PC and the Poets

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PC and the Poets

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1barney67
Editado: Mar 10, 2012, 12:08pm

Sci-fi/fantasy author John C. Wright wrote a long, maybe too long, argument about why political correctness and drama, the stuff of fiction, are incompatible.

http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/03/thought-police-and-the-poets/

"My objection to political correctness, as a Christian, is that it is diabolic; as a conservative, that it is Marxist; as a philosopher, that it is not merely untruthful but openly nihilistic and irrational; as a practical man, that it makes rational conversation about any controversial topic all but impossible; as a gentleman that is substitutes political fashion for true courtesy; but as a writer my objection is that Political Correctness lacks drama.

To support this point, it would behoove us first to define the elements of drama, and second to define Political Correctness. But PC is a school of thought that is esoteric in the literal sense of the word, that it, a school of thought whose point not to be defined, and who go to great lengths, even to the denial of truth and reality, to undermine attempts to define it.

Despite this, it is not that hard to define. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, that is, the Marxist analysis of all human history into a single factor: the Darwinian war between oppressor-class and oppressed-class. Everything is a power struggle; all human relations are power relations. In the case of Political Correctness, it is culture rather than economics which is said to be determined by power struggles."

2barney67
Mar 10, 2012, 12:13pm

In the comments to this article, if you end up reading the whole thing, I was reminded again of the problem I have with Rand—and many people fall into this trap. That is, the myth of Economic Man, that is man is a creature solely (or soullessly?) driven by economics. I don't find the myth an especially conservative or tenable position.

3lawecon
Mar 10, 2012, 1:37pm

Wrong, as usual, about just about everything.

"Political correctness" isn't Marxism. It is just elevating civilized and polite behavior to a legal rule. That is wrongheaded but it isn't nearly Marxism. Further, it is something that you as a Kirkian Conservative should endorse. The fact that your polite behavior and the polite behavior of a person who isn't a xenophobe or homophobe are somewhat different doesn't change the principle.

Your notion that Rand believed in Man as Economic Man simply illustrates that you've never read Rand. Her views were much more distorted than that view.

4Jesse_wiedinmyer
Mar 10, 2012, 1:41pm

I find this pretty amusing, given that deniro is one of the prime proponents of the idea that literature has a specific directive to uplift humanity without looking any of the nasty messy bits.

5barney67
Mar 11, 2012, 1:51pm

I don't know why you two insist on replying when I have said repeatedly that I have you on Ignore. There's no point. I have no respect for your opinions, and I would guess others feel the same way.

6Makifat
Mar 11, 2012, 2:02pm

It's funny that you continue to respond to posters, rather than to the opinions expressed. Both 3 and 4 make valid observations, particulary #4. I'ver read you making this same argument time and again, no matter how often it gets shot down.

It's also pretty funny that you continue to make a big deal about having these two on "ignore", when you obviously aren't ignoring them. You're just ignoring their point-of-view, not a particulary helpful position in a discussion.

If you want to operate in a vacuum, why don't you just create your own private group with only yourself as a member?

7barney67
Editado: Mar 11, 2012, 11:29pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

8lawecon
Mar 11, 2012, 6:11pm

~5

Wrong again. Try to focus.

You are posting to a public forum. The fact that you have someone on ignore creates no obligation on the part of that person not to correct your persistently wrong statements.

I know that in your mind it it is all about you and what you want, but it isn't. There is a real world out there independent of you and your beliefs. You insist on spouting wrong assertions about that world, other people are going to correct those wrong assertions.

9barney67
Mar 11, 2012, 6:23pm

What? What?

10Makifat
Mar 11, 2012, 7:12pm

Look Ma, off in the distance, the idiot brigade is passing by

Just as a point of order, if one message attacks two - or possibly three - posters, does that mean each flag should count double or triple?

11barney67
Mar 11, 2012, 11:29pm

What?

12lawecon
Mar 12, 2012, 12:48am

Amazing how Jesse is sensitive about some things. Like, for instance, someone commenting on his constant stream of abusive comments without any substantive content.

13lawecon
Mar 12, 2012, 12:49am

~9 and 11

It's O.K., Deniro, I am sure someone will explain it to you. Just not me - given your display of gratitude for my past explanations.

14Jesse_wiedinmyer
Mar 12, 2012, 3:33am

Like, for instance, someone commenting on his constant stream of abusive comments without any substantive content.

I also cry when I watch Steel Magnolias.

15lawecon
Editado: Mar 12, 2012, 9:31am

~14

It is nice to have appropriate reactions to something, even if it is only a film. Now if you could just work on focusing on the substance of what is being said and coming up with something other than a smartass comment in response......

16barney67
Mar 12, 2012, 11:13am

Damn hearing aid…must've been all that speed metal I listened to as a teenager…

17Toolroomtrustee
Mar 12, 2012, 12:44pm

>>2 barney67:
In the comments to this article, if you end up reading the whole thing, I was reminded again of the problem I have with Rand—and many people fall into this trap. That is, the myth of Economic Man, that is man is a creature solely (or soullessly?) driven by economics. I don't find the myth an especially conservative or tenable position.
>>

There you go again: commenting on a writer you admit you haven't read in years, and have limited yourself to reading to only a portion of her work.

To repeat what I said last time, you don't have to have read everything to comment on her, but the idea that she subscribes to the "myth of Economic Man" is patently false to anyone who has read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

For more info, I suggest you get in touch with Richard Salsman, who has published critiques of the "Economic Man" claims common among many economists.

18barney67
Mar 12, 2012, 2:42pm

And I will repeat to you that it is unnecessary to read an entire body of life's work to understand the position of a writer, with the possible exception of Kierkegaard.

I remember you saying that it was "sad" that I had neither the time nor the inclination to read Objectivist epistemology, but I would guess that you are a college student who has yet to confront the realities of life beyond books. There are demands, you see, and little time, and I have confronted the philosophy you espouse to my satisfaction and found it severely wanting. It has few adherents and will never be anything more than a fringe philosophy that appeals to outsiders.

There's that big dollar sign at the end of Atlas Shrugged that fails to take into account all the motivations and messiness that go into human behavior. I find Randism to be a mirror image of Marxism. Both could not see past economics.

But that isn't really what the post was about…it was more about PC…

19Toolroomtrustee
Mar 12, 2012, 2:55pm

You're wrong on every claim you make against me and against Rand.

I just don't see how you can hope to accomplish anything in the realm of ideas if you behave like that.

20Makifat
Mar 12, 2012, 8:34pm

I would guess that you are a college student who has yet to confront the realities of life beyond books.

Or maybe he just understands things better than you do. But then, he's hardly unique in that.

21lawecon
Editado: Mar 12, 2012, 11:26pm

~18

"There are demands, you see, and little time, and I have confronted the philosophy you espouse to my satisfaction and found it severely wanting. It has few adherents and will never be anything more than a fringe philosophy that appeals to outsiders.

There's that big dollar sign at the end of Atlas Shrugged that fails to take into account all the motivations and messiness that go into human behavior. I find Randism to be a mirror image of Marxism. Both could not see past economics."

As someone who passed being a "college student" about 40 years ago, but who did read about everything that Rand and her cult had written between the ages of 15-30 (including the really obscure stuff in The Objectivist and The Objectivist Newsletter) I am amazed that you think that her's was some sort of economically based "philosophy." What it is is watered down Nietzsche melded with worship of creator entrepreneurs. Rand didn't have a clue about Economics, and it was one of the few fields in which she admitted to not having a clue - claiming that Economics was, in any case, a form of social mechanics existing to aid the implementation of egoistic ethics.

Marx, OTOH, who I use to teach as a part of courses on the history of ideology, was only partly a neoRicardian economists - with respect, only, to his economic growth theory, which picked up on certain comments in the latter chapters of Ricardo's Principles which Ricardo never himself developed and built them into an alternative system of technological progress. (See, e.g., the summary in Engel's Wage Labour and Capital Marx was, however, equally or more devoted to a sociological theory of classes, to a social psychological theory of class mentality, and, of course, to a radical historicism that the Classical Economists would have looked at with bewilderment.

22barney67
Mar 13, 2012, 10:59am

What?

23barney67
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 11:14am

19 -- I've accomplished quite a bit in "the realm of ideas" thank you very much, at least to my satisfaction, but I left the tougher stuff (Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas) behind in college—I'm not likely to come home from work and pick them up. I read for entertainment now and not in the hope that I can crush people in debates with the force of reason. (What has reason to do with human behavior?) But I can say that I've read and understood Rand and was once one of her cheerleaders. When I was 16. A long time ago. And I understand much more now that I did when I was a kid, much more about human behavior and much more about what is important and what is not, what is worthy of my time and what is not.

I hope we can agree to disagree without resorting to insults. I think you're wrong and that's it. I've wasted too much of my life thinking about the nonsense of Ayn Rand. I suggest you spend your time in richer pursuits.

24Toolroomtrustee
Mar 13, 2012, 12:01pm

I really don't think I've resorted to insults, if that's what you're implying; this forum has seen a lot worse.

I think one of the big differences between me and you is that if someone presents an argument about one of my assumptions, I'll make the time to investigate it. Not necessarily right away, but I will at some point.

For example, you previously said Rand was like Nietzsche. Now you're saying she's like Marx. To me this argument makes little sense, given that Marx and Nietzsche come from very different philosophical traditions and contexts. That is an assumption of mine. Now if someone well-read in philosophy insists that Nietzsche actually borrowed heavily from Marx *and provides references*, I'll look into it.

Based on some exchanges with you, I just can't see you doing something comparable if you are called on one of your assumptions. Maybe that's unfair, but then you've made some pretty bold statements about me, mind you.

This dismissive approach to opposing arguments is behaviour I've experienced with politically correct academics and activists, incidentally.

25Arctic-Stranger
Mar 13, 2012, 12:21pm

I never thought I would say this, but I think Deniro is more right than wrong about this. Except that I would say that in practice, Rand was more like more like Lenin than Marx. (I am thinking here of her treatment of Nathan Brand, and her general attitude toward those who refused to toe her party line.) As to philosophy, I would agree that Nietzsche is a bit of a stretch, but not by much. His Ubermensch and her notion of the Free Individual are not that far apart.

26Toolroomtrustee
Mar 13, 2012, 12:44pm

Fine, except I'm going to practice what I've been preaching and suggest you read The Journals of Ayn Rand, where Rand's deliberations over Nietzsche are in evidence, and try to get some work by John Ridpath, retired from York University, who distinguishes Rand from Marx, from Lenin and from Nietzsche in separate works.

There is of course, Chris Sciabarra's Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical who deals with the same topic, though his arguments are hotly debated among Rand scholars.

These people make arguments, not just assertions.

Where does she use the term "Free Individual"? She does use the term "New Intellectual", a practitioner of rationality, a virtue Nietzsche did not have much regard for.

It's Nathaniel Branden, by the way.

27Toolroomtrustee
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 12:56pm

Incidentally, if Rand really were just like Marx or Nietzsche, wouldn't it stand to reason that academia would be more congenial to her ideas?

Every third-rate Marxist has been given a warm reception in the university world. Why not her?

28Arctic-Stranger
Mar 13, 2012, 12:56pm

mea culpa on Brandon. I should know better. I knew his work as a psychologist long before I knew his association with Rand.

Just to be clear. I am not saying Rand IS a Leninist or a Nietzchian. (Is that even a word?) Just that there are some disturbing similarities.

As to reading someone else's journal, life is too short. She wrote books. They should stand for themselves.

29Toolroomtrustee
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 1:49pm

Well the whole exercise of checking the index of a library copy and looking up "Nietzsche"would take about five minutes in a library or bookstore, but whatever. I couldn't make a single statement about Marx in university without one of his followers giving me an intense lecture about what had been discovered in the "Gundrisse" - but fine, I see that by the rules of academia, I'm not allowed to do the same for Rand.

That said, I'm puzzled how life is too short to check your mistakes but not too short to make them in the first place.

One of the great faults of Rand's is that she couldn't understand how people kept connecting her philosophy to the people you mention. She thought a sentence or two was all it took to differentiate herself from other thinkers.

As I re-read my rhetorical question in #27, I see I've set myself up for someone saying, "Because she's a fifth-rate Marxist". Just wanted to get there first.

30barney67
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 5:30pm

I'm not getting into a pissing contest about who knows how to think or debate, as this is the method of my comrades on Ignore, who would be much happier putting me on Ignore, lest they give themselves massive coronaries.

I don't think it is so far-fetched to say Rand has similarities with both Marx and Nietzsche. Why am I forced to choose one over the other simply because the two are not identical? Like Arctic suggested, Rand's super heroes seem very much intended to be the ubermensch. John Galt obviously comes to mind. Rand's sense of herself and of Nathaniel Branden as superior individuals comes to mind. We know, of course, that they were not superior individuals, anymore than we believe that John Galt is anything but a caricature not likely to be seen in real life or even in better novels. I don't see why these two points, one fictional and one nonfictional, are not allowed to enter the discussion. Instead, I must read The Journals of Ayn Rand? No thanks. I have evidence already. I don't need to see more inconsistencies and contradictions in her philosophy, because I have seen enough.

(By the way, academia is amenable to Marxism hostile to capitalism, while also being hostile to Rand's super capitalism. Not identical. Mirror images. Academics here are being consistent in their suspicions about capitalism, liking Marx, hating Rand. But they are still wrong.)

I can't persuade you detail by detail that people are not idea machines, that there are no Galts nor will there ever be. One need not be well read in Nietzsche to know that. I think the difference here is between college and real life. I don't debate like a student. I use more of my experience to inform what I've read. The mistake you're making, among others, is that you define people solely by their ideas, and think that these ideas can be traceable whole cloth to philosophers. Ergo: Know the philosopher, know the idea, know the person. It doesn't work. A person is more than a funnel of ideas. Rand got that one wrong too. It made her social interactions impossible.

31Toolroomtrustee
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 6:40pm

My position is simply this: when someone tells you that you are wrong about something, *and presents an argument*, what do you do about it? Your position appears to be that it's okay to ignore it.

I have repeatedly said that you don't have to read extensively about a topic to have an opinion on it. No. Considering references surely qualify as a reasonable strategy though, in life as it is in academia.

In any case, I'm not just aiming these references at you, but to anyone who contributes to or lurks on this forum. (I do occasionally get private messages about them). That last exchange we had over Rand started as someone unfamiliar to her work asking for a starting point. Like this fellow, most readers have heard of her, and some hear misinformation about her, spread by people like you.

You appear to be a man of faith. You must encounter what you consider misunderstandings of Christianity, or for that matter of Conservatism, all the time. When you hear false statements do you ever, ever, sit idly by without stating your two cents? Not likely. I would imagine you choose your battles, and speak out when you can. An online forum strikes me as a good place to do just that. That definitely is my policy.

32lawecon
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 7:55pm

~30

"I'm not getting into a pissing contest about who knows how to think or debate, as this is the method of my comrades on Ignore, who would be much happier putting me on Ignore, lest they give themselves massive coronaries."

I didn't think that laughing too hard had that effect. I guess I had better watch out.......

33barney67
Editado: Mar 13, 2012, 8:08pm

I see misunderstandings, falsehoods, lies, insults, bait, passive-aggressiveness—all over the Internet. No, I don't always feel compelled to correct or to throw in my two cents. Less so all the time. I ignore certain groups, certain threads. Sometimes I get annoyed but try...try... to exercise restraint.

In fact, esp. on Library Thing where I am vastly outnumbered, I usually say nothing. If I wanted to, I could spend all day arguing or at least make glib, sarcastic remarks. Pretty quickly I can see where a person is coming from, so there is no need for comment. There is nothing to win. The power of rational persuasion is vastly overrated. I keep several people, maybe 6 or 7, on Ignore and simply ignore their posts. I don't read them, though they continue to vent. It takes a very small mind and fragile ego to comment on people who have you on Ignore and get the last word.

It's good to be passionate about ideas and books. I appreciate your enthusiasm. You want to win more than I do. I won't say I have no interest in debate. I have some. But I certainly don't have as much interest as I used to. The reasons for that are complex and only become apparent over time. My reading interests, moreover, have changed over the years.

34Makifat
Mar 13, 2012, 8:59pm

I'm not getting into a pissing contest about who knows how to think or debate...

Having read your very amusing posts for the past few years, I'd say that contest ended a long time ago. The fact that you are incapable of defending your thoughts, and have proven so again and again, is what brings some of us, or at least me, coming back again and again. Your posts are masterful examples of a complete lack of self-awareness. Maybe if you proved yourself capable of responding to a contrary viewpoint, you'd get a little more respect. But, no, you just default to self-defensiveness, which your most recent posts illustrate to hilarious effect.

If but the gods the gift could gi'e us...

32
Yeah, that was my first reaction as well.

35lawecon
Mar 13, 2012, 10:14pm

`~33

"No, I don't always feel compelled to correct or to throw in my two cents. Less so all the time. I ignore certain groups, certain threads. Sometimes I get annoyed but try...try... to exercise restraint.

In fact, esp. on Library Thing where I am vastly outnumbered, I usually say nothing."

How, ah, virtuous, at least in your own eyes. But that is what Kirkian Conservatives always do, isn't it? They define their behavior as the standard of virtue.

36Toolroomtrustee
Editado: Mar 14, 2012, 1:38pm

33 ... The power of rational persuasion is vastly overrated. ...

The Closing of an American Mind.

37barney67
Mar 14, 2012, 9:12pm

36 -- I take that as an insult. It's false. My mind isn't closed. It's open to the idea that there is more to human behavior than reason. If you think you can win over people by the power of your logic, go right ahead.

38Makifat
Editado: Mar 15, 2012, 12:48am

If you think you can win over people by the power of your logic, go right ahead.

Only people who can - or are willing to - follow a logical argument are likely to be influenced by one.

Of course, those who are afraid of where the argument might take them simply build walls of ignorance around themselves. I don't see #36 so much as an insult as a diagnosis. A pretty apt one, I would say.

39Toolroomtrustee
Mar 15, 2012, 11:54am

All the Web's a stage, and we are merely writers
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience inside the cybernetic cage.

In other words, all one has to go on in judging participants in these forums is what others say, not observations about how they really live their lives.

I do mean to suggest that denigrating reason opens you up to an anti-intellectual frame of mind, and thus behaviour. My view of "reason" starts with sense experience and active integration, not empty deduction, and not something divorced from individual choices and behaviour.

To bring the thread back to the topic, you are entirely right in alerting people to the toxicity of political correctness, which makes your stance on reason all the more tragic. The political correctness advocates - the feminists, the deconstructionists, the post-modernists - despise reason and the Enlightenment. Do conservatives really want to join hands with this lot?

Even if you no longer read epistemology, perhaps you still read early American history. Try this book, for which I've written a review: The Enlightenment in America (Twayne's World Leaders Series.

If you know of another way to win people over to a better way of thinking, and therefore living, please let me know. I don't think intimidation works, and I don't look so great naked, so reason and logic as persuasion tools are all I'm left with.

40Arctic-Stranger
Mar 15, 2012, 12:42pm

If you know of another way to win people over to a better way of thinking, and therefore living, please let me know. I don't think intimidation works, and I don't look so great naked, so reason and logic as persuasion tools are all I'm left with.

As a professional communicator for seventeen years (Presbyterian minister) I can say that if reason and logic are the only the only tools you have in your box, you are pretty marginalized when it comes to public debate. (Or as Maslow said, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.)

If nothing else, go back to Aristotle: Ethos, Logos, Pathos. I don't think I have seen many improvements on that.

41Toolroomtrustee
Editado: Mar 15, 2012, 1:26pm

>If nothing else, go back to Aristotle: Ethos, Logos, Pathos. I don't think I have seen many improvements on that.

But I have. Where do you think a reader discovers and nurtures a regard for reason? Leibniz?

Abraham's "hammer" is what I meant by intimidation.

With all due respect to your experience, Presbyterian gatherings are pretty sparse in my neck of the woods.

42Arctic-Stranger
Mar 15, 2012, 1:47pm

Not sure where you are, but my point was that I had 300 people paying me to speak to them every week. I must have been doing something right. You said reason and logic are the only persuasive tools you have, and I was just pointing out that was a meager tool box.

And "Hammer" was metaphorical. It could be screwdriver, wrench...whatever. I thought that was obvious. Sorry. But then I first heard it from a rock climber, who was encouraging me to build up my supply of chocks.

And you don't jettison reason, and you can always feel good about using it, but if you aren't being heard, you are not communicating. And people hear pathos and logos "louder" (in a metaphorical sense) than reason. If you are "whispering" you can hardly blame people for not understanding you.

43barney67
Editado: Mar 15, 2012, 7:52pm

39 -- I'm not anti-reason. There are limitations to reason. There is more to human behavior than reason. It is one facet among many.

Re: Wright. I quoted him because I agree with him. Political correctness is the politicization of language to support a left-wing agenda. It is the view of life as oppressed versus oppressor. The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing is politically correct because it suggests changing language to suit the left-wing vision of egalitarianism and the erasing of difference between the sexes.

If you know of another way to win people over to a better way of thinking, and therefore living, please let me know.

No, there is no way to "win people over." You can argue because you enjoy it. But in the words of George Will: "It's silly to believe anyone will be persuaded by the force of my words."

How to turn a non-thinker into a thinker? It's an old question, and it assumes, with Socrates, that the unexamined life is not worth living. A debatable point.

Maybe you can achieve your goal by getting a liberal arts education such as I received and then becoming a teacher. Other than that, I can't think of any way. I have little confidence in my swaying the views or lives of others. Even if I could, should I? Simply look at the insults and small-mindedness on this thread. Rational? No. That is what you are up against.