To continue from our episode of Talking Past Each Other of two weeks ago, we were discussing the immunity of the Leftists to fact and evidence during debates, trying to discover why they have no arrow in their quiver aside from ad hominem, no tactic aside from character assassination.
The theory proposed is that, lacking God, they establish politics as an ersatz god, an idol, from which they derive their comfort and community and meaning.
But, more than this, the reason why their arguments are not factual is not that they are idiots, but rather that discussing the facts of the physical world really has no bearing on the discussions and debates of religion, which are metaphysical or moral.
Whether God is a triune being or whether Sabbath-breaking is wrong are questions whose answer simply does not depend on factual questions like the atomic weight of the carbon atom. They are two different topics that do not overlap. And this is true even of an ersatz religion such as Postchristian Leftism.
We established that politics concerns how to enact just laws to keep the peace and preserve native liberties. Religion concerns how to be saved. They are two different topics that do not overlap. Our thesis is that the nature of the debate precludes a discussion of facts and evidence.
The question of salvation is a question of which promises of which prophets or gurus or mystics to believe. A promise is by definition a matter where current facts will tell you nothing, you yourself have not seen the promise fulfilled, so you take it on faith if you trust the promise-maker. That in turn depends on a judgment about the character and honesty of the promise-maker, and on his history of keeping promises given in the past.
But the matter is not one which can be discussed rationally by investigating the facts: one side can do nothing else but try to prove the prophets making the promise for the other side are false prophets, trumpet their own history of fulfilled promises, and denigrate allegations of fulfilled promises of their opponents. This is not due to a moral or mental defect in the minds of the debaters, but rather to the state of evidence surrounding the debate: A debate about whether to trust a promise is and must be a debate about character.
No one can examine events that have not yet happened. He can only examine the surrounding and circumstantial evidence, and listen to character witnesses. He can only say his prophets and gurus and mystics are the true ones, and your prophets are false.
If you happen to live in a world like ours, were all the predictions of the prophets of the Left, whether the prophet Marx predicting a universal mutiny of all workingmen against their employers, or Duranty predicting Soviet Russia would outproduce free market America, or Paul Erlich predicting overpopulation and mass starvation by the 1980s, or Rachel Carson predicting an obliteration of the bird population in a silent spring, or environmentalist nutbags predicting the total obliteration of all life on earth due to the greed of genocidal oil companies (and, no, I am not making this up; a reader of mine just wrote and warned me of the end of the world in fire due to petrol) or any other prediction of the Left has been not just wrong, but howlingly, blatantly, painfully obviously wrong, and moreover wrong in a huge, vast, monstrous, gigantic, titanic, cyclopean and brobdingnagian magnitude of wrongness, then you cannot rest for your faith in your prophets on their track record.
You have to avoid the discussion of the track record at all costs. You have to erase the past.
Why would Democrats want to erase the past? Because the past is not flattering to them. Democrats â€“ the party of Jefferson Davis, Bull Connor, George Wallace, Nathan Bedford Forrest â€“ are suddenly the pro-Negro party, and the Republicans â€“ who voted overwhelmingly and over a Democrat filibuster for the Civil Rights Act â€“ are suddenly the racists, and somehow always have been. Because ‘Southern Strategy’. Or something. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
By process of elimination, if the debate about which prophet to trust cannot revolve around their track record of accurate predictions, then it can only revolve around their personal character, or, rather (since men cannot read each other’s hearts) around outward public expressions of character, which is to say, whether they mouth the politically correct opinions in the politically correct way.
The Right rules allow for introducing facts, evidence, reason, past experience, and the wisdom gained painfully through generations of experience into the discussion.
The Left rules allow for only one tactic, which is to find something where the opposition has not uttered the expected politically correct and meaningless word-formula, and accuse the other of being excluded from the warren, a traitor to the collective, guilty of doubleplus ungood badthink.
The only tactic, in other words, is to point and shriek.
And then shriek louder. Sometimes sarcasm, sneers, or mirthless laughter is used instead of a shriek, but it has the same purpose and same effect.
So an argument between Right and Left is a football team facing a badminton team. The frail little girls in their white tennis skirts, with a flick of the wrist, lightly will bat the feathered birdie across the net, giggling, whereupon the other team’s linebackers rush the pair, tackle them under a dog pile.
But, ironically, the Left wins each and every debate, because, after being tackled, the girls cry, and the gentlemen helplessly offer the little girls everything and anything they want to get them to stop crying.
Hence the frustration surrounding all arguments between Left and Right. When the Right use the linebackers of fact and point out, for example, that abolishing fossil fuels is neither possible nor desirable nor would it stop the mythical global warming (even assuming such warming would be detrimental, or can be influenced in any meaningful way by human industrial activity), the Left reacts the way a Christian would react to someone who said baptism does not wash away sin, as if we had spoken a blasphemy â€” facts are neither here nor there, since it is a religious belief.
To speak a blasphemy means that you no longer trust the leader, the prophet, the guru. It is desertion, abandoning your post in time of war. It is treason to your fellow soldiers who continue to have faith in the banners of your nation and the ensigns of your party and clan. To doubt offends the tribal instinct which makes the collective coherent. It introduces division, weakness, and that weakness is danger. To speak a blasphemy means that you no longer bow the knee to your idol or to your god.
The proper response to a blasphemy is castigation, since what is at stake is not a difference of opinion over a matter of fact, but indeed a betrayal of one’s avowed loyalties.
This is why a scientists skeptical about the findings of an unmethodical fellow scientist is right and proper to be skeptical, and to check the observations for himself; but that same scientist skeptical about the fidelity of his wife, even if she gives him cause to be suspicious, wounds his marriage and mars his love by treating her protestations of innocence with that same skepticism. One is a matter of fact. The other is a matter of fidelity.
Please note that when first a few, then many, then the majority of qualified scientists began to doubt the statistical computer models compiled by two and only two researchers of the East Anglia University, those same two men on whom all the claims of global warming rest, the qualified scientists were not welcomed as skeptics honestly investigating a claim where all parties agreed to keep an open mind and let the facts speak for themselves. No, the malfeasance of the East Anglians was covered up, the data were destroyed, and the skeptics were called ‘deniers’ â€” as if they were Holocaust Deniers â€” and said to ‘hate science’.
It is perfectly reasonable to react this way to blasphemers, to someone who endangers the collective worldview on which your cult or church must rest, because blasphemy is like doubting your innocent wife. It is an accusation that will destroy the marriage, shatter the community. It is not merely a matter of private opinion, but a matter of divorcing oneself from the team effort. It is walking away from the group, abandoning one’s post, deserting.
So when the faithful of the First Church of Global Warming reacted to scientific skepticism as if the skeptics were deserters, it revealed to all that had eyes to see that this was faith, not science. A scientist cannot issue pronouncements ex cathedra. Only popes.
Now, even among rational men, there is a tension between his party loyalties, which are a matter of fidelity, and his knowledge of the world, which involves matters of fact.
A man to whom there is a world outside politics is a man to whom not all questions are political questions, and not all opinions are political opinions. To him, whether to say ‘he’ rather than ‘he or she’ is a question of grammar. Whether Bull Connor was a Democrat is a matter of history. The lack of any sign of global warming over the past decade and a half is a matter of science. That men are different from women is a matter of common experience. That sodomy is an abomination is a matter of ethics. That minimum wage laws produce unemployment resulting in a net loss of wage rates is a matter of economics. That there are only two sexes among mammals, including man, and that those sexes are not optional, is a matter of not being a drooling lunatic barking at the moon. Which books and movies you like is a matter of private aesthetic judgment and personal taste.
But to a postrational and postchristian Leftist, nothing is outside politics, because politics is the source of their meaning and community in life, their only guiding star.
Grammar is political; taste in entertainment is political; history is political; economics is political; reality is political. Whether or not black men wolfwhistle at young healthy buxom young ladies swaying their hips as they stroll through bad neighborhoods is political. The shirt worn by a rocket scientist at a press conference is political.
And whether a book is good or bad depends only on the skin color and sex and sexual maladjustments of the author.
There can be a clash between the facts and what is tactically advantageous to his party. When such a clash happens a man must decide whether to sacrifice his personal integrity for the sake of party loyalty, and be a cad, or retain his soul and self-worth, and be a man.
For the Left, there is no conflict, no manhood, and no self-worth. All their worth comes from party affiliation. There is no salvation outside their church.
They are cads as a matter of dogma. Like devotees of Cybele, the one thing each man must do, soon or late, to prove his loyalty to the cult is cut off his manhood, and live thereafter as an intellectual eunuch and a craven conformist.
Don’t miss last week’s column: Unthanksgiving: Leftists Have Lost the Ability to Give Thanks.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisherâ€™s Weekly as “this fledgling centuryâ€™s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.
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