Sunday, July 01, 2007

Free Will, Evil and the Secular Left

The fundamental basis of any moral society is individual accountability. When you remove individual accountability from the equation you wind up with either anarchy at one end or totalitarian collectivization on the other end.

No free society can exist for long unless it assumes that individuals have the free will to choose their actions and deal with the consequences. Yet liberals and the left across the West have insisted on precisely this formulation. They spent decades excusing criminals of their crimes by arguing that they had no choice. Their class, their history of abuse, their race or their circumstances had robbed them of the ability to make decisions and be responsible for their actions. The results of this philosophy gave us corrupted justice systems and nanny states. It transformed millions of people from individuals to helpless victims. And that was only the beginning.

From the very beginning, liberal thinkers and pundits have argued that terrorists do not hate us because of their beliefs or ours but because of the circumstances. If there were not so much poverty, surely the terrorism would stop. If only Israel withdrew from Palestinian areas, they would be no need for terrorism. At every turn liberals have swallowed the terrorist's excuses for what they do and refused to hold them accountable when their rosy predictions failed to come true.

Religion, authentic religion, is premised on individual responsibility for your own actions before G-d. Secularism has replaced with a variety of fuzzy philosophies that increasingly verged on collectivism. Class warfare, the great obsession of the left for well over two centuries insisted on a division of humanity into those who have wealth and free will and those who are poor and have none. Long after those gaps no longer meant what they once did, liberals insisted on applying them across racial lines and then across international lines, blaming the "Haves" of America and the West and Israel for forcing the helpless murderous masses of the Muslim world into homicidal outbreaks of violence.

When religion was displaced, the center of the left's ideology became society as a whole. Rather than liberating the individual, as they claimed, they instead enslaved the individual to a belief in his own helplessness. People's actions were no longer the product of a moral choice but the outcome of social forces beyond their control. The murderer killed because of his class and the vast mechanism of social and psychological force that used him as a puppet. You could no longer fight crime or improve people at the individual level, only at the social level by changing social conditions. That is the ideology that liberals continue to insist on when it comes to the War on Terror. That is the mistaken ideology which has led to the attempt to democratize the Middle East.

When free will is denied, responsibility vanishes. Without a party to hold responsible, liberals turn on those in power and blame them for everything, recreating the trial of Native Son over and over again. Unable to place the blame where it lies, the definition of evil instead becomes those with the most power, rather than those perpetrating the crimes and their definition of evil becomes narrowed down to Dick Cheney rather than Osama Bin Laden.


Lemon said...

Even conservatives lean left these days and the world is going to hell in a handbasket

Keli Ata said...

Right. Because nobody wants to take a stand. And another pet peeve of mine is that nobody wants to label behavior as right or wrong. They use cold, sterile mathematical terms like positive and negative.

No. Things are either right or wrong. There are some absolutes in this world, no matter what PC people claim.

Steven said...

While I agree people should be held accountable for their actions, I don't think it is nearly as clear cut as you try to make it.

The biggest problem is that this all assumes a universal, absolute moral code, and despite the assertions of some religious leaders it simply doesn't exist for the vast majority of people. Most people view morality as relative, and an action that may moral in one context isn't necessarily moral in another. There are lots of conservatives who claim protecting innocent life is the most important thing and oppose not only abortions, but even stem cell research. Yet these same people fully support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or Israel's conflicts with it's neighbors, fully aware that innocent lives are sacrificed as result. This contradiction can only be explained by taking circumstances into account. In other words, it's not taking a life that is immoral, but rather the reason why. Further, even our legal code accounts for this level of relativism and distinguishes between various levels of crime when someone is killed (self-defense, manslaughter, murder, etc.)

The reason I point this out is that if the notion of morality is subject to circumstances then personal accountability is as well. Our backgrounds, culture, experiences, and even biology, frame how we apply the concepts of morality to various actions. Where you claim that people are simply being amoral and acting with out any level of accountability, I think it ends up being much more complicated than that. Sociopaths and psychopaths aside, people are acting morally, at least within their own framework, and for the most part that is OK.

Yes, things are much easier if you have one universal objective moral code to guide you, and each religion tries to push their own version of that on others. But that desire to impose a single framework is itself responsible for a lot of conflict. Certainly we have to establish a common ground and a base set of rules that we all play by, but that line certainly will be less than what some want and much more than what others think is acceptable. Balance and compromise are difficult to achieve, but that's the challenge and the joy of being human.

Batya said...

important post
great job

Sultan Knish said...

you're assuming that complexity and absolute moral standards are opposites, they are obviously not

the right decision can be complex based on a variety of factors but there is a difference between a complex moral choice and disregarding the morals when it's convenient

murder is what's wrong, taking a life is under some circumstances the moral decision to make

defensive wars can ultimately protect life and do,

Lemon said...

Morality is not relative.
Viewing it as relative is the source of the world's problems.

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