Where is Our Escape from Stupid?

 

Historically, traditional religions have sometimes required a sacrificium intellectus, a subordination of reason to faith, or more often, to some fixed expression of that faith. But there is no example in the history of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam of a mandated rejection of reason comparable to the scope of what is now required of adherents to the woke religion:  Denial of the biological reality of boys and girls, bizarre notions of race, gross misreadings of history, spectacularly failed climate models and failed dire predictions, rejection of economic realities, and a weirdly fetishized notion of “science.”  The growing list and sphere of mandated pure stupidity are frightful.

Judaism has a strong tradition of respect for and encouragement for the use of reason.  The medieval Christian scholastic philosophers developed the notion of the “unity of truth” which means that nothing which is true can contradict anything else that is true. (Thomas Aquinas would say that if you find an instance of conflict between science and faith, then it is your grasp of either or both truths that is deficient.)  An optimism about knowledge and discovery has animated western culture for centuries.  Islam, in stark contrast, threw away its enormous head start in science, math, and philosophy in the 11th century.  Defenders of the enormously influential al-Ghazali say that he did not expressly reject the physical sciences.  However, the net effect of the acceptance of his works was a broadly shared adverse disposition to the cognitive state required to do science.

But medieval Islam was still more open to the use of reason than the modern woke.

How many times has the required service to the woke narrative (e.g., the Duke lacrosse team, the Covington kids, manufactured campus hate crimes) meant promoting or falling for hoaxes?

Adherents of the new religion are not embarrassed by having espoused utterly absurd notions such as the notion that the Hunter Biden laptop is fake but the Steele “dossier” is real.  MSNBC’s rejection of professionalism and of any moral obligation to find and report the truth in exchange for applause from the faithful within the bubble is a scary dress rehearsal for state control. The current hysteria directed at Elon Musk is not about permitting “hate speech” but denying the woke clerisy the power to censor and silence dissent of any kind.  Reason and discourse themselves are what is haram for the woke.

For me, the real shock of the mid-terms is that even a minimally rational evaluation of the unprecedented degree of failure of the Democratic performance under Biden should have produced a broad consensus repudiating Biden’s party.  Now we are left to ask:  What percentage of American voters are still capable of performing that kind of objective, detached evaluation?

Some time back I needlessly burned some bridges with conservative think tank friends by denigrating their efforts to build databases and policy papers about the importance of the family and the value of economic freedom.  I said that such work presumes that appeals to rationality still matter.  In fact, the use of and reliance upon rationality is itself receding under sustained attack.  It is no longer just about pointing out the relevant facts and the data but finding a way to make people care about facts and data and reject the new pseudo-religious mindset that is the express enemy of our cognitive heritage.  What are we doing to reverse that trend such that facts and data can matter?  Why keep building trains if somebody is tearing up all the tracks and closing the stations?

The conventional Marxist critiques of the philosophical and theological underpinnings of our very successful western culture are devolving into irrational screeds about the imminent death of the planet, the planned KKK/police force slaughter of minorities now enabled by Elon Musk, the Supreme Court in league with the pope to impose the Handmaid’s Tale on women and lurking behind it all is, of course, the specter of Adolph Trump. The mainstreaming of deep stupid seems like a cultural death knell.

The appeal of communism for the last century and a half was not driven by a widespread understanding of the labor theory of value and Hegelian dialectic but by an appetite for a moral framework to replace one that appeared to be in decay and to provide a moral and political force to get revenge against those who unjustly prospered under that failing order.  Never mind all those heartless capitalists not sharing ownership of the means of production, how many of the woke are really rebelling against distant, self-absorbed, oft-divorced, valueless parents with nothing of value to pass on?

The challenge for my non-religious conservative friends and allies is to recognize that this is at root, a religious struggle.  Rational discourse, even of the highest quality, will not fill the particular void that the woke faith currently occupies, nor will it penetrate the ever-thickening layer of stupid.  If not by means of a substantive religious conversion, how do the woke escape the prison of pure stupid that is growing stronger and more impenetrable every day?  What is the powerful competing vision that can liberate those with sufficient remaining conscience and goodwill to become normal once again?  It is very much the “vision thing” as a previous one-term GOP president once put it.  Where and what is that vision?

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos: What is the powerful competing vision that can liberate those with sufficient remaining conscience and goodwill to become normal once again? 

    This sentence struck me as I read it a couple of times. There is no need for them to go back to “normal.” They have re-defined normal according to their own liturgy, and have no need for the undesirable beliefs that held back the country. They are liberated, you see, with their woke religion, having converted to the new way of being. Those old ideas have been cast on the trash heap of capitalism.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.   (Friedrich Schiller)

    • #2
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Old Bathos: The challenge for my non-religious conservative friends and allies is to recognize that this is at root, a religious struggle. 

    This non-religious conservative friend and ally emphatically agrees.  

    • #3
  4. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Great post!   The last politician with national appeal and a positive vision was Reagan.   But his vision was one of free individuals with rights and responsibilities pursuing their dreams unencumbered by Big Government.   The Left has spent 40 years denigrating individualism.   The culture wars – which we scarcely bothered to fight – have been lost.   Now, the very concept of individualism is a dirty word associated with “racism” and/or “toxic masculinity”.    Individuals have existence only as part of a group and value equates to victimhood.    

    In this environment the only messages that resonate with both sides are not ones of free individuals, free markets and limited government but ones of competing tribes and control of the levers of government to use the machinery of the State against enemies large and small.   We have become addicted to active Government as the cure for all our ills.

    These attitudes are more or less fixed.   I don’t think there is a way of avoiding what is coming.   If you tell your supporters – who define themselves by their grievances – that THE OTHER is the author of the wrongs done them.   And tell them that over and over.   And none of the policies you advocate make things better for them.   Sooner or later they are going to take things into their own hands.   Assuming they still believe the narrative, they will turn that rage against the Other.   If the Other is the problem, then there is an obvious solution.   

    We are very near that point.   And have arrived there much faster than I feared.   Like most addicts, I’m afraid we need to hit rock bottom before we can change.

    • #4
  5. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    This post is of the quality one would normally see in the conservative press. Outstanding.

    • #5
  6. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    It’s an interesting group we’re fighting against. You’d think one group they could be compared to is the French Revolution and its attempt to replace religion with Reason. However, as you point out, they have “a weirdly fetishized notion of ‘science'” and reject reason. When people try to debate them by pointing out that biology shows only two sexes, the comeback is that ‘science has changed old man’, but it’s not grounded in reality.

    • #6
  7. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Ekosj (View Comment):
    Like most addicts, I’m afraid we need to hit rock bottom before we can change.

    I hope you’re wrong.  But I suspect you’re right.

    God help us.

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Al French (View Comment):

    This post is of the quality one would normally see in the conservative press. Outstanding.

    And not just in the so-called conservative press.  :-)

    • #8
  9. Al French Moderator
    Al French
    @AlFrench

    BDB (View Comment):

    Al French (View Comment):

    This post is of the quality one would normally see in the conservative press. Outstanding.

    And not just in the so-called conservative press. :-)

    True. I meant to imply that the rest of the press is so woke one wouldn’t see it all. Thanks for clarifying.

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Al French (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Al French (View Comment):

    This post is of the quality one would normally see in the conservative press. Outstanding.

    And not just in the so-called conservative press. :-)

    True. I meant to imply that the rest of the press is so woke one wouldn’t see it all. Thanks for clarifying.

    Not correcting — just appreciating.

    • #10
  11. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    I think life straightens out the misconceptions that college profs push. It sounded good in the Humanities courses I had to take. Nothing really pushed back. But go get a job, get married, buy a house, have a couple of kids. Upon reflection, the profs were noise. Influential way beyond its imaginary justifications, but noise.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Joker (View Comment):

    I think life straightens out the misconceptions that college profs push. It sounded good in the Humanities courses I had to take. Nothing really pushed back. But go get a job, get married, buy a house, have a couple of kids. Upon reflection, the profs were noise. Influential way beyond its imaginary justifications, but noise.

    I used to think so but (a) the bubble of stupid has embraced HR depts and otherwise corrupted much of the off-campus world and (b) the illogic of high stupid will find a way to blame all adversity on the unreformed society that still allows reality a say.  I have met young lawyers who have successfully kept a huge share of reality at bay for their entire young lives.

    • #12
  13. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):

    I think life straightens out the misconceptions that college profs push. It sounded good in the Humanities courses I had to take. Nothing really pushed back. But go get a job, get married, buy a house, have a couple of kids. Upon reflection, the profs were noise. Influential way beyond its imaginary justifications, but noise.

    I used to think so but (a) the bubble of stupid has embraced HR depts and otherwise corrupted much of the off-campus world and (b) the illogic of high stupid will find a way to blame all adversity on the unreformed society that still allows reality a say. I have met young lawyers who have successfully kept a huge share of reality at bay for their entire young lives.

    Most of those professors seem to be isolated from the consequences of having governments implement the ideas they push. I’ve always thought that they believe there should be no consequences for anyone’s actions. 

    • #13
  14. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Old Bathos: It is no longer just about pointing out the relevant facts and the data but finding a way to make people care about facts and data and reject the new pseudo-religious mindset that is the express enemy of our cognitive heritage.

    I understand what you describe is in their mindset but I cannot conceive that such people care about anything. I mentioned in another thread that the emptiness of their mental capacity to even care about facts and data is what allows their disregard for the loss of life due to abortion, urban crime, drug overdoses, and military conflict to look like some sort of conspiracy. Stupid does this.

    • #14
  15. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: It is no longer just about pointing out the relevant facts and the data but finding a way to make people care about facts and data and reject the new pseudo-religious mindset that is the express enemy of our cognitive heritage.

    I understand what you describe is in their mindset but I cannot conceive that such people care about anything. I mentioned in another thread that the emptiness of their mental capacity to even care about facts and data is what allows their disregard for the loss of life due to abortion, urban crime, drug overdoses, and military conflict to look like some sort of conspiracy. Stupid does this.

    It is not the stupid per se that causes the moral inversion.  Start with a global accusation against western civ (and God) for all injustice and personal grievances.  The victim mindset is key because it is then only The Other who sins.  Whatever the victim does in response is not culpable.  There is nothing more dangerous (or seductive) than the idea that other people’s sins justify mine.  Stupid then lets one exaggerate or invent the sins of others such that one is beatific by comparison.

    • #15
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: It is no longer just about pointing out the relevant facts and the data but finding a way to make people care about facts and data and reject the new pseudo-religious mindset that is the express enemy of our cognitive heritage.

    I understand what you describe is in their mindset but I cannot conceive that such people care about anything. I mentioned in another thread that the emptiness of their mental capacity to even care about facts and data is what allows their disregard for the loss of life due to abortion, urban crime, drug overdoses, and military conflict to look like some sort of conspiracy. Stupid does this.

    It is not the stupid per se that causes the moral inversion. Start with a global accusation against western civ (and God) for all injustice and personal grievances. The victim mindset is key because it is then only The Other who sins. Whatever the victim does in response is not culpable. There is nothing more dangerous (or seductive) than the idea that other people’s sins justify mine. Stupid then lets one exaggerate or invent the sins of others such that one is beatific by comparison.

    Those initial pieces then might actually be a conspiracy led by Satan.

    • #16
  17. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Eventually, doesn’t the wokest woke come across a gay/trans/minority ahole? Just a matter of time. While it might not turn him into a cis MAGA warrior, he may realize that he’s overvalued their virtue. Experience can be a pretty potent teacher.

    • #17
  18. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: It is no longer just about pointing out the relevant facts and the data but finding a way to make people care about facts and data and reject the new pseudo-religious mindset that is the express enemy of our cognitive heritage.

    I understand what you describe is in their mindset but I cannot conceive that such people care about anything. I mentioned in another thread that the emptiness of their mental capacity to even care about facts and data is what allows their disregard for the loss of life due to abortion, urban crime, drug overdoses, and military conflict to look like some sort of conspiracy. Stupid does this.

    It is not the stupid per se that causes the moral inversion. Start with a global accusation against western civ (and God) for all injustice and personal grievances. The victim mindset is key because it is then only The Other who sins. Whatever the victim does in response is not culpable. There is nothing more dangerous (or seductive) than the idea that other people’s sins justify mine. Stupid then lets one exaggerate or invent the sins of others such that one is beatific by comparison.

    Also the new philosophy of victimology has established the now entrenched  concept that those of those still  clinging to the usual standards of a civilized society are involved in a patriarchy and are hopelessly unaware of the many sins of said system.

    So as ignorant as these Lefties are, they presume that we are the ignorant.

    When I passed up opportunities to assemble with other women in their Women’s Marches, Feb 2017, as marching around with a vagina hat did not seem likely to get us women more respect, several acquaintances wanted me to read the many various historical accounts of all the wrongs done to  women. These accounts portrayed the wife beatings in the 1700’s, and up to the current date. Women not allowed to own property, not allowed to vote.

    A hundred or more litanies of wrongs which  the male patriarchy had imposed on women.

    I’d already read many of those tomes. But one objection I had to those historical accounts is that the women authors acted as if all these abuses occurred in a vacuum, where all the men were entitled dukes and earls, who simply doled out heaps of disrespect and little in the way of respect for the ladies, while having their suits tailored and their tea cups endlessly refilled.

    In reality, men in the 1700’s and 1800’s did not have it easy either. If working class, they toiled from before sun up til late in the evening. Just contemplating one day in the life of a coal miner was enough to make me grateful for life in the US in the Twentieth Century.

    My explanation for my  attitude did not dispel the looks of contempt that then came my way.

     

    • #18
  19. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    The Left has spent 40 years denigrating individualism.   The culture wars – which we scarcely bothered to fight – have been lost.   Now, the very concept of individualism is a dirty word associated with “racism” and/or “toxic masculinity”.    Individuals have existence only as part of a group and value equates to victimhood.

    I don’t think this is as simple as this.

    There are some aspects of liberalism that are very invested in individualism as it disconnects from common relationships such as family, church (or voluntary association), community, and nation. They promote this atomized individualism through libertinism and hedonism. However, they embrace, as part of individual identity, strict identity associations based on what they claim to be immutable identities.

    It should be the exact opposite of what the right does, but there are some on the right that struggle with some of the relational connections, as well, especially as they are closer to libertarian on the conservatarian continuum.

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I was going to try to post a video interview I watched a couple days ago with Andrew Klavan interviewing an author on Marxism and critical theory, but it appears to have been erased from YouTube and also my history. 

    This moderate lefty professor talked about leftism having no foundation in truth or reality. That everything is subjective and changeable based on the power struggle between groups. “Reality” is whatever a group creates in order to acquire power over others. And only neo-pagan Marxists get it “right” because they understand this dynamic.

    It’s a religion alright. It’s satanic. Change my mind. 

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    And why hasn’t this excellent post been promoted to the Main Feed? Is it because it’s critical of Islam? Just curious.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    And why hasn’t this excellent post been promoted to the Main Feed? Is it because it’s critical of Islam? Just curious.

    As a point of information, only 3 posts (including a podcast) have been promoted today.  I wouldn’t draw any conclusions yet (not that I have any idea).

    • #22
  23. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    And why hasn’t this excellent post been promoted to the Main Feed? Is it because it’s critical of Islam? Just curious.

    As a point of information, only 3 posts (including a podcast) have been promoted today. I wouldn’t draw any conclusions yet (not that I have any idea).

    We’ve been down to one editor for some time now. Poor Mr. Gabriel can’t be in all places at once. 

    It’s on the Main Feed where it belongs. 

    • #23
  24. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Excellent as usual, Mr. B.

    The great predicament for people with heads above the shoulders is that a positive vision is hard to come by when there’s an abundance of evidence that says despair is smart man’s play. The advantage to our side of the theological divide is that we understand that no small share of suffering is the ethos of a meaningful life. It’s bleeping hard, and going about it with the kind of dignity that inspires others to willingly sign up is even harder.

    But they’re weaker than our side tends to believe. Their numbers are bigly massaged by ambivalent bliss-ninnies—there are very few true believers. And like Joker said above, when the former meet the latter the former do not like it. The annoyingly ambivalent will have to pick the religion that they can at the very least tolerate. Our side is a little more practiced in the toleration that woksters have taken for granted—unaccepted you’re welcomes might be in order.

    It’s not that I’m especially hopeful, but we have a few things going for us. “Use your words!” is their thing. I think we have some things to show.

    I could go on, but I’m pretty sure I have an old, (maybe) mostly-finished post in my draft box that gets to the good stuff.

    • #24
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