Freedom Without Virtue

Please have a look at this insightful article in The National Interest, written by John Allen Gay, about the cultural values that are essential to a free society. Entitled “The Crumbling Cultural Foundations of American Democracy,” the article clarifies what many people have already noticed or at least felt on some gut level: that the “delicate balances” of culture and virtue needed to create and sustain democracy are eroding in the United States.

Gay writes:

The delicate balances needed here are why democracies are so rare in human history. Those delicate cultural balances are contingent. Events may change them. A successful culture must be able to perpetuate itself in spite of events. And America’s cultural structure isn’t being passed on. A Pew study of millennials last March found that we are less patriotic, less religious, less trusting, less loyal to organized political parties and less likely to be married.

“Virtue” is an admittedly vague word, but most people use it to refer to values such as morality, personal responsibility, respect, courage, and civic duty. Freedom without virtue eventually leads to tyranny, as the state needs to become larger and more powerful in order to clean up the mess created by the reckless free people.

Gay’s article also should also remind you of why it is such a bad idea to think that the United States can “bring democracy” to places (e.g. Iraq) that have no pre-existing cultural foundations for it. It is not logically impossible for those places to become democratic, but it is naive at best to think it can happen in a few years—and under military occupation to boot.

Those who support mass immigration/open borders have to ask themselves similar questions, but of course they won’t.

What do you think?

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