Conformity or Change

Someone forwarded to me an article written by Henry Hazlitt in 1970 titled “Conformity or Change.” I first wrote on this a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since.

We have been living with the results of permissive, deconstructionist actions in society and government since the 1960’s and 70’s. The young people of that day now make up many of our political, social and business leaders today. Their instinct to rebel against anything except what they could figure out themselves (cogito ergo sum taken to its logical conclusion) has led to an array of government and social disorders which plague us today. Abortion on demand; excessively violent and overly sexual television and film content; redifinition of marriage; business scandal; no-fault divorce; latch-key kids: these and many other social ills are not merely problems in themselves. They or some form of them have existed in many cultures throughout history. But they reach epidemic proportions as they have in the United States because self-restraint is eschewed and replaced with mere personal choice. The sum total of a mass of individual unbridled impulses is anarchy and chaos, and alot of bruises.

Societies function well with certain accepted standards of conduct. Businesses perform well within the conformity of adherence to standard expectations. Yet we still find ourselves within the grasp of post-modern reconstruction as exemplified by the ACLU’s denunciation of the Boy Scouts and religious sentiment in general.

Henry Hazlitt’s article is as relevant today as it was in the early 70’s at the peak of “60’s culture.” We would do well to remember that the “change” attitude which gave rise to Hazlitt’s admonition then is the prevailing disposition of many of our leaders today who didn’t accept his exhortation then. And we would do well to heed his advice and regard rules and moral behavior with as great respect as we once did.

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Erick Erickson

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