Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Give Me Relativism or Give Me Death

 

Relativism, the creed of today’s academy, claims that no objective ranking can be imposed on different beliefs or “truths” in any given domain. We cannot, for example, say that the ideas contained in Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, are in any way better than those contained in a “bodice-ripper” paperback romance. Nor can we claim that one culture is superior to another. Presumably, there is also nothing to choose between a college Civil Engineering textbook and the instructions that come with an Erector set. In short, there is no absolute capital “T” truth. Small “T” truths exist, but they are valid only within the context of the observer’s frame of reference – that is, limited to the observer’s culture, era, sex, race, etc.

But what is a relativist do when faced with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? According to Darwin, those organisms that best adapt to their environments survive while those that don’t adapt or adapt less well die out. The information encoded in the former’s DNA has proven to be objectively better than that coded in the latter’s, and better in a very fundamental sense – survival. Nature is the ultimate domain-spanning judge.

The relativist would reply that this holds true only within the context of a given environment. Frogs well-adapted to survive in the tropics quickly die in Siberia. Fair enough. But how, then, to explain homo sapiens? Human beings survive by adapting their environments to themselves rather than by adapting themselves to their environments. Instead of growing thick fur, we fashion clothes. In place of sharp teeth or claws, we make tools and weapons. Instead of sharp eyes, we create telescopes and microscopes. In other words, human beings transcend their environment rather than being either constrained or defined by it.

The ability to survive in any environment is objectively better than the ability to survive in only one if, for no other reason, that environments change. Earth’s climate endlessly cycles through ice ages and warming periods. Land once underwater emerges, dry land becomes submerged.

Global markets play nature’s role in the economy. Goods and services that “survive” are better – as judged by hundreds of millions of consumers – than those that don’t. So, we can objectively say that using a spreadsheet application on a PC is better than counting on fingers and toes, antibiotics outperform a witch doctor’s dance, and painless dentistry is far superior to the alternatives.

Relativists are certain to disagree, but it’s safe to assume that they will write their erudite, scathing, and unanswerable rebuttals on a laptop rather than using styluses to impress their thoughts into wet clay tablets. We can also safely assume that, should they come down with a serious infection, they’ll prefer penicillin to death.

In other words, relativists don’t really believe their claims, or – at the very least – they don’t act as if their beliefs are true. Could it be that their beliefs are true all the same? Sure. But if to survive, you must act as if your beliefs are false, what purpose do those beliefs serve?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 29 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. RightAngles Member

    The mental gymnastics these people have to go through every day! It’s exhausting just thinking about it. They must have to get up each morning and frantically comb the internet to figure out what they’re supposed to be for or against today. Islamists tied gay men to chairs and threw them off a roof? Do we condemn Islam? Wait, no that would go against our Muliticultural sympathies. But they killed gay guys! Wait GAHHHH

    It’s so much easier to have core beliefs. Why can’t they see that?

    • #1
    • August 5, 2020, at 5:29 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    They must have to get up each morning and frantically comb the internet to figure out what they’re supposed to be for or against today. Islamists tied gay men to chairs and threw them off a roof? Do we condemn Islam?

    Can a relativist be against anything? If throwing gay guys off roofs is right from an Islamist perspective, who’s to say it’s wrong? Admittedly, it doesn’t work for the gay guys, but they’ve got a different, though equally valid, perspective.

    • #2
    • August 5, 2020, at 5:42 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. Django Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    The mental gymnastics these people have to go through every day! It’s exhausting just thinking about it. They must have to get up each morning and frantically comb the internet to figure out what they’re supposed to be for or against today. Islamists tied gay men to chairs and threw them off a roof? Do we condemn Islam? Wait, no that would go against our Muliticultural sympathies. But they killed gay guys! Wait GAHHHH

    It’s so much easier to have core beliefs. Why can’t they see that?

    All you have to do is make a judgement against almost anything and one or more of them will tell you not to be “judgmental”. Then, you just say, “Aren’t you being a little judgmental about me?” Or if one of them says that there are no absolute values, you can ask if they are stating that as an absolute claim. Not all that much fun though, because it’s sort of like hunting dairy cows with a Rigby .416 big-game rifle. 

    • #3
    • August 5, 2020, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. Maguffin Member

    Well, for the Theory of Evolution, you could say they were just relatively better at surviving.

    • #4
    • August 5, 2020, at 7:05 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. MartinB Coolidge

    A Venezuela where Maduro is a nobody and citizens have bread is objectively no better than a Venezuela where Maduro is an obscenely rich tyrant and starving citizens eat rats. Especially if you’re Maduro.

    They want to be Maduro while we starve. That’s the purpose their beliefs serve.

    • #5
    • August 5, 2020, at 8:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas PrattJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MartinB (View Comment):

    A Venezuela where Maduro is a nobody and citizens have bread is objectively no better than a Venezuela where Maduro is an obscenely rich tyrant and starving citizens eat rats. Especially if you’re Maduro.

    They want to be Maduro while we starve. That’s the purpose their beliefs serve.

    Bingo. Relativism is a useful lie.

    • #6
    • August 6, 2020, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Just because they pretend to deny their right to judge doesn’t mean we have to play that game. It’s not as if they are in any way sincere, see: Cancel Culture.

    • #7
    • August 6, 2020, at 8:49 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Maguffin (View Comment):

    Well, for the Theory of Evolution, you could say they were just relatively better at surviving.

    It’s survival of the luckiest. The fittest are just the ones who were dealt the best hand at the extinction event.

    • #8
    • August 6, 2020, at 8:51 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Relativism was the entry point for radicals from the 70s into the early 21 century, a technique designed to disable the ability to think. But it was only a tactic used to confuse and then empty people’s brains. Over the past decade the new content of social justice/critical theory has been pouring into people’s brains and it is not relativism anymore. The proponents would completely reject the language you are using to describe reality. They will not engage you on your terms. They want to redefine the terms. They believe their language is better than yours, and that their language can, in and of itself, create a new reality. You talk about Truth, they talk about Power. If they win, by their definition they are right and their Power will create the new Truth.

    • #9
    • August 6, 2020, at 8:57 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Richard Fulmer:

    In other words, relativists don’t really believe their claims, or – at the very least – they don’t act as if their beliefs are true. Could it be that their beliefs are true all the same? Sure. But if to survive, you must act as if your beliefs are false, what purpose do those beliefs serve?

    I do not think that this is truly the creed of the modern academy. A tactic, a strategy, perhaps, but not a core belief. After all, they all loudly fall in line for the latest leftist dictat. They believe in power, absolute and irreversible power.

    • #10
    • August 6, 2020, at 10:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Titus Techera Contributor

    At the level at which you’re arguing, I think all you’d have to say is that relativism is the creed of the elite part of the most successful power in world history, so they’re by definition the result of evolution. They win, you lose, game over.

    But there is surely something preposterous in this sort of argument.

    Now, if we recur instead to something serious, relativism is properly understood as moral relativism, the teaching of the value-free social science of the 20th c., itself based on the distinction between facts & values, & therefore between judgments of fact, which are held to be scientific, rigorous, available to evidence & falsification–& judgments of value, which are essentially irrational, passionate, all about commitment. The relativist does not deny that two & two is four–he denies that you can draw moral consequences from that or any other fact.

    Understood this way, it is far more obvious why relativism should have arisen–from the obvious differences between the natural sciences & human affairs. There is no correlative of modern physics in the human domain. There is no progress of knowledge, nor any possible experiment to reveal the truth. That, then, is reinterpreted as the progress of knowledge–since it cannot be proved that any religion or other belief is true, all of them should be treated skeptically & a society constituted based on neutrality to belief–a liberal society, tolerant, for contemptuous of all the beliefs which, in contrast with the power of modern science, are revealed to be weak. At least so long as those beliefs do not slow down the advance of the world of facts & the science of administration.

    Since today everyone speaks of values, pretty much everyone is a relativist. Maybe the distinction is between fanatics who claim they will hold on to their views whatever the rest of the world does or says or believes–& skeptics who don’t really believe in anything strongly. But the opposite of a relativist was once the proponent of natural rights liberalism–those men who, like Jefferson, claimed that reason can elucidate our nature to the extent required for the establishment of political institutions. That was the Enlightenment–back then people drew moral consequences from natural facts.

    • #11
    • August 6, 2020, at 10:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    At the level at which you’re arguing, I think all you’d have to say is that relativism is the creed of the elite part of the most successful power in world history, so they’re by definition the result of evolution. They win, you lose, game over.

    But there is surely something preposterous in this sort of argument.

    Now, if we recur instead to something serious, relativism is properly understood as moral relativism, the teaching of the value-free social science of the 20th c., itself based on the distinction between facts & values, & therefore between judgments of fact, which are held to be scientific, rigorous, available to evidence & falsification–& judgments of value, which are essentially irrational, passionate, all about commitment. The relativist does not deny that two & two is four–he denies that you can draw moral consequences from that or any other fact.

    Understood this way, it is far more obvious why relativism should have arisen–from the obvious differences between the natural sciences & human affairs. There is no correlative of modern physics in the human domain. There is no progress of knowledge, nor any possible experiment to reveal the truth. That, then, is reinterpreted as the progress of knowledge–since it cannot be proved that any religion or other belief is true, all of them should be treated skeptically & a society constituted based on neutrality to belief–a liberal society, tolerant, for contemptuous of all the beliefs which, in contrast with the power of modern science, are revealed to be weak. At least so long as those beliefs do not slow down the advance of the world of facts & the science of administration.

    Since today everyone speaks of values, pretty much everyone is a relativist. Maybe the distinction is between fanatics who claim they will hold on to their views whatever the rest of the world does or says or believes–& skeptics who don’t really believe in anything strongly. But the opposite of a relativist was once the proponent of natural rights liberalism–those men who, like Jefferson, claimed that reason can elucidate our nature to the extent required for the establishment of political institutions. That was the Enlightenment–back then people drew moral consequences from natural facts.

    But yet some people did argue that Einstein’s theory of relativity meant that ‘everything is relative’ in a broader way than one limited to physics and to science. (He almost called it ‘the theory of invariance’, referring to the invariant velocity of light..wonder if that would have made a difference?)

    “The relativist does not deny that two & two is four–he denies that you can draw moral consequences from that or any other fact”…actually, there is a school system which is denying that 2+2=4, and numerous arguments for this denial can be found on the web…ran into some of them yesterday, I’ll link if I can find again.

    • #12
    • August 7, 2020, at 4:55 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Relativism was the entry point for radicals from the 70s into the early 21 century, a technique designed to disable the ability to think. But it was only a tactic used to confuse and then empty people’s brains. Over the past decade the new content of social justice/critical theory has been pouring into people’s brains and it is not relativism anymore. The proponents would completely reject the language you are using to describe reality. They will not engage you on your terms. They want to redefine the terms. They believe their language is better than yours, and that their language can, in and of itself, create a new reality. You talk about Truth, they talk about Power. If they win, by their definition they are right and their Power will create the new Truth.

    The first part of this Andrew Sullivan column from last week goes through Critical Theory and gives the best explanation I’ve ever seen.

    https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-roots-of-wokeness?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

     

     

    Just stop reading when you get to the section heading “The President vs the election, once again”.

     

    • #13
    • August 7, 2020, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. MiMac Thatcher

    The postmodernists will say that all claims of truth are simply expressions of power- when they are in power their will be plenty of claims of truth…..

    • #14
    • August 7, 2020, at 5:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    re 2+2=4, see this:

    http://americandigest.org/in-china-theyre-doing-advanced-calculus-here-our-mentally-deficient-are-arguing-about-22/

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    =

    • #15
    • August 7, 2020, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Since today everyone speaks of values, pretty much everyone is a relativist.

    We speak now of values; we used to speak of virtues. 

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    There is no progress of knowledge, nor any possible experiment to reveal the truth.

    There is life and experience. We know that life tends to reward the so-called “bourgeois virtues” of self-reliance, persistence, dependability, thrift, diligence, honesty, creativity, tolerance, and civility while it also penalizes vices such as profligacy, negligence, deceit, bigotry, and discourtesy.

    • #16
    • August 7, 2020, at 5:45 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Brandon Member

    Here’s a brief explanation of the sneakiness of the postmodern mind:

    By the early 1980’s, the internal contradictions had been exposed. They claimed that there was no such thing at “capital T” Truth, only a bevy of metanarratives, cultural truths that were built by the powerful to oppress the weak. These metanarratives should, of course, be destroyed. The modernist called their bluff. What would these narratives be replaced with if not more narratives?

    Thus, by the early 80’s, postmodernism sunk into the morass of nihilism. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that critical race theory, gender theory, and queer theory discovered that they could use the narrative destroying language of postmodernism to tear down the structures they don’t like and replace them with their own. Once their narrative was in place, they’d conveniently abandon the relativism stance and declare their own ideology as pure Truth.

    • #17
    • August 7, 2020, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Titus Techera Contributor

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    There is life and experience. We know that life tends to reward the so-called “bourgeois virtues” of self-reliance, persistence, dependability, thrift, diligence, honesty, creativity, tolerance, and civility while it also penalizes vices such as profligacy, negligence, deceit, bigotry, and discourtesy.

    Creativity is not a bourgeois virtue; honesty, only in a limited sense.

    But Americans used to be far more bigoted & far less tolerant than they are now–yet those long gone Americans did far better than the ones alive now, who are apparently trying to destroy the country. More & worse, after a few generations of tolerance, we have vast hatred. So who knows whether tolerance can even work out? It’s a challenge, nothing proven.

    Or put it another way: The most tolerant Americans ever, perhaps the most tolerant people ever, cannot bother to reproduce enough to stagnate. This is life coming at America, fast.

    If you want the full statement of the problem you’re dealing with, consider that all the virtues you’re talking of–or at any rate all the virtues Americans had until recently–are leading to a vastly wealthy elite class that hates your guts & wants conservatism to disappear, not necessarily all that peacefully.

    If you think of America as comparable to those liberal regimes in Europe, which were quite bourgeois, well, they didn’t end up well either.

    It’s a worrisome thought that liberal regimes hardly seem to last a century…

     

    • #18
    • August 7, 2020, at 9:50 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Titus Techera Contributor

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Mr. Foster, this is not relativism, but the denial of scientific knowledge, which is something else. It cannot even be called skepticism exactly, since skepticism is a philosophical position argued from nature.

    This is mostly theater, but in some cases the histrionic hysteria is quite in earnest about the wish to destroy science & the elites it’s created, following from the belief that the intelligent are immoral inasmuch as they prefer, to go back to the schema above, facts to values. One may say that relativism necessarily creates fanaticism.

    I recommend one of my recent essays at American Mind on this conflict between fact- & value-based Progress.

    • #19
    • August 7, 2020, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Brandon (View Comment):
    It wasn’t until the late 90’s that critical race theory, gender theory, and queer theory discovered that they could use the narrative destroying language of postmodernism to tear down the structures they don’t like and replace them with their own. Once their narrative was in place, they’d conveniently abandon the relativism stance and declare their own ideology as pure Truth.

    Exactly the idea behind the 1619 Project – and the main author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, even admitted that it wasn’t history but an attempt to control the narrative.

    • #20
    • August 7, 2020, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Creativity is not a bourgeois virtue

    How does one become an entrepreneur if not by creativity? A businessman needs to be able to see the possibilities that each new change brings. 

    • #21
    • August 7, 2020, at 9:56 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    If you want the full statement of the problem you’re dealing with, consider that all the virtues you’re talking of–or at any rate all the virtues Americans had until recently–are leading to a vastly wealthy elite class that hates your guts & wants conservatism to disappear, not necessarily all that peacefully.

    The problem isn’t with free markets, the problem is that government has cut the feedback loops that tie actions to consequences. In the process, government policies have destroyed and de-moralized both industry and institutions.

    In his pamphlet, The Pathology of Privilege: The Economic Consequences of Government Favoritism, economist Matthew Mitchell states:

    At various times and places, [special] privileges [granted to companies] have included (among other things) monopoly status, favorable regulations, subsidies, bailouts, loan guarantees, targeted tax breaks, protection from foreign competition, and noncompetitive contracts. Whatever its guise, government-granted privilege is an extraordinarily destructive force. It misdirects resources, impedes genuine economic progress, breeds corruption, and undermines the legitimacy of both the government and the private sector.

    As the consequences of self-destructive actions (such as extravagance, dropping out of school, having children out of wedlock, and drug and alcohol abuse) are increasingly borne by others, the incidence of such behavior will rise. At the same time, as the rewards for hard work, perseverance, and integrity fall, such virtues can be expected to fade.

    • #22
    • August 7, 2020, at 10:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    If you want the full statement of the problem you’re dealing with, consider that all the virtues you’re talking of–or at any rate all the virtues Americans had until recently–are leading to a vastly wealthy elite class that hates your guts & wants conservatism to disappear, not necessarily all that peacefully.

    The problem isn’t with free markets, the problem is that government has cut the feedback loops that tie actions to consequences. In the process, government policies have destroyed and de-moralized both industry and institutions.

    In his pamphlet, The Pathology of Privilege: The Economic Consequences of Government Favoritism, economist Matthew Mitchell states:

    At various times and places, [special] privileges [granted to companies] have included (among other things) monopoly status, favorable regulations, subsidies, bailouts, loan guarantees, targeted tax breaks, protection from foreign competition, and noncompetitive contracts. Whatever its guise, government-granted privilege is an extraordinarily destructive force. It misdirects resources, impedes genuine economic progress, breeds corruption, and undermines the legitimacy of both the government and the private sector.

    As the consequences of self-destructive actions (such as extravagance, dropping out of school, having children out of wedlock, and drug and alcohol abuse) are increasingly borne by others, the incidence of such behavior will rise. At the same time, as the rewards for hard work, perseverance, and integrity fall, such virtues can be expected to fade.

    The problem is your description of free markets, with no government actions to cut feedback loops, is like those who say “real socialism” has never been tried. We exist within a political world in which no “real” theory is ever practiced in reality. The question is how best to get the optimum results we desire within that political world and, I don’t just mean the specifics of 21st century politics. 

    • #23
    • August 7, 2020, at 10:27 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    The problem is your description of free markets, with no government actions to cut feedback loops, is like those who say “real socialism” has never been tried. We exist within a political world in which no “real” theory is ever practiced in reality. The question is how best to get the optimum results we desire within that political world and, I don’t just mean the specifics of 21st century politics. 

    Well, let’s start by rolling back government policies that create and sustain poverty. For example, let’s stop:

    • Penalizing companies for hiring low-skilled workers. Minimum wage laws make it more expensive to hire such workers and make it that much harder for the least employable (i.e., the least educated, the least experienced, and the most discriminated against) to get and retain a job.
    • Proliferating job licensing. Why, for example, does Louisiana require 1,200 hours of training before someone can go into business arranging flowers?
    • Creating new regulatory hoops for would-be business owners to jump through. 
    • Restricting school choice. Parents should be able to get their children out of failing schools and into schools in which they can actually learn to read and write.
    • Imposing rent controls, which create shortages of low-cost housing.
    • Imposing zoning restrictions, which create shortages of low-cost housing.
    • Teaching people that the system is “rigged” against them and that any effort they make to improve their lives and those of their families is doomed to fail.
    • #24
    • August 7, 2020, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-roots-of-wokeness?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

    I think Sullivan is right that much of this is driven by a monomaniacal focus on *power*…see my post Professors and the Pornography of Power, which cites Jonathan Haidt and C S Lewis on the subject.

    • #25
    • August 7, 2020, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Flicker Coolidge

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    At the level at which you’re arguing, I think all you’d have to say is that relativism is the creed of the elite part of the most successful power in world history, so they’re by definition the result of evolution. They win, you lose, game over.

    But there is surely something preposterous in this sort of argument.

    Now, if we recur instead to something serious, relativism is properly understood as moral relativism, the teaching of the value-free social science of the 20th c., itself based on the distinction between facts & values, & therefore between judgments of fact, which are held to be scientific, rigorous, available to evidence & falsification–& judgments of value, which are essentially irrational, passionate, all about commitment. The relativist does not deny that two & two is four–he denies that you can draw moral consequences from that or any other fact.

    Understood this way, it is far more obvious why relativism should have arisen–from the obvious differences between the natural sciences & human affairs. There is no correlative of modern physics in the human domain. There is no progress of knowledge, nor any possible experiment to reveal the truth. That, then, is reinterpreted as the progress of knowledge–since it cannot be proved that any religion or other belief is true, all of them should be treated skeptically & a society constituted based on neutrality to belief–a liberal society, tolerant, for contemptuous of all the beliefs which, in contrast with the power of modern science, are revealed to be weak. At least so long as those beliefs do not slow down the advance of the world of facts & the science of administration.

    Since today everyone speaks of values, pretty much everyone is a relativist. Maybe the distinction is between fanatics who claim they will hold on to their views whatever the rest of the world does or says or believes–& skeptics who don’t really believe in anything strongly. But the opposite of a relativist was once the proponent of natural rights liberalism–those men who, like Jefferson, claimed that reason can elucidate our nature to the extent required for the establishment of political institutions. That was the Enlightenment–back then people drew moral consequences from natural facts.

    But remember, ethics has a purposeful function, related to justice and mercy, equity and rightness. “Situation ethics” was nothing more than the attempt to reduce ethics to the point where anything was arguably ethical.

    • #26
    • August 7, 2020, at 11:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    From Titus Techera’s post at American Mind: “Just as there is an identity built around Slate Star Codex and other such venues—one that gives people habits, manners, ideas—so also there is another one built around destroying these venues.”

    Some thoughts by Arnold Kling on demonization and dopamine, cited here:

    https://www.isegoria.net/2020/08/demonization-becomes-a-winning-darwinian-strategy/

    • #27
    • August 7, 2020, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Titus Techera Contributor

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    If you want the full statement of the problem you’re dealing with, consider that all the virtues you’re talking of–or at any rate all the virtues Americans had until recently–are leading to a vastly wealthy elite class that hates your guts & wants conservatism to disappear, not necessarily all that peacefully.

    The problem isn’t with free markets, the problem is that government has cut the feedback loops that tie actions to consequences. In the process, government policies have destroyed and de-moralized both industry and institutions.

    In his pamphlet, The Pathology of Privilege: The Economic Consequences of Government Favoritism, economist Matthew Mitchell states:

    At various times and places, [special] privileges [granted to companies] have included (among other things) monopoly status, favorable regulations, subsidies, bailouts, loan guarantees, targeted tax breaks, protection from foreign competition, and noncompetitive contracts. Whatever its guise, government-granted privilege is an extraordinarily destructive force. It misdirects resources, impedes genuine economic progress, breeds corruption, and undermines the legitimacy of both the government and the private sector.

    As the consequences of self-destructive actions (such as extravagance, dropping out of school, having children out of wedlock, and drug and alcohol abuse) are increasingly borne by others, the incidence of such behavior will rise. At the same time, as the rewards for hard work, perseverance, and integrity fall, such virtues can be expected to fade.

    The problem is your description of free markets, with no government actions to cut feedback loops, is like those who say “real socialism” has never been tried. We exist within a political world in which no “real” theory is ever practiced in reality. The question is how best to get the optimum results we desire within that political world and, I don’t just mean the specifics of 21st century politics.

    It’s astonishing that anyone could look at the fact that Silicon Valley is trying to censor conservatives altogether & react to that massive fact with fantasies about tut-tutting the poor for their bad behavior. Academia, the media, the federal bureaucracies–these people despise conservatives & want to outlaw Christianity? Blame the poor people–they’re dropping out of school, aren’t they?

    This is political suicide.

    • #28
    • August 7, 2020, at 1:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    It’s astonishing that anyone could look at the fact that Silicon Valley is trying to censor conservatives altogether & react to that massive fact with fantasies about tut-tutting the poor for their bad behavior. Academia, the media, the federal bureaucracies–these people despise conservatives & want to outlaw Christianity? Blame the poor people–they’re dropping out of school, aren’t they?

    This is political suicide.

    I don’t understand how that relates to either my pointing out that paternalistic government policies de-moralize people or Gumby Mark’s comment that pure capitalism isn’t an option. No one was talking about blaming the poor for anything. My suggestion was to end government programs that create poverty.

    • #29
    • August 7, 2020, at 3:10 PM PDT
    • Like