Two Types of Universalism

By Michael Derfler

“…[T]he values of the State of Israel as a Jewish state are those universal values common to members of democratic society….” Aharon Barak

“Zionism should not – and will not – bow before a system of individual rights interpreted universally….” Ayelet Shaked

“… a person cannot rise to the broad circle of universalism except by means of one’s strong connection to his own people….” Rav Kook

Healthy people, whether liberal or conservative, religious or non-religious, have a stronger connection to their own people than to people of another nation. “Modern liberals,” aka leftists, have a different point of view.

Here are two expressions of the healthy viewpoint.

This is from Reason by Robert Reich, a liberal (who has a clear antagonism toward conservatives):

“Think of yourself standing at the center of a set of concentric rings spreading outward… reflecting how connected and responsible you feel toward those within them. Inside the closest ring is your immediate family. Inside the next are your close friends. Within the next is your community – neighbors, other friends and acquaintances, colleagues at work. Eventually you reach the nation as a whole. Beyond that national ring may lie another one, which includes all the people of the world. Most of us feel vaguely connected to other people on the planet simply by virtue of our common humanity… but the closer the ring the stronger the feeling of affinity.”

Reich laments, “Some on the left… don’t love America first.”

This is from my book Harmony over Peace 

“A person grows from being self-centered toward being concerned for others in naturally progressing stages. First a person learns to care about family, then neighbors, then members of the larger community, then country. Our “circle of concern” for others should expand gradually, expanding in stages to encompass more and more people who are farther and farther away from us.[1] Thus, one should become a nationalist before becoming a cosmopolitan. However, concern for others universally does not replace nationalism; it is added to nationalism.”

“The person who espouses universal, equal concern for others does not realize that of necessity we must prioritize our concern for others. Every person and every nation has limited financial and emotional resources with which to help others. Practical choices must be made as to who comes first. Other things being equal, a healthy person will choose to help a family member before helping a stranger.[2] The same holds true for nations. A nation should help its own citizens before helping the citizens of other nations. Further, a nation should help citizens of other nations that share common values before helping citizens of other nations that do not share common values.”

Leftists reject this natural order. “Those who reject nationalism reject these natural moral priorities. Worse, in their fervent rejection of any semblance of nationalistic sentiments, they sometimes blind themselves to the truth in order to identify with and support immoral people against their own people. This hypocrisy reflects not a more highly developed sense of morality but a self-deception intended to make these people feel that they are among the most moral people in the world. In reality their real concern is their own self-image. They tell themselves that they, like God, care about even the most distant peoples. In reality they do not care about those who are (relatively) close to them.” (Harmony over Peace)

However, someone in a position of political power who actually places foreigners on equal footing with her own people, knowingly causing her own people hardship without significant justification, acts purposely to undermine her own nation’s integrity and identity. This is not a simple case of enjoying the luxury of hypocrisy; it is a step toward the leftist goal of abolishing nations and placing all people under the undemocratic control of an “elite” leadership.

The universalism of the left is at best a self-deception; at worst it is treachery. Leftist universalism is blind to our unique differences, seeing the great majority of people, “the masses,” essentially as animals to be herded.

Healthy universalism appreciates our limitations and our differences. It aspires toward each nation’s fulfillment of its unique expression of having been created in the “image of God.”

[1] “…[The high priest] will make atonement for himself, and for his family, and for the entire congregation of Israel” – this order is no coincidence. Leviticus 16:17. Similarly, see Genesis 12:2-3.

[2] See priorities in charity in the Mishneh Torah. A person who is closer has higher priority.

September 4, 2017 | Comments » | 414 views

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