The following blog post is a loose meditation on Spinoza’s Ethics, pars IV, prop. 21:
No one can desire to be happy, to act rightly, and to live well, without at the same time wishing to be, to act, and to live—in other words, to actually exist.
Your values determine what you are willing to fight for, unless your prime value is never to fight (radical submissiveness). Say, would you fight for freedom?
Your values determine what you are willing to bleed for, unless your prime value is never to suffer (radical shelteredness). Say, would you bleed for achievement?
Your values determine what you are willing to die for, unless your prime value is to survive (radical self-preservation). Say, would you die for your family?
Watch the final scene of Braveheart:
Would you want to bleed for freedom… or to beg for mercy? This determines your True Will.
If you value freedom over feelings, would you actually bleed for freedom… or beg for mercy? This demonstrates your willpower—the character strength to act in line with your values even when it is hard.
The paradox of dying for your values, however, is that it undermines their further realization:
- If you die for freedom, you can no longer fight for liberty.
- If you die for achievement, you can no longer accomplish anything.
- If you die for your family, you can no longer protect your children.
Then again, if you are so passionate about a value that you would die for it, does this passion not enhance the life you do have? Everybody has to die eventually, and since we can trade off longevity against richness of life, martyrdom is not necessarily irrational (because of the potentially wonder- and meaningful life the martyr is leading up to his death).
Unlike Americans, native Europeans are not willing to fight ‘for’ (in the name of) human rights, but they are willing to bleed and die for them. In particular, European politicians are willing to sacrifice European cultures for the protection of immigrants’ human rights.
Paradoxically, letting a culture that does not value human rights expand without restraint undermines those very rights. Replacing Europeans with Muslims, for example, replaces liberal values with religious values. If Europe dies for human rights, it can no longer protect human rights.
Then again, politicians can let immigrants die at European borders only if they deny them their equal human worth, which would violate modern Europe’s universalist ideology.
Presupposing that political leaders are aware of the consequences of their actions, we can ask: Is Europe doing its True Will and dying a strong-willed martyr’s death by sacrificing itself for its values and beliefs? Or is it suffering from an ethnomasochistic pathology, being fatally confused about what it truly wants?
The answer will depend on what we deem to be true European values: the pre-Christian freedom of social citizens belonging to an ethnic group vs. the post-Christian freedom of abstract individuals belonging to humankind.
- Against Values & Principles
- Why Freedom Isn’t What You Think It Is (Modernity Vs. Tradition)
- Why Ethnicity Matters: The Scientific Basis of Ethnic Nationalism
- Pro-Immigration Arguments Debunked
- The Limits of Truth and Justice (Objective Morality)