9/14/2016—Now we’re getting somewhere. The liberal op-ed columnist Andrew Rosenthal wrote yesterday in the New York Times (What Trump Supporters Want You to Believe) that Donald Trump’s comments praising Putin—“‘It’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.’”—constitute “moral relativism in its most base form.”
OK. So, who is not a moral relativist? Who is willing to say that one kind of human life is better than another? Who is willing to say that there is a normative order in the universe? Next you will be willing to condemn gay marriage as unnatural.
I’m joking about the last point. But until recently every secularist I have met has been a moral relativist in principle. Since most secularists believe, or think they have to believe, that the Big Bang was an accident without meaning and purpose, there is nothing they can be other than materialists. And materialists are generally forced into moral relativism.
To not be a moral relativist, you have to commit to the proposition that some things are right and some things are wrong, not according to human opinion, but according to reality. In principle, religious people believe this—although there are plenty of functional atheists in church, synagogue, mosque and temple—but secularists don’t.
By the way, the heart of hallowed secularism is a protest against materialism and moral relativism, but this has not exactly caught on yet.
So, of course Donald Trump is a moral relativist. But he had good teachers—the very people now criticizing him for it. The left is morally relativist to its core. I don’t mean that as an insult but as a description. And it doesn’t mean you don’t feel strongly about your positions. You just can’t justify your positions apart from human will.
And, by the way, we now see how moral relativism—which is actually not about morality but the nature of reality—so it is ontological—demoralizes society and undermines healthy politics. Under the domination of this way of thinking, every position is just “what I happen to think.” So, genuine persuasion cannot happen. There is no truth of the matter out of which to be persuaded. I can force you or fool you, but I cannot persuade you. This impasse explains a lot about our current, partisan, hate-filled politics.