Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Leftists are not Relativists
Among anti-Leftists, there seems to persist a stubborn belief that Leftists are relativists.
For example, to pick one example out of thousands that presuppose this view, there is this dashed-off editorial remark by Lawrence Auster in his otherwise fine presentation of the problem of non-white savagery (against whites) in the Caribbean:
Why, even when a murder or assault has been an act of wanton cruelty for the sake of cruelty, having no bearing on any rational objective, as is the case with the recent machete attacks in Tobago, do police nevertheless act as though figuring out the motive of the killers is the most important element in the investigation? Answer: the police are liberals who deny the existence of evil.
Actually, Leftists (a term I prefer to Auster’s “liberals”) do not deny the existence of evil, generally speaking: they only deny that it exists among Leftists and non-white non-Westerners. When it comes to white non-Leftist Westerners, however, Leftists believe rather fervently in the existence of evil. Leftists are absolutists, not relativists. Or, to be precise, Leftists are selective relativists who carve out spheres in which they are absolutists—namely, the spheres of anti-Western Leftism and non-Western cultures (as long as those non-Western cultures have healthy doses of anti-Western values, such as Islam). In these spheres, Leftists believe in a system of absolute goods and morals, all conducive to their vision of how to organize society according to an (ultimately incoherent) utopianism.
This notion that Leftists are merely relativists is a simplistic insult used to denigrate them, but ultimately fails due to its lack of a sophisticated appreciation for the complexity of the problem, thus obfuscating the ersatz-religion nature of the Leftist enterprise and its immanentization of the eschaton. The problem, and the issue, is not one of Absolutism vs. Relativism, but rather of a struggle between two competing Absolutisms, where the healthier one abides by the tension of existence, while the more pathological one stubbornly resists that tension in favor of gnostic and utopian urges.