David Thompson
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April 18, 2007

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Dan Collins

Extract of Dalrymple? I have a recipe that calls for that.

pwyll

Widespread counterfeit currency can topple a legititmate currency. The widespread acceptance of the inane as learned discourse serves to cast doubt on learning and discourse. Those who can advance no rational arguments find it convenient to devalue rationality.

I describe a possible cure at carnalreason.org/2006/12/08/a-modest-proposal.

clazy

Great: "This is done by exhausting the reader’s efforts to comprehend and reducing him to a state of demoralised dishonesty, whereby absurd and vacuous statements are repeated and endorsed, regardless of incomprehension and for fear of appearing stupid."

This is like one of those stories in which the hero tells a small lie to gain some prize, maybe a girl, or a job, whatever. Coming clean wouldn't cost him much, but instead he tells another lie to cover the first. Sadly that's not the end of it, and that lie is followed by a succession of lies, each to cover the one before, until he's built a house of lies so huge that allowing it to collapse would have terrible consequences, so he's stuck with playing a fraud. In the end, he forgets he was ever anything else.

David Thompson

Pwyll,

“Those who can advance no rational arguments find it convenient to devalue rationality.”

Well, it’s no coincidence that the PoMo figures who denounced rationality and evidence as “oppressive” – including Foucault, Lyotard and Lentricchia – failed to make a rational and substantiated argument for their dodgy political views. I guess it’s also no coincidence that exposure to PoMo politics seems to dull the critical senses and encourage credulity. Thus enthusiasts can pretty much believe whatever they wish, and pretend to be righteous while doing so.

I can’t help thinking the culture would be less demoralised and confused if embittered Marxists hadn’t burrowed into academia and laid their eggs in so many soft student brains.

David Thompson

Clazy,

“…so he's stuck with playing a fraud.”

Indeed, and this might help explain the vague and pompous reactions to dissent. Take one obvious product of postmodern politics – cultural equivalence. As a proposition it’s logically absurd, and it becomes more absurd the more one thinks about it. (For examples, see link below. The opening exchange is from first-hand experience.)

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/the_perils_of_m.html

I’ve had quite a few exchanges with advocates of these ideas, and most went badly in much the same way. The advocate is generally someone who identifies these ideas with personal radicalism, or sophistication, or cleverness. When a particular idea is challenged or refuted the response is often indignation, even anger. A meaningful rebuttal is unlikely to materialise, but there’s a good chance you’ll hear sniffy insinuations of philistinism or accusations of nefarious intent. (If one disproves cultural equivalence one must, apparently, be a racist or a warmonger or a NeoCon imperialist, etc.)

The hostility of the response suggests criticism has been taken as some kind of personal insult. Possibly because it reminds the person that they've not only been duped with pretty stupid ideas, but have been complicit in that deception. Reminding a person of this isn’t likely to make them happy.

clazy

Ken Livingstone’s "race advisor," Lee Jasper, is a jewel: “You have to treat people differently to treat them equally,” he says in your 3AM piece. Pure Orwell.

David Thompson

Clazy,

Yes, it’s Orwellian in its implications. It doesn’t seem to occur to Jasper or Livingstone that multicultural ideology and ‘identity politics’ can actually exacerbate racist feeling among each rival tribe. If some people are being treated differently and being encouraged to cultivate difference for social or political leverage, then getting past a person’s skin colour or place or origin seems more difficult, not less. One is continually being reminded of just how different a person is, or thinks he ought to be.

A cynic might point out that the racial grievance industry - and the various commentators and lobbyists who benefit from it - depends on people being preoccupied by race. And therefore, one might suppose, there’s an incentive to make sure lots of people are.

clazy

Jasper's very job hangs on our obsession with race. His interest is perpetuating difference. He begins the day looking for difference and spends the rest of the day finding ways to make it comfortable. That's simply unnatural, considering the laws of thermodynamics, not to mention everyday experience.

David Thompson

Scott Burgess at the Daily Ablution pointed out that some commentators and pressure groups can detect racism in “homeopathic concentrations.” And this is what happens, pretty much inevitably. The threshold of grievance has to continually be set lower to justify the righteous crusading – and, of course, to justify the job, status, media attention, etc. Eventually, it reaches the level of paranoia and hallucination, or self-fulfilling prophesy by perpetuating the very attitudes it claims to oppose.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that the most racially preoccupied and prejudiced people I’ve met have been uptight lefties. Of course, the very suggestion would provoke wailing and rending of garments. One even insisted that he couldn’t possibly be racist because he isn’t white, and only white people are racist. Apparently.

clazy

I have heard that, too--"only white people can be racist." It's so wondrously ironic that I'm almost delighted in retrospect, though my initial response was closer to disbelief and disgust.

David Thompson

Well, it’s a common enough position. The Guardian’s deputy comment editor, Joseph Harker, has said this, and more, several times: “All white people are racist… As a black man… I cannot be racist… because in the global order I do not belong to the dominant group.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,748306,00.html

Again, it’s another bizarre product of postmodern political thought. For a debunking of this claptrap, see the Ablution piece below.

http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2006/06/more_on_racism_.html

And if a person is exposed to Harker’s views, and the views of others like him, on a fairly regular basis – say, by reading the Guardian – then it’s no great surprise if that person starts to regurgitate the same ‘correct’ set of prejudices.

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