The Puritan Covenant II: Anti-Modernism and the 'Contract with America.'
an article Jay Hatheway in The Humanist
(our site's article review)
Hatheway looks at the Contract With America of the 1994 Republicans. He disdains the ideas of Newt Gingrich, who wants an end to welfare state mentality (and have an opportunity society—a great idea), and he also disagrees with Charles Murray, who says that the underclass need to be taken off the public dole, and that genetic, evolutionary survival of the fittest will take over and those that act pro-survival will be evolutionarily rewarded. (Radical Social Darwinism does indeed leave a bad taste in one's mouth.)
If evolutionary survival of the fittest occurs, the law of the jungle will prevail, with poor attacking rich and middle class in huge swarms
The poor attacking the rich and middle class in huge swarms will be like the storming of castles a few centuries back
The latter is indeed foolish in its punitive abruptness; this plan would lead to social chaos and violence and repression. (If evolutionary survival of the fittest actually occurs, the law of the jungle will prevail, with poor attacking rich and middle class in huge swarms. Jay Hatheway should think first and write articles second.) People need to be weaned from the public dole humanely and not too abruptly, and concomitantly with insuring that they have some sort of job training—like Newt Gingrich, Alvin Toffler, and Hedrick Smith say. People need to be empowered to transcend welfare and dependency and a deficiency context in favor of seeing opportunities, engaging in Third Wave learning and training, and defining themselves according to their assets and capabilities. Although the author doesn’t see it, once these things are done, it is then time to dump welfare forever.
The article is correct that the link between environment and character is crucial. But he colors the underclass entirely as victims as if they had no will or choices. How does he explain the millions of American people of minority status who began in such situations and rose above them to become solid American citizens of good character? How could they choose to grasp opportunities for the American Dream if there were no such opportunities? People create opportunity. The author fails to see that the social engineering experiments of the modernists created as least as many problems as they solved. Civil rights were needed and appropriate, but dealing with poverty through income redistribution and welfare programs upon which the underclass become dependent and which precipitates character degeneration and irresponsibility is hardly the application of benevolent and just humanistic wisdom that Hatheway perceives.
Anti-modernists like Gingrich and Murray refuse to acknowledge the relationship between social environment and behavior, says Hatheway. But Hatheway seems content to let this relationship be an excuse for social misdeeds, while Gingrich is wisely not open to the victimization excuse, opting to hold each person responsible for his or her decisions. Worse, Hatheway is unwilling to admit the grievous error made when the elite Haves defined the Have-nots as victims and the do-gooder liberals pushed benevolent social engineering on minorities and helped degenerate them into an underclass.
Quit looking to social engineering superheroes and rely on local community efforts
Arguably one of the worst ideas to come out of the 20th century is the idea that certain classes of people are merely a victim of social circumstances and not really responsible for their actions. Adding insult to injury, the liberal Hollywood elites then made heroes out of the underclass “victims” who fought against their “oppressors” and dumped low-paying jobs and the work ethic and opted to pursue crime as their only reasonable way of making a decent living like the Haves. Has there ever been a more clear-cut formula for social disaster than this particular one-two punch? Why can’t the author see this?
The liberal Hollywood elites made heroes out of the underclass 'victims,' who fought against their 'oppressors' and dumped low-paying jobs and the work ethic and opted to pursue crime as their only reasonable way of making a decent living like the Haves
But he’s right that nothing is more important than a good, nurturing environment that inspires good character and choices. But government-bureaucracy-addicted, tax-and-spend liberals cannot engineer this; and neither drug-pushing underclass affluence wannabes nor affluent Haves can buy this. It must be gained from responsible, individual choices, the diligent application of Third Wave knowledge, and a desire for—and willingness to evolve toward—self-actualization and being at cause. (Think MC. See Why Register for an MC?.)
Registering for MC search and match
Perhaps tax-and-spend liberalism has had its day and we need a better idea (MCs)