One of the funny things about this age is how the political poles seem to be swapping positions on a great many issues. The Right, for example, is now more concerned with the plight of the working man than the Left, while the Left is a fanatical defender of global capitalism. If 1980 man were transported to the present, he could be forgiven for thinking Tucker Carlson is a liberal. He uses the kind of language that was common on the Left in response to the rise of conservatism.
That does not mean Tucker is a liberal. It just means what we understand to be Left and Right are not fixed, timeless positions. They are just words used for “us” and “them” in the game of politics. Conservatism, properly understood, was always skeptical of capitalism, because it tended to destroy indiscriminately. Bulldozing a church to build a processing center may be a more efficient use of resources, but conservatives always knew the altar was the keystone of civilization, not the factory.
As is always the case, the Left has the ability to create and define its opponents, because it controls the institutions. Forty years ago it created the image of a conservative as a ruthless, cold-hearted capitalist, in order to have an enemy they could more easily manipulate. They never cared about the poor or the working classes and never opposed rule by corporation. The Left in America is an effort to explain why inequality prevails despite the fact man is born equal.
Thinking of the American Left, at least the old Protestant aspects of it, as a theodicy, is a good way to understand why the people who used to sport Darwin fish on their Volvo are now extreme science deniers. Steve Sailer has been following the new star on the denialist scene, Angela Saini, who is getting famous waging jihad against observable reality. Her latest fatwa has been published on the site called Nature, which is ironic, given the article is a rebuke of nature.
Saini is not the only primitive showing up in the prestige press, shaking her staff at the heavens, demanding the gods conform to her dictates. Cordelia Fine was the toast of the town a couple years ago, when she published a book claiming reality is a magic trick played on us by hobgoblins. She did not put it that way. Her case was actually much weaker and less coherent. Greg Cochran’s review of her book reads like someone correcting a child or possibly a simpleton.
Of course, the over-the-top science denialism we see in the prestige press is filtering down to the rest of the cult. They don’t bother with the arguments, instead preferring to repeat the catch phrases. The extremely long-winded YouTuber, Alt-Hype, reviewed a chubby left-wing incel, who is making a name for himself as a science denier. JF Gariepy has a shorter version. The even shorter version is the lefty incels are now denying the very basics of biology.
If you are over the age of forty, this is quite a development. Within living memory, to be a Progressive meant mocking religious people of all types, but especially Evangelicals, as science denying primitives. The Left waved around evolution like a magic talisman, dismissing any argument they deemed religious, by which they meant cultural. Even Obama mocked Christians this way when he was running in 2008. Progressives bleeping loved science, while their enemies loved magic.
The change in tone and language among some right-wingers, like Tucker Carlson, is a bit jarring, but once you get past the superficial, it makes sense. In the 1980’s, a right-wing regard for the public good would not have focused on things like affordable family formation or wage stagnation in the heartland. The excesses of cosmopolitan globalism would not have entered their minds, because those things did not exist. It took time and hard experience to learn that Pat Buchanan was right after all.
What’s happening with the Left seems to be different. It is not an adjustment to new information or a changing culture. For a very long time, the human sciences understood that the variety we see in the human family is rooted in nature. Even those who dispute the validity of evolutionary biology on religious grounds, fully acknowledged that God does not distribute his gifts equally. The Left argued that these difference could be mitigated through public policy and cultural change.
That’s no longer the case. What the Left is engaged in now is a full-throated rejection of observable reality on moral grounds. Angela Saini commands that you accept that Kenyan performance in distance running is an optical illusion. Cordelia Fine, says, as a women, she knows sex is a social construct, created by men. This is not an inability to grasp the material. It is a conscious desire to forbid certain knowledge, to anathematize noticing the world and the explanations for what we see.
It is popular to talk about this phenomenon in terms of Galileo. The left-wing science deniers are playing the antagonist role of the Church and the humans sciences are in the protagonist role. This is probably comforting to the empirically minded, as it suggests they will eventually triumph in the end. Not only is this a faulty reading of history, particularly the Church, it assumes that human progress is inevitable. That no matter what they do, the march of science will continue unabated.
Instead, what we are seeing could be the signal of a coming dark age. Maybe this is what it was like in 1177 BC. The slow decline in general intelligence leads to a period of anti-knowledge, where knowing how stuff works, or even being curious about it, is seen as a threat to the established order. The brakes are applied and progress is reversed until the point where the people are no longer able to operate the mechanisms of society created by their ancestors.
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