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“As the cultural revolution has progressed, everything that was once honored has become a matter of public indifference. And as this has happened, every traditional constraint has been lost. At first, it was thought that the result would be only license and abandon. And indeed, this is a fine description of what Enlightenment liberalism looked like one generation after its triumph. At this time, one could win praise and honor for daring acts of transgression—for evading military service, for sexual profligacy and adventurism, for drug use, for blasphemy or an obscenity, for desecration of the sabbath, and so on. But by the second generation, this too has dissipated, and little is to be gained by violating the old norms with acts that are by now commonplace. No one is left who will be impressed by them.” – Yoram Hazony
As I am reading Hazony’s new book, Conservatism: a Rediscovery, I’ve been fascinated to learn so much about the origins of the decadence of our traditional values. This particular quotation struck me, because he points to the lure of “reason” to the Progressive agenda, and the disdain for tradition and a belief in G-d. Although the Progressives point with pride to their use of reason for constructing their view of the world, they neglect to realize that reason, by itself, can lead people in a multitude of directions; reason is no guarantee that people will reach agreement on a strategy, because every person will define his or her own understanding of a “reasoned” approach. Thus, we find ourselves in a confusing and unconstrained time, where everyone is free to decide for himself what is true.
The dangers of this viewpoint are many. First, this type of reason is not based in any sacred truth or tradition, so it meanders to find an opinion that suits the person whose reasoning is at stake. Since G-d is not the basis for reason, the possibilities for understanding depend on the reasoner (who adopts the role of a god). And although that person may try to frame his conclusions on reason, they actually are based on preferences and biases. Their foundation cannot be attributed to traditional understanding or to truth. When everyone is permitted to do his own reasoning, tradition is discarded and held in disdain, and the results are predictable—or one could say, unpredictable.
We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.Published in