Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Progressive Virtues

Reflecting on Chesterton's view of the Prussians, I conclude that this is precisely what worries me about progressives. Their faults are endurable. Corruption, hypocrisy, deceitfulness - these make for bad government, but conservatives and moderates do many if not all of the same things. I can insist till I am blue in the face that we do it far less often, but really, this is a matter of degree.

What worries me about liberals are their virtues, the things they believe are good about themselves and want remake society around. The danger's of John Lennon's "Imagine" are far greater than the dangers of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."


Donna B. said...

A vice is more reliable than a virtue? Or is it the other way around?

Perhaps a vice is easier to deal with...

Either taken to extreme can cause heartbreak, but I think the problem is that uninhibited virtue is rigid and brittle, causing heartbreak for far more people when enshrined.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."

jaed said...

People cling to their virtues even when those virtues aren't.

Most people will work on their vices, and may even recognize them when pointed out, but they are extremely resistant to abandoning what they think of as their virtues.

terri said...

Donna...who is behind that quote?

I can't decide whether or not it's awesome! ;-)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

CS Lewis. And if that doesn't sway you, I shall have to turn up my nose at you meaningfully (though temporarily). It is from "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment." As much as I like this quote, that is ironically one of the few Lewis essays I have some quibble with.

terri said...

Ah....that makes total sense.

I usually have that reaction to Lewis.

I alternatively appreciate him and am annoyed by him.

Sorry to not have only unadulterated admiration for one of your most highly esteemed writers, AVI. ;-)

I have read a lot of Lewis, from Mere Christianity and many of his essays to much of his fiction, though I never made it all the way through the Narnia books.

Most of the times when I am annoyed by him it's largely due to time and gender differences....like when he insists that even though the Genesis story might not be historical fact, and even if there wasn't a "fall" God would have still set up a hierarchy....naturally with men in charge.

He works that idea out later in Perelandra, which was my favorite of the sci-fi series he did, traditional gender roles notwithstanding.

I won't completely knock him, though. He's contributed greatly modern Christianity and helped people feel as if thinking, imagination, and creativity can all be a part of a Christian life.