Monday, May 24, 2010
Speakers of Truth, Part II:The Importance of Reason
Melanie Phillips. I'm going to give you two opportunities to
watch her C-span video because it's so crucial that you do.
I ask 16 minutes worth of watching. They'll be the best spent
16 minutes you've spent on internet video this year. My word.
IS INSTAPUNK MEAN? I'll begin by citing one of our commenters on the previous related post, JS:
The problems the Left has caused do not need book length explanations or solutions. They are simple to see and simple to solve. They are easy to recognize and easy to fix, as they are in direct opposition to everything this country was founded on. But all I ever read is "We can't say that! We'll get in trouble!"
I know JS thinks I'm occasionally guilty of this as well, but he should draw heart from the fact that I think he is 98 percent right. That's my second opportunity for asking all of you to watch 16 minutes (at least) of the Melanie Phillips video. In that time, she effectively demolishes the argument for global warming, the "Bush lied, people died" argument against the war in Iraq, the victimization of Israel as the source of oppression in the Middle East, and the arrogant irrationalism of Dawkins and company in promoting atheism as the 'reasonable' antidote to malignant religious faith. She also expressly confirms the validity of common sense in opposition to the anti-rational nonsense promulgated by the intelligentsia. That's a lot of ground to cover in 16 minutes.
I'll wait while you watch. (Feel free to watch longer. She covers a lot more territority with a lot more specificity if you have the patience. If you hang on through the Q&A session, you'll also experience the unique cultural tic known as the "Oxford stutter.")
Without quoting word for word, I'll paraphrase a few of the more memorable points of the video for those who are, well, impatient. They are, interestingly, all points which have been made explicitly here at InstaPunk over the years (Lake? Eduardo? Care to fisk this post with IP links? If you have the time... I understand if not), except possibly for the first one, which we have only speculated on: in America, we have cultural wars; in Britain they have cultural collapse. Others? Science has itself become a religious faith, admitting of no dissension that is dealt with factually or by any means other than ad-hominem attack. The assault on formal religion by secularists is specific to Judeo-Christian religion and is purposed overwhelmingly toward the repeal of Genesis, because it is the moral order represented by an absolutist creator god which is most unacceptable in an age which bases its moral relativism on the absence of any objective truth.
Continuing... Ironically, what unites the supposed rationalists of secular evangelism is an apocalyptic 'millenarianism' derived directly from the Old Testament concept of Original Sin. In short, man must be punished. But not for sins against God. Because it's western civilization itself which must be punished in particular for sins against minorities, the earth, and, presumably, the universe. All of which is, in the aggregate, insane, irrational, and disposed against civilization in favor of barbarism. One questioner pointed out that usage of the word 'civilization' was never plural till the middle of the 19th century. Its historically singular form was an ideal expressly opposed to barbarism. The idea that all human organization above the level of hunter-gatherer subsistence represented some variety of civilization was the beginning of multi-culturalism -- and moral relativism.
She also made another point repeated here almost ad-nauseam. That the age of reason and science was almost purely a product of Judeo-Christian believers -- uh, the people who invented reason in the first place and still practice it -- which means that the concerted attempt we see today to synonymize faith with irrational superstition, resistance to science, and unthinking (conservative) stupidity is both malicious and false (i.e., The World Upside Down). Which led somehow to the metaphor of the choir. Phillips says at one point she realized that the admonition against preaching to the choir was wrong. The choir needs to be motivated to keep singing, because all the most highly 'educated' voices are telling it to remain silent.
But the Oxford journalist is trumped in some respects by JS. And I think she'd agree. "The problems the Left has caused do not need book length explanations or solutions. They are simple to see and simple to solve. They are easy to recognize and easy to fix." That's her point, made so much more laboriously, about common sense, which transcends pure reason because it seamlessly encompasses human wisdom as well as history and nature. A point I think we made here at less than book length.
Which has always been our bottom line at IP. It's the real reason we get into such big fights with the sophisticated folks who become mesmerized by the ins and outs of Washington politics, who's up, who's down, who's got a point this time, who's not phrasing or packaging things right, and who might have the better argument in the current political environment.
It's all bullshit. Common sense is still what matters. Big organizations are soul-destroying, the more so the bigger they get. It's a corollary of the clichee about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Our government is too big and getting bigger. Hell, General Motors was too big, which is why it failed. AT&T was too big, which is why breaking it up created a technological explosion whose shrapnel you all carry so happily in your pockets and purses. Big is Jabba the Hut. It fattens, wallows, crushes freedom and creativity. No big deal. Simple human math.
Which is why human math does contain absolutes. Lots of things don't have to be nitpicked, refuted, argued codicil by codicil or misrepresentation by lie into the weeds. They're just wrong. Flat wrong. From the beginning. Like the healthcare bill. Too big, too voracious, too squashing, too sprawling in its inevitable unintended consequences.
Which is where the New Media have a tough call. We've been exceptionally tough (and some would say mean) to the ones who choose to follow the details for us, so that we can fight like The 300 at the last stand in the halls of congress. But details are their own monster. They're what old-time fighter pilots called target-fascination. You bore in so single-mindedly on the bullseye that you wind up flying into the ground. Alternatively, you begin to believe that being adept at target practice is a substitute for killing the enemy.
Note that the choice of metaphor here is key. We are fighting a war. The enemy is every bit as ruthless as the Pacific foe in WWII that thought nothing of smearing the brains of Philippine babies across the walls of Manila hospitals. If you get it into your head that you're better at gunning down training targets than they are, you're not there when they get out of their planes and hit the newborn wards. That's why we're mean.
This is not a game. It's not a college debate. It's not an Olympic fencing match. It's a war. What are the sides?
The answer to that is daunting if not downright terrifying. It's us -- the common sense American conservatives -- against an Islamic fascism that can't be named, a European cultural and moral exhaustion that can't be forestalled, a burgeoning population of tin-pot, appeasement-emboldened dictators around the world, a secular know-it-all nihilism that can't be out-shouted, an increasingly supine population of government dependents and self-styled victims in the industrial world, and a traitorous, self-hating elite in our own country that has somehow appropriated the media, the academy, science, the public school system, the entire federal and state bureaucracy, and even a significant mindshare of organized Christian churches into a cult of anti-American sedition.
In these circumstances, it doesn't matter that we are technically the majority, as we are and have always been. It matters that we have let them gather unto themselves all the reins of power.
To the extent that we consent to dance with them employing all their tools of distraction -- wit, rhetoric, charge-and-counter-charge -- and gull ourselves with the delusion they're 'playing' the same way, we lose. Everything they do is aimed, always, exclusively, at our throats. They're trying to kill us. And while we struggle to be civil and 'fair-minded,' they're succeeding.
That's why I'm mean to AllahPundit and Ed Morrissey and InstaPundit and Ace of Spades and Protein Wisdom and every other conservative site that thinks it's competing for mindshare in an open market of ideas. It's not an open market. It's a war. I don't want any internet accolades or conservative trophies. I want to defeat the enemy. Utterly. Devastatingly. Forever.
This is a war for survival. We'll win or we'll lose. Which is a way of saying that I'm not being unreasonable at all. I have been scrupulously reasonable throughout the history of InstaPunk. Which is to say that I employ reason to destroy the enemy, not to persuade the enemy that I'm a reasonable guy. And, just as importantly, not to persuade my more genteel (thanks, Diogenes) allies that I am 'reasonable enough' to belong in their company. If they're not here to destroy the enemy, they may as well be Tokyo Rose or Lord Haw Haw. I have no use for them. Which is why I don't, and won't, play nice in the "New Media" circle-jerk.
By every precept of reason I know, giving equal time to enemy propagandists who have never been rational is not a function of reason. It's how Austria became part of the Third Reich. Look up the Anschluss.