I remember, when I was a first-year undergraduate, one of those intense after-dinner discussions where an earnest young lady fervently proclaimed: “Nothing is absolute! Everything is relative.” This [even if illogical] is probably true. But it didn’t occur to me then that it would ever be used by self-styled ‘intellectuals’ to maintain that “and therefore, nothing is better or worse than anything else”. This is obvious nonsense, if only because if something is relative it has to be relative to some standard of value.
Ancient and mentally out-dated I may be, but I would never have foreseen that anyone educated in the Western liberal tradition of free enquiry and open debate could seriously aver that closed thought systems of a totalitarian cast, whether religious, philosophical, or political, are entitled to equal respect and toleration – one-sided, of course – with democratic pluralism.
But such is the case nowadays. Incredibly, many of the trendy pundits of the Left are tumbling over themselves to assure us that Islam is deserving in
If this is true of Islam, why not of Roman Catholicism, fascism, communism, and other mind-controlling doctrines? All of these, whether religious or political or both, seek to dominate and control not only their own willing followers, but everybody else. Whatever route they follow, their destination and ambition are always identical: their domination and others’ submission – ultimately obtained, if necessary, by violence.
There are indeed many and deep flaws in the practice of Western democracy in these grievous opening years of the 21st century. Remedying these is surely task enough for anyone who cares about the health and future of our society, without embarking upon quixotic championship of Trojan horses in our midst.
By all means let us be relativist – but not mindlessly relativist in the fashion of Gilbert’s “idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country but his own”.