Sunday, April 24, 2005

The dangers of Absolutism

Every totalitarian state is based on absolutism. Either on it moral absolutism or absolute loyalty to the leader and/or state.
The Nazis believed themselves to be on the side of right and the Jews to be pure evil. Thus, it was their moral obligation to exterminate them.
The Communists viewed themselves as moral crusaders against the evils of Capitalism. In fact, the invasion of Afghanistan was justified as an act of "liberation".
Humas views itself on the side of God when it engages in the suicide bombing against innocent civilians.
The most recent instance of the dangers of absolutism is the attacks of 9/11. The terrorists in the attack believed themselves as taking on the "evil infidels" in the United States. Al Queda, in a nut shell, views itself as fighting against the forces of darkness in the name of God.
Absolutism, by its very nature, discourages decent, doubt, independent thinking and above all, compromise.
People who are willing to think in terms of nuance and greyness are far less likely to be fanatical or uncompromising.
This is not to say that people might sometimes come close to pure good or evil. But, this is the exception, not the rule.
There is a lesson in this for the United States. Our political situation has been more polarized and toxic as ever. And why, because both side of the isle have become more absolute in their thinking. And the biggest losers in this situation are the American people themselves.


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