We Conservatives are used to being called hypocrites. For example, when told that pornography watched the most by conservative States in US, we are accused of being hypocrites – we advocate for a moral code without following it (or not successfully) at the same time. It doesn’t take long for an intelligent person to understand that attacking someone’s personality is an Ad Hominem argument. This is different from psychological studies, which may show that too strict morals lead, for example, to a neurosis or to a failure to follow even lower morals. These studies generalize and point to tendencies, not to inviolable laws. The Ad Hominem argument has existed much before modern psychology, and it pretends to invalidate the belief that is held by the person whose character is attacked. Also, attacking the realism of someone’s argument by pointing out that even they can’t do what they say is good is a weak argument – humanity should look higher than itself, for there’s no such thing as stagnation in the domain of vice and virtue.
But Puritanism and totalitarianism are one thing, a society whose consciousness is openly Christian – quite another. In the former we punish the people for being sinful and someone outside the family watches if people will “learn to walk” like the are supposed to by the State or some external authority. The latter leaves the individual sin (especially in private) but publicly praises some virtues and discourages vices, and punishes only where society is threatened or where the family can’t handle the danger.
Should we attack liberals for being hypocritical? They judge us by accusing us with indignation of hypocrisy while they do that precisely because we say that we should morally criticize some acts. No, because this would be a double standard. If Ad Hominem arguments are invalid, they are invalid if applied to them just as to us.
Intolerance for the intolerant is a double standard. But it is a necessity, in their eyes, because intolerance is against the liberal idea of individual autonomy, and thus criminals who violate legislated tolerance should be punished and prevented from subverting this value. This is actually a good way of thinking, while softly totalitarian/moralistic/puritan – the idea of tolerance is surgically implemented and reinforced. The error is that individual autonomy, or independence, is viewed as the ultimate good.
Something good is, for example, piety – and a concrete and more universal example is filial piety. In a moral society, filial piety is considered good, but it’s not to the State but to the father to punish the disobedient “trespasser”, and its basically up to him teach him virtue and to be a father in the image of God the Father. Also, if someone writes and tries to subvert that element of public morality, he should be censored or be placed under a sanitary cordon, for this is a moral revolution against the basic moral beliefs of the collective. (Many thanks to bonald, I have learned a lot from him!)
If the father is a criminal or a schizophrenic, the son can turn him honestly to the responsible institution. But a society based on filial piety as an ultimate good will precisely punish the son for betraying the father, and, like in our Liberal society today, for sinning against the ultimate good (in this case filial piety, in the Liberal case – individual autonomy and emancipation). A particular is not a universal, or more simply – a particular good should be treated as such, even if higher than others it isn’t the ultimate good.
A beautiful quote from C. S. Lewis’s “On First and Second Things”:
Our ancestors were cruel, lecherous, greedy and stupid, like ourselves. But while they cared for other things more than for civilization – and they cared at different times for all sorts of things, for the will of God, for glory, for personal honour, for doctrinal purity, for justice – was civilization often in serious danger of disappearing?
At least the suggestion is worth a thought. To be sure, if it were true that civilization will never be safe till it is put second, that immediately raises the question, second to what? What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first, and only truly practical thing, is to set about finding out.
Our enemies are not evil – and even if they were it wouldn’t make their arguments invalid. But their ideas are still erroneous, even if (more often than not it is the case) their intentions are good.