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113. After completion (III)

The false dichotomy is a popular rhetorical trick, and it is a trick that, by disposition, conservatives never fail to fall for; and so a familiar component of Western politics is the divide between sceptics or deniers and, supposedly, everyone else. The right is associated with scepticism, since the right is predominately an instantiation of the masculine principle. Men are all, to some degree, on the autistic spectrum: autism is maleness taken to a pathological degree, a desire to systematise and treat everything as an object. Since the left is essentially a priestly narrative, the true sceptic will burn through its narrative and uncover realities that are not amenable to the left—usually the biological differences between the races and between men and women.

Unfortunately, this systematising tendency, sometimes celebrated by conservatives as the right’s superior devotion to “facts and logic”, usually plays straight into the rhetorical trick of the false dichotomy. For the left will propose some manipulative emotional narrative, containing, as with all rhetoric, inconsistencies and factual errors, and the rightists will—sensing emotional manipulation—react by a systematic analysis of the logical and factual deficiencies of the narrative. Yet this is exactly what the left wants, for the rightist provides the foil for the narrative: the climate change sceptic, the Eurosceptic, the holocaust denier—and so on. Rhetoric is not a dispassionate investigation of the facts; by the time the rightist has explained his objections the leftist rhetorician has already painted him as the Devil.

The conservative does not understand that although facts and logic, in a brute way, support his contentions, Nietzsche was also right to say that there are no facts, only interpretations. It is perfectly possible to lie with facts, simply by making omissions; this is how the media works. The left is often very factual and logical, because a compelling story is usually logical and factual—children will not tolerate illogical stories, they are adamant about this. Alice in Wonderland is a beautifully logical story—Lewis Caroll was a professor of logic, after all—and so too, in its own way, the story of George Floyd is extremely logical and factual. The problem is always the premises of the story; if you omit the premise that human inequality is caused by hereditary factors it is possible to construct the most wonderfully logical and factual stories about injustice, but this is to chase your own tale—whole academic careers have been built on this activity.

At base, what holds us together—what helps us arrange our facts and logic—is a priorness that is not reason; it is instinct or intuition, perhaps divine inspiration. So when a postmodernist speaks of “indigenous ways of knowing” or “a black woman’s truth” they are more correct than the conservative who maintains there is one way of knowing. Black women and indigenous people really do know the world in a different way, and this is not a matter of right or wrong—except regarding your perspective. The Western world—the world, since even Chinese people utilise Western thought to conceptualise their activities—is predicated on the white man’s worldview. The conservatives defend an outdated, Newtonian conception of the world as a clockwork operation. Newton is still true at a certain level, but it is necessary to climb up the mountain for a higher view, from Einstein, for certain tasks; and so the truth a person needs depends on the situation, the truth is relative.

The conservatives hold to the proposition that every human is a 19th-century middle-class white man, and an Englishman at that; or that every human has the potential to become so. The left attacks this claim, but it does so to pull apart and destroy; the deepest right understands that humans are different and that to move beyond reason is to return to re-enchantment, because no man has ever lived by his reason and, even as individuals, let alone races or sexes, the truths we need to thrive are slightly different.


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