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Sunday, September 17, 2017

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I should clarify. It is true that they abdicate authority: they fail to do what they should be doing, ignore their most basic duties or responsibilities, etc. So I don't doubt that! Rather, I doubt that they do it just because they're squishy or cowardly or stupid or oblivious (although that is no doubt true of a lot of them). My sense is that (often) they abdicate _because_ they are actively trying to further the evil aims of the evil or stupid or insane faculty and activists and media and state...

Maybe an analogy would help here. The city and state authorities abdicated their authority in Charlottesville. They had a responsibility to allow a peaceful legal right-wing demonstration, and they didn't do any of the obvious simple things they could have done in order to fulfill that responsibility. But they abdicated _because_ they wanted the right-wingers to be hurt, humiliated, demoralized. They wanted the left-wing rabble to be free to throw concrete and feces and urine, spray acid and fire, etc. They knew that would happen if they abdicated their authority, and (clearly) that's why they abdicated. So it would be too optimistic to say merely that the authorities were cowardly or stupid or lazy or incompetent. No. They were on the side of the rabble, and they had the same aims as the rabble, but they hoped to be able to distance themselves (just enough for plausible deniability) from these aims.

In the same way, I think, university administrators and government functionaries who run the education system are pretty clearly on the side of the left-wing rabble who comprise a growing proportion of 'academics' and 'teachers'. They know that if they just do nothing to uphold their basic duties--e.g., defending the expressive or academic freedom of non-leftists--the rabble in the universities will attack dissenters, shame and silence students with 'incorrect' ideas, and so on. And they _want_ that to happen. I don't know how to prove that, but I don't think it's any less plausible than your hypothesis. (Again, allowing that we're not talking about all administrators here but rather a critical mass, the logic of the system.)

Also it's worth noting that administrators will often create new institutional arrangements that are guaranteed to intensify these problems with little or no pressure from faculty or activists or media. For example, many universities have created whole new bureaucracies devoted to 'inclusion' and 'equity'. The sole purpose of these Soviet-style administrative divisions is to ensure ideological conformity through propaganda, HR vetting of employees, witch-hunts against profs who were 'insensitive' in class (or whatever). So even if these things were initially created by apolitical dummies or cowards, the administration of most universities will now include people who were hired precisely because they are ideological morons or frauds--and their job is to persecute free-thinkers and skeptics and conservatives, flush them out and fire them if possible, etc.

When I said, on numerous occasions, that the admins abdicate, I was right; but what I said above, that they abdicate mainly out of cowardice I now admit is probably wrong: they abdicate out of support for the leftist rabble.

I fear you are correct in what you say above.

Some clarification has been achieved. I need to distinguish explicitly between abdication out of cowardice and abdication out of agreement with the destructive forces of the Left.

This leaves us with many questions.

What explains the insanity of what is being said and done? Delusional groupthink? How can anyone in his right mind turn on an Amy Wax who spouts platitudes?

And what is it about you and me that makes is possible for us to see through this patent insanity? Do we have special powers?

I wish I knew the answer to the first question. It's all so extremely weird and pathological that I'm tempted to turn to some kind of supernatural or mythical level of explanation. It's the gradual unfolding of Satan's plan, or it's some kind of deep collective Death Wish rooted in the European soul... or something! But I just have no idea. How _could_ anyone in his right mind believe these things?

The second question is hard too. Of course I think the explanation is just that people like us are normal and reasonable. Everyone else has gone insane. Or they're possessed. My only special power, as far as I know, is that I've always had some confidence in my ability to think for myself. When I was a student and my professors were saying some PC nonsense--that all cultures were equal, say--I trusted my intuition that something was wrong, that there were some pretty good reasons to doubt what they were saying. And over time I allowed myself to 'follow the arguments' even when the conclusions were at first contrary to my programming. And it seems lots of people just won't or can't do that. But I don't know if that explains anything fully.

Actually I can think of a real example of this kind of thing. Once I read Christopher Hitchens essay--many years ago--dismissing some idea about colonialism on the grounds that _of course_ we shouldn't think X because X would imply the disgusting and ignorant notion of 'racial childhood'. That was his phrase, I think. And I remember pausing over that. I noticed he didn't give any reason for thinking that 'racial childhood' was a mistaken notion, and I wondered why. Then I thought he must have some good reasons, and that probably every educated person was aware of these reasons--they were just so familiar that there was no need to mention them. But still I wondered about it: Why couldn't some races or groups of humans be less 'mature' or advanced overall than others? Wouldn't that be a fairly likely outcome of cultural difference, evolutionary difference, and so on? Why couldn't there be differences between groups sort of similar to the differences between individuals--some more or less wise or able than others, some just now catching up to what others had already achieved or discovered...? It just didn't seem that there was any good reason to doubt this, and there seemed to be some reasons for thinking it might be true... And so I was on the lookout afterwards for some hint of Hitchens' reasons. When I read things from educated people on these topics I'd always hope to find some real argument. But there never was one! So eventually I came to think they were all just being irrational or ideological. Anyway, just an example to illustrate what I mean. But maybe lots of people wouldn't be able to get over the initial feeling of a taboo--Stop! CrimeThink!

The following are explanatory factors, I should think: people are extremely suggestible; they have strong needs to be liked and accepted; they lack the courage to go against the mob.

Consider the view that all groups are equal, empirically speaking. We agree that this is false. What explains why otherwise intelligent people subscribe to this falsehood?

I have been toying with this explanation. Start with the non-empirical Christian claim that all men are created by God and are thus equal as persons before God with equal rights, etc. The death of God in N's sense undermines this completely. But leftists don't see this. They want to hold onto the Xian normative claim but without the theological underpinning. They secularize the normative claim transforming it into an empirical claim. But they fail to see that when secularized it becomes false. Holding it to be really true, they invent explanations (racism, sexism, etc.) to explain why it appears false.

I've long had the same idea about the origins of their belief in human equality. Yes, it seems like it's some weird attempt to retain a theological or metaphysical belief without any of the theology or metaphysics that might make it reasonable (or even intelligible).

But this just pushes the question back, doesn't it? I mean, for one thing it's just extremely bizarre to believe that humans are empirically equal in any important ways _regardless_ of how you came to hold that belief. Suppose they're motivated by some vestigial Christian intuitions or something like that. But they don't know it consciously. And somehow these intuitions lead them to believe that, for example, every racial group has the same natural intellectual capacity--in the face of all available evidence, on the basis of no evidence at all? This might well be what happens, but then THAT is just so weird it's hard to understand how any sensible person could undergo this mental process. Especially a philosopher or anyone with any real education.

And the same goes for other things they think. Maybe it's true they invent these ever more ad hoc and weird theories of invisible 'systemic' racism or heterosexism or whatever-the-hell-ism in order to explain why all the evidence makes it seem that their pet theories about human nature aren't really true. But wouldn't you have to be a really weird person--some kind of lunatic--to go through all of these plainly irrational acrobatics just to hold on to some crypto-religious belief that you don't even know you have???

Perhaps leftists deny the plain fact of inequality out of fear that it could be used to deny inferior groups their civil rights.

Five views:

V1: all humans have equal rights; these rights need and have a theological foundation.

V2: all humans have equal rights; these rights cannot have a theological foundation, but they need a foundation. Perhaps a Rawlsian story is told about how in a hypothetical Original Position behind a Veil of Ignorance we would all choose to grant to all equal rights.

V3: all humans have equal rights, but these rights need no foundation at all.

V4: Humans are empirically unequal and this lack of equality justifies unequal rights.

V5: Humans are empirically equal and this equality is what grounds normative equality, equality of rights.

I suspect your view is V4; I incline to affirm V1. V5 is a crazy leftist view; V3 and V4 are much less crazy leftist views.

But in fact everyone agrees with V5 as stated. For instance, people with severely subnormal intelligence are rightly denied autonomy rights and voting rights. And I have no strong objection to V1, if the basic (equal) rights are very few and carefully defined (and if we are only talking about normal humans). Many rights that we now take to be "equal rights" can't be reasonably assigned to people without taking into account empirical facts (e.g., voting rights). So wouldn't you too allow that V5 (carefully specified and researched) could also be true, and consistent with V1?

Oops! Sorry. When I said everyone accepts V5 I really meant V4... And to clarify, did you mean that V4 is a "leftist view"? Maybe in a sense, if thinking rights are based on empirical facts about people rather than theology is a leftist thought?

You must mean V4.

Do you agree with the following? The political judgment of women as a group is not as good as the political judgment of men as a group; yet justice demands universal suffrage.

I intended V4 as entailing a rejection of a propositions like the foregoing.

My impression is that V4 is an alt-right/neo-reactionary position. I blundered when I tagged it as 'leftist'

Just to clarify... As it stands, V4 just seems to mean that different people have different ('unequal') rights because of their different capacities (or other relevant traits). So my suggestion is that everyone already accepts this, at least in some cases. A supreme court judge has certain rights--for example, the right to authoritatively interpret the US Constitution--that other people don't have. That's because the judge is presumed to have superior knowledge or expertise, etc. And everyone seems to think that this is acceptable in principle. Likewise, parents have rights that children don't have, because they're presumed to have superior abilities and knowledge, etc. Adults who are mentally like children are denied certain autonomy rights that normal adults have, because of their inferior capacities, etc. Any reasonable person will accept that there are some cases like this--cases where empirical inequality justifies "unequal rights".

But now suppose we discover that women do tend to be far less capable than men when it comes to political judgment. I don't really see how someone who accepts the preceding kinds of "unequal rights" could object in principle to some proposal that the voting rights of men and women should be "unequal". Maybe votes of women should count for less, for example. I don't see how it would make sense to say that some _theological_ or _spiritual_ equality of men and women (if there is such an equality) requires us to assign just the same voting rights.

If there is a spiritual equality across all human beings, which fails to settle their empirical traits, then the implications of that kind of equality are presumably also spiritual, and make no difference to any rights that depend on empirical traits. In the same way, it's plausible enough that all living beings are equals in some cosmic or spiritual sense. (Imagine a Hinduish reincarnation scheme.) But it doesn't follow that lizards or cows should have any of the same _political_ or _social_ rights or roles that make sense for human beings.

On the other hand, if spiritual equality of some kind does imply things like universal suffrage, I need some explanation of how the relevant spiritual qualities of human beings enable all of them to be competent voters, or to have some interest in voting rather than being ruled by others paternalistically, etc. To me there seems to be no connection.

Still, in answer to your question about universal suffrage, I think I disagree with both conjuncts! I don't think universal suffrage is a requirement of justice; in fact it might be unjust. Why is it just that everyone in society gets to vote--even those who are stupid and uninformed, those who are just parasites or a net drain on society, those who have no interest in the common good of society over the long term? To me that makes no sense. If there is suffrage, my intuition is that it should be severely restricted, or else that some people should get just one vote while others get two and others get twenty... But I'd hesitate to deny women voting rights because I think the political judgment of both sexes is so bad. Millions and millions of men hold idiotic political views that they can't properly defend, views that are poison for society. Is there any good evidence at this point that men on the whole tend to be better at political judgment? I think there are just way too many exceptions--too many sensible women and stupid evil men. So I wouldn't deny all women the vote even if I thought they were more prone to poor political judgment.

But to get to the question of principle, if you could persuade me that (let's say) 99% of women have serious deficits when it comes to political reasoning while 85% of men are just as sensible as you and I, then yes I'd say that denying women the vote was a reasonable policy. Nothing about justice or human dignity or spiritual equality requires us to let them vote even if the empirical situation is like that...

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