With the decline of the authority of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many people stopped looking to external sources of moral standards in order to decide what is right and wrong. Instead of being guided by God, the Bible and religion, great numbers -- in Western Europe, the great majority -- have looked elsewhere for moral and social guidelines.
For many millions in the twentieth century, those guidelines were provided by Marxism, Communism, Fascism or Nazism. For many millions today, those guidelines are ? feelings. With the ascendancy of leftist values that has followed the decline of Judeo-Christian religion, personal feelings have supplanted universal standards. In fact, feelings are the major unifying characteristic among contemporary liberal positions.
Aside from reliance on feelings, how else can one explain a person who believes, let alone proudly announces on a bumper sticker, that "War is not the answer"? I know of no comparable conservative bumper sticker that is so demonstrably false and morally ignorant. Almost every great evil has been solved by war -- from slavery in America to the Holocaust in Europe. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers making war, not by pacifists who would have allowed the Nazis to murder every Jew in Europe.
The entire edifice of moral relativism, a foundation of leftist ideology, is built on the notion of feelings deciding right and wrong. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
The animals-and-humans-are-equivalent movement is based entirely on feelings. People see chickens killed and lobsters boiled, feel for the animals, and shortly thereafter abandon thought completely, and equate chicken and lobster suffering to that of a person under the same circumstances.
The unprecedented support of liberals for radically redefining the basic institution of society, marriage and the family is another a product of feelings -- sympathy for homosexuals. Thinking through the effects of such a radical redefinition on society and its children is not a liberal concern.
The "self-esteem movement" -- now conceded to have been a great producer of mediocrity and narcissism -- was entirely a liberal invention based on feelings for kids.
The liberal preoccupation with whether America is loved or hated is also entirely feelings-based. The Left wants to be loved; the conservative wants to do what is right and deems world opinion fickle at best and immoral at worst.
Sexual harassment laws have created a feelings-industrial complex. The entire concept of "hostile work environment" is feelings based. If one woman resents a swimsuit calendar on a co-worker's desk, laws have now been passed whose sole purpose is to protect her from having uncomfortable feelings.
For liberals, the entire worth of the human fetus is determined by the mother's feelings. If she feels the nascent human life she is carrying is worth nothing, it is worth nothing. If she feels it is infinitely precious, it is infinitely precious.
Almost everything is affected by liberal feelings. For example, liberal opposition to calling a Christmas party by its rightful name is based on liberals' concern that non-Christians will feel bad. And for those liberals, nothing else matters -- not the legitimate desire of the vast majority of Americans to celebrate their holiday, let alone the narcissism of those non-Christians "offended" by a Christmas party.
And why do liberals continue to endorse race-based affirmative action at universities despite the mounting evidence that it hurts blacks more than it helps? Again, a major reason is feelings -- sympathy for blacks and the historic racism African-Americans have endured.
Very often, liberals are far more concerned with purity of motive than with moral results. That's why so many liberals still oppose the liberation of Iraq -- so what if Iraqis risk their lives to vote? It's George W. Bush's motives that liberals care about, not spreading liberty in the Arab world.
Elevating motives above results is a significant part of liberalism. What matters is believing that one is well intentioned -- that one cares for the poor, hates racism, loathes inequality and loves peace. Bi-lingual education hurts Latino children. But as a compassionate person -- and "compassionate" is the self-definition of most liberals -- that is not the liberal's real concern. His concern is with an immigrant child's uncomfortable feelings when first immersed in English.
Reliance on feelings in determining one's political and social positions is the major reason young people tend to have liberal/left positions -- they feel passionately but do not have the maturity to question those passions. It is also one reason women, especially single women, are more liberal than men -- it is women's nature to rely on emotions when making decisions. (For those unused to anything but adulation directed at the female of the human species, let me make it clear that men, too, cannot rely on their nature, which leans toward settling differences through raw physical power. Both sexes have a lot of self-correcting to do.)
To be fair, feelings also play a major role in many conservatives' beliefs. Patriotism is largely a feeling; religious faith is filled with emotion, and religion has too often been dictated by emotion. But far more conservative positions are based on "What is right?" rather than on "How do I feel?" That is why a religious woman who is pregnant but does not wish to be is far less likely to have an abortion than a secular woman in the same circumstances. Her values are higher than her feelings. And that, in a nutshell, is what our culture war is about -- Judeo-Christian values versus liberal/leftist feelings.