The Retortion of Social Construction

If the notion of the social construct is true, then the notion of the social construct is itself a social construct. It is without any basis in reality, so that there is no real reason we should notice it, or order our lives thereby.

The consequence is that when someone argues that, e.g., marriage is a social construct, so that we may change it if we like so that gays can marry, it can be argued with equivalent force that the notion that gays ought to be able to marry is likewise a social construct. We may therefore reject the notion of gay marriage, under the banner of social construction, and there will be no way that the moral nihilists can gainsay us. If there is no moral reality, so that no one has any basis in that reality for an argument against gay marriage, then by the same token no one has any basis in moral reality for an argument against the proscription of gay marriage – or anything else, whatsoever.

In general, it’s no good to argue from moral nominalism to any moral realism. You can’t get any ought from “there is no such thing really as an ought.” Thus to talk at all about what it is right or proper to do is implicitly to recognize the falsity of moral nominalism; if moral nominalism is true, then nothing is really right or wrong to do, and such talk is all just nonsense. Moral discourse of any sort at all implicitly agrees to the presupposition that moral discourse has something real to discuss.

Re-Post: Edgar Rice Burroughs and Masculine Narrative

[This is a much-revised version of an article that originally appeared some years ago at The Brussels Journal.]

Prologue: Contemporary popular culture is as jejune as contemporary politics, with which it is more or less indistinguishable: Strangled by political correctness and by contempt for form and etiquette, “pop” culture eats away like acid at what remains of courtesy and memory. But the past of popular culture – in literature, illustration, and the movies – has much nourishment to offer. One of the most widely read authors of the Twentieth Century, Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875 – 1950), had a penetrating insight concerning the health of the body politic and the positive relation of a vital culture to its founding traditions. The author of Tarzan (1912) and its many sequels, the inventor of the extraterrestrial sword-and-sandals romance, ex-cavalryman, admirer of the Apache and the Sioux, anti-Communist, anti-Nazi, self-publishing millionaire entrepreneur, religious skeptic, “Big-Stick” patriot, Southern California real-estate baron, sixty-year-old Pacific-Theater war correspondent, Burroughs has, with a few ups and downs, maintained an audience from his authorial debut in 1912 to the present day, nearly sixty-five years after his passing. Burroughs has a place in the culture wars, standing as he does for the opposite of almost everything advocated by the elites of the new liberal-totalitarian order. I offer, in what follows, a modest assessment of Burroughs’ work.

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There’s No Such Thing as Women

Retortion is a beautiful thing.

A correspondent of our fellow orthospherean blogger and valued commenter Joseph of Arimathea has noticed that if latter-day feminism is correct in its assertion that sex is nothing but a social construct, like language – this being why feminists like to call it by the linguistic term, “gender,” rather than the proper biological term, “sex” – then *the female sex does not actually exist.* All appearances to the contrary, there is no such thing, really, as a female.

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Robert Locke on the War on Drugs

At the Thinking Housewife, Laura Wood links to and excerpts an article discussing how heroin use is ravaging Vermont. I immediately thought of Robert Locke’s 2001 essay Why We Must Not End the War on Drugs. Since Mr. Locke has apparently retired from the arena of public intellectual combat, I reprint the essay in full below.

For those in a hurry, Mr. Locke’s central point is this: If all forms of drug use were to be legalized, it would rapidly become not only socially acceptable, but subsidized and forcibly legitimized by the state, much as homosexuality has been. The results would be catastrophic. Even more catastrophic, that is.

Note also that there is a legitimate debate on the tactics we use to oppose drug abuse. Mr. Locke’s essay concerns only the key point that we must not end official opposition to drug abuse. Continue reading

World without Men: A Novel of Totalitarian Lesbiocracy

When I teach my course on science fiction at SUNY Oswego, I concentrate on classic texts of the highest literary merit – those by Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, and Ray Bradbury.  When I pursue my lifelong hobby I am less selective.  When I discover an unknown paperback title in a second hand bookshop, I frankly judge the item by its cover while where content is concerned I hope for the best.  Most of the mouldering paperbacks fall short of memorability.  Occasionally, however, a jewel appears among the rubble, a short story or novel more or less forgotten that, for one reason or another, merits contemporary re-visitation.  One such, which I encountered again three or four years ago after a lapse of decades, is Charles Eric Maine’s World Without Men (1958), a novel about the long-term implications of birth control, abortion, and the so-called sexual revolution that treats these matters in a bold and prescient way.

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Falsehood in Word is Evil in Deed

Noisy artificial limits of any kind ipso facto engender moral hazard. The classic example is the limited liability corporation, which encourages investors and managers to take risks over and above what they would undertake if their personal liability was not limited. FDIC insurance is another.

But this nomological principle applies everywhere. Wherever a limit is set by men that does not correspond to the limits set by nature and reality, agents are prompted to act as if the artificial limits were the real, natural, true limits: i.e., to lie, even if only to themselves, about what it is prudent or good to do, or else to lend credence to such a lie, and so do wrong, or ill, even if only unwittingly.

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The King’s Liberty

In no other system of government might a libertarian so enjoy the satisfaction of his principles, as in that of a sagacious king.

The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men’s weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever people are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the sage says:

I take no action and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires and people return to the good and simple life.

- Tao Te Ching 57

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Curiouser & Curiouser

Your Orthospherean correspondent from the front lines of the culture wars – the San Francisco Bay Area, where the bleeding edge of Progress works its way relentlessly into the drugged and comatose body politic of the West – was riding an elevator down to the street last evening when he witnessed a short indicative conversation. Two colleagues of some other firm boarded the car, chit-chatting: a man of late middle years, conservatively dressed (for San Francisco – i.e., actually wearing clothes, that were clean, and tidy, and newish, and identifiably masculine), and a pretty, portly young woman dressed in painter’s jeans and a polo shirt (also conservative by SF standards). With only a few facial piercings, she was clearly not a transgressive type.

“… so your wife is OK with that,” says he, “… is ‘wife’ the right word?” You could hear the edge of anxiety in his voice; perhaps he had committed a fatal faux pas.

“Sure is,” she responded cheerfully, “it’s all legal now. We even have a certificate to prove it. It was funny: when we went down to apply for the license, we had to swear we weren’t related.”

“Ah!” says he, visibly relieved at his narrow escape from Othering, “always good to be sure you weren’t marrying your cousin!”

They both chuckled. As did your correspondent, a moment later, walking to the train, shaking his head at the absurdity of it all. It can’t be long, of course, before the alert bureaucrats of San Francisco are taught to realize that, gay “marriage” being legal, the question about pre-existing familiar relations between proposed spouses is irrelevant, if not downright discriminatory. Why should the forms of the law presume that reproduction is at all associated with marriage? It is not, any more. So all such questions – sex, age and number of the spouses, “religious preference,” whatever – are a waste of time, and an invasion of privacy too. Would the City have denied a marriage license to two lesbians if they were indeed cousins, or sisters, or mother and daughter? Had they tried, there would have been massive demonstrations by tens of braying protesters, heavily covered by the international media, and the bureaucrats would instantly have mended their ways.

The logic of this thing is adamantine.

The Metaphysics of Ownership

Zippy Catholic had a great post the other day on the nature of property that got me thinking about legal property versus ontological properties. I think I have been able to tie his account of ownership of property to a metaphysical basis.

Zippy’s post is short and succinct – unlike this one – and worth a read. The most important bits for my purposes here are these:

But real authority which produces genuine moral obligations does not ultimately derive from the human will, either simpliciter or in some theoretical aggregation mediated through some heretical theory of consent of the governed. The foundation of real authority is Nature and Nature’s God. …

Property exists when an owner exercises fungible authority over subjects with respect to one or more objects.

By “object” we don’t mean physical objects: we mean the things in the property relation which are not subjects. Subjects are of course persons: moral agents with the capacity to choose behaviors.

Bear these paragraphs of Zippy’s in mind as you work your way through what follows. We don’t begin with them; rather, we are working our way toward them.

To begin then at the beginning: the form of a thing is ordered to its telos. The form of an acorn cannot be even partly that of a carburetor, or it won’t be able to produce an oak. If it is to act as an acorn acts, it has to have the form of an acorn, which is to say, all the properties of an acorn.

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