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.” Brendan 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 s–.”

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.

Cross-posted from American Power.

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