Slaying the God of the left:-The Battle against science, beauty and politics
I thought God was dead. I stopped believing in God when I was 14 after much introspection and reasoning. Faith, I found out, was in its essence the belief in extraordinary claims with little to no evidence. For believers, reason and evidence are not important. Their belief is rooted in trust, often blind trust.
Nietzsche predicted that the death of God would lead to the eradication of all things sacred. Before Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky famously proclaimed that everything would be permitted in the absence of God. Nietzsche believed that God’s death would inexorably lead to the veneration of man as the sacred replacement.
He was only partially correct. In the past I have written about the disrelishing of science by conservatives. This disease has contagiously spread to the left now. In this piece, I will examine the sacred tenets of the left and demonstrate the consequences of believing it. These tenets are supported by no scientific evidence but taken as an article of faith among the radical left. In other words, these tenets are an indispensable part of the doctrine of the Church of postmodernism and the radical left.
The battle against Science
Both the left and the right engage in the denial of scientific facts which doesn’t align with their ideology. The threat, however, is more apparent from the left. Almost all the conservative pseudoscience has been pushed to the fringe and is no longer capable of having any real effect on the academia. Take for instance, the pseudoscientific theory of Intelligent Design, whose proponents tried to present it as a credible alternative to the Theory of evolution in American high school. It was a conservative Christian Republican judge who ruled the theory to be unscientific and unconstitutional(Kitzmiller v. Dover 2005). I’m not claiming that no Republican supports creationism, I’m merely pointing out that many conservatives have found a way to keep pseudoscience out of mainstream discussion.
The left, on the other hand, clearly has a hegemony over universities, think tanks and institutions. It could be partly due to the fact that political preferences are strongly influenced by personality traits, as a 2010 University of Toronto research paper by Jacob Hirsch, Jordan Peterson and Michael Kennedy confirmed.
The problem is not with liberal dominance, which has almost always been the case in educational institutions. The problem is with a voluble tiny minority of radical postmodernists who have hijacked the mainstream left. In a previous article on postmodernism, I discussed in some detail the ideological underpinnings of this movement. In this article, I will discuss the consequences of adhering to those bad ideas.
In 1975, the American biologist E.O. Wilson published his now well known book called Sociobiology. The book fused the ideas of John Maynard Smith, Robert Trivers and William Hamilton into a single coherent thesis. One of the main arguments of the book was that human behavior and culture are actually shaped by natural selection. This was expanded a year later by the evolutionary biologist and ethologist Dr. Richard Dawkins in his highly readable and accessible book titled The Selfish Gene. Dawkins showed that behaviors, which at first glance seem altruistic to us, are more than often the spandrel/by product of evolutionary adaptations.An organization called Sociobiology Study Group was formed only to counter the claims of Dr. Wilson. This group, comprising of biologists like Richard Lewontin and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, published a diatribe attacking Wilson called “Against Sociobiology”. They claimed that Gould was a “determinist” whose theories “provided an important basis for the enactment of sterilization laws and eugenic policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany”. These arguments were intellectually dishonest and demonstrably false since Wilson was leftist and Trivers was a radical leftist and a sympathizer of Black Panthers. Dawkins, who has been a life-long leftist, was called the most “reductionist of sociobiologist”. Why did Richard Lewontin, a respected evolutionary biologist, attack the likes of Wilson and Dawkins with disingenuous and dishonest arguments? The answer is provided by Lewontin himself. In his 1985 book The Dialectical Biologist, Lewontin and his co-author Richard Levins wrote “As working scientists in the field of evolutionary genetics and ecology, we have been attempting with some success to guide our research by a conscious application of Marxist philosophy.” Steven Gould, too was sympathetic to Marxism. These scientists were not motivated by a desire to seek the truth. On the contrary, they were motivated by a desire to align science with their political beliefs. The Harvard Evolutionary psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker calls them “political scientists”.
Political scientists became exponentially influential after the 1980s. Every attempt to perform research on innate biological intuitions was frowned upon. The idea of an innate human nature was a direct refutation of Marx’s claim that “All history is nothing but a continuous transformation of human nature”(The Poverty of Philosophy,1847) .
The idea that the mind is a “blank slate”, as Steven Pinker terms it, provided justification for totalitarianism. For instance, Pinker points out, “If people do not differ in psychological traits like talent or drive, then anyone who is better off must be avaricious or larcenous”. Simply put, The ones who are rich, successful and talented have only been able to achieve it by oppressing the ones who aren’t. This was enough to rationalize the genocide of kulaks in Stalin’s regime.
The undermining and distaste for individual rights is also derived from this doctrine(which is scientifically wrong). The radical Marxists assumed that society influenced individual behavior and therefore it was society which needed to be reformed, not individuals.
Today, however, the attack on science comes not from radical Marxists(who have become virtually irrelevant), but from postmodernists. Unlike Marxists, postmodernists do not believe in an objective truth. They see all claims as equally valid social constructs. Even scientific theories are formulated by people who are in power and are therefore baseless. They consider Science to be an ideology, just as valid as any other ideology.
This kind of reasoning has led the postmodernist Sandra Harding to refer to Newton’s Principia Mathematica as a “rape manual” and Luce Irigaray to consider Einstein’s “E=mc²” to be a sexed equation as it privileges speed of light over other speeds vitally necessary to us.
Radical postmodernist feminist also believe gender to be a “social construct”, which is preposterous. This leads them to assume that the underrepresentation of women in tech fields and the gender wage gap is solely the result of discrimination. This is demonstrably false. Take for instance, children with Turner’s syndrome, who inherit a single X Chromosome from either their father or mother. The ones who inherit X chromosome from their father(which would have defined them as girl in normal circumstances) are psychologically better at recognizing body language, emotions and socializing than the ones who inherited it from their mother(Skuse, Coppin, James et al. 1997, Nature, 705–8). Men and women generally have different interests. Men tend to gravitate towards things(tech, engineering etc.) while women tend to gravitate towards people i.e. fields like humanities, psychology, philosophy etc.(Amanda Diekman et al. Journal of Personality and social psychology, Vol 101, 902–918). It is not to say that it holds true for everyone(it doesn’t for me). However, it is generally true for people. To claim that choice plays no part at all in the under-representation of women in tech fields is credulous. Even the feminist Simone de Beauvoir said “ “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”(Saturday Review, June 14 1975)
The Battle against Art and Beauty
The Humanities are in danger. Less and less people are graduating with English Literature degrees since the 1990s. In fact, graduate students and part-time faculties seem to be doing more teaching(Engell J, Dangerfield A. “The Market-Model University: Humanities in the Age of Money”). Only 9% show interest in joining the humanities on the PSAT(ibid). Less and less people are majoring in philosophy, religion, literature and the fine arts. This is partly due to the influence of science and technology. The blind abidance towards engineering is a major reason, in the Indian context. However, the problem seems to be more complex than that.
The advent of YouTube, Netflix and the social media has led people to value good content more. Today millions of people watch university lectures online. Take for instance, Joe Rogan’s podcast, which regularly features long form discussions(often lasting for 4 hours) with diverse intellectual figures, philosopher, writers and scientists. These videos get more than a million views. People are more interested in humanities now more than ever. Good literature, art and movies are more accessible now.
What is the reason for the sorry state of humanities in universities? A major reason for the declining of interest in the humanities is the invasion of postmodernism. As the name suggests, postmodernism is a reaction and an extension of “modernism” which broadly includes the paintings of the postimpressionist art(Van Gogh, Cezanne, Signac). As we know, postmodernists believe that every interpretation of the world is equally valid. Art became a way to escape from the prison of reality(which doesn’t actually exist). The best way to do so was to break the connotations associated with words like “beauty”, which we are conditioned to admire by society. The artist Barnett Newman, for instance, claimed that “the impulse of modern art was this desire to destroy beauty.”(The Sublime is Now).
True to his words, Barnett produced paintings which would pass as ugly and vacuous under normal circumstances. For instance, the painting below.
If you think anybody could’ve created this, let me tell you that this painting was sold for 44 million dollars!
Another artist Andres Serrano notoriously uses feces and urine in his work. His most famous work is a crucifix immersed in his own urine in a glass tank. Following his footsteps is Chris Ofili, who stained a painting of virgin Mary with elephant dung.
Postmodern literature and movies too are characterized by deliberate abstruse prose and incomplete narrative. Whether this is a conscious revolt against great writers like Dickens and Tolstoy or a desperate attempt to hide bad writing skills is for you to decide. Let me just remind you that this gibberish is so obscure that even the so called “postmodern experts” can’t differentiate between real postmodern works and deliberate parody(See-Sokal Affair and The Grievance studies hoax).
The moment is eerily similar to the nightmare Orwell envisioned in his dystopian novel 1984. Lest we forget, in the process of torturing Winston, O’Brien tells him “There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness.”
Ideologically possessed liberals
We are indoctrinating a generation of postmodernists. The humanities syllabus of almost all major universities include the postmodern ideologues. The role of education is not the pursuit of truth anymore. The point of education now is to “change the world”(as Marx termed it). Thus many Professors are actually consciously creating a generation of activists.
Faith in extreme moral relativism has made it difficult for this generation to criticize the evils that plague the world. Indeed, it has often worked detrimentally for them.
For instance, when a far left German politician Selin Goren was assaulted by 3 migrants, she lied about their identity and claimed that they were German nationals instead. Only later did she reveal their identity and “apologized” to them. Apology for what? Here is what she wrote:-
“I wanted an open Europe, a friendly one. One that I can gladly live in and one in which we are both safe in. I am sorry. For us both I am so incredibly sorry. You, you aren’t safe here, because we live in a racist society. I, I am not safe here, because we live in a sexist society. But what truly makes me feel sorry, are the circumstances by which the sexist and boundary-crossing acts that were inflicted on me, make it so that you are beset by increasing and more aggressive racism. I promise you, I will scream. I will not allow it, that this continues happening. I will not stand by idly and watch as racists and concerned citizens call you a problem. You are not the problem. You are not a problem at all. You most often are a wonderful human being, who deserves to be free and safe like everyone else.”
Her “ideological possession”(as Jordan Peterson terms it) didn’t allow her to differentiate between right and wrong. The radical left has formed implausible moral standards for itself. Individuals are defined by their group identity and groups are categorized as “oppressed” and the “oppressor”. It is this ideology which forbids them from criticizing and speaking against the gross human right violation in the Islamic World. The same Social Justice activists who criticize the almost non-existent patriarchy in the Western world refuse to criticize the rampant systematic ill treatment of women and gays in Saudi Arabia.
The pragmatic application of postmodernism will lead to a totalitarian state similar to the one Orwell envisioned in 1984. The party also didn’t believe in an objective reality. “Reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else” says O’ Brien in the same monologue to Winston.
However, we have enough reasons to be optimistic. The opposition to this also comes from liberal thinkers like Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, Richard Dawkins and Noam Chomsky. It is time for the numerically larger decent liberals to take over the mainstream conversation.