28 December 2013

Might Makes "Right," or Fascism Kills

The Feast of the Holy Innocents always prompts me to wonder: how do we -- allegedly among the most civilized nations on Earth -- allow the slaughter of our children by the thousands everyday? Part of the answer can be found in exploring how we've allowed Cultural Marxism to infect our nation's politics, and how we've adopted Soft Fascism as a way of life.
From a 2011 post:
Peter Smith, writing at The Bell Towers, reports on an annual public meeting in the UK called Battle of Ideas

One paragraph of his report very nicely sums up a distinction I've been trying to flesh out in my homilies for years now:

John Haldane, a softly-spoken Scots academic from St Andrews. . .and fellow-traveler Catholic, put forward the proposition that the fundamental cultural debate is between one collection of ideas, called ‘the anti-realists’, and another, those of ‘the realists’, and that this cultural tension is manifest in political and social policy. Real ideas (by which I think he also meant realistic) contained at their core the notion that the universe is natural, objectively ‘out there’, knowable but distinct, and informing views on sexuality, sex, marriage, death, etc. Anti-realist ideas, by contrast, consider everything as human constructs, plastic and malleable, which can be bended and altered but which inherently are unknowable. Realism and anti-realism contain fundamentally different understandings about what is knowable and what is not, what can be change and what cannot, and mankind’s place in creation.

The distinction btw Realism and Anti-realism is applicable in all branches of philosophy, especially the philosophy of science (essentially a practical application of epistemology), and used extensively in all the humanities.

Applying the distinction to political discourse is extremely useful b/c it gives us a way of addressing and refuting such contemporary political monsters as "identity politics," "victim culture," and other creations of Gramscian cultural Marxism. 

The basic political move of the anti-realists is this: 

1. Use appeals to perspectivism to undermine objectively knowable truth: "From my perspective, X is oppressive/unjust/wrong." The operative concept to push here is the primacy of "context."

2. Once perspectivism has been absorbed into the engines of culture (media, books, academy), move quickly to promote relativism: "You have your perspective on X and I have mine. There's no way to tell which perspective of X is really true."

3. Now that relativism is established, move to nihilism: "Since there's no way to know whose perspective on X is really 'true,' we can conclude that there is no such thing as 'truth.' about X." 

4. Nihilism leads to eliminativism: "If there is no 'truth' about X, then there's no reason to believe that there is any such thing as 'truth' at all."

5. Eliminativism supports "the will to power" in an attack on any claim that something is True: "Your claim that there is such a thing as 'truth" is just an exercise of your _____ power."  The blank is usually filled with an adjective describing the race, class, gender, an/or sexual orientation of the accused.

6. Once the Will to Power is broadly adopted, it's simply a matter of making sure that Your Side has the strongest will to grab the most power. Since there can be no appeal to an objectively knowable standard of distinguishing truth from error (anti-realism), truth is whatever the most politically powerful say it is:  "The greedy 99% is being exploited by the 1%." 

Anti-realism is the philosophical basis for fascism: the State determines reality/truth.

This is all just a highly simplified summary.  The moves between stages are complex and would require whole books to flesh out. However, nota bene, that the steps I've outlined here are on naked display in our contemporary political arena. 

One example: notice how easily our Cultural Betters throw the use "fact" to describe what it is in reality nothing more than an opinion.  Once everything is "just an opinion," then anything at all can be called a "fact." Challenging the "fact" exposes you to the charge that you are abusing your white, middle-class, heterosexual male power.

H/T: Michael Liccione (from Facebook)

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  1. A theory: Anti-realism works in the political arena because it works in the cultural arena, and it works in the cultural arena because, among other reasons, people like the way it weakens the past. What is in the past? Our parents, our teachers, our churches, our governments, with the authority they hold over us as children. Adolescents like to see all these things weakened, even if the power isn't transferred to themselves. The typical pattern is for their peer group to assume the authority they no longer invest in their parents and other adults; nowadays, with adolescence continuing into old age, the peer group is pop culture generally. Pop culture has to exist in the now; otherwise the past has some authority. And of course the manufacturers of pop culture are happy to pump it full of anti-realism, since it means more money and power for themselves.

    It's often said that adolescents are idealists. As though that's a good thing.

    1. You're right. I do think that adolescents are idealists. . .but their idealism only serves to undermine those institutions that threaten the power of the cultural and political elite. The idea is to destroy any authority or power that the elite cannot control. With those authorities/powers gone, the only thing left is raw power.

  2. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Both fascists and socialists swear by the idea that the state is the ideal organization for realizing a society’s and an individual’s potential economically, socially, and even spiritually. In years past, the trait that distinguished them was the role of the state in the economy; while fascism cartelized the economy, socialism statitized it.

    More recently, since the bankruptcy of the USSR, socialists abandoned their economic tenets to adopt those of fascism and to focus on society and it's culture. In other words, when Gramsci won and Trotsky lost.

    However, both fascists and socialists are anti-realists by definition, differing merely in what man ought to be molded into, yet agreeing on collectivizing man and on suppressing the individual, for otherwise neither could justify the use of the state's coercive violence.

    In practice, there is no debate but only agreement on the economic regime between the forces vying for state power virtually anywhere in the world: the fascist economy. This is particularly true on the last few years when banks and other companies were bailed out and the Fed gave money away to hundreds of foreign companies and governments. The world's economy is cartelized, it's fascist.

    In this aspect, the Holy Father was right in describing the current status quo, but unfortunately erred in its description. Capitalism is no more and hadn't been at least for thirty years. But I digress.

    The real immediate danger relies not so much on realism or on anti-realism, but on the implicit popularity of the idolatry of the state. Without the state's monopoly on violence, anti-realism cannot win over commonsensical realism. Supposed realists then naively assent to the assumption of anti-realists in consenting to the state a commanding role in society. So-called realists then commit the great mistake of corrupting the republic alongside anti-realists by turning the state into a self-serving institution and away from its serving the people, by the people and from the people. This is the error of conservatives, who idolize the state all the same and merely believe that it's a matter of whom is in power. In other words, unbeknownst to them, they believe in will to power; conservatives are in practice anti-realists.

    The sad reality (pin intended) is that the major political forces at play in America today are anti-realists. I think that this has happened because conservatives were vulnerable to cultural Marxism and now share the same hermeneutics with progressives. I think that their vulnerability, their impotence in countering the progressive onslaught, lied in their fundamentalism, the lazy man's reaction to modern deconstruction (subtle destruction) of the Truth.

    Never in the history of the West has it been more important to recover a realist hermeneutic. Fortunately, it seems to me that it's a matter of going back to the Western roots in Aristotle, especially through interpreters like St. Augustine (a neo-Platonist in theory, but an Aristotelian in practice), and St. Thomas Aquinas. On this front, the Dominicans are more than qualified to pick the ball up and run.

    On the other front, that of disarming those willing to impose their command through sheer power, the political philosophy of the state has to be changed. In my opinion, the only viable modern alternative is found in Murray Rothbard. This ball has the name of libertarians written on it.

    1. Augustine, amen and amen. . .exactly! Well said.

      "Never in the history of the West has it been more important to recover a realist hermeneutic. Fortunately, it seems to me that it's a matter of going back to the Western roots in Aristotle, especially through interpreters like St. Augustine (a neo-Platonist in theory, but an Aristotelian in practice), and St. Thomas Aquinas. On this front, the Dominicans are more than qualified to pick the ball up and run."

      Here I will have to disagree. . .at least in part. The Order in most of the world has abandoned T.A. and adopted all sorts of therapeutic, modernist alternatives. In the U.S., only the Eastern Province and to some degree the Western Province continue to hold T.A. in esteem and teach his work as serious theology. My own studium years were bereft of Thomism (with the sad exception of the occasional photocopied piece of the Summa trotted out as an example of primitive thinking). There's a revival going on in some European provinces, but overall, we've bought into the Spirit of Vatican Two nonsense that infected the Church post-1968. Fortunately, I read history so I know that these declines are usually followed by a renewal.