Wind Rose Hotel: Why Western civilization is worth fighting for:
“Rather more significant is to know what their all-round relationship is to certain values that have always been central to the historical project of the left: democratic and egalitarian values; a decent conception of justice (such as aims to achieve for everyone the possibility of a secure and fulfilled existence); and the protection of individual human beings from the more egregious types of assault to which they are subject when such values are denied or cast aside. Christopher Hitchens’s present choice is not my own. I remain attached to the idea of arguing for these values within the left. A left which showed no respect for them wouldn’t be worth belonging to.
But all the same, I appreciate and feel the difficulty of accepting a common political identity with the contemporary apologists for terrorism, the mumblers and rootcausers, the people seemingly capable of understanding everything except the need for drawing a clear line between those who uphold the politics of democracy and those dedicated to their destruction. The left today has no reason for self-congratulation. This is a loose movement which is able (and has seen fit) – from the Falklands to Iraq – to mobilize always hundreds, and sometimes thousands and tens of thousands, to oppose conflicts fought by the Western democracies against the ugliest of tyrannies and/or reactionary social and political forces, but musters nothing comparable, or indeed just nothing, against a global campaign of terrorist murder; or, equally, against genocidal processes as these periodically unfold in one country after another, destroying the fabric of entire communities and uncountable numbers of lives.
(…) With those, both within the left and without it, who fight for democratic principles, practices and institutions and the fundamental rights of human beings; against those, whatever their political colour, who always have a reason, or a tactful silence, to offer on behalf of the forces fighting against these things; as well as against these oppressive and murderous forces.
(…) In his What Went Wrong book, Lewis has shown what made Islam so different from other monotheistic religions, particularly from a political and cultural point of view. For centuries, he says, the Islamic world was in the forefront of human achievement—the foremost military and economic power, the leader in the arts and sciences of civilization, etc.—while Christian Europe was sunk in the darkness of barbarism. And then everything changed. What went wrong? Lewis offers no easy answers, but he points out the lack of secularism and its roots at the core of Islam itself.
Secularism in the modern political meaning—the idea that religion and political authority, church and state are different, and can or should be separated—is, in a profound sense, Christian. Its origins may be traced in the teaching of Christ, confirmed by the experience of the first Christians; its later development was shaped and, in a sense, imposed by the subsequent history of Christendom.
In imperial Rome Caesar was God, reasserting a doctrine that goes back to the god-kings of remote antiquity. Among the Jews, for whose beliefs Josephus coined the term “theocracy,” God was Caesar. For the Muslims, too, God was the supreme sovereign, and the caliph was his vice-gerent, “his shadow on earth.” Only in Christendom did God and Caesar coesixt in the state, albeit with considerable development, variety, and sometimes conflict in the relations between them.”
Just go there and read what Rob has written: a magnificent post about fighting for Western civilization and why it is really worth the effort…
So the reason for fighting for the Western civilization is just that it is the only one which has, in its strict sense, discovered and really developed the separation between Religion and State, thanks to the famous words of Christ: “Give to the Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”. Nowadays, however, it looks like that secularization, that is just that, is the same as “laicism”, a French term which was “discovered” in the French Revolution, and which is something strictly different. In the secularization, neither Caesar wants that which is God’s nor God’s (or His representants) wants that is Caesar’s. That is, the temporal power does not meedle in religious affairs nor the religious power wants to meddle in strictly temporal affairs. Just for example, the temporal power will never try to teach religious or moral values and the religious power will not impose its own moral views as scientific ones.
“Laicism” (there is virtually no similar word in English) is discovered, as I said, in the French Revolution with the enthronement of the Goddess Reason. It consists in a new Religion, made up by power, different from the Rest, with superior values to the rest of them and which exceed the ones which could be considered only as related to civility or citizenship. For examplo, and just by referring myself to something very controversial nowadays, we would have to distinguish between the moral consideration of homosexuality, something private and entirely related to the values each human being has, and the considerations homosexuality would have for Law and the State.
If we consider a “liberal” in European concept, someone who must fight for freedom and to reduce the meddling of the State in private affairs, laicism must repel as the meddling of any other religion, because it is about telling each citizen about how to consider morally human acts. State should only worry about acts which go against the basic protected juridical goods (that is, if someone beats or hurts someone for being an homosexual or consider that acts as morally acceptable) but not about the determination of what should each people think about those acts of strict intimacy, whose good/bad control can only be done from a moral point of view (that is, if it’s morally acceptable to have homosexual relations or to be an homosexual).
That implies that the first ones must be punished from a juridical point of view. The others can only be punished from the inner self of the human being, as he is the only one who has conscience and who is fully aware of his own intentions and actions.
Between moral and juridical laws, there are very few differences but there are two which are fundamental: the punishment (in the case of the moral is located on a personal/inner view -repentance, internal considerations-, and in the juridical one is of a juridical character -imposed on the culprit by a Tribunal, Judge, administrative figure…) and the place where it is located (the moral is in the relationship between each individual and his conscience while the juridical ones, are located in the relations between the individuals). If the State introduces itself, using its own regulations, in those relationships which are merelly personal, of each individual with his conscience, it’s not doing something different from what theocratic Islamic (or religious in general) regimes are doing. There is a difference though as Rob underlines in his post: Christianity always had a resort to point out where the limit is (even if it was in a theory, but it was always there), to temporal power. Now that limit is considered as a faulty one and so, it does not exist in reality. What is more, it’s widely considered as just to impose on citizens a laic State, considering that it would be the last resort against Islamisation. What this people do not consider is that, in fact, France, a “laic” State is really the most islamised in Europe to the day. The reason is that islamic faith is in reality a really total religion, which has also a political part at the core of it, and which cannot really make any difference between Religion and State. And just having to choose between something which cannot tells us about a future life and something which already does it, most of the people will choose the latter.
Islamic faith does tell you about the future life. Laicism does not. That is a very important reason for most of the people, even if agnostics or atheists do not see it.
De modo que la razón por la que se debe luchar por la civilización occidental es porque es la única en la que en un sentido estricto, descubre la separación Religión-Estado, gracias al Cristianismo, es decir, a “dad al César lo que es del César y a Dios lo que es de Dios”. Sin embargo, a día de hoy parece que la secularización que es eso, se confunde con el laicismo, que es algo distinto. En la secularización, ni el César se mete en lo que es de Dios ni Dios en lo que es del César, esto es, el poder temporal no opina sobre los valores religiosos porque es algo que excede a su cometido y el poder religioso opina sólo sobre las cuestiones netamente religiosas o que influyan sobre la cuestión religiosa. Por poner un ejemplo, el orden temporal no educará en valores religiosos o morales y el orden eclesiástico no impondrá valores religiosos como científicos.
El laicismo es algo diferente: proviene de la Revolución Francesa y la entronización de la Diosa Razón. Consiste en que el poder temporal entroniza una nueva religión diferente de las demás, con valores superiores a las de esas religiones y que exceden los que deberían considerarse como propios de la urbanidad o de la ciudadanía. Por ejemplo, y por referirme a algo polémico, sería considerar la homosexualidad como algo intrínsecamente bueno, determinando así una valoración moral que excede de las actividades del Estado.
Curiosamente, si se es liberal, el laicismo debería repeler tanto como cualquier otra religión impuesta desde el Estado porque trata de decir a cada individuo cómo debe valorar moralmente los actos. El Estado debería limitarse a determinar cuáles son los actos que van contra los bienes jurídicos protegidos básicos (esto es, si se agrede a alguien por ser homosexual) pero no a determinar lo que deba pensar cada uno sobre los actos que sean de estricta intimidad o de control sólo por valores morales (i.e.: mantener relaciones de carácter homosexual).
Entre las normas morales y las normas jurídicas hay pocas diferencias pero hay dos fundamentales: la sanción (en el caso de la moral es de carácter personal -el arrepentimiento, el pesar interno- y en el del Derecho es de carácter jurídico -impuesta por un tribunal, juez, autoridad administrativa..-) y el ámbito en el que se produce (en el caso de la moral, se produce en las relaciones de cada individuo con su conciencia y en el del Derecho, en las relaciones entre los individuos). Si el Estado se introduce, mediante la regulación, en aquellas relaciones que son meramente de carácter interno al individuo, de cada uno con su conciencia, no está haciendo algo distinto de lo que hacen los regímenes teocráticos islámicos o religiosos anteriores, con la diferencia de que el Cristianismo, siendo religión mayoritaria, siempre supuso un límite (al menos, teórico) al poder terrenal. Ahora ese límite es denigrado y, por tanto, no existe en la realidad. Es más, se considera que lo justo es precisamente considerar al laicismo como la solución al problema islámico, sin pensar que el país de hecho más islamizado de Europa es también el más laico, Francia. La razón es que la islámica es la religión más estatista que existe y puestos a creer, elegimos siempre aquello que nos pueda dar una vida en el otro mundo. Y el laicismo no la da. El Islam sí. A pesar de que los agnósticos o los ateos (o una parte de ellos) no pueda verlo.