May 06, 2006

Michael Polanyi

The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftism in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection. The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional “vertical” ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation--a thoroughgoing cynicism, combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to horizontally transform mankind.
However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least take great pride in their "honesty" and "courage."
To a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. Stephen Colbert was not funny at the White House correspondant's dinner. That's not the point. He's not a comedian but a couragian: he courageously spoke cynical bitterness to power! Few people seem to clearly understand the type of destruction that follows when the moral impulse is detached from its traditional outlets. We can see the deadly combination of these two--“skepticism and moral passion,” or “burning moral fervor with hatred of existing society”--in every radical secular rebellion since the French Revolution. posted by Gagdad Bob at 6:53 AM

No comments:

Post a Comment