Herbert London: The Gnostic Idea Of Social Change
Gnosticism is in the cultural air we breathe. The desire to break with tradition requires new avenues of protest. A trajectory of gay rights to gay marriage has seemingly won the day with the Gnostics now seeking alternative pathways to reform. The new, the truly new, is the movement to project the acceptance of transgendered sexuality.
In June 2014 an Alberta Canada judge argued that a twelve year old transgendered boy (a girl who considers herself a boy) must have the right to a new birth certificate with a new gender assignment. Prior to this judgment, Alberta law only allowed for new birth certificates if sex change surgery had been performed. The judge ruled that restriction to be a violation of “the rights ruled of transgendered people.” Presumably we get to be who we think we are and there is the emerging right to compel agreement.
Years ago there was an ad that said, “If you have but one life to live, live it as a blond.” Changing hair color to change identity set the stage for being whoever you want to be. Of course, now it is a right; if a woman says she is a man that is sufficient for her to use the “men’s room.”
A Marvel Comics spokesman said recently that the hero Thor was turning into a woman. Thor is the Norse god of thunder dating back over a thousand years. As a comic book fixture, Thor debuted in 1962. Though not technically a man, he was routinely depicted as male – until now. Marvel spokesman insists he is a she, a decision made without fanfare. It appears as though Thor decided he would prefer to live among the gods as a female.
Popular culture often sets the stage for the next wave of protestation. The idea that there are fixed traditional notions of social welfare going back thousands of years in anathema to the Gnostics who are eager to refashion the society. But where precisely are we going? Inventing rights is easy, but maintaining social equilibrium is not.
Converting society into a perpetual revolution in which the past is erased in search of utopia invariably ends in dystopia. Conferring rights without responsibility is a fool’s errand. At some point, absurd conditions are palpable. If a girl, for example, thinks she is a boy and has a plastic prosthesis surgically inserted, what happens when she changes her mind? If I am right handed, but all my life I wanted to be a southpaw is it appropriate to have my right arm removed? Being who you want to be was never a biological issue; it was related to status, prestige, and achievement. The idea that gender is an existential question is in some sense a violation of common sense and the accumulated wisdom of the past. Wants transcend all other considerations.
Technology itself has changed the male role making him less relevant in a woman’s life than was the case before. As a consequence, many males appear sexually ambiguous. The road to transsexuality is paved with stones of androgyny. Hence the creators of the newest rights are walking down this pathway hopeful that society will embrace the plight of those tortured by the bad deal biology gave them.
As Nicolas Chamfort, writer and dramatist, noted, “Nearly all people live in slavery for the reason the Spartans gave us as the cause of the slavery of Persians: they are not able to utter the syllable ‘no’.” Neither are we. In fact, perpetual revolution the Gnostics prefer leads inevitably to a point where we are slaves to rights creation and the remaking of social order.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries atwww.londoncenter.org
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