What’s Wrong With The World Part VI —Vicious


Let us look at the first question posed by the puzzles of hypocrisy:

(1) Why so much self-esteem?

I realized when I heard the theory that the vicious love vice because it justifies them, that all the vapid talk of Modern Man about self-actualization and self-esteem was just a smokescreen for the simple, ugly truth that man was sinful, and Modern Man simply wanted his conscience to shut up.

He was like a debtor who does not want to pay the debt, but be excused from it; but, upon being excused, instead of being grateful, the debtor also wants to be congratulated on his thrift, and applauded for how promptly he pays his debts.

If Modern Man really and honestly wanted self-esteem, he would do those things worthy of earning his esteem, such as avoiding vice and practicing virtue: but modern happy-sappy talk about self-esteem is always talk about gaining esteem without practice and without effort.

It is talk about getting esteem without doing anything worthy of esteem.

It is talk about how to be elevated with happiness while descending to wallow in your swinish vices: How to cheat on your wife and feel good about yourself; how binge drinking is your sacred and personal form of self-expression; how abandoning your husband and children to find yourself is an spiritual journey of heroic dimensions; and most of all, ever and ever repeated, how any criticism of your vices is an example of hatred, hate-speech, bigotry, hate-bigotry of hate-filled bigoted haters, racismsexismhomophobia uttered by that evilest of evil enemies, the man who dares to say to you the same thing your conscience is whispering.

Let us look at the second question posed by the puzzles of hypocrisy:

(2) Why demote the conscience?

Far later, I was to realize that all the modern talk about socialization and society’s role versus nature’s role, education versus genetics, and other modern jabberwocky is merely what you get when you stop acknowledging the authority and role of the conscience. The modern theory is that the conscience is nothing but the echo of what parents and nursemaids tell you in the crib.

In other words, the modern theory of conscience is the same dumb trick as the modern theory of logic, and played for the same dumb reason. The polylogists preach that logic is subjective and arbitrary, and ergo lacks all authority, in order to excuse their own dishonesty and illogic in thought, speech and writing; likewise, here, the subjectivist preaches that the conscience is merely a habit of social conditioning, hence is subjective and arbitrary, and ergo lacks all authority. This is done in order to excuse their dishonesty and infidelity in their acts of vice.

The moderns point at the fact that the British drive on the left of the road and the Americans on the right; or that the Mohammedans are polygamists whereas the Christians are monogamists, or that the Callatians eat their dead fathers whereas the Athenians burn their dead fathers; or that those noble savages growing up in Samoa practice guilt-free fornication whereas the Christians preach chastity.

From these and other examples, the Moderns conclude that there is no conscience, and that it has no authority. Hence (so the intellectuals conclude) there is no reason to criticize Shelley for deserting his first wife, his mistress, or his bastard children; no reason to criticize Marx for seducing his wife’s servant girl and fathering a bastard child on her, which he later pressured Engels into assuming paternity; no reason to criticize Freud for the way he treated his wife and daughters and followers; no reason to criticize Rousseau for this endless string of mistresses, whores, and abandoned bastard children.

A society which repudiates the notion of conscience also repudiates the notion of duty; inevitably, this also repudiates the notion that a rational man has a duty to be rational. Duty, no matter what else it means, means doing what is right even when you are not inclined to do so. The idea that one should and must believe what is true, even when one is pleased by lies, and do what is rational, even when one is pleased by unreason, is an idea that only an honest society could uphold. No society that desecrates the conscience and forces the conscience to abdicate its sovereignty can be honest, because the conscience is the voice of honesty within you.

Philosophy cannot cure this. The study of ethics assumes that a standard of goodness exists, and that a man can know it.

One cannot reason a man to turn away from his vices and practice virtue if all men are convinced that no virtues actually exist, not even the virtue of listening honestly to reason.