From Hollywood to our foreign policy, Rousseau’s joke is on us.
“What counts as virtue among Western elites? As Aristotle teaches, if you can identify what a society considers to be virtuous or good, you can understand the moral outlook of that society’s institutions, from its schools to its foreign policy. One needs only to study any gathering of American elite culture to see that virtue, traditionally centered in personal character, has become redefined as public sympathy for humanitarian causes… This moral preening has become so commonplace that a term has developed to characterize it: “virtue signaling.”
“The West’s moral outlook is now animated by the widespread belief that virtue is measured by one’s professed sympathy for causes such as combatting homelessness, extending civil rights for various protected groups, and decrying poverty in far-off places. The more publicly ostentatious one is in attaching oneself to these causes, the more virtue one is assigned by our elite culture.
“Yet the continuing sex scandals of our elites are (pardon the phrase) laying bare the inadequacy of this definition of virtue. In Hollywood and other elite institutions, puffed-up paragons of “virtue” reign, but backstage are characters… wholly lacking self-control, decency, moderation, temperance, and civility… [This] glib dismissal of personal probity and the substitution of a moralistic public commitment to ‘society’ and ‘the world’ has corroded our understanding of morality.
“We might simply chalk this up to the everlasting tendency of human beings toward hypocrisy. Yet something more insidious is at work…”
Read on, for further understanding…
N.B. This issue arose for me back in the mid-90s, in divinity school, when I became aware of the decline and fall of personal morality – or at least, of concern for personal morality, unless in the context of socially acceptable (“politically correct”) causes – and the significance of individual sinfulness, and the rise to prominence of “systemic” sin, evil, and immorality… as defined, of course, by the socio-politically “aware” (read: left-wing / P.C.) “elite.” Needless to say, the situation has not improved in the last twenty years or so………