Depraved or Noble?

by Barry King

(Reviewer’s note: The Calvin and Hobbes Barry mentions refers not to the characters of the well known comic strip but to John Calvin, the somewhat theocratic theologian of Reformed Christianity from 500 years ago, and Thomas Hobbes, the social/political philosopher of 450-some years ago who was known for his book Leviathan and the concept of a “social contract.” Note the characters of the comic strip were named after the real Calvin and Hobbes.)

The modern debate about human nature goes back to Calvin & Hobbes, who asserted that natural (uncivilized) humans were totally depraved (The T in the Calvinist TULIP), and their lives were nasty, brutish, and short (from Leviathan), v. Rousseau, after it popped into his head without evidence, that the lives of savages were peaceful, easy, happy and idyllic, because, he thought, they were naturally and intrinsically good people (until "civilization" comes along and ruins them). Rousseau's view prevailed in France, informed the French Revolution, and that POV difference has been one of the most fundamental disagreements between the left and the right every since.

If there had been a "#metoo" campaign centuries ago, echoed by women all over the world, leading to a widely-held hypothesis that "all men are potential rapists", Calvin & Hobbes would have said, "well, yes, of course they are" while Rousseau would have asserted a more nuanced view, that sexual freedom was natural and therefore really cool (while assigning his own several illegitimate children to be raised by Hillary Clinton's proverbial peaceful, easy, happy and idyllic "village").

So here I sit trying to work out how and why the current iteration of "#metoo", and the associated widespread warlock hunts in Hollywood, academia, and Congress, seem to be coming mostly from the left. Human nature itself is not changing, so other things must be changing. The left now seems to be kind of saying to the right "OK we will join you in such moralistic crusades", while deploying Saul Alinsky's principle of holding the enemy to his own standards ("OK we're crucifying Franken, so you have to crucify Moore", with the tactical twist of saying, after Moore is dead, "oops, maybe we won't crucify Franken after all.")

If we date the current "sexual revolution" to the 1960s: is 50 years really enough time to rediscover the ancient notion that even if sexual freedom is natural, it's not necessarily really cool? I would have thought it would take longer than that, but maybe high tech accelerates social evolutionary processes.

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