Parts of the left are lost and have been for quite a while. The political left has gone from internationalists, dedicated to helping and endorsing the rights of those most oppressed, to spending their time trying to lock Blair up, and allowing cultural norms which endanger millions to go unchallenged. Parts of the left has moulded itself into a nihilistic nightmare, compounded by the western world’s foul colonial history. The belief in cultural relativism, combined with the idea that the west has no moral guidance to give the world has found itself woven into the fabric of the’ left’, leaving much of the movement lacking in any moral clarity. Journalists such as Nick Cohen, the late Christopher Hitchens, and others have found this point to be ever so true.
Multiculturalism is the ultimate expression of liberalism in its purest form. It allows for people to live how they wish as long as they don’t harm anyone else. It enriches communities and the country’s where it happens. It gives light where there is darkness, difference where there is uniformity, and it brings understanding where there is ignorance. It helps erode racism and a belief that one person is superior to another, it gives credence to the idea that different cultures may have many things in common and amicable differences, but all which give different ways to live the good life.
However, there is a bastard child, called cultural relativism. The ideology that no matter how abusive or backward a culture is, we cannot change or challenge it. It may seem like the brother of multiculturalism and liberalism, however, in my view it falls foul of both wonderful ideologies. It fails to uphold any universal moral standards, unlike in liberalism, and fails to identify flaws in cultures. This idea is as naïve as it is dangerous. Setting no moral values gives a moral code where everyone is guilty, so no-one can be convicted. On its own, as a philosophical idea it holds little danger, but in a political space it becomes toxic. Especially in an ideology which underlines former western oppression to various parts of the globe.
It saddens me to say that many of the left who denounce organisations such as UKIP will then fail to denounce homophobic prejudice from Islamic speakers, citing the idea that it isn’t for westerners to try and inform a tradition of what is ‘right’. The same people who want Tony Blair in the dock for war crimes, will then go on to claim the former Iraqi resistance movement (Al-Qaeda) are the same as the minute men (Michael Moore did this). The same people who denounce Israel for war crimes, will side with Hamas killing their own civilians, suicide bombing buses and lobbing rockets into civilian areas. The anti-war movement can be especially guilty of overlooking the most hideous crimes, one need look no further than the protests against the intervention in Kosovo, or the intervention in Afghanistan or Iraq. There was little talk of the strife, torture, and hopelessness the people in those regions were living under before the West finally decided to do something. The rights of the oppressed were small in comparison to the so called rights of the oppressors in those cultures.
Not only does cultural relativism lead to simply overlook gross crimes against humanity, it can lead to the positive cheerleading of such organisations which deprive people of their rights and thus oppression. The view that the west is responsible for a large portion of the world’s problems is one I am not hostile to. However, this does not mean we cannot give a moral example to the world today. That means that we have to start calling a spade a spade. That we have to not only set an example, but to hope that other states and cultures learn from the past mistakes that we have made. Cultural relativism is a step towards lunacy where rights don’t exist, it is an example of the left cannibalising itself in the name of equality, while allowing those who most need equality to suffer in an oppressive culture. Parts of the left need to change and fast.
By Sam Mace, Senior Writer for Daily Political View.