From time to time you hear a serious discussion about the pending collapse of the American experiment. Some actually advocate the collapse of our country hoping we can start over and make it better. Balderdash! The unanswerable question is who would be in charge of the project to make America great again. Imagine that the effort would be orchestrated by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and you will see the fast track to Maduro’s Venezuela. Imagine the effort would be conducted by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and you will see equality of result rather than equality of opportunity. We are at a tipping point and the Progressive left is giving us a preview of how bad it could be. So how should we proceed?
Jordan Peterson has written a marvelous book entitled 12 Rules of Life, An Antidote to Chaos. It is a must read! Dr. Peterson points out that recent generations have been placed in a position of having to square two conflicting philosophical propositions: Moral Relativism (uncertainty) and a philosophy that is being driven by ideologues (irrational certainty). This conflict is reflected in the uncivil discourse we witness daily from coast to coast.
Moral relativism is the idea that there are no universal or absolute moral principles. In short, there is no right or wrong. When I was teaching at Siena College and then the University of North Carolina-Wilmington I dedicated one class each semester to defining “ethics”. The class was an open dialogue intended to develop a working theory of ethical behavior which could be applied to both one’s personal life and, as it was a business class, the conduct of business transactions. The discussion was lively but, in the end, somewhat disappointing. That disappointment was based on my perception that most students tended to support a more flexible definition of ethics that was not tied to universal or absolute principles. They were not comfortable with moral certainty.
Yet a rational certainty is essential to business transactions and to a civil society. Take, for example, the US Constitution. There is a constant debate between “strict construction”, i.e. following the language of the Constitution as written, and the opposing view that the Constitution is a living document which should be interpreted based on enlightened application to concepts that might not have been foreseen by the drafters of the Constitution. Of course the Constitution is not etched in stone because it can be amended to deal with issues that were not anticipated by the Founders. However, the basic document provides a well defined structure for our government and provides a rational certainty for the future. The various states are, of course, able to implement different and conflicting policies which allows for policy experimentation. The living Constitution is preferred by elitist progressives who wish to establish uniform social policies which would be disallowed under the provisions of the Constitution. Abortion is the best recent example. Now they are targeting the Second Amendment but they know that repeal of that Amendment would be impossible so they find arguments that will have the effect of limiting the intent of the framers. For example, they argue that the authors of the Amendment could not possibly have envisioned an automatic weapon so it could not be covered by the clear language regarding the right to bear arms.
Imagine if business transactions were subject to a similar reinterpretation of contract provisions based on the personal predilections of some third party such as a judge. It would be impossible to conduct a successful business. The students readily understood this concept but were still reluctant to embrace the rational certainty of ethical standards. An interesting conflict.
The problem is that when you embrace a moral relativism while you are wallowing in a cesspool of ignorance you cannot function in a civil society. This issue is what drives the “Resistance” to our duly elected President. Dialogue is impossible and street violence becomes the order of the day. Yet those driven by moral relativism become monolithic ideologues who will accept nothing with which they disagree.
The best example is the fascist-anti-fascist (Fa-Antifa) movement. At this point a bit of historical perspective is required. Anyone remember Ernst Rohm? He was the original leader of a group of German storm troopers (Sturmabteilung or SA) who took to the streets to deal with people who did not embrace the political ambitions of Adolf Hitler, leader of the National SOCIALIST Party, aka the Nazis. Rohm was assassinated as a result of the political machinations of Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler, two particularly odious characters. But the SA street thugs lived on and became known as the “Brown Shirts”. They terrorized and assaulted those with whom the National Socialist Party disagreed, burned books and stifled open debate. At one point there were more than 3 million members of the SA. Ultimately they became the perpetrators of the infamous Kristallnacht which was the precursor of the Shoah, the Holocaust.
Today’s Brown Shirts are the masked ignoramuses that are Fa-Antifa. Like the original Brown Shirts they terrorize anyone who disagrees with them. They engage in gratuitous violence. They try to muzzle the free speech of anyone they do not approve of. And they make no effort to construct any intellectual scaffolding to support whatever they believe in, in large part, because they are nihilists. Their Ernst Rohm is George Soros who finances their activities. It helps to know that Soros hates everything about America. The Fa-Antifa thugs are products of a destructive moral relativism coupled with an appalling ignorance of the world around them. They are the Nazi Brown Shirts of the 21st Century and their lack of self-awareness almost comical. It is instructive to watch the video of the Fa-Antifa storm troopers at UC Berkeley protesting an invitation given to a conservative to speak at the University. Rohm could have used the video as an instructional tool for the original Brown Shirts.
Nazi is the “N” word that is the preferred pejorative of the progressive left. They use the N word because it equates those they target as followers of Hitler which, in turn, suggests a sympathy for the policies that resulted in the extermination of the bulk of European Jewry. They rely on the historic ignorance of much of the youth in America. They may know nothing about the specific history of Hitler and his Nazi followers but they do understand the Pavlovian reaction to the name Hitler and his “master race” rantings. They are, however, serenely ignorant of the fact that they are practicing the arts of the Nazi movement. That ignorance is the basis for their fear of honest dialogue and drives them to avoid any attempt to defend, intellectually, their uncivil behavior. They are unable to distinguish between right and wrong (moral uncertainty) even as they are dogmatically inflexible with respect to what they will allow Americans to think and do (ideological certitude). Yet the progressive politicians (i.e. the Democrats) who support these street thugs toss around the N word with reckless abandon but never apply it to the Nazis who are their foot soldiers. They are fueled by both ignorance and incompetence…a lethal combination.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a wonderful example of the reverence of the left for political and historic ignorance. She is a college graduate who majored in economics and international relations, two subjects about which she has displayed a disturbing and embarrassing ignorance. Boston University, her Alma Mater, would do well to recall her degree so as to save further embarrassment. She would be wise to take a sabbatical in Venezuela to better understand the application of her political positions. Like Hilliary Clinton the more she appears in public the less she is taken seriously.
Another manifestation of the destructive tendencies of the modern progressive movement can be seen in the recent Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings. It has been the Westminster Dog Show of moral relativism and ignorance. Intellectual dishonesty is the order of the day and the Democrats are more than willing to turn legal tradition on it’s head. Imagine such a naive concept as “innocent until proven guilty” rearing it’s ugly head in the US Senate. It has been a total embarrassment and the Democrats are working overtime to validate Trump’s call to “drain the swamp”.
We have reached a point where the mere accusation of bad behavior can justify a conviction in the public square of rape, sexual assault and/or drugging women for nefarious purposes. We are told that proof of such behavior is not relevant. Corroboration of any accusation is not only not required but not desired. Making an accusation despite the inability to identify where the act took place, when the act took place, who might have witnessed the act, how the so-called victim arrived at the place where the act happened or how the so-called victim got back home after the act took place is not only accepted but embraced. Please ignore the fact that none of the people identified as witnesses or participants have confirmed the accusations. The entire argument against Kavanaugh is based on memories that were “suppressed” for 30 years and then coaxed from the accuser’s subconscious with the help of a team of Democrat operatives. Try taking this case to the Maryland police…which sadly she never bothered to do despite the fact that the statute of limitations has yet to run on the alleged acts. The Democrats have jumped the intellectual rails and are racing toward an anarchic state fueled by moral uncertainty.
This is enough to raise the question as to whether America is even worth saving. But don’t get too down in the dumps because you can always turn to Adam Schiff (D-Fantasy Island) for comic relief. Following Schiff in search of stupidity is like following a lighted fuse in search of an explosion…you never have to wait long.