Hedonist Orthodoxy and Work Ethic

In the previous few articles, I have written about hedonist orthodoxy which is the normative system which has there is a proper and improper way to engage in leisure time. That this is a subnorm based on a subepistime within the broader context of Rawlsian liberal ethics that are the main normative morals of our society. I talked about hedonist orthodoxy was based on the belief that surrendering to baser natures represented a more animlistic, natural, and, ultimately uncorrupted form. Edenic, of you will. The hedonist orthodoxy I focussed on was the one I am most familiar with in Charleston, South Carolina which has that the proper way to spend one’s leisure time is hard partying, heavy drinking, much sex, frequent drug use, and that this idea of the natural and uncorrupted human is based on their false scientific beliefs (the subepistime) that the average man is a lizard-brained hypersexual and therefore that a full life is weekend-warrior style hedonist. Therefore, in a strange analog to the Aristotelian fully realized man, they believed in a eudemonia of brainless pleasure-seeking.

There are other forms of pleasure-seeking, gentler and softer Epicurean. Yet, those are normative trangressions of morality if one elects to choose them over the weekend-warrior style frat-ish hedonism of the hedonist orthodoxy. They take having a good time so seriously, they prosecute heretics of what they consider the right kind of good time which is mostly being shit-faced drunk. Now, comporting with their hedonist orthodoxy is their work ethic. They basically believe in working hard and partying hard. In the observations of Max Weber, they’re culturally Protestant and instead of being an Italian who sips wine with a mistress, they snort cocaine with a stripper. It is, altogether, vastly more classless and infinitely trashier.

Yet, in its lack of sophistication, it possesses a noble simplicity that makes them superior. In short, they believe that moral character is equated with work ethic and see status as reflecting work ethic and therefore character therefore the losers are morally worse and this combines with the nobile simplicity of less sophisticated and more crass forms of pleasure to create the subnorm of hard work reflects strong character because of work ethic and partying hard reflects strong character because simpler is more natural and innocent than the sophisticated and urbane.

In addition to the Lerner & Simmons study and its associated theory from 1966 about how people see lower-status people as having worse character. This belief that status reflects work ethic reflects character does, too. The reason people are supposed to work is not to sustain themselves, so much, but to morally validate themselves. To not work is a source of immense shame. Furthermore, to work a lower-paying job is associated with lower character, in part, because the myth, the obviously false myth, is that their status is owing to a lack of work ethic and therefore character. It is easy to live on a relatively meager budget if one is single and the cost of living is low but it is not if the cost is being judged by society for being a cashier at 45 as being morally inferior. In college, I noted that the average student would take 18-22 credit hours in a semester and cope with the work load by drinking and fucking themselves Vegas-level every weekend.

My idea of a good time and good life would be, like, 12-15 credit hours and having a social life that included things like poetry at a cabaret over mocktails, intelligent discourse, and coffee. I measured my moral worth, mostly, by hours and life given to causes I believed in. Their parents expect them to get shit-faced drunk, they ask about their GPA, and never ask about how much they have devoted their lives to altruism. A student may become a successful yuppie because of their high GPA and they may enjoy the cocaine and the orgies and the swelling pride of their parents but that doesn’t make them morally better people. I say this, ironically, as a Protestant, myself. Yet, that is how our society morally measures people. This system of shit-faced and rich is good and sober and poor is bad is amazing and needs to stop.

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