374. Oppression (VIII)
To follow on from yesterday’s assertion that feminism is a male invention, the first feminist was that rogue Plato and his pal—or his puppet, some say—Socrates. Rightists sometimes like to see everything negative as an emanation from outside their societies and civilisations; and you would expect that to be so—the type to be on the right is interested in precision and replicability; they want to run a tight ship, they are conscientious. In accord with this personality type, problems in a society must be due to subversion; and popular and perennial suspects for subversive acts include Jews, homosexuals, and Freemasons—those who are outside yet somehow within the body, right-wing metaphors usually being organic and related to nature. Right-wing metaphors have, so far as I know, yet to catch up with those medical views that note certain germs and parasites can form benevolent or benign relations with the body; the right is yet to meet friendly bacteria.
The above notwithstanding, two ideas that the right is in constant contest with—communism and feminism—originate from within the West; both are really the same, the idea that property—women being bred to be property—should be socialised. Both are the same and both were advocated by Plato and Socrates in The Republic; so communism and feminism stand at the West’s intellectual dawn; the ideas recur, in part, because such ideas are fundamental and have been taught to generation upon generation of educated Westerners as foundational and admirable.
There is nothing more Western than the aspiration towards feminism and communism, unfortunately. “Just like religion, we’ve been infected by irrational and redundant memes,” offers a Dawkinsite; true, except the difference between the Platonic memes and religious memes is that Platonism is mainly theory, pulled together from first principles, whereas religions represent old practices with proven survival value. Socrates was convicted—possibly unfairly—for impiety; he questioned what had been proven to work, yet offered no solution—just like our contemporary professional experts.
These are deeply embedded memes; and, as others have noted, the whole dialectic between the “idealistic” left and the realistic right plays out the difference between Plato and Aristotle. Plato arrives on the scene as the first “expert”—you recommended nudge theory; he recommends the Socratic dialogue—with various ambitious (unworkable?) proposals, while Aristotle is the first conservative; he turns up and says, “While Plato and Socrates have some interesting notions and say some true things, I have looked at how cities actually work and how things actually are seems to contradict these rather other-worldly Platonic ideas. Perhaps we could do a quarter of what Plato says…”. In a way, all Western politics has been like that ever since; and various people who have become feminists over the centuries were probably initially inspired by The Republic; for a long time, before our study of politics became “scientific”, it was standard to refer back to Plato and Aristotle as authorities on political matters—and there you would find feminism and proto-communism.
What united Heidegger and Nietzsche was that both men wanted to get beneath the foundations and skip this rather tired idealist-realist ding-dong. Hence Nietzsche lambasts Plato as a bore and says Socrates is a resentful and ugly man who dreams about Heaven because he cannot face his awful wife and unfortunate physical appearance. Heidegger, at a more obscure angle of attack, charges Plato and Socrates with a premature attempt at philosophy; they forgot to think about the way that we “are” or “is”—the way we be. To skip into philosophy—into reason—without engagement with existence or Being itself obscures what underpins, well, everything.
The conclusion from both men is that we should detonate Plato and Socrates; and that means that we should skip communism and feminism as well—since we seem doomed to reinvent these ideas time and again, always going back to Plato so that someone else can play Aristotle and say, “Yes, fine notion; but let’s be realistic about this…”