Democracy, the Death of Truth, and the Growth of Tyranny | Brian Jones | CWR
Choosing to live according to one’s own self-made conception of reality, human nature, and happiness is a recipe for tyranny.
I agree with you that this case (Gosnell) is quite disturbing on so many levels. I would never want my wife to have an abortion, nor would I ever conceive of counseling a woman that abortion would be a wise choice. However, I must declare my agnosticism on this issue, for I personally do not know when human life begins and I am not certain that the science is definitive on this point either. Furthermore, while I may disagree with the person’s decision, nevertheless, who am I to deny someone the sacred right of choice to determine what is best for them in their lives, and in the complicated circumstances that envelope their situation?
While much can be said, and has been said, about the claims put forth in such a statement, what should stand out most is that this is the philosophical outlook of modern liberal democracy, its penultimate truism on which it is based and feeds. Relativism and toleration are its paradigmatic doctrines, for if one proposed some form of truth and and also proposed that we could simultaneously know this truth that we ourselves did not make, then one would be a threat to civilization. It is only on the conditions of dialogue, equality, and the affirmation of any and all forms of living that we can remain a free and open society, one progressing towards a better world.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger himself diagnosed this dangerous current of philosophical relativism in modern democratic societies. Democracy, Ratzginer noted, is in fact built upon the basis,
that no one can presume to know the true way, and it is enriched by the fact that all roads are mutually recognized as fragments of the effort toward that which is better... A system of freedom ought to be essentially a system of positions that are connected with one another because they are relative as well as being dependent on historical situations open to new developments. Therefore a liberal society would be a relativist society: only with that condition could it continue to be free and open to the future. (“Address to Latin American Bishops”, 1996).
Ratzinger rightly highlights in this same address that there must be a certain amount of relativism in the arena of politics for, as Aristotle tells us, this science is not speculative, but practical.