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On Abstract Morality and Useful Idiots

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On Abstract Morality and Useful Idiots


In the modern era, a dichotomy has come into focus: that of abstract versus practical morality. On the cultural front, this plays a critical role in the political and social degradations of the 20th century and endangers the 21st.


Practical morality can be simply summed up: It is the love of neighbor that Christ calls us to. It is the love that is, as C.S. Lewis describes, “a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” It is the love that requires the exercise of the will and self-sacrifice. It is the love of the good Samaritan, who sees to the health and well-being of a stranger who was injured in an ambush by thieves.


Abstract morality, on the other hand, is the loyalty to an ideology or philosophy that purports to benefit man and to build a better society. On the face of it, abstract morality too can be important. It can help conceptualize the eternal truths that support and under-gird practical morality.


The problem is, however, when the abstract morality becomes completely untethered from practical morality. When this happens, a moral issue defined in an abstract way can actually become diametrically opposed to true morality.


Humans, being social and therefore moral beings, are not merely motivated to attend to their basic needs, but also to their moral and social desires. Tyrannical ideologues will exploit this psychological instinct by constructing abstract moral schemata that serve not the good, but rather, the political aims of the ideologue.


On of the main efforts of Marxism-Leninism was to do precisely that, creating an ersatz religion whose commandments supported the political aims of the communist state. Counter-revolutionaries, therefore, could be starved or murdered, with the full support of the true believers of this ersatz religion, or as Lenin called them "useful idiots". What's more, it demanded the full faith of its believers - requiring them to publicly proclaim as true the gas-lighting falsehoods of the state as a measure of their fidelity to this new religion. It encouraged its acolytes to indulge in their emotions of envy and rage through acts of violence and repression - ignoring the nostrums of practical morality - as an expression of justice, where justice is defined as that which strengthens the state.


If you examine the present arc of progressive politics, you will also notice this phenomenon in contemporary left-wing movements, like Antifa. Sadly, in this we see George Orwell's nightmare of the corruption of abstract morality achieved:


“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in double-think.”


True love reforms the useful idiot
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