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October 09th 2017 print

Peter Smith

On the Road to Fashionable Ruin

Two men or two women marrying each other would confound the common sense of yesteryear, being seen as ridiculous, which it is. Why is it not seen as ridiculous now? Take away common sense, erode respect for language and meaning, and guess what? Fads and transient fetishes flourish

gay macho cakeWhy should society care what people do if they are not affecting other people in ways which are harmful? John Stuart Mill in his essay On Liberty explores the question in detail but this sums up his position:

“…when a person’s conduct affects the interests of no person besides himself, or needs to affect them unless they like… there should be perfect freedom, legal and social, to do the action and stand the consequences.”

Classical liberals and libertarians concur with Mill. As collectivists, socialists demur. Though they might pretend otherwise as an exercise in the Marxist equivalent of taqiyya.

Socialists put society first and the individual last. Hence their disdain for free speech.

So where do conservatives stand? I can speak for only me. Mill has the default position right.

But notice I say it is the default position. In individual circumstances a lot turns how ‘affecting other people’ is measured. Take a narrow view of SSM and assume that it will not result in adverse consequences for religious freedom, for freedom of speech or for the inappropriate sexual conditioning of children. Highly unlikely assumptions all, but bear with me.

I intend joining a club which insists I meet a retinue of demanding requirements. I satisfy the requirements and join. Soon the club drops these requirements. Am I affected? I think I am. Though possibly, based on Mill’s injunction, if no-one joining my club affects me personally, what’s the problem? The problem is that my membership has been devalued, adulterated and sullied.

Equally, same sex couples marrying devalues, adulterates and sullies the institution of marriage. This is not because homosexual couples are not as worthy as heterosexual couples. They surely are. But the people in homosexual couples are not complementary. Complementarity is the essence of marriage. Children can arise from complementarity. They can’t arise otherwise.

That’s all well and good but the horse has bolted; pretty well, anyway. SSM has come about in numbers of countries and will come about here. What to do? Rename heterosexual marriage? Clearly that wouldn’t work. Gays and lesbians would soon want to appropriate it for their own unions. It is sad but they appear to be uncomfortable in their own skins and desperate for societal ratification of their lifestyle.

If they believed their own spiel they would have been confident enough to get their own exclusive union.  Alas, as it is, we are stuck with the absurdity of gay unions bearing the same description as heterosexual unions as though they are equivalent. It is yet another marker of the parlous state of our society. It is not a question of declining moral precepts, though that is generally evident. It is a question of declining common sense.

Two men or two women marrying each other would confound the common sense of yesteryear as much as would two horses marrying. It would be seen as ridiculous, which it is. Why is it not seen as ridiculous now? Take away common sense and fads and fetishes flourish.

Why has common sense declined? We have broken into tribes where the things that bind us together have becomes weaker than those driving us apart. This isn’t just about ethnicity or religion or skin colour. I meet two groups of friends each week for coffee and chat. All of us, older than we would like to be, are white and male. Nevertheless, each group occupies its own distinct planetary bubble. Call them A and B. My home bubble is A. When in bubble B I am aware always of my alien status.

We have different premises. So, it doesn’t matter how logical the steps we end up in different places. For example, Christianity has played the defining role in who we are. No, it hasn’t, how about the Greeks / Christianity held back progress. Other things equal, children are better off with their mother and father. No, they’re not (studies have shown?). Whatever position is taken on global warming, renewable energy is too costly, too intermittent and too unreliable. Can’t compute – can’t compute.

By the way, I think common sense reigns in bubble A – but I would say that, wouldn’t I. However, it is not translatable between bubbles. In the confusion, order breaks down and entropy prevails.

Just some of the results: scandalous billions wasted on windmills, scientists making loopy predictions, universities closing down open debate, people hauled before tribunals for making innocuous statements, sex changes among the armed forces, boys in girls’ dresses, bare-arsed men cavorting on main street, buggery taught in schools, men marrying men and women women. Where will it end? In perdition. Or, what comes to the same thing, in an Islamic takeover of a decaying civilisation.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [13]

  1. ianl says:

    > … scientists making loopy predictions”

    Actually, *some* scientists making … etc. Apart from a tendency to generalise against categories of people you don’t much like, a reasonable cry of despair, although Cassandra has seen this occurring far more frequently than even a year ago – and doesn’t need to wonder why.

    As a reasonable speculation (?), it seems unlikely to me that your home bubble A contains people with hard science or engineering backgrounds. Maybe I’m wrong. I would actually find that quite pleasant. it’s also quite obvious, I would imagine, that I find Quadrant Online as a bubble B, but some of the chosen essays come from my bubble A.

    • Tricone says:

      My impression was just the opposite, Ian. I presume by “hard science” you mean “physics-based” rather than the embellished Nature Studies programs that so many consensus scientists seem to belong to.

      I work among high level engineers and it was from them I first became aware that “The Science” was not at all settled when it came to climate predictions, not could it be.

      Science is a lot surer when looking at what’s been learned from 135 years of bringing electricity to the masses, but like Peter said, there are people who just don’t want to know.

    • ianl says:

      Jody, there was a jazz saxophonist 1926-1967 named John Coltrane. Very powerful musician, very creative, he evolved his own musical style which came to be known as Sheets of Sound.

      Jordan Peterson too has developed his own style of address. I call it Sheets of Noise. He’s very noisy, sometimes almost incoherent and his primary points get lost in this noise. In short, he waffles on far too much. As insightful as he may be, his erudition becomes just background noise and one loses interest. I do think that’s a pity.

      • Jody says:

        Disagree. Coltrane was a great musician too.

      • Warty says:

        I’ve listened to a few of Jordan Peterson’s talks too, and some are the way you describe it ianl, but not all. There was one Jody posted a couple of days ago where he interviewed Camile Paglia and quite a different side came out, a far quieter, more philosophical. Others have been more humorous, yet still instructive. Overall Peterson is Peterson, and though I disagree with his view of Trump, for instance, I do like his particular premise: one should find a way of clearing up one’s own mess first, before attempting to instruct others. He also believes strongly in the need to come to grips with the importance, the impact of our Western Civilisation, much in the way Anthony Esolen does: now there’s an impressively erudite man.

  2. pgang says:

    Meaningless nonsense. Mills’ opinion ignores the will of God. Peter Smith of all people should recognise the pointlessness and inevitable futility of such atheistic opionions.

    • MOAB says:

      By declaring something an axiom because it is the “will of God”, you start looking like the crowd opposite us who label stuff “racist” or “…phobic”, or “facist” without any reference to human-level science, statistics and logic. Peter tries to make predictions based on logic, which in most cases (in the article) makes sense.

    • Peter says:

      Actually pgang you make an excellent point, which I will have to think about. I must admit to putting Mill and God into different silos. I will need to go back to Mill to see if he says something about this. Anyway, point taken.

    • Warty says:

      It’s funny, but though Peter argues that Mill’s ‘default position is right’, he seems to argue against this when discussing homosexuality. Mill’s argument is the classic stance of the Enlightenment movement, if one can possibly condense it in such a way, in that the freedom of the individual is paramount, so long as it doesn’t impinge on others. This also happens to be the LGTQI (or what ever it is) argument: ‘what we are doing is not the business of anyone else, so bugger off’.
      Unfortunately, if one pursues the interests of the individual to its ultimate, then society begins to break down. In my view SSM is a step in that direction, along with the trashing of religion, the loss of faith in government, the law and our educational institutions, to name a few. When we are no longer guided by the inherent wisdom of our traditions, we are in deep trouble. And if children are no longer taught about our Western Civilisation, then how can they have any grasp of our traditions, let alone respect them?
      As I have argued before, SSM is another example of ‘moral relativity’, where one value is regarded as equal to any other, because who the hell is going to judge either? Once the church loses all moral authority (and ultimately our laws are drawn from Judeo-Christian principles) then social decline is assured. The Enlightenment sounded the death nell of the Church.
      Worse still, Islam can sniff out a moral vacuum in the West, and will enforce its own. That is where the backlash will come from.

  3. gardner.peter.d says:

    In essence it is legislating a lie.