Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/10

2

It’s about human nature

I had dinner with an old friend today, and he inquired of me why I define myself as a conservative. After all, on many “hot button” issues I’m arguably a social liberal, and my attitude toward government and its current scope is of resigned acceptance, not an optimistic vision of rollback. Ultimately the main issue is that I am profoundly skeptical of the utopian and cosmic visions of the modern post-materialist Left. I believe that the cutting-edge Leftist jihad against Oppression stifles Eudaimonia. The eternal revolution only ends in exhaustion of spirit and social involution, as the platoons withdraw from the field lest they draw the attention of the latter day kommissars. This is a great danger, because humanity is a social species, and as the bonds which tie different social groups fray because of a lack of trust society as a whole will dissolve before our very eyes.

With that, I point you to a video by Respvblica. Surely many can disagree on the details, but I much agree with the emphasis on human nature, and the universal basic elements of our natures which span religion and culture. But another aspect of this which one may wish to highlight, and which explains the existence of religious skeptics across human history in all civilized societies, is that humans also vary in disposition, preference, and outlook. It is that fine balance between honest, frank, and sincere, individual disagreement, and a common set of values and norms which serve as the currency which bind us together as a social whole, where I believe that a pragmatic conservatism of disposition resides.

7 comments

  • Kalim Kassam · November 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Yes, things with which to quibble, us skeptics are an idiosyncratic bunch–but excellent video nonetheless.

    BTW, what is the Buddhist precept against “sexual misconduct” taken to mean?

  • Kalim Kassam · November 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

    And if I may quibble with my own grammar: that “us” should be a “we”.

  • Kevin Lawrence · November 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    What an odd reason to be a conservative- because there are some unpleasant liberals. You should try meeting some nice liberals.

  • kurt9 · November 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I think I’m becoming an anarchist.

    Social bonds that are not based on accomplishments are as worthless as tits on a boar hog. Check it out:

    http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/treder20101028

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/11/where-to-find-future.html

    The fact is that existing social institutions have been worse than worthless in doing anything useful. NASA has done nothing to create low-cost space transportation and to open up the high frontier. This failure is perfectly described in Chapter 2 “The Age of Dinosaurs” in Robert Zubrin’s book “Entering Space”. The Tokamak and NIF have failed to and have no chance of realizing commercial fusion. The physics community has failed to produce any commercial products in the past 40 years (semiconductors are based on early 20th century physics). 99% of all medical research is a joke. A very sick joke. Don’t believe me? Do a Pubmed search on the actual molecular biological cause of presbyopia. You will not find a single paper on this. Ditto for the actual molecular biological cause of Type II Diabetes. I can go on and on. But I think you all can get the message.

    Social institutions that you guys think are so necessary and vital to whatever you think is vital have not accomplished a damn thing in the past 40 years. They are all bureaucracies. They are all corrupt.

    You believe in, what do you call it, social bonding. I’m not interested in social bonding. I’m interested in doing things. Institutions that do not accomplish things are worthless. Do we have fusion power? Do we have the cure for aging or space settlement? We haven’t done jack s**t. You’re social institutions can’t be that useful, can they?

    I suggest you read chapter 2 of Zubrin’s book “Entering Space”. Go to the library and get it if you have to. The dysfunctionality and corruption described in it is a perfect description of 90% of human society.

  • CONSVLTVS · November 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    ” the existence of religious skeptics across human history in all civilized societies, ”

    DH, I’m as fascinated by the persistence of doubt as I am by the persistence of belief. It’s hard to get an accurate reading of the “Doubt Quotient” in a (historical) society b/c religious belief has so often been endorsed by political power. I suspect that people like your namesake David Hume and Thomas Jefferson (and many, many more) were probably more skeptical about religion than they could safely proclaim. I’d say there have always been doubters.

  • CONSVLTVS · November 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    “It is that fine balance between honest, frank, and sincere, individual disagreement, and a common set of values and norms which serve as the currency which bind us together as a social whole, where I believe that a pragmatic conservatism of disposition resides.”

    Well said. I see the “individual v. community” dichotomy as one way of splitting the light. Turn the prism a little and it becomes “old v. new”. My son says I’m all about the past. I tell him my real motto is, “The Best of the Old, the Best of the New.” Another balance, another stillpoint.

  • Jim · November 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    To Kevin Lawrence (above): You miss the point; it’s not that Liberals are nasty people (some are, some aren’t); it’s that they have a nasty ideology. It’s a philosophical, ideological conflict.

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