By Dr. Amine Jules Iskandar Syriac Maronite Union-Tur Levnon
The political and economic destruction of Lebanon by the fundamentalist and totalitarian militia of Hezbollah is accompanied by a parallel ‘intellectual’ desire for disintegration of its identity within certain currents in society. For secularists and liberals, identity is seen as an obstacle to coexistence and a relegation to the past. That is why they try to deny or deconstruct the Lebanese identity. And this tendency goes beyond the issue of Lebanon alone, since this current is raging in Western Europe and the United States in the form of a new religion.
Pseudo-intellectuals seek to deconstruct history by appealing to historicism. And from there, to relativism; they proclaim the uncertainty of everything, which is nothing less than nihilism. All pillars of identity are mocked with a deep hatred of culture, history, past, art, beauty and sacredness. We even perceive a certain form of self -hatred.
To quote André Malraux; a society that no longer believes in the holy, no longer believes in anything, it walks around in the darkness of nihilism. The pseudo-historian starts with denying all national particularities and then attacks the communal specificities or the confessionnal particularities. This is the ‘éloge de l’uniformité’ (praise for uniformity) as Alain Finkielkraut would say, hence the cult of ugliness. We are the witnesses of the disenchantment between the peoples and their nation, especially because of a total ignorance of art and history, and because of a contempt of the sacred.
It is a global trend that has conquered the West under the slogans of progress, humanism, freedom and brotherhood. Originally, however, this form of liberal thinking advocated the defense of individual rights in their double natural and positive character. It stood for freedom of expression, freedom of worship, pluralism and the free exchange of goods and ideas. It had adopted the definition of individual freedom laid down in the declaration of human rights and citizenship of 1789 according to which “freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others”. And this is where the contradiction arises with some supposed liberals. By deconstructing the existing structures that they regard as obstacles to their freedom, they consciously attack the moral and holy good that represents the security of others. They thwart the very principles they claim to defend.
A modern ideology of neoliberalism takes form. The imaginary enemy whom it continually seeks to take down is the Christian heritage. However, it is from this Christian heritage that liberalism draws its own values; from Saint Augustine in the fifth century, but especially from the sixteenth century, with the School of Salamanca which was based on the doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas which already argued for the separation of powers.
Leo Strauss rightly criticizes that form of modern liberalism that transgresses so far that he calls it a variant of nihilism. Because this drift of thought, he warns, can easily slide into tyranny and totalitarianism. And it is undoubtedly the case that in totalitarianism some liberals or nihilistic readers come together with current Islamic movements. John Locke did not develop a liberal thinking in the eighteenth century against the church but against intolerant religious doctrines. The neo-liberals therefore are mistaken.
In the categorical rejection of the national novel and any form of historical romanticism and identity memory on which a nation is built, the radical leftist movement transforms history into a cold science devoid of any soul. It no longer considers the nation as a transcript of the life and an existential journey of human beings, but it perceives it as lifeless and being without humanity. It is a radical positivism that Ivan Tourgueniev too associates with nihilistic thinking. And in its rejection of the eschatological dimension of being, this nihilism is seen by John Paul II as “the primacy that returns to the ephemeral.”
This reductionist attitude of contemporary intellectuals, hailed awkwardly and with great fanfare by some media, is nothing but a denial of the divine and a submission to evil. The atheism it implies not only denies the existence of God, but also, according to Dostoevsky, challenges ‘creation.’ It is “the sense of being” that it renounces, says John Paul II. Thus nihilism, says Martin Heidegger, proposes the “death of man” after it has killed God.
In what is happening today, we are not necessarily in the so-called “pessimistic” version of nihilism. We find ourselves in an absurd and absolutely empty expression intended solely for entertainment. It is evil for the sake of evil, the jubilation of naive crowds that accompanies the burning of all human values. Since fire amuses and distracts, let us not stop feeding the flames, with everything that falls into our hands. “Let the highest values devalue themselves,” said Friedrich Nietzsche in his interpretation of nihilism. It is by the killing of God that humans sink into “nihil.” Because, as Nietzsche points out, these two questions are intimately linked. Also recall that for Saint Augustine, only the conservative action of God saves creatures from straying into “nihil.”
Confusing secularism with a hatred of religion, and a hatred of Christianity in particular, makes nihilist ideologies (whether liberal, secularist or woke) end up with other totalitarian movements. With these totalitarian movements, they share a common ambition towards fundamentalism, of which they, paradoxically enough, accuse the defenders of Christian culture and heritage.
Dr. Amine Jules Iskandar is an architect and the president of the Syriac Maronite Union – Tur Levnon. Amine Jules Iskandar has written several articles on the Syriac Maronites, their language, culture, and history. You can follow him @Amineiskandar2
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.