Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
August 20, 2001
In the first epistle on moral nihilism, I referred to Darkness at Noon. wherein the author, Arthur Koestler, creates the character Rubashov, a Bolshevik-nihilist, who has come to fear the utilitarian (vs the deontological) interpretation of every moral question: "As we have thrown overboard all conventions and rules of cricket morality our sole guiding principle is that of consequent logic (ends justifies means) ... We are sailing without ballast; therefore each touch on the helm is a matter of life and death. (2-508)" Later , Rubashov laments: " ... it seemed to him now that for forty years he had been running amuck of pure reason. Perhaps it did not suit man to be completely freed from old bonds, from the steadying brakes of 'Thou shalt not' and 'Thou mayst not', and to be allowed to tear along straight to the goal. (2-510)"
I asserted that contrary to the cavalier and triumphant pronouncement of Alan Wolfe: " ... the (moral) revolution is irreversible. There's no going back, so we might as well get used to it ..." Koestler's work argued that there is hope. Ironically, Koestler wrote this novel in the 1940s, just prior to the onset of the Wolfe generation's "revolution".
In this epistle, I'll attempt to solidify my argument against Wolfe's grand claim.
First, lets establish that the Nihilistic New Moral Order is of approximately the same age, or just slightly older than our Mr. Wolfe. He is its contemporary, just as the character Rubashov was the contemporary of Bolshevik revolution. In both cases, the life span of the revolution had and has been about forty to fifty years — a mere blink in the eye of history. But such is the narcissism of the nihilist that all revolves about them, and their epoch is The Definitive epoch.
What was going on with Rubashov? Was he just an aging revolutionary, saddened and made cynical by his age and imprisonment; or was there something more? In part, his imprisonment probably did expedite his Epiphany because it brought to a halt his "running amuck of pure reason ... freed from old bonds, from the steadying brakes of 'Thou shalt not' and 'Thou mayst not'" — his intellectualization of his particular brand of nihilism. A popular saying in the 70's was "Never look back, something may be gaining on you." And Rubashov found out what it was.
What had gained on Rubashov? The suggestion (Thou Shalt Not) is that moral regret was the vague specter, and that he had been captured by nothing less than his own Conscience.
Another question: How can such nihilism explode so quickly and with such ferocity as has the New Moral Order.
In 145 pages of brilliant logic that is the palpable word Mark Twain reveres, political ethicist J. Budziszewski's The Revenge of Conscience develops the argument that Conscience is as vibrant a part of humanity as any other drive. The key to his argument is that Conscience is not a passive artifact of social learning that can be "weakened by neglect and erased by culture." Instead, as the "old" natural law tradition asserts:
Remember Alan Wolfe's words: "Americans are as morally serious as ever, but they are no longer willing to follow old rules." In that nutshell, and with Budziszewski's powerful insight in mind, it's clear that Wolfe has inadvertently refuted his own claim that "there's no going back."
What Revenge reveals is that Conscience cannot be destroyed, weakened, or erased, it can only be corrupted. And in that corrupted state, Conscience retains its original strength and volition, but redirected from absolute good to varying degrees of badness and evil. As explained by medical ethicist Dr. John Patrick, Conscience is like a spring, pushing either the right way or the wrong way.
Now, how do we validate this theory of corrupted Conscience. Well, although Budziszewski and Patrick argue from a religious perspective, with which I have no quarrel, we can also look to the secular arena for validation. By reflecting on Freud and Adler, and B.F. Skinner and the concepts of displacement, denial, projection, compensation, reinforcement — and without getting excessively bound up in psychobabble — we can examine prime characters and events that are reflective of the New Moral Order and its corrupt Conscience.
Previously, I also reported that in response to the movie Fight Club, most of the reviewers and critics seized upon the surface imagery of men-being-men, fighting, lusting, and carousing. And they condemned it on the basis of its pointless violence. But in the end it was the countlessly retold story of the moral battle between good and evil taking place within one man. Is this not an analogy of Conscience — articulately suppressed by PC critics?
The historical roots of the great Political Correctness and New Moral Order have been repeatedly designated as The Sixties. It's almost as if a corrupt Phoenix explosively soared from its ashes, like a surface to air missile from its silo, on January 1, 1960. Hardly. In fact, the "Flower Children" of that epoch period were the sibling offspring of virtual parent, Dr. Benjamin Spock, who in his 1946 Opus The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (out of print) admonished a post-war parent boom that it was in the best interests of their offspring to spare the rod and spoil the child — to raise their children in a more liberal environment.
His program of child-demand nursing schedules, delayed and patient toilet training, and freedom from corporal punishment, placed the parent in the indulgent role of benefactor, while precluding the role of disciplinarian. In the intervening years, however, responsible behavioral scientists found that an indulged child, a child without clear limits and immediate, appropriate, sometimes corporal, punishment is much more likely to become anxiety ridden, dependent, and/or a neurotic adult, if not sociopath, lacking in a range of internally-based self-controls. Here we find the secularized description of the corrupted Conscience that exploded to the surface in the 60's.
But as Budziszewski asserts, corrupted Conscience is not content with the mere achievement of its self-indulgence, it is driven to demand that it be called right and correct, both within and without:
As clearly as night follows day, the corrupted Conscience reinvents itself. In the wake of the Sexual Liberation of women, a whole industry has evolved around sexual harassment, date rape, and rape per se, in an effort to salve the Conscience of the liberated womyn and displace her guilt. According to the great feminihilist Catherine MacKinnon "by conservative definition [rape] happens to almost half of all women at least once in their lives. (in "Sexuality, pornography, and Method," Ethics 99, January, 1989: 331)" The popularity of such womyn as MacKinnon lies precisely in their ability to proselytize on behalf of the corrupted Conscience.
In the prior epistle I drew parallels between the leadership of William Clinton and Adolph Hitler. Clearly, Clinton did not have a Conscience that was as thoroughly spoiled as that of Hitler. But many scratched heads have attempted to understand how an acknowledged philanderer and alleged rapist could have garnered such loyalty and support from the MacKinnon / NOW cohort. Many do not realize that such is the hatred of the feminihilist for the institutions of marriage and family, and ostensibly the commandment "Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother," or "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife," that they openly endorse adultery. The rationalization was that it was healthier for those relationships to have such an outlet. They reason that, given that our contemporary longer life spans, absolute fidelity makes a too-long prison of the body and spirit. But despite, perhaps because of his direct transgressions against moral law, Clinton spoke directly to the spoiled nihilist Conscience. He taught that a spoiled Conscience could be salved by confessing his corrupt empathy for designated victims and the environment, while simultaneously exhibiting denial of his very real lack of empathy for women.
For womyn, the aggression of the Women's Liberation Movement and Feminism must be denied for what it is, a raw and unbridled power grab. Outright lies and invented statistics are the "further wrong(s) of false witness" that have become institutionalized in the Violence Against Women Act — a mask of victimhood for the corrupted Conscience of female aggression and a perfidy of feminine nurturance.
During the recent stem cell debate we saw a virtual blitzkrieg of denial. Richard Cohen writing for MSNBC: "In a petri dish or in a womb: What makes a human being?" wrote one of the most outrageously corrupt illustrations of displacement, denial, rationalization, etc.:
Stunning! Could there ever be two paragraphs that are more internally corrupt than these? First, I have to refer back to the title of Dr. Spock's 1946 opus — Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Fast forward five decades and we have yet another corruption of common sense by a virtual offspring. In the first paragraph, Cohen refutes the Deontological argument and deems the pro-life stance absurd, implicitly conveying the notion that the First Rules — Thou Shalt Not Kill, and First, Do No Harm are the enemies of common sense. In today's corruption of that phrase, indeed they are. In the second paragraph, a cruel Mother Nature supplants G-d, Mankind is entitled to be as cruel as Mother Nature, embryos are inhuman artifacts, and First Rules are ethical travesties. Whew, the power and arrogance of the corrupt Conscience just steals my breath away.
Pitting two goods against one another is one of the oldest bits of solipsism. Corrupting the good of preserving life versus the good of saving lives is a non-sequitur because the First Rule is to not take life. The method of corrupting the impingement of the First Rule requires that the existence of life must first be denied the embryo and its later development as fetus. As George Will has said: "But it is an indisputable scientific fact, not a theological or philosophical opinion or speculation, that abortion kills something, just as unambiguously as insecticides kill insects and herbicides kill weeds. (emphasis added)"
In another abortion related item that appeared on the web site The San Diego Channel, "Planned Parenthood Faces Abortion Lawsuit" the following examples of Conscience vs Corruption appeared:
The NOW familiar mantra of the eidetic mask of victimhood for the corrupted Conscience of female nihilism cannot bear even the most benign exposure to conscientious efforts to break the chains of denial. The betrayal of Conscience is blatantly evident in the words "innocent women." There is no refutation of the scientific evidence, there is only the corrupt defense against wrong-headed, immoral behavior. It must be called "right."
This brings me to the assault on G-d, the Ten Commandments, and religious expression. We have been corrupted by the secularized "virtue" of tolerance. Where is the outrage from our churches and their leadership? At a time when outrage could be viewed as nothing less than virtuous, church leaders are falling over themselves to be the most tolerant. Have they forgotten the virtuous outrage of Christ in the Temple when he drove out the money changers? Nah. They have been corrupted by the threatened loss of change in their collection baskets. "Better to sin a little than to lose the sinner," seems to be the corrupt rationalization for sustaining these houses of lesser gods.
In fact it is becoming increasingly clear that a still rational and moral half of the nation is restraining total nihilism from occurring within the other half that has been corrupted to varying degrees. In a recent Zogby Poll, when asked if the country was headed in the right or wrong direction, more than 5000 "likely voters" were split evenly at 47%. The corruption of Conscience by degrees becomes more evident, however, in the ensuing responses:
Quite aside from the scientific absence of any proof or near-proof that animals think and reason — Zogby didn't cite "proof", just "opinion" — this may be one of the more vivid validations of the argument for a corrupted "collective" Conscience. Not that there is anything bad in having a caring posture toward animals, although at least one "scientist / ethicist", the renowned Peter Singer takes it to a kinky extreme. But there is something terribly askew when man is so willfully dethroned in the food chain. Rosett makes the point: " ... all wild creatures are good, and man is the sole source of trouble."
To sum up — First: In the Zogby poll, the majority of the respondents were what could be called affluent and college educated. In a word, Boomers. Man, i.e., literally Men, are the source of world evil. Bambi is the perfect eidetic analogy to the modern feminihilists portrayal of women, struggling to survive in the violent, male, patriarchal jungle. And not to put too fine a point on it, 51%-52% of the poll respondents were working women — the feminist uber-womyn.
Second: The enforced ejection of G-d from the Garden of Narcissus, coupled with the indestructible drive of Conscience, leave a vacuum to be filled in the human experience (if not soul). That force must be redirected to weigh some kind of good and evil. Guilt must be discharged in some PC acceptable substitution for the moral option. For some / many, the ecosystem and subhuman species have become their new gods, whether they can admit it or not.
Will a spoilt generation of American Rubashovs come round to the genuine pangs of an uncorrupted Conscience? We must. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, it's been said. And surely we travel on that road.
Look around you at all the intact and unchallenged rules. Roadways with clearly marked lanes. Parking lots with carefully outlined spaces for parking. Signaled intersections to control for a safe flow of traffic. Elevated sidewalks that allow pedestrian and driver to coexist. All of these bespeak the notion that mankind benefits from fundamental rules that apply to all. Can you imagine abandoning all of the above in exchange for two "more tolerant" guides: Drive at a fair speed. Stop when it seems appropriate. I think not. But in a world of relative values, nihilistic self-service, and "road rage" ... it's a potential.
It seems that we have forgotten that moral rules once appeared as benign and beneficent as our currently unchallenged traffic rules. But now those moral guidelines have become anathema. Alan Wolfe is dead wrong on all counts. We need not "go back." We need not "get used to it." There is a way to simply stop where we are at, and wait for Conscience to appear. Budziszewski makes it clear that bad and evil are merely spoiled good. Confession and atonement can lead us to reconcile with the good. It's simple as: "I've been wrong, and I will now make it right." Presto, Reconciliation.
For a number of years, I often dealt with folks who were simply confused about daily living problems, and not really in need of formal psychotherapy. I applied what I then called my "Dutch Uncle" treatment. And that was simply to confront them with the questions they didn't want to hear, so that they ultimately came to the conclusions that they were avoiding, but knew all along. They would struggle, perhaps for weeks on end, and then virtually overnight came the "Aha!" experience. They looked inside and found "one of those intensely right words, and the resulting effect was physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt." And to their amazement, their energy levels increased and/or medication was no longer needed, because they had shed the burden of expending vast amounts of energy in the dogged support of their corrupted viewpoint.
If you need a little help, buy The Revenge of Conscience. Oh, and don't spend a lot of time or energy trying to pronounce Bud-zis-zew-ski. It'll come to you.
The numbers enclosed in parentheses refer to the book and page no. for source material gathered from the eight volume set of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1967.
|Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D. [Clinical Psychology] is the founder and president of the DA*DI [Dads Against the Divorce Industry] an educational forum for responsible fatherhood. Since founding DA*DI in 1994, he has been devoted to researching, advising and disseminating information on the issues that he believes threaten to engulf and diminish the American culture; the same issues that are driving the divorce industry and the deconstruction of the family and fatherhood. E-Mail Gerald at firstname.lastname@example.org|
Our Decaying Society
21 aug 2001