A Culture Must Include Some Survival


In working through the cultural significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage with a friend, this weekend, it occurred to me that one critical thing that appears to be missing from the political philosophy of America’s ruling elite is a sense that culture must include some mechanisms for survival.  It can’t all be about self actualization.  At the end of the day, we’re all still human and we continue to live in a world and a universe full of chance, risks, and hostile forces.

An obvious application of this principle to the marriage debate is that a society must make some provision for the continued propagation of new generations.  It must have some means of encouraging childbirth, as well as child-rearing that passes along the society’s values and collected wisdom.  I’d argue that an inability to define, in law, couples that naturally create children as something distinct is a major blow to that necessity.

However, the issue doesn’t touch on marriage alone.  The Supreme Court’s ruling is ultimately just a milestone in the advancement of a particular worldview — one that, on its mild end, diminishes the importance of religion and concepts of absolute Truth and, on its extreme end, aggressively seeks to eliminate belief in God, or any higher power than the duopoly of government and our own animal impulses.

Broaden the topic a bit, and one can say that multiple rulings that the Supreme Court issued last week made it clear that ours is not truly, at its bottom, a representative democracy any longer.  Religious believers, in particular, are increasingly forbidden from using their democratic rights to fashion government in a way that accords with their beliefs, particularly when they conflict with the worldview/faith of the secularist, progressive ideology.

This raises an important pair of questions: Who is going to risk his or her life for a country that is absolutely forbidden from representing his or her values?  And who is more likely to put life on the line to defend a country’s principles: somebody who believes in a higher power, or somebody whose worldview is about individual fulfillment?

I thought of this, again, when I came across a post by J.E. Dyer.  I think Dyer is too pessimistic, but the point is illustrative:

One of the first ways I expect this ruling to affect religious institutions is in the military chaplaincy.  It will not be very long now until Barack Obama’s Department of Defense makes it impossible for chaplains whose sponsoring institutions have a traditional, Biblical view of marriage to serve with the U.S. military….

The same forces of intolerance already argue that people in private business should have to give up their religious beliefs as a price of engaging in commercial enterprise.  It will be no stretch for them to advocate an immediate clamp-down on government employees.  It won’t matter at all that service members will have to be denied the solace of chaplains from their faith traditions.  That’s the consequence of establishing a “right”: other people have to accept limitations on what they get to do.

The deprivation this would impose on service members is a first-order effect.  The second-order effect would be deprivation of the country of such brave men and women.  When a country asks for volunteers to fight for it and then uses their generosity as an opportunity to cut them off from expression of their religious beliefs, the number of volunteers is likely to shrink, particularly when it has insisted that their values cannot be used to guide its laws.

  • ShannonEntropy

    Ironically, I just mentioned Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on another thread here

    From the Wiki page on the book =►

    ” According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.[9] They had become weak, outsourcing their duty to defend their empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, “manly” military lifestyle.”

    Part of the way they recruited those mercenaries was to grant them Roman citizenship after serving for 20 yrs — becoming as “ingrained” as they possibly could get

    Nowadays a non-citizen military recruit only has to serve five yrs to get put on the fast track to citizenship https://www.usimmigration.com/military-path-to-citizenship.html

    So we will continue to have a strong military — up until the time of our empire’s fall

  • D. S. Crockett

    The elimination of the draft has further eroded our republican democracy. The war in Afganistan and Iraq would not have been possible without the so-called volunteer force. This force is tantamount to a mercenary force totally out of tune with the intent of the founders of this once great republic who would be horrified its adaptation.

    • ShannonEntropy

      I almost got drafted, way back in the ‘Nam days. But luckily for me, I was as good at evading Laws then as I am at evading the pot laws now … so I never had to “serve” this great nation by bleeding to death in a rice paddy 8,600 miles from home for who-knows-why

      The Draft was hugely un·popular then, as it is now

      That is why we need those foreign mercenaries
      [[ see =► the post immediately above yours ]]

      • D. S. Crockett

        Shame on you not because you evaded the draft but because you now brag about it in the face of those who served who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

        • ShannonEntropy

          We will not fight, but run away
          … And live to fight another day

          I am still here, to choose which cause
          I will die for

          Those guys who got drafted back in
          the ’60s and died in ‘Nam ??

          They have run out of options like that

    • Jason

      Really? Was Washington’s Army during the revolution drafted?

      • D. S. Crockett

        The point is the loss of civic virtue. If you cannot fight for your country, then you deserve no country.

        • ShannonEntropy

          So when are you signing up, Davy ??

  • Warrington faust

    “a society must make some provision for the continued propagation of new generations. It must have some means of encouraging childbirth, as well as child-rearing that passes along the society’s values and collected wisdom. ”

    Simple, cut back on social programs. I can recall references to large families as “the poor man’s retirement plan”.

    About the military, I do have some concern about the development of a “warrior class”. In a democracy, the military should not be widely separated from the people they serve. I mean no disrespect but we now laud our “heroes” rather than expect them to “do their duty”. The later was more common when more served. Our population is now too large to require all to serve for several years. The draft, from it’s inception was never “fair” or “equal”. From the beginning you could buy your way out. Then came occupational,then student deferments.

    The situation makes possible wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. We don’t have to “win” because nobody cares. The public is not involved, or effected. If we win, what’s the difference? If we lose, who cares? Doesn’t effect us. If our soldiers are killed, I wonder how many secretly say “well, they’re all volunteers; they asked for it”. So who profits from these sinful little wars, the politicians, the military, defense contractors? Not me. The media obsesses over civilian casualties. Our soldiers are tried for murder. In our real wars, that we “fought to win” we killed civilians wholesale, they were “getting what they deserved”. To be fair, war has changed. With “weapons of mass destruction” large armies are simply good targets. Seizing real estate from people with no concept of ownership is not an demoralizing tactic.

  • ShannonEntropy

    a society must make some provision for the continued propagation of new generations. It must have some means of encouraging childbirth …

    Not really necessary here in the good ol’ US of A

    Here there is one live birth every 8 seconds; one death every 13 seconds; and one immigrant arrives every 32 seconds … for a net population gain of one person every 13 seconds

    On July 4th, 2014 our population was 318,882,000. This morning it is 321,187,000

    Be honest … the last time you went to, say, NYC LA or SanFran, did you take a look around and think “You know what the pra·blem here is ?? Not enough people !!”