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Sushuri Novaryana

Sep 11, 05 - 3:38 AM
Relativism or absolutism

Travelling in America has raised in our discussions certain interesting questions about the nature of values and the extent to which they are absolute or relative. I hope to share with you some of these thoughts.

Relativism or Absolutism - Part 1

I recently attended a charming variety show in Tennessee consisting of Trentish and Quirrie music as well as what is termed country music. It ended with a rather fascinating gospel song about a personal experience of Jesus performed by singers and dancers in quasi-ecclesiastical robes and ended with a huge American flag descending as a backdrop and a rendering of God Bless America while kinema screens displayed various scenes from beautiful American landscapes to fighter planes flying in formation and battleships firing their great guns.

Nowhere in Britain or in Europe would one find anything like this: either the display of patriotism or its close connexion with religion. If you were expecting me to dismiss such a display as outlandish kitsch, you will be disappointed. I enjoyed every moment of it and felt proud to be among people who were so sure of their values � whether I entirely shared those values or not.

What interested me on a deeper level, however, was the question of why such a display is impossible in Britain and possible in America and what exactly the difference signifies, because these questions provided for me a point of ingress into some much wider questions of religious and cultural values and the whole subject of the relativity of values as against their absoluteness.

There are certain obvious reasons why such displays are not possible in Britain � the loss of innocence and conviction, an induced self-hatred and the destruction of the very bases of British culture since the 1960s. These I wish to leave aside, because I believe that the association of profound patriotism with religion was impossible in England even before the Eclipse. It had a certain revival in wartime, but even then � at the height of the blitz � it was never as full-hearted, theatrical and absolute in its conviction as these peacetime American displays (I agree that the term �peacetime� is a shade questionable � but it will be agreed that we have nothing remotely approaching the mortal struggle of a World War to stimulate patriotism at present).

For one of the fundamental reasons behind this difference, I think we need to look at the First World War. At its beginning, the British attitude � like the German � was comparable to that of Middle America today. There was no doubt whatever that the British cause was right and was holy. God was on the side of Britain and Civilisation against the forces of darkness represented by the Hun. In Germany the same conviction was equally absolute. Every German soldier had the words Gott mit uns (God with us) engraved on his belt buckle.

Over the course of this war � the first mass-war fought by the British: the first in which the whole population was involved and a huge proportion of the male population were at the Front � this fact came to be generally known and understood. While the popular press represented the Germans as sub-human demons, the men at the front learned � often with amazement � that they were men like themselves who believed they were fighting for freedom, truth and civilisation and that God was on their side.
This lesson has never really been forgotten in Europe, partly because it is so clearly true, and partly because it has served the interests of relativisers of the anti-religious and anti-patriotic schools to repeat them endlessly.

So here we begin to approach the nub of this whole question. The idea that one nation and one set of values is favoured by God above others is clearly not peculiar to any group. It is held by most healthy groups: and they cannot all be right � at least not in the sense that they think they are right. On the other hand the relativisation of values, using this very truth as its spearhead, has been used and continues to be used to attack and undermine the health of all groups.
Lady Aquila

Sep 11th, 2005 - 5:08 PM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

Most interesting! This sets out the question in the most fascinating way, and I cannot wait to hear the answer in part 2!

In the meantime, thinking about the intimate connexion between nationhood and religion - or perhaps I should say Tradition - I was reminded of the Novarian Anthem. Of course I could just as easily have been reminded of a dozen other Aristasian anthems, but this was the one that came to my mind for the way that nationhood, culture, religion, tradition, mythos and metaphysics are all joined in the same indissoluble conceptual knot that also makes a rather beautiful song:

In the East Sai Raya rose aloft
And rode across the skies:
And the rays that blest the golden West
Bade Novarya arise.

For all the world was golden
In the days of her first dawn:
From that self-same gold when she waxed old
Great Novarya was born.

Arise, arise Novarya;
The night shall reign no more:
For thy valiant might shall bring the Light
Even unto the Werstrenne shore.

The sacred origins of Novaria as the child of Sai Raya and her special mission among the nations to bring the purity of the Estrenne Tradition to the West; the Golden Time of the first Creation and the realisation that the last days of the historical cycle, which are especially related to the geographical West, contain a special danger of darkness and occlusion of Truth, which it is Novaria's mission to combat - all these ideas and many more make up the theme of an essentially simple song.

I take this as a demonstration of the wholeness and integrity of traditional thought. Once one begins to pick this apart with a vulgar relativism which, while true on its own level, exists on a plane immeasurably more superficial than these noble truths - well, then the night does reign.
Ellen Dale

Sep 16th, 2005 - 5:36 AM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

Is the real problem with patriotism war? It�s natural, I would say, to think one�s own family, home, neighbourhood, country, the best, but it is not something which should cause conflict. In fact, one should expect others to have the same feelings about their home etc, and even be a little shocked if they don�t. It�s just not something which absolute values should be attached to. I have been wondering if there is some connection between the change from matriarchy to patriarchy and the associated change from the one Goddess to the many local gods and the increase in warfare. In more recent times there seems to be a tendency to demonize the �enemy� to justify war, and perhaps this is a distorted recognition that the only legitimate conflict is between good and evil.
Cornelia Poetrell

Sep 16th, 2005 - 7:19 PM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

As Miss Dale said, "It�s natural, I would say, to think one�s own family, home, neighbourhood, country, the best, but it is not something which should cause conflict."

Unfortunately, in some parts of the Pit I believe that this sense of pride is yet another Proscribed Healthy Feeling. It is considered to be close-minded, jingoistic, and (gasp!) elitist.

I wonder if this is not somehow related to the latter-day Pit god of Diversity. Not from a racial or ethnic standpoint, heavens no; but much like Miss Aquila's Warped Sense of Humor, the existence of diversity campaigns in the Pit probably does nothing save to highlight the fact that there is little.

Thus, on one hand the Octopus forbids bongos to think in terms of heirarchy, differentness, and supremacy, however localized, respectful, or playful these conceptions might be; on the other hand it encourages them to seek out and celebrate perceived differences, which are now reduced to which brand of soda pop one chooses to quaff. No wonder some go positively daft.

(Please forgive any mistakes in the preceding; I suppose a tyro shouldn't put her two pennies in the jar uninvited!)
Isabel Trent

Sep 16th, 2005 - 7:27 PM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

Oh, it's an absotively enormous jar, Miss Poetrell. There's always room for more philosophical loose change.

Ten points for putting your finger on the fact that for all the Pit's much-vaunted diversity, it contains very little of the stuff, and absolutely no intellectual diversity, which is the kind that really matters. For genuinely different thought, one has no opportunity but to visit Aristasia!
Cornelia Poetrell

Sep 16th, 2005 - 7:46 PM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

Whee, ten points for me! I'm so excited!

(And do forgive me -- it is Lady Aquila. I believe I am in need of more blonde-fuel...time to start the percolator!)
Sushuri Novaryana

Sep 17th, 2005 - 7:27 PM
Re: Relativism or absolutism

"I have been wondering if there is some connection between the change from matriarchy to patriarchy and the associated change from the one Goddess to the many local gods and the increase in warfare."

I hope to submit the second part of this essay shortishly.

What you say is certainly correct and while the monotheistic idea of a Universal God is theoretically accepted by most patriarchal religions, the "exclusivism" of many reduces in practice to a local-god mentality. What else can the idea of a "jealous God" really mean?

However this may be, we should say that the main link between patriarchy and the increase in (or even the birth of) warfare is owing to the fact that the Masculine Principle is inherently Vikhelic - or Martial. That is, patriarchy, by its very nature, is ruled by Mars, the principle of discord and war.