There’s a funny paradox in all us reactionary bloggers. On one hand we believe that politics should be abolished. That a firm, inviolable power structure would make life safer, the economy wealthier, the people happier overall. With caveats of course, but surely the modern glorification of constant struggle, the micro civil war that democracy forces upon all of us is a bad thing.
Yet we are obsessed with politics. Writing a blog, commenting everywhere, fighting the liberal hordes wherever we find them. Some more than others, but we are way more involved than the average person. I don’t know about others, but I was always like that. I started to argue at primary school, my teachers hated me. Then came the internet, BBSs, Usenet, IRC, you name it, I’ve been there fighting for my ideals. I used to gang up with friends and crack leftist’s email accounts, then send erotic stories fetched from the web to all the female names in the address book. Damn, it was fun.
As a kid I first was a fairly typical rightist partisan, by late adolescence become a libertarian, then quickly grew up and realised none of it made much sense. Not that I met any intelligent debater who convinced me of the folly of any of it. In fact at the same time that I grew out of libertarianism, came an increasing feeling of tedium over political arguments. First I quickly got bored of debating with dimwits who did little else but parrot partisan lines. But arguing with smart people wasn’t much better. It was better for a while, but after a while I would reach an unbreachable wall of disagreement. Reached the point, the opponent would just deny the facts. And this happened too with good friends, people I had met in real life and had beers with. So it’s not about personal enmity.
I suddenly realised that universal agreement couldn’t be reached, no matter how good is your logic or your facts. It just couldn’t be done. So I basically stopped arguing politics, abandoned all my chat groups, BBSs, everything. Until recently I picked up blog reading, and basically now argue about nuance with people who mostly share my inclinations. I find that the blog comment format very much discourages adversarial debates, so it’s well suited for these little arguments about nuance or perspective.
But I recently saw some example of the old unbreachable wall I was talking about. See here on Yglesias’ blog.
He’s talking about how Brave and Smart and Awesome Marco Rubio is for defending the immigrants into America’s right to live in the USA, as they are just fighting for their “hungry children”. Down in the comments Steve Sailer reminds everyone of the small fact that Mexicans, which are the big majority of illegal immigrants, are hardly hungry, in fact have the second highest obesity rate in the whole world.
Busted! We have a winner! You can’t argue against that. Yet look at that kid, amusingly called ‘reason’, arguing against Sailer saying that “Obesity and malnourishment are not mutually exclusive”. Which is the lamest argument ever. But he got 5 likes! The most liked comment in the whole damn thread. Then see Alcazar’s rebuttal. Nobody gives a shit.
You can’t argue against these people. They are just denying fact. It’s not a river in Egypt, it’s the whole fucking Pacific Ocean. OneSTDV recently found out the same thing, that you can’t argue with passionate liberals. It’s not only liberals though. Try to talk some sense to any cult follower. Or to a sports fan. It’s not even a modern disease. A year ago I totally lost faith on the power of debate, after reading about the Muslim philosopher Al Ghazali.
Anyone today would fairly characterise the muslim world as an intellectual wasteland. All study but that of islamic theology is verboten, and Islamic theology is a mind-numbing legalistic affair which is only focused on whether Muhammad sayings justify a man eating goat meat while the second phase of the moon is starting, and whether it’s a sin if an earthquake happens, and you happened to be nude with a boner on, and you happen to fall just right into your aunt’s vagina (true story).
But it wasn’t always like this. I won’t parrot the leftist lie that Europe owes its philosophy to Islam, but the Islamic Golden Age actually happened, and it was quite neat. Muslims conquered much of the smartest half of the Roman Empire, and they did learn a lot from it. They produced Al Kindi, Al Khwarizmi, Avicenna. Which were quite awesome by the time. Avicenna even came close to the scientific method. People in Europe rushed to Toledo’s translation school to get their hands in this material. It was good. People argued a lot, ideas were getting out. Formal logic, experimentation. The laws of physics. Good stuff.
But then Al Ghazali came. And like the Yglesiases of today, he had little time for logical argument. He said out and loud, for anyone who would hear him, that the philosophers were a bunch of frauds. All they say is bullcrap. He said there is no cause and no effect. There is no law saying that a flame necessarily burns cotton. From the wiki:
…our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God.
Allah is great, and all is his doing. There are no patterns in reality. To patterns to exist would mean that Allah is predictable, and that’s a slight. So he is denying logic, the laws of physics, everything. As simple as that. All he had to do, he morose looking mystic from the eastern desert, to win a debate against the foremost minds of his civilisation, was to say: fuck you. I deny your reality.
And he won the argument! He is regarded as “the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad”. This guy! Shortly after, Averroes saw the disaster that this man’s thought would cause for the Muslim world, and sought to refute him, but to no avail. Al Ghazali won the debate, and hence the Islamic world has stopped thinking.
This could happen to us too. Logic is fragile. Facts are weak. It all depends in the willingness of the human mind to accept them. Over the last 50 years we have had our fair share of Al Ghazali’s in the West. Keynes. Steven Jay Gould. Jared Diamond. Fuck, the whole western intellectual establishment is based on “stop thinking, equality must be achieved”. We dissenters believe that the inherent madness in the progressive creed will eventually cause collapse, and afterwards sanity will prevail and we will keep on with Civilisation. I’m sure Averroes thought the same thing: he’s just one sophist, sanity will prevail. But 100 years later the Mongols stormed Baghdad, and Islam effectively ceased being a civilisation, meagerly surviving today as a leech of the West. But who will we leech from?