Tag: Virtue

Nobody Tells the Truth

 

Why would anyone have faith in the government’s telling the truth? It’s clear that if the facts get in the way of their agenda, they aren’t interested in “complicating” their message. We always knew that government, and especially politicians, “mishandled” the truth, but we figured that behavior went with the job. After all, they desperately wanted to fool as many people as possible. But now the lying is so ubiquitous that the word “truth” has lost its meaning. I’d like to think the lying happens less on the Right, but I simply don’t know if that’s true anymore. Even more disappointing is that more than ever, the media has decided that its mission is to defend the Leftist agenda, so they are happy to collude in the lying.

The fact is, digging up the truth can be inconvenient: who wants to conduct an investigation, with the time and effort it will require, when you can just make it up? Not only is making that effort tiresome, but you might discover facts that simply don’t support your agenda. A much more “helpful” approach is to be creative; make up your own facts from innuendo when you report on the Right, and ignore or embellish your facts when they aren’t flattering to the Left.

The rest of us are left to try to determine the truth on our own. How are we supposed to do that? We’ve known that the media has slanted Left for a very long time, but it is now dominated by the Left’s agenda. How did the media become so committed to making up their own facts?

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Either Poles are too dumb to understand what’s ridiculous about a pornographic butter-churning contest, or they’re not. I’d bet they’re not, and they know a parody of eroticism when they see it. Too bad The Imaginative Conservative doesn’t. Apparently, there’s at least one writer out there lacking the imagination to recognize a parody when he […]

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I am back after a short hiatus because I finished my Master’s! I am very excited, and I wanted to share an excerpt of one of my major research papers that I thought was relevant. Thank you so much for reading! Today’s sociopolitical landscape has increasingly become more mainstream for the public to learn about, […]

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Deep Dive on the Declaration of Independence and Its Relevance Today

 

In honor of Independence Day, for this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast I take a deep dive into the Declaration of Independence, discussing:

  • Its unique place in human history and the cause of freedom
  • The link between natural law and natural rights, faith and freedom
  • The Founders’ emphasis on virtue and morality to sustain a free system of limited government
  • Parallels between the charges laid out against King George III in the Declaration and modern America from the administrative state to sanctuary cities
  • The Founders’ views on slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and failing to live up to the values and principles of the Declaration
  • The imperative to defend liberty against tyranny
  • And much more

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.

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An American man traveled to Spain. There, in the great smithing center of Toledo, he bought a sword. Back home, he displayed it for neighbors and friends who universally admired the sword for its beauty.  Beauty? Is not the greater virtue of a sword the strength of its steel? That is how Toledo made its […]

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Quote of the Day – Meritocracy

 

“The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.”

“The problem with the meritocracy, is that it leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid—I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.”

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Okay, so I just don’t have it in me to write a controversial piece. Too much politics for my weak mind. So instead I’m taking a break to let better voices express my yearnings for the American virtues of old. My wife loves country music. To me, most of the recent stuff is simply ghastly. […]

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Virtue: More Than Its Own Reward

 

shevekI recently read the Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, an excellent novel that I highly recommend. The dialogue to the right got me thinking. The first speaker is from a decadent, stratified society, while the latter is from an extremely egalitarian, quasi-utopian one.

That the latter speaker — the protagonist, Shevek — is overstating his case is not lost on Le Guin, who’s quite honest about the shortcomings of Annarian society. But it suggests an important truth we often miss: Being virtuous isn’t just right; it’s usually smart, too.

I’m not saying that humans are inherently good and that we should all follow our instincts and the whims of our hearts. The best of us are broken, selfish, and prone to sin and vice. (The rest of us are far worse.) Temptation is a constant and inseparable part of the human condition, both in individuals and societies.

Freedom Through Natural Law

 

While one bishop (the pope) offered a sadly forgettable speech before Congress, another bishop hit one out of the park at the World Meeting of Families.

Though I believe Christians of all sorts would appreciate Bishop Robert Barron’s full speech, this bit about acquiring freedom through adherence to natural law should be accessible to non-Christian Ricochet members as well. This is what is meant by the famous claim, “the truth will set you free.”

A VirtuCon Manifesto

 

shutterstock_244246870That’s VirtuCon manifesto, not the VirtuCon manifesto. I suspect there are more visions of how virtue theory and conservatism could interact than there are actual VirtuCons. This rough first draft is a contribution to the conversation Rachel Lu rekindled last week — see Tom Meyer’s response and the conversation that followed it as well — about what an emphasis on virtue means for other parts of the conservative worldview.

Please note: The word “virtue” has recently (in the last century or so) undergone something of a change in meaning. The “virtue” in virtue theory harks back to the older meaning. Do not be misled by this choice of vocabulary, imposed by some 2,000 years of philosophical reflection.

  1. There is such a thing as human nature.
  2. There is such a thing as a form of life that promotes human flourishing. In the past this was also referred to as “happiness.”
  3. Virtues are those habits of character that tend to human flourishing. In the past, the development of these habits was also referred to as “the pursuit of happiness.”
  4. Virtues are not general understandings, but the application of general understandings to particular cases. This is known as practical wisdom.
  5. The virtues are inculcated in childhood through the enforcement of rules, in adulthood through deliberative practice, and in both stages of life through example. Enforcement by — and examples found in — family, local church, and one’s immediate community are better (more effective) than those enforced by or demonstrated in more distant institutions.
  6. Politics is an important area of human flourishing. Real participation in the life of a community requires that the rules and norms of that community are decided by its members, not imposed from afar.
  7. For these reasons, virtue requires a “hard” subsidiarity, where power is (sparingly) delegated upwards from the local to the general polity. (This contrasts with ‘soft’ subsidiarity, where the higher power delegates downwards, but always maintains real control, usually disguised as “support”).
  8. In the past, this was also referred to as “liberty.”
  9. Poverty, ignorance, and dishonour are the enemies of virtue. All three are opposed by the voluntary institution of the free market. Free markets create wealth, spread knowledge, and do not require social position to succeed. A free market requires the exercise of virtues, and assists in promoting them.
  10. In the past, this was also referred to as “life.”
  11. The realization of a continent-spanning republic amenable to human flourishing is a daunting task, but it requires an exquisite modesty. Fortunately, that modesty is the sure route to success, eschewing all temptation to tyranny. We need only have regard to three things:
  • Life – adequate means of existence, provided by the voluntary interactions of persons making choices in a condition of freedom.
  • Liberty – the room to learn and grow in practical wisdom.
  • The pursuit of happiness – the exercise of wisdom and the road to human flourishing.

Member Post

 

Here’s the second essay by Mr. Mansfield on the American parties–this time it’s the GOP. You have below my notes–everything italicized is a quote, but the structure I just improvised. I think Mr. Mansfield has a good grasp of American politics, but of course you’ll decide for yourself. So far as I understand the essay–he […]

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Here’s Mr. Mansfield’s recent work telling the story of American politics in the 20th century & the challenge facing conservatives now. This first part deals with the problems of the Democrats. I think it lays out well both the strengths & the weaknesses of modern liberalism, & therefore raises the question, why do not conservatives […]

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Greed is good. So say our own EThompson and Gordon Gekko. But is this a compelling defense of capitalism? More importantly, is it accurate? Does it tell us something true about why a free society succeeds? Bernard Mandeville thought so. Mandeville thought vanity or pride unleashed would lead to a vibrant and wealthy society: private […]

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This article was re–published a few years ago in Central Utah’s Richfield Reaper newspaper, as a retrospective. I thought it was apropos of some of our recent discussions here. Originally published Saturday, April 29, 1916. Volume XXVII number 21. DEPUTY MARSHAL SHOT IN EARLY MORNING RAID Preview Open

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Teaching Virtue: National Disasters in Public Education

 

Conservatives and libertarians often decry elementary public education for its failures to turn out students proficient in reading, writing, math, and science. These criticisms are usually backed up by comparing international test scores of US students to that of students from Japan, South Korea, or Finland, for example.

I’m not a fan of this critique, as I believe these other nations do not educate the average student very well (let alone the intellectually-challenged ones), nor include all of them in the testing on which the comparisons are made. When we use these numbers, we’re comparing their best and brightest with our average students. It’s Einsteins to Oprahs (who is very bright, but not a science or math major, if you get my meaning).

What is the Virtucon Project?

 

aristotleI have been forcibly reminded by recent megathreads that there are conservatives who do not think the size and scope of the state is a pressing issue. Some of these folks, approaching things using the lens of virtue ethics, have a different diagnosis of what is wrong with society, a different idea of what needs to be done, and a different approach to what is permissible to achieve these ends. They are suspicious of markets, and fear that a focus on small government is not just electorally disastrous, but fatally distracts from the real issues facing the country.

Below I set out — largely in the form of collected paraphrases — what I take to be the virtucon project, in so far as I understand it. There are gaps, and I have no doubt made mistakes. The first paragraph, in particular, which is entirely of my own making, might be objected to as too rough and ready a summary. I have, however, tried to lay out the virtucon case in good faith, and invite corrections and additions.

The Virtucon Case

Grant Me Freedom and Small Government — But Not Yet

 

libertinesda mihi castitatem et continentam, sed noli modo — St Augustine

Ricochet contributor Rachel Lu wrote an article in the FEDERALIST yesterday, taking the left-anarchist wing of the libertarian movement to task for wanting to dissolve the bonds of family and community. At least I think that is who she is attacking — it is never quite clear who actually holds the views she disagrees with (although she almost implies it is Ben Domenech). Nevertheless, the core of her argument is that, yes, freedom is great and all, and small government is a fine idea in theory, but until a strong conventional morality is re-established in society they are just too dangerous.

Small government will not succeed unless people have a strong ability to govern their own affairs. That requires a culture that provides people with clear norms and expectations, and replaces the hard and impersonal boundaries of law with the softer forces of social approval and sanction. What we need, in short, are traditional morals.