Monday, 14 January 2008

All values are relative...

[Another resurrected previous post]


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. As Orwell famously said, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others".


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 near-brain dead, ‘postmodern’, Left are tumbling over themselves to assure us that Islam is deserving in Britain and other European countries of equal status for its adherents with the values and customs of our open secular society and the rule of law which we have slowly and painfully evolved over centuries of hard-fought struggle against tyranny. Are these ‘multiculti’ idiots seriously proposing that a primitive system of law such as Shari’a, which by Western standards is in many respects cruel and even barbaric, should be given even informal houseroom here?


If trumping our values is to be OK for Islam, why not for Roman Catholicism, fascism, communism, and other mind-controlling doctrines? All of these, whether religious or political or both - because all religion is political in its intent and operation - seek to dominate and control not only their own willing followers but, ultimately, everybody else. Whatever route they follow, their destination and ambition are always identical: their domination and others’ [i.e. our] submission – ultimately obtained, if necessary, by force.


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 W.S. Gilbert’s “idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country but his own”.

4 comments:

pela68 said...

Brilliant AC. With (or without- HEH!) your permission this is going to be republshied at my blog...

pela68 said...

Please take a look at this post if you will.

http://gummihund.blogspot.com/2008/01/bloggers-of-world.html

Dean McConnell said...

No0w that you have relaised there are some standards for things - better, worse, free, oppresive etc. Where do you think those come from and why should anybody pay attention to them? If the sourse is just what you or our people want, whty is that better than what other people want? Could there actually be a sourse of objective value behind your conscience and the "values" of the western tradition?

anticant said...

I hope Scott Roberts won't mind my purloining his following comment, recently posted on Stephen Law's Philosophy Blog, as the best answer I can think of to the above:

"In my religion, God is Reason (also Love, etc., different names for the same non-thing), and my religious practice consists of taking reason to its limits. This is best done by facing mysteries without secular presuppositions (e.g., that reason is an emergent property). This seems to me to be more faithful to reason than any secular foundational principles I know of."