The Culture Wars: Part 1: Introduction

By John Eberhard
04/28/05

The term, "the culture wars" is defined by the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia as: "ideologically-driven and often strident confrontations typical of American public culture and politics since at least the 1980s."

Over the last several decades, the culture wars have been waged over such issues as legalizing abortion, the separation of church and state (and eliminating religion from the public square), gay rights and gay marriage, gun control, the degradation of TV, movies, music and entertainment in general, and the general lowering of moral standards in society.

How the culture wars turn out, will determine whether or not we will continue to have a culture and a civilization as we have had, or whether we will end up with a situation where the rights and freedoms we have enjoyed and taken for granted, are sharply reduced.

I believe that the culture wars, collectively, are the most important issue of our time.

Research

Over the last 20 years I have been following the political scene closely, and especially over the last three years, reading a large volume of books and articles on political thought (35+ books on politics). Two books I have recently read, however, have given a better idea of the "big picture" of political ideology and the culture wars in America today than anything else I have read. These are "Unholy Alliance" by David Horowitz, and "Slouching Towards Gomorrah" by Robert Bork.

David Horowitz is editor of Front Page Magazine and the author of several books.

Bork is a former Federal Judge who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1987, but defeated by a then Democratic-controlled Congress. I’m only partway through Bork’s book and already it is blowing my mind.

Radical Egalitarianism

Bork describes the culture wars as a struggle where the radical left is promoting two overarching ideas or goals: radical egalitarianism and radical individualism.

Egalitarian is defined by the Webster’s Universal College Dictionary as "asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic or social life."

Radical egalitarianism asserts that there must be equal outcomes for all people in all arenas of life.

Equality as asserted in the founding documents of the United States, especially the Declaration of Independence, was an equality of opportunity. In other words, every person had equal opportunities to pursue happiness, but the outcomes would depend on things such as his individual skills, talents, and the degree of effort put into his achievement.

But the radical egalitarian insists on equal outcomes, regardless of individual merit or achievement. In other words, theoretically everyone should have the same or similar incomes, material possessions, status in life, and so on, no matter what amount of effort they put into it.

If there are differences in income levels and average levels of achievement between groups, to the radical egalitarian that indicates that the group achieving more is in some way discriminating against the group with lesser achievement. This assumes the ridiculous notion that all unequal outcomes are the result of discrimination.

For instance, if women on average make lower incomes than men, that proves to the egalitarian that there is sexual discrimination by men against women. Other factors, such as the fact that women stay away from the more dangerous jobs, and often reject jobs that demand long hours, or the fact that women often take time off from their careers to raise children, are not considered or even permitted into the conversation.

In "Unholy Alliance" David Horowitz points out that the radical leftist lives in a utopian future where radical egalitarianism exists and works and so all people are equal in every way. Since the current society always falls short of his utopian dream, then all current societies are morally reprehensible. To the radical egalitarian, the simple fact of unequal outcomes among races is by itself evidence of racial discrimination.

So to the radical egalitarian, simply the fact that different groups, such as whites, blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., or different countries such as America, Europe, the third world, etc., are unequal in their economic, social and political outcomes, by itself proves that the group or country with better outcomes is by definition racist, sexist, etc. No evidence of any specific acts of discrimination is required.

It is from this radical outlook that springs the views of people like Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who made international news when it was brought to light recently that he stated that the people working in the World Trade Center deserved what they got on 9/11 and that they were like "little Eichemanns."

To many, this opinion may have seemed totally incomprehensible. Churchill viewed the people working in the World Trade Center as those at the top of the economic and social outcomes scale, being aggressive over-achievers in the most wealthy country in the world, the U.S. Their very success was proof of their racism and moral bankruptcy. Therefore they deserved what they got.

Radical Individualism

Radical individualism is simply the concept of a person doing whatever he or she wants, with no constraints whatsoever on his or her behavior. This of course means that the radical individualist is for complete sexual freedom, and against any people or institutions that promote ethics, morals or moral codes, or try to put any kinds of restraint on his behavior.

Bork points out that one of the phenomena of the culture wars is "defining deviancy down." This is a phenomenon first discussed by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It means that deviant behavior is practiced and promoted so much, that the public finally goes into apathy and gives in, accepting it. So if you could envision a scale, with acceptable behavior on the upper part of the scale and deviant behavior on the bottom part of the scale, then over time, the line that separates the acceptable from the deviant behavior goes further and further down. More and more behavior that was formerly considered deviant, is now accepted. Or the public feels compelled or forced to accept it.

At the same time, another phenomenon occurs, which Bork calls "defining deviancy up." Behavior that was once considered normal is re-defined as deviant. Bork states "Our cultural elites are growing intensely moralistic and disapproving about what had always been thought normal behavior, thus accomplishing what columnist Charles Krausthammer terms ‘defining deviancy up.’ …We have redefined what we mean by such things as child abuse, rape, and racial or sexual discrimination so that behavior until recently thought quite normal, unremarkable, even benign, is now identified as blameworthy or even criminal. Middle-class life is portrayed as oppressive and shot through with pathologies."

Bork discusses how the radical individualist fights against cultural institutions that try to regulate and constrain his behavior, such as the Church, the family, schools, and so on. These are institutions that have exerted control over society, and help to keep order in society by teaching proper behavior, and exerting social control.

But as these institutions come under attack and lose their power and ability to exert control over society, then society itself becomes more random and chaotic. Crime increases. Promiscuity increases, with attendant problems such as widespread single parent families, abortions, venereal disease, etc.

As the chaos becomes worse and more widespread, would it surprise you to learn that the radical leftist then calls for – greater government intrusiveness and control? Greater government power then allows the egalitarian to achieve his goal of equal outcomes, a goal that only be achieved by force from the government.

So the sequence is:

1. Promote relaxed moral standards, by promoting promiscuity, excusing criminality (they had a hard childhood, etc.).

2. Deviancy is defined down, with more and more deviant behavior being accepted, often due to the loud and shrieking demands of radical leftists.

3. Society becomes more random and chaotic.

4. The leftist calls for greater government control, more intrusive government programs, higher taxes and so on.

5. With greater government control, the leftist is able to achieve greater equality by coercion, force and higher taxes.

Do you think we are seeing this sequence in action? You bet we are!

Coming soon in Part 2: The origins of the radical left.

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