Recently I pointed to Peter Saunders’ arguments about gay marriage.
… Intellectuals are affronted by social institutions (such as free markets and monogamous marriage) that have evolved over hundreds or thousands of years without people like them ever having consciously invented or designed them. They think evolved institutions are not ‘rational,’ and they believe they can do better. …
… a long-term campaign against the core institutions through which bourgeois culture is transmitted to each generation. Break the hold of the churches, take over the media, subvert the schools and universities, and chip away at the heart of the citadel, the bourgeois family, and eventually, the whole system will fall.
Lorenzo over at Skepticlawer has a reply:
Part of being conservative is having a sense of the fragility of social order. Likely too strong a sense; as Adam Smith famously observed, there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.
But that sense of the fragility of social order seems to often come with a notion that, unless the current limits are adhered to, there are no limits. Hence, for example, assuming that unless heterosexuality as a compulsory norm is accepted, somehow one ends up with bestiality. Hence also the notion of the enormous corrupting power of small groups. They are outside the set limit, so acceptance of their legitimacy destroys all limits.
Yet, one of the striking things about the various emancipation struggles is how society ended up working better, not worse, from their success.
There is no great mystery as to why. Not only are the talents of the group made much more accessible to the wider society, social resources are also no longer wasted repressing them. Moreover, the group in question then becomes invested in the existing social order, rather than alienated from it. The problem is not having a sense of the fragility of social order, the problem is thinking that social order requires people be confined in very unequal social cages. Again and again, this has proved to be flatly not true. The society conservatives were “defending” proved to be much more resilient, with far greater capacities for renewal, than they were willing to admit.
Update: I have fixed the link to Skepticlawyer.