Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehaviour Paperback – 1 Jun 1993
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Central to Jones' argument is this thesis: "There are only two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire" (p. 11). Since our sexual desire is quite powerful, we all too often rationalize our sexual behavior rather than live as we ought. Though sexual sin in itself does great harm, the "most insidious corruption" to which our species falls prey is "the corruption of the mind" which accompanies the process or rationalizing it. "One moves all too easily from sexual sins, which are probably the most common to mankind, to intellectual sins, which are the most pernicious" (p. 12). That process, demonstrably evident in some of this century's most influential intellectuals, leads Jones to declare that "the verdict is clear: modernity is rationalized lust" (p. 17).
The verdict is based in recent, frequently muckraking biographies. We now know formerly hidden details about the men and women whose theories have so shaped modernity. Consider first the case of Margaret Mead, for decades one of the most trusted academic anthropologists, whose Coming of Age in Samoa has been routinely cited as evidence for "cultural relativism." What's right in one culture, she argued, lauding the Samoans' sexual permissiveness, may be judged wrong in another. Recent evaluations of Mead's studies have raised a barrage of flak (items of fact) which threaten to shatter her renown. Amazingly enough, Mead only spent nine months in Samoa, taking a scant six weeks to learn the language of the people she studied! Yet she could write a "definitive" study on such minimal exposure! What she seems to have done, in fact, was to project her own sexual fantasies and standards on a people she scarcely understood.
In fact, rather than being sexually libertine, the Samoans were actually a bit "old-fashioned," valuing such things as female virginity. Mead claimed adultery caused no stir in Samoan society when in fact it was punishable by death. Determined to confirm her teacher Franz Boas' doctrine of cultural relativism, she basically imposed on the Samoans what she imagined "primitive" peoples would live out. Herself involved in an adulterous affair, "Mead's guilty imagination projected adul¬tery onto the puritanical Samoans" (p. 39).
John Maynard Keynes has influenced this century's economic theory as fully as Mead shaped its anthropology. Recent biographies, disclosing his homosexual activities, enable Jones to argue that Keynes' sexual perversions impacted his intellectual work. Freed from concern for procreation, homosexuals understandably have little interest in coming generations. Consequently, Keynes' "deficit economics bespeaks a radically 'childless' vision, one in which present pleasures are fostered over building for future generations" (p. 59). Homosexuals, Jones argues, tend to act as a "subversives" in any society. They have an animus against nature itself which laps over into rebellion against the Lord of nature. Though they think "society" is the problem, the more society accedes to the homosexual agenda the more angry they become, for at the bottom of homosexuals' anger is the "fear and conviction that the laws against sodomy are based on some deeper immutable configuration of the nature of things" (p. 65).
Alfred Charles Kinsey has also shaped modernity. His allegedly "scientific" studies of human sexuality have undergirded much of the "liberaliz¬ation" of sexual behavior since WWII. In a pervasive chapter entitled "The Case Against Kinsey," Jones documents the striking absence of sound data in many of Kinsey's most widely accepted "findings," especially those dealing with the degree to which homosexuality pervades our society.
Abortion, like homosexuality, has gained acceptance in modern societies. Jones devotes a chapter, "Liberal Guilt Cookies" to this issue, taking as his launching pad two articles by Anna Quindlen--the one expressing guilt for not spending enough time with her kids, the other advocating a woman's right to abort a child. Pondering the paradox, Jones advances a rather credible thesis: "Supporters of abortion have often had abortions themselves. Political activism becomes a synthetic pain killer for pangs of conscience. It is to spiritual health what treating cancer with anesthesia would be to medicine" (p. 118).
Psychoanalysis, founded by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, stamps modernity like a trademark. Jones devotes his longest chapter to the two, arguing that Freud's probably incestuous affair and Jung's documented adulterous relationship clearly helped shape their rationalizing psychologies. Some of Freud's most significant theories--the Oedipus Complex, totemism, primitive sexual promiscuity--have absolutely no basis in historical or anthropological fact. In fact, "the oldest and ethnologically most primitive people . . . know nothing whatsoever of totemism, and in fact their religion has striking similarities to both Judaism and Christianity in that these people tend to be monotheistic and monogamous, and even refer to God as 'Our Father'" (p. 181).
Jung, fascinated by the occult and in many ways profoundly gnostic, sought to separate his "spiritual" or "religious" interests from his very physical 40 year liaison with Toni Wolff. "Like Simon Magus, its founder, and like Jung, its best-known exponent in the twentieth century, Gnosticism wants to have the benefits of Christianity without paying the moral price Christianity exacts" (p. 203).
Basically Jones indulges in ad hominem attacks, much like Paul Johnson' Intellectuals. Obviously an immoral intellectual can in fact do good intellectual work. But all too often, as Jones argues, there may be a hidden agenda in the theories of many modern intellectuals. To the extent they sought to rationalize their own behavior, to justify unrestrained sexual lust, their intellectual integrity may be compromised. Degenerate Moderns enables us to place biographically-rooted question marks around the work of modernity's architects.
YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!
The bottom line? Mr. Jones is right; just not as right as he thinks he is.
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