Nazis dancing on the head of a pin

May 1, 2017 § 33 Comments

My post The Products of Inception deliberately evokes the modern morally sanitizing euphemism “products of conception,” which refers to the post mortem object of the abortionist’s ministrations: the dismembered remains of her human victim.

There can be all sorts of personal motivations, as with murder more generally speaking, when it comes to murdering (or contracting the murder of) one’s own child.  Liberalism (in its feminist aspect) isn’t always and necessarily what motivates individual choices to abort.  Sometimes it likely isn’t a significant factor at all.

What feminism does is construct a social world in which abortion is considered a right, and is deemed necessary in many cases in order to carry out the imperative of female emancipation.

Nazism, likewise, isn’t always and necessarily what motivates rounding up undesirables into camps and exterminating them.  Nazism merely constructs a social reality which makes doing so necessary.

Liberalism considered purely in itself, as an abstracted idea to which nobody is committed even as a kind of default, doesn’t cause mass murder.  What causes mass murder is the crushing impact of the liberal commitments of governing regimes , ruling classes, and whole populations as these social forces come crashing into reality.

Folks who like to think in terms of academic ideas isolated from reality, clinically examined in the laboratory of the mind, sometimes object that – despite express commitment to freedom and equality of rights among the herrenvolk – nazis and other moderns don’t really fit the “liberal” label.

I’m OK with that.  No, really.  Debate over whether mass-murdering modernist regimes are all forms of “liberalismstrictly speaking, as opposed to the perfectly understandable (and inevitable) results of liberalism crashing into reality, itself represents a radical pullback from the real world and into an abstract mind laboratory.

So feel free to insist that nazism and communism are not forms of liberalism, strictly speaking.  From my point of view this is just counting nazis dancing on the head of a pin.

§ 33 Responses to Nazis dancing on the head of a pin

  • P.B. says:

    Whenever a nice pro-life Catholic woman calls herself a feminist I want to ask why she would associate herself with a label that has such a high body count attached to it. “Oh abortion isn’t compatible with true feminism.” Yeah well true communism has never been tried, as they say.

  • “What feminism does is construct a social world in which abortion is considered a right, and is deemed necessary in many cases in order to carry out the imperative of female emancipation.”

    I really appreciate that wording on the abortion issue. I often find myself caught in a debate between “abortion is empowerment” versus “having a child requires no loss of freedom.” Sometimes I imagine if we just dropped all the hyperbole, the truth would suddenly appear and people would magically understand.

    “Abortion isn’t compatible with true feminism.” I hear that a lot too, but what is true feminism? If it is male and female He made them and you can be redeemed, saved, an heir in the grace of life, well hallelujah, victory is already seated at the right hand of the Father. Why then the need for a whole new ideology? It seems as if we should just walk in the wonder of what we have been given because that is coherent, it works. So when the Christian gals call themselves a pro-life, feminist Christians, it’s a bit like saying God got it wrong and there needs to be some caveats.

  • halt94 says:

    There is the question of whether or not liberalism can even be abstractly dissected in a mind laboratory. You yourself have said it is difficult really to even think about liberalism without losing sight of it (the post about the predator), although I guess potentially there are people who are much better at that than others.

    Another question I have is whether that kind of mental exercise is helpful in getting people to repent of liberalism. I really don’t know the answer to that question, but my intuition tells me no. It just seems like a good way to get lost in the liberal mind trap.

  • Mike T says:

    I think even if you reject that they are a form of liberalism, you have to explain precisely why it is that modern politics resorts to mass bloodshed on a level and frequency that is not historically normal. The fact is that modern politics tend to be rotten. Even if you can’t specifically say why, they are what they are.

  • donnie says:

    What feminism does is construct a social world in which abortion is considered a right, and is deemed necessary in many cases in order to carry out the imperative of female emancipation…

    Nazism merely constructs a social reality which makes [rounding up undesirables into camps and exterminating them] necessary.

    Going to play Devil’s Advocate here for a moment:

    Zippy, let’s stipulate that your analysis above is correct. Now couldn’t one also argue that what Catholicism does is construct a social world in which abortion is considered murder? Couldn’t one also argue that what Catholicism does is construct a social world in which exterminating undesirables [with the possible exception of heathens and heretics] is also murder?

    I ask only because I was discussing the way liberalism / feminism / Nazism lends itself to constructing murderous social realities with a friend and I received those two objections. As of yet I have not figured out what the answer is. I suspect, however, that the questions themselves are a result of “reality is socially constructed” postmodern-style thinking. I suppose my friend has a point that saying “liberalism / feminism / Nazism constructs a social reality” sounds very postmodern.

  • Mike T says:

    I suppose my friend has a point that saying “liberalism / feminism / Nazism constructs a social reality” sounds very postmodern.

    And so what? The wording is less important than the ideas behind them. Rephrased as “liberalism/feminism/Nazism set the cultural tone for mass murder,” it sounds like something a normal person would say.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    I am having a hard time seeing where there is any substantive Devil’s Advocacy going on.

    Stipulating (or grasping and agreeing with the argument) that liberalism produces mass murder of the innocent, folks with non-sociopathic moral intuitions will conclude that there is something radically wrong with liberalism. Conclusions about liberalism apply to liberalism, not to other doctrines or understandings of authority, which should be evaluated on their own merits or demerits.

    If someone lacks the moral intuition that hacking innocent human infants to bits is murder or that [… list other atrocities driven by the liberal commitments of various regimes …] are atrocities then he might not find the fact that liberalism (or, slightly more precisely, its denial of reality) drives mass murder especially moving.

    But even a sociopath can see that liberalism is a self contradictory concept of authority, so sociopathy doesn’t really block the conclusion.

    …the questions themselves are a result of “reality is socially constructed” postmodern-style thinking.

    Yes and modern thinking too, since modernism and postmodernism are really the same thing with the latter just having worked out the implications a bit further than the former.

    But the argument in any case isn’t that reality is socially constructed. The argument is that the social forces produced by liberalism’s impact with reality produce mass murder (among other nontrivial atrocities). The perceptive may note that this argument, as a metaphysically realist argument, relies on the fact that reality is not socially constructed.

    So I think the objection is editorial (editorial choices can almost always be continually improved) as opposed to substantive.

  • donnie says:

    Mike, Zippy,

    Your points are well taken.

    I don’t think I was very clear in originally posing the question. My friend is not a Catholic, so in that context his point was (I think) more to the effect of, “I agree with you that there is something radically wrong with liberalism and that its effects on the world produce instances of horrific violence upon innocent people. Now will you also agree with me that Catholicism’s effect on the world also produces instances of horrific violence and unnecessary suffering upon innocent people?”

    Of course, he is too nice to pose his question in those terms exactly but this is the gist of what I think he is trying to get at, given our past discussions. Thus, you see the true Devil in this line of thinking.

    We’ve had long discussions about liberalism, and positivism especially, in the past and I think I may have succeeded in convincing him that positivism is false only to watch him slip into postmodernism. It would seem that I am a pretty terrible anti-positivist evangelist.

  • Mike T says:

    donnie,

    FWIW, I am not a Catholic, but I think your friend is doing the usual moderate “both sides are just as bad” song and dance that lets him be that swell, lovable guy who never has to take a side and show some cajones. For example:

    “I agree with you that there is something radically wrong with liberalism and that its effects on the world produce instances of horrific violence upon innocent people. Now will you also agree with me that Catholicism’s effect on the world also produces instances of horrific violence and unnecessary suffering upon innocent people?”

    Take Latin America for instance. The culture in that region is riddled with pathological tendencies. Blaming Catholicism is easy because it is the socially approved target rather than pointing to the fact that the culture there is horribly corrupt by the standards of the Anglo nations and much of Europe. (And it’s not the high functioning corruption of Italy which is almost a case study in anarcho-capitalism)

  • Donnie, to some extent reality really is socially constructed. The socially constructed reality that seems to benefit the most number of people and prevent the most suffering is one heavily influenced by Christian values. I would say that is because it is the one most closely aligned with the truth.

    Faith of course is not an ideology, not a belief system, but the socially constructed reality that springs from being surrounded by a lot of believers is far superior when it comes to people’s well being. Far superior then say, communism where things like mass genocide tend to happen. So when it comes to our socially constructed realities, they aren’t all equal. One is vastly superior to others.

  • Zippy says:

    The general problem with the “reality is socially constructed” idea is its reductionism. It chooses “always” on the always-sometimes-never playground, rather than choosing “sometimes”. It chooses “either/or” when reality insists on “both/and”: either social doctrines and structures have no effect on reality whatsoever or reality is nothing but an artificial social construction.

    Rather than seeing man as a creature situated in reality and a part of that reality, this kind of modernist reductionism equivocally asserts two utterly distinct realities, a Cartesian theater of the mind disconnected from the atoms-and-void of physics.

    Which one is treated as “real” depends on the questions being begged.

  • donnie says:

    Let me make sure I have this straight in my own head:

    Postmodernism is a reaction to the assumed certainty of objective (e.g. scientific, logical or mathematical) efforts to explain reality. Because of this, postmodernists often assert things like, “reality is socially constructed.”

    In a limited sense, the postmodernists have a point. However, their arguments are a textbook example of the motte and bailey doctrine. To wit:

    Post-modernists sometimes say things like “reality is socially constructed”, and there’s an uncontroversially correct meaning there. We don’t experience the world directly, but through the categories and prejudices implicit to our society; for example, I might view a certain shade of bluish-green as blue, and someone raised in a different culture might view it as green… Then post-modernists go on to say that if someone in a different culture thinks that the sun is light glinting off the horns of the Sky Ox, that’s just as real as our own culture’s theory that the sun is a mass of incandescent gas a great big nuclear furnace. If you challenge them, they’ll say that you’re denying reality is socially constructed, which means you’re clearly very naive and think you have perfect objectivity and the senses perceive reality directly.

    Thus, postmodernism descends into absurdity and incoherence by insisting upon a false dichotomy, as Zippy describes in his comment above.

    However, the doctrine which postmodernism reacts to, positivism, is also false. It is not the case that every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of being logically or mathematically proved. For one, positivism is self-contradictory via Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Furthermore it should be readily apparent that no human person is capable of perceiving objective reality directly, nor can any human person obtain complete knowledge of anything in any particular area. As Zippy has said in the past:

    God is not only the God of the gaps but the God of the non-gaps too… We are not God, and when we start thinking that we know all that there is to know about a particular thing we don’t become the God of that non-gap: we just become the Fool.

    Therefore, since postmodernism is false, and positivism is also false, it follows that there are truths which are rationally justifiable to assert that cannot be scientifically verified or proved logically or mathematically.

    How am I doing so far?

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    Postmodernism is a reaction to the assumed certainty of objective (e.g. scientific, logical or mathematical) efforts to explain reality.

    Perhaps I’m quibbling, but I would amend this statement to say that postmodernism is a reaction to the assumed certainty of complete efforts to explain reality. All of the methods you mention are, in fact, ways of certainly and objectively explaining parts and/or aspects of reality, but reality is not reducible to any of them.

    Postmodernism is what pops out when the positivist encounters some part of reality his formalism (whether it be science, some kind of formal logic, or whatever) cannot explain, and since, to the positivist mind, the meaning = the formalism, he despairs of meaning entirely.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    e.g. An analysis of man qua social can tell us some objective things about reality, but insisting that an analysis of man qua social is capable of telling us everything objective about reality is what leads to madness.

  • donnie says:

    JustSomeGuy,

    Thanks, this is a helpful clarification. Sometimes it is difficult to keep concepts straight in one’s head, especially after one has engaged someone who straddles the positivist / postmodernist fence in spirited debate.

    I realize I have veered this thread off on a fairly off-topic philosophical tangent, so allow me to attempt to connect it back to politics.

    Liberalism attempts to abolish authority in the domain of politics by obscuring it behind the methods used to govern: Constitutions, divisions of power, elections and referendums, bureaucracy, etc. This does not actually abolish authority, but it does allow people to convince themselves that trusting others to govern well is not really necessary. Liberals place their trust in the methods used to govern as a way of avoiding placing their trust in the people who actually do the governing.

    Positivism does something similar in the domain of epistemology. Epistemological authority is obscured behind the methods used to verify and/or prove truth claims. This does not actually abolish epistemological authority, all of us our still trusting the authority of solar astronomers when we assert that the sun is a mass of incandescent gas and not the light glinting off the horn of a Sky Ox, but positivists will pretend that this is not actually what he is doing. The positivist places his trust in the methods used to verify truth claims as a way of avoiding placing his trust in the people who actually assert truth claims.

    A postmodernist, then, is basically like an epistemological anarchist. Just as an anarchist realizes that it is impossible to escape political authority unless one gets rid of the government, the postmodern realizes that it is impossible to escape epistemological authority unless one gets rid of objective truth.

    P.S. Apologies to Zippy if he already has a post that points this out already.

  • donnie says:

    For some reason this mental exercise has me pondering a quote from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

    A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself.

    I suppose I would amend this to:

    A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself and in others.

    Others meaning, of course, other persons. Including persons endowed with legitimate authority. And most especially, the Divine Persons.

  • I’m still busy pondering the nature of reductionism, which is still somewhat on topic.

    Divine Authority is what I call truth, and Truth is really a person, per John 14:6, so easier to wrap my brain around. That’s a kind of reductionism I suppose, but a paradoxical one because the Truth is a really big subject.

    I am curious as to what motivates people to cling to liberalism or to cling to the insistence that what they believe in is not actually “liberalism” per se ?

  • donnie says:

    The Truth is a really big subject.

    Well, yes. The Truth is an infinite subject 😉

    I think there needs to be a recognition that none of us interpret and understand the truth about the world – any truth – without substantial reliance on various authorities. It’s the denial of this basic fact that appears to connect liberalism, positivism, postmodernism, and, heck, even Protestantism, together. This can be a hard pill to swallow for people who insist that the arc of the moral universe bends toward slow but steady emancipation from authority.

  • Mike T says:

    Some South African blacks are saying that they had it better under apartheid than they do now under the ANC. They’re not supposed to say that because Freedom and Equality, but it is hard to deny that when they were under apartheid the government had to actually provide meaningful value to their lives in order to keep them in line whereas they are now getting a pittance of value with a heaping dose of “y’all is kangz.”

  • TomD says:

    The number of people who voluntarily “enslave” themselves to work belie the “die free rather than live as a slave” mentality.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Just as an anarchist realizes that it is impossible to escape political authority unless one gets rid of the government, the postmodern realizes that it is impossible to escape epistemological authority unless one gets rid of objective truth.

    Yes and, ironically, because this is incoherent, the anarchist authoritatively asserts that everyone absolutely must live in anarchy; while the postmodernist insists as absolute truth that there is absolutely no such thing as absolute truth.

    To quote myself:

    [T]he modern project is fueled by a relentless drive to deny and avoid messy fallible human authority. Positivism attempts to do this in the domain of epistemology. Nominalism attempts to do this in the domain of language. Liberalism attempts to do this in the domain of politics. Protestantism attempts to do this in the domain of religion. Feminism attempts to do this in the domain of sex and the family. Scientism attempts to do this in the domain of ontology. Utilitarianism attempts to do this in the domain of deontology.

  • Mike T says:

    That’s a particularly ironic comment in light of Africa’s history with slavery.

  • Mike T says:

    Stuff like this incident on a Delta flight make good data points on discussing liberalism and technocratic rule-making. The end state of turning a social rule(r) engine is not a well-designed and functional system, but an unthinking (aka just like actual machines) monstrosity that ends up making rules like “throw the 2 year old off the plane, but leave his mom and dad on.”

  • Zippy says:

    It is no accident that the tolerance crusade gives rise to zero tolerance policy: zero authority, zero thought, zero judgment, zero humanity. Welcome to the machine.

  • Ian says:

    Regardless of whether or not Nazism or Communism are forms of liberalism, it’s interesting to note that they both still follow the oppressor-oppressed script. In the case of Nazism, the oppressor is the Jew, and in the case of Communism, the oppressor is the capitalist.

    So on one hand, if the oppressor-oppressed paradigm is something that follows logically from specifically liberal principles, then this is evidence that Nazism and Communism are indeed species of liberalism.

    On the other, it might simply mean that the oppressor-oppressed paradigm is more general, perhaps a feature of modernism more broadly.

  • Mike T says:

    The oppressor-oppressed paradigm is attractive because it shortcircuits all questions of authority that are inconvenient and turns everything into a matter of criminal justice. You hurt me, ergo you are a criminal. Criminals have no authority over their victims. Criminals are to be punished.

  • Mike T says:

    Dalrock’s latest post shows a good example of how the dynamic perpetuates violence between different groups and creates its own fuel for self-justification.

    1. Police adopt Duluth Model and declare husbands prima facie abusers.
    2. Police abuse man to the point of felony violence.
    3. Man (not this particular one) now hates cops and regards them as nothing more than violent enforcers of the privileged class.
    4. Man goes out and beats/kills cops.
    5. Cops now feel oppressed by “cop-haters.”

  • GJ says:

    halt94:
    Another question I have is whether that kind of mental exercise is helpful in getting people to repent of liberalism. I really don’t know the answer to that question, but my intuition tells me no. It just seems like a good way to get lost in the liberal mind trap.

    Possibly, but I’m not sure there’s any significant downside to that. Liberals are already entangled in their mind trap where intentions matter principally. From this it follows that all failed attempts at liberalism are No True Liberalism, insulating them from reality and keeping them in the mind-space of intentions.

  • GJ says:

    Dalrock’s latest post shows a good example of how the dynamic perpetuates violence between different groups and creates its own fuel for self-justification.

    There is another variation:

    1. Commoners adopt liberal model and declare aristocrats prima facie abusers (“Power corrupts etc etc”)
    2. Commoners abuse aristocrats to the point of guillotining them.
    3. Aristocrats (not this particular ones) now hate commoners and regards them as nothing more than violent unruly people that have to be oppressed, lest they violently revolt again.
    4. Aristocrats goes out and beats/oppresses commoners.
    5. Commoners now feel oppressed by “plebian-haters”

  • GJ says:

    insanitybytes22:

    I often find myself caught in a debate between “abortion is empowerment”

    When the liberal has prospect of desired power, the mantra of ‘power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is quickly forgotten.

  • key says:

    forget arguments about liberalism

    it’s all about Statism – doesn’t matter what flavor, communism, fascism, socialism, nationalism – it is all about the power of the State (referring generically to a national government) falling out of balance with free will of the individual

    the State exists to enforce order which is a good, considered over the alternatives of tribalism or anarchy

    the State’s primary function, like the monarchical sovereign, is the monopolization of violence – to imprison, execute or otherwise punish under threat of violence

    when the State expands past its proper limits of protecting the rights of the individual, and protecting the integrity of the State by enforcing order, it inevitably becomes not only incompetent, but malignant in its actions

    any ideology which works to expand the power of the State marches toward totalitarianism and idolizes the state, to the detriment of its natural rivals, individual liberty and non-totalitarian religion

    abortion is legal on demand in the United States because the oligarchy of the supreme court seized power and thrust abortion upon the individual states

    in the, perhaps apocryphal words of internet George Washington, the State is a dangerous servant or a fearful master

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