I am oppressed in so many ways. I am oppressed by the patriarchy because I’m a woman. I am oppressed by restaurants that fail to offer a decent range of vegan options.
I am standing up for minorities who haven’t had the necessary education to know what their opinions should be. I have always supported censorship of those who have the wrong opinions.
Those statements are from a Twitter account that’s tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately, they’re pretty close to what you’ll find written by people who aren’t kidding. Censorship of those who have the wrong opinions is what we’re seeing these days on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.
In our last episode, we began examining the core philosophy of those who feel justified in de-platforming others. In his book Explaining Postmodernism, philosophy professor Stephen Hicks introduces us to the subjectivist philosophers whose ideas morphed into postmodernism. Unlike the Enlightenment thinkers who emphasized logic and reason (and whose views triggered major advancements in science and technology), the subjectivists insisted that:
- Reason and logic are irrelevant because there is no objective truth
- Feelings – especially morbid feelings — are a deeper guide than reason
If these ideas had merely kept generations of young philosophers up at night, they would have done little if any harm. Unfortunately, postmodernism eventually infected universities like a virus. And as Hicks explains, it happened largely because Marxism was such a bust.
Before Marxism was actually put into practice, Hicks writes, its proponents believed it was logical and reasonable – darned near scientific, in fact. But reality wasn’t so kind.
In practice the capitalist nations are increasingly productive and prosperous, with no end in sight. Not only are the rich getting fantastically richer, the poor in those countries are getting richer too. And by direct and brutal contrast, every socialist experiment has ended in dismal economic failure—from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, to North Korea and Vietnam, to Cuba, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Morally and politically, in practice every liberal capitalist country has a solid record for being humane, for by and large respecting rights and freedoms, and for making it possible for people to put together fruitful and meaningful lives.
The crisis for the far Left was that the logic and evidence were going against socialism. Put yourselves in the shoes of an intelligent, informed socialist confronted with all this data. How would you react? You have a deep commitment to socialism: You feel that socialism is true; you want it to be true; upon socialism you have pinned all your dreams of a peaceful and prosperous future society and all your hopes for solving the ills of our current society. This is a moment of truth for anyone who has experienced the agony of a deeply cherished hypothesis run aground on the rocks of reality. What do you do? Do you abandon your theory and go with the facts—or do you try to find a way to maintain your belief in your theory?
We know the answer. If you feeeeel that socialism is correct but reason and evidence say otherwise, you of course adopt a philosophy that says reason and logic are irrelevant, while what you feeeel is true.
If values and politics are primarily a matter of a subjective leap into whatever fits one’s preferences, then we should find people making leaps into all sorts of political programs. This is not what we find in the case of postmodernism. Postmodernists are not individuals who have reached relativistic conclusions about epistemology and then found comfort in a wide variety of political persuasions. Postmodernists are monolithically far Left-wing in their politics.
And guess where many of those postmodernists ended up working?
With the collapse of the New Left , the socialist movement was dispirited and in disarray. No one was waiting expectantly for socialism to materialize. No one thought it could be achieved by appealing to the electorate. No one was in a position to mount a coup. And those willing to use violence were dead, in jail, or underground. What then was to be the next step for socialism? In 1974, Herbert Marcuse was asked whether he thought the New Left was history. He replied: “I don’t think it’s dead, and it will resurrect in the universities.”
And it certainly did.
The dominance of subjectivist and relativistic epistemologies in academic philosophy thus provided the academic Left with a new tactic. Confronted by harsh evidence and ruthless logic, the far Left had a reply: That is only logic and evidence; logic and evidence are subjective; you cannot really prove anything; feelings are deeper than logic; and our feelings say socialism.
If you adhere to a philosophy that says reason and logic are irrelevant, you of course have a very different view of what a proper education entails:
In education, postmodernism rejects the notion that the purpose of education is primarily to train a child’s cognitive capacity for reason in order to produce an adult capable of functioning independently in the world. That view of education is replaced with the view that education is to take an essentially indeterminate being and give it a social identity.
Postmodernist professors aren’t interested in teaching your children how to think. They’re much more interested in (ahem) teaching your children what to think. They want your children to have exactly the same “correct” beliefs the postmodernists themselves have – and one of those beliefs is that reason itself is a tool of the oppressors.
Many deconstruct reason, truth, and reality because they believe that in the name of reason, truth, and reality Western civilization has wrought dominance, oppression, and destruction. “Reason and power are one and the same,” Jean-François Lyotard states.
Postmodernism then becomes an activist strategy against the coalition of reason and power. Postmodernism, Frank Lentricchia explains, “seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.”
The purpose of education isn’t to teach you how to examine the evidence and think your way into logical, reasonable conclusions. Nope … because reason itself is oppressive, a tool of the powerful, and is thus a barrier to meaningful social change.
So when you make a logical, reasonable argument in favor of free speech, the postmodernists aren’t at all impressed. In fact, they’ll likely just interpret your logical, reasonable argument as proof that you’re aiding and abetting the oppressors – although it might not be your fault. You might simply be an unwitting tool for the oppressors. As Hicks explains later in the book:
We are constructed socially, the postmoderns argue, and we are, even as adults, not aware of the social construction that underlies the speech we are engaging in. We might feel as though we are speaking freely and making our own choices, but the unseen hand of social construction is making us what we are. What you think and what you do and even how you think are governed by your background beliefs.
So in order to prevent you from being an oppressor – unwitting or otherwise – it’s okay to tell you to shut up. We’ll get to the “shut up” part next time.
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In fairness, people on the far right are almost as resistant to reason and logic, but at least they usually have tradition on their side. The far left is driving off the map. If they really thought their ideas made any sense, they’d form kibbutzes. And even Reason magazine, a libertarian publication, seems more and more like they’d like to see anarchy.
Agreed, but I believe Hicks is correct that postmodernists are almost monolithically far left. That’s certainly the case among the postmodern academics teaching our children how to (ahem) “think.”
I think all humans are resistant to logic and reason, i.e. they’re in cognitive dissonance most of the time.
Except me, of course. I’m special. 🙂
Cabbaging up one’s head with ideology makes it worse.
Of course most persons are not brave enough to admit that that they were wrong believing their beliefs when science and logic is contrary to beliefs.
Especially as their whole working life has been dependent on their beliefs.
It’s called cognitive dissociation.
How do you survive?
The easy way out is just to continue and keep your beliefs despite scientific facts and logic. Just stick your head into the sand
The brave and respectful way is to accept science, facts, logics and truth.
To me it seems that more and more brave and respected persons are emerging over time. But the critical mass is not reached yet
Just look at the THINCS and its members and many more persons awaking from the coma.
But The Anointed are just cowards beritching themselves and try to keep the slaves ignorant as most religions seem to do.
Youre a smart guy. Did you even try to read Marx?
I would want to immerse myself in reading about an economic system that’s been an abysmal failure in practice because … ?
“For real people, if something works in theory, but not in practice, it doesn’t work. For academics, if something works in practice, but not in theory, it doesn’t exist.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Marx lived off Engels, complained a lot and didn’t look after his kids.
YOu haven’t missed a lot.
Reminds me of one of my sisters-in-law. She has a Masters Degree in some form of Social Work. After spending all that money on an “education”, she found that the work she was suited for required dealing with people she didn’t like being around. She ended up being a counselor at the local junior college. And when “Jeopardy James” was beating out all the competition on the show, she actually said that it wasn’t fair – he should move on so someone else could win. How do you even respond to something like that?
I’m glad my wife and I decided to homeschool all eleven of our children. It’s very hard to avoid this nonsense in public schools. Better ideas can’t win if they are strangled in the crib.
Indeed, especially when “educators” consider logic and reason to be enemies that must be overcome.
In many places, perhaps more common in big cities, public school is basically child abuse. Hopefully in the next ten years private companies will outperform the US Gov’t and put them out of the business of teaching kids.
Oh BRAVO, Tom!! Good essay!
Here’s an interesting video about the effects of the modern day censorship that’s happening :
A fine talk about the value of free speech.
Here, Tom, I think you’ll enjoy the laboured excuses one editor has come up with for denying commentary opportunities on an otherwise academic site to people who do not believe in the Manmade Climate Change theory:
To be clear – all “uninformed” comment will be banned on this mostly government funded site.
By someone who parrots the “97% of all scientists” meme.
This editor has never proposed banning people who lie about Israel and its Jewish history by the way.
They keep hawking that 97% figure. I’ve read where that number comes from. First off, most the scientists in the survey aren’t climate scientists. Second, the figure was 97% among those who chose to send in an answer to the survey. The vast majority DID NOT choose to answer the survey. Now, given that being a known “climate denier” can tank your career, we can guess why the vast majority chose not to answer at all.
If you really want a good climate scientists, check out Joe Bastardi’s videos on YouTube. He nailed the Climate Strikers with real data from the past 100 years and that if they had even looked at the data, they would have done something more constructive on such a beautiful day, like go to the beach.
Now they’re holding up this Swedish girl to be a new Joan of Arc, except if you criticize her, YOU’RE the one they want to burn at the stake.
Well, that’s another favorite tactic of the postmodernists and loony lefties who can’t stomach an actual debate: trot out someone who nobody can debate without looking cruel to make the argument. Bingo, debate successfully avoided.
Interesting thoughts, but I don’t really trust Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks as a legitimate source on postmodernism. Here’s a video critiquing said book. It’s really dismal: https://youtu.be/EHtvTGaPzF4
A critique that includes comments by feminists explaining that by gosh, we really do need laws against pornography because it demeans and leads to violence against women? Sorry, but I find that laughable. There is zero proof (despite the number of feminists who would love to find such proof) that pornography leads to violence against women.
The video is amusing in a way. Hicks talks about the postmodernists’ fondness for deconstruction, i.e., attempting to pick apart every little detail of a work to find something to disagree with and use that to dismiss the value of the entire work. That’s exactly what’s going on this video. For example, the fact that Descartes was religious in no way negates his emphasis on reason and logic in the sciences.
All you have to do to confirm that Hicks was correct in his description of postmodernists is watch them in action.
Porn and sexual violence are often associated, see here.
Stats and info are in the second half of the piece.
You don’t actually have to base every assertion’s truth or not on the basis of one video.
Individuals with a predisposition for aggression have shown to be particularly drawn to images of pornography, and are more likely to expose themselves to such images in the future than lower risk individuals.
There’s a correlation, yes — it’s no surprise that men who feel the urge to commit sexual violence against women are heavy consumers of porn, especially porn featuring abuse. But that in no way proves consuming porn causes the urge in the first place.
It’s akin to the argument that watching violent video games causes mass shootings. Yes, people screwed up enough in the head to commit mass shootings are more attracted to shoot ’em up video games, but watching shoot ’em up video games doesn’t turn ordinary people into mass shooters.
If those who want to commit violence use porn as a motivator, like those who fill themselves with drugs and alcohol to bolster their urge to assault and murder other people, it plays a reinforcing role in committing violence and rape and needs to be studied and acknowledged.
People who want to kill generally use anything as a weapon, especially those designed to kill.
Porn has many variants within the genre and its is not the fluffy basic sort that predators use to motivate themselves.
It would be useful to have analysed what kind of porn they use to rev themselves up to go and sexually assault a women.
Of course, many rapes are cold-bloodedly planned – eg child sexual assault/pedophilia, continual domestic assault, serial rape etc – and the mechanics within a movie is often used to bolster the tactics of the predator.
Note the rapists themselves said they used porn to incite them to enacting rape.
A recent case in Australia featured a guy who raped and murdered a woman, directly caused by his fantasies – reinforced and shown in porn – of similar crimes.
Serial killers, terrorists and in the past, Nazis even – use drink, drugs and violent porn to initiate and sustain the emotional urge to go through with whatever violent task the predators had already decided to do.
Rapists do it too. The UK Islamic rape gangs have and do use it frequently alongside their own serial and vicious rapes of vulnerable girls.
And of course Osama bin Laden was watching porn when the US soldiers finally found him in his lair.
Porn is like anything. When it’s used for fun, that’s cool. But to ignore its use in sexual violence is foolish.
Not ignoring its use. I’m pointing out that if the existence of porn spurred rapes that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, we’d see a rise in rapes when porn becomes more available. But research has shown no effect or the opposite: rates of rape dropping societies where porn became more easily accessible.
If you believe the official story of Osama Bin Laden. There is plenty of evidence that suggested he died of complications of diabetes in 2001, not long after 9-11. Donald Rumsfeld visited him in a Saudi hospital weeks prior to 9-11, where he was receiving dialysis and in poor health. My mother was a dialysis technician who put it quite succinctly, “They’re not cave hopping with a dialysis unit strapped to a camel.”
You also might want to read this even if it is from The Guardian. It is extremely relevant, especially for a man with daughters:
I’m certainly not saying porn has a positive effect on boys, but I don’t consider these anecdotal stories proof that anything has actually changed. As a man born in the ’50s, I can assure you that teenage boys don’t need to watch porn to become obsessed with sex and rate girls according to their perceived value as sex partners. Most boys grow out of it and eventually become husbands and fathers with a very different view of women. Some don’t, of course, but that’s been the case forever.
The alternative is to outlaw porn — and then we get into that whole mess of deciding which authority gets to decide what constitutes porn. Would the kinkier scenes in “Game of Thrones” fit the definition and be banned? The movie “9 1/2 Weeks”?
People have pointed out that porn presents an unrealistic view of women that most women can never match. True enough. But others have pointed out that romance novels present an equally unrealistic view of men that most men can never match. Should we ban romance novels so women don’t get the wrong ideas about men?
Take all the arguments in favor of banning porn and substitute “alcohol” for “porn,” and they’re essentially the same arguments.
I’m not actually discussing the banning of porn, merely that effects on those who use it to commit violence should be noted.
I’m not quite sure where this comment will end up – it is a reply to your most recent comment in this thread.
From my own experience of the world, I do believe that all theoretical (right, left, classic, modern) philosopher do a lot of what I call intellectual masturbation. In the end, it will never work.
The most successful society on the planet are a melting pot of many different idea on all the ideological axis. Logic is important so are feeling we’re human after all.
As for google/youtube decision it’s simpler than most people think. It’s a company so its goal is to make money. Every decision a company will make, especially of that size, is to make money. The decision maker feel it would bring them more ca$h… That’s it.
It’s hard to write about philosophy while using your second language. lol
You’d think, but Vox Day makes the point in “Social Justice Warriors Always Lie” that when SJWs take over an organization, they no longer care what the organization’s original purpose was supposed to be. That includes making a profit.
Imagine being anti-scientific and anti-racional to The point of being pro-capitalism
You poor thing. Someday you’ll get over it.
How to get over this mindset?
Not sure if we can. Movements like this make people feel meaningful and important, even if they’ve never accomplished anything in life and don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
Penn & Teller did a great episode of their Bull@#$%! series where they sent someone into a group like this and got hundreds of them to sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide — i.e., water. Even the science liaison for the environmental group singed it. She must’ve been some scientist.
Oh, they’re just having fun while being ignorant. 😉
Penn and Teller were too afraid for their families to cover Islam though:
As for vegans, I saw an article – sorry, i don’t recall where – the other day that reported that the increasing number of vegans in Australia are ruining their teeth/gums due to lack of nutrients.
With the destructive dentists we have in Australia, we don’t have much of a chance mending this!
Can’t say I blame them for not doing a show on people known to kill anyone who criticizes them.
Yes just crazy ol kids having good times.
Actually people who believe in global warming is a major problem should be supporting the pasture raising of ruminants, as I will explain below.
What’s really sad is that pasture raised beef (and other ruminants) is the only way we can sequester mass quantities of carbon and solve the metabolic crisis. So we can use the following arguments against the vegetarian and vegan proponents.
Pastured ruminants are not only no till agriculture, they need no fertilizer the nitrogen content of which is made from natural gas.
In fact one auditing of such a farm showed that beef was produced in a way that sequestered more carbon than it released.
Based on knowledge and belief, the emissions of methane from natural gas production is much greater than stated and new studies have shown that the production of fertilizer releases vast amounts of methane.
We won’t do it in any way that is economically infeasible and the improvement of topsoil and the sequestering of carbon will be paid for by the ruminant consumers.
You don’t expect logic and reason to work on these people, do you?
I don’t remember who said it but I’ve found this to be true—You can’t use logic or reason to get a person out of a position they didn’t use logic or reason to get into!
I believe that was Will Rogers. Whoever said it, it’s spot on.
I’m really enjoying this series, looking forward to part 3!
I’ll post soon. Got swamped at the mortgage-paying job.
Can’t recall ever being more disgusted with the political left, including of course the “news” media.
They’re now in a massive echo chamber with not a fact in sight to inform their opinions. Just passing around the same regurgitated propaganda from outlet to outlet, like a joint at a college party.
Any evidence contradicting the assigned narrative is regarded as proof that there’s a cover-up of the assigned narrative.
Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
You might enjoy reading “The Smear” by former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She writes about how much of what passes for news is nothing more the networks serving as P.R. rags for political organizations and corporate interests.
On of my favorite quotes:
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” ~ Carl Sagan