Friday, October 4, 2019

A Shift Of Emphasis

     These past few days, readers have written to ask a common question, to wit: “Why all the oddball pieces, Fran, when there’s so much happening politically?” It’s fairly simple: Politics and public discourse have become monochromatic, even boring. I’ve been writing (mostly) about those things for more than twenty years. I’ve done it because I felt it was important that someone bring an actual functioning brain to important subjects on which the interchanges were dominated more and more by shrieking. But the current nadir of political interplay has numbed me; I can no longer give it my full attention.

     So earlier this week I sat back and reflected on what might detoxify the tides of venom...and I had one of those “Mishnory road” moments. If there is to be progress – the genuine article, not the bilge “progressives” spout – it’s time for a change of approach.

     In essence, one side of every political conflict is asserting that a certain proposition is true. The other is asserting that that proposition is false. They can’t both be right, though in some cases both can be wrong.

     Some of the propositions are of the this event happened kind. (Note the absence of the word “because.”) There is no possibility that such a statement is neither true nor false. Thus, one side or the other is factually incorrect: i.e., wrong.

     Certain other propositions in public discourse are of the form if we do this, then we can confidently expect that. These are more problematic, owing to the problem of “uncontrolled variables.” It’s effectively impossible to perform a repeatable experiment in public policy. Therefore, whoever is displeased by a test case can always argue that “other factors” intervened. The plausibility of such claims varies. Some are patently absurd, but they’re made nonetheless.

     Third, there are propositions of this kind: this is a right. These are massively annoying, in that the persons who make them usually have no BLEEP!ing idea what a right is, how to test whether some assertion concerns a right, or how to treat with the supremely difficult cases of “lifeboat ethics” in which genuine rights come into conflict. However, as rights is the most powerful word in all of public discourse, it will be misapplied and overused whenever the advocate for some bit of nonsense finds it impossible to argue for it with evidence and logic.

     And fourth...ahhh, fourth...we have the deniers of truth, the persons who use phrases such as “your truth” and “our truth.” In effect, they assert a property right over the conclusion to any argument. It’s theirs, and you can’t have it! If you reach a conclusion they dislike, you’re aggressing against them. There is no arguing with such persons, as any rational being can easily see. Yet those persons have come to dominate one side of virtually every conflict.

     In the essay I linked above, I cited an observation by criminologist Mike Adams:

     When I asked another feminist to debate me on abortion she said that she didn’t discuss such personal topics publicly. But then I read her biography. After talking about losing her virginity (including details about how she cleaned the blood off the couch afterwards) she dedicated countless pages to the issue of abortion and how a “lack of choice” adversely affects young women. After reading on, I realized why she didn’t tell me the truth. She revealed that she was a postmodernist who didn’t like to use the word “truth.”

     The next time I got into an argument with a feminist – over whether a female student who lied about a rape to get out of a test should be expelled – I understood the postmodern feminist position better. Feminists just can’t help but lie because there really is no such thing as the truth.

     Since so many feminists cannot tell the truth - because it doesn’t even really exist - I simply cannot take them seriously.

     You will find, Gentle Reader, that an increasing majority of those on the Left will take the “post-modernist” stance. They might not make it explicit. They might not employ phrases such as “your truth” and “our truth.” But they will refuse assent to the foundation of logical argument: the postulate that a statement about facts or causation can be true, and therefore reliable for use in decision-making. If you make a statement such as the following:

     “Regardless of how passionately attached we are to our respective positions, we can’t evade this: one of us is right and the other is wrong. We have to have some criteria to determine which is which, if our politics is to be beneficial rather than harmful. What criteria should we use? In other words, what evidence would persuade you to reconsider your position, and what evidence would persuade me to reconsider mine?”

     ...your “post-modernist” opponent will not, under any circumstances, agree. He will evade, waffle, change the subject, tell a joke, or accuse you of some moral failing. He cannot allow that he might be wrong. Rational argument that holds out that possibility must therefore be avoided.

     Ultimately, the core of the thing is a clash of values. When the two sides to a public-policy debate have common values and agree upon individuals’ rights, the conversation is about means: Will the proposed policy:

  • Advance us toward the end we both seek,
  • Without infringing on anyone’s rights,
  • At an acceptable cost?

     Sometimes there will be relevant historical evidence. In other cases, a test case will be necessary. (Remember what I said above about “experiments” in public policy.) But beneath it all will be those shared values: the end being sought.

     Today, there is no agreement between Right and Left on individuals’ rights. The Right holds, in the main, to the traditional American concept of individuals’ rights to their lives, liberty, and legitimately acquired property. The Left persists in denying those rights in favor of invented “rights” that would override them. In a “post-modernist” framework, such a clash is irresolvable.

     There is also no agreement between Left and Right on the values we seek. The Right stands for Constitutionally limited government under the federalist structure, impartial and objective justice, prosperity, national sovereignty, and public peace. The Left...well, behind the great majority of their claims lies an unerring drive for absolute and unbounded power over all things. Brush aside the representations about “racism,” “the environment,” “climate change,” and the like, and that’s what you’ll find. The giveaway is that even when they get to implement one of their preferred policies and it sets back the objective they claim to be pursuing, they insist that it’s “the right thing to do” even so.

     When one side of a conflict is concerned only with power, the struggle can be about nothing else.

     The above discourse might seem rather abstract to persons embroiled in typical public-policy debates. It is, in most senses. However, as prosecutors like to say in comparable circumstances, it “goes to motive.” First come our motives:

What are the objectives?
What are the constraints?
What are we willing to pay?

     Then come theirs:

What do they want for us?
What do they want from us?
Are we willing to go along with it?

     If these things cannot be harmonized, then argument isn’t just unproductive; it’s flatly impossible. And I submit that at this time, they cannot.

     For this reason I maintain that a shift in emphasis is required. When it’s possible, ignore the Left, or perhaps ridicule them. When it’s not possible, destroy their moral basis. Attack their sincerity. Attack their motives. Permit not one moment of their drivel to escape contradiction.

     Americans are a moral people. They’ll get the idea. At least, if they don’t we’ve already lost and might as well just amuse ourselves until the flood destroys us all.

     More anon.

1 comment:

Ominous Cowherd said...

I mostly agree, until your antepenultimate paragraph, where you say that we should ignore where we can, attack where we must. I'd say attack where we can, ignore or ridicule only where attack is impossible. Of course, ridicule is an effective attack.

It's good that you recognize that the Left and the globalists are not people of good will, not honest men who will deal honestly with us. Now you need to go the next step, and recognize that they are deadly enemies, to be attacked on sight. Attacked rhetorically, of course, not physically. Not yet.