Consequently, everything a moral relativist thinks, says, or does is automatically right, while everything the moral absolutist thinks, says, or does is automatically wrong. Where a moral absolutist such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Maimonides, or Ibn Khaldûn would say someone whose thoughts, words, or deeds differ from what is generally accepted as good or from known facts is ignorant, mistaken, or deluded (that is, has a false or incomplete concept of "good"), a moral relativist will instantly ascribe motives of the most absolute and depraved evil to anyone whose thoughts, words, or deeds differ substantially or even formally from his or her own.
(As a side note, by "moral absolutist" we do not mean what the moral relativist means, i.e., someone who bends others to his or her will with threats, intimidation, and force. Rather, we mean someone who believes that there are moral absolutes based on the Nature of a Creator reflected in humanity. The moral absolutist works to the best of his or her ability to discern these absolutes, adapting them and applying them to the particular circumstances of a situation.)
There is a long and complicated explanation how this sort of moral relativism galloped into western thought via the infiltration of oversimplified Manichaean dualism in the 12th century, but, since we want you to stay awake and read the news notes, we will not give it. (Buy the book when it comes out.) The reason even for mentioning all this is that we're starting to see increasingly strident assertions contradicting the position of Just Third Way adherents on such things as money and credit, banking, private property, and even social justice.
This is actually a good sign. The moral relativists, somehow dimly perceiving the inherent strength of truth, are starting to panic. Ignoring the Just Third Way hasn't made it go away. Clearly, unsupported assertions and intellectual bullying don't seem to be having any effect. The next step is to start claiming that anyone differing from the opinion(s) of the relativist Mighty Mouth (not to be confused with Mighty Mouse, champion of truth, justice, and the Muscine Way), is pure evil. We've been seeing this in politics for years — Bush is the Demiurge and Boob of Creation, a unique combination of knave and fool, yes, we know — but we're talking about the real world here, folks.
The one thing you will not see, however, is honest debate. The moral relativists learned their lesson long ago. You never go head-to-head with someone who has a clear set of principles, clearly defined and articulated. As one early encounter was described by G. K. Chesterton,
So, in his last battle and for the first time, he [Aquinas] fought as with a battle-axe. There is a ring in the words altogether beyond the almost impersonal patience he maintained in debate with so many enemies. "Behold our refutation of the error. It is not based on documents of faith, but on the reasons and statements of the philosophers themselves. If then anyone there be who, boastfully taking pride in his supposed wisdom, wishes to challenge what we have written, let him not do it in some corner nor before children who are powerless to decide on such difficult matters. Let him reply openly if he dare. He shall find me there confronting him, and not only my negligible self, but many another whose study is truth. We shall do battle with his errors or bring a cure to his ignorance." (G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas Aquinas: The "Dumb Ox." New York: Image Books, 1956, 94.)(We were going to put a link here to The Dumb Ox, but Amazon doesn't have any listed as being in print. We did find out that the copy we've been using that we paid $1 for is a collector's item worth almost $100, though. Maybe somebody should reprint it . . .)
One gets the distinct impression that Chesterton — if not Aquinas — considered such tactics as running away from a debate, ignoring people holding a contrary position, calumny and backbiting as somehow, well, cowardly, "not playing the game," instead of being "business as usual." G. K. was clearly out of touch with reality, at least as far as the moral relativists are concerned. (This might account for some of the unique interpretations forced on, e.g., distributism, money and credit, private property, and so on, by latter day Chestertonians intent on chaining the Chesterbelloc in the back yard as a pet, instead of roaming free in the front as a watchdog.)
It is, however, easy to understand why moral relativists tend to come across as showing the white feather (although why someone who is "yellow" is described as "showing the white feather" is a great mystery). Even if the principles or applied principles of the moral absolutist are flawed or incorrect, the mere fact that they are clear robs moral relativism of the Power of Vagueness. It becomes twice as hard for a moral relativist to engage in a debate with a moral absolutist. He or she is floored with the basic "one-two" punch of common sense.
One, the relativist gets it in the gut by first having to put together a clear argument of his or her own. That is a very painful process for the relativist or anyone else who has never learned how to think. Two, he or she takes it on the chin by having to come up with a clear and irrefutable (i.e., absolute) argument to counter that of the moral absolutist. That is contrary to his or her perception of reality. In consequence, the moral relativist has received a TKO even before stepping into the ring.
The response, then, to any invitation or attempt to engage in debate with a moral relativist causes the moral relativist to run away, usually muttering dark hints about the depraved evil of the moral absolutists, their intransigence, their stupidity, etc., etc., etc., and then shout "Ya, ya, ya!" from a presumably safe distance, or maybe — being in their own eyes completely free from sin — flinging a few ineffectual stones. A self-indulgent titter is often not considered out of place.
The global situation, however, is such that these tactics, if not moral relativism itself, are wearing a little thin. Our leaders haven't caught on yet, of course. They still act as if more of the same, only more so will solve all of our problems, State save us! They and their faithful flunkies therefore feel compelled to sneer at popular manifestations of concern, such as the Tea Party movement, and concentrate on carefully orchestrating mandatory spontaneous demonstrations of their own. They also spend a great deal of time referring to others as stupid, evil, or whatever other pejorative comes in handy.
Do we support the Tea Party? Well . . . up to a point. We support their perception that something is wrong, certainly. We are strongly in favor of smaller government, of not using taxation to engage in social engineering, and oppose the egregious misuse of the financial system, to name just a few items. What we don't see — yet — is a clear and politically viable program, such as Capital Homesteading, that has the potential to put some teeth into the legitimate outrage being expressed. So we continue working to bring the Just Third Way to the attention both of the powers-that-be, and the powers-that-want-to be. Here, in fact, is what we've been doing this week:
• Everyone here is working hard to prepare the materials for Norman Kurland's trip to China next week to take part in the Caux Roundtable on ethics in business in Beijing. You don't realize just how much material we have that would be useful on such a trip until you try and prune it down a little.
• Plans are moving ahead for a new, updated edition of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen. We hope to have the manuscript completed before Christmas.
• The CESJ Quarterly Board Meeting is tomorrow. If you have not R.S.V.P.ed by now . . . you're a little late. All responses should be sent as soon as you know you will/will not be attending or phoning in. If you want to receive a meeting notice, let us know. Keep in mind, however, that requesting a meeting notice obligates you also to let us know whether or not you will be participating, and in a timely manner.
• Guy Stevenson has put a link to Supporting Life on his facebook page. We hope that this will help the Just Third Way ideas start to go viral.Those are the happenings for this week, at least that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we'll see that it gets into the next "issue." If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated anyway, so we'll see it before it goes up.
• Chris O'Connor, Treasurer/Financial Secretary of the Colonel John Fitzgerald Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians ("A.O.H.") in Arlington County, Virginia, will be submitting a review of Supporting Life to The National Hibernian Digest, the official journal of the A.O.H. The Digest claims a readership of over 60,000. Consider submitting a review to your local newspaper, member newsletter of whatever organizations you belong to, or journals and magazines.
• Dawn Brohawn located an article regarding the plans of Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke to cure unemployment by inflating the currency. In the Keynesian paradigm, there is allegedly a tradeoff between unemployment and inflation. In the real world, all you're doing is redistributing existing wealth, which may or may not "create jobs." Since, as Moulton explained in The Formation of Capital, the real financing for most new capital formation (and thus "job creation") comes from the expansion of commercial bank credit, all that is being accomplished is stealing purchasing power from wage workers and putting it into the pockets of the already-wealthy. Yes — we have a book on this, but it's still in editing.
• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 47 different countries and 47 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia and Brazil. People in Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Lithuania, Belgium and Bangladesh spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular posting is "I Do Believe in Spooks" in the current Halloween Horror series, followed by "The New Manifest Destiny," the unpublished letter to the Wall Street Journal on the errors in the op-ed piece, "The Case for the 'Repeal Amendment'," "The New Banking Rules," and "We are Seeing the Future and It Doesn't Work."