Monday, March 13, 2006


Stephen Hicks has suggested that postmodernism arose from a fusion of leftist politics and skeptical epistemology. Faced with the demise of their precious socialist belief system and drowning in obscurity, the intellectuals of the left grasped at postmodernism like a lifeline that could lead them once again to dry land.

Over the last hundred years, these apologists for socialism and communism have had to face disappointment after disappointment as they watched the unraveling of every holy prophecy and had to deal with multiple socialist nightmares in the real world; instead of the fantasy dreamworld they imagined. In both theory and practice, socialism's battle for supremacy with capitalism had been decisively lost.

In every empirical test in the real world, capitalism worked better than socialism and once and for all completely debunked all the original Marxist claims about socialism's supposed superiority.

--Instead of exploiting people, capitalism has empowered them, while socialism made them poor, miserable, and oppressed.
--Instead of increasing poverty, capitalism has mostly eliminated it. The rich get richer indeed; but the poor get richer, too. Under socialism’s yoke, everyone became poorer except the corrupt.
--Instead of being more humane and peaceful, socialism has almost always deteriorated into dictatorship and oppression; and then became aggressive and violent toward other countries

But the confrontation between capitalism and socialism in the last century was only the most recent in a long series of historical battles between the forces of freedom and individualism on the one hand; and the forces of tyranny and collectivism on the other.

In the 1700’s this conflict was manifested in the philosophical and societal confrontation between religion and the Enlightenment.

From Hicks' book:
In the 1950’s and 60’s the Left faced the same dilemma that religious thinkers faced in the late 1700s. In both cases, the evidence was against them. During the Enlightenment, religion’s natural theology arguments were widely seen as being full of holes, and science was rapidly giving naturalistic and opposed explanations for the things that religion had traditionally explained. Religion was in danger of being shut out of intellectual life. By the 1950s and 60s, the Left’s arguments for the fruitfulness and decency of socialism were failing in theory and practice, and liberal capitalism was rapidly increasing everyone’s standard of living and showing itself respectful of human freedoms. By the late 1700s religious thinkers had a choice—accept evidence and logic as the ultimate court of appeal and thereby reject their deeply-cherished religious ideals—or stick by their ideals and attack the whole idea that evidence and logic matter. “I had to deny knowledge,” wrote Kant in the Preface to the first Critique, “in order to make room for faith.” “Faith,” wrote Kierkegaard in Fear and trembling, “requires the crucifixion of reason”; so he proceeded to crucify reason and glorify the irrational.

Thus Kant and others in the 18th and 19th centuries paved the way for the more recent Postmodern attacks on reason, logic and reality itself. Postmodernism is the latest incarnation of the Kantian rejection of reason in order to “make room for faith”; and it has become the preferred method of the left to champion Socialism over Capitalism.. Becoming increasingly marginalized by events in the real world; the leftists simply adopted the position that reason, logic and reality don’t matter; that feelings are more important facts; that objective reality doesn’t exist; and that everything is relative anyway. In this way, they "made room for" socialism, which otherwise might have become extinct.

Do you wonder why the left hates religion with such a passion? Why the left is fairly united in its hatred of Israel? It is simple—they are in competition with religion for the hearts of the people. The ideology of the left has evolved into a religion that is essentially even more religious (and certainly more fanatical) than either Christianity or Judaism--both of which had their more toxic elements blunted by the rationality of the Enlightenment.

In the ensuing 300 years since Kant critiqued pure reason, religion--i.e., Christianity and Judaism-- have more or less come to an uneasy compromise with those who recognize the importance of reason, logic, and reality in the real world. This is almost certainly the psychological origins of the Western concept of "separation of Church and State"; which seems to me at least, as a very bold strategy designed to keep the fundamental conflict at bay and allow development of both these spheres of human experience unimpeded by the other.

The left refuses to accept such constraints on their religion, and have embraced postmodern rhetoric and politics with religious fervor in order to save their own sacred beliefs about socialism. Once again there is an historical attempt to combine religion with politics and political rhetoric; and to crucify reason, logic and reality in the process.

This is what those on the left hold in common with Islamic fanatics. Islam, which never went through an Enlightenment like the other major world religions; and has never had to deal with the separation doctrine developed by the West; has not had the worst of their irrationality ameliorated by the infusion of Enlightenment or Western values.

This brings us to the 21st century battlefield of this conflict. The left recognizes in extreme Islam a soul mate that hates individualism, freedom, capitalism and rejects reason and reality with the same enthusiasm. In essence, they cannot oppose even the most vile of the jihadists behavior (i.e., toward women or toward gays) without their own postmodern arguments completely falling apart.

This op-ed piece captures the dilemma faced by the women’s movement, for example:
"The multicultural feminist canon has not led to independent, tolerant, diverse, or objective ways of thinking," she writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education. "On the contrary, it has led to conformity, totalitarian thinking, and political passivity. Although feminists indulge in considerable nostalgia for the activist 60s and 70s, in some ways they are no different from the rest of the left-leaningacademy, which also suffers from the disease of politically correct passivity."

American women are the most pampered women in the world. It's no surprise that the phrase, "You've come a long way, baby," was easily co-opted to sell them cigarettes. Enlightened self-interest is neither misdemeanor nor felony, but it has blinded the feminists to the larger picture.

Islam, whether isolated in enclaves in European cities or dominant in the Islamic nations of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is exploited to oppress women. But feminists with the big microphones keep the silence of church mice. "Because feminist academics and journalists are now so heavily influenced by left ways of thinking," writes Phyllis Chester, "many now believe that speaking out against head scarves, face veils, the chador, arranged marriages, polygamy, forced pregnancies or female genital mutilation is either 'imperialist' or 'crusade-ist."

Multiculturalism and its buzzword "diversity" are perhaps the most triumphant and omnipresent of Postmodern concepts. In the last decade they have subtly and pervasively infiltrated almost all K-12 curricula and textbooks; as well as permeated all aspects of academia--from admissions to course content in almost every field; to setting the limits on academic inquiry.

It is immensely interesting to observe how the left's topsy-turvy thinking about this conundrum works: realistically, rationally, and logically the left finds itself unable to criticize the excesses of Islam in any way, shape or form--without exposing for even the most dim-witted to see, the fatal flaws and contradictions in their new religion--which disavows reality, reason, and logic.

Their only recourse in order to maintain some sort of bizarre consistency at any price, is to embrace the same irrationality as the Islamists and join with them in hating America, freedom, and capitalism with comrade-like solidarity. Thus, championship of several of their key victim groups is pragmatically abandoned to remain consistently illogical.

Kant and his successors have never been able to explain away the formidible real world contradictions inherent in a philosophy that celebrates the irrational and the unreal at the expense of reason and reality; yet somehow expects to bring peace, harmony, productivity and progress to human living.

Related posts:
Contradictory Discourses
The Highway to Hell
The 10 Commandments of Multiculturalism
The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Left

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