Pampering or Truth? What Makes for a Worthy Life, by R.J. Snell

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We stewards of the western tradition have good answers for what makes life worth living. If only we could be imaginative enough to give new voice to those ancient truths and avoid the stultifying fate of pampered souls.

By R.J. Snell, Contributing Editor of Public Discourse, Sept. 25, 2019

Facts no longer matter, although they did during the Cold War. Or so argues Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times, where she approvingly cites arguments from a new book by Peter PomerantsevSince capitalism and communism both claimed moral and economic superiority, “facts that revealed their deceptions could endanger them.” Regimes had a motivation to lie about those facts, obviously, but were “invested in being seen as truthful.” Now, however, “few leaders claim to have an ideological map to a better world,” and thus “truth scarcely appears to matter.” It has been replaced by a bald and unapologetic “will to power.”

It’s an interesting claim: when regimes made utopian promises, they lied to cover over the facts that might reveal their inadequacy; but when regimes make no moral claims, they need not pretend to truth―they aim only for power. Put more simply, regimes that make truth claims lie all the time, while regimes that lack big ideologies tell unvarnished truth about their goals.

Now, after the passing of the “universalist visions of progress”—which, apparently, were lies—we are left with a kind of “amoral relativism” that seeks power for its own sake, where everyone “invents their own ‘normal’ humanity, their own ‘right’ history.” If we wish to return to “objective truths” and “an evidence-based future,” we’ll need to “restore faith in a rational path forward” for a “common mankind” with “common projects.” ….

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