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I’m continuing my reporting on the current installment of Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.

Yesterday, Alfred George concluded his discussion of the Myth of Tradition by noting that he had shown that neither Religion nor Tradition could provide the basis for moral behavior in society, and by promising to address the question, “How can we be moral without Religion or Tradition?”

Today he answers that question.

A short trip over the stringy orange twists will take you to our account of his post for today.

Mr. George begins by pointing out that his posts over the past few weeks have shown that neither Religion nor Tradition can provide the moral behavior that society needs to function smoothly. He also notes that he does not discount Religion or Tradition entirely, but that they claim far too much for themselves. Those who derive life-affirming principles from Religion and Tradition are free to cherish them, but they have no right to try to impose them on others.

[B]ecause Religion and Tradition have no foundation for their claims of absolute morality except insistence, such people should not try to impose their beliefs on those who do not find Religion and Tradition attractive or helpful. Conversely, those who reject Religion and Tradition should not try to browbeat religionists and traditionalists into rejecting the beliefs they find congenial. Nothing is more pointless and acrimonious than partisan warfare in which each party demands that the others recognize principles that are not their own.
He then goes on to address the central question that now arises, namely, Without Religion and Tradition, how can we be moral? And he says that the only reason a person would ask this question is that he doesn’t see any other option.
The only reason anyone would ask this question is because he doesn’t see any other source of morality. There is another source, however, and it is located inside you. You can be a moral person simply by refusing to do anything wrong. . . .

[I]f you are concerned with this question, you are already more ethical than most people. You are especially more moral than those who think they know right and wrong based on what someone else or some organization tells them. As long as you are seriously concerned with whether you are doing the right thing, you are doing the best you can under the circumstances.

Then he points out that the perfection of right action comes when you no longer fear anything, so that you don’t need to avoid any particular outcome. Only then can you switch from the regime of Fear to the regime of Love. The regime of Fear is the province of conservatism; the regime of Love is the province of progressivism.
Ultimately, there are only two forces that govern human behavior: fear and love. Because these two forces oppose one another and exist in varying degrees in almost everyone, there are two types of Religion: the Religion of Fear and the Religion of Love. And there are two types of Tradition: the Tradition of Fear and the Tradition of Love. Where Fear is the dominating force, morality has to do with punishment and submission. Where Love dominates, morality has to do with generosity and freedom.

Of the two forces, love alone is compatible with creativity and joy. And with real morality. You can be perfectly moral by being perfectly loving. That’s all there is to it.

You can read the whole post here.

Tomorrow, Mr. George will begin his treatment of the final conservative Major Myth—the Myth of Capitalism, which move from the general sphere of morality to the specific sphere that controls our relations with others insofar as we concern ourselves with wealth, money, and economics.

I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When I was 19 (0+ / 0-)

    I met a woman, then 48, who taught me to go within to find truth.  Thanks for reporting on this.  I look forward to the next post.

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 03:59:47 AM PST

  •  Obsessive love is manifest as jealousy and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Lefty

    jealousy is destructive. Fear has nothing to do with it. Though, it may serve as a handy excuse for destroying preemptively.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:00:09 AM PST

  •  Church-based morality denies maturity. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Lefty, a2nite

    Wow, that's pretty bold. But think. It assumes that the "flock" cannot make good decisions, cannot understand the proper path. There has to be a substitute parent who explains it all, and offers reward and punishment for following the rules. In the RC church, that person is even called "Father". It also to a large extent assumes that without the constant threat of heavenly disapproval, people just wouldn't be able to control themselves, and chaos would follow.

  •  IMHO-If one believes in a Vengeful god, others (0+ / 0-)

    then threaten that person's road to heaven in some way, hence the religious wars, racism, gender wars, greed etc., etc. That's when Morality Rules seem to be so different for different groups.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:22:08 AM PST

  •  OY! with the false dichotomies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, GPMOAT

    This or that, fear or love, good or evil, phooey! Really? What about Lust, a.k.a. the procreative imperative woven into every strand of DNA on the planet? If that is not a fundamental motivator of human behavior then why do I wake up every morning with a .... OK, never mind.

    Groups of people DO need a guide, whether corporeal or textual, and will for the foreseeable future, IMHO. Its called specialization; some people hoe the furrows and others lay out the fields and irrigation ditches. I think the nub of the issue is that, despite there being more than two fundamental motivators(!), there is a consistent rational basis for moral behavior in plain old Utilitarianism and evolutionary biology; cooperation enhances the survival of the individual. That's why cooperative behavior evolved, probably first in our scaly schooling fishy forebearers. Both cooperation and competition must function at the same time, in balance, for a system to be successful over time while responding to a changing environment. This applies equally on scales ranging from bactierial colonies to human societies.

    Balancing these forces is the art of life and politics, but lets be rational; biology precedes culture so perhaps we should look to natural systems and principles for guidance rather than the supposed pronouncements of notional super beings.

    Or not.

    Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

    by Old Lefty on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 05:49:09 AM PST

    •  Correction; (0+ / 0-)

      bacteria got there first, but the fish are more fun to watch.

      Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

      by Old Lefty on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 05:58:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  --Superior Beings We Fabricated When We Knew (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Lefty

      virtually nothing about the world that we now know.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:25:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There two types of people. Those who think there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Lefty

      are two types of people and those who don't. Old Lefty is so right about a multitude of co-operative and competitive roots of behavior. Evolution operates on a normal distribution model. Except each person is at different areas of each relevant distribution, i.e. we are all individuals.

      I'd tip you but they cut off my tip box. The TSA would put Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad on the no-fly list.

      by OHdog on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:30:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cooperation and competition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Lefty

      is itself a false dichotomy. We need not balance the two, only use them both to the best of our abilities. The mistake we make is assuming that we must be in competition with one another. We are not, or rather we are, but we mustn't be. What we are all in, or what we should be in is a cooperative competition with nature.

      Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. - Mark Twain

      by GPMOAT on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 10:45:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cooperation and Competition (0+ / 0-)

        are simply two poles of the multi-polar dynamic of survival. Competition exists in nature at large and in ourselves in particular and is neither bad nor good per se, and the same is true for cooperation, and altruism and selfishness etc. Whatever we think the world should be, it is what it is.

        Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

        by Old Lefty on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 11:09:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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