May 05, 2003

Cultural Marxism

Porphyrogenitus asks how to defeat Cultural Marxism, the "Long March through the institutions." I wrote a little about that here, but there is another point that needs to be made.

In any evangelistic movement, there are only two ways to end the movement. Either a competing axiom set must arise, which makes a better fit with the needs of the people exposed to it, or the evangelists must be killed. It is in the nature of evangelism to be persistent and coercive. Otherwise, an evangelist is unlikely to convert anyone to his belief system. It is also in the nature of evangelistic movements to be based on logically-shaky foundations, because if the foundations were logically formed, evangelism would be unnecessary; reason would be sufficient to convince people of the utility of the belief system.

As a result, "bad philosophy" is rampant: it is at the heart of every evangelistic movement, and our schools do not teach reason, logic or other Enlightenment values. (This is likely a deliberate tactic, in order to weaken resistence to the next phases of the Marxist agenda.) Interestingly, this lack of teaching of logic and reason does not merely make it more possible for Cultural Marxism to spread, but also for radical right-wing Christian evangelism - the initial benefactor (during the 1980's to mid 1990's) of a lack of ability to evaluate belief systems. (Note: I am not bagging on Christianity per se, merely the political movement based on the Christian equivalent of Sharia.)

We can reduce the influence and slow the spread of "bad philosophy" by resisting it. We homeschool our children, for example, which removes them from a major source of bad philosophy; and we teach them reason and logic so they can defend themselves against bad philosophies. Of course, some people have concerns that we may be abusing our children. The use of language like John Carey displays is the reason why resistance ultimately is futile: there is always a way for water to seep in. It's not, you see, that he dislikes or distrusts home schoolers; it's just that we have to make sure as a society that people aren't abusing children. This will require us, of course, to control every child and watch every parent closely, but we know you're with us in despising people who abuse children. Once a new (lower) plane is reached, the arguments begin to roll back the newly exposed elements of liberty and reason.

So the resistance is necessary, but temporary. In the end; assuming that we don't want to go the route of killing off the Cultural Marxists, Postmodernists, Transnational Progressives and the like; we will have to find an axiom set that is incompatible with the radical Leftist philosophies. Just as Protestantism took the power out of Catholicism, and "Compassionate Conservatism" and neo-conservatism took the wind out of the paleoconservative sails, it will be necessary to find an ideology which will woo the Leftists themselves - not the bulk of the public, which rejects the Leftist idiocy at every turn.

We need an axiom set which will attract the salvagable Leftists, isolating the unreformable radicals. This axiom set needs to be less destructive, in that it needs to limit State intervention to situations which are exceptional and specifically-defined, rather than having State intervention be the norm. The axiom set needs to focus on Justice and Fairness - the key concepts underlying the Leftist agenda - but actually provide for those attributes without becoming tyrannies. Frankly, the Leftist point of view is so far from mine that I cannot see what that axiom set would be. I hope someone can come up with one, though, because it would be a real shame to see mass killings in a few decades. Particularly because it seems to be the radical Leftists who are prone to committing the mass killings, and if that were to happen it would likely be the children of the Enlightenment - such as myself and my family and most of my friends - who would be the ones being killed. Oh, we'd take a few out with us, but it would be nice to just settle this peacefully.

One thing that I think might hold some hope is that world-changing events have been taking place, and more will be coming soon. In particular, the events of 9/11 have made people more resistant to radical ideologies, which will help to slow much of the Leftist agenda, at least over the next few years. In addition, there is some chance that we will finally begin private expansion into space. If Rutan's Space Ship One and projects like it are successful, we might begin the path to the colonization of space. Such an expansive movement will give a place for the idealists and dreamers to go and confront reality, and in the past has been one of the reasons that countries like Britain, the US and Australia - all active in robust frontier exploration - have tended to be both freer and more productive than stagnant societies like the European Continentals.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus comments both here and on his blog, and has some good points, so I wanted to address them. The points I want to talk about basically boil down to "been done" and the concept of ex-migration.

Porphyrogenitus notes that classical liberalism started from just this kind of break with the past, by creating new axioms to win away people from an existing movement. That's kind of my point, actually. I perhaps should have scarequoted "Justice" and "Fairness", because the Left does not use the same meanings that someone with, say, a dictionary and a grasp of the English language might use.

The radical Left - and Porphyrogenitus points this out continually and admirably - has a public face which is all about good intentions. They'd like you to please ignore the heat-soaked road off to the left. And the Left is immune to criticism, in the sense that they define every viewpoint and even matters of demonstrable fact as being part of a narrative, which they simply refuse to accept if it does not fit within their theory. Clearly, the theory is correct; therefore reality lacks conviction. Thus, since we cannot criticize the Left on reasonable terms, we must use their cant against them, much like a practitioner of judo throws his opponent using the opponent's own momentum. We must find a way to make their publically-acceptable good intentions lead to actual good deeds. That said, Porphyrogenitus has an excellent point that I need to think about more: "So this would bring us full circle, but with a strong tendency to continue the circle right around without getting us out of the quandry."

On the other point, I don't really see ex-migration as a panacea. I think that tyranny is almost inevitable in human relations; it is a very stable state. It takes much hard work to maintain a free state, in the sense that order is maintained and otherwise individuals are free to act according to their Will. At the heart of this is essential human laziness. Faced with no existential threat, humans just want someone else to take care of the problems and leave them alone. This makes it easy for a free society to degrade quickly into a tyranny.

The Founders in the US got it almost perfectly right. The one mistake that they made (in a Liberty sense - I'm not addressing the issue of slavery here) was to make it too easy to change certain parts of the Constitution. For example, the representation of the States in the Senate is far more crucial to American Liberty (because it acts as a check on a runaway Federal government) than the voting age, yet both are equally easy to modify. When we gave up the States' representation, turning the Senate into a long-serving and less representative House of Representatives, we set up the conditions for the big-government programs we've had since the Depression. I believe that had the Founders split the Constitution into two parts, the essential and the mechanical, and made it easy to change the mechanical aspects and frightfully difficult to change the essential aspects, we would be more resistent to creeping Socialism and other types of bad philosophy.

But even then, there is always the possibility of a moment of fear, when we give up essential Liberty for transient and often illusory safety. As a result, it seems only a few hundred years might pass between the attainment of Liberty and the onset of tyranny. (Other cultures have obtained Liberty in the sense we understand it, but I'm unaware of any who've kept it for more than 500 years.) So ex-migration can keep those who are willing to take risks for Liberty free, but only so long as they keep moving deeper into the frontier. When they stop and settle down, they will almost certainly fall into tyranny within a few hundred years.

As to places on Earth where we could go, I'd pick Alaska. It has rich natural resources, an independent mindset already in place, geography which makes it not much of a threat to anyone, and it borders only Canada. Plus, the population is small enough that an influx of people with a common goal could tip the political balance. That said, though, it's not a very practical idea. We'd still have to deal with the Federal government, and secession is a well-settled issue.

Posted by Jeff at May 5, 2003 11:58 AM | Link Cosmos

I added a link to your post, and some of my comments on it, to that post.

One additional thing: don't think ex-migration (or even internal migration of the sort Walter E. Williams has proposed, with those of us who favor limited, constitutional government moving to Texas & Louisiana and peacefully separating, secceding, into a new nation. But I note I still live in Colorado - and he still lives in Virginia) hasn't crossed my mind.

In my less practical moments I've considered not only space, but making a deal with Australia involving a population swap of some kind (we go there and join with Australians of the "Enlightenment", and their Pomo Tranzi Neo-Com Cultural Coms and other Statists all come here).

It's a fantasy, though. Like I said, even Walter E. Williams, who's talked about the idea of migration and secession, still lives in Virginia, and apparently has no plans to move to one of the places (Texas or Louisiana) he suggests we migrate to.

Posted by: Porphyrogenitus on May 5, 2003 02:32 PM

Two other observations:

1) also, on ex-migration, I've often wondered why people who go on and on about how wonderful Europe is and how they'd like it if things were more like Europe don't just move there, rather than trying to force the rest of us to make Europe for them here. But of course that's not their point - the point is to spread certain things world-wide, not let each do their own in their own way.

2) I had also hoped that a silver lining in the bloody cloud of 9/11 might be an awakening that caused a re-evaluation of Leftist dogmas. But it didn't happen. So I went back to being gloomy.

For a time, some people (like Andrew Sullivan) were saying that 9/11 "changed everything". For a (fairly brief) time, I had thought that it *might* do so.

You notice that no one talks in such sweeping terms; they do talk about the transformative effects 9/11 had (because there were undoubtable transformations as a result), but not in such huge terms, and never about the impact on sweeping away the intellectual dross and rot within the West itself.

Indeed, they (the radical Left; it's as hard to apply one term to them in many ways as it is to the radical/jihadist/fascist islamist set) just incorporated 9/11 into their litany, their narrative.

Posted by: Porphyrogenitus on May 5, 2003 02:52 PM

Frankly, I believe it's way too early to guage the extent of 9/11's transformative effects. It may very well have impacted our view of intellectual rot in the West and caused a re-evaluation of Leftist dogmas. Much of this would probably occur subconsciously, so I believe it will take some years before we notice that is what has taken place (if indeed it has). I think it has, but only time can bear that out.

Posted by: Brian on May 5, 2003 10:34 PM
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