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When I see gays clamouring for marriage or women behaving like lads I can’t help be a bit disappointed. I would’ve preferred to see these emancipated groups push for alternative lifestyles rather than ape convention. Sadly it rather points to the realisation that polemics and their associated movements are often more about power games than anything else. They are combative and covetous – we want what they’ve got – before they have much to do with moral intelligence.

It should never be forgotten that moral intelligence is gold dust to humanity. Without it we fall back into prehistoric squalor. It is in everyone’s interest to pay attention to it especially its more elevated aspects. Civilisation is based on these moral aspects and the struggle to maintain them is perpetual.

Morality has to be something that can be reasonably upheld. There is no use in trying for a set of ethical values that are unattainable. It isn’t helpful for example to ask people to love their neighbour when so many simply don’t or can’t. An elevated morality has to be reasonable and attainable and it has to be nurtured. Above all it has to be intelligent and fighting for everyone to have the same rights isn’t always that. Equality might be a worthy pursuit but it doesn’t always make for moral improvement.

Polemical arguments imply moral improvement but I’m not sure they succeed in it. There will be many a radical gay just as disappointed as I am to see his community exert so much effort fighting for the rather unimaginative convention of marriage when, for many of them, part of their identity was that they didn’t subscribe to that. Likewise there will be feminists who find it depressing if all they have worked for is the right for women to behave like men, to swill beer and throw up in the gutter without opprobrium.

I consider myself radical and fairly libertarian. I’ve spent my adult life thinking alternatively and living in accordance with lateral thought processes. It has been a lonely road at times as most of the people I know cleave to a conservatism that follows the crowd. Polemicists appear to do the same too often. They take their cues from crowd behaviour and demand that their interest group be equal and the same. If asked why shouldn’t they, my answer would be that they might aim higher, that they might think differently, that they might use their alternative slant to contribute some new intelligence to the moral spectrum. Not to do so is little more than demanding equality for its own sake, producing more of the same when the same, likely as not, is already in plentiful supply.

moral intelligence is gold dust to humanity


philosophy • 15.05.13