John Donne once said that “no man is an island”. Society has evolved, does evolve, and will evolve, with the actions of each to one degree or another affecting it and being affected by it. Society isn’t some abstract idea or social construct of the conspiratorial vein. The libertarian ideal that everyone can do what they want and anything not affecting others in the strictest 1st degree will not have a depreciative or dilatory effect others, and thus society, is based upon a blind faith that the way, the truth, the light, of Randian enlightenment can not, and will not, be snuffed out a la Anthem because the choices of others does not, in the strictest 1st degree, command another.
But this is based on an overly idealistic view of mankind. It is the idealistic view that once a great evil is purged, that a true utopia will arise once properly established; it is the idealistic view shared by Communists, Progressives, and other assorted socialists.
A society where people are free to chooce as they like, but where the great swath of the populace have the wisdom to choose correctly, is a rare one. It can not be constructed. It, indeed, is a result of a strange and unlikely confluence of history. America is that confluence. It can not be rebuilt ex nihilo. It can not overwrite an existing bias or set of mores. It can not be written upon a tabula rasa, as such hypothetical musings are antithetical to human reality. Despite the intentions otherwise, “their passions forge their fetters”.
It is something that must be conserved. It calls not for magicians to alchemists who can bring forth purity of essence from some invented and contrived trick. It calls for stewards to keep and protect our civic inheritance, and to protect society’s evolution from the hands and machinations of intelligent design by unintelligent designers.
There is no “social contract” between some hypothetical founders ex nihilo of society.
In a way, though, “Society is indeed a contract”, as Edmund Burke noted:
“Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure — but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primaeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and the invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place. This law is not subject to the will of those, who by an obligation above them, and infinitely superior, are bound to submit their will to that law. The municipal corporations of that universal kingdom are not morally at liberty at their pleasure, and on their speculations of a contingent improvement, wholly to separate and tear asunder the bands of their subordinate community, and to dissolve it into an unsocial, uncivil, unconnected chaos of elementary principles. It is the first and supreme necessity only, a necessity that is not chosen, but chooses, a necessity paramount to deliberation, that admits no discussion, and demands no evidence, which alone can justify a resort to anarchy. This necessity is no exception to the rule; because this necessity itself is a part too of that moral and physical disposition of things, to which man must be obedient by consent or force: but if that which is only submission to necessity should be made the object of choice, the law is broken, nature is disobeyed, and the rebellious are outlawed, cast forth, and exiled, from this world of reason, and order, and peace, and virtue, and fruitful penitence, into the antagonist world of madness, discord, vice, confusion, and unavailing sorrow.”
Something that “doesn’t” affect you, thus, DOES.
Take, for example, the entire push for “LGBTQ&c.&c.” so-called “rights”.
We were told that it was about the “right” of people to do as they wanted in private. Since this was consistent, rather than antagonistic, to the American weal and civic vitue, great swaths of sexual activity was legalized and protected. After such legalization, the argument then proceeded to dismissing how anything that is legal be considered immoral and something to be opposed; one doesn’t want to oppose freedom, after all. Anyone who would have a problem with such activities must be a bigot and thus harbor secret plans to criminalize behavior and thus discriminate against those who engage, or are inclined to engaging in, such activities, because, after all, such Leftist viewpoints presume an oppressor and oppressed dichotomy. Thus, any dissent is considered proof of evil and oppression.
That just and reverable tendency towards tolerance was used by those who oppose both liberty and virtue to force those who hold both dear into positions that negate both.
We are still told that such eventualities are always “crazy” and will never come to be, despite that fact that they always do. As Lord Melbourne noted:
“What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.”
From an appeal to tolerance, when out of power, to crushing dissent when in power, certain truths become manifest:
Thus, in the name of “equality”, we now have special privilege and power by the select few:
“This, along with recent actions by President Barack Obama’s Department of Education and Justice Department, illustrates the evolution of the push to manufacture special privileges for a select few.
“The pretense that such demands don’t affect the lives of others now has been abandoned, replaced by two options: (1) get over it and get in line; or (2) be pushed to the margins of society, losing your reputation—and possibly your career—in the process.
“In version 2.0 of the New Regime, even if you can point to a direct, immediate, and significant intrusion on your life, your opinion is irrelevant (and perhaps bigoted) when compared to ‘social progress.’
“For example, when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jonathan must set aside their freedom to peacefully live according to their faith, a concurring justice stated that the pair ‘now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.’ Chillingly, the justice added that this compulsion ‘is the price of citizenship.’
“As the situations in Minnesota, North Carolina, and elsewhere demonstrate, the latest test sites for this theory of ‘social progress’ are locker rooms, showers, and other private changing facilities.
“In what would have been an unthinkable battleground just a few short years ago, these tile-floored, plastic-stalled, chrome-fixtured, and (formerly) sex-specific sanctuaries are now ground zero for experiments in the subjective theory of gender.”
Because “no man is an island”, natural societal tendencies towards tolerance, which a just society that had not only the liberty to choose as they will but the virtue to choose correctly can endure, is turned against such liberty and virtue to destroy both and institute some crazed intelligently designed utopia created ex nihilo and developed en vacuo by self-evidentiary unintelligent designers. It is a fallacy of first principles.
As Burke noted:
“But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.”
True liberty is not the function of a mere lack of government. Liberty can only exist when the conditions of society are conducive towards it, and people’s mores, customs, and folkways are steeled against deconstructive tendencies; otherwise, freedom will eat itself and society degrades and falls, only to be replaced by something stable—not necessarily good or bad—but just stable.
Further, as James FitzJames Stephen notes:
“To me this question whether liberty is a good or a bad thing appears as irrational as the question whether fire is a good or a bad thing. It is both good and bad according to time, place, and circumstance, and a complete answer to the question, In what cases is liberty good and in what cases is it bad? would involve not merely a universal history of mankind, but a complete solution of the problems which such a history would offer.”
The private actions of two individuals in the privacy of a private bedroom in a private house, indeed, does not directly affect others in the 1st degree. Re-writing social norms, mores, and folkways, however, does unequivocally affect others by the tyrannical and conniving mutation of society, taking advantage of and abusing the natural tolerance of a society that has become so used to great liberty with the concomitant wisdom to choose virtuously, in order to unintelligently design a utopia ex nihilo in vacuo that is antithetical and ablative of the very virtue and liberty that made such tolerance possible!
A “private” right ceases to become “private” when it impugns in any way, shape, or form on others, particularly in an intentional, economic, and political way.
If we are, indeed, authors to each of our abilities and influence to greater thread that is our society, our heritage, and our endowment to the future, than it behooves us to be the crystallizing lens that focuses what was, what is, and what could be to a perseverance and a potential that is a future and a promise that is worth striving, laboring, and even fighting for.
For that liberty and virtue that has so optimized both freedom and true tolerance, I shall fight, I shall strive, I will never surrender.
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