Saturday, September 30, 2017

Breitbart confuses conservatism and liberalism

Breitbart is usually an interesting source of news and commentary for traditionalists. But the editors really got it wrong in their story about the life of Hugh Hefner. Titled "Why Conservatives Should Celebrate Hugh Hefner" the story begins as follows:
Hugh Hefner, legendary founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, died Monday at the age of 91. He was an icon in liberal Hollywood, and a self-declared conservative foe. Yet there is much for conservatives to celebrate in his life.
He was the kind of person American conservatism seeks to enable — the self-made man; the radical, pajama-clad individual; the author of his own destiny. And he idealized women as women, in a way the left no longer allows.

This is a species of liberalism. Professor John Kekes defines liberalism this way:
...the true core of liberalism, the inner citadel for whose protection all the liberal battles are waged [is] autonomy … Autonomy is what the basic political principles of liberalism are intended to foster and protect.

And what do liberals mean by autonomy? According to Professor Raz,
A person is autonomous if he can become the author of his own life...Autonomy is an ideal of self-creation, or self-authorship

In the right liberal tradition, emphasis is put on the idea of autonomous individuals becoming self-made in the market. So Breitbart is pushing a right-liberal ideal when it praises Hefner for being "the self-made man; the radical, pajama-clad individual; the author of his own destiny."
A genuine conservatism/traditionalism doesn't look at it this way. We believe in objective standards of the good by which a man can be measured. So being "self-made" is not the important thing, nor is being the author of our own destiny, nor is being radically individualistic (you can be all these things, as Hefner was, by peddling porn - what is this supposed to prove?)

It is more important to ask about the character of a man, a character tested by a man's efforts to lead and support a family, by his loyalty to his tradition, by his industry and resilience, his foresight and judgement, his hospitality and conviviality, his courage in the face of adversity, by his piety/spirituality, his magnanimity and by a host of other virtues.


  1. Hugh Hefner was openly bisexual, though it is overlooked in the quest to portray him as an alpha.

    1. Hefner admits to one "passive" homosexual encounter, decades ago. There is no evidence or set of claims that he was bisexual.

  2. "It is more important to ask about the character of a man"
    Growing up in the 1950s, I honestly remember men in movies and certainly on TV ( I'm the quintessential boob-tube baby) regularly using the the term "character", as in a man of character, strength of character, test of character, assassinate a man's character, a woman of character. "Character" seemed vital. It was often an important theme, one that registered with me, mostly as something that I felt as a young boy. No one defined it, but I got it, even if I couldn't explain it. It was a model of a role that I actually remember wanting to play.
    I've been thinking about that lately, how challenging it became, and how it seemed to be mostly fiction. You rarely hear about men as men of character. It's seems to be an anachronism. But, it's still one of those; you know it when you see it things.
    Trump, in his terrific speech at the UN, referred to "the American character". His reference was also nostalgic, referring to WWII America.

  3. I saw this too Mark and had the same thoughts. He’s also seen as conservative because some feminists declare him “sexist.” But you’re right – that’s just a battle between right-liberals and left-liberals.