The “peace process” as a symbolic representation of good and evil

Why does Obama demand that Israel give up territory essential to its security that it has owned and developed for 44 years, but doesn’t demand that Hamas eliminate from its charter the call for Israel’s destruction?

The answer is found in the “script” of modern liberalism, into which all phenomena in liberal society are automatically fitted. As I have explained before, the liberal script has three characters: (1) the liberal, who represents the principle of goodness, defined as compassion toward and inclusion of nonwhites/non-Westerners and other victims; (2) the non-liberal, who represents the principle of evil, defined as greed, discrimination, and intolerance toward nonwhites/non-Westerners and other victims; and (3) the nonwhite/non-Westerner or other victim, who is not a moral actor in his own right or even a fully formed human being, because his very function in the script is not to do anything but rather to be the passive recipient either of the liberal’s goodness or the non-liberal’s wickedness. If the nonwhite/non-Westerner were a moral actor, then his own actions, including his bad actions, would have to be judged. But to judge him negatively would be to discriminate against him, which would be to violate the very meaning and purpose of liberalism—the elimination of all discrimination against nonwhites/non-Westerners. Therefore the nonwhite/non-Westerner cannot be seen as a moral actor—as a human being who acts and is responsible for his actions.

In the “peace process,” Obama is the liberal, who seeks a policy of generosity and compassion toward the nonwhite/non-Westerner, i.e., the Palestinian. Netanyahu is the non-liberal (not that he necessarily is a non-liberal in reality, but he is assigned that role in the script), who rejects any act of generosity, any “concession,” toward the Palestinian. Finally, there is the Palestinian himself, the non-Western victim from whom nothing is expected, not even to eliminate the call in his charter for Israel’s destruction. His sole function is to reveal, by others’ actions toward him, their goodness or evil. Obama seeks to give the Palestinian his own state, so Obama is generous, inclusive, and good. Netanyahu rejects giving the Palestinian his own state, so Netanyahu is greedy, exclusive, and bad.

That is the entire meaning of the “peace process,” and the reason why it continues forever, even though it gets no closer to success, and, by its very nature (given the Palestinians’ actual murderous intentions toward Israel), can get no closer to success. The liberal media’s portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is a symbolic representation of the liberal view of the world and of the moral virtue of liberals. Through the constant repetition of that symbolic representation, liberal society—meaning liberal rule over society—is continually re-legitimized, revitalized, and renewed.

- end of initial entry -

Thucydides write:

You have it exactly right in your post on the liberal script. The endless pursuit of a “peace process,” i.e., activity conventionally presupposed to be leading to a state of peace, but which in fact never goes anywhere, cannot be taken at face value. It is a ritual performance that serves to manifest liberal piety. Few things are more revealing of core liberal assumptions.

Some Israeli officials on the left have participated in the farce, apparently taking it seriously. Others who know better, like Netanyahu, nevertheless evidently feel they have to play along with it, and work within the framework as best they can, in order to avoid a break with the U.S. that might result from a shock to liberal sensibilities.

In reality, the Arabs’ dream of the destruction of Israel is something they will never give up. It is a fantasy that serves important compensatory and consolatory psychological needs, and is a core part of their own self-understanding. The notion they would drop it for any material compensation is absurd. Some years ago, a Hamas leader put it quite honestly, when he said of the Israelis, we don’t want anything from you, we want to eliminate you. This of course fell on completely deaf ears. The liberals have their beliefs too that render them unable to hear what they don’t want to hear.

Paul Nachman writes:

Steve Sailer has written on a similar theme, that what’s really going on is a status competition among whites to be prominently virtuous. I dunno if he’s made the point that the “minorities” aren’t moral actors. And I dunno if either of you has influenced the other on this. If you want me to dig up one of those by Sailer, I will.

LA replies:

I discussed Sailer’s “status” explanation of liberalism years ago and have dismissed it (see this and this). His view is based on Darwinism. As a Darwinian material reductionist, Sailer doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as goodness or truth (except in a purely material sense of truth). He doesn’t understand that people believe in goodness and truth and are motivated by that belief. He thinks people believe what they believe because it gives them status, a drive planted in them by random genetic accidents that occurred in their distant ancestors and were naturally selected, so that the current generation has an instinct to believe things that provide status. There is no independent drive for truth in the human being. There is only the drive for status. Well, then, if human beings believe the things they believe in order to acquire status, then Sailer, being a human being, also believes the things he believes in order to acquire status. As a product of genetic mutations that occurred in his distant ancestors and remained in the genome because they gave the possessors more status and thus helped produce more offspring, Sailer himself doesn’t believe the things he believes because he thinks they’re true or good. He believes them because they will give him status. According to his own belief system, his beliefs have and can have zero truth value. They only have status value. So why should we pay any attention to anything he says?

Of course Sailer would deny that he believes these things. But I’m spelling out the actual logic of his belief system, and calling his bluff.

It’s the same with deconstructionists who say there’s no such thing as truth, i.e., a correspondence between words and reality. In terms of the deconstructionists’ own belief system, their statements cannot be true. So we should call their bluff and ignore them.

LA continues:

Please note: I am not denying that status and the desire for status are powerful forces in human life. I am not denying that people often are controlled by such drives and not by truth. But that is very different from saying that people only believe what they believe because it gives status, and not because they believe it’s true. What I am doing here is calling Sailer to account for his own theory. If, as Sailer theorizes, liberals believe what they believe only because it gives them status, then the same is true of Steve Sailer himself. He is a product of evolution, an automaton designed by random mutations and natural selection instinctively to seek status, not to seek truth. The “ideas” of such a being can have zero truth value.

LA continues:
While Darwinism is the backdrop of this discussion, it’s not a necessary part of it. The argument can be made much more simply:

(1) Sailer says that liberals take the positions they take because it gives them status;

(2) Sailer is not made of different human stuff than liberals;

(3) Therefore Sailer takes the positions he takes because it gives him status.

Another thing missing from Sailer’s analysis is WHY does adherence to liberalism provide high status. He has no answer to that question. All he can say is that adherence to liberalism provides high status because it provides high status. What he doesn’t see and can’t see, given his materialist premises, is that adherence to liberalism provides high status because liberal positions are believed to be true and good.

So status is only part of the picture. We cannot answer why status accrues to certain things and not others unless we understand that man believes in the good and seeks the good.

E. writes from Florida:

I’ve never seen this formulation by you before. I frequently say the same thing in regard to cocktail parties. The 1’s always get invited to the best cocktail parties, the 2’s never do, and the 3’s are invited and attend but they are only there to show how wonderful and good the 1’s are in real life (real life being a cocktail party to which non-whites are invited).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 22, 2011 03:30 PM | Send

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