The greatest enemy of the left is reality. — Roger Scruton
Reality has a well-known liberal bias. – Steven Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Dinner, 2006
I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call Cargo Cult Science. In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land. — Richard Feynman, Caltech 1974 Commencement Address
[T]here is a part of human existence that remains of necessity individual and independent, and which lies of right utterly beyond the range of society… — Benjamin Constant, quoted by Adrian Wooldridge in ‘Some thoughts on the crisis of liberalism – and how to fix it’, The Economist, 12th June 2018
Niels Bohr: You see what we did in those three years Heisenberg, not to exaggerate, but we turned the world inside out. Yes, listen, now it comes, now it comes. We put man back at the centre of the universe. Throughout history we keep finding ourselves displaced, we keep exiling ourselves to the periphery of things. First we turn ourselves into a mere adjunct of God’s unknowable purposes, tiny figures kneeling in the great cathedral of creation, and no sooner have we recovered ourselves in the Renaissance, no sooner has man become as Protagoras proclaimed him as the measure of all things, then we’re pushed aside again by the products of our own reasoning. We’re dwarfed again as physicists build the great new cathedral for us to wonder at, the laws of classical mechanics that pre-date us to the beginning of eternity, that will survive us to eternity’s end, that exist whether we exist or not. Until we come to the beginning of the 20thCentury and we’re suddenly forced to rise from our knees again.
Heisenberg: It starts with Einstein.
Bohr: It starts with Einstein. He shows that measurement, measurement on which the whole possibility of science depends, measurement is not an impersonal event that occurs with impartial universality, it’s a human act carried out from a specific point of view in time and space from the one particular viewpoint of a possible observer. Then here in Copenhagen in those three years in the mid-twenties we discover that there is no precisely determinable objective universe, that the universe exists only as a series of approximations, only within the limits determined by our relationship with it, only through the understanding lodged inside the human head. — Michael Frayn, Copenhagen
What stands in the way of most utopias is not pestilence and drought but human behavior. So Utopians have to think of ways to control behavior, and when propaganda doesn’t do the trick, more emphatic techniques are tried. — Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (2002)
So could discoveries in biology turn out to justify racism and sexism? Absolutely not! The case against bigotry is not a factual claim that humans are biologically indistinguishable. It is a moral stance that condemns judging an individual according to the average traits of certain groups to which the individual belongs. Enlightened societies choose to ignore race, sex, and ethnicity in hiring, promotion, salary, school admissions, and the criminal justice system because the alternative is morally repugnant. — Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (2002)
It is on a blank page that the most beautiful poems are written. — Mao Zedong, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
Only the newborn baby is spotless. — Khmer Rouge slogan, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
There is nothing that can be changed more completely than human nature when the job is taken in hand early enough. — George Bernard Shaw, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
We are forced to conclude that human nature is almost unbelievably malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions. — Margaret Mead, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
We, the lineal representatives of the successful enactors of one scene of slaughter after another, must, whatever more pacific virtues we may also possess, still carry about with us, ready at any moment to burst into flame, the smoldering and sinister traits of character by means of which they lived through so many massacres, harming others, but themselves unharmed.” — William James, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
It is just not true that humans are born equal;… if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position;… [thus] the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are, therefore, not only different but in conflict with each other. — Friedrich Hayek, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
To rest the case for equal treatment of national or racial minorities on the assertion that they do not differ from other men is implicitly to admit that factual inequality would justify unequal treatment. – Friedrich Hayek
An ideology based on such obviously wrong premises can only lead to disaster. Its championship of human equality is based on a claim of identity. As soon as it is proved that the latter does not exist, the support of equality is likewise lost. — Ernst Mayr, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evil-doers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
To try to do something which is inherently impossible is always a corrupting enterprise. — Michael Oakshott, Quoted by Steven pinker in The Blank Slate (2002)
It is time for the left to take seriously the fact that we are evolved animals, and that we bear the evidence of our inheritance, not only in our anatomy and our DNA, but in our behaviour too. — Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left (1999)
Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love. The first was when it realized that our earth was not the centre of the universe, but only a tiny speck in a world-system of a magnitude hardly conceivable; this is associated in our minds with the name of Copernicus, although Alexandrian doctrines taught something very similar. The second was when biological research robbed man of his peculiar privilege of having been specially created, and relegated him to a descent from the animal world, implying an ineradicable animal nature in him: this transvaluation has been accomplished in our own time upon the instigation of Charles Darwin, Wallace, and their predecessors, and not without the most violent opposition from their contemporaries. But man’s craving for grandiosity is now suffering the third and most bitter blow from present-day psychological research which is endeavoring to prove to the ‘ego’ of each one of us that he is not even master in his own house, but that he must remain content with the veriest scraps of information about what is going on unconsciously in his own mind. We psychoanalysts were neither the first nor the only ones to propose to mankind that they should look inward; but it appears to be our lot to advocate it most insistently and to support it by empirical evidence which touches every man closely. — Sigmund Freud, An Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1916-17)
The notion that any race has the right to dominate others or is superior in any absolute sense can be firmly rejected as a matter of principle and, being rooted in principle, is unassailable by science. — Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance (2014)
The denial of genetically based psychological differences is the kind of sophisticated error normally accessible only to persons having Ph.D. degrees. — David Lykken
Darwinism is the science of biological evolution; Marxism of social evolution. — Slogan schoolchildren were made to recite in the Soviet Union.
Order, liberty and individual differences; any two can be had, but they must be paid for by the third. — F.L. Wells, ‘Intelligence and socialization’, American Journal of Psychiatry (1937)
We should be able to face the fact that a major portion of individual differences variance in IQ has a biological basis. – Arthur Jensen, ‘How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?’ (1967), Harvard Educational Review
Greater wealth, health, freedom, fairness, and educational opportunity are not going to give us the egalitarian society of our philosophical heritage. It will instead give us a society sharply graduated, with ever greater innate separation between the two and the bottom, and ever more uniformity within families as far as inherited abilities are concerned. — Richard Hernstein, IQ in the Meritocracy (1971)
They saw in sociobiology simply the latest attempt by science to reduce human beings to mere biological entities. In so doing, they argued, sociobiology must necessarily rob humankind of its soul. That was bad enough, of course. But, historically, scientific explanations of human nature always tended to favour conservative political ideologies. Such explanations always tended to be on the wrong side of debates about whether women should be granted the same rights as men, or about the workability of socialist economic systems, or even about the possibility of a lasting peace among nations. In short, history offered Wilson’s political critics amble reasons to think his new synthesis should be seen as simply the same old story. — Eric M Gander commenting on the hostile reaction to EO Wilson’s Sociobiology in On Our Minds: How Evolutionary Psychology is Reshaping the Nature Versus Nurture Debate, quoted by Ullica Segerstrale in Defenders of the Truth (2000)
Sociobiology is a reductionist, biological determinist explanation of human existence. Its adherents claim, first, that the details of present and past social arrangements are the inevitable manifestations of the specific action of genes. Second, they argue that particular genes that lie at the basis of human society have been selected in evolution because the traits they determine result in higher reproductive fitness of the individuals that carry them. The academic and popular appeal of sociobiology flows directly from its simple reductionist programme and its claim that human society as we know it is both inevitable and the result of adaptive process. — Lewontin, Rose and Kamin, Not in Our Genes (1984)
I predict that future generations will be genetically conservative. Other than the repair of disabling defects, they will resist hereditary change. They will do so in order to save the emotions and epigenetic rules of mental development, because these elements compose the physical soul of the species… Why should a species give up the defining core of its existence, built by millions of years of biological trial and error? — EO Wilson, Consilience (1998)
The causes of faction are sewn in the nature of man. – James Madison
“[A] new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. – Max Planck.
The moment has come to stress that there is a dangerous trap in sociobiology, one which can be avoided only by constant vigilance. The trap is the naturalistic fallacy of ethics, which uncritically concludes that what is, should be. The ‘what is’ in human nature is to a large extent the heritage of a Pleistocene hunter-gatherer existence. When any genetic bias is demonstrated, it cannot be used to justify a continuing practice in present and future societies. Since most of us live in a radically new environment of our own making, the pursuit of such a practice would be bad biology; and like all bad biology, it would invite disaster. – E.O. Wilson, New York Times Magazine, 13th October 1975
Jason Gulbin, the physiologist who worked on Australia’s Olympic skeleton experiment, says that the word ‘genetics’ has become so taboo in his talent-identification field that “we actively changed our language here around genetic work that we’re doing from ‘genetics’ to ‘molecular biology and protein synthesis.’ It was, literally, ‘Don’t mention the g-word.’ Any research proposals we put in, we don’t mention the genetics if we can help it. It’s: ‘Oh, well, if you’re doing molecular biology and protein synthesis, well, that’s all right.’ Never mind that it’s the same thing.” Quoted by David Epstein in The Sports Gene: Talent, Practice and the Truth About Success (Random House: New York, 2013), p.54
Socialism really works under some circumstances. Karl Marx just had the wrong species. – E.O. Wilson.
In his review of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1860, Thomas Huxley declared, “every philosophical thinker hails it as a veritable Whitworth gun in the armory of liberalism”.
We cannot expect to draw any straightforward positive political lessons from evolutionary psychology. It can tell us something about the kind of society that will tend not to work, and why. But it cannot tell us which of the feasible forms of society we ought to aspire to. We cannot, it turns out, infer the naturalness of capitalism from the manifest failure of communism to accommodate human nature. Nor should we be tempted to infer that natural is better. Foraging half-naked for nuts and berries is natural, while the New York Stock Exchange and open-heart surgery would boggle our ancestors’ minds. – Will Wilkinson, ‘Capitalism and Human Nature’, Cato Institute
To the left are groups that feel fully justified in trying to stop researchers from investigating racial differences in IQ, school achievement, crime rates, and parenting practices; gender differences in personality traits and leadership ability; the personality and cognitive similarities of adopted children to their biological parents rather than their adoptive parents; and in general any research exploring the hereditary components of personality, behaviour, and cognitive developments. – Morton Hunt, The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature (Transaction: New Brunswick, 1999), p.19
Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure. – Reinhold Niebuhr
The facts of life are conservative. – Margaret Thatcher
In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule. – Friedrich Nietzsche
The attack on Jensen is one more sign, among many others that make some of us more and more uneasy, that on some issues we must as a group speak with one voice, no dissent or ambiguity permitted. It is increasingly heretical to dissent in any way not only from the proposition that all human groups are the same in every important respect, that our society is sick, that middle-class values are injurious not only to the society as a whole but to members of the middle class, and a growing list of other similarly dubious or badly supported propositions. . . . It is not merely that we must all be ‘relevant’, but we must be correctlyrelevant, on the right side of relevant issues. Jensen has committed the new sin of being, not irrelevant, but counter-relevant. He is academically with the significant in-thing, all right, but he is saying unforgivable things about it. It is my guess that the attacks by younger faculty on the scholarly associations, which have been so far mainly concerned with forcing them to take positions on ‘relevant’ issues, will soon shift to an insistence that the ‘correct’ positions be taken on those issues. I have a sad feeling that Jensen is a premature martyr in the long struggle to come within the universities. – Anonymous philosophy professor, quoted by Arther Jensen in the Preface to Genetics and Education (Harper and Row: New York, 1972), p.20
Once identified as right-wing you are beyond the pale of argument; your views are irrelevant, your character discredited, your presence in the world a mistake. You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned. This has been my experience. – Roger Scruton.
The good school … does not diminish individual differences; it increases them. It raises the mean and increases the variance. – Elliot Eisner
Educational pluralism of some sort, encompassing a variety of very different educational curricula and goals, will I think, be the inevitable outcome of the growing realization that the schools are not going to eliminate human differences. – Arther Jensen, Genetics and Education (Harper and Row: New York, 1972), p.65
When the profession selectively impedes ideas that fail some non-scientific standard, such as alleged social harm, it breaks the covenant between society and academe that accords scholars freedom of inquiry. – Linda Gottfriedson
When students from China study in Western countries one of the lessons they learn is that the enforcement of intellectual orthodoxy does not require an authoritarian government. In institutions that proclaim their commitment to critical inquiry, censorship is most effective when it is self-imposed. A defining feature of tyranny, the policing of opinion is now established practice in societies that believe themselves to be freer than they have ever been. — John Gray, ‘The problem of hyper-liberalism‘, Times Literary Supplement, 27th March 2018
[T]he peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. — J.S. Mill, On Liberty (1859)
It is better to be a human being dissatisfied then a pig satisfied. — J.S. Mill, Utilitarianism (1861)
Since it got its start as a radical form of literary criticism, postmodernism is a philosophy of competing “narratives” that sees dominant ones violently suppressing weaker “others” as part of an endless zero-sum competition that leaves no room for meaningful political compromise. The struggle ends up being not between ideas, but between groups that have to varying degrees been repressed, each with its own set of contingent “truths.” – Damir Marusic, ‘Charlottesville and our crisis of political legitimacy’, The American Interest, 17th August 2017
Ideology is sort of violent and tyrannical in its nature — and tends to have the answer to everything. It’s laughable to look at some Marxist writers now: proved wrong in every particular, but still can’t escape the category. – Martin Amis, ‘The Age of Acceleration: An interview with Martin Amis‘ by Scott Timberg, LA Review of Books, June 21st 2018
At the federal level I am a Libertarian. At the state level, I am a Republican. At the town level, I am a Democrat. In my family I am a Socialist. And with my dog I am a Marxist — from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. – Vincent Graham, quoted by Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game
It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this ind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic. – Thomas Sowell
A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. – Thomas Sowell
What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western Culture. – Thomas Sowell
If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labelled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today. – Thomas Sowell
Slavery has existed all over the planet for thousands of years, with black, white, yellow and other races being both slaves and enslavers. Does that mean that everybody ought to apologize to everybody else for what their ancestors did? – Thomas Sowell
James Damore’s application of some quite (scientifically) uncontroversial psychological findings to the distribution of men and women in the tech industry was as incendiary as it was precisely because it fit well with and threatened to give renewed life to slowly dying ideas of female inadequacy that kept women out of intellectual fields for centuries (regardless of whether he intended to or whether what he actually said implied it). If you wanted to you could frame it as “triggering a collective-memory PTSD episode” in some women. – James Nerst, ‘Decoupling Revisited‘
In my life I have encountered many, many people who claim to be rational (while others are emotional) or objective (while others are tribal). They are, without exception, white males. I suppose it’s *possible* that only white males transcend tribalism, but maybe, just maybe there’s something about being raised in a position of privilege that serves to obscure the positionality & contingency of one’s perspective & allows one the illusion of being a purely free thinker. Subaltern populations are never given the luxury of forgetting their position. – David Roberts, Vox writer, on Twitter
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. – JS Mill, On Liberty
Here is a story I heard from a friend, which I will alter slightly to protect the innocent. A prestigious psychology professor signed an open letter in which psychologists condemned belief in innate sex differences. My friend knew that this professor believed such differences existed, and asked him why he signed the letter. He said that he expected everyone else in his department would sign it, so it would look really bad if he didn’t. My friend asked why he expected everyone else in his department to sign it, and he said “Probably for the same reason I did”. – Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex
Someone who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. — John Stuart Mill
We do not accept biology as destiny … We vaccinate, we inoculate, we medicate … I propose we adopt the same attitude towards biological sex differences. — Virginia Valian, psychologist at Hunter College in her book Why So slow? The Advancement of Women, quoted by Christina Hoff Sommers, ‘You Can Give a Boy a Doll, but You Can’t Make Him Play With It‘, The Atlantic, 6th December 2012
When public morality becomes a ghost town, it’s a place into which anyone can ride and declare himself sheriff. — Saul Bellow, introduction to The Closing of the American Mind
An Anti-Trump mania and a reactionary fervor now gripped liberals and leftists of nearly all stripes. Previously unaffiliated and warring left and liberal factions consolidated and circled the wagons. Anyone who failed to signal complete fidelity to “the resistance” risked being savaged. — Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes: ‘Social Justice’ and Its Postmodern Parentage
When Kesha Rose Sebert tried to end her recording contract with the producer she claimed had drugged and raped her a decade earlier, Swift was called out and condemned for failing to tweet in support. Withholding such tweets was deemed unforgivable, despite or even because Swift donated $ 250,000 to the artist and her family instead. Recording artist Demi Lovato aimed a blistering subtweet at Swift: “Take something to Capitol Hill [to the Women’s March] or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed.” As if impressing Lovato and others like her is the objective, and as if marching in a pussy hat or “speaking out” (virtue signaling) tops philanthropy. — Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes: ‘Social Justice’ and Its Postmodern Parentage
Callout refers to the ritualized, direct denunciations of politically evil individuals and groups. It sometimes calls for their loss of employment in addition to their loss of social standing. In “Blame the Left for the Rise of Moralizing in America,” Federalist commentator John Daniel Davidson gives examples of social justice virtue signaling and call out –The New Yorker’s histrionics over Chick-fil-A’s “infiltration” of New York City, gun-control activist David Hogg’s calls for boycotts of Fox News host Laura Ingraham, and the protestor with a megaphone shouting in Starbucks at a clerk’s face over the case of supposed racial discrimination at a Philadelphia location. In these and myriad other incidents, social justice activism amounts to mere accusations and denunciations but includes little or no action and certainly involves no good works. Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes: ‘Social justice’ and its post-modern parentage
The social and linguistic constructivist claims of social justice ideologues amount to a form of philosophical and social idealism that is enforced with a moral absolutism. Once beliefs are unconstrained by the object world and people can believe anything they like with impunity, a pretense of infallibility becomes almost irresistible, especially when the requisite power is available to support such idealism. In fact, given its willy-nilly determination of truth and reality on the basis of beliefs alone, philosophical and social idealism necessarily becomes dogmatic, authoritarian, anti-rational, and effectively religious. Since it sanctions no push-back from the object world, which it regards with indifference or disdain, it necessarily encounters push-back from the object world and must double-down. Because it usually contains so much nonsense, the social and philosophical idealism of the social justice creed must be established by force, or the threat of force. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes: ‘Social justice’ and its post-modern parentage
[W]henever the man of science introduces his personal value judgement, a full under-standing of the facts ceases. –– Max Weber, Science as a Vocation
He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Amid this crisis, virtue signaling went from a kind of youthful fashion statement to the default mode of public and private expression. Twitter headlines wrapped themselves in the banner of social justice even if there was hardly a social justice angle at all. New crops of young journalists, many consigned to online opinion writing, knew all too well that career advancement depended on clicks, which in turn depended on fealty to the woke narrative. From NPR to CNN to dinner parties in gentrified Brooklyn, you’d think the only allowable conversations were the ones in which facts were massaged to accommodate visceral feelings of leftist outrage. Sipping my rosé in the parlors of Cobble Hill brownstones, I’d hold my tongue as the permissible opinions ricocheted like bullets off the 11-foot ceilings. Of course evolutionary psychology is bullshit. Of course the conservative columnists in the New York Times are nothing but privileged, retrograde troglodytes who bring nothing to the table whatsoever. David Brooks should fucking retire already! Amazing cheese, by the way. Zimbro? — Meghan Daum, ‘Nuance: A love story: My affair with the Intellectual Dark Web‘, Medium, 24th August 2018
[After Trump’s election], virtue signaling went from a kind of youthful fashion statement to the default mode of public and private expression. — Meghan Daum, ‘Nuance: A love story: My affair with the Intellectual Dark Web‘, Medium, 24th August 2018
I’d say this happened every time I went out, but the truth is it happened about half the time. The other half of the time, if they’d had enough to drink, people confessed the truth: They were getting sick of the term “gaslighting.” They thought the pussy hats at the Women’s March were a little silly. They didn’t love Ta-Nahisi Coates’ book as much as they knew they should. Not that any of this stopped them from indicating the exact opposite on social media. There was simply too much at stake to do otherwise, they said. Apparently any admission of complexity was a threat to the cause. Nuance was a luxury we could no longer afford. — Meghan Daum, ‘Nuance: A love story: My affair with the Intellectual Dark Web‘, Medium, 24th August 2018
White people- including me, including you- must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS … we must ask our (white)selves- how ‘decent’ are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action? — Anne Hathaway
There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation. Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated. — Matt Damon
I don’t buy into the notion that the ‘snowflake’ generation is all that sensitive, either. Antifa protestors in balaclavas can be quite violent for little specks that melt. ‘Snowflakes’ may have induced institutions to employ the language of fragility, but I think a lot of these kids are tough as old boots.
For verification, check out the YouTube video from last summer of a liberal biology professor at Evergreen State College in Washington being shouted down and physically hounded by a crowd of students crazed with virtue over a difference of opinion regarding the university’s race-related Day of Absence (‘Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Bret Weinstein has got to go!’). Behold, a pack of hyenas. Campus police told Weinstein they couldn’t guarantee his safety on campus. Obliged to hold his classes 30 miles away, at length the professor was successfully forced from the faculty.
Despite youth’s reputed belief in the importance of being earnest, the whole ID politics movement is emotionally disingenuous. When during that Evergreen foofaraw a rabid convocation of students cowed the college president into lowering his arms at the podium because they found his hand gestures ‘threatening’, those students didn’t feel jeopardised; they were dominating and emasculating a man supposedly in authority. The students cowering in ‘safe spaces’ don’t feel endangered; they’re claiming territory. In protecting the faux-helpless from noxious opinions via no-platforming, they’re exercising power. The experience of exercising power isn’t scary, except on the receiving end; it’s supremely gratifying. These people aren’t frightened. They want you to be frightened of them. And we’re not talking ‘microaggression’. PC police often prefer macroaggression, the kind that can get people sacked.
I’d never indict a whole generation for rampant emotional insincerity. But the shrillest millennial missionaries are generally middle- to upper-middle class, often themselves white, raised by parents who wanted to be their best friends, and if not outright spoiled, they are accustomed to getting their way. They’re competitive with their parents’ generation and each other. They want to take over the world (oh, didn’t we all?). The majority-white mob that sanctimoniously pulled down a Confederate memorial bronze called ‘Silent Sam’ on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a few days ago — whatever you think of the Civil War monuments controversy, criminal destruction of public property, and a test of how much the protesters could get away with — don’t seem to deserve that reputation for delicacy. — Lionel Shriver, The Spectator, 1st September 2018
In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box. All through the critical years many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. — George Orwell, England Your England
An Anti-Trump mania and a reactionary fervor now gripped liberals and leftists of nearly all stripes. Previously unaffiliated and warring left and liberal factions consolidated and circled the wagons. Anyone who failed to signal complete fidelity to “the resistance” risked being savaged. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
I felt as if I had been let in on a secret revealed only to a select few. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
Obviously, I had by now known and accepted the premise that English Studies was a battlefield of “textual politics,” and that the players made no bones about their agendas. Previously, critics in the field, like the old New Critics with their plodding close reading of texts, had pretended to be neutral, but their neutrality was merely a thin scrim for cultural domination. Dead white men had ruled the English canon long enough. But this was only the most flagrant of offenses. Other suspects were singled out for prosecution –including an exclusive focus on the text itself (New Criticism), assuming the centrality or superiority of European culture (Eurocentrism), implicitly endorsing heterosexuality as a norm (heteronormativity), believing that humanity is exceptional and that individual humans have unitary selves (humanism), believing in an essence of human nature and/ or in the essence of essential types of humans such as racial groups and women and men (essentialism), the belief that neutral knowledge is discoverable by scientific means (positivism), the belief that words might faithfully represent an external reality (logocentrism), and the privileging of the masculine in the construction of meaning (phallogocentrism) –among others. Every one of these notions or beliefs has been treated as a villain, a laughing stock, or both. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
An all-determining environment meant that the composition of society and its members depended on social conditions rather than inherent traits. Likewise, individuals and society could be changed by altering the social environment. The idea that the whole society could be changed by changing the social environment fit well with the socialist objective that sought to mold the world after a socialist image of a de facto equality. On the other hand, because inherent characteristics were central to Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution, the Soviets considered the pair to be scientific pillars of capitalist ideology. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
Callout refers to the ritualized, direct denunciations of politically evil individuals and groups. It sometimes calls for their loss of employment in addition to their loss of social standing. In “Blame the Left for the Rise of Moralizing in America,” Federalist commentator John Daniel Davidson gives examples of social justice virtue signaling and call out –The New Yorker’s histrionics over Chick-fil-A’s “infiltration” of New York City, gun-control activist David Hogg’s calls for boycotts of Fox News host Laura Ingraham, and the protestor with a megaphone shouting in Starbucks at a clerk’s face over the case of supposed racial discrimination at a Philadelphia location. In these and myriad other incidents, social justice activism amounts to mere accusations and denunciations but includes little or no action and certainly involves no good works. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
When Kesha Rose Sebert tried to end her recording contract with the producer she claimed had drugged and raped her a decade earlier, Swift was called out and condemned for failing to tweet in support. Withholding such tweets was deemed unforgivable, despite or even because Swift donated $ 250,000 to the artist and her family instead. Recording artist Demi Lovato aimed a blistering subtweet at Swift: “Take something to Capitol Hill [to the Women’s March] or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed.” As if impressing Lovato and others like her is the objective, and as if marching in a pussy hat or “speaking out” (virtue signaling) tops philanthropy. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
In a recent New York Times op-ed entitled, “How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power,” Thomas Chatterton Williams discusses what I am calling epistemological solipsism, which he calls “knowing-through-being” and “identity epistemology.” Williams laments identity epistemology or knowing-through-being because it limits knowledge to members of particular identity categories and it slides seamlessly into “identity ethics” or “morality-through-being.” Morality-through-being is believed to follow from knowing-through-being as the subordinated assumes the moral high ground on the basis of a superior knowledge standpoint deriving from subordinated status. Morality-through-being or identity-ethics results in a moral ranking in which the lowest on the totem pole is deemed a moral superior by virtue of her (previous) subordination. Through the kind of hierarchical inversion that Friedrich Nietzsche saw in Judaism, Christianity, and socialism, low status becomes high status. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
I found the idea of the social construction of gender gratifying and I must admit that I enjoyed gender constructionism, partly for its shock value. In the ‘90s, few people outside of the walls of the academy had heard of such a notion. Gretchen and my non-academic friends clung to what I then saw as hopelessly archaic, reductionist explanations of gender –or even sex difference. Their ideas derived from evolutionary psychology, unconscious forms of biological determinism, or simply, sexist stereotypes. Or so I thought at the time. I had arguments with my friend, Jeff Schwartz, who had imbibed evolutionary psychology and held that gender was “hardwired” biologically through the evolutionary selection of traits associated with “the two sexes.” The horror! The horror! In English Studies, Women’s Studies, and Gender Studies departments, the mere hint of such determinism would be sniffed out, with the possible consequence of career death for whoever might lend it voice. But my adoption of gender constructionism was not simply pragmatic or tactical. I had been firmly convinced of the social and linguistic construction of gender. I wasn’t merely play-acting. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
The social and linguistic constructivist claims of social justice ideologues amount to a form of philosophical and social idealism that is enforced with a moral absolutism. Once beliefs are unconstrained by the object world and people can believe anything they like with impunity, the possibility for assuming a pretense of infallibility becomes almost irresistible, especially when the requisite power is available to support such idealism. In fact, given its willy-nilly determination of truth and reality on the basis of beliefs alone, philosophical and social idealism necessarily becomes dogmatic, authoritarian, anti-rational, and effectively religious. Since it sanctions no push-back from the object world and regards it with indifference or disdain, it necessarily encounters push-back from the object world and must double-down. Because it usually contains so much nonsense, the social and philosophical idealism of the social justice creed must be established by force, or the threat of force. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
I didn’t leave the left. The left left me. Or, rather, the left righted me. By this, I don’t mean to suggest that they had turned me into a right-winger. They didn’t have that power. I mean that they opened my eyes and allowed me to see rightly. In trying to correct me, they did indeed correct me –but not as they’d hoped. They corrected my vision by forcibly dislodging the scales of their ideology from my eyes. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
Applying the Marxist class analysis, it is important to note that those who advocate socialism are generally not working-class per se. Most are disaffected intellectuals drawn from the petty bourgeoisie. In other words, their political allegiance is rooted in envy and resentment for those who have more power and resources, rather than in the purity of idealism or good will toward the working masses.
But more damning, drawing on the political ideals of socialism itself, the totalitarianism of “actually-existing socialism” can be contrasted with the Marxist claim that socialism represents the only path to “universal human emancipation.” Rather than leading to a stateless society of mutual cooperation among free producers, each of whom, as Marx claimed, could “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner,” socialism has led to the same result every time it’s been tried: cultural, economic, political, and social monopoly under a singular state system controlling all areas of life. Rather than allowing a choice of multiple employments, the socialist state becomes the sole employer and determines the worker’s exclusive sphere of activity. Rather than withering away as Marx suggested, state power is expanded to enforce cultural, economic, and social monopoly. Rather than politics disappearing as alleged, an official socialist-communist party monopolizes state power so that the system is unchallenged in other spheres. Instead of disappearing, the state remains necessary for enforcing socialist monopolies and it uses all the means necessary to do so, including terror. Terror is not optional, but rather, as even Marx himself admitted, inevitable. And, far from being limited to Stalin’s reign, the terror began under Lenin soon after the revolution and continued with every subsequent communist leader, including Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Castro. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
The phrase “social justice” recalls movements of the recent past that used the same political terminology. The civil rights movement comes to mind. But it would be a mistake to equate the contemporary social justice movement with this or other forerunners. Contemporary social justice embodies postmodern theoretical notions as well as the latter’s adoption of Maoist and Stalinist disciplinary methods. And today’s social justice creed is marked by preoccupations with new identities and their politics. It entails a broad palette of beliefs and practices, represented by new concerns and shibboleths, including “privilege,” “white privilege,” “privilege-checking,” “self-criticism” or “autocritique,” “cultural appropriation,” “intersectionality,” “discursive violence,” “rape culture,” “microaggressions,” “mansplaining,” and many others. The terms proliferate almost as rapidly as the gender identities. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
“Cultural appropriation” is the social justice version of the trespassing condemned in the Ten Commandments. The term refers to the adoption of elements of a subordinate culture by members of another, usually dominant culture. Accusations of cultural appropriation are legion. Several recent cases involve chefs and restaurant owners accused of wrongfully appropriating cuisine and restaurant themes. A notable instance involved the white Pittsburgh restauranteur, Adam Kucenic. Kucenic announced plans to open a “90s hip-hop themed fried chicken” restaurant –“The Coop” –in the predominantly black and gentrifying neighborhood of East Liberty. After the inevitable backlash, the entrepreneur turned to “The Good People’s Group,” a company that specializes in social justice self-awareness for white business owners. “The Good People” apparently kick up social justice dust for such new business prospects –until they turn to “The Good People” for social justice consciousness-raising or “wokeness.” Social justice is thus a new industry and a new business model. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
Therefore, social justice ideology does not foster egalitarianism. Rank is maintained, only the bottom becomes the top when the totem pole of identity is inevitably flipped upside-down and stood on its head. (Rank is established on the basis of intersectionality, a grid for determining the number of ways that a subject is subordinated based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and so forth.) Is it any wonder then that social justice warriors compete valiantly for the status of “most subordinated” in the games derogatorily referred to as “the Oppression Olympics?” The race to the bottom is really a race to the top –although the race runs downhill. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
According to postmodern theory, the very idea of “objective truth” is a master narrative. Under social justice ideology, objective truth is a legacy of patriarchal white supremacy. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
The French postmodern anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour has been a major player in the field of Science Studies for almost forty years. In a co-written book, Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts (1979), his first major contribution to the field, Latour teamed with Steve Woolgar for an in-situ study of laboratory science. Laboratory Life is an anthropological examination of a scientific laboratory as a strange but not altogether exotic culture. The assumed strangeness effect allowed Latour and Woolgar to see science’s final product in terms of what they called “literary inscription” or writing. Despite Latour’s subsequent break with the implications of “the social construction of scientific facts” arrived at in Laboratory Life, the first book is constructivist through and through. The anthropologists aimed to show that “the construction of scientific facts, in particular, is a process of generating texts whose fate (status, value, utility, facticity) depends on their subsequent interpretation.” Latour and Woolgar thus reduced the objects of science to “text,” just as Derrida had done with ontologies (ideas and concrete entities) in philosophy. (See Chapter 5.) Of course, a fallacy was at work. Latour and Woolgar’s sleight of hand demonstrated that scientific facts exist only within texts –“there is no outside of text.” But as with all magic tricks, the deception had taken place earlier, before we were looking. Latour and Woolgar stealthily conflated the knowledge of scientific facts –established in the process of science and expressed in language –and the reality referred to by that knowledge. Confusing knowledge and the objects of knowledge, our postmodern magicians seemed to make the material world itself disappear into the text. The error (or more likely the intentional prestidigitation) is known as the fallacy of reification –or treating an abstraction (like the knowledge of a fact) as equivalent to a concrete object or thing (like the object to which the knowledge refers). – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
In the October 2, 1995 issue of The Nation, NYU Critical Theory professor Andrew Ross reported on the science advocacy conference sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences called “The Flight from Science and Reason.” Ross dismissed the conference speakers’ attacks on Science Studies. He demeaned the science boosters by calling them “Science Warriors,” mere carnival barkers of science conservativism. According to Ross, the Science Warriors mischaracterized Science Studies as “anti-Enlightenment irrationalism” and caricatured Science Studies scholars as “boffo nihilists who deny outright the existence of natural phenomena like recessive genes or subatomic particles or even the law of gravity.” Ross’s remark about Science Studies scholars denying the law of gravity inadvertently portended one of the most remarkable cases of eating crow in modern academic history: the Sokal Hoax.
When NYU physicist Alan Sokal submitted a parody to Social Text, a respected Critical Theory and Cultural Studies periodical, the editors, including Ross and City University of New York (CUNY) professor Stanley Aronowitz, ran the piece in a special “Science Wars” spring/ summer issue in 1996. Sokal’s “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” was the final article in the issue. It followed chapters from a star-studded cast of Science Studies scholars. Sokal demonstrated as possible exactly what Ross had dismissed as preposterous –that Science Studies might go so far as to deny the reality of gravity. Sokal managed to put the hoax past Ross himself, who had so recently denied the prospect as outrageous.
“Transgressing the Boundaries” suggested that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct and that one could understand quantum mechanics with postmodern theory. Sokal satirically criticized his fellow scientists, because they accepted “the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole.” In quantum gravity, “the space-time manifold ceases to exist as an objective physical reality” and “existence itself become[ s] problematized and relativized” (my emphasis). Littered with jargon and excessive citations of postmodern theorists and signaling radical relativism and extreme skepticism with every turn of phrase, Sokal’s essay mimicked Science Studies so successfully that even given the knowledge of the hoax, I wasn’t sure just where it merely strained credulity as opposed to being patently ridiculous. Sokal had seamlessly blended the patently ridiculous with the semi-plausible. The preposterous, satirical claims in Sokal’s parody bear an unmistakable likeness to social justice statements, especially in transgender theory. The non-existence, disappearance, or insignificance of physical reality or the external world in Sokal’s piece anticipates the transgender belief that the facts of biology have nothing to do with the “reality” of gender identity.
In a subsequent issue of Lingua Franca devoted to the Science Wars, Sokal triumphantly spilled the beans. He announced that he had duped the editors of Social Text and therefore the entire field of Science Studies. In response, Ross and Columbia University professor of literature Bruce Robbins insisted that Sokal’s deception was a serious breach of ethics (as if postmodern Science Studies itself wasn’t already an ethical breach). In an attempt to save face, Ross and Robbins suggested that the editorial board had not been utterly bamboozled. They knew the article represented a bad case of mimicry. “From the first, we considered Sokal’s unsolicited article to be a little hokey,” they wrote. Yet the title of the article crystalized the significance of the hoax. Postmodern Science Studies had transgressed the boundaries of evidence and rationality and Sokal transgressed the otherwise secure boundaries of Science Studies’ hallowed nonsense. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
From a contemporary Science Studies perspective, Positivism naively placed scientific rationality and empirical observation beyond the reach of society and culture. It thus represented an insularity that was no longer acceptable. The trend was to consider all knowledge claims, including those of science, as driven by social and political interests. Since the knowledge claims of Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, and postmodern theory were admittedly political, these academic leftists apparently found it impossible to believe that that the same was not true of every discipline. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
With the working class as a lever, Marxism proposes to overcome its nemesis –the capitalist class, which maintains the class system, including a class-based system of production and resource allocation. Social justice, on the other hand, aims at little more than debunking particular identity groups from atop a putative social hierarchy, knocking them from their supposed positions of totemic privilege, and replacing them with members of supposedly subordinated groups. – Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes
In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Fiction writers are particularly suspect because they write about human beings, and people are morally ambiguous. The aim of ideology is to eliminate ambiguity. –– Margaret Atwood, ‘Am I a Bad Feminist?‘ The Globe and Mail, 13th January 2018
Let us hope that is it not true but, if it is, let us pay that it does not become generally known. — Mid-19th Century aristocrat on hearing about Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Although our modern socialists’ promise of greater freedom is genuine and sincere, in recent years observer after observer has been impressed by the unforeseen consequences of socialism, the extraordinary similarity in many respects of the conditions under “communism” and “fascism”. — Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. — George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism
Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people ‘feel’ have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick. — Thomas Sowell
We should not imitate the Roman Catholic Church, which until roughly 1900 looked dimly on vernacular translations of the Latin Bible and discouraged Bible reading by the laity for fear the laity would misunderstand what they were reading and be led into heresy. — Eric Rasmusen, ‘The Ted Hill Male Variability Paper that the Math Journals Suppressed‘
A lie is much less awkward than a truth that hurts your side, because you can’t refute it. Thus, we may here have an application of Lenin’s principle of “Kto, Kovo?”, “Who will beat whom?”, but is often applied to the identity-politics idea of looking to see who is on which side of an issue to decide which side you’re going to say is right. — Eric Rasmusen, ‘The Ted Hill Male Variability Paper that the Math Journals Suppressed’
What we have here is an example of the Left’s desire to suppress the theory of evolution. The Left’s? Yes. To be sure, there are creationists on the Right, but very few in academia, and absolutely none who call for journals not to publish evolutionary theory papers.  The Left, on the other hand, has a long history of opposition to evolution. Recall its attempt to kill sociobiology. That is really what the Hill affair is about. Does human nature exist? Believers in God think so, and so do atheistic believers in natural law such as philosopher Allen Bloom, but evolutionary biologists believe in human nature too. Feminists are wary of human nature. They tend to believe in social construction of “human nature”, including, especially, differences between the sexes. Evolution threatens that, and they take it personally. As Nietzsche said, “Science offends the modesty of all real women. It makes them feel as if one wanted to peep under their skin– yet worse, under their dress and finery.” Beyond Good and Evil 127. Nietzsche wasn’t referring just to women; he was referring to Victorians, whose “affect” is making a comeback in the 21st century. Three aphorisms down from this witticism, Nietzsche says, “What someone is begins to betray itself when his talent decreases– when he stops showing what he can do. Talent too, is finery; finery, too, is a hiding place.” Repetition of the word “finery” (Putz) is meaningful. — Eric Rasmusen, ‘The Ted Hill Male Variability Paper that the Math Journals Suppressed’
“Kto-Kovo” has an another, distinct, application: to the idea that when there is disagreement, you support your friends and oppose your enemies, or, more mildly, you support the good guys and oppose the bad guys. Loyalty to friends is indeed a virtue— but so is justice, and truthfulness. They often come into conflict. When your friend is in the wrong, you cannot stick to the principle of loyalty without rejecting the principles of justice and truth. For Neo-Marxists this is not a problem; they don’t believe in justice or truth anyway. Having to choose makes life hard for the rest of us, though. — Eric Rasmusen, ‘The Ted Hill Male Variability Paper that the Math Journals Suppressed’
In thinking about motivations, it’s also important to realize that timidity is the dominant principle for most people in academia, a much stronger force than Neo-Marxism and sometimes even stronger than inertia. We professors are not very brave, and administrators are even worse. The threat of being criticized by strong-minded people is enough to move us to self censorship and passive complicity. As Edmund Burke said, “The only things necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Suppressing one paper is not the triumph of evil, but Burke’s point holds for the small as well as the large. — Eric Rasmusen, ‘The Ted Hill Male Variability Paper that the Math Journals Suppressed
I conceive that there are two kinds of inequality among the human species; one which I call natural or physical, because it is established by nature, and consists in a difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind or of the soul; and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convençal inequality, and is established or at least authorized by the consent of men. This latter consists of the different privileges, which some men enjoy to the prejudice of others; such as that of being more rich, more honoured, more powerful, or even in a position to exact obedience. — Jean-Jacques Rouseau, Dissertation on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind
Conley, Dalton. The Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History, and the Future (pp. 186-187). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
Malvina Reynolds Sings the Truth, Columbia Records
Jonathan Haidt’s précis of Thomas Sowell’s distinction between the constrained and unconstrained vision:
Human nature is malleable and can be perfected if social conditions are improved. Anything is possible, if the artificial constraints on human beings can be removed.
In order to behave well, cooperate, and thrive, human beings need external structures or constraints, e.g., laws, institutions, customs, traditions, nations and religions.
Positive policies meant to give everyone a leg up can also generate inequalities based on genotype…As some dimensions of stratification are reduced, others increase. — Dalton Conley and Jason Fletcher, The Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History & the Future
It’s the dawn of a new religion… — Jonathan Haidt.
Chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. — George Orwell
That is to say, as is ever clearer and ever more important to note, race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class. — ‘From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much‘, Albert Reed Jr.
The transrace/transgender comparison makes clear the conceptual emptiness of the essentializing discourses, and the opportunist politics, that undergird identitarian ideologies. There is no coherent, principled defense of the stance that transgender identity is legitimate but transracial is not, at least not one that would satisfy basic rules of argument. The debate also throws into relief the reality that a notion of social justice that hinges on claims to entitlement based on extra-societal, ascriptive identities is neoliberalism’s critical self-consciousness. In insisting on the political priority of such fictive, naturalized populations identitarianism meshes well with neoliberal naturalization of the structures that reproduce inequality. In that sense it’s not just a pointed coincidence that Dolezal’s critics were appalled with the NAACP for standing behind her work. It may be that one of Rachel Dolezal’s most important contributions to the struggle for social justice may turn out to be having catalyzed, not intentionally to be sure, a discussion that may help us move beyond the identitarian dead end. — ‘From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much‘, Albert Reed Jr.
…looking back and up, from our vantage point on the descending road of modern history, we now see that all the evils of religion can flourish without any belief in the supernatural, that convinced materialists are ready to worship their own jerrybuilt creations as though they were the Absolute, and that self-styled humanists will persecute their adversaries with all the zeal of Inquisitors…Such behavior-patterns antedate and outlive the beliefs which, at any given moment, seem to motivate them…In order to justify their behavior, they turn their theories into dogmas, their bylaws into First Principles, their political bosses into Gods and all those who disagree with them into incarnate devils…And when the current beliefs come, in their turn, to look silly, a new set will be invented, so that the immemorial madness may continue to wear its customary mask of legality, idealism, and true religion. — Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun
[T]here is only one means by which the murderous death agonies of the old society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated and that is by revolutionary terror… — Karl Marx, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 1848
The fate of Marxism is, just as unignorably, a tragic one. Untold suffering has been inflicted in its name, all over the world, for three-quarters of a century. Such benefits as it did bring could have been obtained by more modest and peaceable means. Wheen, like McLellan, argues that “Marx would have been appalled by the crimes committed in his name”. Yet the inherent defects of the ideology – its brutal simplification of reality, its intolerance of deviation, its vindictive cruelty – these, we now can see, cannot be dumped on Stalin, or even on Lenin. They were there from the start, and they came straight from Karl Marx. He applauded every revolutionary terror from 1792 to 1870. Throughout the long peace of the nineteenth century, he looked forward eagerly to a European war, or better still a world war. He persistently sneered at individual human rights as “bourgeois”, “egoistic” and “anti-social”. Above all, the fundamental residue of Hegel in his thought entrenched the insistence that history could have only one outcome. The last class antagonism would be dissolved by the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thereafter, any resistance to true socialism could legitimately be suppressed as “counter-revolutionary”.
Many of his sparring partners understood this from the start and foretold how it would all end. Bakunin said, in 1868 at the second Congress of the League for Peace and Freedom, “I hate communism because it is the negation of liberty . . . . I am not a communist because communism concentrates and causes all the powers in society to be absorbed in the state”. As early as 1844, Arnold Ruge, later to be abused as Ferret Face, wrote to Feuerbach of his then friend Karl’s communism and of Fourier’s socialism that “these two tendencies end up with a police state and slavery”. — Ferdinand Mount, Leaving His Marks, Times Literary Supplement, 21st September 2016
Ideas may be accepted not because they are true but because the politically dominant group wants them to be true in order to promote its preferred narrative and preferred set of remedies. 43 At that point, backed by the passion and certainty of activists, flawed academic theories may get carried out of the academy and be applied in high schools, corporations, and other organizations. Unfortunately, when reformers try to intervene in complex institutions using theories that are based on a flawed or incomplete understanding of the causal forces at work, their reform efforts are unlikely to do any good—and might even make things worse. — Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind
A recent analysis found that at thirty-eight top schools, including most of the Ivy League, there are more undergraduate students from families in the top 1% of the income distribution than from the bottom 60%. — Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind
A specter is haunting the Internet—the specter of the “alt-right.” The forces of white supremacy and toxic masculinity, fueled by a sense of entitlement dwarfed only by their inflated estimation of their own intelligence, have entered into an unholy alliance to remove feminism, political correctness, and multiculturalism from America. — Donna Zuckerburg, Eidolon, 21st November 2016
Sometimes when I listen to these people talking, and still more when I read their books, I get the impression that, to them, the whole Socialist movement is no more than a kind of exciting heresy-hunt — a leaping to and fro of frenzied witch-doctors to the beat of tom-toms and the tune of “Fee fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of a right-wing deviationist!” — George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
Once identified as right-wing you are beyond the pale of argument; your views are irrelevant, your character discredited, your presence in the world a mistake. You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned. This has been my experience. — Roger Scruton
The sacred includes the mores, the non-rational, the religious and ritualistic ways of behavior that are valued beyond whatever utility they possess. — Richard Nisbett
Shared emotions and practices related to sacred things bind people together into cults, churches, and communities. Sacredness does not require a God. Flags, national holidays, and other markers of collective solidarity are sacred in the same way— and serve the same group- binding function—as crosses and holy days. — Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt, ‘Sacred Values and Evil Adversaries: A Moral Foundation Approach‘.
Sacredness refers to the human tendency to invest people, places, times, and ideas with importance far beyond the utility they possess. Tradeoffs or compromises involving what is sacralized are resisted or refused. In prototypical cases these investments tie individuals to larger groups with shared identities and ennobling projects, and so tradeoffs or compromises are felt to be acts of betrayal, even in non-prototypical cases in which no group is implicated. — Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt, ‘Sacred Values and Evil Adversaries: A Moral Foundation Approach’.
Asking people to give up all forms of sacralised belonging and live in a world of purely “rational” beliefs might be like asking people to give up the Earth and live in colonies orbiting the moon. It can be done, but it would take a great deal of careful engineering, and even after ten generations, the descendants of those colonists might find themselves with inchoate longings for gravity and greenery. — Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Muller next distinguished conservatism from the counter-Enlightenment. It is true that most resistance to he Enlightenment can be said to have been conservative, by definition (i.e., clerics and aristocrats were trying to conserve the old order). But modern conservatism, Muller asserts, finds its origins within the main currents of Enlightenment thinking, when men such as David Hume and Edmund Burke tried to develop a reasoned, pragmatic, and essentially utilitarian critique of the Enlightenment project. – Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, discussing Conservatism, edited by Jerry Muller
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principles (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. — Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Diversity seems to trigger not in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation. In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to “hunker down” – that is, to pull in like a turtle. — Robert Putnam, E Pluribus Unum
Anthony Daniels observed of North Korea “…by endlessly asserting what is patently untrue, by making such untruth ubiquitous and unavoidable, and finally by insisting that everyone publicly acquiesce in it, the regime displays its power and reduces individuals to nullities.”
The religion of humanity may turn out to be as dangerous as all the other religions. — David Bromwich
Progressive faculty and students at selective private colleges will often say that they want to dismantle the hierarchies of power that persist in society at large. Their actions often suggest that in fact they would like to invert them. All groups are equal, but some are more equal than others.
There is one category that the religion of the liberal elite does not recognize—that its purpose, one might almost conclude, is to conceal: class. Class at fancy colleges, as throughout American society, has been the unspeakable word, the great forbidden truth. And the exclusion of class on selective college campuses enables the exclusion of a class. It has long struck me in leftist or PC rhetoric how often “white” is conflated with “wealthy,” as if all white people were wealthy and all wealthy people were white. In fact, more than 40 percent of poor Americans are white. Roughly 60 percent of working-class Americans are white. Almost two-thirds of white Americans are poor or working-class. Altogether, lower-income whites make up about 40 percent of the country, yet they are almost entirely absent on elite college campuses, where they amount, at most, to a few percent and constitute, by a wide margin, the single most underrepresented group.
The culture of political correctness, the religion of the fancy private colleges, provides the affluent white and Asian students who make up the preponderant majority of their student bodies, and the affluent white and Asian professionals who make up the preponderant majority of their tenured faculty and managerial staffs, with the ideological resources to alibi or erase their privilege. It enables them to tell themselves that they are children of the light—part of the solution to our social ills, not an integral component of the problem. It may speak about dismantling the elite, but its real purpose is to flatter it.
Political correctness is a fig leaf for the competitive individualism of meritocratic neoliberalism, with its worship of success above all. It provides a moral cover beneath which undergraduates can prosecute their careerist projects undisturbed.
If Democrats couch their fight against the evident injustices that still persist in our country in universal language that has deep roots in the American tradition, they have a good chance of winning elections — and making a real difference for the most vulnerable members of our society. If, on the contrary, they become captured in language games that are only understood by the most political and best educated progressive activists, they are likely to alienate a lot of potential supporters — including a large number of women and people of color. — Yascha Mounk, quoted in ‘The Democrats Left Turn is not an Illusion’, Thomas B Edsall, The New York Times, 18th October 2018
In the sciences, the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man. — Galileo
When you assign every individual a place on the totem pole, and make it your goal to chop the top off the totem pole, you’re left with a shorter totem pole, with someone else at the top who needs to be chopped off. This is already rampant, and characterized within the blogosphere as “The Liberals Eating Their Own.” This characterization is poor, because it’s not “the liberals” doing it, it is specifically the Social Justice Religion sub-factions, as they follow their religious edicts to their natural conclusions. — BJ Campbell, ‘Social Justice is a Crowdsourced Religion‘, Medium
Our argument is that the microaggression program is controversial because its approach to morality is relatively new to the modern West and is by no means universally shared. Microaggression complaints arise from a culture of victimhood in which individuals and groups display a high sensitivity to slight, have a tendency to handle conflicts through complaints to authorities and other third parties, and seek to cultivate an image of being victims who deserve assistance. — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars
Stumbling into any downtown indie arts enclave will land you in the presence of enough degrees to warm the planet right out of existence. In the arts, bachelors degrees are standard, masters degrees are commonplace, and progressive orthodoxies are strictly enforced.
The basis of this enforcement is a kind of groupthink, derived from a politics of compassion, moral relativism, and privilege theory. Divergent opinions are not censored, they are self-censored. Artists who disagree do not speak up. To do so is to risk losing funding in an industry that relies almost entirely on philanthropic donations from organizations that routinely signal their virtue to one another, the artists they supposedly serve, and the progressive milieu at large. Artists who value their careers and industry friendships will not express views that put those things at risk. — Libby Emmons, ‘Writing for Quillette Ended My Theater Project‘, Quillette, 20th November 2018
We thought of Emile Durkheim, the nineteenth-century French sociologist, who famously asked his readers to imagine what would happen in a “society of saints.” The answer is that there would still be sinners because “faults which appear venial to the layman” would there create scandal (Durkheim 1982: 100). And it did seem that people were most concerned about rooting out racism and bigotry in the very places where there was the least of it. These so-called microaggressions, many of which outsiders would see as no more than venial faults, were causing great scandal in our universities. — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars
In 2014, for example, the University of California system, drawing from the work of Sue and his colleagues, created a document for faculty training that listed 52 possible microaggressions. Among these were saying “America is a melting pot” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars
Opponents of affirmative action might be as offended as its supporters upon hearing someone disagree with them, but it is “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and not “I believe employers should make ethnic diversity a goal in hiring decisions” that the University of California (2014) calls a microaggression. — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars
As an atheist, I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its Place. Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They frame the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind. — Camile Paglia
I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned. — Richard Feynman
The worst offence of this kind which can be committed by a polemic, is to stigmatize those who hold the contrary opinion as bad and immoral men. — J.S. Mill, On Liberty
It’s like seasickness. You think you’re gonna die, and everyone else just thinks it’s funny. — Aaron Sorkin on bad publicity
In Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, Ryan Holiday’s memoir of his years as a PR consultant, he describes a roundtable meeting at the Huffington Post where the editors discussed how a certain big company should have handled its recent PR crisis. The editors offered the usual bromides: “Transparency is critical.” “Be proactive.” “Get out in front of it.” Holiday replied, “None of you know what you’re talking about.” The old rules don’t apply in the free-for-all world of online journalism, and they especially don’t work when the figure at the center of the controversy is one lonely individual. If a client came to him because he was being called a racist or sexist on Twitter, Holiday says (pardon the vulgarity), “I would tell him to bend over and take it. And then I’d apologize. I’d tell him the whole system is broken and evil, and I’m sorry it’s attacking him. But there’s nothing that can be done.”
Any attempt to defend yourself or clarify your original remarks is “the equivalent of a squeaky cry of, ‘Why is everyone making fun of me?!’ on the playground,” Holiday says. “Whether it happens in front of snarky blogs or a real-life bully, the result is the same: Everyone makes fun of you even more.”
The idea that online shaming is a form of debate—or in any way oriented toward finding the truth—is a delusion. Dialogue is not the point. The day Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the New Yorker—not Gawker, but the New Yorker—ran thirty-two Kavanaugh headlines in twenty-four hours, many of them on the subject of the nominee’s supposed whininess: “The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh”; “An Angry, Tearful Opening”; “Brett Kavanaugh’s Damaging, Revealing Partisan Bitterness”; “A Grotesque Display of Patriarchal Resentment.” The man had been accused of being a brutal rapist, and the most prestigious magazine in America ridiculed him for responding to the allegation as any innocent man would have. No, dialogue is not the point. — Helen Andrews, ‘Shame Storm‘, First Things, January 2019
I had what might truly be called an object in life: to be a reformer of the world. … This did very well for several years, during which the general improvement going on in the world and the idea of myself as engaged with others in struggling to promote it, seemed enough to fill up an interesting and animated existence. But the time came when I awakened from this as from a dream … In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions that you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant; would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered: ‘No!’ — J.S. Mill, A Crisis in My Mental History
[L]iberalism is a world religion—and one of the most successful religions in human history, among elites anyway. Liberalism has a soteriology, an eschatology, a clergy (or “clerisy”),10 and sacraments, centered on the confession and surrender of privilege, the redemption of declaring oneself an “ally,” the overcoming of the dark past of prejudice and unreason—a past that is itself always in motion, so that the night of unreason may well suddenly come to mean what everyone believed last year. — Adrian Vermeule, ‘Integration from within‘, American Affairs, Spring 2018
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. — Frederick Douglass
“Class distinctions do not die; they merely learn new ways of expressing themselves.” — Richard Hoggart
God is Dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we – we still have to vanquish his shadow, too. — Neitzsche, The Gay Science
What is virtue, my friend? It is to do good: let us do it, and that’s enough. We won’t look into your motives. – Voltaire (to Rousseau)
Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. — David Hume
As it is, the lover of inquiry must follow his beloved, wherever it may lead. — Socrates
Bertold Brecht was once asked how he could justify his Communist loyalties when his plays could neither be published nor performed in the USSR, while his royalties in the West made him a wealthy man. “Well, there at least they take me seriously,” he replied.
But the reality principle – la force des choses – will, in the end, always prevail over utopian passions. The fate of intellectuals under socialism is disillusionment, dissent, exile, silence. In politics, means determine ends, and socialism everywhere finds its incarnation in coercive bureaucracies that are contemptuously dismissive of the ideals that presumably legitimise them, even while establishing these ideals as a petrified orthodoxy. — Irving Kristol, ‘The Adversary Culture of Intellectuals‘, Encounter, October 1979
Irving Kristol described conservatives like himself as “liberals mugged by reality”.
So how should we prepare for the likelihood that in the coming years, genetic studies will show that many traits are influenced by genetic variations, and that these traits will differ on average across human populations? It will be impossible—indeed, anti-scientific, foolish and absurd—to deny those differences. — David Reich, New York Times
The Bell Curve is a vehicle of Nazi propaganda wrapped in a cover of pseudo-scientific respectability. It is an academic version of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf … The voices of millions should be raised in condemnation of the authors of The Bell Curve and their circle of Nazi-admiring friends. — Steven Rosenthal on The Bell Curve.
There are no solutions, only trade-offs. — Thomas Sowell
Something had clicked in my brain which shook me like a mental explosion. To say that one had ‘seen the light’ is a poor description of the mental rapture which only the convert knows (regardless of what faith he has been converted to). The new light seems to pour from all directions across the skull; the whole universe falls into a pattern like the stray pieces of a jigsaw puzzle assembled by magic at one stroke. There is now an answer to every question, doubts and conflicts are a matter of the tortured past — a past already remote, when one had lived in dismal ignorance in the tasteless, colorless world of those who don’t know. — Arthur Koestler, The God That Failed
The polemicist… proceeds encased in privileges that he possesses in advance and will never agree to question. On principle, he possesses rights authorizing him to wage war and making that struggle a just undertaking; the person he confronts is not a partner in search for the truth, but an adversary, an enemy who is wrong, who is harmful, and whose very existence constitutes a threat. For him, then, the game consists not of recognizing this person as a subject having the right to speak, but of abolishing him as interlocutor from any possible dialogue; and his final objective will be not to come as close as possible to a difficult truth, but to bring about the triumph of the just cause he has been manifestly upholding from the beginning. The polemicist relies on a legitimacy that his adversary is by definition denied. — Michel Foucault
When I was a Marxist I did not hold my opinions as a matter of faith, but I did have the conviction that a sort of unified field theory may have been discovered. The concept of historical and dialectical materialism was not an absolute, and it didn’t have any supernatural element, but it did have its messianic element in the idea that an ultimate moment might arrive. And it most certainly had its martyrs and saints and doctrinaires, and – after a while – its mutually excluding rival papacies. It also had its schisms and inquisitions and heresy hunts. I was a member of a dissident sect, which admired Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky, and I can say definitely that we also had our prophets…. Those of us who had a sort of rational alternative for religion had reached a terminus which was comparably dogmatic. What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees. — Christopher Hitchens
In ancient times natural disasters such as volcanos, earthquakes, and floods were blamed on the ill-will of personified gods. The physical sciences now provide other, quite different explanations of these phenomena. In some respects, however, the social sciences still have not moved beyond personified blame, leveled at ‘society’, ‘the establishment’, ‘Capitalism’, or whatever – personified entities at which we can vent our anger much as one can feel angry at an individual who intentionally commits a personal offense. — Arthur Jensen in the Preface to Genetics and Education (Harper and Row: New York, 1972), p.56
Colleagues have brought up a variety of more intellectual reasons for denying a genetic basis for behavioral differences. One of the commonest reasons is that such knowledge, if it is established and generally accepted by the scientific and intellectual community, might be used by some persons for evil purposes, to promote racial prejudice, discrimination, and segregation and to justify or rationalize the political supression and economic exploitation of racial minorities and the nation’s working class in general. As I point out in my paper on ethical issues in genetic research, these consequences do not logically follow from the recognition of genetic behavioral differences. Nearly all scientifically important knowledge can be used for good or ill. Intellectuals should be concerned with men’s purposes and the uses to which knowledge will be put; they should never think in terms of suppressing knowledge or the quest for it. One colleague wrote that in his opinion some intellectuals could not view my HER article objectively because they feel that unless human equality in abilities, and especially racial equa lity, is a fact, a society like ours cannot be made to work and pro gress is impossible; therefore equality must be a fact. He drew a religious analogy: ‘If there weren’t a Heavenly Father to sustain me in my agonies, I couldn’t go on living; therefore God exists’.
Some of the reluctance to study the evidence objectively in this field results from confusion of the concept of genetic inequality, that is to say, differences in gene frequencies for particular characteristics, with the moral ideal of equality expressed in ‘all men are created equal’, meaning equality before the law, equality of political and civil rights, and equality of opportunity in education and employment. Realization of the moral ideal of equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, of course, does not depend upon either phenotypic or genotypic equality of individuals’ psychological characteristics. — Arthur Jensen in the Preface to Genetics and Education (Harper and Row: New York, 1972), p.57
The small handful of dissenters who argue that genetic factors play no part in IQ differences are not unlike the few persons living today who claim that the earth is flat. — Arthur Jensen
Let us suppose that intelligence is made the main criterion. Why should this trait be singled out for such exceptional treatment? One might hold this to be palpably unjust on the grounds that superior intelligence is largely sue to parental status, through a combination of heredity and beneficial upbringing: and that no one deserves either so generous a reward or so severe a penalty for a quality implanted form outside, for which he himself can claim only a limited responsibility. — Anthony Crosland, The Future of Socialism, (London: Constable, 2006), p.189. First published 1956.
Opposition to determinism, reductionism and racism, in their extreme or moderate fonts, need not depend on blanket rejection of undeniable if easily misinterpreted facts like heritability, or useful if easily misapplied tools like factor analysis. Indeed it had better not, because if it does the eventual victory of the psychometric right is assured. — Eric Turkheimer, ‘The Search for a Psychometric Left’, Current Psychology of Cognition, 1997
In August 2018, Ann Millington, chief executive of Kent Fire and Rescue, called for the popular children’s television character Fireman Sam to be renamed ‘Firefighter Sam’ in an effort to encourage greater diversity in the services. Millington’s point is indisputable. The only reason women don’t go into firefighting is because they’ve had no stop-motion animation role models. — Titania McGrath, Woke
Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor’s study could destroy a civilisation. — Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, 1958
Self-denigration is all too clearly a form of indirect self-glorification. — Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Cultural Masochism (2006)
To the extent that the West is to blame at all for the ills of the Third World it is to the extent that the West created Marx and is successors, among whom must be numbered many of those who advised the Third World leaders in post-war years. — Margaret Thatcher
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. — Galileo Galilei
Intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history, etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. — George Orwell
In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or either which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other. — Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
It is not hard to imagine the day when millions of obedient followers of the New Faith may suddenly turn against it. — Czesław Milosz
Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. – Milton Friedman
Political equality is a moral stance, not an empirical hypothesis. — Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate
The average man, if he meddles with criticism at all, is a conservative critic. His opinions are determined not by his reason — ‘the bulk of mankind’ says Swift ‘is as well qualified for flying as for thinking’ — but by his passions; and the faintest of all human passions is the love of truth. — AE Housman, “Introductory Lecture” delivered on 3rd October 1892 at University College, London
Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired. — Jonathan Swift
Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats. – George Orwell, Benefits of Clergy
Anything now can be used against you that you said or supposedly said — it’s Salem. – John Malkovich
Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. – Hilary Clinton in a 1998 speech delivered before a domestic violence conference in El Salvador
It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result — ruthlessness in political life. — Richard Hofstadter, End of Reform
[Those] who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks. — Wolfgang Goethe
Unchecked emotion has replaced thoughtful reasoning on campus. Feelings are no longer subjected to evidence, analysis or empirical defense. Angry demands, rather than rigorous arguments, now appear to guide university policy. — Ronald Sullivan, Why Harvard Was Wrong to Make Me Step Down, New York Times, 25th June 2019
It’s amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic. — Thomas Sowell
A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. — Thomas Sowell
What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture. — Thomas Sowell
If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today. — Thomas Sowell
Slavery has existed all over the plant for thousands of years, with black, white, yellow and other races being both slaves and enslavers. Does that mean that everybody ought to apologize to everybody else for what their ancestors did? — Thomas Sowell
We are, it seems to me, entering a realm of cultural darkness, in which rational argument and respect for the opponent are disappearing from public discourse, and in which increasingly, on every issue that matters, there is only one permitted view, and a licence to persecute all the heretics that do not subscribe to it. — Roger Scruton
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left. — Herbert Marcuse
When the facts conflict with…sacred values, almost everyone finds a way to stick with their values and reject the evidence. On the left, including the academic left, the most sacred issues involve race and gender. So that’s where you find the most direct and I’d say flagrant denial of evidence. I think the results of this study do clearly show that political concerns influence the willingness of sociologists to consider a major class of causal factors in human behavior. — Jonathan Haidt
Before, to signal you were in the fashionable and powerful crowd, you would show off your country-club membership, refined manners, or Gucci handbags. Now, you show how woke you are. To reinforce their new form of structural power, people dismiss the idea that they even have the older, more legible forms of status. They find any reverse-privilege points they can, and if they are cis-white-men, they pose as allies. On an institutional level, the old ways of legitimizing power are gone, and the new motto is this: diversity is legitimacy. — Natalia Dashan, The Real Problem at Yale is Not Free Speech, Palladium, 5th August 2019
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking… Leo Tolstoy
Their ideology becomes a religion. Anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic, a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. — Margaret Atwood on #MeToo activists who criticised her after she called for due process before condemning Steven Galloway.
This modern world is full of old Christian ideas gone mad. –– GK Chesterton
I came to realise that there was no power capable of changing the image of my person lodged somewhere in the supreme court of human destinies; that this image (even though it bore no resemblance to mine) was much more real than my actual self: that I was its shadow not it mine. — Milan Kundera, The Joke
The egalitarian revolt against biological reality, as significant as it is, is only a subset of a deeper revolt: against the ontological structure of reality itself, against the “very organization of nature”; against the universe as such. At the heart of the egalitarian left is the pathological belief that there is no structure of reality; that all the world is a tabula rasa that can be changed at any moment in any desired direction by the mere exercise of human will—in short, that reality can be instantly transformed by the mere wish or whim of human beings. — Murray Rothbard, The Egalitarian Revolt Against Reality
Nowhere is the Left Wing attack on ontological reality more apparent than in the Utopian dreams of what the future socialist society will look like. In the socialist future of Charles Fourier, according to Ludwig von Mises:
all harmful beasts will have disappeared, and in their places will be animals which will assist man in his labors—or even do his work for him. An antibeaver will see to the fishing; an antiwhale will move sailing ships in a calm; an antihippopotamus will tow the river boats. Instead of the lion there will be an antilion, a steed of wonderful swiftness, upon whose back the rider will sit as comfortably as in a well-sprung carriage. It will be a pleasure to live in a world with such servants.
Furthermore, according to Fourier, the very oceans would contain lemonade rather than salt water. Similarly absurd fantasies are at the root of the Marxian utopia of communism. Freed from the supposed confines of specialization and the division of labor (the heart of any production above the most primitive level and hence of any civilized society), each person in the communist utopia would fully develop all of his powers in every direction. As Engels wrote in his Anti-Dühring, communism would give “each individual the opportunity to develop and exercise all his faculties, physical and mental, in all directions.” And Lenin looked forward in 1920 to the “abolition of the division of labor among people… the education, schooling, and training of people with an all-around development and an all-around training, people able to do everything. Communism is marching and must march toward this goal, and will reach it. n his trenchant critique of the communist vision, Alexander Gray charges:
That each individual should have the opportunity of developing all his faculties, physical and mental, in all directions, is a dream which will cheer the vision only of the simple-minded, oblivious of the restrictions imposed by the narrow limits of human life. For life is a series of acts of choice, and each choice is at the same time a renunciation. Even the inhabitant of Engels’s future fairyland will have to decide sooner or later whether he wishes to be Archbishop of Canterbury or First Sea Lord, whether he should seek to excel as a violinist or as a pugilist, whether he should elect to know all about Chinese literature or about the hidden pages in the life of a mackerel.
Of course one way to try to resolve this dilemma is to fantasize that the New Communist Man of the future will be a superman, superhuman in his abilities to transcend nature. William Godwin thought that, once private property was abolished, man would become immortal. The Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky asserted that in the future communist society, “a new type of man will arise… a superman… an exalted man.” And Leon Trotsky prophesied that under communism:
man will become incomparably stronger, wiser, finer. His body more harmonious, his movements more rhythmical, his voice more musical…. The human average will rise to the level of an Aristotle, a Goethe, a Marx. Above these other heights new peaks will arise.
— Murray Rothbard, The Egalitarian Revolt Against Reality
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. — HL Mencken.
Justice is as much a matter of fashion as charm. – Pascal, Pensees
As the New York Times pointed out at the time, Singapore, an Asian city-state of only 2 million people, exported 20% more machinery to the West in 1987 than all of Eastern Europe. — Lee Edwards, ‘These Three Countries Tried Socialism and Failed’, The Daily Signal, 16th October 2019
If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, the would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago, and a racist today. — Thomas Sowell
Academia is the left pole. On the N.Pole, everywhere is south. From academia? Everywhere looks rightwing. — Steven Pinker
Is there an intelligence gap between black and white Americans that no passage of time and no social policy can close? If there were, would anything follow about the social policies a humane society should adopt? The answer seems to be that there is good reason to believe that there is a gap, but no conclusive reason to believe that it is unshrinkable; if there were, it would have a good many implications about the need to balance the search for efficiency against the desire for a more humane social order – but it would not dictate how we struck the balance and it would introduce no moral novelties into the calculation. In particular a belief in the importance of inherited differences in IQ need not encourage apocalyptic conservatism. — Alan Ryan, ‘Apocalypse Now?’, Russell Jacoby and Naomi Glauberman (eds.), The Bell Curve Debate (New York: Random House, 1995), p.25
“Is” does not imply “ought.” Group differences, when they exist, pertain to averages, not to individual men and women. There are geniuses and dullards, saints and sinners, in every race, ethnicity, and gender. Political equality is a commitment to universal human rights, and to policies that treat people as individuals rather than as representatives of groups; it is not an empirical claim that people are indistinguishable. Many commentators seem unwilling to grasp these points. — Steven Pinker, ‘Groups and Genes’, The New Republic, 26 June 2006
It has been suggested by some of the reviewers of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR that it is the author’s view that this, or something like this, is what will happen inside the next forty years in the Western world.This is not correct. I think that … something like NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR could happen. This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation. — George Orwell
Irving Howe, in his A Margin of Hope, described the university professors of the 1930s who fell under a Stalinist influence: “At least as troubling was the need felt by serious people for a ritual abandonment of intellectual independence—indeed, for a ritual abasement before the brutalities of power.” – Paul Berman, Lynching and Liberalism, The Tablet, 17 August