Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reactionary Relativism

I haven't posted in ages, so I'm sorry to barge in on Finnegan's excellent posts on Ratzinger with something that will pretty much be more of the same. However, I'm just boiling over with hatred for the Nazi so here goes . . .

Ratzinger WAS a Nazi collaborator. That's what any French, German, or Italian resistance fighter would have called anyone who did anything the Nazis declared "compulsory." That this bizarre historical and moral revisionism, where it's alright to be a Nazi collaborator, is occuring on the scene of a Papacy in commission, presumably an elevated moral theater, seems stunning. Shouldn't the Pope, the sublime agent of God, be held to higher moral standards, or at least the same moral standards, as a normal French, German or Italian citizen during the war? The answer is a resounding NO!

Normal moral standards would say that you can't aid and abett the molestation of children. Normal moral standards would suggest that you not consider women and gays as ipso facto deserving of less power and respect than straight men.
Normal moral standards would suggest that you not oppose "liberation theology," which has been uttered in the media as if it was some strange thing going on in some crazy Southern Hemisphere countries. No, it was an attempt to free the poor and oppressed from their poverty and oppression. Normal moral standards would suggest that you not lend tacit support to vicious tyrants.

It is so interesting that the slew of editorials about the Pope from the center-right to the radical right, especially in the WSJ, has almost universally referred to the greatness of the Catholic Church under these fascists as opposing "moral relativism." These editorials have argued that there must be more than "my truth" and "your truth", there has to be "the truth" to which "we" can all agree. They see cruel, despotic men like Ratzinger as the perfect inforcers of this universal "truth." Now, I actually don't believe, on a theoretical level, in "the truth." But that's not even the issue. The issue is that if there is "the truth," a set of moral facts to which "we" can all agree, then in any sort of heteroglossal, pluralistic society, which is the society we, the inheritors of the Western tradition, must live in, unless we, like Ratzinger decide to support genocide, "the truth" intuitively would condemn the modern Catholic Church and its incredibly elitist, bigoted, and dehumanizing moral stances as being outside "the truth." A band of women-devaluing, gay-bating, child molesters would certainly not be accepted by any version of "the truth" based on any of the individual, progressive rights that the movement of Western democracy, less so in America than elsewhere, seemed to valorize. It is in fact a moral relativism of the right, which in the past few years, has begun to worship a CERTAIN TYPE of religion as an appropriate function of socio-political interchange. This valuation of rather rigid, reactionary forms of Christianity, is much more akin to the celebration of somewhat discomfiting non-Western cultures that went on in the 70's and 80's much to the chagrin of the "universalist" right. The Catholic Church under Ratzinger, and even before, is in direct contradiction to any universalist conception of the Western tradition that would attempt to disengage itself from the twentieth century movements of Nazism, white supremacy, and Stalino-communist collectivity.

The right must either choose relativity and align themselves with bigoted Church-supremacy because it intuitively feels good to them, or they must support a form of despotic, top-down institutionalization of such bigotry, not on universalist or communitarian principles of "truth," but on some more atavistic standard such as divine right.

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