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Thoughts on “pluralism”

The accepted wisdom about Islam is that it has to accept pluralism to become a good citizen of the modern world. “Pluralism,” as a practical matter, is the view that the only public truth about religion is that no religion is better than any other and all religion ought to be kept private. Christianity, it is said, has already accepted pluralism, or at least its legitimate forms have. If the West wants to tell Islam to reform, the least the West can do (it is said) is crack down on its own anti-pluralists. So opponents of “gay marriage” or abortion can’t be distinguished from the Taleban, and it’s hypocritical to oppose the one without taking a stand against the other.

The essence of “pluralism,” then, is that liberalism comes first, and within the limits of liberalism you can be anything you want. As long as you agree it’s obligatory to honor equally all preferences that accept liberal equality you are perfectly free to have and pursue your own preferences. You can, for example, admire and love the scriptures, teachings, rituals and personages of Christianity or Islam as long as that admiration and love is wholly subordinate to liberalism. Your religious preference must be understood as a purely personal matter, and the true value of your preferred religion must be understood as its adumbration and poetic presentation of liberal teachings. Further, you must be willing to keep quiet about your religious beliefs, at least if there’s some risk they might be understood to be meant as authoritative. It’s against pluralism, for example, to say “Merry Christmas” in a Western society in which Christianity has historically (until a few years ago) had a privileged position.

The basic argument in favor of “pluralism” is that in a world in which beliefs do in fact differ it is the only way to achieve peace. The advantage of that argument, from the standpoint of those making it, is that it does away with the need to argue the truth, goodness or rationality of liberalism itself. It makes the unquestioned supremacy of liberalism a brute practical necessity that all other views must bow to as a precondition for avoiding the war of all against all and so being able to achieve any good whatever. For liberals, it’s a shortcut to total victory.

It’s not clear that the argument makes sense, though. It’s no doubt true that things will be peaceful if everybody strictly subordinates all interests to liberalism, but it’s equally true that things will be peaceful if everyone strictly subordinates all interests to Catholicism. One could, for example, have a Catholic pluralism in which you’re allowed to be liberal or Islamic, and admire John Stuart Mill and the concept of freedom or Mohammed and the Koran, as long as you strictly subordinate those things to the discipline and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, view them as valuable strictly to the extent they can be understood as parables of Catholic truth, and keep quiet about them if there’s a risk they might be taken literally, so that in Egypt you’d have to keep quiet about Islam and in America about liberalism.

That kind of pluralism would have the same logical structure, and the same effect with regard to peace, as the kind deep thinkers want to enforce on Christianity and Islam. Would liberals be willing to render it the same submission they demand from Christians or Muslims with respect to their own version of pluralism? The fact of the matter is that if there are differences in belief there will be conflicts. It’s often possible to avert or moderate the practical consequences of conflicts, but the claim that there’s some principled way to dissolve conflicts altogether while leaving the conflicting beliefs as they are is obviously phoney. It’s an attempt to make a particular belief dominant by stealth, and no-one is required to accept it. Life, and the issues life presents, are real. It follows that when the good, beautiful and true come into question there’s no substitute for dealing with the issues actually presented.

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Unadorned, at least you got Ben to reveal himself as an orthodox liberal. Ben is hostile to the idea that biology might influence our ethno-cultural self-identity; he dismisses the biological connection as “arbitrary”. This is a case of Ben following through liberal first principles consistently. Liberals want to be self-created by individual reason and will, not by things they haven’t chosen for themselves (ie not by “arbitrary” things). Hence, the concern to dismiss the influence of “biology” in forming our self-identity. I expect that Ben would similarly reject the idea that our sex gives a positive direction to our roles in family life and the wider community.

Benjamin, Benjamin…..I’m still waiting to hear about how our laws are “contractual”. The example you gave was the law against murder. Where’s the contract?

State laws, federal laws, the constitution, etc. A law is a contract.

Ah, but what makes a pragmatic agenda the right thing to do in a particular time and place? What are the goods it advances?

It has nothing to do with being the “wrong” or “right” thing. The argument was a refutation of the assertion that governments legislate morality. Even if a government says it does, even if the legislators intend to legislate morality, morality cannot be legislated. It must be socialized. In fact, many moral values often go into direct conflict with the law, even in moral systems which value lawful behavior.

For Ben: My academic training was mostly in mathematics, physics, biology (biology, biochemistry, physical and organic chemistry, gross anatomy, histology, histopathology, physiology and pathophysiology, and many other related studies including, yes, molecular biology and genetics), and medicine. My B.S. degree was in mathematics. My profession is in the medical field. I also happen to take an ongoing interest in genetics. Yes, I know something about genetics. Now, don’t bore me to death.

I’m sorry that with all this education you still made the bullshit assertion you made.

Unadorned, at least you got Ben to reveal himself as an orthodox liberal. Ben is hostile to the idea that biology might influence our ethno-cultural self-identity; he dismisses the biological connection as “arbitrary”.

The biological connection is arbitrary - the group says “Well, having big noses and dark hair makes you look Jewish, Jew!” And “skin color makes you black… but wait, here is someone from India with darker skin, so I guess we need to accent different biological characteristics.” Ethno-cultural identity is all about group inclusiveness and exclusiveness based on perceptions of kinship.

I am not hostile to the idea that biology influences behavior. It does. People are not born with ethno-cultural identites - these things are socialized, not genetically coded for.

This is a case of Ben following through liberal first principles consistently. Liberals want to be self-created by individual reason and will, not by things they haven’t chosen for themselves (ie not by “arbitrary” things).

On the contrary. People are not biologically disposed towards culture. This is “duh” type science. If someone is raised in a specific culture, they’ll be socialized into that culture, regardless of their genetic background. Genetics don’t determine culture.

Hence, the concern to dismiss the influence of “biology” in forming our self-identity.

See how you drop out the “ethno-cultural” from self-identity here? It’s because you realize the argument doesn’t hold water.

I expect that Ben would similarly reject the idea that our sex gives a positive direction to our roles in family life and the wider community.

That’s because you and your ethnic agenda akin to Hitler’s friends have been playing the make an ASS out of U and ME game this whole time. On the contrary, I think that sex does play a role in family roles, though for direct physiological reasons. Men can build more muscle mass. Men are expendable in terms of reproduction - ie, their role in reproduction is non-commital, while a woman’s requires 9 months of carrying the child and then from a few months to 2 years of breastfeeding the child, depending on how long the culture deems breast-feeding appropriate. This has to have an effect on family relationships. Does this mean that Mom’s need to stay at home, avoid working their entire life, and that men can’t do any child care? No, of course not.

But culture, by definition, is learned or socialized behavior. It is not created by genetics.

And whoever runs this thing should turn on the html tags. It’s hard to keep responses straight without italics or some other formatting option.

WOW, gotta hand it to that prodigy Ben—talk about a guy having all the answers! He’s a GENIUS! I mean, BRILLIANT is the only word that can possibly describe the guy! Ben is such a formidable opponent, I’m too intimidated to respond. I’ll just sit this one out, if nobody minds—I never can think straight when I’m shivering in my boots from fright. Good thing Ben’s pal Nicholas Liu didn’t show up as threatened or we’d REALLY have gotten demolished! I’m thanking my lucky stars!

“It has nothing to do with being the ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ thing. The argument was a refutation of the assertion that governments legislate morality.”

There seems to be some equivocation over what is meant by “legislate morality”. It is true of course as a practical matter that the law cannot comprehensively impose a moral code in such a way that everyone’s interior state is brought into complete alignment with that moral code (although it is untrue that the law has no influence whatsoever on interior moral states and external manifestation of moral behavior).

It is also true, however, that every single law that ever exists is based in some conception of moral good. The reason any law exists is that someone(s) thought that some good(s) would be advanced or protected by that law. So in reality not only _can_ morality be legislated; morality is in fact the _only_ thing that can be legislated.

Besides the fact that your argument defines the legislation of morality in such a loose way that it’s a truism and completely removes it from having any relevance to any point that’s ever come up, you really botch this part up:

“It is also true, however, that every single law that ever exists is based in some conception of moral good.”

That’s a real oversimplification that destroys anything of meaning in the sentence. While you could argue that the statement is true, it does nothing for your argument, “that governments legislate morality,” because in fact, the government’s positions is a compromise between multiple moralities, and that is its connection to morality. Not the position that it should super-impose moral values on a society, but the position that it should super-impose a code of conduct under which people’s basic interests are protected.

The Government out of necessity has to legislate a position that is a compromise acceptable to the majority of its citizens. If it doesn’t, due to either violence, revolution, or the ignoring of its laws, it won’t continue to exist. It’s not a matter of ‘it’s moral to do this,” it’s a matter of “this has to be done.” True, beneath the government people have moral values, and these moral values affect what eventually happens in the laws of the government, but the government doesn’t legislate these moral values - just the terms under which the people who hold these moral values can live.

Also, if a congressmen votes for a law because he wants to hold his constituency, is that a moral decision? If someone throws a rock at you and you duck, is that a moral decision?

You’ve redefined morality, it seems, to everything that goes into making a decision, hell, to every element of culture. If you don’t eat chicken because you don’t like the taste, is it because you hold a moral value that you shouldn’t eat things you don’t like the taste of? If I doze off while reading is it because I hold the moral value that that’s an appropriate action? Or are there indeed motivations outside the moral realm?

DAMFINO

Ben, I’ll try again from a different angle. You say that “Ethno-cultural identity is all about group inclusiveness and exclusiveness based on perceptions of kinship.”

Now obviously this perception of kinship is not directly “arbitrary” but based on a fact of history: that human communities which have grown up together, and share a longstanding tradition, have physiological differences from other human communities, precisely because of their shared ancestry.

For most people, this shared kinship is a positive part of their self-identity. It’s something to be proud of, to contribute to and to uphold. But for liberals it’s something to deny and deconstruct. Why?

I believe the answer is that liberals think that “freedom” means being unimpeded to act according to individual will and reason. Liberals don’t like a traditional ethnic nationalism because it’s something unchosen that we’re simply born into - “arbitrary” in the sense of being “arbitrarily” imposed on the individual.

Ben, you say also that people are not born with ethno-cultural self-identities - these things are socialized, not genetically coded for.

It’s true that socialisation does play a major role in forming such self-identities. Nonetheless, it’s important to be able to admit, firstly, that we are born with part of an ethno-cultural self-identity: the part of having a shared kinship.

Secondly, in the broader sense, if we’re not born entirely _with_ such self-identities, we’re certainly born _into_ them: into a certain tradition which might encompass not only physical kinship, but culture, religion, language and a host of imperceptible influences on our beliefs and behaviour.

“Or are there indeed motivations outside the moral realm?”

No. As Aristotle said in the opening sentence of the Nichomachean Ethics, “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good.”

The modern who attempts to avoid this manifestly clear fact, presumably in order to emancipate himself from the moral law, can only do so only in sham and only by speaking nonsense.

Dave asks if “pluralism is part of an elaborate plot through which America will be weakened, being enacted by Marxists who want to stage a revolution.” Yes, that’s a very significant part of what’s going on. Does Dave think an intense, overwhelming desire for extreme suicidal “pluralism,” “multi-culti,” and “diversity”—this toxic ethno-cultural-killing juggernaut—suddenly just sprang up spontaneously in the hearts and minds of the broad populations of Europe, North America, and the Anglosphere who then raised a shout demanding more and more of it, a shout that was so irresistable their governments were forced to accede despite grave misgivings?

Marxism didn’t die in 1989. Communism was only Phase I. Phase I fell through. We’re now fifteen years into Phase II, far more pernicious than Phase I ever was. Just as in the days of the communist menace, the other side does not lack for throngs and throngs of “useful idiots,” some of whom happen to be contributing to this very thread.

Poor Ben is already outnumbered, but let me jump in and say that his definition of legislation seems narrow to the point of sophistry. Was Moses a legislator when he brought down God’s commandments from Sinai? J-J Rousseau certainly thinks so in his On the Government of Poland:

“[Moses] founded the body of a nation from a swarm of wretched fugitives who possessed no skills, no arms, no talents, no virtues, and no courage, and who, without an inch of territory to call their own, were truly a troop of outcasts upon the face of the earth. Moses made bold to transform this errant and servile troupe into a political society, into a free people; at a moment when it was still wandering about in the wilderness and had not so much as a stone to rest its head on, he bestowed upon it the enduring legislation—proof against time, fortune, and conquest—that five thousand years have not sufficed to destroy or even alter. Even today, when that nation no longer exists as a body, its legislation endures and is as strong as ever.”

If Ben wishes to controvert Rousseau and say that this was not legislation, properly understood, he is free to; but that leaves him in the precarious position of declaring that the Ten Commandments are not manifestations of morality.

Ben asks, “Also, if a congressmen votes for a law because he wants to hold his constituency, is that a moral decision?” Yes, it is indeed. First, it may be moral in the plain sense that said congressman believes that representing his constituency is his duty, that is, his _moral_ responsibility. Secondly, even if his action one of pure interest, it is still end-directed: the end in question being said congressman’s happiness. And following Matt, I will quote Aristotle as defining _happiness_ as prosperity combined with virtue.

Finally, I fail to see how the consensual nature of republican government effaces its moral grounding. “The Government,” Ben writes, “out of necessity has to legislate a position that is a compromise acceptable to the majority of its citizens.” Indeed, and that consensus is a moral project, a fact which Ben admits obliquely in his very next sentence by noting the quite undesireable consequences of its failure to do this.

Unadorned: it is not clear that you’re completely off your rocker.

Mark: You’re wrong. Kinship itself is arbitrary. We honor the nuclear family. Children in the Hawaiian kinship system don’t even have a linguistic way to distinguish between their real father and mother - every male and every female in the generation is given the same name. Children from other tribes taken in adopt this system, as do their children. Their is no instinctive impulse to accept one time of kinship over another.

One of the biggest areas of study on cultural practices being related to genetics was violence, and the conclusion was pretty solid - this cultural pattern isn’t genetically caused. Sure, people instinctively fight in some situations, but how do you compare the Vikings to the Danes and Swedes of today? The change was far too rapid to be genetic. What about the Romans and the fascists in Italy who know just ride around on mopeds saying “Ciao.” Genetics explains instinctive behavior, maybe that people try to form groups, and try to look for identities, but it doesn’t explain which identities they look for and what groups they form. Sorry. You’re just wrong. Look at every goddamned study on the subject.

So, you’re taking Aristotles position that everything is moral? Jesus, I’ve got a bunch of classical philosophers on my hands. Were you all raised in private Christian schools? I bet they omitted Aristophanes and all of his dildo jokes.

I don’t care whether you want to invoke a classical philosopher to prove your point. There is a tangible difference in how people perceive the actions that people in the social sciences call moral and the ones they don’t. There aren’t moral repurcussions for choosing to walk around a table that’s in your way around by the right or the left route.

Besides, your redefining morality to just mean culture completely neuters your arguments - ie, that if the Government is already legislating morality, it might as well legislate your morality. Well, sorry, you just reduced that position to “IF the government is legislating anything, it might as well legislate something else.” A sentence with no meaning, as you’ve defined every single goddamned thing as being moral.

And yes, Moses was a legislator when he brought down the law - in the Old Testament Israel was a nation - that is, if you concede that it happens that way. I, however, tend to mistrust things written as a matter of ethnic rediscovery a thosuand years later. Regardless, since you’re all about defining morality as every single action a human being takes, the argument has now been reduced to nothing on both sides because it’s a stupid little meaningless truism.

Can’t you see that? “I define morality as everything a person does. Therefore, everytime a person does something, it’s moral. The government is moral.” You is called bending the terms.

Why, because taken to that extreme, the argument says NOTHING. Your position is “it’s just about whose morality you enforce, there’s no sort of compromise, but everyone is made into a liberal, so there’s no difference in legislating liberalism and legislating any other kind of morality when it comes to “freedom.”“

BUT THERE IS. If there’s a moral decision involved in walking would the government be equally right in

The way things in our Republic system work is that people have different ideas of what is and is not moral, and the government doesn’t say, “Well, this is the morality we will press on you because it’s the morality of the majority,” or like in a monarchy, such as with Mary and then Elizabeth, “All be Catholic… no wait, all be Protestant.”

Instead, we have a COMPROMISE, best stated at the end of the tenth amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Of course, the “to the States” bit changed after the 14th amendment.

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”

That is, we decide NOT TO LEGISLATE SOME THINGS, and we leave them to the people. We recognize a fundamental difference in what should and should not be legislated that flies in the face of your “everything is moral” argument. Hell, morality is learned, so coughing and sneezing, as basic instinctive behaviors, are not moral. The founding fathers thought of it as moral, sure, but a moral explanation doesn’t work, because it only explains the process by which it came into being, not the process by which it is executed and which it has provided the groundwork for a strong nation that values “liberty.” To look at the moral aspect, under a decent definition of morality, that is:

“1 a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior” “d : sanctioned by or operative on one’s conscience or ethical judgment”

Gives you a different perspective on the whole thing. I think of only useful to a certain extent. It explains human action, at one time, but it doesn’t explain why these moral systems exist, or how these moral systems change, or why these moral systems change - and it doesn’t explain how despite moral change our government has persisted, while others who were tied to elaborate moral positions either changed, or had to resort to an authoritarian position in which all resistance to the moral order is crushed, a la the Middle East.

I do find it amusing, though, that throughout the course of this argument most of you have found it fruitful to stereotype me, and then dismiss me based on the stereotype. It gives real insight into your problems with our government. Ooh, I’m college educated - therefore I’m a Marxist and all my professors were Marxists and god-dammit, we should just burn those universities to the ground, huh? End the forthcoming revolution which is now such a huge threat to you?

Oh wait, no, I’m just a traditional liberal, kind of stupid, doesn’t question his views, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

The real problem here, is that you guys need stereotypes to live, breathe, to feed you. It really bothers you that you can’t look at someone and tell they’re American because they’re white, and how they dress, and because they speak English perfectly. You can’t operate without it.

That’s pretty fucking pathetic.

Have a nice day,
DAMFINO

Ben, your frustration has made you insensible to reason. To point out just one example: how can the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a act of legislation if ever their was one, be construed as repudiation of the very idea of legislation. This is pure dreary unreason. I am reminded of the Canadian rock band Rush, whose song “Freewill” is more reasonable: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Analogously, the idea of pure pluralism, the ideal of the Open Society, where all questions are open questions, is an equally tiresome contradiction. “All questions are open questions” really means, “all questions are open questions, EXCEPT for the question of whether all questions are open.” Even J. S. Mill recognized this solid fact, and thus candid about enforcing the open society with … that’s right, _legislation_. His principle was: all is permitted except one man forcing his views on another. But he was honest enough to see that force would probably have to be used to keep men from trying to force their views on one another. In short we have willing to deploy force to protect his negation. His anti-orthodoxy was a (rather severe) orthodoxy.

“The real problem here, is that you guys need stereotypes to live, breathe, to feed you.”

See, that’s the problem with liberal trolls, they all look alike. 8^]

Give stereotypes a chance, anyway. They’ve been fiercely maligned over the past 50 years or so, but really most of them aren’t so bad. I realize that some of them are mean-spirited and have ended up spoiling everything for the rest. But most of them, if you take them home, introduce them to your wife, have dinner with them—you’ll find out that they are downright decent.

OK, I’ll bite, why not? I didn’t define morality as “everything a person does”. I said this:

“…every single law that ever exists is based in some conception of moral good. The reason any law exists is that someone(s) thought that some good(s) would be advanced or protected by that law. So in reality not only _can_ morality be legislated; morality is in fact the _only_ thing that can be legislated.”

A law is an authoritative discrimination between people, backed up by instruments of violence, oriented toward some (putative) good. There are no exceptions. There is nothing at all that is legislated other than morality.

Ben the Courteous seems to think that because legislation is a human process, and that because it doesn’t comprehensively cover every possible action that every human being ever performs, that it is categorically divorced from its moral foundation. I wonder why he thinks that?

Yes, Matt, you did with this:

“No. As Aristotle said in the opening sentence of the Nichomachean Ethics, “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good.”

“Ben, your frustration has made you insensible to reason. To point out just one example: how can the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a act of legislation if ever their was one, be construed as repudiation of the very idea of legislation.”

No, it’s you seem to be incapable of critical thought unless I spell everything out for you to the nth degree. The 10th amendment (the same as all the other admendments), as an act of legislation, binds the legislative bodies of the US, not the general populace, to its terms, and that’s the critical difference.

“Ben the Courteous seems to think that because legislation is a human process, and that because it doesn’t comprehensively cover every possible action that every human being ever performs, that it is categorically divorced from its moral foundation. I wonder why he thinks that?”

No, that’s not how I have outlined my position. The acts by which laws are formed and maintained are fundamentally different from the manner in which morals are formed and maintained. I’ve already defined why several times, but instead everyone has ignored my earlier statements and decided to leap on the, “Well, Aristotle says every action is about good, so everything is moral” bandwagon.

Besides, this just seems like a semantic game to you all. There are multiple ways in which the “legislate morality” can be understood, depending on how specifically you take the phrase “morality.” If not specifically at all, you wind up with your position. Of course legislative bodies legislate morality, because morality is anything and everything, as per Aristotle.

Under my understanding, it’s different. Legislative bodies cannot legislate morality, because morality is determined by other factors than legislation and the punishment / reward system. It can be influenced by such a system to a degree, but it’s an infinite minner, in which morals and legislation can be reflected in each other. That doesn’t change the fact that the two are seperate systems that function differently.

Then, there’s another way to deal with it, that defines morality and ethics as two different types of “good” and “bad” - morality is that aspect of human conduct which deals with one’s own character and personality, and the standards one holds oneself to, whereas ethics governs all aspects of human behavior in which other human beings are directly impacted by the actions of the human being.

Under this system, not keeping clean is an immoral act, whereas murdering someone is an unethical act.

Only the latter two understandings make any worthwhile sense. No one says “Don’t legislate morality,” because they mean, “Don’t legislate anything,” but because they either mean, “Don’t use the government as a system which determines the moral blueprint of our society” or “Don’t legislate things I do that don’t hurt anyone else,” which fall under the latter two categories.

All of your arguments take the second or the latter argument (probably the most common), which means “don’t legiuslate things I do that don’t hurt anyone else,” and say, “Everything the government does is a human action aimed at achieving good ends.”

See how when you break the definitions down you’re talking past the other side?

Ben writes,

“Unadorned: it is now clear that you’re completely off your rocker,”

which comes as a big relief to read—had a leftist written anything else about me I’d start to worry about where I could possibly have gone so drastically wrong …

By the way, I agree completely with Matt’s post of 03:27 PM: most “stereotypes” are actually quite true and those who rely on them will not be led astray, by and large.

“By the way, I agree completely with Matt’s post of 03:27 PM: most “stereotypes” are actually quite true and those who rely on them will not be led astray, by and large.”

Some stereotypes apply to the majority of people they stereoptype. Stereotyping is not an accurate sources of information, however, as the idiocy you invoked with your accusation of my being a Marxist demonstrated. In the words of Steinbeck:

“I don’t like Communists. I mean, as people. I imagine the disciplies had the same waspish qualities and the New Testament is proof enough of their equally bad manners.”

Moreover, being a Marxist and being a Pluralist are essentially mutually exclusive, Marxists generally being of the idea that you should squash rebellious discourse, a la Mao, Lenin, and Stalin, and you won’t find many Marxist countries too friendly to the idea of pluralism.

So, in other words, you completely ignored the proof to the contrary lying on your doorstep and decided to stereotype me as a college Marxist. Amusing, yes, but certainly not accurate.

Either way, I think this has degenerated to a shouting match and a two-sided desire to have the last word. I’m certainly tired of it, and don’t have the time to continue, so this is me checking out. Not a “haha, I had the last word, I’m not reading anything else.” On the contrary, you can say whatever you will in response and I’ll read it, consider it, and maybe even lose my temper over it.

Ben sez:
“The acts by which laws are formed and maintained are fundamentally different from the manner in which morals are formed and maintained.”

Nobody has claimed otherwise, as far as I can tell. In fact I specifically mentioned that the process of making laws is a human process and is not itself morality. When someone says “you can’t legislate morality” he isn’t saying that laws are not the same as morals, though; he is saying that laws cannot or should not be enacted to enforce moral precepts. In actual fact, though, laws are always without exception enacted for (putative) moral purposes in each and every case (whether Ben agrees with Aristotle about the full scope of morality or not). Nobody enacts a law unless he thinks that enacting it will produce some good result. The fact that enacting laws can be messy and involve compromises (a human process) does not change the fundamental reason and justification for enacting a law: that it does some good to enact it; that it makes and enforces a discrimination between a good state of affairs and a bad (or not-as-good) one.

There are Marxists and there are Marxist dupes.

I don’t see the value in wasting time with those manifestly unwilling to communicate. The intention of Ben’s comments were immediately apparent: “I find it amusing that you’re putting all this effort into writing these ‘essays’”; “You would do well to catch up on the last 400 years of social and political theory”; “I don’t know how you theocrats”; “It makes it unlawful to kill children because your religion mandates so because it harms others.” Awful stuff right off the bat.

Mr. Kalb and the usual commentators state so many intriguing ideas that I can’t figure what made the above more provocative than an idea from one of the usual commentators or a better new commentator. Pluralism: what an interesting and relevant topic. Just an idea, but maybe one of the communicators could have rephrased the provocative ideas and then everyone could have ignored the noise that was almost certain to devolve and did devolve. The nanny will now shut up. I nominate Matt to restate and restart the discussion; no obligation of course.

By George, I think I’ve got it! All of us commentators on this topic are men, and we enjoy being thrown onto a muddy field or pit and go at it (even if some of us are now too rotund to do it in real life). How about my Tigers! I watched the Sugar Bowl replay with almost as much enthusiasm as the live broadcast.

Well yes, the irony of “degenerate into a shouting match” applied to comment thread that started with a shout of outrage wasn’t lost on me.

Pluralism is a sad thing. The distinction between host and guest is a large part of what keeps things civilized. The Christian host properly feels some obligation to be gracious to the stranger on the doorstep. The stranger on the doorstep feels some obligation to be respectful of the host, to not out-stay his welcome, etc. Pluralism, like much of modern liberalism, attempts to take the form of Christian charity without its substance. Pluralism is taxidermy applied to charity: we are left with a dry, dead husk stuffed with filler staring back at us with cold dead eyes, and we are supposed to believe that if we oppose the dead thing we are opposed to that dreadful, glorious, living, breathing thing Charity.

I see now that pluralism is not charity, which is perhaps grace bestowed by a human. Pluralism is similar to a bargain, a quid pro quo. Liberal pluralism is not even a quid pro quo because it does not exist. Liberals grace only those that are liberal when push comes to shove.

I wonder if liberals even realize they are intolerant. I suppose they just endlessly invoke the unprincipled exception and presto, they are 99% tolerant again. They endlessly rationalize their behavior, not that I don’t.

I’ve just found out about this thread and think the subject of pluralism is a facinating one. There’s been a lot of heat along with the light so far but still interesting.

Let me add my two cents’ worth: I support a pluralistic society for all the reasons that Ben mentioned plus a few of my own. They are;

1. The lessons of history-Every non-pluralistic society began existence as or degenerated into a tyranny. Non-pluralistic societies like Soviet Russia and Communist China, most Middle Eastern Islamic theocracies and Medieval Europe are/were characterized by organized state terror directed against those perceived by the ruling elite as dissidents-religious, political, primarily. These tyrannies, ruled by elites answerable to no one but themselves, in turn, become corrupt to the point where the moral norms around which these societies were organized become nothing more than legitimizations for theft and the acquisition of personal power.This may subject me to the charge of injecting morality into this discussion. So be it. I think tyrannies are bad, immoral if you will and I’d like to hear the moral justification for the alternative.

2. Self-preservation-I am amazed to find Catholics in the USA attack pluralism. America is a predominately Protestant country. How would you Catholics like it if the Protestant majority had the power in a non-pluralistic America to suppress your faith? Indeed, Catholics were the subject of such majoritaran oppression and discrimination in the not-too-distant past. It was only because America remained faithful to its pluralistic origins that Catholicism exists freely in America today.

3. I am willing to admit that as a pluralist, I would support suppression of those who, if given the power, would destroy pluralism itself. As one Supreme Court Justice whose name escapes me for the moment said: The Constitution is not a suicide pact. I would insist, though,as a supporter of the Constitution, that this suppression should be exercised only against those who use violent, unlawful means to advance their cause. I am confident that ideas supporting non-pluralism would be defeated in a free marketplace of ideas.

4. Pluralistic societies are the best place for the truth to be discovered, if it can be at all, particularly when it comes to religion. In a pluralistic society, all religions can put forth what whey claim to be true and every individual can read and hear these claims. If one decides that a particular religion is true then that belief would be honest and deep, a genuine conversion, not one forced and inauthentic. If any adherents of a religion seek to abolish pluralism and have their truth claims be given monopoly status, immune from criticism or competition, then I wonder how secure these adherents think their religion is.

Well, that’s it for now. I’d like to hear replies.

What past societies have been pluralistic in the current sense? I can’t think of any. Remember that “Roy’s Rock” was supposed to be a serious violation of pluralism.

The claim that America is more pro-Catholic today than in the past seems odd to me. If you’re an actual Catholic you can’t get confirmed as a federal judge. If you work in any large bureaucratic organization you’re likely to be subjected to “diversity training” designed to bring you around to the view that some of your fundamental moral beliefs are wrong and shameful. You can’t even say “Merry Christmas” to people.

If pluralists suppress non-pluralists, where’s the pluralism? It seems to me the problem shows that the pluralist approach to things simply doesn’t make sense. There always has to be some view of things people think is right and one way or another opposing views will put their holders at a disadvantage. In order to establish and secure itself pluralism has to become antipluralist. So why bother?

I don’t see why truth is likely to be discovered in a society that doesn’t take truth seriously.

Why bother? Because first pluralist societies reserve suppression only for those who VIOLENTLY threaten its existence, unlike non-pluralist societies which tyrannically suppress everything not in agreement with their core values. Secondly, because pluralist societies, with the diversity of opinions permitted, is self-correcting. If it goes off the rails, concerned citizens have the power to right it, unlike non-pluralist societies where the dictator or elite’s word is law and can’t be challenged, no matter how disastrous the policies are. Thirdly, it’s only in a pluralist society that truth can be found. What if the defining authority is wrong? Without the ability to find truth on your own, you would never know what it is. In China the defining authority is the Communist Party which claims there is no God. Is that the truth? If you’re in China, a non-pluralist society, it would be difficult to come across a differing point of view so you might never be able to explore the existence of God issue on your own. There may be plenty of secularists in America, some with a lot of power but they can’t stop you from checking out the existence of God issue on your own.

Can you name one non-pluralist society which has discovered the truth?

Catholics can serve as judges, along with everyone else, as long as they acknowledge their responsibilty to follow the law. If a Catholic, or a conservative Protestant or Orthodox Jew, for that matter, said he couldn’t apply the Roe v. Wade precedent in an abortion case, then he shouldn’t serve as a judge because,like it or not, Roe is the law. Would you want someone on the bench who wouldn’t apply the 1st Amendment and hold that Catholics couldn’t practice their faith in a Protestant majority community because it would be “disruptive”? Besides, I thought that you conservatives were against judicial activists, you want judges to interpret, not make the law.

As to diversity training, what’s the problem? My God, you might be exposed to someone or some ideas that you are not familiar with? How horrible! Look, you know what you believe, you’re sure of what’s right, so what’s wrong with hearing a different view?

“pluralist societies reserve suppression only for those who VIOLENTLY threaten their existence”—Hal

Yeah, Hal, that little kindergarten child whose behavior was suppressed by her teacher and school principal when she bowed her head to say grace before having her snack—that little girl was VIOLENTLY threatening pluralism’s existence. Right. I see it now. It took me a while, but you’re right—you’ve convinced me, Hal.

Hal confuses constitutional rights and protections with pluralism. He thinks pluralism is the collection of things like the guarantees of freedom of speech and of religion which the Founders bequeathed to us. He doesn’t understand that pluralism is totalitarianism. He says such things as that new discoveries and understandings can only flourish where there’s pluralism. Yeah, just think of all the major discoveries and new understandings that pluralism promises to shower on us in areas related to the social benefits of preserving traditional marriage, the psychopathologies underlying homosexuality, the genetic basis of sex differences and of racial differences, and so many other subjects of inquiry, Hal! It’ll be a scientific renaissance! I can’t WAIT!

“like it or not, Roe is the law.”

Roe was imposed through non-legal, immoral means by radical leftists who were morally equivalent to thugs mounting a coup painstakingly planned out years in advance—exactly as we saw done in Vermont and Massachusetts with homosexual “marriage.” Whether or not Roe is actually the law is debatable. I’d say it isn’t. We are temporarily obliged to kow-tow before it because Hal’s side is ascendant. But might doesn’t make right and Hal doesn’t seem to grasp that two can play the left’s game. His side may be ascendant now but the wheel turns, Hal. When it’s the other side’s turn and Hal and his friends suddenly start demanding that the rules be respected for a change it may be too late. He may want to think about that.

“Would you want someone on the bench who wouldn’t apply the 1st Amendment and who’d hold that Catholics couldn’t practice their faith in a Protestant majority community because it would be ‘disruptive’?”

Neo-Marxist pluralism was not what moved society beyond Queen Elizabeth I’s day as regards freedom of religion. The Founding Fathers who accomplished that never heard or in their wildest nightmares conceived of the disease of modern leftist pluralism. As for the Ist Amendment, Hal’s side has already made that into a dead letter. Hate crimes laws amount to thought control let alone speech control, and as for the free exercise of religion, our left-liberal government is in the process of squelching that right ever more drastically and with an iron fist.

“As to diversity training, what’s the problem?”

For starters, Hal, it’s mandatory. The non-mandatory kind of genuine, legitimate diversity training used to be known as broadening your outlook through travel, getting a liberal college education, learning foreign languages, etc. This stuff we’re talking about here is mandatory Marxist clap-trap and brainwashing exactly like the “re-education camps” the Reds set up in Vietnam after the communist take-over. Let Hal say whether or not he wants to be subjected, or have his kids subjected, to mandatory “diversity training” by the other side—the side he hates. Let’s hear his answer to that.

“My God, you might be exposed to someone or some ideas that you are not familiar with? […] what’s wrong with hearing a different view?”

But we’re quite familiar with the “different views” that diversity training rams down our throats, Hal, and we don’t like them. Since we already ARE familiar with them and already KNOW we dislike them, why do government, private industry, schools and colleges, the military, etc., ram them down our throats? They do because they’re totalitarians, and people like Hal foist them on us.

I’d be extremely interested to know Hal’s opinion of the following two articles. The first is Ann Coulter’s review of a book by David Limbaugh, here ,

and the second an article detailing the true nature of much of the “diversity training” our society is obliged more and more to put up with, here .

Are these situations Hal’s cup of tea, I wonder?

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