The Wright Perspective: On Virtue

My latest is up at EveryJoe’s. Because I complained, there are now fewer ads for porn stars on my page there.

In two senses of the word it is absurd for Leftists to spread the idea, or Conservatives to entertain the idea, that the Left somehow occupy the moral high ground rather than, say, a moral sewage sump. It is absurd in the sense of being logically incoherent; and absurd in the sense of being sufficiently risible to provoke the grim mouth of Hell itself to laughter.

Because of their rejection of the idea of truth, even Leftists who might otherwise admire virtue must oppose it and promote vice. Allow me to explain.

A conservative will assume men are imperfect, or, to use the correct term, Fallen. He says that the guilt we feel when we sin is because we fall short of the standard virtue sets, and therefore we must try ever harder, with the help of good laws and good customs, to achieve virtue. Some conservatives say this is the point of civilization.

A progressive will assume men are always growing more perfect. He says the guilt we feel is a hindrance to happiness, if not a psychological disease. Therefore we must try ever harder to abolish taboos and guilt complexes and hang up, that is, to eliminate modesty, decency, shame, and lower the standards of virtue. The progressive dismisses traditional standards of virtues as being meaningless (hence the word “taboo”) or unhealthy (“guilt complexes”) or irrational (“hang up”). The elimination of virtue is to be done with the help of social engineering by ever more intrusive experts granted ever more intrusive powers over our lives, eliminating law and custom and replacing it with experts armed with arbitrary powers. Some progressives say this is the point of progress.

In sum, the conservative think we should avoid guilt by adhering to a standard of acting virtuously; the progressive thinks we should eliminate the guilt by eliminating the standards, and then acting in any way we damned well please, and the consequences are someone else’s worry.

Now, I have made an outrageous assertion: not that Leftists are indifferent to virtue, but are openly hostile to virtue.

Outrageous, perhaps, but there is no difficulty in proving the point…

Read, as they say, the rest


  1. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    Your penultimate paragraph reminds me of two separate realizations I had about feminists. The first is a matter of classification. I count three types: Type One says men and women are of equal value and deserve equal respect. Type Two says men and women are the same and should be treated the same. Type Three says that men are scum and must yield to the inherent superiority of women.

    I heartily agree with Type Ones and am happy to help them in their goals. Type Twos may be well meaning (may), but they are working from mistaken premises which lead to dangerously wrong conclusions. Type Threes . . . the less said the better.

    My other, and more recent realization, is that just as leftists cannot properly be called “liberals”, despising liberty in all its forms, I can no longer call these people “feminists”. What native goodness of femininity do they not despise? What is their ideal woman? A slut who is willing for any reason or none to murder her own infant, who flaunts her body without a hint of modesty and shrilly denounces any man who notices, who considers a family little more than an obstacle to prestige and financial success, who considers men an accessory and would never dream of an irrevocable commitment to any one man, no matter how valiantly he proved himself.

    Where is femininity there?

    Anyway, good essay as usual.

    • Comment by Booch Paradise:

      I think that in any sort of practical terms, even the ideas of type one should be tossed out. Men and women are different. Trying to make those differences separate but equal is simply a fools errand. For example, serving in the military: in this case women do not have equal value to men and don’t warrant equal respect. Now you could also find counter examples of cases where men are not of as high a value as women and don’t warrant equal respect. And you might even make a list of cases for each sex and then try and balance things out so that each one has some case that is of equal import to the cases where the other is of higher value. But why would you? Thrusting this equality paradigm on the situation does nothing but stop you from thinking openly and honestly.

      • Comment by Mary:

        There are lots of situations in which two people are not of equal value in it.

      • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

        It seems to me you are conflating what I called types one and two. I never said men and women were the same. As for practical usefulness in any given situation, yes, there’s an obvious difference there, but that falls under saying that men and women are the same.

        I’m talking about equal dignity as a human being. That every human being, as one made in the image of God, is worthy of respect for that reason alone. If you want to argue with that proposition, fine. Then you would be arguing with something I actually said.

        • Comment by Scholar-at-Arms:

          I’m unaware of any feminists who teach that all human beings are made in the image of God and therefore have equal dignity qua human being. What Booch responded to sounded exactly like what you said in your original comment. In speaking of feminists, I think that your types I & II are the same set of people.

          • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

            I suppose I should rephrase a bit, I think Type One is a group that could reasonably called feminists with whom I would also agree. Among people who commonly do call themselves feminists, yes, that’s probably a null set.

            What Booch responded to sounded exactly like what you said in your original comment.

            How does “of equal value and deserving equal respect” sound exactly like, “should be treated the same in all situations”?

  2. Comment by Rainforest Giant:

    It was nice reading the article without worrying my children or grandchildren would see the ads and assume I was looking at porn. There was a distinct lack of flatulence, penis enlargement, or porn stars in or out of make up on your page. Thank you.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I complained to the editor, and he changed the ads just on my page. Now if my articles gets enough hits to compensate for the lost revenue from porn addicts, he can explain his decision to his boss in economic terms.

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      I must agree with the Giant. Some of the links that used to be at the top of the page were . . . distracting to a man seeking Christian encouragement. Thank you and your editor.

  3. Comment by tmbridgeland:

    In paragraph three, the description of the conservative reads to me like that of the virtuous pagan rather than a Christian view (except you did add ‘fallen’). Is that how you meant it, or am I reading cross-eyed?
    Unrelated, but I was in Barnes and Noble’s today, and found the sole, lonely copy of any of your books, Count to a Trillion. I am over budget for books, but bought it anyway after reading the first few pages. Nice hook, and I’ll have you know, I chose it over the Gene Wolfe book I had gone in looking for.

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