Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Search For Moral Relativism

I know my loyal readership should be all over this one, so I've got a test for you: Can anyone find me a true Moral Relativist on the Left? I mean someone who really does believe that "anything goes", and that we can do whatever we feel like and there's not a problem? That polluting and murder are acceptable.? That torture is ok? That it's ok for our government to lie to us? That there isn't such a thing as morals and that everyone is allowed to do whatever they want to do without impunity? I know that conservatives attack us on this regularly, but I have a hard time imagining that it exists.

And call me crazy, but it seems to me that the Right has more of the moral relativists. They've got bigots who have different morals depending on the color of your skin, or country, or religion. They've got torturers. They think that Abu Ghraib was just people "letting off steam". And to me, that's moral relativism. The idea that there are different moral rules depending on who you're talking about.

And who've we got? We've got PETA. And I'm pretty sure your typical Christian Conservative is more likely to need an abortion than a PETA-ite is to eat a T-bone. Am I right or what? And Greenpeace? They don't really strike me as the "anything goes" crowd. And it seems like every liberal I know has their standards of right and wrong, and are quite firm in defending them.

So am I crazy? Are you people moral relativists, and you haven't told me? God knows I'm a self-righteous bastard who likes to sit on my high-horse and tell everyone else what they're doing wrong, so I know that I'm not the moral relativist they're complaining about. So is it one of you? Can you point me towards one? I've gots to know. Something tells me that this is going to turn out to be one of those strawmen badguys the Right invented as someone to attack. Typical.


The Sampo said...

I tend to think that the careless use of the term "moral relativism" is another sad reminder of the intellectual bankruptcy of reactionaries from all eras...including our current crop of fundamentalists and neo-cons.

What they all miss is that at the core of moral relativism is the focus on point-in-time and point-in-place basal human emotional decision making. An observer in a given time and place will make different assessments of moral correctness based on societal and cultural and personal standards (slavery, apartheid, terrorism, nazism, etc, etc, etc)

The people who try to use moral relativism as a strawman and boogeyman want us to think that it means anything goes, that murder is acceptable and other such nonsense. The reality of moral relativism is that it tries to point out that there might be more than one standard of moral correctness. This is why they demonize it so much...they want to standardize the morals so that they can more easily prostelitize sheeple. Bashing liberals is just a bonus.

It's the threat to the god construct that worries them by both making it harder to indoctrinate and undermining their own worldviews.

So to answer your question, yes it is one of us, ITS ME! BUT, it doesn't mean what they want everyone to think it means.

coturnix said...

Oh, but they are also "factual relativists", not just "moral relativists". Whataver is the party line becomes a fact, e.g., creationism, or 9/11-Iraq connection....