Sunday, July 26, 2009

Don't throw the Baby out with the bathwater...

The political Right has failed to understand and thus explain the fundamental moral high ground it actually holds. I believe this is due in large part to a misunderstanding of the idea of sacrifice within a Christian or generally religious context. True Christian sacrifice is NOT the trading of everything for nothing, but this is the effectual understanding which has been allowed to stand, unspoken, unchallenged. The 'right' view is to see sacrifice as an INDIVIDUAL choice in pursuit of another human's value based on the conviction that each individual is an end in him or herself (just as we understand God to view each of us). The left's unchallenged, bent view makes sacrifice the submission of each individual's status as an end in him/herself, to the group as a whole. This is exactly as absurd as trying to fornicate your way to chastity. The right has NOT done a good job clarifying this evil ideology, and providing the clear correct alternative for the past 100 years. Instead, we hear supposed defenders of the right submitting to the left's basic philosophic premise and then trying in vain to construct a right structure with an inconsistent foundation. If I hear that "socialism is great in theory but not in practice" one more time from a supposed right winger, I will dive through my TV set and choke the foolish windbag. All collectivist ideology, socialism included, is evil and awful in THEORY, which is WHY it fails in practice. Is it any wonder our youth often side with the left, when we spout such contradictions? We HAVE the right ethical base, but we do not understand it nor teach it, then wonder why our state indoctrinated children can not defend the right principles with conviction and moral certainty.
Ayn Rand got this basic philosophic correction right, and was one of the few in the past 100 years to consistently point out the Right's failure to properly identify it's superior moral basis. Unfortunately, Rand succumbed to emotionalism when she addressed the influence of Christianity and religion in general. She threw out all religion as non-objective irrationalism instead of simply correcting the error that the religious and especially the bulk of Christians make about sacrifice. The common error Christian's make concerns the atonement, which many explain as the satisfaction of all righteousness by the sacrifice of the perfectly good (Christ) for the sake of evil, the utterly lost (man). This misunderstanding, among other things, leads to an attempt to model these wrong ideas in the economic arena with the sacrifice of the producer (individual property rights) for the sake of the vague 'group,' - society. This, of course, leads to the sacrifice of EVERYTHING, for Nothing. Of course, this is NOT what God did in Christ. Rather, when we realize that the cessation of God's existence (annihilation) would mean the cessation of all existence, we can see that He extended Himself (in Christ) as far as would not negate the value which He pursued - that value (to Him) being *us* - treated as ends in ourselves individually. Missing this correction of confused Christian sacrifice is a main road by which the young, the uncritical, or those new to political or economic thought stumble into the self defeating 'morality' of collectivism (socialism). These folk have a notion that "everybody ought to be OK, and, you know, have stuff,' and a vague idea (due to the popular misconception) that self-sacrifice is the criterion for an action's ethical merit, and the next thing you know they're shouting, "rise up proletariat!" with Marx, and voting for socialists.
The opposite error is to, like Rand, ignore Christianity and religion entirely due to an emotional response to the ugliness collectivism generates in practice. The false premise to which Rand fell prey was that Christianity and religion 'must' contain the morality of self immolation, of bleeding individuals for the imaginary 'common good.' Rand's tossing of the Baby (Christ) out with the bathwater (the incorrect interpretation of Christian sacrifice) did terrible damage to the public acceptance of her philosophy and tremendous political damage to the Right. Christians nod enthusiastically with Rand as she logically destroys the Left's philosophical base, but draw back violently when she pitches all religion because of this simple error. So, the Christians remain conflicted - valiantly defending individualism in the economic arena because they see the ugliness and evil of collectivism applied there, but then grunting and gesticulating helplessly when asked to reconcile this view with the 'popular' flawed understanding of Christian sacrifice . It is so sad, because the Right was never so close to embracing a clear and CONSISTENT philosophical base. The effect of this error about sacrifice has had unfathomable effects on this nation's and the world's history.
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If we receive Christ with true understanding, we can, among many more important things, confidently proclaim our consistent support of individual rights, an objective philosophy, and a rational system of ethics.

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