Monday, September 14, 2009

The Intellectual Link between Atheism and the Political Left

The link between Atheism and the Left is historical as well as contemporary. It starts near the beginning of the Enlightenment, blossomed at the French Revolution, and has continued through the ensuing centuries up to the present.

To start we need to define our terms, Atheism, Materialism and the Left.

ATHEISM and MATERIALISM

Atheism [1] denies any and all deities, including the presumed mystical realm they inhabit. This leaves only the material (physical) reality, so Atheists generally are also Philosophical Materialists. And they also are generally Philosophical Evolutionists, and believe that ethics evolved as a pragmatic solution to early man’s practical need to “get along” in social situations.

For the Atheist / Materialist / Evolutionist, the ethic to be used in any given situation depends on what that particular situation requires, and nothing else. These “situational ethics” are relative and temporary, and certainly user-defined. Such variability in ethics leads to an inability of others to predict the relativist's behaviors, and the inability to trust the relativist person involved; it becomes necessary for relativists to demand trust and respect because those cannot be earned under their variable behaviors.

With relativist ethics being in place, for the Atheist / Materialist there is no need for absolute morals. Thus a person is not considered adequately educated or evolved if that person still holds onto superstitions such as a source for absolutes, because absolutes do not exist for the Atheist / Materialist. In fact, for anti-ecclesiast Atheist / Materialists, absolutes are considered evil (even though there is no absolute called “evil” for them).

One unintended consequence of the denial of absolutes is that such a denial also must apply to Truth, which is by definition absolute - incorrigibly absolute - and completely intolerant of fallacy. So Truth cannot exist in the artificially restricted Materialist reality of the Atheist. And that consequence tumbles into this next one: if there is no absolute Truth, then there also is no solid, uncompromising foundation for logic. Thus “reason”, as it is used by Atheist / Materialists, is also relative and not encumbered by absolutist logic.

Because reason and logic are relative for the Atheist / Materialist, he is able to cheerfully claim any statement he makes to be the voice of reason, regardless of its coherence or fallacious content.

But the most damaging consequence of the denial of absolutes is that by his relativistic inability to discern real logic from manufactured relativist fabrications, the Atheist / Materialist is living in an surreal non-reality, a world of fallacy and fantasy, a reality which ebbs and flows with the situation. This is easily seen by their unequal application of ethics to their behavior vs. the behavior of others.

Atheism inevitably leads to the idea that the Atheist’s mind is the highest form of intelligence in the known universe. The unevolved masses are lower life forms. The Atheist is therefore elite; he has placed himself into a special elevated class.

Elitism leads to the idea that currently powerful economic and political classes are standing in the way of elitist rule; the current government and economic system is therefore evil. The rule of the elite over the unevolved masses would be the best for the unevolved masses, who are incapable of managing themselves and therefore are victims of the current system. (the Victim Class). The rule of the elite would need to be top down, planning and managing everything for the benefit of mankind-as-an-entity, not for individual men. Individuals would need to capitulate for the good of the whole. The affinity of the elite for totalitarianism and totalitarians is acquired naturally, through the process of self-aggrandizement and nihilism. When elites praise totalitarians they reveal their internal structure.


The LEFT

The political term “Left” derives from the French Revolution, where radicals were seated on the left hand side of Parlement’s leading officer. The term “Left” has consistently applied to radicals promoting government interventionism for social control.

Leftist radicals have favored egalitarianism [2] and socialism and are typically “hostile to the interests of traditional elites, including the wealthy and members of the aristocracy” [3], starting in 18th century Europe, especially France with hostility to kings, royalists and ecclesiasts, and then moving toward conservatives, capitalists and ecclesiasts as is done today.

Today, the Left believes in operating by the principles for radicals outlined by Saul D. Alinsky [4], all of which are pragmatic and without any absolute morals to restrain any actions whatsoever. In fact Alinsky addresses the “ethics” issue by declaring that the only unethical action that exists is not to take the available action at hand. The actual moral value of the action is not the point, nor is there any ethic to be applied to the longer range objectives, which are assumed to be ethical a priori: just because. In other words, the Leftist Radical is the very source of ethics: the Leftist Radical is the elite class.

The elitist, relativist, complete lack of external, absolute moral guidance is one of the strongest forces linking Atheism to Leftism. The Atheist religious organizations – free thinkers, humanists etc – are all elitist, Leftist, and organized under principles of pragmatic, self-derived ethics, which are relativist and readily modified to meet the circumstance at hand.

The intellectual link between Atheism and the Left is so strong that it is hard to tell the difference between the two categories. The categories are largely populated by the same individuals.

This brings to mind the subject of faux-Catholics and other faux-religious types that populate the Left. The simple issue of abortion – the right of a human individual to live - separates out these phonies. The “Catholicism” of Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy – all denounced by the bishopric – as well as the tenuous “God’s Partner” Christianity of Obama, is surface dressing only, a necessary pragmatic political cosmetic. Their real agenda is always a totally self-derived ethic, with never a thought for any absolute morality. They are Leftist elitists, whose religion is pragmatism and self-aggrandizement: Atheists, to be sure.

Of course there are Atheists who are social and fiscal conservatives. I was one such. But I suspect that these, like myself, have co-opted Judeo-Christian morals while rejecting the source of those morals. And by rejecting the source, the morals become relative, with associated “new” ethics slowly and inevitably rising out of the classist elitism of the Atheist mind-set. Under Atheism, the worldview migration is always away from absolutes and the source of absolutes, and toward relativist elitism and all the features of that.

Atheism spawns self-aggrandizement, which spawns elitism, which spawns political Leftist radicalism. The gravitation toward the Left is inexorable.

By the same token, Leftism repels those who cherish Truth, that incorrigible absolute.

This leaves the Left with Atheist / Materialists, relativism and no morals [5].

The Age of Enlightenment ended in Europe with threatened governments reacting by crushing the movement. It had become apparent that the Atheist lack of substantial moral underpinnings would result not in “reasoned self-government” but in elitist pogroms like the bloody French Terror. Even in France the Atheist dictatorship remained and morphed into the dictatorial reign of self-crowned Napoleon – equality and fraternity without liberty. Only in America did vestiges of the Enlightenment remain, under the moral absolute restraints of theism (human rights endowed by a creator). Leftists streamed out of Europe, coming to America where they became Leftist agitators in the US political system [6].


[1] Deism is a form of Atheism; Deists do not believe in absolutes or morals in the same fashion as Atheists. For the Deist there is no divine connection between the activities of man and any creating force for the universe. Thus all ethics are man-made and relativist, because absolutes are non-existant.
CORRECTION (7.13.10) Deism is not a subset of Atheism; it shares certain characteristics with Atheism as stated, but it does not reject a creator as does Atheism.

[2] Equal outcomes for all humans.

[3] http://www.answers.com/library/Britannica+Concise+Encyclopedia-cid-46278

[4] Alinsky, Saul; Rules for Radicals, 1971.

[5] Operating under Alinsky’s rules, which he taught in Chicago, Obama is free to declare his every wish to be a “moral imperative”. Alinsky declares that radical programs are to be “clothed in moral garments” – a cynical approach from a position of no ethics whatsoever.

[6] Jacob, Margaret C.; The Enlightenment: A Brief History With Documents; Bedford Series in History and Culture; Bedford/St. Martin’s; p. 70.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "For the Atheist / Materialist / Evolutionist, the ethic to be used in any given situation depends on what that particular situation requires, and nothing else." (emphasis mine)

Nope. Wrong. The rest of your definition builds on this logic, and is therefore invalid.

I happen to be a libertarian atheist. Libertarianism is based on principles, among them the sovereignty of the individual over his own life and limited government intrusion applied to all individuals, even those with whom one disagrees. Libertarian ethics are based not on the situation but on the application of these guiding principles.

Lefties tend to think of libertarians as far right. Righties tend to thing of libertarians as far left. They are both wrong. Left and right are just different philosophies about how and when to assert government control over the lives of individuals. Liberalism has been for many years moving toward socialism, which is the polar opposite of libertarianism.

You wrote: "Because reason and logic are relative for the Atheist / Materialist, he is able to cheerfully claim any statement he makes to be the voice of reason, regardless of its coherence or fallacious content."

I consider it an absolute that anyone who (cheerfully or otherwise) "claims any statement he makes to be the voice of reason, regardless of its coherence or fallacious content" is using neither logic nor reason.

The logical leap you've made here is the presumption that, absent god, the atheist places himself and his whims as the ultimate (or only) authority, unwilling to be fettered by such bounds as logic and reason, or for that matter, reality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Reason and logic are not relative for the atheist. There may be some atheists who think that way, and no doubt some Christians who think that way as well, but there's nothing inherent in atheism that denies higher principles.

Your analysis is flawed because it is based on false presumtions.

Stan said...

What is the source of your higher principles that gives them absolute authority such that you humble yourself to it?

Anonymous said...

"I consider it an absolute that anyone who (cheerfully or otherwise) "claims any statement he makes to be the voice of reason, regardless of its coherence or fallacious content" is using neither logic nor reason."

So......on what grounds do you draw this conclusion?

Steve

Stan said...

I have responded to anonymous's concerns in a new post today.

Stan

Robin Lionheart said...

Stan writes: With relativist ethics being in place, for the Atheist / Materialist there is no need for absolute morals. Thus a person is not considered adequately educated or evolved if that person still holds onto superstitions such as a source for absolutes, because absolutes do not exist for the Atheist / Materialist. ... One unintended consequence of the denial of absolutes is that such a denial also must apply to Truth, which is by definition absolute - incorrigibly absolute - and completely intolerant of fallacy. So Truth cannot exist in the artificially restricted Materialist reality of the Atheist.

That’s quite a leap from “there is no need for absolute morals” to the loony idea “Truth cannnot exist”.

Of course truth exists for materialists.

Frex: Young-earth creationists think our planet is 6,000 to 10,000 years old. Scientists know our planet to be around 4.5 billion years old. Regardless of what anybody thinks, an absolute truth exists, a correct age of the earth in reality.

Absolute morals don’t. Before conscious beings began to exist and form values, the universe was devoid of morality. But I do not think “all ethics are man-made”; other animals display ethical behavior too.

Atheism inevitably leads to the idea that the Atheist’s mind is the highest form of intelligence in the known universe.

You don't have to be smart or elite to be an atheist; everyone in the world was born one. Even Sarah Palin was once an atheist.

Your bizarre vilification of egalitarians and socialists as elitists refutes itself without any need for me to engage it.

Petrus said...

Stan,
I've been reading your blog for a few days now, and am impressed. Your description of atheistic motivations, with regards to the Dawkinsian subset at least, is one of the most succinct and enlightening that I have ever read.

At the same time, while I am not an Atheist myself, and even find many of them exceptionally annoying, in fairness to them I must object to the idea that it is supposedly impossible for an Atheist to hold or believe in moral categorical imperatives, without belief in Yahweh, specifically. While it is true that they are rare, I have known a sufficient number of Atheists with a genuine (and in some cases, actually more robust and consistent, in practice, than Christians themselves) moral code, to know otherwise.

Along the same lines, I also do not believe that your description of Atheists here, applies to all Atheists. It does apply to some, and it might well even apply to most, but it does not apply to all.

Stan said...

Petrus, welcome, and thanks for your comment.

If you read through the blog sufficiently I think you will find that I have never denied that Atheists have only one thing in common: the denial of theism. Other than that, they can and do follow many paths, one of which is to co-opt existing moral systems such as Judeo-Christianity even while rejecting the source of moral authority for those systems.

For any and every Atheist there cannot be any source of moral authority outside oneself; even if the Atheist accepts the moral principles of some other human, it is the individual Atheist himself who has adjudged the principles to be correct, or at least workable. Personal moral authority is built into Atheism for that reason.

The other characteristics such as elitism and Leftism tumble out of that issue. Whether a specific Atheist takes the ensuing steps is not the issue. The issue is that the steps do ensue, flowing naturally out of Atheism, and many - very many - Atheists do take them.

As for categorical imperatives, I suspect that, when pushed into ethical dilemmas, the Atheists who claim such imperatives will be found to actually be relativist. Try it and let me know.