Ever wonder just why it is that folks on the Left get so easily outraged and personally offended when somebody disagrees with them? To be sure, everybody has felt at least a little disgust and opprobrium towards ideas they believe immoral and depraved, eye-rolling exasperation at ideas that are blatantly illogical or otherwise in error, heat in a debate, and so on like that. These sentiments are all perfectly natural and, when properly ordered, indeed healthy. But the Left seems to have a special propensity to take dissenting thoughts and points of view as urgently threatening even where they concern only minor points of order, and react to them with horror and loathing morbidly exaggerated beyond due proportion, less because of any particular contents of those thoughts and points of view than simply that they dissent and disagree with the (actual or supposed) Leftist consensus. Thus it happens, for example, that SJWs ostentatiously affect being grievously traumatized by the mere fact that some speaker gave a public lecture on campus, even though none of the putative victims actually attended the lecture or even had any idea what it was supposed to have been about aside from having heard that the speaker was critical of the agenda of the Left in some way.
We can immediately recognize the legacy of Puritanism in all this, and also the Left’s intrinsically feminine mindset: emotionally labile and undisciplined, unable to subjugate the passions to Reason and ascend to the masculine level of the impartial and objective, and so incapable of distinguishing between the political and the personal, disputation and attack, objection and outrage.
There is also a cognitive-epistemic dimension to it, in the form of a horizon of assumptions about the ultimate nature of truth, reality, and Man’s relation to them, and his world; it is this more purely intellectual component of the Leftist mind that I want to single out for attention in this entry. To this end, I present, as a clinical case-study, an especially suggestive and illuminating specimen of Leftist thought, its author an associate professor of sociology and self-described revolutionary Socialist.
The starting point for our author is Marx’s “materialist” theory of the etiology of ideas:
Marx and Engels’s materialist method of history asserts that all human consciousness arises out of practical life experience.
It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness (Marx, Preface to A Critique of Political Economy)
[…] Every form of knowledge from religion to philosophy to science is a product of social relations.
So far, not so bad; I would have formulated it differently, and think it’s wrongheaded as it stands, but there’s no gainsaying the general gist of it: the great ideas of a time are products of that time, and the beliefs men have about the nature of men, things, and the ultimate are formed in the social milieux in which men are born and bred, and subsequently move. Nothing especially controversial here- at least as long as we draw a distinction between what men believe to be true at any given historical time and place and what actually is true.
The Marxists, however, fail to do precisely that. For them, there is no Heaven, only social struggles on Earth; there is no God, and, a fortiori, no rational nature, no rules of right reason, and thus no truth or reality that are “objective”, viz. irresistibly binding on every thinking subject. The distinction between the sociology of knowledge- considered as a genetic theory of how various ideas are formed- and knowledge per se- considered as a corpus of universally valid propositions concerning the objective nature of things- is altogether obviated, and the unity of truth radically particularized into various “ideologies” that create their own truth according to their own desires, interests, and standards:
- Bourgeois ideologies validate truth-claims relative to capitalist praxis, which works to maximize the rate of exploitation.
- Proletarian ideologies validate truth-claims relative to working-class praxis, which works to minimize the rate of exploitation, and ultimately to abolish exploitation altogether.
Indeed, our author goes as far as to argue that, since there is after all no universal objective standard of truth against which the diverse ideological regimes of truth could be measured:
bourgeois ideologies are not actually false. Or, more specifically, they are false only in relation to working-class praxis, just as proletarian ideologies are false in relation to capitalist praxis.
Rest assured, though: our author has absolutely no intention of building some kind of happy-hippy, post-modern world in which you have your truth, I have mine, and we all agree to disagree. On the contrary: that there is no Universal that transcends the diversity of particular truth-claims seems to make the demand for punctilious ideological uniformity all the more urgent to the Leftist mind. If truth begins and ends in the subjective beliefs of individual men, then it follows that the truth of Socialism, like the Tinkerbell fairy who begins to vanish whenever a child stops believing in her, disappears where it does not succeed in gaining absolute social dominance and ascendancy in a zero-sum elimination contest fought between the competing truths:
[T]he danger, the urgency, for an intellectual committed to radical socialism [is] not that the workers will be deceived into the false ideas of bourgeois ideologies, because those ideas are not false. They become true, or at least potentially true, the moment one rejects the project of revolutionary social change.
In other words, the danger is that bourgeois ideas will become true by virtue of the complete social dominance of capitalism.
And in the interest of seeing to it that the truths of Socialism shall not perish from the Earth, objectivity is brought back in- this time, in the form of a social consensus, a uniformity of thought and action (“praxis”) that stands in for the universal-objective as a man-made functional equivalent:
The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power…in practice. (Marx, Theses on Feuerbach)
It should go without saying that the practical demonstration of the objective truth of Socialism resides, not in formal syllogisms and scientific experiments and the like (which, we have seen, are impotent in a Marxian universe), but in the physical annihilation of dissenting ideas- and their carriers- in the “revolutionary struggle”. Where Christian religion and, a fortiori, philosophical rationalism conceived the objective character of Truth in terms of the irresistible power exercised on the reasoning mind by precepts of right Reason (e.g. if 1=1, then 1+1=2, no matter how hard you may try to conceive it otherwise), Godless materialism guarantees the objective truth of Socialism by way of irresistible power exercised over the physical body by State repression, which lends to the articles of Socialist dogma a force they cannot possibly muster on their own.
This all explains the hysterical and grotesque over-reaction Leftists display towards dissenting ideas, which stems from a deep-seated insecurity that inexorably follow from the assumptions of Socialist materialism. Those who accept these assumptions must see any dissent and disputation as a fully-fledged existential crisis for their cause- and quite reasonably, given the assumptions. By contrast, a Christian or Rationalist need not worry that that the truth of things will disappear if men fail to acknowledge it, since that truth is given in a Divinely-created universe governed by Divinely-ordained laws, all of which exist men independently of what men think of it.
As a digression, an interesting sociological corollary and index of the greater epistemological confidence of men of the Right is that the latter, although they self-avowedly reject cosmopolitanism and globalism, are often remarkably well-rounded and well-read, while the ostensible cosmopolitans of the Left are notoriously and stupidly incestuous and provincial, unwilling to engage or even take cognizance of any intellectual output produced outside their own ranks; their withering scorn for Rightist ideas, and corresponding disdain to acquire any actual familiarity with the ideas they hold in scorn, again speaks to a profound insecurity.
This insecurity also explains the special role of censorship on the Left. Make no mistake: censorship is indispensable to the functioning of a well-ordered society of any type, and the present-day ability and willingness of anybody and everybody to publicly utter what they please is an important clinical sign of the degeneracy of the times. But where traditional regimes of censorship aim to prevent charlatans and deceivers from leading the innocent away from the truth, Leftist regimes of censorship have the self-assigned task of the production of truth in the self-fulfilling prophecy of a “praxis” from which nothing can be allowed to deviate.
Traditional censorship is therefore mainly negative; it prohibits the propagation of heresies, upholds social taboos on certain forms of conduct, and so on, but otherwise leaves daily life unmolested in warp and woof. Socialist censorship, which is much less concerned about suppressing lies than producing truth, is positive in character; it does not merely prohibit, but requires. For example, and notoriously, it is no longer good enough to simply not oppose the latest LGBTQWERTY bathroom programme; one must publicly pledge to support it. It is no longer good enough for the individual student or worker to exercise discretion in his dealings with members of protected classes and hazard being sanctioned if he fails to do so; he must also be subject to ongoing “sensitivity training” and other forms of re-education as a condition of eligibility for study or employment.
The positive production of truth, since it seeks the objective in the uniformity of thought and action, of necessity must seek to re-format the entire social field down to the last detail, since any non-conformity in the domain of “praxis” would be to a Socialist regime of truth what the proposition that 1+1 sometimes add up to 3 would be to a mathematician. Neither the Socialist nor the mathematical regime of truth can make room for a margin of error, no matter how small; the objective, in either case, is meaningless unless all-encompassing and binding without exception. Accordingly, nothing is too small, too intimate, or too trivial to escape SJW scrutiny. Words must be stricken from the language, new words and new spellings coined; an official style sheet is created, which grows bigger and bigger with each of its frequent successive revisions.
Finally- and again, not unreasonably, given the underlying horizon of assumptions of the Leftist project- Leftism goes where even Mohammedanism won’t and attempts to compel belief wherever possible; for the truth of Socialism, like Tinkerbell and unlike Allah, vanishes when people fail to believe it. Where the likes of the Mohammedan faith, where ascendant, can create dispositions such as dhimmitude whereby non-believers can continue to quietly persist in their old faith if willing to accept various attending social and legal disabilities, Socialists in the same position can only expel and/or exterminate- a feature of Socialist practice that, history unfortunately documents, the Left unfailingly implements wherever, and as soon as, it gets the chance.
This, fellow men of the Right, is how the mind of your enemy works. There is no possibility of co-existing with it, no possibility of rapprochement, no possibility of dialogue or detente, and no possibility of negotiated compromise. Your enemy is as likely to compromise with you as you might be to concede to a mentally disorganized person that 1+1 can add up to 3, given a large enough value of 1; it’s just not happening. The enemy cannot conceive of anything other than enlarging his sphere of truth, at the expense of yours, until it approximates the objective, viz. when you have converted or died. Strategize and mobilize accordingly.