Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No, Dennis Prager; the Left Does Not Run on "Feelings"

One of radio host Dennis Prager's recurrent memes is that the left runs on feelings. It's not grounded in the Judeo-Christian intellectual tradition, but encourages free-floating "feelings." Here is Prager in the aftermath of the Supreme Court on gay marriage and the end of Judeo-Christian America.
Americans, from the Founders on, understood that without God, there is no moral truth, only moral opinion -- and assumed that those truths were to be gleaned from the Bible more than anywhere else.
But now the Judeo-Christianity in America's public square has been tossed in the garbage can.
And what has replaced Judaism, Christianity, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible?

The answer is: feelings. More and more Americans rely on feelings to make moral decisions. The heart has taken the place of the Bible.

Years ago, I recorded an interview with a Swedish graduate student. I began by asking her whether she believed in God. Of course not. Did she believe in religion? Of course not.

"Where, then, do you get your notion of right and wrong?" I asked.

"From my heart," she responded. 
I love Dennis Prager, but I think that he misunderstands the issue here. That Swedish graduate student's "heart" was not getting its notions from free-floating "moral opinions."  It was getting a new moral law from a new "god" and a new "bible." To quote Oscar Hammerstein II: "you've got to be carefully taught." The feelings we all experience as natural and right are in fact the end product of careful ideological education.

The new god is the god of creativity and identity. The new bible is the intellectual output of 150 years of leftist thought, from the Enlightenment and Romanticism and Fourier and Saint-Simon and Marx and Engels to the Frankfurt School to feminism to environmentalism to the Empire trilogy of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.

I try to understand the modern era by dividing its people into three tribes. There are the people of the creative self who experience themselves as evolved and educated beyond the norm, and ordained by reason and inspiration to be first an avant-garde and then the cultural and political ruling class. There are the people of the responsible self that believe in freedom and responsibility, and experience themselves as part of a community of free people worldwide that live by serving each other. Then there are the people of the subordinate self that live by attaching themselves to a powerful lord and think of themselves as a tribe united by kin or race or gender or other tribal identity against the world.

The left has constructed a secular religion based on the notion that the people of the responsible self are not free and responsible persons but exploiters and oppressors who are grinding the people of the subordinate self into the ground with their oppressive politics and their exploitative economics; they aren't very nice to creative people either because they want to cut funding to the arts. The people of the creative self are called by everything that's creative and compassionate to protect the people of the subordinate self from this reign of oppression and to create a better world for all through fundamental transformation of politics and culture.

It's a pity, of course, that the left's Marxian and Fabian economics was exploded over a century ago as false and chimerical. It's a shame that its anti-bourgeois culture that is really neo-feudal in character results in cultural chaos for the poor and slows the assimilation of immigrants to the city into the international capitalist economy where they eventually take their place as people of the responsible self. It's ominous that its cultural norms discourage people from having children. It's an outrage that the leftist god and leftist bible have visited death and misery on the world ever since they went on-line in the mid 19th century.

The fact that failures and famines and terrors have not discredited the left proves that the left's belief system is not founded on un-directed "feelings" but is in fact the "true religion" to its priests and its adherents. We may say that the core of its church community is the educated young Swedish woman who thinks that she acts from her "heart" when in fact she is a nice young lady that just graduated from progressive finishing school and passed all the classes in progressive moral law.

The task before conservatives is to change the culture so that well-bred young Swedish graduate students will be obtaining their notions of right and wrong from hearts undamaged by the follies and crimes of the left.

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