American society and culture come from the vision of the Founders where the country would be a community of individuals. This at least partially inspired the States’ motto on currency e pluribus unum: out of many, one. However, contemporary liberalism goes against this concept and the idea of a contractually bound individual and state. For a liberal, the self is plenipotentiary and may act in any way it sees fit (as long as its actions harm no one else). Liberalism allows the self to perform any action under the belief that whatever the individual wants is right. The Left holds to a solipsistic form of truth and morals where there is no truth outside of what the individual wants. This plays out in a variety of policy options, especially abortion.

Individuals within society are bound by a social contract which exists so that people who have determined their own government delegate power to it for protection. However, to keep a culture in cohesion and within order, individuals must also have contractual limitations amongst each other to preserve a prescriptive normative order. Morality, ethics, and tradition establish this normative order, and it is important that they are followed. Individuals cannot realistically do whatever they please; morality is necessary for a healthy culture.

There are many arguments surrounding abortion, and they primarily focus on whether or not the fetus is a human life. Although I believe life begins at conception, this point is not important for my current argument. Instead, it is important to address the cultural and communal consequences of abortion. Abortion negatively affects culture by attacking the family, women, and the value of life. By allowing the procedure to be legal, liberals are saying only the will of the woman matters. Who cares what the man wants? Who cares about the parents if their child is a minor? All that matters to liberals is what the individual woman wants. Children are pushed aside for “careers” or “money.” This is the truly horrific part of abortion. It places someone’s material wealth and possession above life or even the possibility of life, which is the consequence of making the individual plenipotentiary.

Another problem with this mindset is that it allows the private identity of someone to supersede the needs or purposes of the community and country. Liberals and some of their alternative lifestyles say that what they are doing is no one else’s business. Then, they run into a logical problem. Those who say an individual may act however he or she desires want the community to both ignore what they do in their private lives and to validate whatever the individual does. Take what is called “gay liberation,” or the “homosexual lifestyle.” It is not about the community, but a radicalized individualism. They no longer care about the interpersonal relationships that define community, society, and country. Instead, it rests all on what they want; it is nearly voluntaristic. This is what leads to the breakdown of communities. If someone wants a child out of wedlock, the couple or individual should go ahead and have it. If an individual desires multiple sexual conquests with no consequences, go ahead and have it. Three or four marriages? Go ahead and have it. The individual becomes more important than what is healthy for the community.

Conservatives understand the importance of community. They support policies that increase employment through lower taxes and believe that parents are better for children than government. The individual’s will is not the imperative; people must live together in a community where the will is bound. The conservative believes in an “enduring moral order,” as the famous conservative scholar Russell Kirk put it. He writes that “order signifies harmony” and that order is both “the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth.” America can only maintain itself if it achieves that order. The individual is necessarily bound because morality within the community matters. People cannot act in a manner that abrogates communal morality or ethos. Furthermore, relationships matter; everyone needs to have interpersonal connections to other people. Without them, the self becomes corrupted and sick, and the individual cannot function in a normal society. Liberals must learn to give up the self as the central feature of their lives if they want American culture, community, and society to thrive.

Treston Wheat // Georgetown University // @TrestonWheat