What's With the Left's Broken Moral Compass?
As a courtesy to you leftists out there--both of you--I’m warning you not to read beyond this point. You literally won’t understand what we are talking about, and you’ll just overreact and be pissed off again at your poor old Gagdad. While you will undoubtedly disagree with what we say, you literally won’t understand what we (including the comments to come) are talking about. Folly to the Greeks, and all that. We’re not really talking about you anyway. Rather, we’re talking more about an impersonal spiritual movement on the earth-plane of consciousness that you and your thoughts are caught up in. You cannot see the plane for the same reason why the fish doesn’t know that it lives in water. Being that I and many readers used to swim there, we know all about those murky waters, and even Who fished us out.
Anyway, on Dennis Prager’s radio show yesterday, he asked an interesting question. Unfortunately, I arrived at my destination before I could hear the answer, but he was wondering why it is that the moral compass of the international Left is so fundamentally broken. Does socialist thought break the compass, or does one have to have a broken moral compass to begin with in order to embrace socialism?
Of course, the world is filled with moral ambiguity. But Prager was making specific reference to one of the most morally clear issues of our day, that is, the moral gulf between Israel and her diabolical enemies. Why are conservatives able to see so very clearly that Hizballah is evil and that Israel has every right to eliminate it from the face of the earth? Please, this is not an exercise in moral preening. I’m not patting myself on the back for being able to make such a rudimentary moral distinction. I'm just very thankful that someone is taking out the garbage for me and for the rest of mankind.
But the Left, as a whole, is absolutely unable to make this distinction--presumably because they genuinely do not see it. Because of America’s fundamental decency, our own anti-Semitic Left (which, ironically, includes many Semites, another riddle pointed out by Prager) is not nearly as bad as the international Left, but still, it’s here. Charles at LGF has been running a series he calls “Protocols of the Daily Kos,” with many choice examples of crude anti-Semitism from America’s most popular left-wing website--you know, the one that regards me as the Most Obnoxious Man In AmeriKKKa. To them I say: “Hey buddy, who are you calling Jewish?!”
Here are a few loathsome examples provided by Charles: “OK, so Israel has terrorized half a million people out of their homes to run for their lives, shooting them as they flee to other countries?”
“Israel has imprisoned people without ever charging them for decades at a time, and engage in torture and apartheid as state policy.... Israel ignores the UN’s attempts at peaceful resolution.... Israel consistently violates the sovereignty of it’s neighbors..... Why isn’t the American media and and administration talking about invading Israel?”
“Is Israel trying to give the US an excuse to invade Syria and Iran? To paraphrase, as Prof. Chomsky says--’Is Ford and Chrysler involved in a conspiracy to sell cars?’”
“Israel owns America lock, stock and barrel. They dictate what the United States will do and when it will do it. Our politicians are only too happy to do whatever is asked of them, no matter what the cost is to the United States or its people.”
In other words, we are controlled by.... THE JEWS!
Even as bland a mainstream liberal knucklehead as Richard Cohen of the Washington Post could write last week that the creation of Israel was a “historical mistake,” blaming it for “a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hizbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.” Wouldn’t it be a more interesting question to ask--if we are going to ask sweeping counterfactual and hypothetical historical questions--whether Islam was a mistake? Seriously, imagine what the world would be like if only Islam didn’t exist. Would it be a better or worse place? I'm just asking, Abdul, so keep those damn thoughts of yours out of my head. But what would happen if Cohen had asked this question in his column? Perhaps he would learn a valuable personal lesson in the moral gulf between Israel and her enemies.
If America only sides with Israel because it is controlled by the Jews, how does one account for the fact that conservatives in other parts of the world see the situation as clearly as we do, e.g., John Howard in Australia or Stephen Harper in Canada?
Yesterday a typically clueless reporter asked the great John Bolton, our ambassador to the Turtle Bay Crime Family, to break it all down for him (via powerline): “... It is more and more apparent now that many... are accusing the U.S. and the Security Council of being the obstacle to a real ceasefire immediately... Could you explain in a couple words what is really your position about this?”
Bolton’s priceless response: “Well look, I think we could have a cessation of hostilities immediately if Hizballah would stop terrorizing innocent civilians and give up the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. So that to the extent this crisis continues, the cause is Hizbollah. How you get a ceasefire between one entity, which is a government of a democratically elected state on the one hand, and another entity on the other which is a terrorist gang, no one has yet explained.... Are there any activities that Hizballah engages in, militarily that are legitimate? I don’t think so. All of its activities are terrorist and all of them are illegitimate, so I don’t see the balance or the parallelism between the two sides and therefore I think it’s a very fundamental question: how a terrorist group agrees to a ceasefire.... How do you hold a terrorist group accountable? Who runs the terrorist group? Who makes the commitment that a terrorist group will abide by a ceasefire? What does a terrorist group think a ceasefire is? These are--you can use the words ‘cessation of hostilities’ or ‘truce’ or ‘ceasefire.’ Nobody has yet explained how a terrorist group and a democratic state come to a mutual ceasefire.”
Back to the question before the Cosmos: why is the moral compass of the Left so broken? Why can they not see the obvious? I’ve written on this in the past, and to my mind, the philosopher Michael Polanyi has provided the most satisfactory answer. I remember the first time I read it, perspiring, trembling, and vigorously nodding in agreement at his metaphysical insight. (Real Truth is felt throughout the entire bodymind.)
People typically think that the Right represents the party of sanctimonious, judgmental morality police, while the Left is the hang-loose, live-and-let-live crowd. Not so. In fact, this is an exact reversal of the situation. The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftist thought in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection. (This is all explained very clearly in a nice introduction to Polanyi’s thought, entitled Everyman Revived.)
The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation. This materialistic skepticism is then combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind. However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. In other words, as the philosopher Voegelin explained it, the religious hope for a better afterlife is “immamentized” into the present, expressing the same faith but in wholly horizontal and materialistic and terms.
What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least find pride in the “honesty” of their condemnation. Since ordinary decent behavior can never be safe against suspicion of sheer conformity or downright hypocrisy, only an amoral meaningless act can assure complete authenticity. This is why, to a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. It is why, for example, leftist leaders all over the world were eager to embrace a nihilistic mass murderer such as Yasser Arafat--literally. Yuck.
All emotionally mature people understand that sexuality, for example, can be a dangerous and destructive force when unhinged from any moral framework. But few people seem to understand that the same type of destruction can occur when the moral impulse is detached from its traditional framework. We can see the deadly combination of these two--“skepticism and moral passion,” or “burning moral fervor with hatred of existing society”--in every radical secular revolution since the French Revolution--from the Bolsheviks to nazi Germany to campus unrest in the 1960s. If society has no divine sanction but is made by man, men can and must perfect society now, while all opposition must be joyfully crushed--with moral sanction, of course.
Although Polanyi was describing communism and fascism, the same formulation equally applies to the Islamists, who detest everything about modernity and are convinced that the total destruction of existing society and the establishment of their own unlimited power will bring total happiness and harmony to humanity. Again, this must be sharply distinguished from the Judeo-Christian tradition, which holds that fallen mankind can never bring this transformation about on its own. Rather, this type of perfection is discussed only in eschatological or messianic terms, something each individual most work toward. The moral imperative to do this cannot be shifted to the collective.
You often hear it said (in the MSM) that suicide bombers are not immoral, that they are simply operating out of a different moral code. This only highlights the point that, just because you have a moral code, by no means does it mean that you are moral. In fact, the moral code may be entirely corrupt, in that it allows one to behave immorally, all the while being sanctioned by the code itself. This is similar to primitive societies that operate “logically” within a cognitive system that itself is illogical. These primitive individuals can reason perfectly well within the idiom of their beliefs, but they cannot reason outside or against their beliefs because they have no other idiom in which to express their thoughts. Logic doesn't help; it can prove anything, so long as the conclusion follows its premise. If the premise is faulty, then so too will be the conclusion. Likewise, if I believe that murdering infidels will gain me instant access to heaven, it is perversely logical and thoroughly “moral” under such a system to murder infidels.
One can be so enmeshed in the system that, for example, a woman might confess to having ruined her neighbor's crops through witchcraft, just as a a university administrator may confess to crimes against womankind for uttering a banal truth that is forbidden in the cognitively closed, tribal system of the contemporary feminist Ovary Tower. The intellect no longer serves Truth, but is in the service of the ideological superstructure, so that freedom of thought is bound by the confines of the system---by political or academic correctness.
For a while, civilization was able to withstand the skepticism unleashed by the enlightenment, by benefitting from the momentum of the traditional moral framework that gave rise to science to begin with (for example, the use of our God-given free will in pursuit of objective truth in a rational world made so by a beneficent creator who wished for us to know him through his works). But this could only go on for a few generations before it began detaching itself from the religious morality that underlie it. Since no Christian society can ever live up to its ideals, it wasn’t difficult for the skeptics to begin the process of hammering away at the foundations of tradition.
Similarly, for a while, America escaped this destruction because it had a very different intellectual genealogy, having been much more influenced by the skeptical enlightenment of Britain and Scotland rather than the radical enlightenment of France. In addition, America never lost touch with its Judeo-Christian ideals, which inspired individuals to to work to improve and humanize society without violent disruption of traditional ways or heavy-handed government intervention.
Since we see only “through a glass, darkly,” sometimes Truth is most conspicuous in its absence. With rare exceptions, we cannot see Truth “face to face” under the conditions of human existence. But we can see evil face to face, just as we can see the palpable consequences of the absence of Truth, both in individuals and institutions. I think about Polanyi’s simple formulation every time I wade into the left-wing blogosphere. The utterly sad and destructive cynicism. And the boundless moral fervor. Its mantra is “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” For it is purely mindless and reactionary: no digestion at all, just chewing up and spitting out, repeated ad bulimeum. In short, one is not enough and a hundred is too many when you partake of the Satanic Eucharist of primordial envy.
UPDATE: You must see Dr. Sanity's simple moral Rorschach Test. Seriously, I believe a 10 year old would be able to easily pass the test, whereas the typical leftist professor would struggle mightily to comprehend its meaning, which speaks volumes about the moral corruption of academia.
While you're at it, another brilliantly lucid diagnosis by Dr. Sanity.