Sonntag, 30. März 2014


my mind has been triggered by this ad I passed in the streets today:

"outmoded values often are better than their reputation. the catholic orders."
What is all this talk about Christian values about?
Many post-68ers who wouldn't dream of calling themselves Christians still refer to "Christian values", which need to be kept against all these Muslim, capitalist, leftist, communist, neo-liberal, post-modern, relativist, fill-in-what-you-want threats. We don't need to call ourselves Christians anymore, they seem to say, but - when it comes down to it - it's still those values which are the best in lack of alternatives. Conservative parties in Post-Christian Europe squeeze profit from this sort of line of argumentation.
This backwards-bullshit desperately calls for some clarification. What values are we talking about? All of this "We need Christian values in spite of all" kind-of talk seems to presuppose, that our modern, secular world isn't capable of sustaining any values by itself.
To this, it has to be made absolutely clear, that a secular, modern world view doesn't lack values - those values just transformed to the same degree as the conditions of life have changed around it.
Today's values are most definitely nothing that can be forced onto old scripture or even stone tablets, as Moses' 10 commandments. Today's values are much less rigid as that - today's values are fluid - they are dependent of the context they are mentioned in.
As much (and fortunately) as (the classic platonic notion of) universal truth has died with modernity, universal, never-changing values as can be expressed in Moses' stone tablets are a thing of the pre-modern past. Philosophy has abandoned universality in the last century - the best example might be Ludwig Wittgenstein, who showed, that there is no underlying super-structure behind language, but that meaning is a contextual thing. Quickly applied to our cause, this means, that there can't be a "super-value" as is pre-supposed by those good, old Christian values, but that value is a most relative thing - relative in the sense of relating on the relation toward other elements in it's ever-changing context. A value changes with the context it is situated in - it is that flexible.
The statement of lack of values in our modern, secular society of so many Conservatives only reveals a conceptual back-mindedness which is still pre-modern: they still conceive values as something as rigid and stiff as exactly those outmoded (verstaubte) values - they are blind to see the values which our modern society brought forth and badly needs.
(I won't dwell on what those values are, for that could fill books, but I am thinking about values connected to Feminism / Anti-Sexism, Anti-Racialism, Ecological issues and issues of world-wide distribution of wealth, etc.)
A Europe that is looking forward, and not towards it's as great as cruel past, should get rid of that "good old values" bullshit, step back and try to accumulate the sensitivity which is needed to perceive the new, fluid, relative values that are needed. Because there are a lot of issues which require values - we need a lot of more values, I agree! - but those values won't be found on dusty (verstaubte) stone tablets - they need yet to be found - individually, by and for everybody.


  1. Hm. When I saw the ad, I also thought "yeah, outmoded means not fit for today's world. There is a reason why they are outmoded". I don't think it would make sense to go back to strict church morals where no different opinion is accepted at all.
    On the other hand this ad could mean something different: Having a look at those outmoded values might still turn out to be fruitful because (like you say) "in some context" and to some extent they had and still have their justification. I think what people mean when they talk about Christian values is not to strictly follow them and go back and live in total poverty, but remembering that modesty is also a virtue and thus stepping back from greedy behaviour. Thus Christian values seem more like a counterweight in order to rebalance some of today's behavior and not desirable as a final outcome.
    I also do think that some shared values are good for a society, as an orientation for the behaviour of the individual human being. In my opinion, some values can be universal like helping other people when they are in need, not killing another human being or not only thinking about yourself. Everyone who listens to his or her heart will follow these and similar rules, don't you think so? And if you think about "love your neighbour as yourself", who would oppose it? ;-) (maybe neoliberals who think egoism makes the world go round) If everyone would consider this (Christian) rule, no war could be fought, no worker exploited in factories and everyone would wish the other as much success, wealth and happiness as him- or herself.

  2. Egoism is seen as one of the big problems of society i think. But if you love the other same as much as yourself, you are not egoistic. Also, loving the other implies you are not racist, sexist etc. Maybe that's why people call for it ("Christian values"). But it is hard to really live according to it.