Very often, my partner-in-blogging Wintery Knight recommends books. He recommends more books than I know what to do with–I swear the written word is a food group to this man–so I usually just let the book recommendation trot on by without much ado. Call it the “drink from a fire hydrant” syndrome.
But I dabbled tonight in a recent recommendation of his–partly because the dabbling is free, and partly because they author’s name is so dang quirky. I mean, geez, what could I do with a name like Dalrymple.
The Dalrymple is a psychologist in a hospital in an area beset with problems of crime and violence, so he gets to see the habits and lifestyles of what he calls “the underclass” in a way few politicians and intellectuals do. His whole book is about how the policies and worldview of the secular left is fomenting those problems and how those policies are keeping such folks poor and vulnerable.
I’ve only read a few of the chapters, but so far it’s good stuff. I highly recommend it. You can access the whole book–for free!–by visiting WK’s site here.
Here are a few excerpts. I hope you’ll permit me to quote at length. I simply can’t divy it down to sound bites and at the same time do justice to the thrust of the quotes.
On the bitter fruits of the sexual revolution:
The sexual revolutionaries wanted to liberate sexual relations from all but the merest biological content. Henceforth such relations were not to be subject to restrictive bourgeois contractual arrangements—or, heaven forbid, sacraments—such as marriage; no social stigma was to attach to any sexual conduct that had hitherto been regarded as reprehensible. The only criterion governing the acceptability of sexual relations was the mutual consent of those entering upon them: no thought of duty to others (one’s own children, for example) was to get in the way of the fulfillment of desire. Sexual frustration that resulted from artificial social obligations and restrictions was the enemy, and hypocrisy—the inevitable consequence of holding people to any standard of conduct whatsoever—was the worst sin.
That the heart wants contradictory, incompatible things; that social conventions arose to resolve some of the conflicts of our own impulses; that eternal frustration is an inescapable concomitant of civilization, as Freud had observed—all these recalcitrant truths fell beneath the notice of the proponents of sexual liberation, dooming their revolution to ultimate failure.
The failure hit the underclass hardest. Not for a moment did the sexual liberators stop to consider the effects upon the poor of the destruction of the strong family ties that alone made emergence from poverty possible for large numbers of people. They were concerned only with the petty dramas of their own lives and dissatisfactions. But by obstinately overlooking the most obvious features of reality, as did my 17-year-old patient who thought that men’s superior physical strength was a socially constructed sexist myth, their efforts contributed in no small part to the intractability of poverty in modern cities, despite vast increases in the general wealth: for the sexual revolution has turned the poor from a class into a caste, from which escape is barred so long as that revolution continues.
On how the new nonjudgmentalism (one that many of my students are unable to shake) is neither right nor compassionate:
Not long ago I asked a patient of mine how he would describe his own character. He paused for a moment, as if savoring a delicious morsel.
“I take people as they come,” he replied in due course. “I’m very nonjudgmental.”
As his two roommates had recently decamped, stealing his prize possessions and leaving him with ruinous debts to pay, his neutrality toward human character seemed not generous but stupid, a kind of prophylactic against learning from experience. Yet nonjudgmentalism has become so universally accepted as the highest, indeed the only, virtue that he spoke of his own character as if pinning a medal for exceptional merit on his own chest.
That same week I was consulted by another patient who had experienced even worse consequences of nonjudgmentalism, though this time not entirely her own. Her life had been that of the modern slum dweller: three children by different fathers, none of whom supported her in any way and the last of whom was a vicious, violent drunk. She had separated from him by fleeing with their two-year-old to a hostel for battered women; soon afterward she found herself an apartment whose whereabouts he did not know.
Unfortunately, sometime later she was admitted to the hospital for an operation. As she had no one to whom she could entrust the child, she turned to Social Services for help. The social workers insisted, against her desperate pleas, that the child should stay with his biological father while she was in the hospital. They were deaf to her argument that he was an unsuitable guardian, even for two weeks: he would regard the child as an encumbrance, an intolerable interference with his daily routine of drinking, whoring, and fighting. They said it was wrong to pass judgment on a man like this and threatened her with dire consequences if she did not agree to their plan. So the two-year-old was sent to his father as they demanded.
Within the week he and his new girlfriend had killed the child by swinging him against the wall repeatedly by his ankles and smashing his head. At this somewhat belated juncture, society did reluctantly make a judgment: the murderers both received life sentences.
Of course, the rush to nonjudgment is in part a reaction against the cruel or unthinking application of moral codes in the past. A friend of mine recently discovered a woman in her nineties who had lived as a “patient” in a large lunatic asylum for more than 70 years but whose only illness—as far as he was able to discover—had been to give birth to an illegitimate child in the 1920s. No one, surely, would wish to see the return of such monstrous incarceration and cavalier destruction of women’s lives: but it does not follow from this that mass illegitimacy (33 percent in the country as a whole, 70 percent in my hospital) is a good thing, or at least not a bad thing. Judgment is precisely that—judgment. It is not the measure of every action by an infallible and rigid instrument.
Apologists for nonjudgmentalism point, above all, to its supposed quality of compassion. A man who judges others will sometimes condemn them and therefore deny them aid and assistance: whereas the man who refuses to judge excludes no one from his all-embracing compassion. He never asks where his fellowman’s suffering comes from, whether it be self-inflicted or no: for whatever its source, he sympathizes with it and succors the sufferer.
The housing department of my city holds fast to this doctrine. It allocates scarce public housing, it says in its self-congratulatory leaflets, solely on the basis of need (give or take a nepotistic connection or two—after all, even the nonjudgmental are human). It never asks how the need arose in the first place: it is there to care, not to condemn.
In practice, of course, things are a little different. It is true that the housing department makes no judgments as to the deserts of the applicants for its largesse, but that is precisely why it cannot express any human compassion whatever. Its estimation of need is mathematical, based on a perverse algebra of sociopathology. To return to the case of my patient whose child had been murdered: she was driven from her home by her neighbors, who felt that she was responsible for the death of her child and therefore acted as good, outraged citizens by twice attempting to burn down her apartment. Thereafter she found cheap lodgings in a house where there also lodged a violent drug addict, who forced his attentions upon her. When she applied to the housing department for help, it refused her on the grounds that she was already adequately housed, in the sense of having four walls around her and a roof over her head (and it would be wholly wrong to stigmatize drug addicts as undesirable neighbors), and also because she had no young dependents—her only young dependent having been murdered and therefore not part of the equation. Stones might have wept at my patient’s predicament, but not the housing department: it is far too nonjudgmental to do so.
Experience has taught me that it is wrong and cruel to suspend judgment, that nonjudgmentalism is at best indifference to the suffering of others, at worst a disguised form of sadism. How can one respect people as members of the human race unless one holds them to a standard of conduct and truthfulness? How can people learn from experience unless they are told that they can and should change? One doesn’t demand of laboratory mice that they do better: but man is not a mouse, and I can think of no more contemptuous way of treating people than to ascribe to them no more responsibility than such mice.
In any case, nonjudgmentalism is not really nonjudgmental. It is the judgment that, in the words of a bitter Argentinean tango, “todo es igual, nada es mejor”: everything is the same, nothing is better. This is as barbaric and untruthful a doctrine as has yet emerged from the fertile mind of man.