Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why the attacks on Cory Bernardi?

Cory Bernardi is still being attacked in the Australian media.

Bernardi, if you remember, is a conservative-leaning Liberal Party senator. He wrote a book in which he called the traditional family the gold standard and pointed out that there are higher rates of incarceration for boys from single parent families.

It provoked a furious reaction from the political class here. Bernardi has been ridiculed and mocked for his comments. I thought it might be interesting to look at the way the political class has gone about its work.

Quite a few anti-Bernardi articles focused on the "I am offended" angle. For instance, Nicole Ferrie wrote that it was "drivel" and "rubbish" for Bernardi to claim that the gold standard for children's development was to be raised by their biological parents. According to Ferrie, Bernardi is guilty of "condemning" and "judging" people for their choices which makes his views "ignorant" and "offensive" and discriminatory.

There are two things to be said about Ferrie's response to Bernardi. First, it is a pretty orthodox statement of liberal morality. Liberal morality goes something like this:

i) what matters is that our autonomy in choosing what to do or be remains unimpeded
ii) for this to work at a larger level we must not interfere with what others choose to do or to be
iii) therefore the key moral virtues are those of non-interference or non-infringement such as respect, openness, tolerance, non-judgementalism, non-discrimination, acceptance of diversity, etc.

You can see how Bernardi has violated a liberal morality. He has "judged" people for their "choices" which then means that he is guilty of "discrimination." He is therefore considered to be wrong not just politically but morally - hence, he is being treated like a moral outcast.

It doesn't matter in this view if what Bernardi says about the benefits of traditional families is true or not. That's not what is of interest to Ferrie. She just assumes, in line with a liberal morality, that an attitude of respect and a universal, fit everything love, will carry things along - what other attitude could a liberal take?

It will be very difficult to persuade the likes of Ferrie with facts and figures. What we need to do is to wean our intellectual class away from the underlying assumptions of a liberal morality. Our intellectual class needs to be persuaded that it is possible to have some knowledge of an objective good and that there are positive virtues that go beyond "non-infringement".

Which brings me to the second point to be made about Ferrie's response to Bernardi. She believes that it is "offensive" to say that not all family forms are equal; it is supposed to be an insult to single mothers or to children raised in non-traditional families.

Now, I don't think politics should be a game of who shouts loudest about feeling offended. But it does occur to me that Ferrie herself is being offensive in claiming that all family types are equal.

Think about what she is really saying. She is arguing that if you have two families, one being a single mother raising children, the other being a father and mother raising children, that there is no reason to prefer one family type over the other.

What this means is that the father in the traditional family may as well not be there. He is not value adding to any significant degree, neither in his support of his wife, nor in his influence on his children, nor in his contribution of father love. All of his efforts are in vain, as all that is needed in a family is abstract love and respect and this occurs to an equal degree in fatherless families.

Furthermore, if a single mother family is equal to a traditional one, then a particular kind of love, namely marital love is also of little worth. It cannot have much significance in the lives of women, as a family with this kind of love is not to be preferred over one without it.

Is this not just a bit offensive to fathers? In fact, isn't it a lot more offensive to fathers than anything that Cory Bernardi might have implied about single mothers? You can take Cory Bernardi's position and still think that what mothers do is vitally important. But if you take Ferrie's view you are committed to the idea that what men do in the family is not that significant - neither as husbands nor as fathers.

Here we get back to the problem that liberal intellectuals aren't willing to recognise objective goods or virtues that go beyond non-interference. Ferrie, for instance, does not recognise as a significant good marital love or father love. If she did, then she would more likely view the traditional family as an ideal to aim at.

There are some other interesting things to reflect on in the liberal criticisms of Cory Bernardi, but I'll resume the discussion in a future post.


  1. You will find among Senator Bernardi's most vocal critics are those who weren't raised in a traditional family. Deep down, they hate the fact that their contemporaries did. So many children from broken homes blame themselves for their parents separation and never reconcile that emotion.

    When Senator Bernardi claims that a traditional family is a "better" family, it is a statement reaffirming their deepest fears that they were indeed "worse." A scab is slowly pulled off an old wound. Their angry defence mechanism, which has been a coping tool for most of their life, kicks in and they want to attack the maker of those comments.

    Had Cory Bernardi made these comments a century ago, there would have been few critics. Today however, the switching of gender roles in society, men becoming supplicants to their "independent and headstrong" wives means that the foundations of marriage are eroded and more and more end in failure. The children of these failed relationships become the poster-children for non-traditional families in an attempt to justify their own upbringing.

    Those attempting to silence Senator Bernardi imagine they are fighting for those like them who had to go without the love of a second parent, the financial and emotional security that came with it.

    I struggle to imagine that those brought up in a stable, traditional family would honestly want any other method of raising children for their own children.

  2. In a nation that starts out massively white (and Anglo-Celtic), Christian, heterosexual and led by men, the only way to generate a hostile group big enough to crush the bulk of the target population (with hostile media, hostile laws and hostile immigration policy) is to carve off the dominant part of the nation, and (temporarily) let it enjoy anti-white privileges in return for right belief.

    So for whites, displaying right belief, preferable credibly, or at least fervently, is important.

    Public political correctness is, among other things, a system of status displays, establishing the moral dominance of the politically correct over low-status whites, especially heterosexual, male Christians. If you are white and don't display right belief, you fall to the default status of generic whites.

    Isn't it desirable then to argue positions that could only be reached on the basis of politically correct belief, and maintain a stubborn obtuseness regarding their human costs?

    If you argue for positions that anyone with common sense could see the value of, that does nothing for your status. If you argue for positions that flow basically from politically correct thinking, but make exceptions where common sense and the facts dictate, that doesn't do much for you. So if you push political correctness on marriage till you see the data that shows that children do indeed need their fathers, that's weak tea as far as improving your status is concerned.

    But when you push positions that could only be reached on the basis of political correctness, and go off at people who refuse to take that step with you, you're showing that you believe all the way. And your status as a good person, a morally superior person, is more secure.

  3. It would probably be worthwhile compiling a list of all the bad people attacking him - a roll call of shame. Like Alinsky said, "Fix it, Freeze it, Personalise it". Bernardi is doing good work putting forth conservative ideals (like yourself, on a smaller scale I assume), but the reaction also needs to be dealt with by going after the attackers.
    This may be a job for someone more naturally aggressive than yourself Mark, but it's time to go on the offensive against evil. And these people are certainly evil.

  4. OT
    I am a long time reader, first time commenter. I have a post on the nature of free will and its relationship with Marxist culture that you might be interested in :

  5. Excellent post Mark.

    "Here we get back to the problem that liberal intellectuals aren't willing to recognise objective goods or virtues that go beyond non-interference."

    Have you considered that the Liberals are arguing morality (what is right) and you are arguing ethics (what creates a good life)? You haven't presented a moral argument against Liberalism.

    1. CamelCaseRob, thank you.

      I haven't deliberately argued ethics instead of morality - I find it interesting that you perceive it this way.

  6. Well how have you argued that traditionalism is moral, rather than it leads to a good society? Liberals would say that they support Liberalism because it is right, not that it will necessarily result in good things happening for the members of society. Perhaps I'm missing something here, but it seems they argue for Liberalism just because personal autonomy is a right of some kind and therefore anyone opposing it is immoral.

    1. One of the limitations of blog posts is that you can't set out complete systems of thought in each post. However, there are many posts in which I do put forward aspects of a traditionalist morality. For instance, I recently wrote some posts on the topic of fidelity:

  7. It's good to see a Conservative Liberal take up the fight... With mass immigration and all the other vectors of decline that really need to be addressed. I see it more of a distraction then anything else, in fact the progressives are now baiting for conservatives to come forward with their true ideals, hoping to create Labor/Green propaganda from misspoken words to cherry picked lines for the next election already.

    I hope the Conservatives keep pushing though as to push the progs into an uncontrollable rage of anti-whiteness, would expose their true faces. Plus exposing the anti-whites agenda is half the battle.

  8. I can say as a woman from what I see, that men need to realise that if a woman thinks that he is not needed, worthless, or merely to be used to boost her status, he should just ditch her. This is what I have seen many women of Generation Y do. Many of them choose a boyfriend to boost their status, to use for sex, or to compete with sexually, socially, financially, etc. I'm not saying that extramarital sex is right, but that this is the motive of many young Australian women. The typical young Australian woman is manipulative, cunning, controlling, deceitful and aggressive, but seems "nice" on the outside.