Religion and nationalism are the root causes of political conservatism and continue to affect the plight of billions of people in countries under their influence. Many left-wing colleagues who heard I was writing a book on reason and humanism encouraged me, relishing the prospect of an arsenal of talking points against the right. But not so long ago, the left favored nationalism when it merged with the Marxist liberation movements. And many on the left encourage identity politicians and social justice warriors who downplay individual rights in favor of equalizing the status of races, classes and genders, which they see as being opposed to zero-sum competition. .
Religion, too, has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum. Even writers who are unwilling to defend the literal content of religious beliefs can be fiercely defensive of religion and hostile to the idea that science and reason have anything to say about morality (most of them show little awareness that humanism even exists) 5. faith insists that religion has exclusive frankness in questions of what matters. Or that even though we sophisticated people don’t need religion to be moral, the swarming masses do. Or that even though everyone would be better off without religious faith, there is no point in talking about the place of religion in the world because religion is part of human nature, which is why, mocking the hopes of the Enlightenment, it is more tenacious than ever. In Chapter 23, I will examine all of these claims.
The left tends to sympathize with another movement that subordinates human interests to a transcendent entity, the ecosystem. The romantic green movement sees the human capture of energy not as a way to resist entropy and enhance human flourishing, but as a heinous crime against nature, which will demand appalling justice in the form of wars of resources, poisoned air and water and civilization. end climate change. Our only salvation is to repent, repudiate technology and economic growth, and return to a simpler and more natural way of life. Of course, no informed person can deny that the damage caused to natural systems by human activity has been harmful and if we do nothing about it the damage could turn catastrophic. The question is whether a complex and technologically advanced society is doomed to do nothing. In Chapter 10, we will explore a humanistic environmentalism, more enlightened than romantic, sometimes called eco-modernism or eco-pragmatism.
Political ideologies of the left and the right have themselves become secular religions, offering people a community of like-minded brothers, a catechism of sacred beliefs, a well-populated demonology, and beatific confidence in the rightness of their cause. In Chapter 21, we’ll see how political ideology undermines reason and science.7 It clouds people’s judgment, ignites a primitive tribal mindset, and distracts them from a more solid understanding of how to improve the world. Our greatest enemies are ultimately not our political adversaries, but entropy, evolution (in the form of plague and the flaws of human nature) and above all ignorance – a lack of knowledge on how best to resolve our issues. problems.
This is a quote from the end of Part I of Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now: The Case of Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. I’m listening to it, so I don’t know the page numbers. I look forward to the book and have enjoyed it so far (with its analysis of entropy in terms of human behavior and progress being something to think about).
I thought that was an interesting quote because, aside from the fact that Pinker, as an intellectual, transcends political divides (the far left thinks he’s on the right and the right thinks he’s on the right) he is on the left). I felt that pretty much sums up Pinker’s underlying political stance.