Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Motivation, Values and Political Action

In The Nation there is an article discussing a complaint from the xian left that secular liberals refuse to treat them with respect, thus making cooperation toward common goals impossible. They want to address the nation's "spiritual crisis"
    This crisis, he argues, stems from "an excess of selfishness and materialism" associated with American capitalism, and the fledgling organization wants to change society's bottom line by de-emphasizing "money and power" and reinforcing values like "love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace."

The problem here is that they, like their counterparts on the right, insist on bringing their religion into their politics. This demand contains a kind of covert missionary agenda: the belief that a recognition of the value of their work towards these goals will lead to an endorsement of their motivation. I think they call this a kind of witnessing. They want to use their work towards these goals to advance their religious agenda, coopting others in the struggle into some degree of endorsement of the supposed origin of their values. Why you hold the values becomes more important than the values themselves.

And their understanding of their own motivations seems rather implausible on its face. The hollowness of their attempt to claim the values mentioned above as motivated by christ is most obvious in the absurd, but now quite commonplace, identification of ecological sensitivity as a xian value. Jesus is as silent on the intrinsic value of nature as he is on the value of education.

Ultimately though, why you hold certain values should be left a matter of private (perhaps psychiatric) but not public concern.

3 Comments:

At 1/11/2006 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 7/04/2006 2:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 7/06/2006 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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