(...)The sexual revolution, del Noce argues, was a radical change in Western metaphysics and views of human nature. Wilhelm Reich’s manifesto, The Sexual Revolution, began from the unargued assumption that there is no “order of ends, no meta-empirical authority of values.” In a world without purposes, “all that is left is vital energy, which can be identified with sexuality.”
(...)Sexual revolutionaries thus turn sexual morality upside down. Earlier ideals like modesty, purity, and restraint are now seen as repressive and abnormal. The category of “sexual perversion” must be eliminated. Behind this is the anti-teleology of the new sexual metaphysics: Sex best expresses its essence when it has no goal (e.g., procreation) beyond itself, and so “homosexual expressions, either masculine or feminine, should be regarded as the purest form of love.”
The sexual revolution marks the crucial divide between the old and new left: “The new left [has] become sexualized.” It is “defined precisely by its unwillingness to reject either Freud or Marx,” but its synthesis would satisfy neither. The sexual revolution gives up Marxist teleology and abandons Freud’s tragic moralism; it regards Freud and Marx as bourgeois sell-outs. Eliminating social and economic inequities isn’t enough. Sexual revolution alone brings total revolution. De Sade, not Marx or Freud, is the true hero of total revolution.
Peter J. Leithart, in First Things