Distinguish friend from foe.
†For more information, contact:
†† Gary Schouborg, PhD
†† (925) 932-1982
Schouborg, Gary (2006).
" What's Right and Wrong about the Left and Right".
What's Right and Wrong about the Left and Right
Caught Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, on CSPAN 2 last night. Very impressive gal in arguing against the oversimplified notion of diversity that passes for multiculturalism. She very effectively made points that tie in with Australiaís recent demand that Muslims get with the program. Briefly, her point was that a nation that gives all groups unbridled† freedom to do their thing is soon no coherent, viable state at all, as Britain is in danger of becoming; and that any nation should unapologetically assert its basic values and demand that any immigrant or visitor conform to them. The freer the nation, the more individual freedom it can allow, but there comes a point where a viable coherence is lost unless an overarching structure of values, principles, and policies must be insisted upon.
Where I think she was inadequate was in the contrast she made, one universally and wrongly applied in the public debate, between the feckless relativism of the left and the common sense, objective values of the right. This contrast is wrong in two ways: the fecklessness of the left is not in its relativism, but in its response to it; and the values on the right are not objective — i.e., that is, they canít be discovered and affirmed by reason.
Where the left is correct is in its intellectual grasp of the epistemological difficulties of the notion of objective value. Awareness of these difficulties is an intellectual sophistication of which the right seems completely unaware and which gives some reason for the left to see the right as unsophisticated yahoos. (Sadly, the vast majority of the left knows of these difficulties only by heresay, not any real understanding. For them, believing in objective value would be more a faux pas than an intellectual error.)
Where the right is correct is in its willingness to assert its self-interest.
Until the late 19th, early 20th century, Western culture was sustained on general agreement that its values were objective. As early as 18th century Enlightenment, philosophers were already beginning to see that this position was untenable. Their view grew among the educated class of Europe and the American universities that took their cues from Europe, as more educated people became philosophically sophisticated. However, the left continued to believe that values that are worth following must be objective. So when they concluded that there are were no objective values, they eventually declined toward the feckless Europe we know today, which hasnít the will to assert itself against those who oppose them.
As Nietzsche saw, the alternative to belief in objective value is will. I assert what I want and work — and fight if it comes to it — to achieve it. Where the right is correct is its willingness to work and fight for what it values. Where it has it wrong is its belief that what it wants is somehow grounded in objective value, in Reason or Godís will or some such.
The intellectual and practical resolution between right and left will come only in those individuals who have the intellectual acumen and emotional vitality to assert their will in the face of the knowledge that theyíre not backed up by God or Reason or Some Other Absolute Power (soft SOAP). Until large numbers of people can arrive at that personal integration, weíll continue to have a left thatís afraid to assert itself in the face of opposition and a right that's rigidly committed to abstract values that may or may not be practicable in particular situations.