The Left vs. Human Nature

The Left does not like the idea of human nature. It tells them they are not free to do what they want. From a factual perspective, it tells them people do not change much, so the way things were in the past is mostly how they will be in the future. From a moral perspective, it suggests a standard for what is good other than satisfying desire, since it tells people to act in a way that fulfills their nature, or at least is suited to it.

The Left does not like any of that and they have been very successful turning their dislike into accepted dogma. The result is that if you talk about human nature today you are not going to get anywhere. People will say you are stereotyping, you are denying Hope and Change, and you are presenting existing power relations as natural and unchangeable. You will have to prove every detail of every claim and the standard of proof will be infinitely high. Also, none of your arguments will stick—next time the matter comes up, you will have to go through every issue all over again at the same level of detail.

All of which seems odd. On the face of it every living thing has a nature of some kind. It has characteristic ways of acting, conditions it tries to bring about, and conditions that help it thrive. Why would that not be true of human beings? Is accepting human nature not basic to good sense in dealing with people? If the point looks obvious, why is it not generally accepted, or at least generally acceptable as something to consider?

As it is, people dismiss it without discussion. The result is that claims like “gender is a social construction” get taken seriously and, in fact, are basically treated as true. There are Midwestern public schools that tell teachers they should not use expressions like “boy” and “girl” because they are gendered. That is the new normal.

General acceptance of insane views can cause problems, so it is worth asking how we have ended up in this situation. The cause, I believe, is a tendency in modern ways of thinking to try to do too much with too little. The result is that people end up becoming irrational in the name of reason.

The Left is said to be progressive. That means that they apply modern thought to social affairs more single-mindedly than other people. That gives them a big rhetorical advantage. If you oppose them you are opposing the general movement of thought and once the modern world is thoroughly established, and everyone who matters has been subjected to mass higher education, you are opposing what everyone’s been trained to view as reason.

The modern thought I am talking about, which I think is the main tendency if you cut through a lot of fluff that ends up canceling itself out, tries to make knowledge rigorous and useful by concentrating on exact observation and immediate causal mechanisms. It tries to use that knowledge to remake the world in accordance with whatever it is we want. That is what technology is about and it is what the functional part of the Left is about.

That general approach has been extremely effective in some settings. Obvious examples include modern natural science, modern industry, modern medicine, and modern warfare. So, everyone agrees that it works and makes sense.

There is not the same agreement as to other types of thought; for example, philosophical thought of various kinds, religious thought, poetic thought, or thought based on tradition or informal good sense. The result is that reason has become identified with scientific thought, or at least what passes as such. Reason has to be common to all and the only kind of thought all accept is the kind associated with modern science, so that is what reason is understood to be.

That is a problem because people need answers to ultimate questions. That is a rational as well as emotional need. Part of what it is to be a rational actor is to act in accordance with a rational understanding of the situation you are in, and what makes most sense to do in that situation. If reason is modern scientific thought, and we want to be rational actors, then modern scientific thought has to give us that kind of understanding. It has to give us usable answers to questions about what actions, and therefore what goals, ultimately make sense. In other words, it has to tell us what the good is as well as how to bring it about.

The problem, of course, is that it cannot. Modern scientific thought is powerful because it limits itself. It does not claim to know everything and it will not give us an answer just because we need one. We do need to know what the good is, what the most reasonable goal of action is. “I feel like doing this” is enough for some people in some situations but it is not enough for everyone always. In particular, it is not enough in politics. Government has to be able to tell people that its demands are reasonable in a sense that is strong enough to justify compulsion and sacrifice, which is a very strong sense. With that in mind, it is not enough for government to say, “we are doing this because the guys running things feel like doing it.” In the end there has to be a believable argument why they should feel that way and why everyone else should too.

Modern progressive people need answers and they do not have a good way to get them, so they extract them any way they can from something that looks as much as possible like scientific thought.

For example, they make preferences, which are observable, substitute for the good. Instead of talking about what is good, they talk about satisfying preferences. That is what liberation means: People get what they choose. They make equality substitute for justice: All preferences are equally preferences, so they all have an equal claim to satisfaction. Put the two together and you get the progressive definition of the good society: It is the society that brings about maximum equal preference satisfaction.

They get very moralistic on the point. If you do not like their definition of the good society you are malicious, bigoted, greedy, and oppressive. They need the moralism because they do not have a reason why people should give up personal advantage for the sake of something else. They have a reason why the system in general should favor equality, but not why any of us should make the goals of the system our own. So they have to substitute abuse for reason.

The progressive definition of the good society has some important implications. It means you have to stop accepting general patterns, such as human nature, as a way of dealing with life. If satisfying preferences is the goal, going with the patterns that happen to exist is not the way to get there. If anything, those patterns get in the way of your freedom to get whatever it is you happen to want, so the progressive view is that you should suppress them or make them irrelevant.

That attitude is very much in line with modern technology. A traditional art or craft accepts the nature of its materials with all their special quirks and works with them. Modern technology would rather break down situations into their simplest components and apply a set routine that works equally well everywhere and gets you whatever goal you have specified. Traditional farming, medicine, and cooking, for example, took various aspects of living forms and their tendencies as a given and worked with them. Agribusiness, Big Pharma, and the food industry take a very different approach. The difference has a lot in common with the difference between politics as traditionally practiced and modern progressive politics. The latter is technocratic, so that its goals are defined abstractly, rather than intuitively with the aid of tradition and good sense.

Some of the odd features of political and social life today show how these general principles play out. People have traditionally believed in human nature. They have believed, for example, that men and women exist by nature, and mutual attraction and complementary qualities naturally lead them to come together, to have offspring, and form families. Both points, of course, are now denied. They have also thought that people are naturally social, and families are incomplete by themselves, so families come together to form larger communities.

When people began thinking about things somewhat philosophically, they noticed that man is rational, which means that he uses reason and general concepts to understand the world. An important part of that is understanding himself and what he does. For that reason, he has to have a conception of what he is—he is a man, a father, a husband, a citizen—that is somehow rooted in the nature of things, and his actions have to align with that conception. Otherwise he will not be satisfied with his life—it will not seem well founded and it will not seem to make sense as part of the general scheme of things. That is the source of the idea that human nature is a guide for life, so that our natural goal is to live in a way that realizes our good as beings of a certain kind.

If you accept that way of thinking, a lot of modern perplexities disappear. You can still debate the exact role of government, the details of masculinity and femininity, and the extent of family and paternal authority, but it does not make sense to claim that there is something radically problematic about all those things, that we should look at them as chains we have to break for the sake of the unconditioned freedom that constitutes human dignity.

The kind of modern thought I am talking about, which tends toward the technological, of course tells us something different. It tells us that man is a mechanical system that responds to stimuli. He forms preferences revealed in his actions, but those preferences are whatever they happen to be and do not have any relation to a nonexistent human essence or nature that tells us what to do because we are somehow supposed to fit into it.

Progressive politics is the application of this latter outlook to the organization of society. It proposes a system that maximizes equal fulfillment of preferences, consistent with coherence, efficiency, and stability. That means, to pick a current example, that physical sex differences and the biology of human reproduction, imply nothing about what anyone should do except in the narrowest practical sense; for example whether someone might need a pregnancy test. Apart from that kind of situation, natural functions and differences are just raw material to be dealt with and reconfigured in accordance with whatever individual preferences happen to be.

So people should be free to set up their sex lives however they want, and if they want to include something sex-related in their self-understanding, they should be free to do so as they wish. It is free to be you and me and if two men say they are married, they are married, and if Bradley Manning says he is a woman, he is a woman, and he has the same right anyone has to have his self-understanding accepted as valid. There is nothing natural or unnatural about it, it is all just something constructed.

All of this is becoming harder and harder to argue against in mainstream public life and the ratchet only turns one-way. Rejecting the trend is even considered a kind of violence, since it leads to a social environment at odds with Chelsea Manning’s new identity, and therefore constitutes an existential threat to her ability to exist as herself. In effect, it is a willful attempt to destroy what she is. In the interests of justice, tolerance, safety, and the conflict-free efficiency of the system as a whole, those who commit such acts, even if they claim their aggressions are “just words,” need to be muted and re-educated.

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the current situation is insane. Human nature exists, as we noted at the beginning, and we cannot deal with life in a sensible way without accepting that. So the question we face is how to overcome an outlook that categorically rejects the very concept and is deeply rooted in the way the people who dominate our political life understand the world.

These are very deep waters and there is not time to discuss the entire problem, but it seems to me there are two general approaches we might take to the situation. One sticks as closely as possible to the modern scientific outlook as the best overall guide to human life, so it treats human nature as fact but not principle; that is, it recognizes that human beings have natural tendencies that shape and limit what is possible for them, but does not let that fact tell us what we should do about those tendencies.

It seems to me that approach is insufficient because it does not change the Leftist goal. We still have the line of thought that tells you that the good society is a social machine that maximizes equal preference satisfaction in a stable and reliable way. What changes is that you have discovered that more radical measures will be needed to achieve that society. So you get a sort of Leftist version of human bio-diversity, whose natural outcome is left-wing transhumanism, in effect the creation of New Soviet Man through bio-engineering and total environmental control as the highest social goal. In other words, you get inhuman ideological tyranny taken to a whole new level.

The other way is to accept human nature as a principle, so that fulfilling our nature is understood as a fundamental guide to life. But that means accepting that nature is good and we can trust its guidance. You can find that view in Christianity and also in various classical views such as stoicism; you can also find it in the non-Western world, for example in Confucius and Mencius. You are not going to get it out of the modern scientific understanding of the world if you take that understanding as the ultimate explanation of what is real, rather than a partial explanation that results from accepting certain limits on the type of inquiry you will pursue.

To summarize, it seems that the problem people have with human nature today has to do with the current view of nature as pure blind fact. That view makes it morally impossible to treat nature as a substantive guide for how to live. The result, unless we ignore the facts and say human beings do not have a nature, is a choice between a technological approach leading to Left-wing transhumanism and a humanist approach based on a religious or philosophical outlook that sees moral principle as implicit in nature. The practical question, if you take the latter approach, is what outlook of that kind best fits the world we live in and how such an outlook can be embodied in a stable tradition sufficient to motivate the life of a society.

But those are big issues we are not going to resolve today.

This essay was given as a talk at the 2014 conference of The H. L. Mencken Club and is published here with permission of the author.

James Kalb

By

James Kalb is a lawyer, independent scholar, and Catholic convert who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command (ISI Books, 2008), and, most recently, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013).

  • Mongo

    The left is so consistently irrational, incompatible with human nature, that it’s amazing that people still fall for it but desperate people in the third world still do, as also corrupt (entitlement mentality), stupid and ignorant people in the wealthy nations comprising such a dismayingly large fraction of their respective electorates.
    I hope the Pope has sense enough to steer clear of doctrinaire, world economy destroying CO2 propaganda in his upcoming encyclical but I’m not optimistic.

    • Michael Dowd

      Our Pope is a leftist by his own admission. He seems to believe all the dreadful nonsense noted above including the evolution and climate change hoaxes that our intellectual class takes for granted. Pope Francis acts as if he has lost faith in God and put his hope in marxist Social Justice ideas which really only contain and suppress the poor if they work at all. Let us pray that he comes to understand that Progressive/Leftist thinking is the work of the devil who wishes to make man a god unto himself where he lives in his own self created hell on earth. Our salvation lies in depending on and obeying God, not ourselves.

      • St JD George

        I shook my head yesterday as I read that the WH was going to meet with the Pope in Sept during his visit but that only 6 related topics on how best to secularly redistribute others possessions were approved for discussion. If I were he I would refuse to meet under those pretenses with such petulance. It looks as if Barbara Walters was right in her assessment of him after all when she unabashedly proclaimed “we thought he was the next messiah” – at least he has that complex and sees himself as the head of the new world order state religion, with the Catholic church relegated to NGO status who must conform and be transformed.

        • Funny thing about these two men. they were selected due to their vigorous campaigning for the job, and their supporters all contragulated themselves on “breaking the mold”, they swept into their office on a wave of popular acclaim, and it wasn’t long after they were in office, their agenda was shown to be an dischordant instrument.

        • Mongo

          I hope the Pope publicly speks to obama re his abortion mentality there but, again, I’m not optimistic. It’ll then be pretty obvious Pope Francis holds any concerns re abortion second (if that, probably a distant second at best) to his approval of and desire to promulgate Obama’s eurosocialism. That’s very wrong.

          • I half to three quarters expect the Pope to promote Barack Obama’s candicacy for Sec Gen. of the U.N.

            • ForChristAlone

              Someone should remind the Holy Father before he steps into the White House to meet “The Boy” what exactly was involved in legislation he backed commonly referred to as “Partial Birth Abortion.” When the detailed description of the procedure is given to the Holy Father, he might be then asked if he would have sat down to dine with one Josef Mengele.

              • The real question is how does the corpulent Cardinal get some face time out of this?

      • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

        There is no specific Catholic teaching on evolution. The Pope (and all of us) are free to believe whatever we want on this issue. The evidence about climate change is clear. There is a difference between superstition and true faith. The Church has always evolved in the light of new information and applies her teachings to current situations. To suggest that “Progressive/Leftist thinking is the work of the devil” stereotypes, demonizes, and passes judgment on a whole class of people. We need to be careful — this has happened before, for example, in Germany in the 1930s.

        • Belleropho914

          The evidence about climate change is clear as mud.

          You are confusing the IPCC, which is an inherently political organization, led by environmentalists, created and maintained by a political organization, (the UN) with real science.

          If this were real science, then scientific organizations would be coming up with these conclusions, not political ones.

          • Glen W.

            The IPCC reports merely reflect the current scientific consensus. The following scientific organizations, along with 97.5% of active climatologists, publicly endorse the conclusions of the IPCC (and the other 2.5% of active climatologists agree with the conclusions in general, but argue with specific point of the reports — in some cases, they feel the IPCC is understating the problem):
            Academia Brasiliera de Ciências (Bazil)
            Royal Society of Canada
            Chinese Academy of Sciences
            Academié des Sciences (France)
            Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Germany)
            Indian National Science Academy
            Accademia dei Lincei (Italy)
            Science Council of Japan
            Russian Academy of Sciences
            Royal Society (United Kingdom)
            National Academy of Sciences (United States of America)
            Australian Academy of Sciences
            Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts
            Caribbean Academy of Sciences
            Indonesian Academy of Sciences
            Royal Irish Academy
            Academy of Sciences Malaysia
            Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
            Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
            NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm
            National Academy of Sciences (NAS) http://books.nap.edu/collections/global_warming/index.html
            State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC) http://www.socc.ca/permafrost/permafrost_future_e.cfm
            Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://yosemite.epa.gov/OAR/globalwarming.nsf/content/index.html
            The Royal Society of the UK (RS) http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=3135 American Geophysical Union (AGU) http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/climatechangeresearch_2003.html
            American Institute of Physics http://www.aip.org/gov/policy12.html
            National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html
            American Meteorological Society (AMS) http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/jointacademies.html
            Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) http://www.cmos.ca/climatechangepole.html

            • GG

              When the AMA supports abortion as a medical procedure is that a scientific stance? I ask because some groups that claim to represent some type of science is not evidence we ought to accept their conclusions. Politics and ideology heavily influence “science”.

              • Glen W.

                “Politics and ideology heavily influence “science”.” Only politics and ideology prevent people from understanding climate science when so much information is available You can call abortion a “medical procedure” or not — it’s still abortion. You can call climate change, gravity, magnetism or the fact that the planets revolve around the sun whatever you want — “hoaxes,” “conspiracies,” “lies,” etc. That doesn’t alter the fact that they are still what they are, viz., strongly supported scientific theories.

                • You seem to think “strongly supported” scientific theories are immune to criticism.

                  Note how physicists are still looking to conduct experiments to prove or disprove relativistic physics, and how so many anthropogenic global warming (or that’s right, it’s “climate change now”, but was “global cooling” in the 1970’s) is proved by having people like fraudster Al Gore (lawyer, silver spoon baby) shout people down and “deniers” as he jets about the earth and how the loathesome RFK Jr, (lawyer, silver spoon baby) proposed imprisoning people who disagree with his agenda.

                  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/23/robert-kennedy-jr-we-need-laws-punish-global-warmi/

                  And then there’s the fraud of Michael Mann.

                  • LarryCicero

                    On September 11, 1972 Walter Cronkite reports that SCIENTISTS warn of the coming ice age.

                    America’s most trusted news man- And that’s the way it wasn’t.

                  • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                    All either untrue or irrelevant. From 1965 to 1979, 62% of scientific studies on the topic predicted global warming, 10% predicted global cooling, and 28% took no stance. The “global cooling” claims were largely media driven. Opinions about Al Gore, RFK Jr., etc., really have nothing to do with the realities of science and are not proof or otherwise of AGW. Your allusion to relativistic physics is spurious. We have ample empirical evidence that Earth is warming, that greenhouse gases cause positive forcing, and that we are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

                    • We have ample evidence the earth’s climate is variable ad always has been. The rest of what you write is quite frankly, ipse dixit nonsense. You should learn the difference between a comparison and allusion.
                      It may no longer be a free country thanks to drones like you, but you are free to worship your goofy AGW cult, just do it somewhere else.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      Very unscientific, DE. Yes, climate has changed in the past — sometimes so quickly that it caused mass extinctions. Climate responds to forcings,, and we know the greatest current forcing is greenhouse gas.

                    • Oh so some Internet troll uses the word “unscientific” and I’m supposed to care.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      Do it somewhere else? A Catholic site is the perfect place to discuss AGW and its implications. Just ask Pope Francis. It is your abysmal but proudly held ignorance that is cultist.

                    • I guess if you don’t really have a compelling, coherent and persuasive argument. you can always resort to name calling and the appeal to authority fallacy.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      Your allusion included a spurious comparison.

                    • Your delusion is obvious.

                    • GG

                      What was the climate 10,000 years ago?

                    • Brrrr…..

                • GG

                  Ideology and politics warp science every day. If you are that credulous no amount of reason will change your understanding.

                  • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                    Given the preponderance of evidence, just whose mind is being warped by ideology and politics (Hint: who here is out of touch with the science?)?

                    • Oh please, you are no scientist.

            • jimbo_jones

              Saying that “97% of climatologists believe in global warming” is like saying that “97% of cardinals believe in God.”

              It’s difficult (though, apparently, possible) to become a climatologist without believing in AGW. Just as it is difficult to become a biologist without believing in Darwinism. You either have to hide your true colors for many years, or change your opinion on the subject in an advanced stage of life, or they just won’t give you the diploma, the positions, and the grants.

              The more interesting question is: Are there high level scientists who disagree with AGW? What do they say?

              • LoneStar Lady

                Yes jumbo jones. although most scientists agree that the earth has been slowly and gradually warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, many academics and other scientists either do not accept that human activity is a significant contributor to the warming, or that the degree of warming has been or will be great enough to warrant the high cost of remaking our electric and transportation infrastructure to eliminate use of any fossil fuels. Unfortunately these scientists are currently under continuous attack (witness the efforts of members of Congress to force some to produce every email, letter or correspondence they have sent or received in that past ten years, and to disclose the financing of their research over the same period.

              • Charles E Flynn
                • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                  To quote Freeman Dyson: “”[one] of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas.” You will find this again and again with scientists who are falsely portrayed as pretending AGW doesn’t exist. Dyson does not disagree with the fact that AGW is occurring. He simply thinks the problem is not as severe as many scientists believe. He also claims to know very little about the technical facts. Climate science is not his specialty, but he’s enough of a scientist to understand the very basic fact that increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will contribute to warming.

              • Glen W.

                There are no high level scientists that disagree with AGW. All high level scientists understand that greenhouse gases are warming and that we are producing greenhouse gases. Lindzen recently said you’d have to be “nutty” to disagree with that. A small number of scientists disagree with the conclusions of the IPCC. Some, like Kevin Trenberth, believe the IPCC drastically understates the threat of AGW. Some, like Richard Lindzen, believe the IPCC overstates that threat. Both sides have published papers purporting to support their views. Both sides have had their papers debunked by other scientists.

            • 1crappie2

              And most people voted to free Barabbas. What is your point–that democracy and truth are synonymous? Do you purchase everything that 3 out of four doctors recommend? I hope for your sake that you don’t.

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                I can only speak for myself, but if 97% of experts say there is a link between cancer and smoking, I’m not going to smoke and I’m going to discourage my kids from doing the same.

                • GG

                  You can see people dying of cancer who smoked. You can do experiments with tobacco and its metabolites that clearly show pathologic effects.

                  Now, with global warming you should go to Buffalo NY when they had 7 feet of snow in November outside in your underwear and let us know about global warming.

                  • Glen W.

                    Globally, 2014 was the warmest year on record. California suffered from record heat and drought last year. Weather in Buffalo last November does not equate to global climate. Climate models have been predicting for years that climate change will lead to increased heat and drought in the US West and big snowfalls and rainstorms in the Northeast.

                    • Obviously, what we have here is a troll attempting to derail the conversation.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      I don’t think he was derailing the conversation but participating in it. It was started by a couple of people suggesting evolution and climate science are “leftist” and therefore “the work of the devil.” The Church has no official teaching on biological evolution, and the last three popes have been “leftist” (if you insist on defining it that way) regarding environmental issues and climate change. As the US Catholic Bishops said in 2001, “At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family.” We all get too defensive about our political leanings, and it’s sad when this closes our eyes to a Catholic perspective.

                    • At its core it is totally political.

                    • LarryCicero

                      I was delayed by a long freight train hauling natural gas on the BNSF today. Is Warren Buffet opposed to a pipeline? Politics follow money.

                    • GG

                      It is political and scientistic. Scientism is a god too many worship.

                    • LarryCicero

                      Gave up trolls for lent. If temps rise then so evaporation rates will increase with it, slowing sea level rise, forming clouds to block the sun, cooling things back down with rain. But if winters are not so cold in the future, there will be a reduction in carbon footprints of those Florida winter birds. Good news!

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      Suggest you study, amongst other things, the water cycle.

                    • GG

                      Apparently global warming means you freeze to death. Who knew?

                    • LarryCicero

                      When fall break replaces spring break and people flock to Canada to escape the heat, then there will be evidence.

                    • GG

                      So, global warming is not really global.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      No, GG. I think he’s saying the weather in Buffalo is not global. “Global” = “world-wide.” “Local” = “Buffalo, NY”

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                Oh, that UN! ‘Probably thinks the earth revolves around the sun!

        • Michael Dowd

          Progressive/leftist thinking are forms of modernism which has been condemned by the Church as heresy and heresy, of course, is the work of the devil. Progressive/leftist thinking exalts position of Man vs. God. But I’m sure you are aware of all this. Let pray for the Pope. On that we should agree.

          • Glen W.

            Remember that Pope John Paul II famously said, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” You are, I presume, interpreting Pascendi Dominici Gregis too narrowly and out of the context of other Catholic teachings. The Church teaches very little about evolution and great latitude is left to Catholics to form their own personal judgments. Let’s not judge sincere people who have performed due diligence in reaching conclusions.

            • Michael Dowd

              “Let’s not judge sincere people who have performed due diligence in reaching conclusions.”
              Glen, I agree. I have no problem with folks who hold a sincere opinion contrary to mine. That would be uncharitable and frankly stupid. My issue is with the thinking itself, not the people who hold these views.

        • GG

          Well, taking leftism to its conclusion you get Nazi Germany.

          • “Progressive/Leftist thinking is the work of the devil” stereotypes”
            Its not stereotype. Stereotypes don’t erect gulags and concentration camps or engage in mass slaughter.

            • GG

              Even before that we get the Nazis telling bakers they must make “gay” cakes now or cakes for gay events.

              • IOW, making merchants the slaves of gays. I suspect that they get kicks of several kinds out of this…

                • GG

                  It is a warped reasoning. They demand you submit and affirm their ideology or face the consequences. Naziism is the perfect example.

              • Asmondius

                Just wait until they show up at the Catholic grammar school with their children and then demand that a Gay-Straight Alliance be established.

                • GG

                  Right. That is what the oppressors want.

          • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

            The Nazis favored corporatism and opposed extending basic civil rights to people of color, the disabled, people of certain ethnic backgrounds and religion, communists, intellectuals, and homosexuals (even though many were gay themselves,) all of whom were subject to persecution and intimidation. They wanted to keep women barefoot, pregnant, and behind the kitchen sink with the goal of producing as many little Aryans as they could possibly muster. Women were discouraged from holding positions of authority or status. The Nazis outlawed socialism and executed socialists and communists in high numbers. More than 11,000 Germans were arrested in 1933 for engaging in “illegal socialist activity.” Now that doesn’t sound like “the Left” in this country to me — more like “the Right”:-)

            • GG

              Oh, they were Left for certain. Like all leftists they claim a superiority. They are relativists that make themselves gods. The left is intolerant, elitist, and oppressive. They want to stamp out all recourse to true moral reasoning like the Nazis. If you dissent you get arrested and persecuted. Yes, the Nazis were left wingers and the new Nazis today that persecute moral people are their ideological children. It is demonic.

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                You are implicitly making a claim of superiority against “leftists” by propagating the above propaganda. The terms “left” and “right” are so vaguely/broadly/viscerally defined that they are almost meaningless. The Catholic Church, along with most of us, could best be described by a Venn diagram depicting a mix of what is typically understood as “left” or “right.” In my own view, “leftism” best equates to the defense of basic civil rights for everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or country of origin. These civil rights include the right to healthcare, education, freedom of speech, and personal safety.

                • GG

                  The only propaganda we have is claiming leftism is moral.

              • Coniston

                ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are not really applicable here. The political spectrum is not as simple as that. The nazis were essentially trying to introduce a pagan religion, based on ‘purity of race’ to replace Christianity. Look at their rallies (outdoing anything Hollywood could do), their introduction of new festivals, timed to coincide with Christian festivals, and compulsory youth rallies held on Sundays to prevent young people going to church. The results are very similar to the situation in communist and atheistic states.

            • What part of “National Socialist” don’t you understand?
              The idea that there is a political right or left is a consequence of a simple minded idea that political thought is unidimensional, but it is not.

              In any case, as a practical matter, one could represent political thought unidimensionally, the appropriate representation would be along the perimeter of a circle, where Nazi’s and Communist are adjoining points.

              • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                I am sure nobody would be so stupid as to assume the Nazis were leftist simply because their party title contains the word “socialist.” Hitler would have been very disappointed to be deemed a socialist. His predominant goal was to promote his incoherent, racist ideal of Aryanism and to exploit and/or annihilate the “untermenschen,” as he saw them, which included Jews, socialists, communists, gays, Gypsies,

                • Hitler was a statist and a collectivist. That he merely subordinated industry to government matters not. He elevated the state and sought the subordination of the individual.

                  The untermenschen was just Hitler’s limpeproletariat.

                  “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” –Adolf Hitler

                  (Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

                  • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                    Hitler used the term “socialist” deceptively. In 1927, he was trying to gain the support of blue collar *Aryans*, but he betrayed both “non-Aryans” and all workers in favor of a combination of oligarchy, capitalism, and genocidal insanity. Once in power, Hitler broke all his promises to the working class, and the Nazis banned trade union, strikes, and collective bargaining. Since the primary feature of socialism is worker ownership of production, Nazism technically never even remotely resembled socialism.

                    • Every time a leftist moral cretin goes on a mass murdering rampage-which is every time they get power., you leftists tell us how they betrayed the true cause, instead of taking responsibility for your monsters.
                      Hitler, like Stalin, like Mao, like Pol Pot, Like Ho Chi Minh, were all men of the left, and all genocidal maniacs. I don’t give a rat’s posterior if they didn’t follow the recipe exactly-they are yours.

                    • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

                      Putting the emotional and factual incoherence and hysteria aside, the vast majority of us on either the left or the right do NOT need to take responsibility for these extremists. To suggest that a civilized conservative would support Hitler because both are right-wing or that a kindly social democrat would support Stalin because both are left-wing and that either one would support genocide is simply not a suggestion worthy of any consideration by any sane person.

                    • Hitler was one of yours. Civilized conservatives find collectivism, state atheism and statism repellent.

      • Daniel P

        The evolution hoax? You’ll have to educate me on that one.

        • Michael Dowd
          • Todd

            The Institute for Creation Research (icr.org) is evangelical with a young-earth (6000 years) creationist view of the world. Pope Francis is Catholic. Please don’t confuse the great scientific research done through the Catholic Church (“big bang” theory postulated by a priest) with young-earth pseudo-science.

          • Daniel P

            The author has a PhD in engineering. That doesn’t disqualify him from comment, but it isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement either.

            He raises a number of problems for the theory of evolution. All theories have problems. Problems =/= hoax.

            • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

              I have a lot of trouble believing in Evolution . I rather believe in God as the Creator . 🙂

              • Coniston

                Why on earth do you think that ‘God as the Creator’ rules out any idea that He carried this out by means of evolution?

                • LadyFreeBird<God'sNotDead

                  I do not believe in evolution . I believe God is the Creator . You can believe in evolution if you choose .

            • “The author has a PhD in engineering. That doesn’t disqualify him from comment’

              Credentialism alert. But since we’re going there, you have what academic background that qualifies you to comment upon the author’s comment?

        • GW

          He can’t, Daniel.

      • Belleropho914

        When did the Pope say “I am a leftist”?

        • GG

          I do not think that was ever reported as being said. I do remember in two separate interviews he said:

          1. He is not a right winger.

          2. He was asked he if minded debating conservative cardinals and he said he did not mind.

          He did not say to the reporter there is no liberal or conservative in the Church. He just answered the question accepting the term conservative was reasonable to use.

          Now, what does any of that mean? I have no idea.

        • Michael Dowd

          Here is his statement which implies he is a leftist: The pope insists, “I have never been a right-winger” . From Pope Francis interview with Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica

        • Kevin Nowell

          The Pope is not a Leftist. Just because he is not a Rightist doesn’t make him a Leftist. He has spoken out against gender theory many, many times.

    • John

      “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive,
      meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things
      which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth
      submit to his father.”

  • JP

    One social thinker many years ago wrote the Feminism ultimately is a political movement that battles not men, but Nature. Feminists, gay activists and other Progressives may say there is no such thing as Nature; but, whether they realize it or not they are constantly haunted by Nature and as time passes their irrational fight against Nature takes on darker undertones. Men can be women and women can be men. For those who do not believe, well, they will be made to believe.

    We have during the last 20 years a passive acceptance of gays morph into an aggressive fight against heterosexuality. A small percentage of society (less than 3%) has made the other 97% dance to their tune. And now that drag queens have joined the fun, we will get a close up look of what it’s like when society goes down the rabbit hole. We are living the words of Lewis Carrol:

    “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would
    be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary
    wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You
    see?”

    • Belleropho914

      There is a reason that they call their organization “Femen”

  • orientstar

    I enjoy reading Crisis magazine, the articles are nearly always thoughtful and thought provoking. However, I am not an American (in fact a European living in Asia) so I do not understand what you mean by the “Left” (Dorothy Day?) and why you so relentlessly castigate it. Have you never heard of a Christian Socialist? Obama (or the Democratic Party for that matter) are not in any meaningful sense of the “Left” and in no other country would they be considered so. Is Pope Francis of the “Left”? Was Pope John Paul II ? How about John XXIII? They all are on record rejecting the economic maldistribution of capitalism – now at obscene levels – the indifference to poverty and the turning of human beings into objects (economic, social, or sexual). Is this of the “Left”? If so, then count me in. In what way is the “gay revolution” or the pornography industry (or its extension into our wider society and educational systems) anything to do with the “Left”? Those who advocate these things are rarely self proclaimed socialists (Hugh Heffner?) in fact quite the opposite. More analysis and less parochialism please.

    • Gail Finke

      That’s a good point. Americans mean the same thing by the “left” that Europeans and the British mean. However, that’s not necessarily parochialism… any more than you are being parochial when you use the term. I think it’s a good idea to come up with a new term for what Americans mean by “left,” but as nearly all Americans of all stripes use that, it would be difficult to accomplish.

      • I suggest the term “Mondrianism,” which has the advantage that few people will know what you are talking about until you explain it. And your explanation may reveal a lot about the impatience with and resentment and rejection of nature, not only in America, but in the West generally.

    • GG

      I cannot speak for the author, but the term Left is mostly meaning to the left of the moral law or immoral. It is closely tied to moral relativism and sexual libertinism.

    • I explain what I mean by the Left in the paragraphs beginning “The Left is said to be progressive.” If you want to use the word some other way go ahead. As to the particular questions:

      So far as I can tell (I haven’t read much of her) Dorothy Day doesn’t qualify, she seems to have been an idiosyncratic Catholic anarchist. Nor do the popes. Their vision of what kind of society is desirable is quite different. Pope Francis seems idiosyncratic though and less of a coherent thinker. I won’t presume to explain his views.

      I have indeed heard of Christian socialism. I don’t think it makes sense, since a comprehensively administered society is not Christian. I think the popes are with me on that.

      Dunno if you’ve spent much time in Europe recently. For an account of the transformation of the old European Left into the modern lifestyle Left, see Paul Gottfried’s The Strange Death of Marxism The European Left in the New Millennium.

      • St JD George

        I have spent a lot of time there and I can tell you that it is very sad for the most part, and I have no desire to return honestly except to see friends who have anxiety about their future as well. I have absolutely no idea why we hold them up as a role model to emulate here. Hardly anyone openly talks about Marxism even though the ideals are deeply entrenched. Nobody is having babies, churches are closing and pews are emptying, mostly full of older parishioners or for cultural reasons (i.e. without passion for Christ). There exists a true crises and cancer spreading that hardly anyone is bold enough to address much less start treatment.

        • “Hardly anyone openly talks about Marxism even though the ideals are deeply entrenched.”

          You know there’s a theory in biology that human cells contain viral DNA, that over the course of time it was absorbed into our cellular structure, and we’ve even appropriated it to a useful purpose

          The same is true with Marxism, minus the useful purpose.
          http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/10/the-lurker-how-a-virus-hid-in-our-genome-for-six-million-years/

          • St JD George

            Interesting genetic connection there. I’m convinced that human innate nature is to abhor other’s success which is bred from envy (rem commandment no. 10) and that we’d rather everyone be miserable than anyone be successful. It’s certainly successful for one party in campaigning. I should say, most everyone, I guess we like having successful “benevolent dictators” who hand out favors to us because we keep propping them up. It must stem from deep rooted self loathing or ancient herding heritage.

    • JP

      Oreintstar,

      You must be more precise in your language. When you talk about poverty, are you referring to European poverty, Asian poverty, or Poverty in the Americas? The same with maldistribution. For in the US, over $4 trillion is redistributed from the “haves” to “have-nots” every year. That number is even greater in Europe and in many places in Asia. And in the US, the leading cause of poverty is single motherhood. Or to put it less delicately, the leading cause of poverty in the US is that too many women can be found in the hook-up culture. But, there is still more. Almost every single nation in the world is socialist. Again, the US alone redistributes over $4 trillion from the rich to the poor, every year. And you call this indifference? To paraphrase, RM Nixon, “We are all Socialists, now”.

      Your definition of Socialist is rather juvenile. To you,Socialism is anything that can be considered good. If it fails it must be Capitalism. People like you take no ownership of the damage you have caused.

    • St JD George

      It seems like a pretty darn inconvenient fact (to borrow from Al) that the great wealth divide that they claim to love to hate has only grown exponentially worse under their policies so they are either incredibly incompetent or they are masterly skillful in twisting populist rhetoric to perpetuate and maintain power/control in implementing their largely un-transparent agenda. I would argue that the true agenda here is to destroy the middle class, or subjugate it to the state so that the state’s power are ever expanding. Words are carefully crafted to evoke empathy, but the deeds are bitter and divisive and often at odds. Lastly, the state could care less about and doesn’t believe in the salvation of the soul – heck, it doesn’t even believe in the soul. “Charity without faith is meaningless, and faith without charity remains a dead letter.”

      • The true agenda is to destroy the Church (starting), the family (almost done), voluntary and fraternal organizations (well under way, with largely superannuated memberships that will be gone in 10-20 years.) or anything else that mediates between the individual and society-at-large. Then the individual is exposed and powerless, with only the state as a mediator and a mitigator.

        Then everybody sings the theme song “Save Me” by Remy Zero from the TV show Smallville.

        “Somebody save me
        Let your warm hands break right through it
        Somebody save me
        I don’t care how you do it, just stay, stay
        C’mon, I’ve been waiting for you”

    • “I do not understand what you mean by the “Left” (Dorothy Day?)”

      The left, at least stateside is is collectivist, atheist or at least secularist and statist. Dorothy Day therefore, does not qualify. Her view of economics, were itinerant and idiosyncratic because she had no particular aptitude, training or education in the matter. She was a perfect example of not knowing that “the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design”, a quote attributed to F.A. Hayek, who met with and advised Pope John Paul II.

      If she becomes a Saint, it will be in spite of her views on those matters, not because of them. Her followers are dangerously like a cult.

      “They all are on record rejecting the economic maldistribution of capitalism – now at obscene levels.”

      Define “obscene levels”. Is that something that has some quantifiable or qualifiable meaning or just some visceral indignation by certain classes of people who want for nothing, but are quite willing to reach into others’ pockets, by force in necessary, to allievate the sight of something that offends their tender sensibilities.

      Of course, what they never do is actually promotie those things that mitigate against poverty those things (habits of thift, industry and virtue), but by throwing money at a situation and congratulating themselves about their superior compassion and piety.

      Where I see “maldistributions of wealth” is everywhere the government and central banks are involved, and greater involvement, no matter what the issue is what is advocared, regardless of past results.

      “Have you never heard of a Christian Socialist?”

      Sure. They are afflicted with schizophrenia, and if Catholics, heretics.

      “Is Pope Francis of the “Left”?”

      Well he has said he’s never been a man of the right, but who am I to judge? I know that in a completely apolitical and noncontroversial address to the world Congress of Accountants last fall,he demonstrated a sad ignorance of the nature of accountancy-he should have actually spoken to accountants before making a speech that reflected what thought they did, as opposed to what he thinks we do.

      The biggest leftist in the world is atheist gazillionaire currency trader George Soros. Stateside, his junior partner is Tom Steyer, and legions of idiots from Hollyweird. Why do you think that the uber-rich are so much creattures of the left.

    • Mongo

      Capitalism has its obvious faults, which need correcting but it’s the only effective material wealth generator known. These naive, indeed, stupid attempts to replace it with socialism, by the Pope and so many others are exceedingly destructive. Capitalism obviously functions best when it’s effected in a matrix of morality, right behavior, which obviously isn’t always the case. But even where greed predominates something usually materially economically beneficial occurs. It’s a far better situation than the ingrained corruption, irresponsibility and sloth inhering in socialism.
      Churchill said capitalism is unequally divided wealth while socialism is equally divided poverty. And it’s reported the old soviet workers used to say, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”

      • “It’s a far better situation than the ingrained corruption, irresponsibility and sloth inhering in socialism.”

        Sounds a lot like Argentina, as well.

    • jimbo_jones

      You confuse the economic left with the “social justice” left.
      The economic left in the US is in poor shape and relegated to the fringes.
      The real power is with the “social justice” left. They want sex change operations and free condoms for everyone. Hopefully some day some kind soul will invent race-change operation so that the long-suffering minorities can finally enjoy some white privilege, and midget albinos who identify as aryans can live the life they want, need, desire, and deserve.

  • Gail Finke

    Mr. Kalb: I enjoy your books and articles and very much look forward to hearing you speak in Steubenville next month. You are very good at identifying the problem, which is the underlying world view of progressives, with whom any sort of discussion on morals or mores leads to a bewildering vacuum — try to discuss marriage or family or parenthood and you find yourself unable to utter a coherent sentence, as they render all coherence impossible. If nothing is true (but what you WILL to be true) there is no way to discuss anything, because truth, definition of terms, etc., evaporate. ie: every study ever done shows that children need both a mother and father in the home, or at least a mother or father substitute… unless the adults are gay, then suddenly that research becomes irrelevant or even just plain wrong. And they don’t posit any pseudo-scientific explanations that would be absurd but at least provide an attempt at justification (“one partner in a homosexual union acquires the opposite gender’s parenting traits”) — they just affirm BOTH things, or dismiss every single study when it comes to that issue… although progressives love to claim that they alone truly believe in science. What to do about it? That’s what I want to know!

    • Belleropho914

      The left is all about breaking down barriers.

      Between truth and falsity, between real and unreal, between rational and irrational, between practical and impractical.

      The best description was the title of Roger Kimball’s book: “Experiments against Reality”

    • Basically what you can do is point out the approach doesn’t work, it doesn’t enable us to understand and deal sensibly with the world around us, and show something better. You won’t turn things around instantly but you’ll pick up some stragglers and dissatisfied people, and eventually there will be a phase change as more and more people become dissatisfied and start straggling.

      A practical conclusion is that it’s more important for the Church and Catholics to be visibly and outspokenly Catholic than to try to fit in and find aspects of the dominant tendencies that they can persuade themselves to agree with. In other words, preach the word in season and out of season.

      • GG

        Excellent and true. If Catholics really lived as Catholics the culture would improve. That means voting like Catholics, being Judges as Catholics, Politicians as Catholics, Professors as Catholics, Lawyers as Catholics, and so on. That would change the world.

      • Gail Finke

        Very good suggestion. But it doesn’t seem like enough, does it? However, it might be all we CAN do… and is more than a lot of us ARE doing.

  • Vinny

    “Is accepting human nature not basic to good sense in dealing with people? If the point looks obvious, why is it not generally accepted, or at least generally acceptable as something to consider?” Because as a society we haven’t hit bottom yet. At least the bottom necessary to see the fallacy of denying our nature.

    • Nel

      I think it’s because the human is the only species of animal that is capable of acting against his own nature. We have free will to violate our nature. A dog is a dog is a dog, and cannot be otherwise. But a human being can thwart his or her biological destiny through contraception and abortion and coitus interruptus – something lower animals never do.

      This is why the battlefield is always about sex. You can try to make it about smoking or obesity or racism – that those are always a screen for the real ‘freedom’ people want: the freedom to use the co-creative power given by God for pleasure only, while at the same time thwart its end.

      Someone says, ‘All those moral rules are from the Middle Ages and we have advanced and should get rid of them.’ Ask them, “What moral rules? You mean I can slap you silly [sillier] right now, and there’s nothing wrong with it?’ ‘No, of course not.’
      ‘But I can burn down your house, steal your truck and run away with your husband?’ ‘No, of course not. That would violate my rights.’
      ‘Well, then, I can lie, surely. I can say that you are the one who burnt down the house and swear to it in court and get you put in jail, when I know full well that I did it. Truth-telling – that’s an old-fashioned rule that needs to go.’

      At this point they are squirming and try to weasel around it by saying something like, ‘You’re just playing games. You know what I mean.’ To which I reply, ‘Yes, I know what you mean. I just want you to come out in the open and say it plainly to all present. You want to have an orgasm any time, with anyone or anything or alone or online, right side up, upside down, sideways, in outer space, on YouTube or in a parade down Main Street and you want no responsibility for the biological consequences of sexual intercourse. You want to be a slave to your genitals – and you don’t want anyone telling you that it’s wrong. Isn’t that what you really mean?’

      God told us our nature: ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’ and we said, ‘God’s a liar. I’ll do it my way.’ And our eyes were opened, and we realized we were naked – and we’ve been choosing naked power over our nature ever since.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Some years ago, a plan was ready to go for hundreds of one-person street potties in Manhattan. DESPERATELY needed and the norm in Paris etc. Some genius came up with a foolproof door so no one need be afraid of being robbed or molested. They were all set to go when the ‘wheelchair brigade’ who have taken over handicapped policy in the U.S.said that the comfort stations broke the ‘handicapped access’ law. Of course, the enormous potties that WOULD satisfy them would simple be impossible to put on the street and would NOT be safe.

    This ready-to-go blessing to the people of NYC was junked at great cost. The fact is – for every handicapped person in a wheelchair there are 50 persons or more, many elderly, with incontinence problems, weak bladders etc. And millions more of us who just REALLY gotta go.

    To use misconception and vague sentiments in place of fact. It is the foundation of terrorism.
    We are being terrorized by every kind of liar.

    • I guarantee you there was a potty vendor with a friend in Hizzoners or on some member of city council.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        Nevertheless, it would have been nice.

        • Government screws up a lot of things that would have been nice.

          You have to be really careful with ADA compliance. There are activists that go out and seek non accomodating situations with the intent of turning it into an ADA lawsuit.

          • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

            I remembered ‘Hire the Handicapped’ and how forty years ago they got a great reputation as hard reliable workers. I remember the public service announcements. NOW employers do ANYTHING to avoid hiring the handicapped to avoid a law suit – way to go government!

    • jimbo_jones

      Lol, can you imagine what the “handicapped” lobby looks like? A couple of good-looking patsies in wheelchairs, and behind them an entire army of slick lawyers fronted by a few do-gooder upper-class ladies killing time running “NGOs.”

      Heh, heh… 21st century.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        I lived in a town in extreme southern Illinois with about 400 people. The tiny local post office had to put a regulation wheelchair ramp in that COST MORE THAN THE POST OFFICE ITSELF. The lovely postmistress went out of her way to be sure shut-ins and such got their needs taken care of for shipping etc. Only one wheelchair customer EVER used the ramp and that about five times in a year. We figured out that she could have been carried back and forth from home on a litter with six picturesque bearers in Egyptian costumes and it would cost much less than the ramp.

        • ForChristAlone

          It would have been an interesting exercise in folly to have staged such a spectacle (and charged admission to defray the cost of the ramp).

  • Glen W.

    “From a moral perspective, it suggests a standard for what is good other than satisfying desire, since it tells people to act in a way that fulfills their nature, or at least is suited to it.”
    Probably a typo in this (“a” should be “no” in the first line?)? How does “the Left” tell people to act in a way that is economically exploitative? The author is creating straw men here.

    • Where do I say the Left supports economic exploitation? The reason that very issue is such a big deal for the Left is that they reject standards that transcend desire. That makes life basically a conflict of wills, so exploitation (which is not a question of the good but of the just) becomes absolutely central as a moral problem.

      • “Where do I say the Left supports economic exploitation?”
        Perhaps you should.

      • Gail Finke

        Excellent summation.

    • Have you seen USC Title 26, also known as the Internal Revenue Code?

      • LarryCicero

        Income taxes tax me on my income. Capital gains taxes tax me again. Sales taxes tax my purchases. Property taxes tax them over and over every year. If I manage to accumulate “savings” above a set figure it is subject to tax upon my death. The leftist Beatles ONCE had something right-that about the Taxman. Tolls are tax on the street and sales tax on shoes is a tax on my feet. And the two things that are certain in life- death and taxes, are now certain in death too.

        • And the new governor of PA wants to tax nursing homes and caskets. The man is a ghoul.

          • LarryCicero

            My wife lived in Philly and clothing was not taxed. When she moved to IL she was surprised that clothing was no longer considered a necessity, for tax purposes. A tax on caskets could lead to an increase in cremations and thus more dirty air….unintended consequences.

            • There’s a reason Philly is called “Filthadelphia”..

        • disqus_gEynqDDvb8

          And much of our taxes have been spent on killing people in Iran and Afghanistan for … no particular reason. I resent what our government has done with my money in my name more than I do paying my taxes.

          • LarryCicero

            “no particular reason”……”The evidence about climate change is clear.” Uh-huh…

          • ForChristAlone

            well if we’re going to be forced to pay guvmint taxes, it mays as well be used to kill people “in Iran and Afghanistan for no particular reason”. It’s better than paying for more welfare moms back here in the good ole Us of A.

  • cestusdei

    It is insane to think you can change reality if you just wish hard enough.

    • GG

      Have you read the essay: Lucifer, the first liberal?

      • Simple & Plain

        Is that by Leo XIII? I’d like to read it

        • GG

          It is by Arthur Hippler. Just google the title and you will find it easily. It is about 15 years old or do I think.

  • Allamanda

    If gender is a social construct, how is it that animals and birds have different roles for males and females?

    • Because other animals are not progressive demiurges, but conservatives. 😀

    • John200

      Birds understand GLBT gobbledygook. It was written by birdbrains, and is “for the birds” (old saying, my mother used it often).

      GLBT scribbling has no appeal to animals.

  • St JD George

    One final thought on the hypocritical mind of the “progressive” – every time a “conservative” utters a word about their faith they are mocked and ridiculed, and the separation of church and state crowd screams bloody murder. When one of their own throws out Christ’s name casually in conversation or makes plans to entertain the Pope in Sept the silence is deafening. I wonder what the thought process is behind that, how deep their convictions must be – must be really strong.

  • hombre111

    If the left is trying to deny human nature, the right is desperately trying to save the world from a history that moves on. It screams “stop” and is dragged kicking and screaming into the future. St. Thomas understood this. When the literati took hold of Aristotle and dropped Plato, because Aristotle seemed to offer a reasonable theory of everything that did not need God or the Church, Thomas used Aristotle for his great study of theology and spoke to the world of his time. There is a great series over at the American Conservative which is exploring all this in an online seminar, thanks to a prof from Notre Dame. But unless the world stops the day after tomorrow…if the world still has thousands of years to go, this desperate hand on the burning brakes is not preparing the Church for the world rushing in upon us. The left says we have to understand the life that exists outside the limited headlights of the car we are driving down the world. Yes, it makes huge mistakes. But we make a bigger mistake if we try to stop in the middle of a road that goes on and on and on. The Church owes the world more than this.

    • Promises, promises. The left is always promising, never delivering it. Take for example our resident leftist. He promised to be a priest, but is a relentless political activist. He promised to take leave of us, but never did..

      The only question is, is this you?

      https://twitter.com/hombre111

      • ForChristAlone

        That’s because liberals lack the moral fiber that it takes to discern the truth of anything.

    • Some things change, others remain the same. The Church’s main concern is with things that remain the same and maintaining them in the face of efforts to downplay, deny, or obfuscate them. I nonetheless agree that she also needs prudence in dealing with the things that do change. “Prudence” though doesn’t mean going with the flow and aligning with dominant forces and tendencies.

      • hombre111

        I agree. One of the things that does change is a more adequate philosophical perspective.

        • GG

          Right and wrong do not change.

          • hombre111

            OK. “Thou shalt not kill.” So, we should never go to war, or kill criminals.

            • GG

              Not murder. Not all killing is murder.

              • hombre111

                Ahhh. Now you are beginning to think in shades of grey. Black and white thinking struggles with the realities of human nature.

                • GG

                  It is not gray. Murder is always wrong.

                  • hombre111

                    But the commandment says “thou shalt not kill.” Black and white, it does not work. You have to spin its meaning to kill someone in self defense, to kill enemies, to justify “collateral damage to innocents,” to justify the death penalty. Don’t worry, the Bible has done that for you, with all kinds of reasons for killing. But then Jesus said, you shall not even call your enemy a fool. Oh, this is tough stuff, the black and white world.

                    • TomD

                      hombre111, the English translation of the original Hebrew, most famously in the King James Version of the Bible, has been rendered as “thou shalt not kill.”

                      However, numerous biblical scholars have pointed out that the Hebrew word “ratsach” is not accurately translated into English as an absolute prohibition not to “kill.” More accurately, it means, “you shall not take life unjustly.”

                      Even this translation does not completely capture the essence of the original Hebrew. Translation of the Hebrew word “ratsach” to the English word “murder” does not completely capture its essence either. As with many Greek-to-English and Hebrew-to-English word/phrase translations in the NT and OT, it is not possible to completely capture the essence of the original language upon translation into English.

                      It is quite likely that “spin[ing] its meaning” was done through translating the phrase as “thou shalt not kill,” and, the black and white of which you so confidently speak with respect to this issue, is based on an inaccurate translation, not, in fact, on a fact.

                      We should always be mindful of this when we read Scripture in English, as there are often things “lost in translation,” and often those things are of significance.

                    • hombre111

                      Excellent. But if we were content with black and white answers, we would not be worrying about the art of translation. We begin to understand that the world mostly exists in a vivid shade of grey. That is why we pray to the Holy Spirit for prudence and wisdom.

                    • Gail Finke

                      The Hebrew doesn’t say “kill.” It’s tough stuff to actually research…

                    • hombre111

                      Amen. If we were content with black and white answers, we wouldn’t bother with research.

      • hombre111

        When he was Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict wrote “Called to Communion,” which gave me reason to pause in thought: “Every new situation of humanity opens new sides of the human spirit and new points of access to reality. Thus, in her encounter with the historical experiences of humanity, the Church can be led ever more deeply into the truth and perceive new dimensions of it that could not have been understood without these experiences. But skepticism is always in order where new interpretations assail the identity of the Church’s memory and replace it with a different mentality, a move that is tantamount to attempting its destruction of memory.”

        The Pope writes this after an explanation of liberalism as an attack on the Church as institution, as an attack on her cult, and on her law. He also explores lilberalism’s rampant indilvidualism. If that is what is meant by liberalism, I could not condemn it loudly enough. But to me, liberalism is an attitude of openness to change–mistaken often enough, but in tune with unfolding time. In his “Heart of the World,” Balthasar has an excellent prose poem on the movement of time, and the folly of those who try to catch it and keep it in a net. That is where I am coming from.

        • You interpret liberalism as a psychological rather than philosophical tendency. I do the opposite, because I think it tells us more. As a philosophical tendency I’d say liberalism is the view that makes self-defining freedom the highest principle of morality and politics. As such I think it’s a moral and political catastrophe for reasons I’ve gone on and on about at Crisis and elsewhere.

          If liberalism is openness to change then the Calvinists and German Christians were liberal. They weren’t, so psychological characteristics like “open to change” don’t really define liberalism.

          • ForChristAlone

            With liberals it’s not so much about an openness to change that defines their thinking but, rather, the elimination of objective truth. All is subject to change because they have declared that immutable truth is a falsehood. As Pilate so instructed us through the Gospel, “What is truth?”

          • hombre111

            Thanks. I really enjoy talking to you, Mr. Kalb, and I do respect the forcefulness and clarity of your writing. But your approach risks scooping up most liberals within the Church, who would not think of rejecting the Church as institution, or try to argue away her cult and her law.

            From my perspective, much of the shredding of human nature has come at that hand of conservatives. I have seen conservatives like Buckley call themselves “neo-liberals” when it comes, for instance, to supporting Capitalism, which grew out of the Enlightenment, and reject any effort to temper its “creative destruction,” which leaves the powerful intact while destroying the lives of those who have no power. In the midst of this, many of the “conservatives” I am aware of are rabid individualists who preach a gospel where people are supposed to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, and reject any real community effort at solving our growing problem of poverty. I think of the howling reaction when Hilary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many of the conservatives I know of have little sense of the common good, which is a basic social teaching of the Church. These same people have an almost religious fervor that rejects the reality of climate change and ecological destruction, which would also involve massive community and state solutions if we are going to save our future. By their millions, the religious right imagines that Christ is coming in our lifetime, so they do not have to think responsibly about the world they are leaving to their great grandchildren. They support Israel in its unimaginable cruelty to Palestinians, want to increase spending on defense while shredding the social safety net. And on and on. These are the things that rend my soul and make me reject conservatism as an attitude.

            I think it is safer to argue about conservatism as a philosophy. By the way, I have become more interested in The American Conservative, which actually dares talk about some of the problems conservative policies have created. There are gutsy discussions there I never hope to see in Crisis.

            • I mostly use terms like liberalism and leftism to refer to tendencies in thought that have a decisive long-term influence on events. I think they’re useful in understanding the world. “Conservative” can refer to a variety of forms of resistance to various modern tendencies. Particular people, liberals and conservatives in the Church for example, are usually a mixture and mostly not completely aware of the implications of their various positions. One effect of all that is that it’s hard for people in these discussion to keep them focused. They rarely want to talk about the same things.

              • Michael Dowd

                Thanks for the great discussion and the patience you have shown with the
                various respondents. There is a wide gulf between the left and the right made worse by an apparent inability to see human nature in thesame way. In my opinion the left doesn’t really believe in original sin and sees folks as basically good who are entitled to seek their own happiness and to let others do the same. However, in order to accomplish their utopian vision they will enact laws to force others to share and/or make laws to restrict their behavior and confiscate their resources. The right believes very much in original sin and understands that people are essentially selfish who need the constraints of law to keep the peace.
                The right tends to let nature take its course and let those who will not take
                care of themselves bear the consequences of their own actions, i.e., the freedom to fail. Finding a middle ground in all of this is what I think the Catholic Church has historically tried to do. However, since Vatican II the Church has taken
                a strong leftist turn with an over emphasis on economic solutions to problems
                which are essentially spiritual.

              • hombre111

                That is the reason I did some thinking and praying about that quote from Benedict, who by the way, is someone I really admire. To a former campus minister who spent years in academia, clear writing and good theology are a blessing, and Benedict offers both.

                I find myself asking two questions: When do liberals like myself begin to endanger the precious Memory of the Church? This was on my mind as I presided at two Palm Sunday Masses. If ever there was a time when the Tradition is alive and pulsing, it is during this precious time of the year. There is something so deep going on, and I do not want to endanger it by my rationalism. The second question is, when does conservatism become stubborn blindness? This is a very personal question to me as my diocese faces the continuing consequences of the priesthood shortage. The old Vatican II priests have retired and now are simply observers. The John Paul priests now rule. They wear a kind of uniform at liturgical celebrations, ornate albs that don’t need a cincture held tight by a cincture, ornate stoles wrapped tight by the cincture the way we were trained to do when we were going to celebrate Mass wearing a fiddle-back vestment.

                As part of the consequence of the priest shortage, I went back to work at age 75. There are 10,000 people, half Hispanic and half Anglo in this parish. A new pastor with questionable Spanish skills is coming, with a part time pastoral vicar. When I celebrated the 12:00 Spanish Mass three weeks ago, at least a thousand people were present. Maybe I might fill an old movie script and die one day in the saddle.

                • Thank you for continuing in the saddle.

                  Confucius worried about the problem like the one you mention:

                  “Since I cannot find people who follow the Mean to teach, I suppose I will have to work with those who are brilliant but erratic, and those who are a little dull but careful. The brilliant but erratic persons are too active, and the dull but careful persons are not active enough.”

                  One way to put it is to say that the brilliant but erratic people of the Vatican II period (liberals in your psychological sense) attached themselves to some tendencies that were ill-founded and have worked out badly (supported liberalism in my philosophical sense).

                  • hombre111

                    I only wish I could live long enough to see how all this works out.

    • bonaventure

      The left says we have to understand the life that exists outside the limited headlights of the car we are driving down the world

      Unfortunately for you, the Church and humanity in general do not live in the darkness of night, as you assume. We understand what is beyond the headlights, because we live in the light of day. Leftists, however, want the world to sleep during the day, and to live only in the limited light range of a vehicle’s headlights at night, to admire only those socially engineered concoctions which the left puts on display on the side of the road at night.

      The left’s message to the world: “Go, sleep during the day, and we will wake you up at night to admire our socially engineered marvels. As you progress down the road of time, our engineering will change, even contradict previous inventions. Yesterday we tried to engineer a classless society (communism), and a perfect race (without even the need to eat, excrete, and urinate — Mengele and the Nazis); today we are engineering a genderless humanity where recreational sex alone is good (“gender” theory), and that’s because we’re simultaneously working on engineering artificial life (cloning, tube babies, and AI). Tomorrow, we may engineer a perfect poly family or whatever else we will then believe to best fit our interests and hold on political power, even though today we deny that we will even try such a concoction. If you’re confused, just follow our updated edition of the instruction manual, and we will be your sun, your god, your all-in-all.”

  • John Grondelski

    The most interesting thing is that the theorists of B and T, who would like to tell us how “modern” they are, are in denial about basic science, because the accursed “gender binary” is written in every last gene of every last cell…. And a lot of this nonsense started when we Catholics conceded ground to the dissidents who rejected Humanae Vitae because of alleged “physicalism” (when they were the physicalists who saw only physical structures in the integrity of the conjugal act).

    • Joe

      Ever heard of genetic mosaicism?

      • GG

        Rare and a defect. A bit more common today due to illicit and immoral medical procedures.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    When Hume famously declared reason to be the slave of the passions, he was drawing attention to the obvious point that no amount of truth as to what is the case could possibly have a logical claim to influence our actions. (It is not judgment as such that sets us in motion; but our judgment on how to get or do something we want.)

    Hence, “when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it. Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compared to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind.” Note that “nature” here is individual, not “human nature” in the abstract and it is obvious that people do differ.

    For Hume, although these feelings or sentiments are undoubtedly real and govern our conduct, there can be no rational criterion, one that is valid for all, according to which we can pronounce an action virtuous or vicious. What would count as resolving our disagreements, since there is no question here of coming to agree on a description of anything?

    • Yes, Hume denied that the world is meaningful, that the idea of natural law makes sense, and that “good” means anything other than “I want that” or “it seems to me that’ll help me get what I want.” If he felt like saying those things he could say them, and since he did say them that’s evidently what he felt like saying. I’m sure his biographer finds those facts about Hume of interest.

      For my own part I’m more interested in the world than in Hume, in developing an understanding of things that makes sense of how they seem to be and of the activity of understanding itself. On that front I find Hume no help at all. Association of ideas just doesn’t do it for me.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        I share Miss Anscombe’s opinion of Hume: “The features of Hume’s philosophy which I have mentioned, like many other features of it, would incline me to think that Hume was a mere – brilliant – sophist; and his procedures are certainly sophistical. But I am forced, not to reverse, but to add to, this judgment by a peculiarity of Hume’s philosophizing: namely that although he reaches his conclusions – with which he is in love – by sophistical methods, his considerations constantly open up very deep and important problems. It is often the case that in the act of exhibiting the sophistry one finds oneself noticing matters which deserve a lot of exploring: the obvious stands in need of investigations as a result of the points that Hume pretends to have made… hence he is a very profound and great philosopher, in spite of his sophistry.”

        Insofar as Hume forces us to examine the connection between “to need” or “to be good for” and actual “wanting,” he has done a great service to moral philosophy. An obvious fallacy of his is trating every case of “aiming at” something as a “passion.”

        • I agree he raises issues of very great interest to philosophers. For people who aren’t professional philosophers, and simply want a general understanding of the world around them that’s as true and usable as possible so they can go on to deal with other issues, he’s much less useful.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            It is surely worth noting that thinkers as different as Pascal, Hume and Kant all agree that the first principles of morality cannot be derived from experience.

            Pascal, with his usual lucidity, draws a sharp distinction between the understanding (or intellect) and reason: “We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last way that we know first principles; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn them… For the knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is as sure as any of those which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust this knowledge of the heart and of instinct, and must base every argument on them. The heart senses [Le cœur sent] that there are three dimensions in space and that the numbers are infinite, and reason then shows that there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other. Principles are intuited, propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in different ways.”

            Hume defines “truth” in such a way as to exclude ethical judgments from it, and professes that he has proved that they are so excluded. Pascal does not accept that limitation.

            • Hume and Kant are closely related thinkers, and Pascal took the skeptical and subjectivist tendency of modern thought that culminated in Hume very seriously. In any event, he doesn’t say first principles of morality aren’t derived from experience. He says they’re not derived from what he calls reason but rather the heart. Elsewhere he says “the heart has reasons that reason cannot know” and speaks of the esprit de finesse, which looks rather like the heart but is described as a sort of implicit reason with infinitely many subtle premises. He also says true religion is confirmed by experience–live that way and it becomes more and more obvious that you’ve made the right choice.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                Pascal uses « Le cœur » in the Latin sense, as the seat of the understanding, judgment, wisdom. Thus, Plautus’s famous, “Neque te quicquam sapere corde neque oculis uti” – you have not one scrap of sense or eyesight.

                When he says, « Les principes se sentent» he is clearly referring to a sort of intellectual insight or vision, or intuition, in contrast to deduction or inference.

                Pascal is really making the same point as Bl John Henry Newman does in his sadly neglected Grammar of Assent, “We are not able to prove by syllogism that there are any self-evident propositions at all; but supposing there are (as of course I hold there are), still who can determine these by logic?” No wonder he, somewhat sardonically calls first principles, “the recondite sources of all knowledge, as to which logic provides no common measure of minds,—which are accepted by some, rejected by others…”

  • 1crappie2

    “…. It tries to use that knowledge to remake the world in accordance with whatever it is we want….”
    God made man in His image, and ever since that little incident in Eden, we have been trying to make Him (and all truth) into our own image.
    Our nature, first and foremost, is that of helpless fallen man….many of whom apparently enjoy it that way and won’t rest until the rest of us join them..

  • djc

    Unfortunately the only way political correctness will pass away is when it assumes total and complete power and is found incapable of engendering a coherent society. Then, and only then, will the values of the Christian West become ascendant again.

    • GW

      100 years ago:
      One of my best friends, an African American male, would have never been allowed to be as successful as he has been. My younger brother, who is gay, would have faced violence in the streets and ostracism from his family and friends. Europeans, with their advanced cultures and good tastes, decided to slaughter one another for the stupidest of reasons.
      I don’t know how you define “political correctness,” but from my view, we’re going through a process where we’re learning to live with one another with a little more harmony.

      • GG

        A False harmony. One imposed by leftist ideologues.

        • GW

          Which leftist ideologues? What are they expecting you to say?

          • GG

            People who equate skin pigment with perverted sexual acts are ideologues. They make a mistake so basic to reality and human nature that some very deep problem in reasoning exists. We, as a society, have made deviant sexual desire a type of god that must be worshiped. We replace truth with mere feelings. We reason by sentimentalism and attribute that to Christ.

            • GW

              Who equates skin pigment with perverted sexual acts? Who makes deviant sexual desire a type of god? Who reasons by sentimentalism and attributes that to Christ?

              • GG

                Those who support “gay” ideology and “gay marriage”.

                • GW

                  I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Those who support gay (ideology?) and gay marriage equate skin pigment with perverted sexual acts? How do you define “sentimentalism?”

      • djc

        I view political correctness as only being allowed to think, and say, what society wants you to say or think. I’m very politically “uncorrect”. I have always been against any and all forms of racial discrimination. I have relatives who are gay and I have always treated them identically to anyone else-even when others avoided them.

        I am against being forced to accept accept radical secularism because the powers that be insist that it is the “only way”.

        I do accept fully your premise that we all need to live together in harmony.

        • GW

          Can you cite some examples? I really would like to know.

  • davegosse

    Mr. Kalb, I enjoy your articles, they provide food for thought and insight I often overlook, but in this case you overlook the forest by focusing on one particularly obvious tree, human nature. Progressives reject the concept of a specifically ‘human’ nature – we are creatures in flux, in the process of becoming something new, and any sense of objective, fixed, nature is anathema to them.
    As bodies in flux there is no identifiable nature applicable to any person. Self-identity is the only standard which has any legs because only I (theoretically) know myself. Those who suggest the my self might be something other than what I assert are trying to ‘kill’ me and so I am justified in using any means at hand to destroy them.
    It is insane, but it pervades our culture. Because it is entirely subjective, and the subjective is absolute, it is no wonder we see an irrational patchwork of ‘rights’ developing. An odd and incomprehensible amalgam of anarchy and totalitarianism.

    • I agree that the denial of human nature is only one aspect of an incredibly radical tendency of thought that dominates our culture and makes reason impossible.

      • GG

        That is it in a nutshell. We can no longer reason morally in a correct way. We operate by feelings that are shaped almost entirely by media and pop culture. Education is mostly a form of credentialing and technocratic indoctrination. I see no way out.

  • DrollDog

    A very disappointing article from one of my favorite writers. Way too un-nuanced. There is far more than just “the Left” and those that are correct. As the current 2016 GOP presidential race is displaying, there are many variations of “right” and there are likewise variations of the “Left”. Heidi Heitkamp (ND) paints a picture that is closer to Catholic ideals than many of those of the “right”. There is more than just black & white.

    • I don’t think I say that the problem I talk about in the piece is the only possible way things can go wrong and everything else is perfect.

  • Well like it or not, transgender persons have as much right to access public restroom as well as anyone else. I realize that this has the potential to make some people uncomfortable, but there it is. If men cannot deal with having to share the restroom with someone like Ian Harvie (pictured), and if women are uncomfortable sharing a restroom with a trans woman, either a third option must be made available, or all restrooms should be gender-neutral.

    Ian Harvie was born with a female body but a male soul. If you’re a man and saw him walk into the restroom, would you give it a second thought?

    • Augustus

      Let’s cut through the crap and get to the heart of the matter: There are only two healthy “gender” categories: male and female. If you find yourself somewhere in between it can be explained thus: You are born with a physical birth defect (like a cleft lip) that requires surgery or you have a mental illness that requires psychological counseling. No need to make this more complicated than it really is. Don’t pretend that people who are sick are actually healthy. Don’t mutilate a healthy body to accommodate a sick mind.

      • GW

        Real easy to write something like that.

        • GG

          Of Course it is easy because it is true.

          • GW

            You obviously don’t know someone who’s LGBT

            • GG

              I know many. That does not change the truth.

              • GW

                You must be a great friend.

                • GG

                  Do friends affirm people in sin? Do friends approve of bad acts and bad ideology? You must be a great friend.

  • GW

    It should be a firing offense for the editor of a web site – left or right – to publish an essay that purports to define the characteristics of the opposition.

    • So if you oppose a political tendency you shouldn’t define what you oppose or why you think it’s a serious problem. Seems unlikely to improve discussion.

      • GW

        That’s a point.

        But there’s also a tendency to set up straw man arguments. Your essay is so far afield from what I understand of “the Left” that I posted my comment as a reaction.

        I don’t like it when Catholic writers behave like political pundits from either side of the aisle. I don’t think those who disagree with me are stupid, or evil, or manipulated by evil forces, which was the impression I received from your post. It flies in the face of the Catholicism I learned in my youth, in Indiana of all places.

        You are welcome, of course, to your opinion.

        My suggestion to people like you is to keep in mind this analogy: just like in my uncle’s skiing boat on the lakes of Northern IN, you leave a wake behind you, a current that spreads outward and is beyond your control. People who write posts like mine, calling the Pope a communist, or Obama the antichrist, or who call their fellow Americans in the Democratic Party “The Party of Death,” get their start from you.

        • Do you think the tendency I describe–denial of human nature, technological approach to life, consequent effort to remake society comprehensively in the interests of maximum equal preference satisfaction–actually exists? If so, what would you call it? And should a Catholic writer want to talk about it?

          • GW

            Thanks for replying, Mr. Kalb. You would (or you might) be surprised at the angry retorts I get from other Catholic writers. At Catholic Online they usually just refuse to publish my posts. Makes me wonder about Deacon Fournier’s (lack of a) conscience.

            I’m not a social scientist, and I don’t fully understand your description of human nature. On the other hand, your suggestion of “a standard for what is good other than satisfying desire,” caught my eye. We have secular laws governing interactions between people. Who gets to write the moral laws? Evangelicals? If so, the future would look bleak for Catholics.

            I also don’t know who you’re talking about when you characterize the Left’s response to “when you talk about human nature today,” as accusing you of stereotyping, “denying Hope and Change,” etc. I’d relish the chance to call them out. I don’t doubt for a minute that there is overheated rhetoric on both sides.

            Mr. Kalb, you might be completely correct in your essay. Here’s what I think:
            Where you see the Left’s “effort to remake society,” I see the government making a reasonable investment in the education and quality of life for its people. Where you (might) see something negative in “Heather Has Two Mommies,” I see an education system teaching children not to victimize someone because he or she is different, which hopefully will lead to a brighter future for people like my brother, who grew up as one who was victimized. Where you (might) see my home state, Indiana, protecting religious liberties, I see a Governor and a legislature engaging in an empty political gesture designed to appeal to right-wing Christian voters who, in reality, make up the vast majority of Indiana voters.

            From a social-science perspective, I’m not qualified to argue with you. On the other hand, my inner Catholic is telling me that I’m making a good case.

            • All societies have moral laws based on some conception of what’s good and bad. Somebody *always* gets to write them. My complaint about current tendencies is that they they use the wrong standard for the good, that it’s simply a matter of satisfying preferences. The effect is to degrade human life. And denying functional distinctions between man and woman is an obvious example of denying human nature. The effect is to weaken and disrupt basic human connections like the family. That makes life worse for almost everyone.

              My inner Catholic tells me something different. The doctrines of Creation and Incarnation tell me the natural order is good and intrinsically expressive. So they tell me something like traditional natural law has to be right.

              • GW

                I don’t [much] disagree with your rationale. The difference is in the perspective and in the rhetoric. As I’ve passed through middle age, I find myself heartened by the opportunities for people to make the most of themselves, with less fear and with fewer traditional (limiting) expectations.
                The disappointment that I’ve had with Catholics who are reflexively Republican (and that’s not directed at you personally) is that they accept the sound bites without question and they parrot the rhetoric. The other side does the same thing. Ultimately, we are unable to put the true genius in the American character – the art of compromise – to work.
                I don’t expect for my Church to change – I don’t expect that priests will officiate at gay weddings, etc. But I’d like to see some innovation in governance because I think it will lead to innovation in society.

                • I don’t see more ability for people to make something of themselves. Young people have lots of trouble growing up now. There’s nothing to grow into. That’s even more true for people in the bottom half. At that level there are fewer and fewer marriages or social connections of any kind. See Charles Murray’s recent book Coming Apart, No social connections means no social position anyone would be pleased with.

                  One thing that’s happened is that we’ve become a country of careerists for careerists. “Opportunities” and “fewer limiting expectations” mostly means nothing can get in the way of that. Not everyone is going to be happy making career his religion though.

                  • GW

                    Well, maybe we disagree more than I thought. I have two daughters, 10 and 14, and I have no idea how to communicate to you just how wrong you are. I would try to describe to you how attitudes such as “Young people have lots of trouble growing up now” and “There’s nothing to grow into” have made it almost impossible for me to impart my Catholic faith to my daughters, but with your last response I’m beginning to think that you’re just going to ask me why I’m such a poor example of Catholic parenting.
                    Please think about this: my daughters hear my Church, as represented by people like you and me, telling them that their friends, several of whom have two moms or two dads, are living in mortal sin and their souls are in eternal danger. They’re hearing that their uncle will be damned for who he loves. They’re learning that they can never get an abortion, but also if they get pregnant at any point in their lives, they are on their own. Their government has cut the social safety net to such a degree that it might help people keep from starving, but nothing else. And they’re hearing those things from Catholics.
                    I don’t know the basis for your statement that “young people have lots of trouble growing up now.” I don’t know if you’re a parent, or how old your children are. But I can tell you that my two girls are living in Atlanta, attending public schools, and they are struggling less than we did when I was their age.
                    You are out of line.

                    • I see a lot of aimlessness and slow maturation among young people in their 20s and even 30s. Journalistic and pop cultural tags include “failure to launch,” “failure to commit,” the “marriage strike,” “bro culture,” “hipsters” and “irony,” the “new girl order,” “30 is the new 20,” and the growth of narcissism. Everything seems so free floating. In the professional echelons that I’m mostly surrounded by (Park Slope Brooklyn) I see a lot of activity that doesn’t look like it’s building toward anything solid, like endless money spent on bars ($8/beer), fancy restaurants, foreign travel, and other current high-end consumption. And in the lower echelons as mentioned the situation is apparently much worse. People really do seem to be finding it harder to build a life for themselves.

                    • GW

                      You know, I hear that stuff about young people, although in midtown Atlanta I don’t see more of the aimless types than existed when I was in my 20’s. As far as the high-end consumption goes, that has been the province of young men forever.
                      You mentioned Charles Murray’s book, and I’m going to look that one up. For what it’s worth, I hope you’re not basing your public contentions on anecdotal rather than empirical evidence. It wouldn’t matter if you were writing as a layman, but you sound like a social scientist. Remember what I wrote about my daughters?
                      And BTW, you haven’t responded to what I wrote earlier.
                      You and I have different views of young people and of the outside world. I don’t know if one of us is correct or if both of us are nuts. I wish you well.

        • GG

          Support for homosexual ideology, as one example, is not a gift of the Holy Spirit.

    • GG

      Why? The truth is uncomfortable?

      • GW

        Please see my exchange with Mr. Kalb below. If you have something constructive to add, I’d love to read it.

        • GG

          I read it. All I see is the usual relativism.

  • Jdonnell

    Such reified talk of “the Left” is so sweeping it’s silly. The essay speaks more right-wing ideology than anything else.

    • “Right-wing ideology” is reified talk. The piece itself is an analysis of a specific tendency in modern thought, described in some detail, and how that tendency plays out in politics. And I do think that tendency is central to the Left as we’ve had it since the French Revolution.

      • Jdonnell

        Not quite. An “ideology” is not the equivalent of “the Left.” The former has refers to a specific content, while the latter is much more amorphous. The article is mostly generalizations built on that reified “Left.”

  • clintoncps

    Transhumanism

  • PalaceGuard

    How many genders *can* dance on a pinhead?

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