Monday, September 20, 2010

Anti-Intellectualism and the Marxist Idea

I had a brief exchange the other day with Brendan of BJKeefe blog. I don't normally go over there, but his link showed up in my Sitemeter and I found a post suggesting that someone should "take the shovel away from Donald Douglas." Brendon apparently thinks leftist demonization is a barrel of monkeys, and as I disabled comments to avoid the abuse, Brenden writes: "Nothing like the wingnutosphere's love for the frank and open exchange of ideas!" Check the post for what follows. Actually, it turns out Brendan's not so intellectually prepared for the "open exchange of ideas." For starters, I left one of the Sadly No! sample comments from my blog: "... you're nothing but a bag of meat and your thoughts and desires are meaningless and you are a worthless piece of" shit. Sure. And I guess that's quality high-octane exchange for lefties. So I respond to Brendan, "So you wanna debate, bonejobkeefe? Bring it on." And what's he do? Runs from debate!
Thanks also for the invitation to debate. Perhaps someday we shall. I do not think it likely in this case, however. Take whatever admiration you have for David Horowitz and multiply it by -100, and that will approximate how I feel about him. On this matter, to borrow from someone whose name I have forgotten, sorry, but our views of reality do not overlap sufficiently to make discussion possible.

For the record, my own sense of Horowitz is this: If in the past decade he's said anything beyond "Yes, waitress, I'll have some more coffee, please" that isn't utter lunacy, it's escaped my notice. One does not engage with so determined a conspiracy theorist. One simply abandons him to his milk crate at Speakers' Corner and seeks more worthwhile voices elsewhere.

I would say in particular that this phrase from your blurb of his book -- "the freakish nihilism of the radical left" -- doesn't even make sense in light of what this book of his is supposed to be about: "the Left has continued to advance its socialist schemes …" Stipulating for the moment that We have such an Agenda, it can hardly be said to be nihilist to have one -- to seek to advance a different social order (or to foist one upon you, if you insist) is not at all the same thing as wanting to do away with any and every social order, just for the sake of destruction.
Two things of interest right away: (1) The complete dismissal of David Horowitz's ideals as sheer lunacy, and (2) the rejection of my use of the phrase "freakish nihilism" to describe the ideological agenda of the left. There's a word for this: Anti-intellectualism. And that stance marinates in a devilish sauce of hard left-wing hubris and deceit. It's further soaked in hatred, for to hate one's enemies is to categorize them as beyond the pale of reason and civilization. Perhaps there's some psychology at work for Brendan. Someone as esteemed as David Horowitz, who lived through --- in direct participation --- all the cultural revolts of the last couple of generations, is ridiculed as a crazed milk crate screamer? Brendan certainly thinks he's got it all figured out. But I doubt he's actually read the book in question, Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith. I respond at the post, in any case:
I guess we have nothing to talk about then, since with the exception of Melanie Phillips, I can't think of someone more penetratingly clear on the left's ideological campaign of death and destruction. (And you're down with that, apparently.)

And seriously, you should at least read the book (cited at the link below) before you blow off "nihilism." The left has recycled Soviet Marxism-Leninism, giving a pass to the murder of 100s of millions. When those apologies for totalitarianism --- what leftist refer to as "actually existing socialism" --- become a defense of a failed ideology, all you have left is utter nothingness, hence nihilism.
Now note something here: This is substantive. There are ideas on the table, postulates to consider. It doesn't matter who's producing them. A hypothesis is just out there, to be evaluated. And how does Brendan respond? With more anti-intellectualism. My comment was caught in the Blogger spam filter, and Brendan takes that as a launch pad for some wise cracks, and then the non-response:
I have to say, now that I have restored your comment of 1:57 PM, September 18, 2010, maybe I am not completely surprised that it got flagged as spam. Because it sure does read just like the wingnut chain emails one sees on Snopes, for example. Are you really a college professor? At an accredited school? And not, say, teaching math or something?

Anyway, our discussion so far:

You: Let's debate! Let's talk about David Horowitz and how great he is!

Me: There, we have nothing to talk about.

You: Let's talk about David Horowitz and how great he is! No, how he's greater than great!!!1! Because left nihilist leftist soviet Marxist death evil left effete dark side BLARGH BLARGH blargh …

Me: Nice milk crate.
And so, David Horowitz, and myself, apparently, are out standing on a corner, on milk boxes, raving like alleged lunatics? This is what Brendan calls debate. As I said, concepts are in play here. Ideas have consequences. Why is it that Democrats utter nary a peep when declared Stalinist ideologues wind up gaining access to the top levels of the Obama administration? These same folks, including many Democrats in Congress --- including dozens who have open affiliations with the Democratic Socialist Party of America --- call for and implement a Castro-style healthcare regime in the U.S. Of course, these people blow off the mass murder and desolation of the such communist thugs. It's not what they do, it's the ideals of humanity and transcendence that count! And thus with Brendan, to contemplate the nothingness in the wasteland of leftist neo-communist ideology is to scream "BLAARRGGHHH!!"

Yeah. And how about that "exchange of ideas" Brendan was pumping up? Not so much, eh?

But that's not all. Brendan tells me to "grow up." No kidding:
I was not typing "Blargh" in response to your effort to twist the definition of nihilism to fit your own preconceived notions. It was in response to everything else.

Seriously, Donald, be your age. Do you really think you're going to interest me in any sort of discussion where you start off by howling how everything Left is irredeemably evil? I'd just as soon discuss spherical geometry with a Flat Earther.
This is pure dismissal. It's definitely not intelligent discussion. Check the link to the post. I'm not going to waste more time on someone who is that closed-minded, at least not at that entry. What you see here is the notion that leftist ideology is UNCHALLENGEABLE. There's nothing that can penetrate the hard-shell of neo-communist ideology. Anyone with a different idea is literally a "Flat Earther."

Truly amazing. Meanwhile, these people and their grand schemes for a nationalization of the U.S. health delivery system under ObamaCare socialism are running for the hills. It's not working. Costs are not going down. Firms are responding by not hiring, precisely at the same time that unemployment keeps rising. It's statism that's failing, and the idea that state planning --- THE CENTRAL COMPONENT OF ALL SOCIALIST IDEOLOGY --- is proving just one more disaster rammed down American throats by the mandarins of the Democrat-Socialist Party in Washington.

I don't know how old Brendan is. He is idealistic. Perhaps the real world will intrude sometime in his life, and he'll learn to appreciate an actual argument for what it is an not the twisting evasion of some wingnut hokus pokus.

In any case, sometimes it's necessary to actually read the writings of your political enemies. (I didn't love wading through Markos Moulitsas' American Taliban, but I don't begrudge him for writing it. I know exactly where he stands now, and I'm all the more determined to resist him.) Perhaps Brendan might actually exhibit a little bit of personal maturity and actually attempt to engage some of these ideas, for example, this passage on Page 57 of The Politics of Bad Faith:
Totalitarianism is the possession of reality by a political Idea --- the Idea of socialist kingdom of heaven on earth; the redemption of humanity by political force. To radical believers this Idea is so beautiful it is like God Himself. It provides the meaning of a radical life. This is the solution that makes everything possible; the noble end that justifies the regrettable means. Belief in the kingdom of socialist heaven is faith that can transform vice into virtue, lies into truth, evil into good. In this revolutionary religion, the Way, the Truth, and the Life of salvation lie not with God above, but with men below --- ruthless, brutal, venal men --- on whom faith confers the power of gods. There is no mystery in the transformation of the socialist paradise into Communist hell: liberation theology is a satanic creed.

David Horowitz

I'll have more later. Maybe tomorrow, even.

18 comments:

repsac3 said...

Poor Dr. Douglas...

Getting his ass kicked all over the blogesphere, these days...

You really ought to stop playing the victim so much, my friend. Calling you out for the foolish things you say (from Sasquatch israel" to your inability to define nihilism and then show with examples how the definition you choose fits "the Left" whatever that is... Sweeping generalization, anyone?) is no different than much of the blogging you do calling out those with whom you disagree. Seems you're fine attacking others, but whine like a poor, victimized stuck polecat when folks treat you the same way...

Yes, you have received a few comments that treat you poorly... But we all know that they're not the only comments you've received... They're just the only ones that provide examples for your "poor me" pity party. Those that don't fit the meme don't see the light of day... (at least, not on your blog...)

It's fine to be a bomb thrower, if that's what you wish to be... ...but Donald, folks are going to make fun of you every time you see a sign that says "Sasquatch is Real" and spin some kinds anti-semite mythology around it, just to attack folks you don't personally agree with or like. It's not just that you misread the sign. It's that you then made shit up out of whole cloth just to tar folks you see as your enemies... And dude, it ain't the first time, either... And that, my friend, is evil and wrong, and discredits you as a serious thinker.

tapline said...

outstanding Donald. I haven' read the exchanges you have had with this Brandon, but that asside, your hitting the nail on it's head with the majority of your observations.....stay well..

Donald Douglas said...

"Getting his ass kicked all over the blogesphere."

Well, no, actually, Repsac3.

Brendan is fail. And what you write here can't rescue him. And why you keep alleging victim status is beyond me. I'm not supposed to fight back when folks like you launch campaigns of workplace harassment? When I'm slurred for all kinds of shit, old, fat, stupid -- you name it?. Is that what you call "getting his ass kicked"? Nope. Do not pass go. Fail.

And I'd be a defenseless victim if I didn't push back against you fuckers. Thus, no deal Hate-Master-Rep.

You're still banned, in any case. You showing up here again proves there are no rules, norms, or standards you will abide, because you're nihilist.

I see you misspelled blogosphere. Why is that? Can't read well? And you're criticizing me? For what? Misreading? Kinda hypocritical, no? And Sasquatch? To err is human, eh? A mistake. I stand by it. Unlike you. Win a few lose a few. That's life. Nice try on the "evil" thing. Takes one to know one, that's for sure.

And on nihilism, "how the definition you choose fits" ... blah, blah, blah. You must feel pretty stupid adopting nihilism as your handle. Brendan, you, exDLB ... the lot of you are classic nihilists. Horowitz, in a few passages before the one quoted here, indicates the Marxist-Leninist theory as intellectually bankrupt for failing to grapple with the collapse of the socialist utopia. All socialist regimes end in totalitarianism. But the left endures --- for death, destruction, and slavery. And Brendan doesn't offer a definition. Neither do you. Kinda hard to claim "victory" with a bunch of ad homs. But that's all you've got. Try this:

"Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief."

And this:

"The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement."

I mainly use the former. Horowitz draws on the latter.

And you've got no response.

Repsac3. Pure. Nihilist. Fail.

Donald Douglas said...

"...your hitting the nail on it's head with the majority of your observations."

Thanks Tapper. You remain a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks for visiting!

Grizzly Mama said...

Donald, these guys believe themselves to be intellectual heavyweights! LOLLOL! These are the useful idiots that I hear so much about! See them in action.

Just look at the contrast: How clever they think they are / How utterly ignorant they actually are. Sad. For all of us, really, because we never would have advanced as far down this hellish road if it hadn't been for the likes of them. Stupid asses.

Donald Douglas said...

Repsac3:

You're banned, as always.

That said, this is fail:

"...you pick a definition out of a lexicographer's hat. And again you fail to show with real-world examples..."

First you claim no definitions. Then when supplied you reject them. And who's doing the twisting? I've got you guys pinned down. You're done. You got your moment in my comment section. You DON'T get your own milk crate to make a speech. Go back to your shithole of a blog and do what you do best: nihilist hate and demonology with all the other idiots fucks who drag their knuckles over there.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks for your support, Grizzly Mama!!

Philippe Öhlund said...

I think Marxism is kind of dead, Donald! :-)

There has been a general election in Sweden.

The socialists got their worst election result in 94 years, and the Conservatives got a record 30 percent of the votes.

There is a problem though.

The Swedish Conservatives want almost as much taxes as the socialists, and they are not very friendly toward Israel.

I had expected the Pirate Party would get a lot of votes, because in Sweden people are fed up with all the copyright laws.

But instead the far right Sweden Democrats, who want to deport all immigrants, got so many votes, they will have 20 seats or more in the parliament.

Their successful election campaign was basically based on the video that people have the choice between mass immigration and pensions for the old.

At least they will stop the Swedish Conservatives from becoming a leftwing party.

Denmark already has a big far-right political party.

Apparently Angela Merkel is afraid of the political development in Germany.

But they will get a far right political party there too.

It is inevitable.

President Obama's administration has opened up the eyes of most Europeans, that we cannot count on anyone else to defend our freedom.

It is refreshing to see that there are so many Conservatives around.

Donald Douglas said...

Philippe --

Well, I'm not so thrilled with far right parties, although it's not true that Marixism is dead. We have loads of these commies right here at home.

carcinoGeneticist said...

YOU ENTITLED YOUR BOOK "THE POLITICS OF BAD FAITH", AND IT'S ABOUT...THE LIBERALS?

SOMEONE'S PROJECTING LIKE A PLANETARIUM, HERE.

Philippe Öhlund said...

Well, I understand what you say, Donald.

In Sweden they have the leftwing party, which is the former communist party.

There are communist parties here in France also, and in Greece, and in most European countries.

The Conservatives never complain about these communist parties, they actually often vote with them in parliament.

I think the far right can be positive for the sake of political balance.

It has also showed that many who voted for the Sweden Democrats were immigrants, who feel threatened themselves with more immigrants.

There are entire cities in Sweden, where no one understand each other; people from Iran, Bosnia, and Somalia.

The crime rate is high in those places, there are absolutely no jobs, and Swedish people have left from there.

Sweden has had a center-right government for 4 years now, yet the taxes are still so high in Sweden, that all the richest Swedes lives abroad.

The owner of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, lives for example in Switzerland, and the founder of H & M, Stefan Persson, lives in England.

Sweden is the country in Europe which has less private enterprises per capita.

Less than 7 percent there has some sort of business going on, and yet the Conservatives have been in power for a period.

I didn't vote myself, because I moved to France in June and 3 months is too little time for the Swedish bureaucracy to get my voting papers.

I think it's nice they seem to have political balance there now.

But I would never move back.

Jan said...

repsac3:

Do you even realize that you, and the rest of the harassers, and haranguers, from your site, and the others who seem to delight in sitting at the ready to pounce on every misspelled word, or anything else that you think you can use to embarrass, or to insult the intelligence of Dr. Douglas, only serve to make you look like a bunch of Junior High School bullies?

I've read the comments on your site, and the others, and you all seem to get great satisfaction in egging each other on, each trying to be funnier, more clever, or even more sarcastic than the other. Have you thought about how awful you make yourselves, and your own ideological beliefs look to others?

As to your constant complaining about comment moderation, I think it is just another aspect of your bullying, thinking that you have made him afraid of your hateful words...just another of your silly ways of trying to intimidate. I, daresay, that he is in no way intimidated by any of you, knowing that what you say about him is not true...but the man does have feelings like any other human being, believe it, or not.

Concerning the Sasquatch Isreal sign, who's to say that it really wasn't a play on words, and wasn't saying what it looked like to some people.? I think that the way that Dr. Douglas' photo was altered, with the "I Love Jusus" was not only to heap more ridicule upon him, because of his own moral views, but was a rather racist, anti-Semitic statement in itself...considering the fact that Jesus was a Jew. A play on words?

Tell me, repsac3..exactly what is the agenda of yourself, and the others, in your constantly trying to tear down this man, and his ideals? Is it your idea of intellectual elitism? Or did you guys just never get that Junior High School bullying out of your systems?

I'd really like to know.

ex DLB said...

Jan, there are a group of us who share a comraderie online and do enjoy twisting Dr. Douglas' tail. We do think he goes overboard on the whole nihilist Marxist socialist blah blah, though. We are moderate Democrats not whatever adjective Donald comes up with to describe us. That's where the American Nihilist joke started was with him calling us nihilists all the time. We all have full-time jobs, stock investments, families etc. Do you really believe we want to see the sort of government or anti-government installed that Donald ascribes to us wishing for? If you have a problem with one of our posts leave a comment. If you have been over at AmNi I'm sure you have seen we are generally well behaved and even use less profanity than Dr. D.

As to the professor's morality, here is a quote from a post downstream that includes a video of Daniel Pearl's beheading:

And God forgive me, but somehow I don't think I'd be bothered to see leftists in these videos. Perhaps they'd take this stuff more seriously if they took the place of folks like Daniel Pearl:

You may consider us nasty, but we have never come close to that.

Donald Douglas said...

"As to the professor's morality..."

My morality is just fine, thanks exDLB. I don't wish leftists dead. But why would I be sad when these same leftists make ugly racist slurs against me? I request that you write a post at American Nihilist denouncing this bigotry and demanding that Brendan issue an apology. For all I know, you logged in as "The Pale Scot" to slur my name. That would be disgraceful and truly evil. So, what do you say? You claim to be such a good American. Please indicate to me who made that slur and please request of Brendan to issue an apology.

repsac3 said...

American Nihilist tracked back with Dear Jan... (Repsac3's reply to an inquisitive American Power commenter)

ex DLB said...

Don, first I want to thank you for allowing my comment. Second, I have no freakin' clue who the pale Scot is. I believe his comment to be uncalled for and to be racist. I don't know why you would suggest that it might be me who posted it, though. Have you considered that it might be your blogging cohort Robert Stacy McCain? Though I realize you believe he has not a racist bone in his body.

If it appeared on my blog I would delete it or leave it up and reprimand the commenter. And for you I am denouncing the pale Scot now. I'm not sure it rises to the level of ugly racist slur however and certainly don't believe he should be beheaded for it.

I will now resume lurking.

Donald Douglas said...

"Have you considered that it might be your blogging cohort Robert Stacy McCain?

I'm not sure it rises to the level of ugly racist slur..."

exDLB: You are either pure evil or stupid as dirt. I think it's a little of both, actually. I know R.S. McCain personally, and he would never saying anything as awful as the sentiments of "The Pale Scot." And you must be completely clueless to claim that that grotesque remark doesn't "rise to the level of a racist slur." What does it rise to, then, exDLB? "Pale" is white. "Swarthy" is black. Do you need any more clues, you fucking dolt? And since you love that thread, and made yourself quite at home there, I think you should publish a call to Brendan to offer a full apology. To borrow from Janeane Garofalo, "This is racism straight up.

Joseph Kugelmass said...

Douglas:

First of all, I would be delighted to debate the merits of Horowitz's arguments with you, in an open and (to the extent possible) constructive way. I imagine that part of your intent was to gain prestige by attacking a more prolific and famous "left-wing" blogger, but if it's the ideas that interest you, then let's set up the debate.

Second, even if one accepts the foundations of your argument about socialism, it still doesn't equal nihilism. Nihilism -- the belief that there is no such thing as a moral or ethical universal -- could not, by definition, invest itself in a utopian project. Furthermore, the fact that a belief system is unrealistic or contradictory does not make that belief system nihilistic. There are, for example, many contradictions and aporia in the Old and New Testaments, but nobody would accuse Christians or Jews of being nihilists.

For many of the same reasons, it is sloppy to conflate atheism with nihilism. Shelley was an atheist, but not a nihilist.

Finally, the emergence of totalitarianism within the Soviet Union does not prove that much about the wide range of political positions and practices that we identify as "the Left." Otherwise, one would have to believe that dictators like Pinochet or Hitler represented the ultimate truths about the economic structures in place during their reign, and that political alliances (like the alliance between the U.S. and Pinochet's Chile) or overlapping rhetorics prove that the United States is a totalitarian nation.