But if our sexuality is our deepest and most important inner truth, and politics is about the promotion of the truth, then it was inevitable that sex would be politicized. Whereas cultures used to cultivate the virtues that made family and religion flourish, now the law would be used to suppress these institutions as they stood in the way of sexual “authenticity,” as politics sought to create a world where it was safe — and free from criticism — to follow one’s sexual desires. Hence, the push to redefine marriage legally was never really about joint tax returns and hospital visitation but about forcing churches to update their doctrines and bakers to affirm same-sex relationships. Affirmation of the sexualized self is the key to our new politics. And our new language.
What strikes me as strange is why I should have held on so long and tenaciously to this faith in “democratic socialism.” How could we ever have believed that you could deprive human beings of the fundamental right to initiate and engage in their own economic activity without putting every other human right in jeopardy?
Where Zinn doesn’t follow Las Casas is where the priest mentions the Indians’ cannibalism — the priest reports, on the very next page after the passage Zinn has paraphrased, that the Indians eat very little meat “unless it be the flesh of their enemies.” Zinn, busy painting the Europeans as uniquely violent and oppressive, naturally never gives credit to the feature of Western civilization that is actually responsible for Las Casas’s indictment of the abuses to which many of the Spanish did subject the Indians: Christianity. It was after he heard anti-slavery sermons by Dominican monks that Las Casas gave up his own plantation and became “the Apostle to the Indians.” Thus, the priest describes the perpetrators of atrocities against the Indians as “so-called Christians.” Las Casas preaches, “Sin leads to sin, and for many years they lived unscrupulously, not observing Lent or other fasts” and eating meat on Fridays. Zinn ignores such old-fashioned religious explanations for the Spaniards’ descent into criminality against the natives and pretends that Las Casas, like himself, is a secular critic of imperialism.
The enemy is the inner me. The Bible says in the last days we’ll be lovers of ourselves. The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, “Oh, me at the protest.” “Me with the fire.” “Follow me.” “Listen to me.” ¶ We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed. What is the long or short-term effect of too much information? It’s going fast and it can be manipulated obviously in a myriad of ways. And people are led like sheep to slaughter.
Here’s what I discovered: Humans exert a growing, but physically small, warming influence on the climate. The results from many different climate models disagree with, or even contradict, each other and many kinds of observations. In short, the science is insufficient to make useful predictions about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.
In the seven years since that workshop, I watched with dismay as the public discussions of climate and energy became increasingly distant from the science. Phrases like “climate emergency,” “climate crisis” and “climate disaster” are now routinely bandied about to support sweeping policy proposals to “fight climate change” with government interventions and subsidies.
To many timid, albeit sincere, souls of an earlier century, the decay of the doctrine that all true and worthful science is knowledge of final causes seemed fraught with danger to science and to morals. The rival conception of a wide open universe, a universe without bounds in time or space, without final limits of origin or destiny, a universe with the lid off, was a menace. We now face in moral science a similar crisis and like opportunity, as well as share in a like dreadful suspense.