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Saturday, December 03, 2016

The progressive war on reality

A recent article explains why progressivism must deny not only biology, but reality itself.

W hy do progressives push ideas that defy the basic facts of nature? The list of wacky ideas and myths in recent years is too long to list: there are 58 different sexes, men and women have identical brains, intelligence is not inherited, human nature is a blank slate, Arabs invented the zero, and on and on.

Just this week it was revealed that NPR had claimed that the Quinault Indians in the Pacific northwest have gone into such a panic about global warming that they were considering moving uphill, away from their tribal homeland, to avoid being flooded. Sea level rise is another myth; geologists tell us the North American continent is actually rising as the Earth's lithosphere rebounds from the last ice age. This rise, roughly 1 cm/year today, is called glacial isostatic adjustment, and it has long confounded attempts to measure any warming-related changes in sea level. (For some reason, NPR didn't mention that.)

Update, Dec 10 2016: Just to be clear, I'm talking about a specific paper where they tried to measure sea level rise. Their actual data inconveniently showed that the sea level was decreasing, so they subtracted the presumed (estimated) lithosphere rebound in such a way as to obtain the desired rise in sea level.

Global warming causes an increase in the amount of snow and ice. Doubt this and you are a climate denier.

Adopting collectivism requires first suppressing one's skeptical nature, or maybe excessive credulity is a prerequisite for adopting collectivism. The result is the same: an oppressive climate of political correctness that has crushed national debate on vital topics like climate, race, crime, and economic policy, and which has lately started gnawing on the edges of science.

Biology denialism threatens the survival of Western cultures by undermining the traditional family, which is the basis of our demographic survival. Redistrib­utive economics, often based on fake science, threatens our ability to withstand economic crises. The most skillfully constructed myths derive fake conclusions from real facts, like NPR's Quinault story above.

If they were simple cases of mythmaking, like the myth that vaccines cause autism or that NASA faked the moon landings, they could be ignored: nature has a sure-fire way of ensuring that those who deny reality don't have to live in it. But they're not just myths—they are demands. Progressives demand that we celebrate the myths as if they were true. Anyone who refuses faces loss of employment, public humiliation, and social exclusion. They have created a false reality and are demanding we live in it.

Hundreds of people have proposed explanations, but an article by Angelo M. Codevilla in the fall 2016 Claremont Review of Books (link is here; password protected) titled “The Rise of Political Correctness” gives us the sharpest analysis I have ever seen. He writes:

Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature's laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement's nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement's own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party's interest—were correct factually.

Notwithstanding progressivism's premise that individual minds merely reflect society's basic structure and hence are incapable of reasoning independently, ... reality forces progressives to admit that individuals often choose how they think or act despite lacking the ‘structural’ basis for doing so. ... They call this freedom of the human mind ‘false consciousness.’

PC is not a reasoned position; it consists of assertions intended to change our view of the world. They cajole us into using she or one of those silly new pronouns in our speech. But like clockwork they move on to coercion, as in New York, where businesses are now required by law to use the designated pronouns or face crippling fines.

Accommodation is taken as defeat, and the progressives will just move on to the next battle. Codevilla puts it this way:

The point of P.C. is not and has never been about any of the items that it imposes, but about the imposition itself ... it is a war on civilization waged to indulge identity politics.

Falsehoods have the power to pry us away from reality. They have the power to destroy our political system and throw society into chaos. They have already destroyed the credibility of sociologists and politicians. But progressives want it all. For them, writes Codevilla, cultural hegemony means the power to ‘suffocate Judeo-Christian civilization in its several cradles’ and to permit only such ideas as benefit their raw political interest.

This is not a survival path for progressives. But even if ultimately their ideology is violently deposed, little of what made our civilization worthy of emulation might remain.

By convincing us that all historical facts are political claims, progressives have gravely wounded the credibility of all historians. By convincing us that science is political, they will destroy the credibility of all scientists. In order to resist, we need to understand what we're facing. Codevilla's article is essential reading for all conservatives and libertarians.

Update, Dec. 4 2016 Codevilla's article has now been reprinted at www.independent.org.

Last edited dec 10 2016, 12:49 pm

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