When “steel-manning” the opposition to enlightenment values it is easiest to start with the supposed sacred nature of a liberal, secular, and democratic government because, when convenient, Western powers will work with countries that still have absolute monarchies, which is to say that they are ruled by a total dictatorship. With a cynical view this can make the dedication to democracy appear insincere and tars the entire endeavour as hypocritical. With the public safety exception to the Miranda warning, internal government spying on citizens, and other internal contradictions, the case becomes compelling that the West are living in an illusion and would be better off embracing their dictatorship as seen in countries like Saudi Arabia.
Another argument levelled against the West is its’ low prioritisation of “what it is to lead a good life” which remains largely undiscussed. Thus the question becomes the domain of the archaic religions that have a monopoly on concerns of spirituality and meaning.
The enlightenment, by accident of history, is a European phenomenon and so we are left in the position where all too conveniently the best tools for progress are currently wielded most expertly by the West. However, rather than respond to this by throwing away what is arguably our best path forward as a people we should attempt to democratise these tools.
What is funny is that much of the criticism of the enlightenment only works in reference to the values of said enlightenment. The violations are only evidence of hypocrisy when held to the standard of those violated values.
Some of this opposition rails against acts and behaviours that are actually counter to the core of what we hold dear from the 18th century thinking. Therefore we should work to rid our culture of any of these very human but unproductive occurrences (such as such as underhand deals, manipulation of markets, perversion of democracy, shady deals with dictators). When the opponents fail to see the beauty of what we have built they unknowingly ally themselves with people who actually detest much of what even they believe sacred. I’m talking now about equal opportunity for all, empowerment of women and gays, even the basic freedom to actually speak out against the ruling class in the ways that they so take for granted.
Brutal honesty needs to play a role here and first of all we need to accept that when the shit hits the fan some less than savoury things have been necessary and more unfortunate decisions will almost certainly be necessary going forward. Utopianism is a catastrophic danger to any system that needs to function in the real world with flawed humans, and so we need to be less childish about what a decent approach to running a nation actually looks like.
What really needs to be answered by those critics of reason, the scientific method, and humanism is the question, “these things are so bad as compared to what?” Every proposed alternative is worse in all manner of ways and even the most coherent, which is to say the idea of an intersectional based hierarchy, could only ever result in greater levels of dissatisfaction and suffering.
Outside of a vocal minority of young, inexperienced post-modernists I think that most of us feel intuitively that to throw away the best system that has ever been implemented in any society across our planet is not only non-sensical, but basically suicidal. I doubt that any of those aforementioned people would read this, and so I speak to those of you who are likely thinking clearly on the issue already - acknowledge the beauty of what we’ve built, take none of it for granted, and continue to make it better in realistic ways.