Radicals have gotten a bad reputation because they hate evil and want to replace it with good. They believe the many are oppressed by the few, and that something should be done about it forthwith instead of just talking about absurd reforms or effecting reforms that accomplish very little.
Radicals call for radical reforms to free people from oppression. Radicals love the mob over the powerful minority because they want to distribute freedom more broadly and improve the well being of more men. They have in fact led the historical movement to expand the circle of freedom to all men and women. When reason seemed of little avail to actually deter tyranny, radicals may call for the force of arms to accomplish their goals, and a small minority may pick of those arms and effect a revolution; for instance, barely ten percent of the population approved of the American Revolution invoked by a small number of radical thinkers.
Aggrieved people are attracted by the radical rhetoric with its special vocabulary of humanitarian and democratic terms expressing an indignant and sometimes inflammatory ideology calling for the destruction of what is hated and its replacement by a good society pursuant to faith in or a logical science of the good life.
On the other hand, those who feel their interests threatened respond with fear and hatred to the proposals for radical reform no matter how reasonable and just the proposals may be.
There shall always be a conflict between the few and the many until the radical ideal is realized, for the essence of radicalism is to extend freedom from oppression to all people. And what is the goal of radical freedom? Individual happiness is wanted by all normal individuals. Yet the individual is also a socially dependent person with sympathetic interests in the general happiness so that he may have his own happiness; hence everyone has a real and legitimate interest in the sum of the individual pleasures of the whole society. As the Philosophical Radicals put it, individual happiness in society depends on the greatest happiness of the greatest number,. In any event, a radical intent perpetuates any plan for economic or political reconstruction for distributive freedom, and the most radical program of all aims at the maximization of the welfare of the greatest number of people.
But if the radical root of freedom is in the individual, then every freedom fighter is a radical, is s/he not? Since people can gain freedom from oppression by controlling each other, will they not always be in conflict and therefore within a vicious cycle of hate? No, they will not, for freedom comes with responsibility, it must have some reasonable ground to stand on in order to accomplish anything at all. Without human society there is no human being. People are naturally attracted to each other and for good reasons. We need company to be human beings and to enjoy what freedom we have. We have our families and our clans, and through conflict and cooperation we have merged into nations and beyond as our horizon expands.
And what is that universal principle of attraction, unity, and harmony called? What sums up the greatest good of the greatest number, the golden rules, the highest good, the social good, or, if you will, god? What is the common English name for the most radical principle of all, the flip side of hate? It is the name of an idea the Philosophical Radicals hold valuable; however, in the interest of a more objective science than subjective sympathy, they subordinate it to the selfish interest in countable things. It is a word that infuriates haters so much that they bite their tongues off because they do not have enough of what it connotes, yet it remains universally popular among those who would like to have much of it, and those folks do not take kindly to having their mutual desire disparaged. What is it, in a word?
Love is the Logos.
"Oh, no!" some radical exclaims, "Get ready for the preachy sermon. He's going to pull out Jesus Christ and the opiate of the masses that kept them oppressed. He's going to talk about praying for people instead of feeding them. He's not going to mention the millions and millions of people selfishly murdered in Christ's name."
I adhere to no religion and I have no sermon to deliver. Nevertheless, I admit Jesus' name has been repeatedly bandied about and abused. I admit he was a radical reformer who was tried twice: once in the ecclesiastical court, where he was not adjudged guilty of a spiritual offense that happened to carry a penalty of death by stoning, and once in the political court, where he was tried and convicted of a trumped up-political charge that warranted a penalty of death by crucifixion. I admit he was an advocate of genuine love instead of empty ritual. I deny that he invented love; I believe he inherited love as the son of man if he was not Love incarnate as the son of god, who, according to apocrypha, cried out, “My Power, why hast thy forsaken me?.”
We could mention almost any world religion and its radical founder and speak of love. Of course love may be hate-others-based for members who are insecure in their faith and who must find their identities and power in specific groups opposed to others; yet this conflict may eventually end in the repudiation of hate-based particularity and embrasure of mutual acceptance of differences in universal love. Religion and politics are the love for and distribution of the power of life. We observe at the center of every religion the sacrifice of the individual for the common good, by which love the individual is made even stronger. Radical religion is, in a manner of speaking, virtual suicide, by means of which the glorious hereafter is made present now.
"Love is hardly a political or moral principle; you cannot make people love each other. They have good reasons to hate each other."
Radicals have good reason to hate evil, in which we all have some share, more or less. Some rabbis have said that it is good thing to hate thine enemies, including missionaries who would kill a Jew by conversion instead of by sword. The most famous Jew in the world said otherwise; but doing is another matter, for we are all hypocrites; i.e. subject to the underlying crisis between our deeds and our ideals, passion and reason, who we would be and what we presently are.
True, we cannot make people love each other; the very idea of loving some people might seem quite disgusting to lay lovers; and it is said that he who loves everybody loves nobody. Nevertheless, love is available to all in their self-love, which is not entirely selfish; love for others is in part injected into the person by others upon whom one depends for existence; a "person" is more than an existent; a person is a being as well, is a social individual.
We can help people make sacrifices for the good of all; we can educate them to stop hurting each other, and to do so for their own good or self-love. Simply doing no harm is a form of love. We can raise children lovingly and show them the way the help others. Charity, it is said, begins at home. Samuel and Pearl Oliner posed the question, “What led ordinary men and women to risk their lives on behalf of others?” in their book, The Altruistic Personality, Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe (1988). Answer: an early education in charity, in caring for others. In China during the Warring States Period, militant Mohists, espousing universal love, held that caring for people afar ensures peace at home.
The consequences of love are goods that can be demonstrated scientifically and are available to almost every understanding, for love wants freedom to endure forever. Your life, my life, every life, is your love, my love, every love. Therefore we may speak of the science of love. The "instinct" of love is our social gravity. Just as we now employ our knowledge of the universal law of gravity to launch our space ships toward the stars, we can and we have employed our knowledge of love to bring heaven to Earth. The consequences of love are measurable. Although everything of value is not really calculable, there is a social science of love supported by statistics for those who need numbers as indicators and indexes of happiness. In this day and age many people demand quantification to support qualitative claims: love pays off. For example, the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin employed statistical analysis to validate the practice of love.
We want freedom from strife and hope to find it in love, even without religion. We feel abandoned to individual existence. We cry out for a parent to pick us up and hold us close that we may be. We eventually find a substitute for mother’s milk in her caring words, and even more security in father’s stronger arms. The usual vocabularies are not very scientific. Theists pray to god no matter what the consequences. Pantheists worship god everywhere, as the universe is. Deists presume god wound up the Universe like a clock, and the rest is up to them. Atheists presume there is no god, and are left to their own devices. Humanists are romantic and love either god or man or both. Solace may be found in the educated and determined self, but still the prayer persists: pick me up and hold me please, for I need love.
Love is need to educate the person, to being his or her true being to light, and that light is reason. Whatever our persuasions and particular needs might be, we all need a better education towards our mutual improvement, and we all can therefore employ reason to achieve radical reforms for the betterment of our race.
That is precisely what the philosophical cadre of radicals did. The Philosophical Radicals approached people of all parties and persuasions with offers reason could not refuse. As a consequence, radical reforms were made, the benefits of which we greatly enjoy to this very day. We shall discuss the Philosophical Radicals in a future visit to our little radical reform school.