Liberalism and the Cult of Personal Opinion

Liberalism and the Cult of Personal Opinion

In talking to ordinary people who have embraced Liberalism knowingly or unknowingly, I have found a common belief.  The majority seem to have embraced what I call the “cult of personal opinion.”  It seems that they have an opinion on everything; an opinion that is more often than not grounded in nothing but their own minds and reinforced by the information that they have received over the television—a very poor source of information.  We can contribute some of this thinking to arrogance, and I would have to admit I have found this attitude prominent among males, but I think it goes much deeper.  I believe this mindset is rooted in a basic attitude that one has toward knowledge and truth

I believe that this attitude toward knowledge can be traced to the philosophy called Liberalism and two of the principles espoused by that philosophy.  The first of these principles is the belief in the autonomy or self-governing of the individual.  This principle basically says, that there is no authority outside of the individual that he must submit to.  What does this doctrine do to the individual?  It causes him to look within for knowledge instead of looking to authorities outside of himself.  After all, if the truth is within, why look outside for it?  It also instills in the individual a rebellious hubris spirit, which tends to cause him to rebel against anything or anyone that he views to have authority over him.  This is especially evident in his attitude toward religion, schools, and government.  I believe this is one of the reasons that many young males drop out of school.

Now here is the problem.  All of human knowledge is both individual and corporate.  All disciplines have a body of knowledge that has been built over a period of time which forms the authority of that discipline.  Without this body of knowledge an individual would not have a discipline or an authority to draw on.  In fact, even language must have an authority that people can appeal to as a source beyond themselves.  We call that authority a dictionary.

But what happens when people begin to question all authority and the individuals became an authority unto themselves?  The answer is educational anarchy or the dumbing down of the entire culture.  In order for education to take place, there must be a sense of authority (respect) for the body of knowledge that is being studied and submission to that authority.  In fact, a case can be made that every discipline that has accepted the Liberal doctrine of the autonomy of the individual has ended in or is on the road to anarchy.  In philosophy, it has led to relativism and idealism.  In science, it has led to positivism.  All of these “isms” represent the denial of true knowledge and rebellion against the authority of true knowledge.

The second doctrine of Liberalism that has infected reason and learning is the doctrine of egalitarianism, which in short is the equality of all men.  Before I point out how the Liberal view of this doctrine has corrupted education and learning in general, let me point out that Liberals have no grounds on which to make this claim and in the end have proven that they really do not believe it.  Can Liberals rationally demonstrate from nature that all men are equal?  No!   So, where does this idea come from? It simply is a part of the Liberal faith that they infer as a self-evident truth.  But the concept of a self-evident truth sounds more like a religious revelation than a reasonable fact.  The truth is that the equality of mankind is a Christian truth that is based on the scriptural doctrine (revelation) that all men are created in the image of God, However, the Christian belief in the equality of men is much different than the liberal one. For the Christian, equality among men is their standing with God and his law.

Liberals have taken their egalitarianism (all are equal) to such an extreme that they have begun to even question parents having authority over their children. Children are now equal to parents.  Link this with their questioning of authority, and what do you have?  Children who question their parents’ authority and believe that they know more than their parents.  But it does not stop there.  Those who embrace Liberalism also question the authority of their teachers.  The unpinning attitude (a Liberal one) is that children should not be required to learn anything, for this would invalidate their autonomy.  They should be left to themselves to learn what they want to learn.  There should be no outward force (authority) to compel them to learn.  This is the educational system of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the fathers of Liberalism.  His ideas on education are set forth in his book Emile.  Like the majority of true Liberals, he believed educational institutions are a part of the bourgeois that corrupts children rather than teaching them.  His disdain for traditional schools and the traditional teacher-student relationship is found in every chapter of his book.  Excuse my vulgarity, but he was a nut.  If you don’t believe me, listen to what one of his lovers, Sophe d’ Houdetot, said about him.  “He was ugly enough to frighten me, and love did not make him more attractive.  But he was a pathetic figure, and I treated him with gentleness and kindness.  He was an interesting madman.”  (My emphasis)  It is this madman’s thinking that many Liberal educators hold as the paradigm of the modern education system.  It is no wonder that our schools are failing.

But now let us return to the subject of education and equality.  The doctrine of egalitarianism, when taken to the extreme, reinforces the questioning and the weakening of the authority of teachers and scholars by putting the student on an equal plane with the teacher.  Not only does this diminish the authority of the teacher, but it also diminishes the authority of knowledge itself.  If everyone is equal why should I listen to any man?  My opinion is as good as anyone else.  How many times have you heard in a discussion with people of a lesser degree of knowledge that their opinion was as good as yours?  That may be true if we are talking about matters of opinion and not matters of fact.  The problem is that Liberalism in its more vulgar form has led people to the place where they cannot discern matters of opinion from matters of fact.  For most, everything is a matter of opinion.

If everyone is equal, the scholar’s and the teacher’s knowledge is no better than the students.  In fact, maybe we should do away with the teachers altogether and call everyone students.  This would surely help the students’ self-esteem and make them feel good and equal to the teacher.  They could share their knowledge as equals.  We would not want the student to feel inferior to the teachers.  We do not want to hurt their self-esteem.  Of course, we can avoid this by getting the students together and letting them pool their ignorance (knowledge) and out of ignorance and error will come true knowledge.  This is the faith of Liberalism.   This is why our culture is filled with “know-it-alls” that know nothing.  This is the source of the cult of personal opinion, the fastest-growing religion in our culture.

But even worse is the general dumbing down that all of this is doing to our culture.  If the knower is no better off than the ignorant, the question then must be raised–why study?  Why study and read factual books?  If there is no truth, why seek the truth?  The smart thing to do is just question all knowledge and all authority.  Questioning and doubting then becomes the goal of education.  The perception then becomes that the educated man is not the man who knows the answers through years of study, but rather the one who doubts and raises questions the most.  In philosophy, we have a name for these endless questioners and doubters.  We call them deconstructionists.  If they are brave enough, they may come to a point where they will begin to doubt their doubts.  However, most will remain ignorant of their ignorance, for to doubt your doubts can only lead to nihilism.  When you believe your doubts, you are no longer a doubter, but rather a believer with a negative faith.  You must learn to doubt your doubts before you can be a true doubter.  Most men don’t have the courage of doubting their doubts.  Doubting your doubts is the very thing Nietzsche chivied his contemporaries for not doing.  He inferred that they did not have the courage to face the conclusion of their doubting.  He believed that if a man did, he would have to commit suicide or go mad.  He chose the latter.  Of course, there is another option, which was just too simple for Nietzsche.  That is simply, to believe.  To believe is to know and to know is to love knowledge and learning.

A Letter to a Liberal about the Muslim Faith

A Letter to a Liberal about the Muslim Faith

(please read the footnotes)

I would like to share a correspondence that I had with a person about a number of issues pertaining to Islam and the liberal[1] Western response to it. I have found it difficult to find a general expression that would tell the reader where that person was coming from, e.g., liberal, conservative, or progressive. So, let me just give you some facts about her.  She is middle-aged, white, middle-class, well-educated with at least a Master’s degree and not overly religious. These are the facts. It is my opinion that she is probably a conservative liberal in her political and social philosophy.

Our correspondence began when I sent her a well-documented article (by someone else)on the violence committed by some of those who claim to be Muslim. The article was tasteful with full documentation which was beyond question. In response to my letter, I received a short, curt reply[2] which simply compared what the article showed about the numerous acts of terrorism committed by those affiliated with the Muslim faith with two acts of violence done by Christians in the United States. Of course, it was completely overlooked by the person that the two acts of violence by so-called Christians had nothing to do with their religion and the acts of violence were not done in the name of God. The following is my response to my middle-class, white American conservative liberal:

“You said you were surprised that I would tolerate what you call ‘that stuff.’ Well, I’m equally surprised how tolerant you seem to be of the Muslim religion. Would you be as tolerant if it were the Christian religion doing the killing and suppressing  people’s rights around the world? I did note some prejudice toward Christianity in your short remarks[3]. I also noted a judgment made without any evidence on what you call ‘that stuff.’ Now is that tolerance? If a man is wrong, tell me how he is wrong, and I will consider the evidence. To belittle someone’s thinking by calling it ‘that stuff’ would presuppose that you have a great number of facts to back up your opinion. I would sincerely be interested in seeing those facts. I’m very much into facts.

I would like to refer you to the meaning of tolerance in the dictionary. Tolerance by its very nature includes a negative judgment on the subject in view. I tolerate people who I disagree with, yet because of other principles or considerations, I remain in a relationship with them. A good friend of mine is a womanizer, and yet I tolerate him hoping he will change through my influence on him. The time might come when my tolerance wears thin, and I tell him to take a hike. Today when people use the word tolerance, they have taken the idea of a negative judgment out of it, which means that what they’re talking about is no longer tolerance but something else. If you can articulate what that something else is, please let me know (sincerely). When it comes to Muslims, I can tolerate some easier than others. My level of tolerance depends on their level of commitment to their faith, that is, their prophet and their book. I’ll say more about this later. (If you are reading this and fancy yourself as a progressive, I really would like your definition of tolerance. My friend never answered.) 

I personally have done a good deal of research on the subject of Islam[4]. My conclusion is that it is a bad religion. Therefore, I have an obligation to speak out against it. However, I still tolerate the Muslim people in the true sense of the word. I wish the Muslim people only the best, which would entail their deliverance from their bad religion. As a true liberal America, I do not tolerate the Muslim prejudice and hate speech toward the Jews or other religious groups, nor their practice of polygamy, as well as much of their cultural view of women in general. Their lack of tolerance for religious freedom and free speech borders on that of the Nazis and Communists. I have little tolerance for such behavior. On the other hand, I can tolerate and even agree with some of their religious beliefs, traditions, and culture and at the same time disagree with them on other things. Tolerance does not mean that one has to pretend that you accept everyone’s beliefs as equal to your own. This includes religious beliefs. In order to do that, you would have to be a complete relativist and a perfect egalitarian. I am neither.

From your remarks, it seems that you believe that Muslim terrorism is a small isolated problem similar to that of Tim McVey and Waco. I’d have to agree that Waco was an act of terrorism, but I’m not sure who the terrorists were, the cult or the government. I respectively disagree with your comparison of Tim McVey, Christianity, and Muslim extremists. There is absolutely no comparison to a few acts of violence committed by a handful of men in a small cult, with what is happening throughout the world by the hands of thousands of Muslims, possibly hundreds of thousands or even millions. If you’re worried about offending people, I would worry about offending Christians with that comparison. You cannot point to one predominantly Muslim country where Christians and Jews are not being persecuted  by Muslims. In India, they seem to like to target Buddhists and Hindus as well. By the way, this information is suppressed to a large degree by the media in the West. It would make an interesting intellectual pursuit to understand why the media is so blind to the violence of this religion. Could it be a progressive ideology that blinds them to the fact that pluralism is nothing more than a myth? Of course, the media and academia were blind to Hitler and the Communists, as well.

In fact, the only places that have true religious freedom are Western Europe and the United States, countries that have been influenced by Christianity and classic liberalism and have not yet been brought under the spell of atheistic communism and Islam. I say this to point out that freedom is rare and should be protected from all that would destroy it. It is quite obvious that the common denominator among the nations where people are persecuted for their religious faith and speaking out for freedom is where either the majority is Muslim or the oligarchy is atheist. There is every reason to believe that when the numbers of Muslims or atheists reach a large enough number in any country, persecution of other religions and beliefs will start. In Europe where Muslims number 15% to 20% of the population, people are already being intimidated by threats of death if they speak out against Islam. There’s no reason to think it will not happen in our future. In fact, at their present birth rate Muslims will be one of the biggest political groups in the country by 2050. Some estimate the number as high as 40 to 50 million.

I have read the Koran and found the flaws in Islam are not so much in its followers as in its founder and its holy Book. There are at least 100 verses in the Koran telling Muslims to kill the people of the Book (Christians and Jews)[5]. These passages have been softened in some English versions of the Koran. Mohammad himself was a polygamist, pedophile[6], and a terrorist (of course, you may try to excuse this on cultural grounds). To say this in any Muslim country publicly would cost me my life[7]. For a Muslim to build bridges with Christians and Jews, it would involve them denying their own Holy Book and their prophet. Now that is a real possibility. We have an example of this happening with numerous Christians who deny much of the New Testament because of the secular brainwashing they have received in our public schools. I personally don’t think the Muslim community is going to buy into that brainwashing; one thing that I respect about Muslims is the level of their commitment to their faith. I based the above opinion on the fact that they have not assimilated into Western culture in Europe.

Let me also point out that there is a huge difference between Christianity and the Muslim faith. In Christianity, the flaw is with the followers and not with the leader (Jesus) or with the message of the book (New Testament). However, the very opposite is true of the Muslim faith. The flaw is not only in some of the disciples or followers but rather with the prophet and the revelation (the book).

Let me hasten to point out that I am no more friendly toward some Christian sects than I am toward some of the Muslim sects. The Calvinists of the Middle Ages were a mean lot and some Roman Catholics did some harm during the Inquisition. However, most of this abuse has been greatly embellished by atheists and secular folks to bring reproach on Christianity. I would also say that most organized religion is a form of idolatry, and I include the Christian religion. Therefore, I have very little love for most organized religion. Jesus said the truth will set you free. He did not say that religion would set you free. All religions should be watched for abuses; this includes the Christian religion. One sect of the Muslim faith, the Baha’i is a very peaceful religious sect, and I can fully tolerate their beliefs and would, from a human point of view, grade their religion as being good. However, they have been viciously persecuted by their own Muslim brothers in every country where they exist.

Before we start building bridges, I think it would be good to do some real research and have some real debate on where we are building those bridges to. In the 1930s, many were saying that we should be building bridges with the Nazis and then in the 1940s they were saying we should be building bridges with the communists. If the 30s and 40s proved anything, they demonstrated that Americans are naïve and gullible. We should learn from history to watch ourselves. Bridge building is fine if you mean by it a dialogue. I’ll dialogue with anyone who will speak in good faith and carry on an honest debate, but at the same time I’ll be watching what they do and not just listening to what they say.

Now, in this I am not saying that the Muslim people as a whole are evil. I have a number of Muslim friends who are good people. However, like most ethnic groups and ideological groups, they all tend to support the same ethnic and ideological groups that they are members of.  Most of the Germans in the 30s and 40s were not Nazis and by human standards the majority of them were nice people. Nevertheless, when it came to the war, they supported the Nazis. Most people are like sheep that will follow the leader. Many of the Muslim leaders have a will to power and are evil. Yes, I still believe in evil. Because people are like sheep and follow their leaders, you should not judge a movement, ideology, or a religion by what the average person believes or does, but rather by the foundational beliefs and the goals of its leadership. In the case of the Muslim faith, there are a large number of their leaders who want to destroy the Jews and every other religious faith that will not bow the knee to Mohammad. I personally don’t feel any obligation to tolerate these leaders, to accept them, or to ignore their behavior or speech. To me, this would border on insanity.

It is extremely important for our culture in order to stay free to label and resist any religion or ideology that would rob us of freedom. Just because a group calls itself a religion does not give it the right to be insensitive to the feelings and emotions of others. They may have a right under the Constitution to build a mosque on Ground Zero, but the same Constitution gives those whom their offending the right to protest their building of that mosque. I find it very strange that a religion, which says it wants to build bridges of peace and healing, would be so insensitive that when hearing that 70% of the people don’t want that mosque built there, would not immediately change their plans.

I would invite you to read and study some good books on the Muslim faith before building too many bridges. I purposely did not use the Bible to discredit the Muslim faith because I believe that it is self-evident that Muslim beliefs contradict much of the teachings of Jesus. Please excuse me for any “rambling on” that may be in this letter. I realize there are many other points that I could expound on that would clarify my beliefs on this topic even more, if time would allow. If you cannot tolerate my opinions, I will take you off my mailing list if that is your wish. It is not my purpose to offend or upset people but just to present facts to thoughtful people who may be seeking the truth.”

Following is a list of a few books you might be interested in:

The Hidden Origins of Islam (An academic book that researches the origin of Islam)

Islam and Terrorism (by Mark A. Gabriel Ph.D., former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University Cairo, Egypt.)

The Unseen Face of Islam.(by Bill Musk)

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (by Robert Spencer.  This book is a critique of the Koran in comparison to the teachings of the Bible and Christianity.)

The Koran (Islam’s Holy Book)

[1] When I use the word liberal I am using it to denote those people that have embraced the ideology of liberalism.

[2] This is a typical response of the liberals I have encountered. Not much content.

[3] Liberals in general have a negative biased towards Christianity. One reason for this is that Christianity rivals Liberalism for the high ground of morals and ethics and is it sole competitor on the stage of ethics and intellectual rigor. In essence, Christianity is liberalism’s chief competitor in the world of ideas.

[4] I do not consider myself an expert on Islam. However, I have read a number books on Islam and the Koran.

[5] Sometimes it is hard to determine who the Koran is referring to as unbelievers. Some Moslems believe that it is only talking about people who attack Islam.

[6] Mohammed married a nine-year-old girl and consummated the relationship. For some this can be justified culturally. I leave it up to the reader.

[7] In contrast Christianity has tolerated attacks on its belief system and its founding documents since the time of the Enlightenment. They have defended themselves not with violence but with intellectual argument.