Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'I'm the Only Actual Human Being Alive'


        The ideology of progressivism is self-contradictory.  At its roots, it's insane.

At Length:

        Matt Welch has an interesting column at Reason Online, about Democratic Party opposition to free speech.  He notes that the Democrats, who claim to favor free speech, also favor all kinds of exceptions, many of them self-contradictory.  One example is public broadcasting, which the government is supposed to fund lavishly, while somehow not going near it.  Another example is political speech, which the New York Times vociferously proclaims must be free, and also must be restricted by the federales through campaign finance laws.  It's well worth reading in full.

        But a question Welch doesn't consider is how intelligent people can spout such nonsense in the first place, especially when, in Welch's opinion, they really believe their nonsense.

        I think most of these idiocies have a common source, starting in the Enlightenment, so called.  The central idea of the Enlightenment was to decide everything by rational means.  This would supposedly bring forth answers that were absolutely true, and also, supposedly, bring forth only one answer to any question.  Just as the question 'What's the positive square root of X?' has only one correct answer for any given value of X, so all philosophical questions, including questions of morality and politics, would have only one true answer.

        Alas, alas, they were wrong.  As Hume pointed out, there is no way to derive an "ought" conclusion from premises that assert the relationship "is."  Nor does pure reasons provide motivations.  To deduce that you ought to want X, or to pursue anything in the first place, you need premises that provide some pre-existing motivations.

        But if you can't derive moral imperatives or basic drives from reason, the entire Enlightenment project collapses.  The Enlightenment philosophers dealt with this by bringing in their own pre-existing desires and feelings.  Then they convinced themselves that they'd discovered these rules and desires by means of pure reason.

        Out of this confusion sprang totalitarian democracy.  Everyone sane is rational, at least in part.  Reason supposedly tells us what we should want and should do.  Everyone should want what the philosophers want, and should do what the philosophers have decided they ought to do.  At a deep level the DO want it.  Since free society is one where every is free, and since freedom consists in doing what you want, a free society is one where everyone does what the philosophers tell them to do.  And if the citizens protested, the philosophers would drive them at gunpoint to do what they "really" wanted to do.

        And all this would result in a free society, if everyone was exactly like the philosophers.  You may have heard the name John Rawls.  He was a Professor of Philosophy at Harvard, and his book A Theory of Justice was supposedly what people would unanimously decide on if they had no personal interests distorting their judgment.  One of the things they would supposedly decide was that inequality of wealth and income was a bad thing.  This conclusion came from a guy who lived near Boston, where every year people eagerly bought tickets to the Irish Sweepstakes, whose effect and purpose is to increase inequality.  But Rawls didn't like inequality of wealth, so he assumed that in the proper circumstances, everyone would agree with him.  In short, at a deep level, everyone desires what Rawls desires, and everyone agrees with what Rawls has concluded.  The world may look like it has billions of people in it, all somewhat different, but in reality, John Rawls was the only person really alive, with everyone else an echo.

        This is the root of the nonsense Welch mentions. 
  The "progressive" movement has it's roots in the Enlightenment, and continues its errors.  And the progressives have taken over the Democratic Party.  There should be public television, it should address public affairs.  Well, which people with what views should do the addressing of what issues?  Any answer to these questions are of necessity political, but the progressive can't really believe other people might have a different outlook, unless said others are ignorant, stupid, irrational, or evil.  So since all good, sane, smart, knowledgeable people will agree on the essentials of what public television should show, the question isn't really political, and it's possible to have government supported television that isn't political.  Similar reasoning would "prove" that restrictions on campaign spending aren't really an interference with free speech — it won't interfere with the Times making its views known, and people who disagree with the Times aren't truly real.

        We "right wingers" need to publicly call them on this, saying that the progressives are insane to the extent they believe these things, and despicable con men to the extent they proclaim them without believing in them.

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