Turning back the clock

I wrote this many years ago in the midst of the “Gingrich Revolution,” but it seems all the more relevant in the “Make America Great Again” era.

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Conservatives say our social system is in decline. I agree. Conservatives say our traditional values are under attack. I agree again. But generally, the conservative analysis stops there, appealing for a return to the good old days when “family values,” moral discipline and blind obedience to authority smoothed the way for unlimited industrial expansion and profits.

It’s not hard to understand why traditional values are losing their power. People’s desires, expectations and visions have changed. Today many of us demand more social freedom than ever before to live our own lifestyles, choose our own roles, and discover our true selves.

No matter how much they pray, no matter how much they preach, no matter how much they legislate, cajole and coerce, the conservatives cannot turn back the changes in social consciousness that the last few decades have wrought.

Preacher says "And Jesus saith unto thee, blessed are those who live in the past."
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Too many false values have grown up in the backwash of Capitalism and Christianity. We must clear the ground so we can start again without illusions, without ideological baggage from the past that drags us down, without the mindset instilled in us by people who wish to subjugate us.

It is the rich and powerful who have the most to lose in the breakdown of the present system, so of course they are the ones who cry loudest for a return to the old values. Like men possessed, they will fight to preserve the privileged status their institutions afford them. Yet as long as the material conditions of our world continue to change rapidly and radically, the evolution of social values is inevitable. The desperate resistance of the elites can only slow down the process, resulting in more alienation, trauma and misery.

1996

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Text and graphics on this page by James L. VanHise licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Attribution: James L. VanHise – fragmentsweb.org.

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