Thursday, October 08, 2009

Striking a blow for personal impulse!

Marina Subirats is a Spanish leftist. She is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Barcelona and she served with the Barcelona City Council as head of the education department and as chairwoman of a city district. She was awarded a George Cross for her services to Catalonia.

So she is part of the Catalan political class. A few years ago, she explained what she as a modern day leftist believes in:

The true values of today's left are based on ... the authenticity, the acknowledgement of desire as the organizing principle of our life, the coherence of desire with action ..., that is, to live without principles that are external, imposed, limiting, alien to our own needs or to our own personal truth ... The moral of the left involves to take risks, to dare, to follow the personal impulses and, therefore, this line of thinking implies to develop scientific thinking that allows us to control a bit more our life conditions.

I'm not sure which is more striking: the liberalism or the nihilism.

The liberalism comes out in the insistence on autonomy as the sole organising principle of life. What matters to Marina Subirats is that it is our own will, our own authentic desire, which shapes who we are and what we do, without impediment. Those forces which are unchosen, which are external to us, are therefore treated negatively as a restriction or limitation.

But this means that it all becomes subjective. If there can't be an unchosen external source of value, then the only value that an action has is a subjective, personal one - that I happen to desire it. If I cease to desire it, it no longer has any value. There's nothing intrinsic to it of any value.

What is left to Marina Subirats? She has rejected the idea of an objective truth in favour of a merely personal one. And she is reduced to talking about "personal impulse" as a breakthrough good.

8 comments:

  1. The Nihlistic leanings of the modern day left are frightening, perhaps a little too frightening, surely they cannot believe the rot that comes out of their mouths can they?

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  2. Actually, there's nothing illogical about it that I can see. When you analyze Liberalism (and you are the best I've found at this, although Lawrence Auster and Jim Kalb are good), we see that we object to it only because it is potentially destructive, or that each of us personally wouldn't find living this way appealing. But we can't argue against it on any other grounds that I can see.

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  3. authenticity, the acknowledgement of desire as the organizing principle of our life, the coherence of desire with action ..., that is, to live without principles that are external, imposed, limiting, alien to our own needs or to our own personal truth ... The moral of the left involves to take risks, to dare, to follow the personal impulses

    This could have come from the mouth of any Nazi or fascist or white supremacist. They too wanted (or want) all the things she describes! Their "personal impulses" are directed at somewhat different targets from her, but the principle is the same.

    Linking feeling to action is the mantra of irrational extremism of any stripe.

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  4. Also if life is about satisfying personal impulses we tend to feel very frustrated if for whatever reason we can't or are prevented from satisfying them. This leads to societal petulance.

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  5. Anonymous wrote,

    Actually, there's nothing illogical about it that I can see. When you analyze Liberalism...we see that we object to it only because it is potentially destructive, or that each of us personally wouldn't find living this way appealing. But we can't argue against it on any other grounds that I can see.

    You're saying that we can only argue against Liberalism if we use the same argument Liberals make for Liberalism: desire. They desire it, and we don't; the debate is just a contest of wills.

    You say "we" implying you count yourself among Richardson, Auster, Kalb et al, but surely you know that they do not base their argument on mere desire. They fight liberalism not on the basis of "want" but on the basis of "ought".

    It isn't just that we do not want to live like this, but that we ought to live better and nobler lives.

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  6. I agree Amy, and I would add that we are also likely to feel very frustrated when our personal desires/impulses change.

    This ideology boils down to making permanent, life decisions on the basis of fleeting, momentary feelings ("desires").

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  7. I was going to post this on the Etham thread but I think it fits here. This is from "The Heidenmaur" by Fenimore Cooper:

    "However pure may be a social system, or a religion, in the commencement of its power, the possession of an undisputed ascendency lures all alike into excesses fatal to consistency, to justice, and to truth. This is a consequence of the independent exercise of human volition, that seems nearly inseparable from human frailty. We gradually come to substitute inclination and interest for right, until the moral foundations of the mind are sapped by indulgence, and what was once regarded with the aversion that wrong excites in the innocent, gets to be not only familiar, but justifiable by expediency and use. There is no more certain symptom of the decay of the principles requisite to maintain even our imperfect standard of virtue, than when the plea of necessity is urged in vindication of any departure from its mandate, since it is calling in the aid of ingenuity to assist the passion, a coalition that rarely fails to lay prostrate the feeble defences of a tottering morality."

    I think even the left would agree that we can't have personal impulse in a vacuum.

    (Sorry I mistakenly posted as Amy. I was on someone else's computer and didn't change the blog identity.)

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  8. If all the Leftists wanted was freedom, I'd be on their side. But their brand of freedom seems to require that I be enslaved.

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