[By the time I had written Section IV, I had to concede most of this post summarizes, abridges, and adds on to parts of An Open Letter to an Open Minded Progressive. Also, it took until Section V to actually get to my thesis.]
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – often attributed to Mark Twain
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” – often attributed to Joseph Goebbels
A while ago I wrote about a moment when a friend described my research for my blog posts as “sitting in his living room.” That wasn’t the first time I had thought about the amateur nature of my writing, and it won’t be my last. I suspect most of my fellow bloggers are in a similar position; smart, reflective, and not credentialed in any way in the topics on which we write.
There is a logic to this; a major tenet of our discussion is that the educating and credentialing bodies of our society have been captured (to use a phrase from The Sacred Project of American Sociology) by the ideology that we claim is part of, if not the root, or even the entirety of the problem. Put another way; it isn’t shocking that there aren’t many Protestants in the Catholic Church.
This problem leads to an interesting duality. On one hand, a large number of dark enlightenment bloggers essentially bootstrapped themselves out of Progressive worldview and managed to find each other via the internet. We inherit no particular intellectual or cultural tradition. Technology and culture, subjects I have dealt with before here and here, are the gradual accumulation of tools and knowledge, and bootstrapped communities by definition have neither.
On the other hand, a smaller but still significant portion of the dark enlightenment hails from the Catholic Church; an organization with arguably the largest, most comprehensive, continuous chain of scholarship and intellectual and cultural development in existence. While it may be argued that this effort and brainpower has been expended to justify desired theological assertions rather than discover truth from observable phenomena, it is nevertheless a huge body of knowledge, spanning almost two millennia, integral to a living culture filled with experts in a wide array of fields.
Between secular autodidacts and trained theologians, it would seem that someone should be equipped to oppose Progressivism in a meaningful form. However, simple observation can confirm that this is false. The question becomes, why?
First, to address the failure of the theologians. This is most easily done with a biological metaphor: Progressivism is a rapidly mutating virus against which the theologians simple have no antibodies. To elucidate the metaphor…
Religions have always offered competing explanations for commonly observable facts. This is a fight in which the theologians have considerable experience. The Progressive “capture” of the edifices of Science changed the battleground. Whereas the contest before was over making sense of facts, the contest now is over the facts themselves. In a great stroke of irony, the academics now speak ex cathedra from ivory towers to the theologians themselves, wearing the mantle of Science to lend legitimacy to their claims. The battle is now completely asymmetric and Progress nigh invulnerable: confessing the party line is a prerequisite for membership in academia, and only academics are permitted to pronounce facts. This means the facts can only ever be expected to agree with, if not amplify, the party line.
Even if there was a “Catholic Science” to rival “Science,” it would be at a serious disadvantage. Consider Moldbug’s line that Science is singular and universal; there is no German math and no Spanish math; math is math and that is all there is to it. The proliferation of areas of study since the 1800s is highly suspect of indicating simple fabrication rather than discovery, and he notes that the sciences and studies which arose during this time all seemed to further the Progressive cause: mostly social, ethnic, and gender studies in one form or another. Science in all forms and locations converges because it is directed at a coherent universe. It is possible to arrive independently at the same conclusion, and discrepancies can be corrected through further, more careful study. “Social” science diverges because it is in large part fabricated, and independent scientists will not ever encounter these fabrications in nature; only in the instances in which they were create by other “scientists.” The fabrications are analogous to the virus continuously mutating; changing shape before any meaningful intellectual antibodies can be developed.
So even if a Catholic Science existed, rooted in the earliest history of the Church, it is highly unlikely they would have developed anything like women’s studies or ethnics studies disciplines. It would have no intellectual grounds from which to address the assertions of its opponents. It would never be the initiator of debate; it would always be on the defense. (Note: this is the exact same critique often directed at “conservative” parties of all stripes.)
Second, the autodidacts. In truth, little needs to be said here. Whereas the theologians have vast resources and tradition at their disposal, but are nonetheless ill-prepared to confront Progressive fabrications, the autodidacts are ill-prepared precisely because they have no resources or tradition. There is a reason Neo is portrayed as going from waking up to drowning in an atrophied body in the span of seconds; there is little intellectual support available for anyone who breaks from the Progressive train of thought. We have neither Cathedral on our side.
To anyone who has read An Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives, most of this is old hat. It is this situation, with an ideology controlling academia and its opponents unable to respond, that has led to our current environment. “Facts” are pronounced ex cathedra, government, industry, and academia promulgate them to the population, and the population in turn believes in and acts on these “facts.”
What is striking to me is how insanely easy it is to pronounce a “fact,” and how incredibly difficult it is to deal with it. A single study, now-retracted, linked autism to vaccines, every other study since has failed to confirm the link, yet preventable diseases are on the rise in the first world as educated, wealthy parents refuse to vaccinate their children. The efforts of the entire medical and public health establishment have not yet undone this damage. However, medicine is a traditional convergent science; one practitioner behaved unethically, and his deception is being corrected, albeit slowly, painfully, and with a few childrens’ deaths along the way.
Similarly, beliefs such as the 1-in-4 sexual assault figure, despite failing even to withstand even napkin math, let alone actual examinations of statistics, dominates discussion of policy, law, and culture. Yet there is no establishment to correct this. Gender studies, the fabrication that it is, is a divergent “science,” and no institutional mechanism exists to correct this discrepancy. There is no organization of sexual assault experts organized to deal with academia’s handling of the issue.
Thus, by definition and default, addressing these issues falls largely on amateurs who have neither the training, resources, or time that most of them would like in order to adequately study and address the issue. This has been my experience, as I am disappointed in my own writing for its lack of citations and evidence beyond easily obtainable observation. However, to sit back, assess the situation, and realize that a handful of bloggers are challenging the worldview maintained largely by full-time academics, journalists, etc helps keep in perspective that we are weekend warriors competing with a professional army; results may vary, and guerilla tactics are to be expected.
1287 words in, what am I trying to say, and how does any of this have anything to do with democracy and demagoguery? I suppose the point of this post is a certain type of horrorism made clear to me by recent media events. It is composed of a few realizations centered around the business of checking facts and the time, resources, and training required to do so:
1) Lies can be generated far faster than they can be disproven.
2) Lies which match existing perceptions will quickly be accepted as facts.
3) Since most people will readily believe whatever is advantageous to them, most people will readily believe lies.
4) No amount of debunking or demands for intellectual consistency will overcome above the readiness of people to believe what they want.
5) Conservatism; defined as an attitude which forces new ideas to prove themselves with a high burden of proof, is the only defense against Progressive “mind-viruses.” Such a system’s immune system (ie its fact-checkers) cannot be overwhelmed with nonsense.
6) Americans are by-and-large no longer conservative, and Progressivism’s capture of Science/creation of “social science” has allowed it to bypass the fact-checking of those who are.
7) Therefore, secular democracies lack any meaningful mechanism to handle the deluge of fabricated facts created by a crypto-theocratic intellectual class, and will inevitably fall to the demagoguery of that class.
Which brings us back to the perennial neoreactionary question; how to rewind without returning to the same inevitable ending to this film.