rejecting one’s old beliefs and values.

Each generation, regardless of the worth of many of its members, is defined by its most active segment. My baby-boom generation, led by Progressive Missionaries and Beats, barring a late-in-life redemption, may well be remembered as a generation of fools; our children, led by modern thugs, unless they can redeem themselves and change direction, may be remembered as a generation of thugs.

A Progressive Belief: We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.

The idea that people should return to a primitive state was foolish to those who had more experience with the boundaries of civilization. After spending millennia trying to get out of a primitive state, why would they want to return to it?

Traditional Americans didn’t typically believe that they were inherently noble. On the contrary, they believed that they were basically flawed or sinful, and therefore could only strive toward ideals, never fully reach them. The idea that people should return to a primitive state was foolish to those who had more experience with the boundaries of civilization. After spending millennia trying to get out of a primitive state, why would they want to return to it?

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

  • Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
  • We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: a civilized man, but a ...
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: a civilized man, but a person who questioned whether civilization was according to human nature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cognitive unconscious provides “tells” of a person’s worldview in their language. These language clues are little peeks behind the curtain of the unconscious mind. They hint at the metaphors guiding one’s thoughts. For instance, the common term “noble savage” is a language clue deriving from the “we need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility” belief. The phrase is associated with the 18th century French philosopher Rousseau (who never actually used it but did put forward the idea of the innate peacefulness and lack of vice of primitive man). It survives because it resonates with progressives, who carry the unconscious conviction of our inherent and transcendent nobility. To newthinkers, adult innocence, whether found in a faraway culture or in one’s own life, is a holy grail. Adult innocence is for them a pseudo-religious state, equivalent to a state of grace for Christians.The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

  • Our bodies are inherently noble.
  • All so-called wisdom from the past is worthless.
  • Advanced culture obscures our inherent nobility.
  • The more natural, the more virtuous.
  • Children are more noble than adults because society hasn’t corrupted or damaged them as much yet.
  • Adults should strive to regain their lost innocence.
  • The future is perfectible. A transcendentally noble future is possible.

Thug Culture

The beliefs that we’ve been discussing – that most bad behavior is caused by society, and that we only think a behavior is bad because it has been criminalized – have created the progressive trend of excusing those who act antisocially, even when those actions are horrific. Because of this progressive social trend to sympathize with those traditionally seen as evildoers, human evil and barbarism are less recognized and therefore inadequately suppressed or channeled. A license to be bad leads to more bad behavior.

Males, if they are not civilized into men, tend toward barbarism.

Thug culture starts to thrive when human primitivism is not being channeled or suppressed.  Human thuggery is an eternal problem because it is eternal in human nature – especially male nature. Males, if they are not civilized into men, tend toward barbarism. Americanism successfully civilized boys into men for centuries. It is the height of foolishness to tamper with that successful male-civilizing process. But civilizing young males is an uneasy and unnatural process, and as Americanism has weakened, thug culture has reemerged.

thug culture n : a social pattern characterized by the inherent tendency, especially in males, toward seeking social status based on violence, the maintenance of face, and primitive behavior

Thug culture, whether today or in the distant past, is about being respected rather than meeting standards of behavior. In a cross-cultural and historical study including records from over 700 years ago, more than half of all male-on-male homicides were connected to competition for status and the maintenance of face.  This pattern of human male violence is the same as that of other polygynous primates.* As Martin Daly and Margo Wilson write in their book Homicide, the reputation of a man in most societies hinges on his maintaining a believable threat of violence.  This believable threat is obscured in today’s world because the government has a established a monopoly on the lawful use of force.  But when that monopoly weakens, society-wide or in a violent sub-culture, the usefulness of that believable threat is again clear.**

…men universally compete for social status and for the control of resources which sustain reproduction.  Throughout preindustrial societies, nearly one in three young men are killed during this competition, and those who have killed have gained a definite social asset in many or most prestate cultures.

As David Geary points out in his book Male, Female, this inherent male barbarism is not concentrated in any particular ethnicity. In fact, men universally compete for social status and for the control of resources which sustain reproduction.  Throughout preindustrial societies, nearly one in three young men are killed during this competition, and those who have killed have gained a definite social asset in many or most prestate cultures. For instance, about two out of five men in the Yanomamo tribe have murdered at least one person, and have thus achieved a higher social status and more wives and children than the non-murderers.*** In other possible examples, the homicide rates in England, Amsterdam and Stockholm in the 15th and 16th centuries were very high, about equal to the most murderous cities in America during the 1980s and early 1990s – which were at the time the most violent places in the industrial  world.****

While this murderous behavior is found among different ethnicities, the same is not true of gender.  These were mostly male crimes – relatively few women committed grave acts of violence.†  Thug culture affects everyone, but in its origins it is essentially a male phenomenon.

These modern studies of preindustrial (traditional Americans would say pre-civilization) societies are reminiscent of the traditional American view of preindustrial Indian society described by McMaster in his 1901 children’s history book: “No young Indian was of any importance till he had killed an enemy and brought home the scalp; and the more scalps he brought home, the greater ‘brave’ he was thought to be.”‡ Pre-civilized societies, regardless of ethnicity, typically had very high rates of male barbarism and murder. Post-civilized societies such as the most murderous American cities of the 1980s and early 1990s – which are, not coincidentally, centers of progressive culture – are likely to suffer the same problem.

* David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), p. 318.

** Martin Daly & Margo Wilson, Homicide, ( New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988), p.128.

*** David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), pp. 317-318.

****Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen, The Civilization of Crime, (University of Illinois Press, 1996), p. 8.

† Jan Sundin, “Crime and Local Justice in Preindustrial Sweden”, Eric A. Johnson and Eric H. Monkkonen, The Civilization of Crime, (University of Illinois Press, 1996), p. 189.

‡ John Bach McMaster, A Primary History of the United States, (American Book Company, 1901), p. 20.

A Progressive Belief: Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoer.

Traditional Americans believed that people were always susceptible to bad behavior and had to choose to walk the “straight and narrow” path of good behavior. If they behaved badly, they had no one to blame but themselves. However, newthink offers a plethora of rationalizations for “antisocial” behavior – so much so that progressive sympathy often goes to the traditional evildoer rather than his victim.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

  • Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
  • Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
  • Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.
  • Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoer until they break.

WorldviewTree_p034

The unconscious logic of this belief’s single entailment is:

  • We must excuse those who act antisocially because it’s not their fault.

One of the most difficult tasks for the legal system is to sort out willful wickedness from mental disease. If a woman drowns her five children in a bathtub, is she evil or insane or some mixture of the two?

Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.

Newthinkers tend to reject the idea of evil. As God is absent under their universe metaphor, so is the devil. They tend to place the blame for antisocial behavior on gradations of mental illness, from maladjustment to a full-on psychosis. Progressive language again tips us off: the word “antisocial” focuses on acts against society, not acts that are inherently bad or unprincipled. Newthinkers redefine traditional evil-doing as antisocial behavior caused by an oppressive and exploitative social system.

Next consider the phrase “criminalized populations” – so common that it generated nearly a million hits on Google – which implicitly characterizes felons as blameless, passive victims of criminalization. To criminalize means to turn a person into a criminal by making their activities illegal. In other words, crime is society’s fault for defining it as such.

Newthinkers sympathize with those who behave badly. Progressive sympathy often goes more to traditional evildoers than their victims because newthink tends to see traditional evildoers as damaged goods – inherently noble beings damaged or corrupted by society. They are tragic figures; the victims are just props in their drama. Taken to an extreme, this belief in socially-caused misbehavior leads to the idea that no punitive action should be taken against those traditionally considered to be evildoers. Murderers shouldn’t be executed; terrorists should be released.  It is a cold sympathy which forgets the victims.

A Progressive Belief: Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.

Americans traditionally adopted demanding standards of behavior because they believed that people, not inherently good, needed moral guidelines and laws to prevent bad behavior and encourage good behavior. In contrast, progressives tend to believe that demanding behavioral standards are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t live up to them.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
• Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.

Newthinkers believe that humans are inherently noble. Because of this belief, they often fail to strive for an ideal standard of behavior. It’s unnecessary; they’re already filled with built-in merit. Virtue is much easier to achieve without behavioral ideals. Besides, nobody can live up to all the traditional “shoulds.” Before newthink, the inevitably unfavorable comparison between the ideal and oneself led to a healthy humility. But newthink posits that ideals of behavior are damaging to the human psyche and offers an alternative reaction to that uncomfortable comparison: the rejection of the “shoulds.” For instance, the popular ideal of a non-obese body is thought to be damaging because it hurts the feelings of the obese. In progressive France, they considered making it a crime to promote thinness.*

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• If you espouse an ideal behavioral standard that you don’t live up to, you’re a hypocrite.
• It’s better to avoid hypocrisy by not having unattainable standards of behavior.

Newthinkers believe human virtue is inherent; traditional Americans believed it was earned. To newthinkers, espousing a behavior that you can’t live up to is hypocritical because you either inherently behave that way or not. If you don’t meet the mark, you’re a pretender. Newthinkers tend to believe it’s better to dispose of unattainable standards of behavior and avoid hypocrisy.

For instance, devout newthinkers often believe the traditional ideal of monogamy is damaging. Say you hold the ideal that one should never commit adultery. If you then have an affair, progressives will consider you a hypocrite. However, a hypocrite is defined as “one who affects virtues or qualities he does not have.”** Newthinkers aren’t hearing the complete message of traditional Americans: “One should never commit adultery and I, a flawed or sinful person, will try to live up to that standard.” A traditional American who breaks his marriage vows is not a hypocrite because of his act of adultery. He has simply failed to live up to his ideal of faithfulness to his spouse. If he then pretends to be faithful, that makes him a hypocrite. To traditional Americans, acknowledging one’s failure to live up to an ideal is the act of a normal, flawed human being; pretending one lives up to an ideal when one doesn’t is the act of a hypocrite. Therefore, the newthink sub-belief “If you espouse an ideal behavior standard that you don’t live up to, you’re a hypocrite.” is only true if you don’t believe that normal human beings are flawed.

The moral path of progressivism leads ever downward because, without a felt obligation toward a standard of personal good behavior, we revert to the barbarian mean of moral anarchy.

Newthinkers believe that their virtuous qualities are inherent, not earned; that demanding standards of behavior are damaging; and that failing to meet an ideal equals hypocrisy. Because of these beliefs, progressive culture suffers from a dearth of behavioral ideals. Nihilism has set in. The moral path of progressivism leads ever downward because, without a felt obligation toward a standard of personal good behavior, we revert to the barbarian mean of moral anarchy.

That is, unless the newthinkers are correct about the nobility of humanity.

* Molly Moore and Corinne Gavard, “France Takes Aim at Cult Of Thinness,” The Washington Post, April 16, 2008.

** Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, (G. & C. Merriam, 1977).