Monday, August 13, 2012

The Philosophies of Coercion


What is subjectivism?

Subjectivism has three approaches.

The most rational one is, that universals (objectives, essences, concepts) do not exist, or are unattainable since cognition is filtered through the individual's fallible mind and senses. What we take for 'real' are actually as many different perspectives of 'reality' as there are human beings. In this theory man exists, but not man-ness.

All those individual perspectives are the basis for the magic approach to subjectivism, which posits that thought itself creates reality: reality, (the object), is thus dependent on human consciousness, (the subject), for its existence. A thinker does not need to concern himself with the outside facts to acquire knowledge of it.
The mind, containing raw percepts and emotions, unfiltered and unprocessed by reason (the pool called the subconscious) has the power to create 'reality' in conformity with the thinker's wishes. Pathos, emotions and will take the place of reason as the primary tool of 'cognition' (evidently we can't speak here of a 'cognition process' as such).

Iconically Albert Einstein once asked a subjectivist, "do you really think the universe is not there when you aren't watching it?" A subjectivist might legitimately ask, "If I die overnight, will the sun rise tomorrow?" Here we can see that the fallacy rests on failing to separate the man-made from the metaphysical.

To the third uptake on subjectivism the individual approach is utter nonsense, but on the macro or group level, it is entirely acceptable. Groups can perform change on the ground in conformity with their 'common will'. One might object that it is one man's mind that has a will and there is no such thing as a 'group will'. Try explain that to educated people who 'know' that groups even take 'decisions' (a matter of very sloppy identification: what they actually mean is, that a certain interchange has taken place, that has led to a specific (unconscious) effect).

Political philosophy
This group subjectivism is the most pernicious of the three, since it has momentous conquences for political philosophy. It is the basis of racism, ethnic nationalism, polylogism, and multiculturalism. From there it is but one step to gulags, psychiatric asylums and Socialist concentration camps (meaning, all Left and Right variations: Marxism, Fascism, ethnic nationalism and National Socialism).

When the Western Left abandoned the ambition of reaching Utopia through violent revolution, they embraced democratic principles and even usurped Liberalism, debasing it to a form of moral and social laissez faire. This temporarily halted the coercive tendency, but it resurfaces now that the Left is reverting back to its origins rooted in the Counter-Enlightenment.

The latter is a rather loose collection of ideologies that may be Rightist (Heidegger) or Leftist (Marx et al), and which - in various degrees - is subjectivist; they reject morality and man's ability to acquire knowledge, and deny there is a meaning to life to the point of nihilism. They are always collectivist. Their purpose is to break down reason, capitalism and free-markets, and deconstruct their values. Being statists they love strong states and strong men, and have a (latent) contempt for democracy which they see as a dictatorship of the middle class, which they hate too. On the other hand, they have fully embraced radical egalitarianism.

The substance of the subjectivist mind
Subjectivists do not engage in cognitive processes in any exact sense of the word. An object - say a banana - isn't perceived externally (what is the form, the color, its smell, etc.?), but the question is rather, how does the banana 'strike' the observer emotionally. A subjectivist sits in reception how the banana 'comes across', what emotion will the banana trigger in him, the mind functioning as a sounding board or a radio receiver, if you will.

The received signal translates into a pleasant or an unpleasant percept. The passive, 'open mind' approach opens the field wide to (auto) suggestion, free association, and projection. This may run wild, even resulting in psychosis, since it goes unchecked by sobering logic and reason. Subjectivists are ardent manipulators of perception. Read also "When Reason Fails".

Where do they get it?
The basis for this improper method of 'cognition' is the Kantian notion that the mind is locked up inside the skull, forever separated from outside reality. It has become a place of smoke and mirrors, with loosely floating memes and particles of ideas that are only a ghostly form of the actual thing; the real object (the universal: man-ness) is localized in some parallel universe, unbreachable by the human mind (if not denied altogether).

This originally Platonic belief allows subjectivists to manipulate facts, and pick and choose among data to reach any conclusion they like. Reality becomes pliable, facts floating memes that can be one thing on Monday evening, but quite another on Tuesday morning, according to one's nightly experience or (political) expediency.

Their ethics program leads them to reach only collectivist and altruistic conclusions.

Justification for coercion
Cut off from reason, the duty of altruism, which is at the core of Kantian ethics (deontology), tends to demand force since that is the only means of ensuring that everyone complies with the ultimate moral duty to sacrifice self to the whole. This reinforces the subjectivist default position of coercion, but the ultimate source lies in anti-reason: in absence of objective knowledge, might makes right (Pragmatism), which is further enhanced by the absolute morality that forcing the 'good' on people is for their own good and to the benefit of all concerned.

The absurdity of this ethics system is illustrated by the contradiction that it delegitimizes at the same time doing good, if this is done with a particular purpose in mind (any). But worse, it forbids self-defense and telling a lie, even to prevent a murder from taking place! If a company or a person advertises as "conforming to the highest 'ethical' standards", rest assured they mean Kantian ethics!

The 'soft' alternatives
The Western Left have managed for a long time to suppress the natural tendency to use force. By applying the perversion of pacifism, declaring any form of violence - even in self-defense, or to protect the innocent - morally beyond the pale ("make love, not war") they limited themselves to the use of only peaceful methods of persuasion. Today they have perfected these soft methods of manipulation to the point of perfidy (see also "The Hidden Sinisterism of the O Campaign"), such as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)* The Nudge and the Delphi technique to such an extent that one might ask, whatever foul thing will they think up next?
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) replaces subjective thought with subjective (body)language. Instead of thought, it is here mostly language that serves as a tool for the creation of reality.

When you aren't being Nudged or NLP'd, you're probably being Delphied into compliance. These and rhetorical equivocations are fairly easy methods to make unsuspecting people comply with the ideology. Political correctness is another method by which group pressure is used to place someone - or his actions - outside the realm of moral respectability: no one wants to be called a bigot, a racist or a Fascist.
False moral equivalence and equivocations are other methods. Feigned outrage, we all know too well.

Why a debate with a subjectivist is not possible
There are two ways for getting people's cooperation: by a process of persuasion, such as a debate, or by some form of coercion. As we shall see, the chasm between the two schools on the nature of thought, is wide and cannot be overcome: objectivism and subjectivism are mutually exclusive. Debate doesn't work where subjectivists are involved; objectivists cannot be cajoled into taking some arbitrary position by coercion.

Let's have a look at the peaceful option: parley. This works fine among objectivists who reach truth through a process of dialogue. Such a process is impossible with subjectivists, since you cannot have a proper debate with someone who is convinced that anything you say is just ... well, your personal opinion. In the eyes of the subjectivist, in the absence of objective standards to truth - the outcome of such 'conversations' is always one arbitrary, personal taste pitted against another. Hence the shouting matches, the expletives, the ad hominems and all the other Postmodern 'debating techniques' that are also at the heart of the Alinsky tactics for radicals: it's intimidation, pure and simple.

On the other hand it is also very hard to agree to diagree with a subjectivist since he's convinced himself that your 'arbitrary' position is sheer ill will: you're out to hurt him and the superior, altruistic, collectivist causes he aspires to. At this point a process of psychological projection has long set in and he'll accuse you of whatever he's engaged in himself.

One could temporarily appease him, but that would only feed the bully. He'll be back for more since his strategy has obviously worked. He'll explain appeasement as a sign of weakness, and will be back for more before you know it. One cannot negotiate with bullies.

Coercion does not work for those who stubbornly cling to reason. The problem here is that human minds can be silenced or destroyed, but they cannot be forced to accept something they know to be untrue.

But to the subjectivist any position is morally interchangeable with any other: the subjectivist reels in frustration with the intransigence of the objectivist's absolutism.

Means of control
As Ayn Rand has pointed out, it is not possible to foist a lie on rational people by force: A = A even under the most vile circumstances. Therefore tyrants resort to immobilizing their subjects' minds by forms of oppression like irrational and contradictory laws, what in Soviet times was termed cynicly, "the truth of the day". Such stories have become world literature through the books of the author, Franz Kafka.

Leonard Peikoff in "The Ominous Parallels" makes the case that the Nazi death camps were actually controlled experiments in mass mind control: what do absurd situations, that bear no relation whatsoever with known reality, do to the human mind? ... The absurd, as in the surrealism of Viennese walzes accompanying people to the gas chambers? It's an intriguing suggestion.

Dutch pop artist @HenkWestbroek recently illustratied rather well where the perversion of subjectivism might lead to: his solution for world peace would be to take away man's free will. As this happens to be the seat of morality, this particular suggestion speaks volumes of the unethical nature of coercion that justifies itself through its own ethics: any demagogue would have been proud as a peacock of such a Faustian proposition.

One can see how idealists and Utopians can become ruthless capos, and cultured peoples end up producing the most toxic ideologies.

Objectivist ethics
In Ayn Rand's philosophical theory of Objectivism the initiation of force is evil, but self-defense is a moral obligation. Refraining from it would be tantamount to being an accomplice to evil. Retaliation is also warranted against an irrational enemy, which repudiates the Bush doctrine of preemptive strike. This is because these enemies themselves allow only such methods. This is not 'stooping to their level', but on the contrary, preventing them from using it against you or any other innocent victim.

While Liberals and Postmodernists have reached the suicidal, relativist conclusion that since there is no absolute good or evil but only so many equally valid perspectives, Objectivism offers a real ethics program based on reason. The good fosters life, evil does not. While there may be grey areas, it is safe to state that dictators proposing mass murder - even if justified by a Sorelian myth of victimhood - is pure, unadulterated evil.

To appease such a man, has the effect of the appeaser becoming an accomplice. This is the real Faustian dilemma. In absolute terms, the good has nothing - repeat nothing - to gain from evil since there is no good in absolute evil. You cannot bargain with men like Hitler, Stalin, Lenin and Ahmadinejad about the amount of victims they might make. You can only destroy them to prevent harm to the innocent.

They never learn, do they?
Subjectivists lack the philosophical tool that would lead to the conclusion, that the problem lies in what they perceive as the solution: sacrifice of the individual to the whole. Therefore Leftists always believe they will perform better than the preceding lot. This leads to an endless succession of Socialists blaming so-and-so for the moral bankruptcies, promising that they will do Utopia better next time around. In reality, the ideology has been well tested and was found wanting each and every time. That is because their ideologies are based - not on reality - but on a racket resting on a perceived ideal from which no one can be exempted. That higher cause is it's own justification of force.

Prejudice, bigotry and absolutes
A popular imperative among subjective thinkers is not to pass moral judgment on others. But, as we have seen, since opponents through lack of objective standards can't find truth  through debate, this imperative is thrown to the wind as the opponent is demonized in the foulest possible matter. The Left simply needs its demons and scapegoats. Read also: "The Spiral of Hatred".

Person and ideas have become merged into one inseparable caricature of reality. Neither a motivation nor a clarification is necessary! They fail to realize what dangerous ground they're on. The next step is active card carrying membership of the local Storm Troopers. It's no wonder they sound like Fascists! That is because they use the same philosophical tools: the talking points have reached the status of absolute dogma while its inherent morality justifies coercion; the method of implementation is pragmatism, an act of the will.

Regretably examples of such positions are everywhere, but to mention just one for clarity: Marx's Socialist theory is true (dogma), because we believe it (pragmatism, because we say so). All should embrace this belief because it is in everyone's best interest (moral altruism). Once embraced by the gatekeepers as admissable, the same mechanism can be used on any other subject, an individual or a collective: no further questions or motivation is required. That is how collectivists roll!

Related articles

- American Thinker: "The Left's Sexual Terrorism", by Robin of Berkeley"
- PJM: "Klavan on the Culture: "Shut Up"


"Blurring the Border between Reality and Perception" (media bias - series)
"When Reason Fails" (series)

Related dossiers

- "The Dystopia of Paradise"
"The Political Pathology Asylum"
- "Assault of the New Storm Troopers"
- "The Urban Guerilla"
- "The Unholy Alliance"


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