Petey Said it. I Believe it. That Settles it.
Now, when I say that “I prevail in every argument,” that undoubtedly sounds arrogant. However, that would be a mistaken impression. For example, T. Jefferson famously asserted that it was self-evident that human beings were created by God and that God intended for them to have certain nonnegotiable rights. The purpose of government was to protect these natural rights, not to invent new ones, much less to take rights away because some neo-Marxists thought it would be a good idea. For example, government must protect and nurture the institution of marriage, because marriage is obviously anterior to government. It is not the government’s job to invent or sanction new and unnatural ways to be married.
It doesn’t sound to me like Jefferson was open to argument. If a modern day moonbat were to counter, “dude, if you just let people do what they want, they’ll do bad stuff,” the only response can be that Jefferson and the founding mooonbat share irreconcilable visions of God, of the nature of human beings, and of the purpose of government.
Take “discrimination,” for example. “Discrimination” is just another way of saying “generalization,” and to think--let alone philosophize--is to generalize. One cannot think without generalizing.
Naturally, some discrimination will be unfair, but I do not believe it is the job of the federal government to monitor it, except perhaps with regard to race (although even then, I believe that anti-discrimination laws have had a net negative impact on both society and the intended beneficiaries, as they tend to reduce them to victim status, create a new industry for corrupt lawyers, and diminish the importance of moral suasion and of shaming in bringing about positive social change).
For example, conservatives are obviously the targets of widespread discrimination in the news media and academia. In newsrooms, the ratio of liberal to conservative often approaches 25-1, and the typical humanities department in an elite university is over 90% leftist. But do I therefore believe that the federal government should get involved in forcing looniversities to hire more conservatives? No, not at all, because it would fly in the face of my first principle, which is that liberty is among the highest goods, even though flawed human beings are bound to do bad and stupid things with it. To say that one is opposed to anti-discriminaton laws is hardly equivalent to saying that one is in favor of discrimination toward this or that group.
Imagine if the federal government had gotten involved in forcing universities and the media to have a 50-50 split between leftist and classically liberal conservatives. Rather than helping the conservative movement, it probably would have stifled it. There would be no talk radio, no Rush Limbaugh, no National Review, no vibrant intellectual counterrevolution to leftist orthodoxy. As the leftist domination of elite universities and MSM is allowed to play itself out, I believe we will see--we are seeing--that these institutions will increasingly be regarded as the jokes that they are. That is certainly how I see them. I cannot imagine paying a penny to subscribe to a silly paper like the L.A. Times, let alone over $100,000 to send my son to be brainwashed at an elite university. It’s just a matter of time before the secret is out.
Back to the matter of why Petey is always right. Why do human beings even have “philosophies” to begin with? What are they looking for? What purpose do they serve? And why are some philosophies so much more adequate than others?
Human beings are, as Bion put it, epistemophilic. That is, we are born with an innate drive for meaning that is no less built into us than our drives to eat and reproduce. I can see it in my son, who is almost 18 months old. He is constantly studying, focussing intently, trying to make connections, attempting to make sense of things, trying to figure out what makes women tick, etc. And when he does make a connection, one can see that it brings great pleasure and satisfaction.
What makes us human--some of us anyway--is that we never lose this drive to deepen our understanding of reality. For although reality is real and external to us, it is also accurate to say that meaning occurs in the evolving transitional space between our neurology and the external world. That space can be very deep or it can be very shallow. But everything happens in that space--love, beauty, wisdom, etc.
As Michael Polanyi expressed it, when humans search for meaning, they are actually guided by an invisible gradient of deepening coherence within that space. The world is full of “particulars,” of loose ends and bits of disconnected information. The deeper philosophy will be the one that connects the most fragments into a unified whole. Therefore reality is both “present” and hidden from us, depending on our skill in pulling it all together.
And it is an art or a skill, not just another piece of information that can be passed from mind to mind. This is a critical point. One reason there is no purpose in arguing with a moonbat is that I cannot simply show someone what I see, any more more than Mozart could simply show you what he perceives in musical space (this is for pedagogic purposes only, not to compare myself to Mozart). One must first develop the skill in order to access the reality in question.
Take psychotherapy, for example. A great psychoanalyst, say, ShrinkWrapped, in listening to a patient’s free associations, will literally “see” a whole world of meaning that only exists in disconnected “bits” for the patient. One of the purposes of therapy will be to help the patient bring these bits together into a meaningful whole. Isn’t this also the task of the great historian--to take the literally infinite jumble of historical facts, and convert them into a deep, coherent, and satisfying vision? Isn’t this what Karl Marx did, or secular leftists do, only in a preposterously shallow way that appeals to moonbats but is repellant to the deep and thoughtful?
But can you argue with a neo-Marxist moonbat? No, you cannot, because it is a matter of competing visions. I can see the Marxist vision perfectly well, because it is so on the surface of reality. But I know of no Marxist who can truly share my vision, for if they did, they would be “converted.” They may think they get it, but they only understand the words. You know the story--folly to the geeks, a stumbling block to the clueless, and all that. Truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed, said Blake.
Again, do not be confused by the word "conversion," because I believe this goes a long way toward explaining the obvious hostility in our culture war. As Mitchell writes, “When opposing frameworks are so different that adherents of one cannot speak intelligibly to adherents of the other, the possibility of one partisan convincing another of the superiority of his position is slight. But even when persuasion becomes impossible, conversion remains viable."
In other words, all one can do is attempt to expose the poverty the opponent's position, and “to stimulate interest for [one’s] own richer perspectives; trusting that once an opponent has caught a glimpse of these, he cannot fail to sense a new mental satisfaction, which will attract him further and finally draw him over to its own grounds” (Polanyi).
Thus, in the final analysis, I am not looking for arguments but for converts--not to my particular point of view, but simply to a more encompassing vision of reality. I cannot give this vision directly, but I know for a fact that by sharing it and giving people the opportunity to “dwell” in it, they can be, in their own way “converted” to their own vision. I have received enough letters of thanks from former liberals to know that "conversion" is not too strong a word. Again, not to belabor the point, but it is not a conversion to "Gagdad Bobism," but to their own personal vision that begins to see the greater spiritual depth in things.
Back to arguing with moonbats. The reason they are powerless to persuade me is that there is simply no way I am ever going to revert to a philosophy that is so paltry and unsatisfying compared to my present one. It’s just not going to happen, any more than I would give up my wife for a watermelon.
Frankly I'd rather kiss a goat.
Or maybe a pig.