Kant has been called the epitome of the Enlightenment. He wrote a famous work entitled, “What is the Enlightenment.” His ethics come at a time when religion is dying away. Socrates had faced this before Kant. He came up with the famous metaphysical forms of beauty to worship and not degrade for an ethical system. Kant rebelled against such metaphysics. He was a scientist. He created a rational ethical system to replace religion. His system is the basis of the concept of “universal human rights.” Since only the West believes in such systems, thinking they are universal corrodes our sovereignty. Understanding how we got committed to them can help free us from this Kantian trap.
Kant he created a very simple seeming set of ethics because it is logical. But those who study him recognize his nuance. In addition to ethics he wrote about academic freedom, aesthetics, politics, perception, astrophysics, and the philosophical literature in addition to ethics. He created the idea for the predecessor to the United Nations, the League of Nations. He coined the term “League of Nations.” He also invented the logic that underpins the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I will argue that the UDHR is destructive because it does not recognize cultural diversity.
The ethical system of Kant’s, features the “Categorical Imperative.” (CI) This posits the ethical principle that we should figure out what the ethical assumption of your action is. Then you must make it a universal law of the precept and see if you still like it. If you are going to steal a car, the principle might be “would you like to live in a world where people steal other people’s cars?” Could you rationally, looking at your enlightened self-interest, will that to be a universal rule? The answer is no. “You should not steal cars” follows. Thus the CI makes ethical precepts.
Kant then gets into something he calls the kingdom of ends. For an action to be moral, it must be chosen. Things done out of compulsion or cannot be moral. For a choice to be morally decided upon you must have moral autonomy to make that choice. Kant says this gives you personhood, choice is what makes you a person. That means you cannot compel restrictions on a person’s activities and have a moral person. That means that you must treat people, not as means that you control, but of ends – autonomous free ends in and of themselves: respect their right to choose. Autonomous individuals forming society by using the categorical imperative to freely choose society’s rules sans compulsion is the ideal state.
Rationality is the lynch pin of this system. It assumes that everyone is rational. They make the rational choice. And, HERE IS THE FATAL MISSTEP, Kant holds that since all men are rational, as sure as logic is logical, his ethical system is universal. And since his system ultimately gives individual rights, he invents universal individual rights. This concept weakens the West as we are the only culture that believes in it. It undermines our sovereignty in the form of asylum rights. It undermines our borders in that enforcing them infringes upon universal individual rights. This is the flawed Kantian logic behind the U.N.’s vision of universals.
Culturists recognize that there is no universal autonomous rational person. Some people are irrational. And there are different standards of rationality. The Chinese look at the population and say, “WE hold this truth to be self-evident, all men are created UNEQUAL.” And what of Muslims who would still kill to implement theocratic systems Kant assumed dead? What of Islamic Jihad groups who would abuse our freedoms to undermine them? What of gangbangers that do not care about ethics and kills people for a living? Thought systems are divided upon national and cultural lines. For our “logical” rights-bearing system to survive, we must realize that it is rare, precious and fragile. It is not ubiquitous and common. Like other nations, we must be culturist. The West must protect, guide and domestically promote our specific language, culture and borders.
This does not violate our tradition; it is our tradition. From the Puritans to the Founding Fathers, from Abolitionists to progressives, to Prohibition to the 1924 Immigration Act, to the FCC, we have been a culturist nation. Crusades, such as the Civil War and the Great Awakenings fill our history. We must do this in accordance with our cultural traditions. Violating rights to save the system of rights makes no sense. HUAC’s censorship of the movies was wrong. But, America has traditionally regarded our vision as a fragile experiment. We need to recover the sense of individual and collective responsibility this requires. Herein lays the culturist system of ethics. It is grounded in our history. It provides ethics. It recognizes geo-politics and cultural diversity. It stops our destruction via buying into Kant’s universal rights principles.