Inside the mind of Ben Shapiro, a radical conservative
Posted on Aug 12 2022 10:00 AM
"In secular countries, what’s seen is an attempt to supplant a religious-based social fabric with a governmental one."
The controversial blogger talks to The Af bulletin about Western values, disappointment with Trump and moral clickbait.
Everything about Ben Shapiro is polished, his answers are smooth, his appearance is neat, and his academic pedigree is impeccable. He blasted into the public sphere at the tender age of 20 with his first book which made him a hero to many young conservatives.
After spending a semester at Breitbart, Tucker's new site is called the Daily Wire, catering to right-wing media. At 35 years old, his seventh book was published recently and is entitled "The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great." It argues that the dismissal of Judeo-Christian values and the Greek tradition of reason lead to subjectivism and individualism as well as Western societies modern malaise.
In his views, he is classified as
Shapiro knows how to stir up controversy, which increases his opportunities for being heard among the noise of “digital media.” Once it's on the news, he uses his intellect and knowledge to get people interested in more complex topics.
Shapiro discusses Western values, freedom of speech, why he is only “sometimes Trump” and the criticism that he is Islamophobic, a podcast interview with Anne McElvoy for The Economist Asks. This is followed by compilations of the interview.
In your latest book, you point out the potential negative effects on society with increasing automation and the wealth of information that is available.
The idea that each individual has intrinsic value is eroding. Each individual can use reason to share ideas and have discussions with their peers. This assumption is used for free speech and democracy, and as a whole, these entrenched principles are what freedom of expression is founded upon.
Western society made three big assumptions in days, and those values have led to a cultural erosion of reason. Now, the West is reverting back to tribalism and this pattern is becoming increasingly ugly.
It is a faith-based argument, but the argument that Jesus Christ was either a historical person or an allegorical figure has been debated throughout history in different ways. In pluralistic societies, many people interpret these ideas differently.
Mr Shapiro argues that even though the foundations of Judeo-Christian values are incompatible with reason, knowledge and facts, it's possible to use these ideas in tension with the Christian ideals. The goal of the book is not for everyone to follow Christianity alone. It's that people can obtain knowledge as well as balance their views through rational thought in conjunction with Judeo-Christian ideologies.
Politics have gone in a direction that makes the discussion more tribal than ever before. People are picking sides and fighting with others.
One does not need to argue that creating a theocracy is the purpose of life. It is important to emphasize certain principles that were created by Judeo-Christian value systems. These values can be abused and gain dominance, as is currently seen in how reason has gained dominance over religion and created unfortunate effects.
I believe that abandoning Judeo-Christian values often leads to dark places. Similarly, an abandonment of reason often leads to dark places. This is because humanism, the philosophical ideology at work behind secular humanism, believes in progress by reasoning out traditions and beliefs through philosophy. Against this belief, I argue that it is more important to understand where we came from before plucking the fruits in order to preserve those virtues and cultivate them further into something else.
When defining ethics, many positive things that we think of in the West are often dismissed. For instance, wealth and power can be used to benefit people and build empires - even ones built on slavery.
Typewriter-shaped AI, Mr. Shapiro: That's true! It's also true that slavery is an universal institution of human society until its abolition was almost successfully achieved by the Judeo-Christian West.
These are the mental steps Ben Shapiro takes before he can write something hate-filled
Mr. Shapiro of course it took a long time for the West to be formed, but at present, we are now on the verge of destroying that which gave us it in the first place. The argument in his book is not that there was one moment where society suddenly appeared from thin air and progress stopped, but rather that there are these principles that are constantly battling each other with each other and shaping what makes up Western society. He argues that ignoring some of these principles would lead to unknown consequences as well as disregarding some of the foundations needed for a building’s construction. He also contends that doing so should not be done as it would have disastrous consequences.
You mention the idea of a new social fabric and discuss your idea for the solution to these problems. What would this social fabric look like? How might we recognize when we have reached it?
Internalizing the traumas of humans who were enslaved for centuries
Mr Shapiro: We need to establish an agreed-upon definition of what constitutes liberty, what choice means, and rebuild the institutions that have collapsed. Historically, these institutions were churches. But social science research states that churches are no longer the only places where people find meaning. Social clubs, bowling leagues and other informal communities are where people engage in meaningful conversation about themselves and each other.
However, if the ways that we connect are durable, then this aid to connecting is also beneficial to our individuality. The point made by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone is an example of this. Diversity has been shown to be a weakening factor in society, but “Bowling Alone” argues that when there is common purpose behind diversity, then it helps significantly.
One of the things we’ve seen in recent years is the West’s attempt to shatter some sense of unity and maintain that multiculturalism. I think this comes with a price because everyone is left to their own devices while shedding any common ground or pursuits.
You have a big social media following. You’re laying out a stall here. You’re taking on some ideas that you’ve embraced over the years, and what you wrote now. Why should we listen to you? What is different about your perspective or authority?
Mr Shapiro: I believe all the things we think of as good in the Western world are present in today's society. These include economic empowerment, personal freedom and a democratic state.
Historically, we’ve mostly written about Western civilization for the sins of its past. But it’s important to note that the West is very different from what it was.
If you believe that the West has often had a beneficial and salutary impact on the world, particularly over the last few centuries, we will have to look at the values that inspired them, since this is something that is different.
What the West is really trying to do is to look after those weaker than themselves and keep looking at itself. We should be proactive instead of conforming.
Tom Shapiro, author of the book Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil
If the values that the West inspires have been beneficial, then we might need to reconsider those values.
In secular countries, what’s seen is an attempt to supplant a religious-based social fabric with a governmental one. The belief being that we all agree that we have to take care of our neighbors. As a religious person, I want to care for my neighbor; it’s biblical. That doesn’t mean that an overarching government has the power to confiscate wealth from some and give it to others..
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