Based on my book A Jewish Philosophy of History: Israel’s Degradation & Redemption.
In this essay I am going to show that democracy contains the seed of a mental disorder which, once understood, will explain Israel’s insane and suicidal policy of “territory for peace.”
In his classic Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville shows that equality, more than freedom, is the quintessential principle of democratic societies. By equality he means more than political and social equality. So pervasive is the principle of equality in democratic societies that it invades the intellect and renders all opinions of “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong” or all lifestyles equal. This is moral relativism.
Of the various forms of moral relativism I shall speak only of “positivism” or the “emotive theory of values.” It goes like this: To say “X is good” is equivalent to saying “I like X.” By translating ethical into non-ethical or psychological language, positivism devaluates all values, especially aristocratic ones.
Thomas Hobbes performed this leveling or democratic operation in the seventeenth century. He offers, in his Leviathan, the most lucid and succinct definition of relativism:
Whatever is the object of any man’s appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate or aversion, evil . . . For these words of good [and] evil . . . are ever used with relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing simply and absolutely so …”
It follows that Abraham Lincoln’s view of “good” or “evil” is no more valid than that of Yasser Arafat. All desires are morally equal, and it’s fallacious to speak of “base” or “noble” desires. Hence, there is no reason why democrats should not negotiate with despots: the desires of one are no more praiseworthy than those of the other.
Man is simply an ensemble of desires—which Freud will call the “id”. The purpose of man’s reason is to determine how to obtain the object of his desires. As Hobbes puts it: “The thoughts are to the desires, as scouts and spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things desired.” Freud will call this instrumental reason the “ego”. And of course man will call the object of his desires “good”—which Freud will call the “super-ego”.
There’s a flaw in Hobbes’ reasoning. If “The thoughts are to the desires, as scouts and spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things desired,” this applies to Hobbes’ own thoughts. His thoughts are nothing but the instrument of his own desires.
Of man’s desires Hobbes mentions “the desire of power, of riches, of knowledge, and of honor. All of which may be reduced to the first, that is, desire of power. For riches, knowledge, and honor, are but several sorts of power.” It follows that his Leviathan is a manifestation of Hobbes’ desire for power, or what Nietzsche termed a “species of autobiography.”
But this means that the doctrine of moral relativism, as set forth in Hobbes’ Leviathan, has no objective validity! Yet this doctrine dominates the mentality of the modern world. One may even say that modernity is largely the manifestation of the will to power of Thomas Hobbes.
Modernity is therefore based on volition, not on reason. It follows that modernity, to an indeterminate extent, is irrational. This can be demonstrated by logical analysis of democracy, today’s standard of what is worthy of praise or blame, of what is “good” or “bad”—but which standard has no objective validity give the doctrine of moral relativism.
(By the way, a recent document of the American Council of Learned Societies entitled “Speaking for the Humanities” maintains that democracy cannot be justified as a system of government inherently superior to totalitarianism; it is simply an “ideological commitment” that the West has chosen to make.)
Politically, the sine qua non of democracy is the egalitarian principle of “one adult /one vote.” This principle implies the theoretical equality of adults holding contradictory opinions, which suggests that their contradictory opinions are equally valid. This is logically absurd. Moreover, the theoretical equality of all opinions includes opinions regarding good and bad, right and wrong—the position of moral relativism, the all-pervasive doctrine of democratic societies.
Democracy therefore manifests the alogical as well as amoral nature of the unconscious—so evident in dreams. One may even say that democracy, steeped in moral relativism, fosters insanity. As I have elsewhere written:
The absence of research on the possible adverse effects of moral relativism on mental health is all the more curious when one considers that psychologists include alienation, anxiety, and loss of identity among the symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms are conspicuous in secular, egalitarian societies where moral relativism thrives. Surely a loss of belief in objective moral standards has emotional and behavioral consequences, some of which may be deleterious. Indeed, many psychotherapists maintain that belief-modification can mitigate various schizophrenic symptoms.
Apparently, there are more psychiatrists in the United States than in all other countries combined; and it has been reported that many commit suicide. But what shall we say of Israeli prime ministers like Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert—all tainted by moral relativism, all committed to the insane and suicidal policy of “territory for peace”?