Top Menu Left

Top Menu Right

Subscriber-only Content

This audio content is accessible only to current Audio or Premium subscribers. For access, login, subscribe or upgrade your subscription.

Get Access...

Subscriber-only Content

This ebook content is accessible only to current Ebook or Premium subscribers. For access, login, subscribe or upgrade your subscription.

Get Access...

It’s Religion and Altruism, Stupid: Take Two

Here is another good piece by Diana West, in which she correctly notes that

If we still valued our own men more than the enemy’s and the “civilians” he hides among—and now I’m talking about the war in Iraq—our tactics would be totally different, and, not incidentally, infinitely more successful. We would drop bombs on city blocks, for example, not waste men in dangerous house-to-house searches. We would destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran, not disarm “insurgents” at perilous checkpoints in hostile Iraqi strongholds.

That is the closest I’ve ever seen a conservative come to advocating proper (i.e., total) war against our enemy. Ms. West also correctly identifies, in part, what is stopping us from taking such action:

In the 21st century, however, there is something that our society values more than our own lives—and more than the survival of civilization itself. That something may be described as the kind of moral superiority that comes from a good wallow in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, CIA interrogations or Guantanamo Bay. Morally superior people—Western elites—never “humiliate” prisoners, never kill civilians, never torture or incarcerate jihadis. Indeed, they would like to kill, I mean, prosecute, or at least tie the hands of anyone who does.

What Ms. West does not realize—and the reason she does not put scare quotes around “moral superiority” as she should here—is that the problem is not only Western “elites” (i.e., liberals), but Western altruists. What Ms. West wants is a self-interested war as opposed to a self-sacrificial war, but unless one recognizes selfishness as moral and selflessness as immoral, one can neither consistently advocate nor intellectually defend such a position.

This is the mental quagmire in which many people on the Right find themselves today, and the only way out of it is to renounce altruism and embrace egoism. Ms. West even acknowledges this quagmire, but not the fact that conservatives are in it too. Speaking of the Western “elites,” she writes that their

smugness masks a massive moral paralysis. The morally superior (read: paralyzed) don’t really take sides; don’t really believe one culture is qualitatively better or worse than the other. They don’t even believe one culture is just plain different from the other. Only in this atmosphere of politically correct and perpetually adolescent non-judgmentalism could anyone believe, for example, that compelling, forcing or torturing a jihad terrorist to get information to save a city in any way undermines our “values.” It undermines nothing—except the jihad.

While the Left is paralyzed by altruism in the form of non-judgmentalism and relativism, the Right is paralyzed by altruism in the form of non-judgmentalism and religion. Who said “Judge not that ye be not judged”? Would Jesus advocate dropping bombs on city blocks or killing civilians or torturing jihadists?

It is not only the Western “elites” who are paralyzed by altruism; it is everyone who accepts the notion that being moral consists in being selfless. For a full explanation of how altruism is retarding our ability to “destroy enemy sanctuaries in Syria and Iran,” read “Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense. Tell your friends to read it, too. If enough active-minded people read it, we might be able to save civilization.

, ,


Comments submitted to TOS Blog are moderated and checked periodically. To be considered for posting, a comment must be civil, substantive, on topic, and no longer than 400 words. Ad hominem attacks, arguments from intimidation, misrepresentations, off-topic comments, and comments that ignore points made in the article will be deleted. Thank you for helping us to keep the discussion intellectually profitable.