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    Jonathan Haidt is a Good Guy. But...

    BACK in 2012 when I read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind I gave it full marks. But I pointed out a basic flaw in his argument.

    We humans, he argues, are wired to make instinctive moral judgments, and he has identified a moral matrix with 6 different axes, including Care/harm, Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation, that differentiates out our moral instincts...  Conservatives score about equally on each of the six axes, implying that conservatives value each of these moral axes as of equal importance.

    But liberals don't. They rate Care/harm of overwhelming importance, Liberty/oppression pretty highly, Fairness/cheating moderately, and Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation hardly at all.
    But, I protested, this is baloney. Liberals do too believe in all six axes. What is environmentalism about if not the sanctity of the planet and the avoidance of environmental degradation? Liberals may not believe in the authority of fathers and CEOs but they deeply believe in the authority of liberals and liberalism, and you will be made to care. Liberals believe in loyalty, otherwise how could those liberal professors all select their own kind for tenure, forsaking all others.

    If a dull dog like me could see that immediately, why couldn't Jonathan Haidt, and why couldn't the educated evolved liberals that reported disinterest in loyalty, authority, and sanctity? We know why. It is because liberals think of loyalty, authority, and sanctity as nationalist, religious values, and they know that liberals don't believe in that stuff because they are educated and evolved.

    In reality, liberals are in denial. The six moral axes probably apply equally to everyone. The point is that everyone has a religion -- in the broad sense of faith in a narrative about the world and what it all means and what we should do about it -- even the people that insist that they don't. And because liberals are in denial they are putting themselves and us at risk.

    Jonathan Haidt now has a conversation with conservative John Leo online that has something important to add to all this. It extends the encounter that Haidt experienced with SJWs at an elite private high school. And it dovetails with my "Three Peoples" theory. The key section is about the moral urgency of social justice in the academy. Jonathan Haidt:
    They’re so devoted to social justice, and they have accepted the rule that you can never, ever blame victims, so if a group of victims makes demands, you cannot argue back. You must accept the demands.
    And the official victim class now includes seven groups:
    You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans… [LGBT]

    But now we have a seventh–Muslims. Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group.  
    This really fits into my "Three Peoples" theory, because it tells us a lot about the religion of the People of the Creative Self.

    The religion of the People of the Subordinate Self is the Propitiation of the Gods and their mortal representatives on earth, the feudal lords and powerful politicians. The religion of the People of the Responsible Self extends from Hinduism to Judaism to Christianity. It is about living a responsible life and making the most of God's understandable universe.

    But the religion of the People of the Creative Self is a horse of a different color. And we can see one of its characteristics in the modern university. The idea is to wage holy war on behalf of the innocent victim groups that have been exploited and oppressed and marginalized through no fault of their own since the dawn of time, or at least since the rise of the West in 1500. That fight is the road to virtue and salvation. Anything less is a damning sin.

    Of course, it's a wonderful thing to advocate for those less fortunate or less privileged that yourself. But it becomes a problem when you harness it as your religion to the vehicle of state. Because politics is violence, and government is force. You end up forcing everyone to sit in the pews of your established Church of Social Justice and force them to tithe. There is a word for religion combined with politics. In former times we called it theocracy. But in the 20th century it took on a new form and we called it totalitarianism.

    The fact that the social justice warriors in the academy don't get this demonstrates their stunning ignorance or something worse. First, they don't seem to understand that they do too have a religion, and a very enthusiastic secular religion at that. And they also don't seem to have grasped the basic lesson of the 20th century, that you don't combine economic power, political power and moral/cultural power in one and then hand them over to the state, not unless you have a sick attraction for heaps of dead bodies.

    By the way, Jonathan Haidt, who once was a Democrat, now considers himself non-partisan. The only thing that would make him vote Democrat would be if the Republicans nominated Trump or Cruz. Which goes to show that Haidt doesn't get it, despite his book and his research and his encounter with the SJWs at "Centerville High." Trump and Cruz represent the two groups that liberals say are beyond the pale: white working class and Christian evangelicals. Haidt is saying that if those two groups, that in my opinion have been egregious oppressed by liberals over the last half century, elect one of their own, he is outta here. We can't have those bitter clingers actually having some influence on public policy.

    Well, Jonathan Haidt, back in 2008 I, a severe conservative, voted for Barack Obama. Not because I thought he would do America a lick of good, but because the Democrats and the liberals and the victim classes are after all American they have a right to have their turn on the bridge of state after eight years of George W. Bush. The alternative is civil war. If you don't see that the folks directly oppressed by the liberal establishment deserve their turn at the wheel, led by people who are, after all, perfectly conventional establishment figures, one a crony capitalist and the other a star scholarship boy, then you really need to go back and read your book again.

    perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 02/05/16 6:12 pm ET

    When Will the SJWs Catch Up With "Turandot?"

    LADY Marjorie and I went to the movie theater last night to see the Metropolitan Opera HD encore of Puccini's Turandot. A grand time was had by all, except that the tenor, Marco Berti, playing Calaf, the unknown prince, was very mediocre. This Turandot is a 1987 monumental production of Franco Zeffirelli, so it is showing its age. But I started to think about how much longer the SJWs will leave...

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    perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 02/04/16 6:15 pm ET

    Actual Reportage on Cruz the Man

    JOURNALIST Erica Grieder first met a certain ambitious young lawyer in 2009, and recalls the conversation. The lawyer and I quickly fell into a lively exchange about the ongoing contrast between the Texas Miracle and the Great Recession, with reference to Dallas Fed data and the political philosopher John Rawls. I was impressed enough to make note of his name: Ted Cruz. I know. What's not to ...

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    perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 02/03/16 7:04 pm ET

    The Mists Begin to Clear

    FIRST of all, Ted Cruz won a famous victory yesterday in the first-in-the-nation-Iowa-caucuses. Secondly, he had to work very hard to pull off a four point victory over billionaire Donald Trump who, it is reported, had all of 12 paid staffers in Iowa. It ain't over till it's over. There's a long thumbsucker at National Review about how the Cruz people did it, complete with Cruz-staffer ...

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    perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 02/02/16 6:38 pm ET

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    “I Want a President”

    Georg Simmel’s Sociology

    Charles Murray’s By The People

    Thomas Piketty’s Capital

    The Spirit Level

    McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”

    Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation

    A Look at the Left: “Contra-deBoer”


    Download latest e-book draft here.


    A New Manifesto
    A spectre is haunting the liberal elite—the spectre of conservatism.


    The Crisis of the Administrative State
    It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    Government and the Technology of Power
    If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.

    Business, Slavery, and Trust
    Business is all about trust and relationship.

    Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
    The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.

    The Bonds of Faith
    No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.

    A Critique of Social Mechanics
    The problem with human society reduced to system.

    The Paradox of Individualism
    Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?

    From Multitude to Civil Society
    The larger the government, the smaller the society.

    The Answer is Civil Society
    In between the separated powers.

    The Greater Separation of Powers
    If you want to limit power then you must limit power.

    Conservatism Three by Three
    Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.

    The Culture of Involvement
    Imagining lives without the welfare state

    The Poor Without the Welfare State
    Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?

    The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
    How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?

    Liberals and the Welfare State
    Liberals, the ruling class of the administrative welfare state.

    From Freeloaders to Free Givers
    The path to the future lies through moral movements.

    The Real Meaning of Society
    Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the “last best hope of man on earth.”

    conservative manifesto



    AAM Book of the Day

    Meltzer, Milton, Slavery, A World History

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    Andrew Coulson, Market Education
    How universal literacy was achieved before government education

    Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
    How we got our education system

    James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
    How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

    James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
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    How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

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    How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

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    How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

    David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
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    cruel . corrupt . wasteful
    unjust . deluded



    After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.

    But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?

    With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.

    In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.

    Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.


    I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.

    Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.


    Responsible Self

    [The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
    Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

    Taking Responsibility

    [To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
    MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

    Civil Society

    “Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
    Francis Fukuyama, Trust

    What Liberals Think About Conservatives

    [W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
    Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

    Liberal Coercion

    [T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
    Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

    Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

    These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
    Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

    US Life in 1842

    Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
    Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


    presented by Christopher Chantrill
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