Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rod Dreher — Miley Cyrus > Donald Trump


The ultimate paradox of liberalism — sexuality.

Disclaimer: I am not posting this because I either agree or disagree with either the author or any of the views expressed in the course of it. 

The objective is simply to show that paradoxes arise from an ideology in which individuals are free to choose and aggression is the only criterion that limits choice.

Is the world ready for Miley?

The American Conservative
Miley Cyrus > Donald Trump
Rod Dreher

41 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

I feel like were on the edge of the abyss ready to fall into the free will debates.

Matt Franko said...

"The objective is simply to show that paradoxes arise from an ideology in which individuals are free to choose"

But she is saying that she is not making a choice.....

Matt Franko said...

Miley: "I was like, ‘Oh — that’s why I don’t feel straight and I don’t feel gay. It’s because I’m not.'”

This holy roller author is the one claiming she is making the wrong free will choice.... she is saying she is not making a choice at all....

Ryan Harris said...

Yes. Perilous territory. Two big inter-related issues at once.

Bob said...

Sounds like plain old vanilla bisexuality to me.

Tom Hickey said...

But she is saying that she is not making a choice.....

That is also a choice.

Ryan Harris said...

Bigger question than that. The paradox arises because the society created by freedom to exercise the free will can't allow freewill. And then the argument mirrors almost exactly the giant philosophical black hole that is the free-will debates. Which probably not coincidentally are raging right now...

Tom Hickey said...

Sounds like plain old vanilla bisexuality to me.

Yes, but she is saying that she doesn't categorize herself.

This is a problem for either-or thinkers that need the security of a structure that categories provide.

Liberalism is generally understood as being able to chose your category.

Liberalism according to Miley says no structure, no categories is also a choice.

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, it is not just bi. There are other options that are current such as polyamory. Salon has been bringing all this out in considerable detail.

Miley is a]saying why draw any lines. Whatever.

Bob said...

She doesn't have to categorize herself, but that doesn't stop anyone else from categorizing her. I'm not seeing where her sexual preferences are "new" or aren't covered by existing terms.

Polyamory aka swinging?

Ryan Harris said...

Getting rid of the clearly defined forking path and deciding to go wherever desire goes, is making a decision.

And pretending that society doesn't have an imperative in promoting sexual reproduction and suppression of disease and stable units. I realize the fantasy is about gratification and floating on a cloud but come on.

Ryan Harris said...

There are a bunch of new terms to define gender and sexuality...

http://nonbinary.org/wiki/List_of_nonbinary_identities

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer

Bob said...

These new terms will become old if they stand the test of time. Ironic that wereman and wifman have become archaic.

Tom Hickey said...

The bottom line of social liberalism is openness.

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MRW said...

Why should I give a shit? She's a singer. Sing. Do whatever the hell you want under the sheets when you're not onstage. Just spare me the doodah about them.

MRW said...

And that goes for the overwrought conflicted reporter as well. Come out or stay in. Whatever.

Andrew Anderson said...

Just spare me the doodah about them. MRW

I agree but some want their choices validated by society, e.g. gay pride parades. I say keep it in the bedroom.

Btw, this extreme emphasis on sex indicates a very unhealthy society and that goes back to the financial system - ultimately the source of many ills.

GLH said...

It is not her sexual preference that bothers me, it is her drug promotion.

peterc said...

From the article:

"But here’s the thing: I am not interested in hearing cultural liberals get high and mighty about how vile Donald Trump is (and he is!) for his gross sexual behavior, but then have them turn around and cheer for every new manifestation of polymorphous perversity that flops across the transom. I know, I know: consent. Legally it’s an important concept, but it’s not a moral disinfectant."

I am certainly no philosopher, but there appears to be a lack of logic in this paragraph.

The author recognizes consent as one key distinction that might be drawn, but then tries to equate a liberal condemnation of (alleged) *non-consensual* behavior with a conservative condemnation of (allegedly "perverse") *consensual* behavior.

But if the social liberals are condemning *non-consensual* behavior and the social conservatives are condemning "perversity" that is *consensual*, they are each really just being their social liberal and social conservative selves. Each is being consistent within their own framework in this particular instance. They just are concerned about different things.

I agree with Tom's point, though, that there are paradoxes with liberalism. One concerns what counts as "harm" in the "no harm to others" principle.

Amartya Sen gives an example of Prude being offended by Lewd's reading of a sexually explicit novel. It could just as easily be Prude being offended by Lewd's consensual act with another person. Should we really give any weight to the offense caused to Prude (or to a conservative author who finds a celebrity's sexual behavior "perverse")?

Whichever way we answer, it is a paradox of liberalism. Either we are imposing on Prude a certain standard for what counts as "harm" or imposing on Lewd conservative "moral" standards. And if we don't draw the line at "morally offended", where do we draw it? Wherever the line is drawn, the same paradox is present.

This is probably one reason utility functions in neoclassical economics were usually assumed to be independent. The assumption that the utility of one person, and the arguments that enter his or her utility function, have no effect on another person evades the paradox. Once it is recognized that utility functions might be interdependent, paradoxes arise.

Tom Hickey said...

All good points, Peter.

I think that Miley illustrates a point of comparison between social liberalism and economic liberalism. Miley's position is similar to laissez-faire as the epitome of economic liberalism. Anarchism is the correlate in political liberalism.

However, at the extreme this reduces to "the law of the jungle," which is "anything goes." Historically, liberals have recognized that this is not what they mean by "liberty" as individual freedom, so some qualifier is needed.

Modern science and evolution complicate this, because liberalism presumes some essential difference between human and brute that raises humans above the level of the law of the jungle by providing a natural qualifier to the law of the jungle. But modern science views humans as primates with more developed nervous systems, giving them more options ‚ hence greater degree of freedom in the engineering sense, but it still regards human as animals. In other words, the previous mythological and theological conception of "soul" that differentiated humans from animals is unscientific and cannot ground a rigorous conception of liberalism in the modern world. Lacking "soul," some other qualifier is needed.

This issue has not been resolved scientifically, so rhetorical and philosophical arguments are mounted, like "human dignity" as the basis for "human rights," for example. The problem here is that even among those that agree in principle, there are disagreements over details and no hard decision criteria are available. Those that don't agree charge that "soul" is being reintroduced through the backdoor, not as a deus ex machina as before but by rhetorical slight of hand.

The general agreement seems to be around "consent" as a rational qualifier. In the social world, voluntary consent is the standard for interaction. In the economic world it is contract or enforceable agreement, which is based on clarity of terms, consideration, and voluntary agreement (consent) of the parties to the terms. In the political world, liberal governance is with the consent of the governed through a political process that prioritizes consent.

The paradoxes of liberalism arise out of consent as a foundation for living. Consent seems to be a necessary condition for "liberty" as individual freedom to choose and act. But is it a sufficient condition?

The various paradoxes that arise suggest voluntary consent may not be sufficient.

Liberals don't agree on how to address those paradoxes arising from liberal principles in order to harmonize social, political and economic liberalism.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

The contemporary Western world is a liberal one. There are many approaches to liberalism and even most "conservatives" assume liberalism as a foundation, e.g., politically and economically if not socially. Those who favor the extreme of liberalism are regarded as "radical" by the majority, which favors some restrictions on the principle that anything goes as long as the parties consented to it.

In liberal societies, these differences then get reflected in positive law though a liberal political process involving the consent of the governed.

The usual liberal political process to determine the consent of the governed is democracy, in which majority rule is generally the criterion. This results in the "tyranny of the majority."

To escape the tyranny of the majority, some radicals prefer consensus decision making, but in large groups this tends to end in high cost if not paralysis, so many regard it as ineffective.

So the basic issue is that appears some lines need to be drawn socially, politically and economically under liberalism. What are the criteria, and what justifies them? Who gets to participate in drawing the lines, e.g, making positive law and institutional arrangements. Wha about tradition and custom? How are disputes resolved?

Where there are no scientific answers, the questions are philosophical. It is also a philosophical question as to whether science provides ultimate criteria that override all other criteria.

This is a debate that has been raging since the Enlightenment and is still very much alive and influences the social, political and economic life of the West and therefore of the whole world, when the West is determined to impose liberalism as the world order. Then there is the further question as whether imposing liberalism involuntarily and against opposition is liberal.

Tom Hickey said...

Why should I give a shit? She's a singer.

Miley is not "just" a singer. She is a cultural icon. So was Bob Dylan. He just won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan were and still are cultural icons also.

Cultural icons both reflect and shape their cultures. They could not become icons if they did not reflect cultural trends, and they also serve to shape cultural trends as icons.

Bob said...

To each their own. I don't care what people do in their personal lives, although I suspect Miley is more talk than action.

I prefer to live in a society that has a non-authoritarian secular government. Keeping religion out of politics allows for more personal freedom in the bedroom. Cynics say that religion is mostly about controlling human sexuality.

Liberalism is a vague concept that seems to evolve with the status quo. I don't consider myself a liberal and I don't appreciate having 'liberal' values imposed on my personal life. What I choose to do with my life is not up for debate.

Restrict your philosophical and ethical debates to the public sphere. In an ideal world, we could choose the type of communities we wish to live in and not be forced into accepting the precepts of a dominant culture.

As for culture, that too evolves over time, so it seems rather pointless to argue 'what is best' when those ideals turn out to be ephemeral.

Tom Hickey said...

The issues are more than personal, since the issues and attitudes toward them result in positive law and enforcement where the tyranny of the majority prevails.

There are many areas where expressing freedom of choice and action will land one in the dock, even in the most liberal jurisdictions.

On the other hand, there are also many areas in which voluntary consent is assumed but where it is not granted. The devil is in the details. This is a reason that identifying and clarifying the various paradoxes is significant.

Bob said...

Miley isn't asking for the right to make our personal lives public. Choosing to be an exhibitionist means accepting the consequences that come with it.

Consent is assumed or prescribed by law. I don't think passing more laws will create a world that is black and white, although I've no doubt that authoritarians will try.

Paradoxes of 'liberalism' are significant for whom? Social engineers? Law makers? God?
I pity those who must bear such intellectual burdens.

Tom Hickey said...

Miley isn't asking for the right to make our personal lives public. Choosing to be an exhibitionist means accepting the consequences that come with it.

If one is not from the US or aware of US culture, Miley Cyrus is not "just a pop star." When she was a child, she was Disney star "Hannah Montana." Hannah Montana was at the superstar level of Hoowdy Doody and Shirley Temple. While Hoowdy Doody was not human and had no future as an adult, both Shirley Temple and Hannah Montana (Miley) went on to become stars as adults. However, Shirley Temple never shook her child star image and she is remembered primarily in that role. Miley chose to be different.

She went through the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood in from of the world and she realized that consciously and used it intentionally. Her adolescent break with her formerly dominating father Billy Ray, a star in his own right that managed in her childhood and tried to manage her transition.

She made it clear in her transitional process that she was her own person and could not be controlled. It grabbed the attention of her fans that we then going through the same issues that all people coming of age do and females probably more than males at least sexually. Miley was having none of it. But she was not coming across as an entitled brat, either, even when her act was pretty outrageous.

Since then, she has striven to be an iconoclastic cultural leader. She is beyond big in that role. Miley is fully aware she is a cultural icon and a trend setter. She is in a unique position to be because of her history. She is only in her twenties and promises to have an impact for a long time.

In sociological terms Miley is an "image" that is a powerful component of the current social image or cultural view, if not our world view as well, similar to Bob Dylan and John Lennon in the Sixties. Music exerts a strong cultural influence. See Kenneth Boulding, "The Image," and Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message."

Miley is giving a new twist to feminism, for example. Previously the image of feminism had been chiefly intellectual, expressed through authors of the best-known works on it. Miley's approach is different, and a lot of people find it threatening. Basically, Miley is sending the message, "I cannot be controlled."

That is powerful message for women and one that a lot of men and traditional women don't want to see projected in the media, but they can't do much about it. Miley is a hot economic property, after all. Economic liberalism demands that this economic potential be capitalized. It is really through economic liberalism that social liberalism has a wide impact through mass media. Freedom of speech, press, etc. facilitate this politically.

Consent is assumed or prescribed by law. I don't think passing more laws will create a world that is black and white, although I've no doubt that authoritarians will try.

Right. This implies that political liberalism supersedes social and political liberalism, something that many people have issues with, both socially and economically as well as politically. The liberal solution is to minimize political intervention, but where to draw those lines is controversial.

Paradoxes of 'liberalism' are significant for whom? Social engineers? Law makers? God?
I pity those who must bear such intellectual burdens.


They play out in the news everyday, socially, politically and economically, and a lot of people are intensely engaged in the issues because the rules that are made "with the consent of the people" affect them even though they not only did not consent but were opposed.

Just wait and see what is going to happen after this election in the us regardless of who wins. It will be a huge demonstration of paradoxes of liberalism in real time, and the stakes are yuuuge.

Bob said...

Since then, she has striven to be an iconoclastic cultural leader. She is beyond big in that role. Miley is fully aware she is a cultural icon and a trend setter. She is in a unique position to be because of her history. She is only in her twenties and promises to have an impact for a long time.

How many people feel they have nothing in common with Miley Cyrus? Her culture is not my culture and her life is very different to mine. I enjoy music, but not to the extent that some people do, judging from their behavior.

Miley is giving a new twist to feminism, for example. Previously the image of feminism had been chiefly intellectual, expressed through authors of the best-known works on it. Miley's approach is different, and a lot of people find it threatening. Basically, Miley is sending the message, "I cannot be controlled."

What is her twist? If it's related to social justice warrior feminism or third wave feminism, these movements are about to receive a backlash.

That is powerful message for women and one that a lot of men and traditional women don't want to see projected in the media, but they can't do much about it. Miley is a hot economic property, after all. Economic liberalism demands that this economic potential be capitalized. It is really through economic liberalism that social liberalism has a wide impact through mass media. Freedom of speech, press, etc. facilitate this politically.

They have the choice not to listen or watch Miley the entertainer. They do not have the right to censor in that arena. Politics is another story.

Right. This implies that political liberalism supersedes social and political liberalism, something that many people have issues with, both socially and economically as well as politically. The liberal solution is to minimize political intervention, but where to draw those lines is controversial.

Consent laws are being written that treat adult women as if they were children. That treat women and men in ways that violate equality before the law. This is more controversial than where the messy legal line between agency and dependency is drawn.

How much input do ordinary citizens have in changes to the law and to policy?
Perhaps after this election, the public will send a message they "cannot be controlled any longer". Compared to those stakes/repercussions, Miley is a mouse.

jrbarch said...

There is another aspect: - sex and marriage are a natural phenomenon; right down to the atomic level. It takes a human being to turn it into a circus. Another point is all matter is a concretisation of ‘energy’. The reproductive fires are just that: - a natural flow of energy that when diverted, dammed, amplified, weakened, have an effect in physical matter. No matter what the emotional or mental energies are, that are controlling these. Generally, we take ourselves far too seriously (and unconsciously). In the Ageless Wisdom, the reproductive fires lifted to the throat centre result in creativity of a higher order.

Sometimes I imagine all the animals out of Africa, parading down the streets all dressed up in clothes and makeup, putting on airs and graces and phantasies of self, like humans do. What could you say: - 'you silly aninmals; get back to your nature please!'.

Bob said...

Btw, apologies for inflicting Justin Bieber on the world.

Bob said...

There are festivals and rituals where people dress up as animals. What would you say to them?

Matthew Franko said...

" sex and marriage are a natural phenomenon; right down to the atomic level."

jr good point I see this too... the creative process seems to require some sort of basic recombination... or negation of division or something... the purpose of the division seems to be to establish a possibility of recombination which then results in creation...

However, we ARE still divided and have to deal with it...

Tom Hickey said...

How many people feel they have nothing in common with Miley Cyrus? Her culture is not my culture and her life is very different to mine.

Older people, yes. How many older people were influenced by Bob Dylan or John Lennon at the time. But their influence in the counterculture was huge. Of course the were not along but they were the revolutionaries, along with Abby Hoffman (Revolution for the Hell of it) and Jerry Rubin (Do It). But Abby and Jerry's contribution was even more fundamentally to street theater.

Matthew Franko said...

This one is revealing in this regard imo:

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40

Everything is in some way telling the same story...

Matthew Franko said...

Should have added "even Miley..."

Tom Hickey said...

There are festivals and rituals where people dress up as animals. What would you say to them?

What's to say? Why should they not if they choose and don't violate others.

You've heard the story of the aboriginal at a theology conference. One of the attendees said to the aboriginal, "Why are you here when you people have no theology." The man responded, "Of course, we do. We dance."

Bob said...

Hillary appears to be reaping the support of a majority of young voters. Bernie would have reaped it too, had he gotten the nomination. That is the extent of 'counterculture' to date.

I found this article interesting:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/what-will-happen-to-the-trump-die-hards/504032/

But the comments... are filled with contempt and hatred.

Bob said...

Sorry Tom, that was addressed to jrbarch.

jrbarch said...

@Bob :-)

Same thing I would say to the modern man, who dresses up in all of his 'wealth' and ritual trappings. (Loaded questions get loaded answers Bob)!

Whatever we dress up in, is an affectation. We are fantasising something. So, same old superstition; just the bear skin changes (black if you like).

But seriously, at least from my pov, life is all about looking behind or through the social expression, to find the human being, and the secret, of the human heart. For me, the Self has no gender, nationality, culture, civilisation, etc. It doesn't vote. It doesn’t reproduce. It is many, and yet it is one. Trite formulas I know, until it becomes reality. Life is all about understanding ITS nature and how it manifests in us. It’s an opening up kind of process, and the social expression, consciousness, is a marker – for me.

Bob said...

@jr
Here are some pics of the festivals in Europe:
https://www.wired.com/2013/08/the-gorgeous-costumes-of-europes-wild-men/

"You silly animals; get back to your nature please!".

Well, they are ;)

jrbarch said...

Cool! So wind the clock forward a few thousand years and you can replace those images with dudes on Wall Street (and the latest choice of US presidents going by the press .....) Like RT: - how are they going to stop the natives sending smoke signals ????