Liberals, conservatives and blank slates


David Robertson

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The liberal passion for social engineering most likely stems from the concept of human nature as a blank slate upon which experience is written. We are, in other words, neither more nor less than what we learn. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that we be taught the “right” way to speak, think, behave and even feel.

This idea is, however, logically untenable. Without so much as an instinctive desire to apply experience, a blank slate would forever remain the functional equivalent of a blank slate, regardless of what got written on it. Human nature is indeed malleable, but malleability, like every other phenomenon or attribute, has limits. 

Besides, who can say for sure that our would-be teachers were themselves taught the right way of doing things? 

On the other side, American conservatism — with its traditional emphasis on personal responsibility — has been largely displaced by the doctrine of conservative victimhood, an obnoxious paradox which paves the way to nihilism. 

Blank slates aren’t born, but it may be that the professed archenemy of liberalism will succeed in manufacturing creatures who believe, think and respect nothing. 

David Robertson

Elizabeth City