Left, right, up, down – the Russia/Ukraine debate is revealing how much the poison of subjectivism has infected the political spectrum.
Conservativism is proving to be no different from its opponents in this regard.
Despite all its strengths “get red-pilled” is morphing into the same pin-the-tale-on-the-oppressor culture of suspicion as woke-ism.
An example of this is the fallacious slurs, “cuck”, and “normie”; each carrying almost as much emotive weight towards their targets as “homophobe,” “bigot” or “all white people are racist.”
As Logic 101 teaches, insulting nicknames weaken dialogue, turn discussion into a fight, and harm the legitimacy of argument.
There’s a difference between calling out a political group, and recklessly herding people into groups simply because the person offering a viewpoint is unreasonably viewed as wrong, and then ostracised as having no worthwhile contribution to offer.
As Rob Schnieder wrote on Twitter, we live in an age of emotion,
In his essay on the ‘Poison of Subjectivism‘, C.S Lewis wrote, within a world governed by emotion ‘to say that a thing is good, is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.’
Subjectivism determines ‘good to be whatever we’ve been conditioned to like.’
In other words, morality is governed, no longer by the standard set by the objective Word of God. Here traditional morality is superseded by what feels right, and what feels wrong.
This is why C.S Lewis determined subjectivism to be the ‘fatal superstition.’
He called it a ‘disease’ that if not ‘crushed’ will ‘certainly be the end of our species (and, the damnation of our souls).’
‘Everyone is indignant when he hears the Germans define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective standard to be altered at will.’
He warned that, ‘unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring.’
Thus, Lewis concluded,
‘Many a popular ‘planner’ on a democratic platform, many a mild-eyed scientist in a democratic laboratory means, in the last resort, just what the Fascist means. He believes that ‘good’ means whatever men are conditioned to approve.’
If “good”, he then asks, ‘means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves?’
In the end what’s left is those doing the conditioning, and those being conditioned.
This sets up a ‘final division of race,’ with those outside morality ruling those within, by the whim of the ruler – often over-against those being ruled.
What we’re left with is a world split into a hierarchy whereby the “enlightened,” rule without question over the “unenlightened.”
Thus, Lewis wrote, ‘subjectivism about values’ is therefore ‘eternally incompatible with democracy.’
For freedom ‘presupposes some objective moral law which overarches ruler and ruled alike.’
Given the level of animosity surrounding the Russia/Ukraine subject (among others), I’m willing to risk arguing that subjectivism is burning a hole into the moral fabric of conservatism.
The newfound unity in anti-authoritarianism is being eroded by ego.
For example, acceptance in the tribe is decided by a willingness to be led. A willingness to submit to those asserting themselves as more enlightened and/or anointed.
We are to follow the equivalent of priests and prophets anointed with special knowledge.
Best not to think. Best to trust our “betters”; the self-styled “more informed conservative.” Practical reason be damned.
We’re even encouraged to avoid using the traditional moral terms good and evil. A contradictory imperative when good and evil is used as a yardstick to determine those who fit in, and those who don’t; those who can be trusted with special knowledge, and those who cannot.
This is the separating of the “normies and cucks” from the fully red-pilled “elect.”
Likewise, the difference between who is safe, and who is unsafe, is determined by how dedicated a person is to the prevailing pattern of emotive reasoning.
Not a lot unlike the Communist Chinese Party’s Social Credit Score system, social acceptance is measured by our level of wokeness or red-pilled awareness.
Conservatives should lament how badly dialogue about Putin’s war on Ukraine has been handled.
Groupthink on the Right appears to be almost as feverish, and intolerant as the groupthink on the Left. Controlled by emotion, not objectivity.
Where one voice is elevated, and others are supressed because of a dislike for what is being said, freedom of speech is not a core value.
There should be remorse over this, and the contempt expressed towards those holding a reasoned opposing viewpoint.
Much of which has maligned the intelligence of people, who, only 3 months ago were allied against authoritarianism. Yet now find themselves sin-binned for pointing to the large dangers of the war, such as the temptation to transform Putin into a white nationalist, anti-woke icon.
This concern is often quickly shrugged off as a straw man. Met with a defensive, “criticism of Ukraine is not Pro-Putin.” Even though the language, and absence of sympathy for Ukraine’s position strongly suggests otherwise.
A complex situation is left to narrow commentary, with only an approved few being allowed to decipher it.
One-eyed hubristic monologues leave little room for any real attempt at understanding points of difference. Lost in the process is the vibrancy of debate, and the opportunity to participate in it.
The only groups set to benefit from this are movements it will galvanise. Such as those sympathetic to Putin like “white nationalism,” and those who see Putin as a tool for orchestrating Cultural Marxist revolutions, such as, but not limited to, the WEF and its planned ‘Great Reset’.
Talking down to others as though the one talking was the only intelligent person in the room breeds resentment, cliques and factionalism.
That’s not a road we should be going down.
Instead of focusing on converting “infidels”, by belittling those sympathetic to Ukrainians and Russians under Putin’s authoritarian thumb, room for dialogue, and a focus on resolving the war, with an eye towards the people, and the tragedy of war, would better serve debate.
Red-pilled stamp of approval or not, anything other than this is, as Lewis infers it to be: self-serving, subjective nonsense.
[i] Lewis, C.S. The Poison of Subjectivism, Christian Reflections Eerdmans Press
©Rod Lampard, 2022.