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Good manners

November 25, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Would you rather spend time with a liberal or a conservative?  Theorore Dalrymple suggests in Pot Meet Kettle that it is the world view of liberals (and not conservatives) that leads people to act selfishly and  thoughtlessly.  You know, the ones who cut us off in traffic, are rude to waiters in public or irritate us with their irritating cell phone calls in public.

Modern conservatives tend to see the locus of appropriate moral concern more in personal behavior than in social structure (I am not here concerned with whether they are right or wrong). They believe in personal responsibility rather than causation by abstract social forces. They do not believe in entitlement, their own or anyone else’s, or in an indefinite extension of rights. They do not believe in perfection, and they think that even improvement usually comes at a cost.

Modern liberals, by contrast, tend to focus their moral concern more distantly from themselves, on the more abstract political and economic sphere. For example, the personal sexual code does not concern or worry them much unless it is restrictive. They believe that bad behavior finds its origin in social forces rather than in man’s soul. They believe in everyone’s entitlements, which are never met quite sufficiently and need to be extended endlessly. For them, the perfect society will result in perfect people.

Which outlook is more conducive to good manners? It seems to me, a priori, the conservative rather than the liberal: for what can the daily personal conduct of a single man add to or subtract from the sum of human goodness or evil, happiness or misery?

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  1. AndrewN
    November 25, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Pseudoscience.

    It’s the sin nature that causes rudeness and vulgarity, not a conservative or liberal political philosophy. And you don’t have to look far on YouTube for sad examples of both types of people spewing all manner of bile.

  2. November 26, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Agreed that sin nature is the root problem. And I must admit that as I think about it, I do find myself more irritated with the arrogance of many conservative writings. I think cultural anthropology shows that world view does make a huge difference in our actions and would not be so quick to dismiss his premise about liberals.

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