Thursday, February 20, 2014

8 Lies of Modern Liberal Society

There are many lies that modern society revers as Absolute Truth. Sorting through the myriad paths, I've narrowed the list down into eight specific themes that recur again and again. These tend to be the dogmas of the radical left. They also tend to be taught in schools and universities without any critical analysis, opposing views, or even allowing students the chance of raising questions about their veracity. They are considered Truth, followed with unquestioning faith. True believers are dogmatic, ranking down there with the most annoying of religious zealots.

And they are not new. Despite the progressive urge, all of these ideals date back through history. All have been philosophically refuted as insufficient at best, fallacious at worst.

1) We should not cling to the foolish traditions of our fathers.
Tradition in the modern day is generally thought of as passé, and not relevant to the here and now. The problem with rejecting past wisdom falls into the trap that George Santayana so eloquently described. Here's his famous quote in a more complete context: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Many condemn the US Constitution as too outdated. They condemn the US as an imperial tyrant, founded by old, dead men. They condemn traditional marriage as little more than chattel slavery. They condemn the free market as merely a means of sticking it to the poor.

The price of rejecting the wisdom of the past is perpetual infancy, with no room for improvement. (In case you don't catch my meaning here, let me reiterate. Yes, those who reject the wisdom of the past are a bunch of whiny, selfish, children.)

2) We cannot know anything we cannot see or prove with our senses.
Empiricism is the philosophical idea that there is no reality beyond what we prove with our senses. This philosophy would have us believe that the existence of all thought and immaterial existence is based solely on the ideal of extending the scientific principle to the absurd. Many use this argument to "prove" that God cannot exist. But it is logically erroneous to assert that claims of positive truth bear a burden of proof, while claims of negative truth do not.

Rationalism, in contrast to empiricism, does indeed allow for the idea that there is reality outside of human experience. It is mere hubris to claim otherwise.

3) Belief in a supreme being is a derangement of a frenzied mind.
I pointed out years ago that modern society tends to treat religion as a mental disease. Yet, for the simple fact of its persistence throughout the whole of human history, this line of thought neglects to understand just why people are religious. This idea tends to treat the belief in anything that is unknown, or more especially, belief in anything that doesn't fit modern leftist thought, as a mental illness. This leads to a double standard, where some modern beliefs can be redefined as normal because it is politically correct to do so, while other, more historical beliefs are written off as a derangement.

4) We do not need outside morals to manage ourselves.
The idea that morals are inner-based can only lead in two directions (and really to only one conclusion). Inner-based morality could, perhaps, lead to anarchy, where there is no law except what individuals consider to be best. (This is the Utopian conclusion of both libertarian anarchy, as well as Marxist communism.) Yet, anarchy has always led to those in power exploiting the weak. In many cases, authoritarian and totalitarian states have risen from the ashes of the discontented, fueled by those who were eager to restore order at any price.

The other path leads directly to the authoritarian or totalitarian state, where the state takes the place of any other outside influences to dictate what morality is. This is the basis of fascism.

A corollary to this idea is the concept that the law has no absolute interpretation; the law is malleable according to modern custom. This is the ideal of the living Constitution, activist judges, and situational ethics. With no standard, there is no guarantee of liberty and no equal protection under the law.

5) Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
While this concept is biblical, the idea stems from the Greek Epicureans. They thought that all that is valuable in life is the pursuit of pleasure. Just as moral relativism can lead to the destruction of the rule of law, so also Epicurean thought leads to a truly selfish population. To the modern Epicurean, there are no grand ideals, because there is nothing worth dying for. There is no great evil, because nothing is good but the pursuit of pleasure.

This philosophy is hedonism, which exchanges happiness for pleasure. Hedonism creates a paradox, trying to grasp at the complex idea of pleasure, while unable to truly define it. Without some previous reference or moral anchor, the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake leads to decadence.

6) Religion was created solely to usurp power and authority over people's minds.
Marx called religion the opiate of the masses. The fallacy in this line of thinking ignores two potent facts: all human societies have had religion in one form or another, suggesting that religion may not be imposed but social; modern non-religious ideologies have caused more human harm and suffering than religion. (Compare the death tolls of abortion, fascism, and communism.)

This is not to say that religions have been blameless. Certainly any system of political control can lead to abuses of power. That's why the founders of the US created the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution - to prevent political abuse of religious authority. That is also the reason for the free exercise clause - again to prevent unscrupulous government officials from dictating belief. Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from political abuse of religion is to realize just how dangerous government power is. The founders also understood this concept, attempting to create a government where power was spread out through the entire population of its citizens in the hopes that the US would not soon become just another authoritarian state.

7) Historical ideas, such as the US Constitution, are outdated and don't respond to the needs of the current generation.
The corollary to this argues that people who adhere to the original ideals of the Constitution can't know that system is any better than what we can produce now. And, in fact as they argue, the Constitution created a system of slavery and empire.

This fallacy is revealed when we consider that our modern freedoms that many wish to throw out as outdated, were only made possible because of the ideals of the founders. The Constitution is not a dead document. If it were, the entire basis of civil and natural rights would not have been born in the US.

8) True freedom only lies in doing what we want to do.
Those who adhere to this argument would argue that we are only free if we are allowed to do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it, as long as we don't hurt anyone. We only have to look at the failed hippie movement of the 1960s to realize that sex, drugs, and rock and roll only lead to disease and infidelity, millions of abortions, epidemic drug abuse, and a lot of deaf adults.

There is no future in building up the decadent society.