dSocial Attitudes And Shame - Road to the Middle Class - by Christopher Chantrill
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Social Attitudes and Shame

by Christopher Chantrill
August 17, 2006 at 11:10 am

EVEN THOUGH young people in Britain today are regularly drunk as skunks, university students would never think of driving drunk, claims Mary Ann Sieghart. “What a change in a generation!” she writes.

And social attitudes have changed for the better in other areas, too. People are abandoning their SUVs and recycling. It is not so much that the law has changed as a kind of “social revolution that may well save our planet.”

This social revolution is a tribute to the power of shame. It used to be kinda cool to drive drunk and get away with it. Today it is shameful. And as for failing to recycle! In Seattle we are well on the way to making it a crime.

Maybe there are other areas where the power of shame could save the planet.

Russian immigrant Julia Gorin clearly wants a social revolution in attitudes towards abortion. On the website of Ms magazine, she notes, you can sign a petition. “I had a abortion.” Bully for Ms.

But Julia Gorin narrowly escaped being aborted thirty years ago. It was only due to the nurse at the Soviet abortion clinic “who sensed a tinge of reservation [in my mother] and kicked her out.”

Just as well, because Gorin’s only sister was killed in a car crash in 2000.

How about setting up another petition, she suggests helpfully: “I was nearly aborted!”

One of the proud boasts of the twentieth century was its conquest of shame—or rather sexual shame. But it is clear that in the most progressive circles where sexual shame has been most thoroughly banished a host of other shames has been created: environmental shame, sexual harassment shame, SUV shame, racist shame, patriarchal shame, even glass-ceiling shame.

We conservatives should learn a lesson from this. As the consequence of legal abortion becomes more and more clear to women—and in the case of Julia Gorin’s mother it is a lack of “close people,” children and siblings, in her life—it will create an opportunity for another social revolution.

We should learn a lesson from the liberals. The key to a social revolution is not in changing laws. It is in changing attitudes.

We should work to change hearts and minds, and make abortion Safe, Legal, and Shameful.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill