Hero Worship, Bomb Worship, Leviathan Worship

A Hallelujah Chorus for Harry Truman and the bomb, from something called the Center for Vision and “Values” (a self-description which rivals that of the “Ethics” and Public Policy Center when it was presided over by the ethically-challenged Elliott Abrams)

Of course, “values” is a post-Weberian term implying that everybody makes up his own private “values” — that is, one sorts out privately the things one values, but they have no necessary relationship with reality or the good or anybody else. One can “value” pornography, if one likes, or theft. Or the bomb. Or whatever: “to value” is a transitive verb. And “values” can constantly change.

The “Good,” on the other hand, is a metaphysical reality, common to all men and unchangeable. Permanent. The Good exists before we do. We do not create it nor can we change it. So the Good is all too often far afield from “values.”

One can judge ethical actions on the basis of the Good (viz. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Aquinas’s Treatise on Law). But when you get to make up your “values” as you go along, you can easily wind up with hero worship, bomb worship, and power worship (libido dominandi, the “lust of rule over one’s equals” that rules the City of Man in Augustine). As Thomas Hobbes observes, if there is no good that we share in common by nature, then we are immersed in the “the war of all against all” until we breathe a sigh of relief and hand over all our rights to the Leviathan.

Sound familiar?


8:46 am on August 4, 2010