Liberal Fascism and Omniscient Stupidity
You might say that this verticalisthenic exercise of revisiting my past allows me hold a conversation with myself, almost like dream interpretation, in which one mode of consciousness dwells in another for the benefit of both. In this case, I'm trying to learn something from the old Bob, even while gently correcting his errors.
One of the enduring defects of leftist thought is that it habitually tries to change the world before it has understood the world -- which is one more reason why it is so cute that they refer to themselves as the "reality based community." Children and leftists say the darndest things!
For the left, politics comes down to one after another failed experiment against reality -- economic reality, historical reality, psychosexual reality, geopolitical reality, and spiritual reality, to name a few. (Speaking of which, this book, Economics Does Not Lie, is highly recommended. Bottom line: it doesn't. I'd love to say more, but I left the book at the office. Virtually every page brims with insights that every free citizen -- in order to become or remain free -- needs to know. But since leftists control education, the last thing they want citizens to know about is the science of economics. Rather, they need you to be innumerate in order to exert economic control over you and thereby expand the god of the State.)
When you think about it, at least half of our "lived freedom" comes in the form of economic activity. Therefore, to engage in economic activity without understanding how economics works is like.... engaging in some activity without understanding how it works. Notice how eager leftist are to, say, educate children about homosexual activity, when so few of us will ever engage in such activity. I'm trying to think back.... No, I've never put any of that stuff they taught me about homosexuality into practice.
Anyway, this compulsion -- and it is a compulsion -- to radically change the world before understanding it has been true ever since Marx, who believed that philosophy had theretofore regarded its task as interpreting the world, whereas its real mission and duty was to transform it. Allied with this cavalier attitude toward understanding reality is an equally ironic "progressivism" that has no stable ground and no transcendent purpose, and therefore easily becomes an arbitrary, anti-human tyranny whose elites march us forward directly into the past.
Look at the current healthcare debate. In America, we have developed the finest healthcare system in the world. How did we do it? Mainly by getting out of the way. In a way, we cannot understand how it happened, because that's how the free market works. As Hayek taught us, there is a near infinite amount of information dispersed throughout the market, which no government and certainly no person could ever grasp, and which is why the "fatal conceit" of top-down leftist economics never works in practice.
But does that stop the statists of the left from wanting to appropriate 17% of the economy? Of course not. They intend to instantly transform the medical system without having a clue as to how and why it has developed the way it has. Think about it. Something that evolved over hundreds of years, and yet, they want us to toss it all aside in favor of a bill that no one has even read yet! Madness.
Part of the madness is based on the idea that people have a "right" to healthcare. But how can one have a right to something that doesn't exist until someone produces it? I'm a doctor. No, not the kind that can tell a perfect stranger to take off her clothes. But you can bet that the left will try to get mental health treatment into universal coverage. What this means is that American citizens will be "entitled" to my labor. It's a right! But how is this different from me being a slave of the state?
When this post first appeared two years ago, I reviewed a laughable Report From Yearly Kos: The Intersection of Science and Progressive Values. In it, the author caricatures science, as if it could possibly arbitrate moral and political issues that intrinsically lie outside its strictly limited purview. See of you can detect the giant epistemological hole the left creates in order for them to slip in the fascism:
"[I]t has fallen to those of us who oppose the direction the country has been heading to simultaneously champion a way of thinking that would have averted so many blunders and disasters: empirical thinking. Scientific thinking. Critical thinking."
This is always the mode of the left: 1) create crisis. 2) insert "experts."
"... [N]ow more than ever before, we're finally waking up to the fact that the practices of science themselves encode a set of values -- a way of approaching the world, understanding it, and acting within it. At its core, it's a world view that is humble about what we know and don't know, flexible about what we do and don't decide to do, and open about admitting past mistakes and listening to contrary opinion. In short, it's the utter opposite of Bush's stubborn, inflexible, unwavering certainty about everything."
Yes, as that fascist President Bush said, "I don't want people who disagree with my takeover of the economy to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way, and I want my fellow patriots to turn their names into the state so they can be properly dealt with."
Ah, humility. Flexibility. Openness to admitting past mistakes. Will the left now humbly admit that their grandiose "war on poverty" has failed, and that, trillions of dollars later, they have no exit strategy for this senseless quagmire? Will they finally concede that economic principles are universal, and that their porkulus bill did nothing to stimulate the economy? Will they acknowledge that the surge in Iraq worked? Will they admit that none of the predictions of the global warming cult are panning out? Will they admit that it's August in southern California, and I'm a little cold right now?
Here is a fine example of the deep scientific humility of the progressive mind. The author opened the panel by "airing some lessons" from his new book, which explores "the scientific relationship between hurricanes and global warming." Hmm, just what is that scientific relationship? Well, it "remains murky and incompletely understood," another way of saying that there is no known scientific relationship.
But that forms no barrier to the leftist, who believes in... science! And... progress! And, most importantly, that manmade global warming causes hurricanes, whatever the evidence shows. Therefore, the absence of proof "hardly means that we ought to throw up our hands and ignore the subject, or simply wait for more research to come in. On the contrary, we have quite a lot at stake." As such, "we have every right to be worried that storms might be getting worse, and ought to move now to better protect ourselves against them."
Remember Marx's dictum about changing the world -- if he were a meteorologist, he might have said, "everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it!"
So let's get this straight. Science is a humble exercise in which we employ empirical thinking and listen to contrary opinion. But in this case, we can't wait for research to come in! There's too much at stake! We must ignore contrary opinion! We have every right to be worried that storms might be getting worse, even though they're not! We must move now to better protect ourselves against them! (I wonder if the author would be gracious enough to allow President Bush this attitude vis-à-vis the far more compelling evidence for Saddam's WMD?)
What lesson does the author draw from his stated need to urgently act on his scientific ignorance? This
"highlights a fundamental truth about most science policy issues: the inescapable fact of both science and reality is that we never know everything, and never will. Yet this pervasive state of uncertainty hardly lessens the moral imperative to take whatever it is that we do know and use it to improve our lives..."
That pretty much sums up the attitude of the left, whether we're talking about global warming or radically transforming the healthcare system: omniscient stupidity. It reminds me of Bion's three characteristics of the psychotic mind: 1) omnipotence, 2) stupidity, and 3) curiosity. Not healthy curiosity, mind you, but a kind of bovine curiosity about things that are perfectly settled and no sane person would question.
If this man's morality is grounded in empirical thought, how does he arrive at an urgent moral imperative based upon murky evidence? Shouldn't it be a murky moral imperative, or moral murkiness? To suggest that we have an urgent moral imperative to act on our scientific ignorance is again about as good a summary of the leftist mindset as you could imagine, for it combines a radical cynicism that destroys traditional values, with an insane moral passion.
Another speaker at Yearly Kos spoke of the distinction between "mundane ignorance" and "virulent ignorance," the latter of which is "the willful disregard for contrary knowledge and opinion in favor of a set of dubious 'facts' that are the result of ideology and indoctrination." Ahem.
The above statement about the limits of science also conflates science and theology. Yes, it is an inescapable fact that "we never know everything, and never will," but that is not the purpose of science. Of course science can never "know everything." As Schuon writes, it is not problematic for science to study a "fragmentary field within the limits of its competence." Problems only arise when "it claims to be in a position to attain to total knowledge" and "ventures conclusions in fields accessible only to a supra-sensible and truly intellective wisdom, the existence of which it refuses on principle to admit."
By definition, science cannot know the Ultimate Real because "it replaces the universal Substance by matter alone, either by denying the universal Principle or reducing it to matter or to some kind of pseudo-absolute from which all transcendence has been eliminated." They forget that information is vertically anterior to matter, and that mind is anterior to information.
Science, properly understood, is an inherently conservative (i.e., classically liberal, not leftist) endeavor. It operates under the metaphysical assumption that there is a hidden order in the cosmos that may be uniquely disclosed to the human intellect, but it proceeds cautiously, builds on its past, respects its own traditions, and is slow to accept radical innovation in the absence of extraordinary proof. But secular progressives are never truly scientific, let alone humble. Rather, they nearly always adhere to the pseudo-philosophy of scientism, which conflates what may be known by the scientific method with the totality of what may be known. And as Schuon points out, scientism redounds to
"a totalitarian rationalism that eliminates both Revelation and Intellect, and at the same time a totalitarian materialism that ignores the metaphysical relativity -- and therewith also the impermanence -- of matter and of the world. It does not know that the supra-sensible, situated as it is beyond space and time, is the concrete principle of the world, and that it is consequently also at the origin of that contingent and changeable coagulation we call 'matter.' A science that is called 'exact' is in fact an 'intelligence without wisdom,' just as post-scholastic philosophy is inversely a 'wisdom without intelligence.'”
The radical change promised to us by liberal fascists is rooted in intelligence without wisdom. If that.