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Secular Conservatism, Libertarians, Progressives, and Marriage
I take conservatism to be an appreciation and defense of what has been proven to work, and which benefits society and the individual in a balance.
If that seems overly-broad, let me provide an example. Morality is effective in curbing largely destructive impulses and reactions, therefore morality is worth defending in principle, with some room for debate on many fronts. Not all morality is the same, and it is not always helpful in the particulars. But to hold that morality is not a necessary part of society is anti-conservative in my view, as morality is the most tested method for a society to control its own behavior with respect for the society and the individual in balance.
Libertarianism is a radical extreme that places no value on society as a body, and progressivism is a radical extreme that places no value on the individual. Conservatism is the compromise position arrived at through experience, and stored in our cultural traditions as the wisdom of the ages. To a secular conservative, the Bible is one of many instruments to this end. Just because there is a religious proscription against adultery doesn’t mean that only religious people can defend a belief that adultery is harmful to individuals and society. Likewise with other religious proscriptions.
Religion is, of course, a large component of the conservative movement, but philosophically it is not a necessary component of a thoroughly conservative position. Not even for marriage. I view the partnership between religion and conservatism as a co-development from a common origin. Shared predicates yield shared conclusions, and therefore common interest. Where religion ascribes things to God, secular conservatism agrees to the extent that it is destructive of society and the individual for mankind to mess with certain things. Progressivism on the other hand is the confidence that a small group of people in the present know better than (on the one hand) everybody else across time, and better than (on the Other hand) God in His infinite wisdom. Secular conservatism and religion get along just fine as defenders of our culture.
I see value in describing much of libertarianism as allied with progressivism, because conservatism is where the middle is, and to pull us off that mark either this way or that is just as destructive. If a movement seeks to abolish our traditions as proven over time, it is not conservatism. Progressivism and libertarianism get along just fine as disruptors of our culture.
There is already a philosophical position consistent with conservatism which enshrines human rights and the liberty of the individual: it is called conservatism.
Now, not every tradition is valuable, and a slavish devotion to traditions which are not good is not conservatism; that’s mechanism, on the process level. Radical opposition to a flawed and failing government is not anti-conservative, but radical opposition to the institutions of our culture, most definitely is.
For example, you could argue that big spending by government is now a tradition and that it is therefore conservative to defend it and radical to oppose it, but this is wrong for a number of reasons. First, it may be a tradition, but empirically it has not been proven to be a useful one. Some spending is necessary, some spending is excessive — making judgements is important, and at any rate, even if all projects were equally worthy, the sheer sum of spending which displaces other worthy but non-government projects must be taken into account and weighed for relative merit. Big spending is anti-conservative because it is destructive.
Second, the dependencies come to play in that objects and policies are not the only subjects to be appreciated and defended. The decision to spend less is no less valuable than the process by which we arrive at that decision, and its implications. If we feel that the accumulated wisdom vouchsafed in our culture is probably more valuable as a guide for society (in the aggregate) than the intellect spawned in a few brilliant fellows, then a process which lends itself to operation gently over time by many rather than abruptly, once, by the few is an inherently conservative method of arriving at conclusions. Big spending is anti-conservative because it operates through an anti-conservative process.
As the free market is operated gently by many, and government spending is operated forcefully by few, any problem not specifically recommended for government remedy is probably better handled outside of government. So no matter how “traditional” big spending may have become, it is not conservative in itself, and it is not conservative to defend it merely because it is the status quo.
Marriage pre-dates any law. It simply is, and it is between one man and one woman. This may sound circular, or like a “no true Scot” defense, but I assert it as a foundational fact. Marriage is not produced by law any more than our rights are. Marriage is enshrined and defended by law in our culture, and if the law should fall, marriage would remain, just as our rights do. The law does not trump marriage.
This should not be too alarming; conservatism is a platform, a set of positions. Some planks rest upon others and not all must be as heavily pedigreed. I hold that marriage is a foundational plank in the conservative platform. I hold that marriage is an emergent cultural defense against various destructive impulses and reactions, including those of jealous males, engineering females, and hostile out-group sentiment. Good manners are a defense against some offenses which can become lethal, and marriage is a defense against outrage.
Humans are sexual beings (as our grade-schoolers are reminded every minute by government busybodies), and many of our impulses and reactions are not rational in the way we would like, no matter how logical they may be from a chromosome’s point of view. As manners are typically maintained by society itself, morality is often maintained by religion as a specific example of a philosophy operating in context.
As the male-female pairing is not up for debate in conservatism (I challenge you to convince me that it is not what has been proven to work), so the societal adaptation which defends it is a necessary component of conservatism. I realize that many “conservatives” disagree with this, but they are mistaken about either their conservatism or their conclusions.Published in General
Man, when I make this argument about immigration, people accuse me of being un-American.
Yup, that was against me. Not that he used the word; he just identified me with racists, slavers, and a shameful time in our past with no excuse for being here now; something to that effect. All because I don’t approve of a behavior which by any account is not conservative. Right or wrong, there is nothing conservative about accepting homosexual “marriage”.
This is conservatism being cuckolded by the cultural Marxists and the wax moths.
It is a preposterous misuse of a term and as an actual engineer I do get snippy when people misuse terms that are within the purview of my profession, as it devalues the exceptional nature of that word.
I’m upset about it because it contributes to the dilution of the language through attempts by politically correct elements within society to artificially boost the self esteem of groups or people whom they regard as being discriminated against historically. It’s a sort of linguistic “Make-up Call;” Socialism of the lexicon. Redistribution of the power of adjectives.
No matter what you call a guy who empties trash into a truck he still rides around on a rolling dumpster while picking up stuff other people don’t want. Muddying that issue is what this is about.
You can call homosexual unions “Marriage” all you want – but at that point it’s just a term that the politically correct and cultural Marxists have co-opted in the interest of promoting buggery.
Only if we accept your predicate, which we do not. I say that the onus is upon you to demonstrate that a deviant behavior is every bit the equal of what our society is literally built on. Every man has the same right to marry one woman, and every woman likewise. Voila! Equality. A thief has the same rights to marriage, as does a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick-maker. They just can’t marry the loot, the meat, the bread, or the candlestick.
Woo-hah! I regret that I have but one Like to give.
I deny that “homophobia” is anything but a term designed by Marxist busybodies to stigmatize this society and its defenders. Why not rape-o-phobia? A greater percentage of the population admits to behavior which could be called sexual assault than identify as homosexual. Wait, why so finicky about the left’s chosen perversions? I thought everybody was equal.
To which I say: Chill. Life’s too short…
I didn’t use the word “homophobia.” You did. And I know some actual Marxists who are going to be damn surprised to learn that I am one of them. Although I suppose that “Marxist” is better than “vicious brute,” or whatever it is you called me before.
Anyway, if you believe that as between gays and straights, it is the straights who are stigmatized, my suggestion is that you not get involved in any “high reward” investment opportunities. You know – buying bridges and such.
I am pretty chill. I just don’t think we ought to mutilate our laws and our language for the sake of the feelings of a tiny minority of our population. And make no mistake: In the end, this is primarily about their feelings and their desire to not be perceived negatively in the mind’s eye of any person.
It’s about stamping out a way of thinking by semantic infiltration – and for that reason alone I find it to be Orwellian and objectionable.
Why don’t we mutilate our laws for the benefit of other hyper-minorities? Because those minorities don’t play an outsized role in the entertainment media? Or is it because those other Minorities don’t contribute to the right political candidates and take the form of avatars for the Left’s collective hand-wringing guilt over and hatred of our institutions and traditions?
You either don’t know or don’t care what cultural Marxism is. You won’t admit or don’t mind that increasingly the government is dictating to an existing society what the society will look like. Your word choice should come with a disclaimer that you don’t *actually* work for Nancy Pelosi. Whatever you style yourself, conservative ain’t it.
And by “you” I presume you are speaking collectively (naturally enough). I didn’t bring that pusillanimous word in here.
Folks, I recommend we all step away from our keyboards for a bit.
I guess I disagree. He explicitly that the ONLY reason gays have not been able to marry throughout history is intolerance, ie, homophobia. That the only reason anyone would oppose SSM today is intolerance, ie, homophobia necessarily derives from that and is obviously directed at everyone that opposes SSM for any reason in this thread or in general today.
What’s odd is that he called conservatives homophobes. Every conservative I know gets called racist and sexist and homophobic and exploiter so often that it barely registers, but Larry obviously thought it would have some traction or else he would not have played that card.
When people throw around the term “deviant behavior” to describe homosexuals I’m rather surprised they find being called a homophobe objectionable.
This seems to be crux of your argument. If the word marriage can mean whatever I want it to mean in that moment, then the word marriage has no meaning whatsoever.
If marriage means whatever I feel like at that exact second, then I am no longer married the second the circumstances change. I would agree if marriage has no common definition then government should place no restrictions on who can marry, and the guy that wanted to marry his computer because he loved it so much has the exact same right to the word married as the people that have raised three biological children to adulthood together, since the computer guy is allowed to define marriage however he wants.
If it has no meaning whatsoever, then the government should grant no special privileges and subsidies to an institution that has no standard meaning.
Which, I think, it your ultimate end goal. I support that goal, but I can’t support saying that SSM is a special interim step that deserves government subsidies but the computer guy doesn’t.
Have I ever called homosexual acts “deviant behavior”?
I would not dispute that homophobes are likely to be opposed to SSM, but not everyone opposed to SSM is a homophobe. It is the assertion that opposition to SSM only exists because of homophobia that is objectively wrong.
A^2 I wasn’t responding to you. But it would be nice if those SSM opponents who truly aren’t homophobes called out their allies when they are. Probably too much to hope for.
As for your actual argument expressed above: it rests on the assumption that marriage has had one meaning and one definition throughout its history. This is clearly not the case.
I disagree with this. You don’t have to denounce every idiot who happens to be ideologically aligned with you. People against SSM are assumed to have honest principled positions until shown otherwise.
It would also be nice if SSM supporters acknowledged there were legitimate concerns about tinkering with the most fundamental organization in all of human history that don’t derive from being homophobic.
Marriage has indeed had many meanings, but all those meaning have had one common theme, procreation. Arranged marriages don’t change that meaning, Polygamous marriages don’t change that meaning. I will argue that infertile marriages don’t really change that meaning since most people don’t know they are infertile until they start trying to have children and many infertility is often just lowering the odds of becoming pregnant, not the biological incompatibility of the partners.
To deny that is to deny that the word has any consistent meaning whatsoever, which is what I reject.
Sal is a lawyer, so he should be able to answer this question, how does the word “love” drive marriage law, ie, where in marriage law is the word “love” and how is it used?
The SSM supporters all assert that marriage is about love and has nothing to do with children,, well if that is true, then the definition of marriage under law should hinge on the word “Love”.
I admittedly not a lawyer, which is why I ask Sal, but my layman’s understanding is that the word “love” does not really enter into marriage law, which I would think would be a big problem for the core point of SSM supporters.
A^2 seems particularly anxious to take offense at comments that weren’t directed at him, and that clearly were not meant the way he interprets them. He has accused me, several times, of calling him a “homophobe” because I had the temerity to point out that there has been historical intolerance of gay people.
What you call “marriage law” (what lawyers call “family law”) is almost entirely about the division of property upon divorce. And no – love rarely figures into that situation.
Easily acknowledged, with the stipulation that SSM-proponents (e.g., me) think these concerns are overblown. If Larry implied otherwise, I disagree with him.
Really. If there is no law about entering into marriage, then what are we talking about?
Meh, I simply quoted your post where you said, and I quote, “Bans on gay marriage are a vestige of an intolerant time.”
If I mischaracterized your quote, I apologize. If you didn’t mean that bans on gay marriage derive from homophobia, then what, exactly, does “a vestige of an intolerant time” mean? Intolerant of what? If marriage was about procreation, why is a ban on gay marriage a vestige of intolerance versus a simple recognition of the biological fact that a SS couple cannot procreate?
No we do not. I won’t deny for a moment that this is the dominant argument on the Left — and one that is sometimes invoked by Libertarians — but it’s not something you see on Ricochet too often. That’s because “It’s about who you love” is a really, fantastically stupid argument.
The main reason I support SSM is that I think the net benefits of subjecting homosexuals to the standards and responsibilities of marriage outweigh whatever minor confusion it might contribute to gender roles. I understand and respect that others — such as Ed G. and, I suppose, you — apply a similar rubric but come to different conclusions.
But please don’t hold me accountable for Leftist claptrap that happens to arrive at the same (narrow) conclusion.
I wouldn’t say I don’t see it on ricochet. If anything, the notion that marriage is primarily about love and commitment and only secondarily, if at all, about children seems to be pervasive on Ricochet among SSM supporters. I acknowledge that Larry’s view is that word marriage means whatever any individual wants it to mean, but even he acknowledged that to most people it’s about commitment.
At the risk of being pedantic “love and commitment” is different than “The SSM supporters all assert… the definition of marriage under law should hinge on the word ‘love'”.
Your ellipsis seem to change the meaning of my quote.
If you think I should add the word commitment to that discussion, happy to do so, but I don’t think commitment to the other adult is the primary purpose of marriage, commitment to the child maybe.
Actually, I’d say that it clearly is the case. Yes there have been variants, but there has indeed been a fundamental core common throughout history and culture. With the two exceptions I noted earlier.
Actually, Tom, as far as SSM supporters on Ricochet go, I’d characterize your particular set of positions as unique, particularly in that you agree that the public has an interest in marriage and so support civil marriage in addition to SSM. But otherwise, fair point. This topic has so many angles that it’s easy to get lost and start misidentifying others.