The Culture That Tries to Pretend It Isn't One

Jonathan Finegold Catalan writes:

"In a modern society there will exist some pluralism in cultural values, and institutions will have to arbitrate between these, and help constrain cultural divergences that may otherwise undermine the political process."

This view, and the very idea that there can be an institution that is somehow above cultures and can "arbitrate" between them, is part of the culture of modernist, liberal secularism.

"Don't try to legislate your morality!" is a moral view that tries to pretend it isn't one, and is perfectly happy to legislatively force others to accept it or pipe down.

"No religion in the public sphere!" is a religious view that tries to pretend it isn't one, while at the same time stifling competition by denying all other religions public space.

The above contentions seem outrageous? Then you need to read a couple of books by Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre.

UPDATE: Just to illustrate.

Over at The Dish, Zoe Pollock, who is A Jew marrying an Italian, really thinks:

"Italians and Jews have enough in common (friends admit my swarthy, neurotic fiance "could pass"), but I understand readers who worry about the disconnect. I’d like to think that’s an important part of the American experience: With each successive generation we become harder and harder to pin down."

No, Zoe, that would be "easier and easier to pin down": everyone becomes more and more a modernist, secular liberal.

2 comments:

  1. "Don't try to legislate your morality!" is a moral view that tries to pretend it isn't one, and is perfectly happy to legislatively force others to accept it or pipe down.

    This I completely agree with.

    "No religion in the public sphere!" is a religious view that tries to pretend it isn't one, while at the same time stifling competition by denying all other religions public space.

    This I completely disagree with. Liberalism is a political philosophy just like all the others out there. But that does not make it a religious view! And since when are [all other] religions denied public space? I should note they are perfectly able to practice in public, but government is prohibited from promoting any one of them. Maybe it depends on what you mean by "public".

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    1. "This I completely disagree with."

      Of course you do! "Liberalism is a neutral arbiter among religions" is a part of the liberal religious creed.

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