Not a Choice But an Echo
Another of my recent articles has been posted, on the the magical thinking of the left, at the Washington Examiner. I look at the various Big Government schemes of the Biden era, the way most Democrats are trying to talk themselves into the impossible, and some of the philosophical roots that makes this possible.
“The Platonic approach, treating words and ideas as mere phantasms unmoored from concrete reality, explains why people can be so easily swayed by magical thinking. We naturally reach adulthood with our minds crammed full of complex ideas that we picked up as children without ever explicitly examining how we learned these concepts or what exactly they refer to. This is a normal and unavoidable process of development. But it means that we have to take care, as adults, to go back and engage in the significant intellectual effort of tracing important concepts back to their roots in reality, to have some idea of what ‘money’ is and what ‘wealth’ is and how they are created, so we can make sure we’re not misusing them. If we leave concepts as just words and sounds and incantations to be repeated, we leave ourselves at the mercy of fast-talking hucksters who sway us with magical thinking.
“Magical thinking is so ingrained in politics that it doesn’t just shape the goals and policies of a political movement. It also shapes the methods by which they seek to gain support. For example, Democrats just lost an election in Virginia partly because people saw their children’s schools being invaded by a theory in which all white people are regarded as inherently, ‘systemically’ racist. So, their answer to this election loss? Even more loudly accuse everyone of being racist. White women with school-age children? ‘Footsoldiers of white supremacist patriarchy.’ People who vote for black politicians with right-leaning views? ‘White Racists Can Vote for Black Republicans.’ You get the idea.
“Who thinks this is going to work? It is a fantasy that one’s own rage at encountering political opposition will make the opposition go away, with no need for any form of outreach or persuasion.”
Unfortunately, they stuck me in some click-baity “Restoring America” section under the banner “Faith, Freedom, Self-Reliance”—when of course I am arguing for the exact opposite of faith. This is apparently a new sub-publication for the Examiner, and lumping freedom in with faith seems to be part of the point. See more on it here.
Over at Symposium, I did another overview of news on the anti-woke front. In particular, a little more than three weeks later, it is becoming clear that Virginia’s election marked the arrival of anti-wokeness as a political force capable of winning elections.
I run down some reasons why that force has arrived now, and I also show how wokeness is already burning itself out and becoming so discredited that its proponents are desperately trying to abandon the word “woke.” But this success poses its own danger in the form of opportunists trying to jump on the anti-woke bandwagon and exploit it for their own agendas.
See, for example, a purported guide to the “Woke Religion” that lumps in global warming and opposition to the War on Drugs as “woke” ideas. Much as I am skeptical of global warming myself, the issue predates wokeness and is based on different arguments. As for the drug war, opposition to that has long been a libertarian cause.
But the main example is the nationalist right, which is now trying to harness anti-wokeness to lend popularity and legitimacy to their own alternative vision of authoritarianism (as I have covered elsewhere). I conclude:
“This is, as the old saying goes, not a choice but an echo. It is a call to escape the orthodoxy of a new religion by replacing it with the orthodoxy of the old one.
“Anti-wokeness has arrived as a political cause and a movement. But this imposes on us the responsibility to decide what we stand for, not just what we stand against.
“It is not enough to tear down the ideology of wokeness. We need to build up the philosophy of liberalism.”
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