Victor Davis Hanson has just been given a taste of what will be in store for those who aren’t quite in step with the orthodox dogmas of the religious Left once we’ve “turned up our moral knobs to include all mankind” and the new era of “human flourishing” has dawned. The exploitation of human moral emotions to create new utopias always implies an “evil” as well as a “good.” The “knobs” of our nature don’t allow us to turn on the one and turn off the other. They always come as a package. Hanson has dared to disagree with his “enlightened” colleagues in academia. He is seriously out of step with the new orthodoxy. He is a heretic, and, like all heretics before him, he is, therefore, “evil,” or, to use the currently fashionable alternative word for “evil,” employed by the priestly zealots who have just attacked him, he is a “racist.”
I personally don’t care to live in a world in which intelligent people who differ with the prevailing orthodoxies are silenced by the anthemas of secular religious bigots. I have an alternative suggestion. Let’s refrain from cobbling together another New Morality, and try reason instead. It’s not exactly a novel idea. You’ll find it in the pages of Aristotle’s Politics, Marsilius of Padua’s Defensor Pacis, John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. The Founding Fathers of the US gave it their best shot, and the results weren’t entirely negative. In fact, they were better than anything that had come before. If we keep trying, taking care to account for but not indulge our moral emotions, we might do even better in the future.