DL Adams over at SIOA wrote a solid piece on Moral Relativism. Though it is American at its heart, it is also about us here in Canada. What is happening in our two formerly great lands is tragic, but it is reversible, if we have the courage to stand up against it. The piece was too good to just link, so I have reproduced it here:
In the dark halls of denial and confusion once known as the learning and planning centers of great public and private institutions across this great land, it is believed—altogether incorrectly—that Moral Relativism has no victims, only beneficiaries.
We have recently seen a jihadist in the US military commit heinous unspeakable crimes of murder and treason at Fort Hood, Texas. He was allowed to commit treason and murder because those in positions of authority allowed him to do it preferring to avoid the appearance of a negative opinion and concern about jihad (and necessarily the “religion of peace/Islam” from which jihad comes) and treason to protecting the lives and security of American service men and women. This is a disastrous failure on the part of many Americans in positions of grave responsibility. This horror must be laid entirely at the feet of the failed philosophy of Moral Relativism and its ugly sibling multiculturalism. Most horrific of all is the fact that this appalling crime at Fort Hood was so readily preventable.
Equivalence is the essence of Moral Relativism; Hasan at Fort Hood was allowed to do his evil business because his expressions of jihad intent and murderous feelings towards non-Muslims were simply “his opinion”, and nothing more. Even expressions of outright treason by Hasan evinced no definitive reaction from military authorities.
If we have no standards of belief, no accepted concepts of truth and value, then any new ideology that reaches our shores is considered by moral relativists to be as valid as the host culture and perhaps even superior simply because it is “different”. Moral relativists have no basis upon which to make moral or ethical judgments and certainly cannot/must not express any opinions that might denigrate or criticize another’s ideology or belief system regardless of the moral or ethical quality of that system. Moral relativists, multiculturalists, and the politically correct are all “birds of a feather” deluding themselves and others that their openness and radical tolerance, even for those with outright offensive ideas, makes for a happier world. They are wrong; Hasan at Fort Hood is one of many proofs.
When all fundamental concepts of “value” and importance, and even the idea of the dichotomy that results from better/worse, good/rotten, intelligent/stupid, enlightened/ignorant are utterly abandoned, denied, and scorned what is left is moral and ethical equivalence. A society that has no idea what it stands for, what it believes in, what it means for citizens to be part of the society itself—is doomed. A society without core ideas is a society destined to failure.
Such a society of radical tolerance has no moral core, no ethical foundation and is bereft of intellectual honesty even to the extreme of forgiving a traitor his treason as if such ideas are merely opinion and completely victimless. We know that this is not so. Moral relativism creates victims not co-prosperity. Our failure to acknowledge good/evil, loyalty/treason, right/wrong, best/rotten, allowed Hasan to commit his reprehensible crimes at Fort Hood.
We are a society adrift, it is clear, because we have disavowed the foundations upon which our society was built. The preventable mass murder at Fort Hood is but one illustration of the victim-creating debacle that is Moral Relativism. Of course, this obvious negation of the value of Moral Relativism hasn’t prevented us from adopting this failed concept as the basis upon which we interact with others, at home and abroad. Fort Hood is the culmination of Moral Relativism in our culture; it is a failed and repellent philosophy that must be abandoned.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Moral Relativism as something that one accuses another of, rather than something to which one proudly admits. This alone identifies Moral Relativism as an inherent negative, and not something that most reasonable people admit to proudly or at all. Reasonable people know that some cultures are better than others, but haven’t the courage to say. Political correctness is the strong arm of the intellectual failure that is Moral Relativism and Multiculturalism. And what if someone who speaks the truth is described in unfavorable terms? Who cares? The truth supersedes all of this hokum fake Utopian philosophy bunk. The truth requires no defense but itself.
Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons. Sometimes ‘Moral Relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the titan of moral clarity and Soviet prisoner of conscience and author of Gulag Archipelago, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, was a prescient man. He warned us about the coming failure of our society back in 1978 in an address at Harvard University (oh, how that institution has failed in its mission!).
The theme of Solzhenitsyn’s address was a warning to the West that a rejection of definitive truths is the foundation of a society’s decline and eventual destruction. He identified the abandonment of the concept of evil and the rise of “humanism” that today is Moral Relativism and post-modernism as the ugly egg from which failed cultures are born.
Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (Solzhenitsyn, address at Harvard, 1978, see citation below.)
Without a firm concept of societal identity and a definitive understanding of and belief in right and wrong, good and evil and similar dichotomies the West cannot succeed over time and will fall to more absolutist ideas due to a lack of moral willpower.
And yet — no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. (Solzhenitsyn, Harvard address, 1978)
We saw with great pride a rush of enlistments after the jihad attacks of 9/11. We know that our heroes still reside in our country, but they are not the standard, they are not the main—they are standard bearers of the idea of self-sacrifice and service that requires a firm understanding of right and wrong and the courage to identify both and take requisite actions. The society from which these brave soldiers sprang has gone in a different direction than they. Our soldiers are our guide, not our politically correct leaders in broken institutions that refuse to defend themselves and us for fear of causing offense to someone real or imagined. Certainly, we have lost our moral willpower.
Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself? (Solzhenitsyn, Harvard address, 1978)
Solzhenitsyn believed that moral growth was imperative for any society and that its citizens must move forward morally and ethically. The existence of and adherence to a legal system was insufficient; meaning and value could never come from law alone but only from moral growth and understanding.
Societies require laws because of humanity’s inherent flaws; if we were perfect there would be no laws. We are not perfect, but adherence to law alone is insufficient to sustain a society and is no foundation upon which societal health and growth can be constructed. Materialism and legality is not enough.
We must have a firm foundation in morality and ethics—which we have abandoned here in this great land. We cannot say that we were not warned. Solzhenitsyn was very clear back in 1978 we just didn’t listen.
It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth; so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding.
A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.
And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises,
Thursday, June 8, 1978
The rise of post-modernism and Moral Relativism whereby equivalence and mediocrity (or outright evil) trumps value and quality (Pirsig, where are you?) continues to be the grim reaper of our cultural and societal life. It will soon eat us whole.
We are now in a great economic collapse, the worst since the great depression. After trillions of dollars have been spent on recovery efforts our national unemployment rate hovers at almost 11% with the “real” unemployment rate considered by some to be much higher. As of this writing there is no recovery but for Wall Street firms enjoying immense infusions of capital because they are simply “too important to fail”. However, the American street (not as important to some as the Arab/Muslim “street”) has felt little benefit and little stimulus and continues to suffer intensely. One would think that in this crisis environment companies and governments would show a clear bias for the growth of American business and therefore support of their fellow Americans; it is not so.
On November 24th it was reported in mainly foreign outlets (China) that a Chinese company was granted a $100 million contract to do subway work on the New York subway system in Manhattan. The only American “news” outlet to cover this contract was the Wall Street Journal, and they literally only ran a two sentence “story”. According to the Journal, the Chinese contract was
…to build subway ventilation facilities in Manhattan.
China Daily quoted one analyst as saying that, “…the order came as no surprise as the US government is spending massively on infrastructure projects.”
How is it possible that the US government and likely the government of the city of New York in this case, are granting massive infrastructure contracts to foreign firms? Certainly there are American firms to do this work? The answer is Moral Relativism.
The article from China Daily was first reviewed several days ago. At that time there were 8 comments from Americans all criticizing the awarding of this contract to a foreign firm and wondering how a foreign company could get such a contract when American companies would be glad to get it. The commenters on this article all wondered how there could be an economic resurgence and recovery here in the United States if foreign firms were being granted large contracts from municipalities and by the federal government itself. These are all important questions to any American. In reviewing the article on China Daily this evening all the comments are gone. Communist states do not have neither freedom of speech nor freedom of the press, remember?
Moral relativism is an insidious thing; Solzhenitsyn warned us about it back in 1978. When we have no loyalty to our own people during the greatest economic collapse in almost a century can we be in anything but a national decline?
China, Switzerland, Rhodesia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, etc.—every country and culture are all the same to Moral Relativists who have no moral core, no concept of what it means to be an American and why it is important to defend America and the concepts of freedom and tolerance and liberty upon which it was founded.
The horror at Fort Hood occurred for the same reason that infrastructure contracts for improvement of American cities are granted to foreign firms amidst a great economic disaster—because , as a culture, we do not value ourselves above others. This relativism is what “Moral Relativism,” and “Multiculturalism” are all about.
We do not see our value in comparison to other cultures because to make such a comparison is considered wrong, intolerant, and bigoted. Such comparisons are not allowed due to our embrace of multiculturalism and Moral Relativism.
We no longer can identify right/wrong, good/evil, etc. We can only embrace the concept of total inclusiveness; though this is an extraordinarily counter-historical radical concept. We are inclusive to the point where traitors, lunatics, killers, and haters are tolerated because they are simply “different” rather than wrong or dangerous or evil.
Our culture appears to have accepted the false premise that if we are but radically inclusive and uber-tolerant than all of our adversaries will love us for our inclusiveness and tolerance. This idea is a negation of the history of humanity, and the nature of humanity itself.
We live in a Utopian fantasy based upon the denial of the nature of humanity.
Our legitimization of ridiculous multiculturalism and Moral Relativism has disastrous results – most particularly the death of innocents at places like Fort Hood (and on 9/11), and the ongoing decline of the greatest country ever seen on this planet, the United States of America.
If we are to recover from this economic nightmare from which we suffer, and persevere against absolutist and totalitarian ideologies such as Islam and the corruption we see in high and low places in our leadership, we must return to the foundations of our democracy. We must accept that loyalty to our fellow Americans is the first and foremost obligation for us all and that the myth of surpranationalism and global unity is just that - a myth.
There is evil in the world, and humanity is not perfect. We must aspire to greater things than the adherence to only our laws alone (this is the core of Solzhenitsyn’s warning); American power and greatness has always rested upon the concept that our shores are the last safe haven in a difficult and often savage world; our society is open to all who want to assimilate and become American. We must not become like the herd; and remain steadfast as the leader and the safe haven for those innocents who, cruelly abused by their own corrupt societies seek a place to reside in safety and freedom.
Certainly, there must always be a place to go for succor and life for those who flee the horrors of the world – a place of decency, opportunity, and justice. We have the privilege to live in this place.
Benjamin Franklin said upon leaving the Constitutional Convention after ratification that we now have a “Republic, if we can keep it.” We must support our Republic and acknowledge its exceptionalism and value and make good the promise of Lincoln at Gettysburg that this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal shall not perish from the earth.
If you want a prophetic answer in song to Moral Relativism, try this one from Carman, 'Our Turn Now."