31 January 2012

The Need for Moral Elitists

There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending "nonjudgmentalism." Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn't hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.  [Hat tip: Ulysses.  Note also slumlord’s excellent comment.]

Nonjudgmentalism is the cancer that will kill society.  The inability or unwillingness of the morally superior to speak out against bad values and morals will prove to be its eventual undoing.  Please note that the morally superior are those who practice the good habits and morals that lead to long-term stability and well-being (in both a moral and physical sense); they are not those who pose as supreme ethicists (but are, in fact, hypocrites* of the first order).

The need for moral elitists, then, is fairly obvious.  While luck does play some role in success in life, the more relevant variable is being prepared to take advantage of luck.  This usually requires self-discipline, education, knowledge, self-control, drive, hard work, and consistency.  As such, these behaviors need to be lauded as keys to success.  The false “aw-shucks” modesty of claiming luck as the key to success doesn’t do anyone any good because a) it is generally false and b) it leaves the unsuccessful to resign themselves unnecessarily to fatalism. Or, as Doris Day once sang:  Que sera sera.”

Obviously, not all circumstances are within one’s control.  On the other end of the spectrum, it is also false to say that no circumstances are within one’s control.  The proper assertion, then, is that some circumstances are within one’s control while other circumstances are not, and the best way to take advantage of the things you can’t control is to first take advantage of the things you can control.

This, then, is where moral elitists are required:  we need people to say “here’s what I’ve done to be successful.”  The list for this is surprisingly short, and includes such difficulties as not getting pregnant outside of marriage, graduating from high school, and having some sort of regular job.  This list may not sound like much, but there are already too many people who have failed to follow it.  Moral elitists, then, most not only lead by example, but also by words.  Moral elitists have a duty to condemn bastardy, laziness, and ignorance.  And thus far, the current crop of moral elitists have failed to do so.

To reiterate Murray, the moral elite “must start preaching what it practices.”

* Bonus:  some who pose as moral elitist often defend gay rights, occasionally on the ground that gays should not be persecuted for their deviant lifestyle since they may be born that way.  The filthy hypocrites who defend homosexuality on the grounds that it might be genetically based will never defend homophobes on the grounds that homophobia might be genetically based.  (Thus, the argument that you shouldn’t condemn gays because they’re born that way can be rejoined with the claim that you were born a homophobe and shouldn’t have your behavior blamed on genetics.)

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