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Registered User
(4/22/01 7:35 pm)
Totalitarian Future
Some will think I'm crazy but here goes:
I was thinking about the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Boy Scouts and I think it holds important clues about the future. It's very telling that 4 judges were ready to force a semi-religious, private organization to adopt a view that it finds morally repugnant. 4 out of 9 judges is an amazing porportion of supposedly educated constitutional scholars that actually believe that it is right to do this. Can the day be far off when a church that refuses to ordain homosexuals and women or adopt 'linguistically cleansed' Scriptures be subject to financial sanctions by lawsuits or even be dissolved by the government? Or maybe they decide that sermons and homilies are a form of education subject to govermental regulation and restriction (ala the Soviet Union). While my examples deal with religion, Its not unreasonable to assume other institutions or individuals would be affected. Maybe an organization (or even an individual) that thinks homosexuality is harmful to people could be sued or shut down on the principle that the organization causes people psychological pain? Think of the rise of Political Correctness on college campuses. I'm sure some will argue that the Constitution will stop them. If fact, neither the law nor the constitution have proved to be a stumbling block on the leftist drive for hegemony. I think that an overtly totalitarian state is in the not-so-distant future because totalitarianism is intregal to the left.

Questions I have:
If my reasoning is correct, then will the gradual collapse of western culture intensify totalitarianism or will the restoration take effect before the totalitarian state?
What is the future of the traditionalist movement in such a state? Can seperatist movements surive in such an hostile environment? Can anything remotely resembling true religion survive relatively intact for that matter?

(4/23/01 12:22 pm)

Re: Totalitarian Future
To my mind as well there is a very serious danger of a totalitarian future. I'm inclined to think that the intrinsic corruption of the advanced liberal state is probably our most reliable ally.

The corruption arises because liberalism can't provide reasons for loyalty or self-sacrifice, and doesn't like to make any serious demand for personal moral discipline. The Clinton administration showed us where we are and hinted at what the future is likely to be.

The advantage of corruption in a totalitarian regime, of course, is that it prevents it from carrying out its fundamental commitments.

Jim Kalb and

Registered User
(4/24/01 4:31 am)
Re: Totalitarian Future
You brought up some good points. I think the one of the core problems of liberalism is the substitution of common morality (which progressives confuse with personal morality) with a common ideology. It certainly has led to the rise of social problems.

Likewise, corruption in the totalitarian state will arise because progressives judge a man's fitness in society based on his conformity to leftist ideology and not on his adherence to common morality which has been the case for millenia. When in power, progressives almost always become hypocritical and corrupt because things like honesty and integrity are not valued. The Soviet Union, which established a privleged class based on ideological conformity, is another.

In fact, the latter half of Soviet history may give us an example of where were headed.

(4/24/01 6:48 am)

Re: Totalitarian Future
A big question is how much life independent of the regime will be permitted. The Soviet Union is an alarming example, because it allowed so little, and you can see what the consequences of that are in the state of post-Soviet society.

I doubt we'll simply retrace the steps of Soviet society. For one thing corruption is setting in and discipline being lost much earlier in the process of centralization. For another the declared ideology is much more adverse to forcible measures and takes letting people do what they feel like doing much more seriously.

Jim Kalb and

Registered User
(4/27/01 2:47 pm)
Re: Totalitarian Future

America No Longer Exists
Lawrence Auster
Wednesday, April 25, 2001

(4/27/01 8:41 pm)
Re: Totalitarian Future
It's a point - if social coherence is lost, so that there's no particular society people feel attached to and want to defend and preserve, then it's not clear what the defense against totalitarianism is going to be.

Jim Kalb and

Registered User
(5/1/01 2:11 pm)
she said, "I want to be in a tribe!"

Registered User
(5/1/01 6:10 pm)
Re: Totalitarian Future
Liberalism is not totally disagreeable with the use of violence and coercion as Waco and Kosovo demonstrate. Liberal ideology is full of contradictions and in a constant state of flux.

Two competing pillars of liberalism have emerged that are diametrically opposed to one another: radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. It seems to me that liberal emphasis on individualism is(was) an excuse to tear down the moral order that existed before the 60's. It's an artifact of an earlier time. I believe as things get worse, they'll start stressing social egalitarianism no matter the cost. Then it will simply be a matter of identifying and setting about eliminating the opposition.

No doubt, they'll refrain from overt widescale violence (at least in Western countries), but still coerce people with governmentally regulated 'sensitivity training' and the like, until they agree with the liberal belief system. For all their talk otherwise, liberals seem awfully attached to the notion of conversion by sword.

Edited by: JasonEubanks at: 5/1/01 6:14:47 pm
(5/2/01 9:31 am)
Re: Totalitarian Future
I agree, on the whole. What makes the situation more dangerous is that liberalism is more consistent than you suggest so it have fewer inner conflicts that might weaken it.

Its basic principle is equal freedom. When it's traditional values that are at issue equal freedom means we can all ignore them and do what we feel like doing, so you get the 60s radical individualism you mention. When the question is traditional distinctions like the distinction between men and women, though, equality comes to the fore and the freedom of men to be sexist and of women to cooperate with sexism must be limited by everyone's right to a non-sexist environment that guarantees the equality of freedom.

Jim Kalb and

Registered User
(5/2/01 10:43 pm)
Re: Totalitarian Future
You're certianly wiser than me. Is the whole point of liberalism radical socio-economic egalitarianism in which people cannot act in such a way that would make one group less than equal?

Let me put it another way: To equalize everything it is obvious that institutions that oppose this principle are to torn down. Then rights that have a limited scope are extended to build up other segments of society that have been on the outs. If this is true, then it's logical to assume that the success of the statist regime will be equal to its ability to tear down these opposing forces and silence the opposition. I was thinking that the left's reliance on perpetual agitation was only functional in nature.

It seems to me that if they advocate equalizing everything, then all they really want is something not far removed from surfdom for everybody but themselves. That's pretty scary.

(5/3/01 3:09 am)
Re: Totalitarian Future
Liberalism is certainly biased toward equality. Another point is that it demands a certain sort of rationality in which everything is comparable and in fact interchangeable with everything else so that things can be controlled and justice assured.

That means it doesn't like motives other than individual desires for gratification, because other kinds of motives - non-individual non-economic motives like loyalty to a people or to God or to a non-liberal vision of order - complicate things. Everyone has to become a liberal agent whose goal in life is to pursue his private preferences consistent with the equal ability of others to pursue theirs, and one function of PC is to root out every motive inconsistent with that. Other motives are identified with hatred and bigotry.

Jim Kalb and

Registered User
(5/3/01 3:33 am)
Re: Totalitarian Future
I agree completely

I can't remember who said the following but I think it applies:

"If you want a view of the future; imagine a boot stepping on a human face, that's the future"

BK Glyndwr
Registered User
(8/10/01 9:57 pm)
Re: Totalitarian Future
I think you are overestimating our adversaries. Traditionally speaking, I believe underestimating one's adversary is regarded as a more dangerous mistake, but in this case not acting soon enough seems to be the real danger....... these people are still only a strident minority to whom no-one has yet given a good (metaphorical) kicking. If only we had some kind of real organisation...
What has to be done is to build a collection of disparate traditionalist interests, some of whom will be what one might expect to find in such a coalition and some who will be there both through a genuine congruence of interest and through the fact that their presence will really take the wind out of the sails of those who think they can evade a fight they are bound to lose simply by labelling us a bunch of nazi cranks. Threatened tribal groups I guess are the number one example of this kind of stuff that comes to mind, but how about the Africans who are having homosexuality rammed down their collective throat (like they don't have enough std problems there already), or for that matter even Rastafarians, Nation of Islam types, unreconstructed Confucianists, Hindu nationalists, Islamic fundamentalists, pretty well anyone who's been hit by globalisation either by losing a job or even worse getting one these days......whatever..... the list is potentially huge.
Remember, the melting-pot and its accompanying horrors don't just threaten to kill off our Euro-American civilisation, it'll do for 'em all. In some cases, as with Africa, before they've really even had a chance to start.
Come ON people.......... we are a majority, we always have been a majority and we always will be a majority. It's just a question of how we put things.

(8/11/01 7:23 am)
Re: Totalitarian Future
I agree there's more tradition than liberal rationalism in the world, just as there's more health than disorder in the sickest body, and the problem is a social arrangement that makes liberal rationalism the ruling principle. That arrangement can be attacked.

Here's part of something I've written that seems relevant:


In such a public environment, what is to be done? The new order is not nearly as all-encompassing or successful as it appears, but it continues to gain ground, and destroys more and more as it comes closer to a victory that if it were possible would establish an unparallelled universal tyranny. It must be fought, even though its domination of public life makes opposition extraordinarily difficult.

A comprehensive problem suggests a comprehensive response; a radical traditionalist movement is therefore called for, an alliance of traditions working together against a pervasive common enemy. Such a movement would have strains and paradoxes, since traditions oppose as well as confirm each other, but necessity overcomes barriers. Liberal pluralism reduces all things that distinguish men to the trivial common ground of personal preference. It is the most destructive of universalisms, the common enemy of all goods, gods and communities, and the most various traditions should be able to recognize it as such and ally themselves against it.

The immediate function of a traditionalist movement would be to make it easier for those inclined toward traditionalism to live in accordance with their aspirations. The price of integrity is rising, and the situation of traditionalists is approaching that of religious minorities in Europe before 19th century emancipation. Traditional beliefs on matters such as relations between the sexes and the place of the transcendent in social life are hopelessly opposed to the understandings now demanded. Official enforcement of antitraditional views, for example condom training for schoolchildren or equal opportunity initiatives that demand universal commitment to "diversity," has begun to make it difficult for a traditionalist to hold a responsible job in a mainstream institution or permit his children to be educated by the public system. In the coming years such difficulties are likely to affect more and more of life; the first task of a traditionalist movement, one to be pursued piecemeal and as occasion offers, would be to alleviate them.

The ultimate task would be to reunite tradition and public life. No lesser goal is acceptable; we are social beings who must deal with life together and publicly, and the alternative to public moral community is the rule of force and fraud. Pragmatic success on any large scale is likely to be slow, because the traditionalist outlook is so deeply at odds with modern public understandings, and the most that can be achieved is likely to be steady maintenance of principle under unfavorable circumstances.

Nonetheless, there are grounds for ultimate hope. The views of a tiny minority can be influential if they express durable aspects of human life that established views ignore, because they affect the setting in which men act. That effect can be cumulative; if the public outlook has gone radically astray maintenance of an alternative eventually transforms what seems possible.

The traditionalist outlook has advantages that can tell in the long run. Technocrats disarm themselves morally. To say values are human creations, as they do, is to reduce morality to a statement of what others want and deprive it of rational persuasiveness. Formal principles like utility or the categorical imperative are insufficient for the concrete demands of life, while hedonism can motivate only what is self-serving. In contrast, traditionalism connects morality to both personal identity and the nature and tendencies of things, and so grounds the trust in the world needed for a comprehensive system of action.

The nature of technocracy tells us what weapons to use against it. Its power comes from unquestioned acceptance that is not well-founded and in some ways is difficult to maintain. Unless tradition is continually disrupted and suppressed it keeps coming back What is necessary, therefore, is less to enforce particular traditions than to weaken antitraditionalism. Those who are not against us are for us; our job is not to overcome our fellow citizens but to bring them to realize where their fundamental sympathies lie. It is to give what is permanent and normal a voice.

The battle is in men's minds, the difficulty that the language and habitual assumptions of public discussion make it hard for those sympathetic to traditionalism even to articulate a position different from the one dominant. Objections stutter and fall silent before the confidence and seeming coherence of the technocrats. Nonetheless, the overwhelming public success of the technocratic outlook makes it an easy target. The ability to break its spell by forceful questioning and providing an articulate alternative is an enormous power, one possessed by traditionalists right now if they would only use it. In spite of New Class dominance, Western polities allow anyone to participate in public discussion. There are ways of suppressing discussion, but also a thousand forums -- dinner table conversations, local meetings, letters to editors and public officials, Internet discussions, little magazines, campaigns of minor political parties -- that permit anyone to present almost any view he thinks right. A few intelligent and forthright voices in each forum arguing against the new order and for traditional ways could have a powerful effect on the balance of intellectual forces and eventually the social order itself.

The language and assumptions of public discussion must therefore be contested. Technocratic rhetoric must be deflated, modernism deprived of the appearance of moderation and its brutal and inhuman implications displayed. The possibility of social technology must be disputed, the failures of the new order driven home, and traditional understandings justified. Man must be shown to be a creature that lives by transcendent goods and blood loyalties as well as desires and interests, human life a compound not just of impulses but of essences -- man and woman, Turk and Frenchman, Confucian and Christian.

Traditionalism means that politics depends on things more important than itself, that our purpose in life is not pragmatic success but living in accordance with spiritual and moral order. We must give our lives a footing in what is real; from that all else follows. At a time when good and evil are proclaimed the offspring of desire, and all the means of publicity and tricks of rhetoric are used to foreclose discussion, it requires thought, effort and independence of mind to do so.

Independence does not mean denial of our surroundings and connections; the world would have ended long ago if good were not more pervasive than evil. The point of tradition is not to fabricate anything but to secure and foster the good everywhere implicit. The means are at hand. We learn to live well in attempting to do so; natural feelings lead toward right conduct and understandings, and living memory and recent history tell us of a way of life, much of it still available to us, that is far more explicitly at odds with technocracy than the one that now prevails. Study can tell us how we got where we are and put us in touch with what preceded. Discussions with others, those sympathetic and those opposed, can help clarify and broaden our thoughts and provoke thought in others.

Above all, since man and his traditions are social, we must build a common life with those similarly inclined. Confronting technocracy is only preparatory. As men our main goal is to put our own lives in order, and for that something more definite is needed than clearing obstacles and indicating general directions. Truth exists for us in concrete forms, some one of which each of us must accept as authoritative. To establish a life better than the one offered by individualistic liberal choice -- in practice, by experts, popular entertainers and advertisers -- it is necessary to accept and submit to a specific community and its traditions. That is not easy when social practice is too diffuse to make the authority of any tradition a given, but in times of dissolution each of us has no choice but to find his way to something to which he can give himself wholly.

Jim Kalb and

Unregistered User
(8/20/01 2:40 pm)
Religious institutions
Many (although certainly not all) religious institutions are fundamentally small-scale totalitarian institutions that tell people how to think and behave and can cause all sorts of corruption and perversion internally. Therefore to me it is somewhat ironic that you seem to fear some outside influence coming in and exerting "totalitarian" pressure upon these institutions.

It is telling that here in New York, the private religious schools are opposing a local law that requires all cases of sexual abuse to be reported to the police, because sexual abuse in private schools, particularly Catholic schools but also other Christian institutions is usually hushed up and dealt with internally. This of course continues to exacerbate the problem, as the offending parties continue to be trusted and be given special access to potential victims of abuse. These individuals who are abused are traumatized for life, but the perpetrators are often immune from prosecution due to their status as religious mentors and the internal suppression of evidence and testimonials. Therefore government intervention is clearly necessary for the protection of the rights of those individuals mistreated by perverted abusers of power. To characterize that as totalitarianism is clearly misguided.

The new cardinal of New York stood up against investigations of widespread sexual abuse in Connecticut. He is now in a very powerful position politically in New York. They cut a deal to have it suppressed and much of it has gone unpunished and unpublished. Church officials will deny this and have openly lied about perverts in their midst. In light of these facts it is ironic that they shun homosexuals, most of whom at least confine their sexual behavior to consenting adults.

Furthermore, the general nature of the Christian religion is totalitarian, or authorotarian - the Bible (or whoever happens to be interpreting it) is the ultimate authority that tells people precisely how to live their lives. What do you think represents totalitarianism more, some liberal at a political rally or the Mormon Church, which controls whole communities and believes in the exclusion of non-believers? The same principle basically applies to all religions.

Your belief that inclusion is totalitarian is twisted, although I stop short of recommending government intrusion into religious organizations. But their certainly is precedent for it: look at what happened with the Morman Church. They almost went to war with the US Gov't back in the 1800's until Brigham Young wisely backed down. Later they were more or less forced to include blacks in the church (although in practise I doubt if there are more than .5% practising) and of course officially they have abandoned polygamy.

If homosexuality is a "problem", then it should be dealt with as such, but it becomes more of a problem when people pretend that it doesn't exist and that it is abnormal. In my thinking the church should offer support and counselling for ALL people, not just certain persons with certain problems. Suppression of sexuality more often than not results in greater problems of deviant behavior. Homosexuals do not choose to be gay any more than people choose to be hetero. It cannot be cured, unless a person already has tendencies towards heterosexuality. Furthermore it doesn't really require curing as far as I know.

Finally, since you are an adamant traditionalist you will surely recognize that the country has more to fear from the takeover of the government from religious forces than vice-versa. This is a historical certainty. The US was founded by people who were persecuted in Europe by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church because they wanted to practise their own religion and the church dominated governments wouldn't let them. Therefore we need to guard against the religious power-mongers gaining control in the federal government, which they seem to be doing as we speak.

(8/21/01 12:25 pm)
Re: Religious institutions
There's always going to be some general understanding of things - what man is, what the world is, what right and wrong are - that's dominant socially. The advantage of a religious understanding is that there's no class that thinks it owns the understanding and can make of it what it wants in the way our current elites own liberalism and can redefine it at need.

In concept the religious recognize some authority other than themselves, and sacred texts, traditions and so on give that concept actual substance. There is nothing similar in the case of liberalism, communism, Naziism and other forms of totalitarianism. That is why totalitarianism is a specifically modern thing. The closest historical parallel to modern totalitarianism I can think of is the Ch'in regime that unified China in 221 B.C. (For the ideological background, read Han Fei Tzu and The Book of Lord Shang.)

Do you have a reference for your account of the NY law on sexual abuse?

I don't see what's twisted about pointing to the totalitarian nature of inclusiveness ideology. What inclusiveness demands is that no principle of social organization other than those favored by liberalism (money, contract, bureaucracy) be allowed to have any social influence whatever. That demand is obviously totalitarian.

Also, I don't know of anyone who pretends homosexuality doesn't exist or see why treating it as abnormal makes things worse. Some range of sexual practices and attitudes toward sex is always viewed as normal, others (even if only rape and pedophilia) as abnormal and disfavored. What is it about homosexuality that makes it troublesome to put it in the latter category?

And America was settled by those who wanted freedom to practice religion in a free and Godly society. I don't see why you think the current threat to that vision comes from the Right.

Jim Kalb and

skorpius rex 
Registered User
(9/9/01 1:49 am)
The New Absolutes
This review of the book "The New Absolutes" offers some interesting insight to the subject matter of this thread...

(quoted from


The New Absolutes
Reviewed by Rick Wade


Reality in the Balance
When Christians take a stand on a given moral issue--on abortion, for instance--what are some typical responses? Someone might say, "What right do you have to push your morality on the rest of us?" Or, "Abortion might be wrong for you, but it's not for me."
What these people are implying is that such beliefs are relative; that is, they are related to something else--an individual's desires or circumstances, for example. Because people change through time, however, something that is true or good for a person today might not be so tomorrow. Nothing is true or good for all people at all times.

Have you noticed, however, that many of the same people who claim that truth and morality are relative can be found denouncing certain political views, or actively pushing the social acceptance of a formerly rejected lifestyle, or fighting for new rights in one area or another?

Author William Watkins has noticed, and he's recorded his thoughts in a new book titled, The New Absolutes. Watkins believes that despite the rhetoric, Americans are in fact not relativists; we are in reality absolutists. He says that, rather than abandoning absolutes, we are simply adopting new ones to replace the old.

It is now believed, Watkins says, "that truth and error, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, normal and abnormal, and a host of other judgments are determined by the individual, . . . circumstances, or . . . culture. . . . There is no transcendent God or universal natural law we can point to that can inform us about who we are, what our world is like, and how we should get along in it."

What is the source of this thinking? Watkins points to three elements: a loss of belief in absolute truth, a strong belief in tolerance, and a detachment from people and institutions as a result of pessimism and distrust.

If Americans have concluded that ideas and morals are relative, however, why does Watkins say Americans are really absolutists? We are betrayed, he says, by our behavior.

Evidence that Watkins is right is seen in the glut of lawsuits in the courts, calls for law and order in politics, moral outrage over various offenses, cries for human rights, and the spreading of liberal democratic ideas to other countries. Americans have an idea of what is right, and we think others should agree with us. This is not relativism.

More significant, though, is how an absolutist mentality is seen in those who typically espouse relativism. For example, those who scream the loudest for tolerance often restrict others to saying and doing only what is politically correct. In the name of pluralism secularists push religion out of the public square. And multiculturalists condemn the West for its cultural practices. It seems that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.

The average American who has come to accept relativistic notions of truth and morality might fairly be accused of being only inconsistent. But those who are real activists in the current fight for cultural change must bear the charge of blatant hypocrisy.

Old Absolutes vs. New Absolutes
In his book The New Absolutes, William Watkins contrasts ten traditional beliefs (old absolutes) with the ten beliefs that are replacing them (new absolutes). Though these new beliefs might not be "absolutes" in a strict, philosophical sense, they function as absolutes in contemporary society.
In this essay I'll look at three issues Watkins discusses--pro-life versus pro-death beliefs, religion in the public square, and political correctness and tolerance--to see if, indeed, the social activists mentioned earlier are really the relativists they claim to be. As we consider these topics, I think you'll come to agree with Watkins that the culture war is not being fought between absolutists and relativists, but between two groups of absolutists.

Death: What a Beautiful Choice

First, let's consider the pro-life versus pro-death question.

According to Watkins, the old absolute was: "Human life from conception to natural death is sacred and worthy of protection." The new absolute is: "Human life, which begins and ends when certain individuals or groups decide it does, is valuable as long as it is wanted."

Two issues which bring this new belief to the fore are abortion and physician-assisted suicide. Few practices are as fiercely opposed or defended as abortion. Opponents say abortion is morally wrong for all people. Proponents say it is a matter of individual choice. Physician-assisted suicide draws similar responses.

It is easy to overstate the thinking of those espousing the new absolute of the value of life. Probably very few would say that they "love death" or would think of death as a "good" thing ranking up there, say, with riches and great health and freedom. Rather, death is more often thought of simply as the lesser of two evils.

Nevertheless, there are many who think of death as a positive thing, as something to be embraced, as the best answer to suffering or to certain hardships of life that many people experience.

Whether they think of death as a good thing or not, however, they think of it as a right not to be tampered with. It is rooted, they say, in a Constitutional "right to privacy."

In claiming this right, however, any foundation in relativistic thinking must be abandoned. For the very "right" proponents claim is itself an absolute. They are saying that the right of individuals to decide for themselves should be observed by everyone else. When they say it is wrong for pro-lifers to try to press their beliefs on others, they are stating an absolute. If they say that the value of human life is a matter of its quality rather than of intrinsic worth, they are stating another absolute.

Some relativists will try to wriggle out of the charge of absolutism by saying that their position might be right for now but not necessarily for all times and all places. Nonethe-less, their ideas about the value of human life and the option of death as a solution to human suffering function as absolutes in our society today.

Watkins is correct. The stubbornness of abortion advocates and assisted-suicide proponents in defending their "rights" is good evidence for the claim that Americans, despite all the talk, are not relativists after all.

Freedom From Religion
It used to be held that "religion is the backbone of American culture, providing the moral and spiritual light needed for public and private life." Now, according to Watkins, we have a new absolute: "Religion is the bane of public life, so for the public good it should be banned from the public square."
Certainly there are those who are this adamant about the place of religion. These are the ones who raise a fuss when a prayer is uttered at a public school graduation ceremony or who complain when a nativity scene is set up on public property at Christmas.

Probably the majority of Americans are not this combative about the issue. However, for a variety of reasons many believe religion should be kept separate from public life .

One reason is a misunderstanding of the First Amendment. We have been told over and over again that the separation of church and state requires that the government must not be involved with religious matters in any way. The new absolute is this: religion and public policy should be kept separate.

We don't often notice, however, that strict "separationists" do not talk much about our nation's beginnings. A study of our founding documents shows that religion was an integral part of Americans' lives; references to the Bible and Christian beliefs are often cited in the construction of our new government. Amazingly enough, the writers of the Constitution did not see in it the "wall of separation" current interpreters do.

Another reason people think religion should be kept a private matter is a misunderstanding about religion itself. Having been "schooled" in relativistic thinking, many (perhaps most) Americans believe that whatever they believe is true for them, but not necessarily for other people.

But this cannot be so. Religions provide an explanation of what is ultimately real. Either there is one true God or there is not. Either there is salvation through Jesus, or there is enlightenment through meditation, or there is some other way to find fulfillment. Not all of these can be true in reality.

This issue gets really tangled up when we bring in the matter of rights. The idea that everyone has the right to worship as he or she chooses has been transformed to mean that each person's choice of religion is true. "I have the right to believe as I wish" becomes "My belief is as true as yours." The fact that I believe something makes it true.

But is that how things work in other areas of life? If I believe that I am a millionaire, does that make me one? With respect to religion, does believing there is a God put Him there? Or does believing there is no God produce a god-less universe?

The new absolutism with respect to religion is a very real concern for many Americans. As Christians we are taught that our beliefs have meaning for all of life, not just for the prayer closet, yet bringing such beliefs out into the public arena has brought some Christians great difficulty.

It is ironic that, in a nation which began with a strong desire for the free expression of religious beliefs, people are now being forced more and more to leave their beliefs at home.

Does this sound like relativism to you?

The Politically Correct Life
The hypocrisy of the new absolutism is seen more clearly than anywhere else in what is now called "political correctness" or PC for short.
To be politically correct is to be in line with certain ideals promoted by the new cultural reformers, ideals such as abortion rights, multiculturalism, gender feminism, and homosexual rights. To say or do anything which goes against these ideals is to be politically incorrect.

It is easier to understand PC if we think of it as the end of a chain of thinking.

First is the acceptance of relativism, the idea that there are no absolutes. This belief, taken with our democratic idea of equality, results in the belief that everyone's beliefs and choices are equal or equally valid. There should be no discrimination against other beliefs or lifestyles. This is the new tolerance, the prime virtue of the new reformers.

When history is viewed from this perspective, it seems clear that history is the story of the strong taking advantage of the weak. The weak--or disadvantaged--are victims who now require extra help to attain their rightful place of equality. Merely belonging to a victimized group is enough to expect this extra help regardless of whether a given individual has been victimized. The advantaged must now be sensitive to the "needs" of the disadvantaged to avoid making them feel any more victimized and must work to protect their rights. Finally, the advantaged must not do or say anything which could be interpreted as differentiating the disadvantaged, of showing them as different in a negative way. Being sensitive to the plight of the "oppressed" and avoiding doing or saying anything which might make them feel marginalized or inadequate or looked down upon . . . this is political correctness.

It is certainly true that there have been and are people who oppress others. This must be opposed. The problem with political correctness, however, lies in over-correcting the wrong.

For example, in The New Absolutes, William Watkins lists some words some real estate agents learn to shun in an effort to avoid offending potential buyers. Executive has racist overtones since most executives are white. Sports enthusiast might make the disabled feel left out. Master bedroom creates images of slavery. Walk-in closet could offend people who can't walk.

Author Stan Gaede [pronounced Gay-dee], in his book When Tolerance Is No Virtue, says that "the overt goal of PC . . . is to enforce a uniform standard of tolerance, regardless of race, gender, cultural background or sexual orientation. The problem is that the items on this list . . . are not precisely parallel to each other. Though each is the basis for discrimination in our society, they involve very different kinds of issues. So the question immediately becomes: What does it mean to be tolerant in each case? . . . PC allows each group to define tolerance for itself."

We have now come full circle. The relativism which purportedly undergirds the new tolerance gives way to exactly what it was trying to be rid of, namely, absolutes. That is, the reformers make their own ideals the new guidelines for society. We are all expected to abide by them. These are the new absolutes.

How should Christians respond to all this? Next, we'll look at how the new absolutes are promoted, and we'll think about how we might respond.

Absolutely For the Common Good
It's a myth that America is a relativistic society. The truth is, Americans are a very moralistic people. What is alarming, however, is how cultural reformers are seeking to establish new absolutes which go against traditional ones. Watkins shows how these reformers are setting up new rules we all must follow.
How shall we understand the contradiction between claims of relativism on the one hand, and the imposition of new absolutes on the other? Watkins believes the claim to relativism is an attempt "to rationalize . . . misbehavior and disarm . . . critics." For example, individuals might fall back on relativism to justify sexual activity once held to be deviant. However, the supposed relativist quickly becomes an absolutist when he wants others to agree with him on a given idea or issue.

But if everything is relative, how are relativists able to convince others of the rightness of their own beliefs? They can't appeal to a foundation of unchanging realities and objective truths and be consistent with their relativism.

So how do they do it? Calling opponents names, "fundamentalist" is a popular term, or repeating simplistic clichés--"safe, legal abortion" for example--are a couple of their favorite means. The media play a strong role in this process, especially television. Captivating images, clever writing, strategically placed laugh tracks, and other elements persuasively convey ideas without logical reasoning.

It is crucial that we step back to see what this situation sets us up for. If we are conditioned to be persuaded by sloganeering rather than by rational discourse, we are prepared to be taken in by any smooth talker. All our clamor for rights and for the authority of the individual has the unexpected result of preparing us to lose our freedoms at the hands of charismatic tyrants.

What can we do to turn things around?

First, Watkins believes that reality itself is on our side. The new absolutes go against the way the universe is. Many women who opt for childlessness, for example, find themselves late in life confronting their own maternal instincts. We can point out these facts to those who believe we can do anything we want and get along quite nicely.

Second, we can learn to recognize sloganeering and insist that the cultural reformers use sound reason when promoting their ideals.

Third, we can point to the hypocrisy of so-called relativists. Homosexuals who barge in on church services demanding tolerance for their lifestyle must see how intolerant they are. Those who demand freedom of thought and expression cannot reasonably exclude religious beliefs from public discourse.

As strange as it might sound at first, William Watkins calls us to a renewed intolerance. He says, "We must violate the new tolerance and become people marked by intolerance. Not an intolerance that unleashes hate upon people, but an intolerance that's unwilling to allow error to masquerade as truth. An intolerance that calls evil evil and good good."

To reestablish the old absolutes, Watkins calls for the acknowledgment of certain beliefs, such as: all life is precious; relativism is false; the moral law is real; and, religion is essential. A return to these basics will return us to sound public policy-making, to greater civil order, and to moral progress.

© 1997 Probe Ministries International


About the Author
Rick Wade graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a B.A. in Communications (radio broadcasting) in 1986. He graduated cum laude in 1990 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with an M.A. in Christian Thought (theology/philosophy of religion) where his studies culminated in a thesis on the apologetics of Carl F. H. Henry. Rick and his family make their home in Rowlett, Texas. He can be reached via e-mail at

What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to reclaim the primacy of Christian thought and values in Western culture through media, education, and literature. In seeking to accomplish this mission, Probe provides perspective on the integration of the academic disciplines and historic Christianity.

In addition, Probe acts as a clearing house, communicating the results of its research to the church and society at large.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by writing to:

Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX(972) 644-9664

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