Owning liberals with facts and logic is a losing game. The hard-core liberal, like all ideologues, is immune to the power of reason. The future of the American regime, to say nothing of the fate of Western civilization, will not be decided by superior arguments.
This will sound like heresy to the Ben Shapiros of the world, who have made a name for themselves challenging liberals to open debate in the “marketplace of ideas.” The wisest minds in the history of philosophy from Plato to Locke, by contrast, have known full well that some human beings simply cannot be educated. In Book X of the Nicomachean Ethics, written some 2,500 years ago, Aristotle argues that some people can only learn through beatings. And those who cannot learn at all, he argues, should be deported from the city. A harsh assessment, perhaps, but the fundamental point is well taken. Even being whacked upside the head with literal two-by-fours is not enough to teach the most fervent political fanatics to recognize reality.
Anyone who has tried debating the most ferocious COVID enforcers or middle-aged liberal wine aunts (but I repeat myself) will swiftly realize how persuasion is lost on a mind warped by ideology.
Take Ketanji Brown Jackson’s recent insistence that she could not provide a definition of the word “woman” because she is not “a biologist.” If Jackson cannot provide a definition of the word woman, we may also assume that she cannot provide a definition of the word “black” because she is not an ethnologist. Therefore, since we don’t know what a woman is, and we don’t know what being black means, might we reasonably conclude that Judge Jackson is neither of those things?
For all we know, today’s “experts” might very well determine that she is a white male. In which case Ms. Jackson’s (or, more accurately, Mr. Jackson’s) nomination to the Court is not historic at all. She/he will simply join the long pantheon of other white males nominated to the Supreme Court and thereby perpetuate the history of systemic racism and white supremacy. Jackson should check his privilege!
This train of logic is stupid, of course. Jackson isn’t arguing from a principled understanding of nature or reality. She doesn’t have a coherent metaphysics with which anyone must seriously grapple. She knows exactly what it means to be a woman when it comes to sexual harassment cases . . . and affirmative action hiring decisions.
Trying to piece together how liberals understand gender and sexuality is an exercise in upside-down logic. I am told that liberals believe in materialism. If so, what do we make of transgenderism? If literal flesh and blood genitals don’t determine gender, then liberals must believe in some spiritual reality. A biological man may be born with a female essence or soul. In which case, liberals are not materialists at all. But where does this essence come from if one’s “innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither” is the real foundation of gender identity, as the Human Rights Campaign puts it?
But if choice is the basis of identity, then how do we explain Lady Gaga’s profound philosophical insight that some individuals are simply “born this way”? Is homosexuality therefore genetic? Could homosexuality tests one day be administered in the womb, for instance? Or is a longing for same-sex relations a product of environmental conditions? Are we really to believe that homosexuality is inborn but gender is the result of choice?
I leave the careful parsing of these byproducts of left-wing word manufacturing to Ben Shapiro and company. Given enough rounds of spritely rhetorical combat, these gifted conservative talmudists will, I’m sure, finally convince the liberals to concede the error of their ways. Fedoras will be tipped by all sides upon the inevitable conservative victory. “You must concede that you have been owned by my superior intellectual powers, my good sir.”
Yes, yes! A winning strategy, indeed!
Or not. The Right needs to recognize that metaphysics and justice are totally separate. Human beings, for the most part, do not choose their political identities through rational argument or because of systematic claims about nature but rather because of deep, subconscious instincts, and peer pressure.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the famed Soviet dissident, cuts to the core of the problem in his novel In the First Circle. In the chapter titled “The Leading Ideology,” all the members of the sharaska, a concentration camp for intellectuals in the gulag system, attend a lecture on Marxism as part of their reeducation. In a scene reminiscent of a modern American diversity seminar, the enslaved scientists (along with their guards) are subjected to a mandatory 90-minute presentation on the political principles of the regime.
The speaker promises to explain all of reality to them in one sitting. Quite a promise! It is all bullshit, of course. The philosophical underpinnings of communism—the “dialectical materialism” of Marx and Engels—is simply a jumble of words that papers over true reality. The claims about historical progress and revolutionary change are simply unprovable assertions. The real basis of communism, as Solzhenitsyn shows, is not rational argument, but a will to power. The fierce resentment of the Marxists against God, against the strong, and against the successful, explains their brutal ideological dictatorship far better than any series of claims about the nature of reality.
“Political philosophy,” for most people, is simply the patina of words that covers their secret longing to dominate. The same hatred—of Christian civilization, of success, and of order—that animated the communists of Solzhenitsyn’s day, motivates the liberals of ours. The same human types, the same weirdos, outcasts, perverts, and losers, gravitate to liberalism as to communism. They do this not out of some great philosophic insight or because they have been persuaded by an argument, but because of their innate psychological, spiritual, and biological drives.
Mockery, humor, and rhetoric are therefore far more effective weapons against the liberal project than reason and logic. The American Right should rely on appeals to instinct and common sense far more than on complex Socratic treatises. An avalanche of words cannot change a deformed nature.
It is true, some human beings simply do not know what their genitals mean or where they ought to go. Others want to live in the ever-present shadow of the COVID biomedical security state. Still others want permanent global civil war in the name of human rights. None of these types understand their own self-interest or the human good. They don’t grasp the importance of self-preservation or the connection between a healthy social life and happiness. They don’t know what human life is for.
A precious few of these ideologues can be saved by arguments. Many more can be discouraged from their wayward path by mockery and a loss of honor. And for those who won’t submit to either?
Well, there’s always the two-by-four.