September 9, 2013 § 94 Comments
NFP (that is, selective sexual abstinence) is a fundamentally different kind of thing from contraception. Sitting on the couch reading a book is a fundamentally different kind of act from donning a condom and engaging in sterile sex. This arises from the more general fact that doing something is fundamentally different from not doing something.
Doing something is incarnationally real; refraining from doing something is not real in the same sense. This can be shown by observing that if Bob does something, Bob must exist at the time of the doing. But for Bob to “not do” something, he doesn’t even have to exist at the time of the not-doing. [Note: see Kristor’s criticism of this paragraph here.]
In general, we have a moral obligation not to choose evil behaviors. The prohibition of contracepted sexual acts arises from this kind of moral obligation: a negative moral precept.
We also, and distinctly, have positive duties to do certain things. The fact that NFP can be immoral – depending on the intentions and circumstances of the couple – arises from the positive duty of parents to be open to children. Like all positive duties – and unlike negative prohibitions – this depends on circumstances and intentions. This is a positive moral precept.
Whatever one may think of NFP – and I’ve been critical of triumphalism about its use in the past – it is clear that it is an entirely distinct kind of thing from contraception. Contraception involves the deliberate choice of a concrete behavior in violation of a negative moral precept: the mutilation of an ontologically real act. NFP involves a choice to refrain from certain licit but not obligatory behaviors at certain times.
So when someone claims that NFP and contraception are the same kind of thing he has made a fundamental category error.
September 9, 2013 § 14 Comments
Libertarianism is a political philosophy for children living off of a patrimony they don’t understand, the existence of which they simply take for granted. Libertarians actually seem to think it is possible to enforce property rights without “initiating force”, and this “live and let live” pseudo-passivity becomes the central moral justification for everything in their politics.
A leftist is just a libertarian who realizes that property is a form of traditional patriarchal lordship or authority (perhaps after reading a little Marx: the Marxist critique that classical liberalism is no true liberalism is quite trenchant). The relation between libertarian and leftist is similar to (and likely a modality of) the relation between modern and postmodern. In each case the idealogue realizes a fundamental problem with his philosophy. But rather than abandoning his philosophy as false he “maintains frame,” ups the ante, and embraces the incoherence.
Conservatism is just liberalism with a sea-anchor attached to keep it from moving too quickly in any given direction. This helps conserve liberalism by preventing it from dashing itself on the rocks of mother nature.
This would all be rather academic and amusing if liberal modernity had not murdered orders of magnitude more innocent human beings than all previous political philosophies combined.
September 8, 2013 § 33 Comments
Progtastic hipster liberal Christians have told me numerous times that stopping unjust war takes moral priority over stopping abortion, because unjust war is something that the government does itself whereas abortion is something individuals do. Abortion is simply something that government refrains from forbidding, and even someone as venerable as St. Thomas Aquinas has affirmed that not everything that is immoral must be illegal. The key difference then is that with unjust war the government is actively doing something evil in our name, whereas in the case of abortion government is simply declining to prevent evil perpetrated by others.
Many used this structure of reasoning as a way to justify voting for Barack Obama. This looks more than a little ironic in retrospect.
But I thought I’d take a moment to unpack a false assumption at the root of this leftist nonsense: the assumption of monolithic authority.
Backing up for a moment, many of us no doubt recall the spectacle of police troopers surrounding the hospice where Terri Schaivo was being, uh, “allowed to die”. The reason those troopers were there was to actively prevent Schaivo’s family members and others from attempting to give her food and water, even by mouth. It was therefore an active act of murder, perpetrated by government. It is one thing to fail to rescue someone who is in danger of dying, a passivity which may or may not be justifiable depending on the facts on the ground, other priorities, etc. It is another thing entirely to actively prevent attempts at rescue by other parties. The latter is murder, pure and simple.
Similarly, there is more going on in the abortion regime than a passive choice not to prevent and prosecute a certain kind of wrongdoing. It involves a choice by one authority – the federal government, specifically the Supreme Court – to actively interfere with efforts by other legitimate authorities to prevent mass murder. In the leftist view government is a single monolithic authority; back here in reality, we have always lived in a world of various and hierarchical authorities, each legitimate in its own right.
Libertarian/liberal/leftist ideologues are always trying to maintain frame, such that their active murders and other atrocities can be viewed as mere passivity: a ‘more rights less government’ passivity resting on the principle of equal freedom.
But it is all a big lie. The US government has actively murdered 50 million or more children by its deliberate and direct actions. Those deliberate actions weren’t unjust wars, and liberal supporters of falsely-framed-as-passive “hands off” abortion policy are – at best – accessories to mass murder, formally cooperating with that mass murder.
September 6, 2013 § 15 Comments
The modern economic order is one in which many businesses, large and small, are required to take on customers that they don’t want. New Sherwood has a clever idea about how to respond to liberal brownshirts who are using the law to force small business owners to (for example) bake “wedding” cakes for sodomites: pledge to donate all of the proceeds to Courage or similar organizations.
The analysis of material cooperation with evil is correct, as best as I can tell. As in similar situations, compliance with the law under protest in order to sustain an ability to make a living is, again in my analysis, morally licit.
Nothing says “leave me and my business alone” like funneling all the revenues from your unwanted customers to organizations they find distasteful.
I’d even suggest that a Christian pharmacist ought to donate all of his contraceptive revenues to a big, mainstream anti-contraception organization. That is, I’d suggest it if one existed.
September 3, 2013 § 37 Comments
Part of the jargon of the manosphere is the notion of maintaining “frame”. As with many ideas this one has both a good incarnation and a bad incarnation when it encounters the world of Internet discourse. In its good incarnation maintaing frame on the Internet means that you don’t allow someone else to change the subject out from under you and declare victory. In its bad incarnation maintaining frame means becoming that well known paleolithic Internet creature, the ferrous cranus.
What brought all this to mind was a horrendously long thread at the blog Sunshine Mary. The blog hostess posts in reaction to a guy who claims to be an authority on female psychology – his main credential being that in the past he (by his own account) opportunistically used large numbers of women as a sexual toilet. Mr Tomassi made the (apparently unintentionally) ironic statement that “men love idealistically, whereas women’s love is rooted in opportunism.” This contrast statement is patently false under any reasonable, unequivocal interpretation of the words “love”, “idealistically”, and “opportunism”. Any sane person would simply retract it, and move on to crafting true and valid points. But I won’t rehash all that here — it is in the thread, and masochists are welcome to explore it in all its glory.
What occurred to me in the course of watching some folks defend the statement despite its … well, despite an irony so thick you could cut it with a knife, is that, as with “Game” more generally, there is an aura of acting, of playing pretend in the face of contravening reality, in the notion of “maintaining frame”. I frankly hope to “maintain frame” when I am right, and make course corrections when I am wrong. When it comes to attitude, authority, etc in real life I suppose I do “maintain frame” in a sense – but there really actually will be Hell to pay if I am crossed when I shouldn’t be in a domain where it is important, so there isn’t any play acting involved. Standing your ground is good, when — well, when it is good.
That picture in the frame might look nice, but it is just a picture. If you’ve set your frame up to reveal what is true, to reveal actual reality, the frame falls away. The only true frame is no frame.
But as jargon “frame” is still useful shorthand for “don’t change the subject, wise guy”.