Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Possibilities

     There are always two possibilities:

  1. Proposition A, whatever it might be;
  2. The contradiction of Proposition A.

     Note that “the contradiction of Proposition A” means its untruth, rather than a reversal. For example, if Proposition A is “All men are mortal,” its contradiction is not “No men are mortal,” but rather “Not all men are mortal.” Beware the Undistributed Middle!

     But rather than discuss ninth-grade logical fallacies, let’s have a concrete proposition before us. Here’s one that gets a lot of air time and column-inches:

     Proposition A: “American women are oppressed.”

     The contradiction is difficult to form from Proposition A as expressed above, because it’s ambiguously formed. The correct formulation would be “All American women are oppressed,” or alternately, “If you are an American woman, then you are oppressed.” That allows the formulation of the contradiction: “Not all American women are oppressed.”

     For the balance of this tirade, let [A] be shorthand for “Proposition A,” and let [~A] be shorthand for its contradiction. My fingers are aging even faster than the rest of me, for reasons that should not require a lot of development.

     Note that if [A] is false, then [~A] must be true. But even [~A] leaves open the possibility that some American women are oppressed. Much depends upon the precise definition of “oppressed” – yet another of the words the Left has struggled to redefine to its own advantage.

     People who vent unpopular opinions onto the Web get hate mail. Great God Almighty, do we get hate mail! This earlier tirade got me a fair amount, as have other things I’ve written about relations between the sexes. Nevertheless, I stand by it, as I stand by everything that I write on any subject.

     The subject of conscience is often on my mind these days, in particular because of its binding to human individuality. The conscience operates on an individual level: one individual, one conscience, whether or not he chooses to heed it. Groups don’t have consciences; neither do crowds, institutions, or “movements.”

     A great part of the Left’s efforts in recent years has gone to the attempt to replace conscience with consensus. This is more visible in some subjects than in others, but it’s particularly blatant in its promotion of fantasies of “oppression,” the “American women are oppressed” canard notable among them. Worse, women are inherently sensitive to group inclusion and group acceptance – much more so than men – which makes them especially vulnerable to the tactic.

     For a woman to be resolutely individual in her thinking and judgment requires more determination than it does from a man. That alone accounts for the distribution of political opinion among women and the contrast with that of men. (It also accounts for the currents of panic that run through the Democrat Party whenever polls indicate a shift toward the GOP, however modest, in women’s allegiances.) Thus, once [A] attains a consensus among women, even among a small but vocal and active subset thereof, the pressure on other women to “get with the program” rises to an intensity that few will possess the strength of conscience to resist.

     The consensus-minded “sisters” are the ones writing my hate mail. I can’t help but wonder if their consciences ever trouble them.

     When Eric Hoffer wrote:

     There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations doubts, and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgement.’s likely he was thinking of the more “traditional” mass movements, rather than those of our era. Ours, so completely dominated by politically promoted collectivisms, might shock him to silence. If not, he would ask the promoters of [A] exactly what they mean by “oppressed.” Lesser rights at law? Exclusion from the corridors of power? Perhaps markedly unequal treatment in the workplace?

     Those promoters, of course, would castigate Hoffer as a “sexist oppressor” for daring to demand specificity of meaning from them. Specificity would lay them open to refutation, yet another attempt to insert that oppressive patriarchal construct, Socratic logic, into their emotion-fueled campaign. Worst of all, some women might be persuaded to leave the collective security of the “sisterhood!” You can never tell when something like that might snowball...especially as those who dare to do so would obviously be the most independent, strongest-minded representatives of their sex, and therefore most likely of all to start a successful counter-movement.

     You never can tell what will come of those “vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgement.”

     Two possibilities. Always two possibilities! [A] or [~A.] It’s when [A] is most overblown that the mention of [~A] is most important...and most stridently, viciously railed against by [A’s] promoters. They might be sincere in their convictions; some usually are. But some will be reacting to the threat to their power, prestige, and perquisites that comes from being revealed as deceivers and exploiters. Showing this latter sort for what they are and what they really aim to do is a source of great potential gains for the Right – and one of the best ways to do it is by contrasting them with those who have disdained their gospel and left their flock.

     Keep that in mind as the presidential campaign moves along, Gentle Reader. It can provide a handsome return on investment for wading through the hate mail.

1 comment:

David DeGerolamo said...

Proposition A:
“Republican governments could be supported only by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Public virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private Virtue, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.”

Would Proposition B be that this republic is an illusion that no longer exists?