In a prior post about climate alarmism, Seversky asked:
Do we really need to wait until Florida or the Netherlands disappear beneath the waves before we admit there might be a problem here?
Assume for the sake of argument (1) global warming is happening; (2) the cost of trying to stop it is 10 times the cost of allowing Florida and the Netherlands to go under. Sev, should we pay that cost even though it is 10X the cost of doing nothing?
Daniel King responded by mocking me, and I responded to him as follows:
I asked you to assume 10X for the sake of argument. You are unwilling to do so. I am not surprised. Progressives are so utterly certain of their own brilliance and rectitude, they never even consider opening their minds to consider a problem from a different perspective. That is why progressives are natural authoritarians. They believe that because they are so much smarter and morally superior to everyone else, no one can disagree with them in good faith, and it follows that anyone who does disagree with them is evil, not merely mistaken, and must be crushed by any means necessary.
And KF added:
Do you care to expand [this], or would others want to, in the context of the cluster of polarised, scientific issue- tinged debates that now seem to be a major part of public issues and policy trends?
For instance in origins science debates, we have on longstanding record, Mr Dawkins on his view of those who object to his evolutionary materialism, that they are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. This view seems to drive much of the tone of debate.
One thing that pricks at my thoughts is the Marxist base-superstructure view, on which any existing frame of thought, authority and governance until the Marxists [whether classic class warfare or the Frankfurt School cultural identity variant makes little difference] showed up.
Thus there is an underlying assumption of monopoly of legitimacy in leadership in thought, issues, policy and politics.
Where, we can clearly see how progressivism — in the sense used in recent decades — is deeply influenced by Marxism.
Echoes of Fascist, Nietzschean superman beyond-law political messiahs who come to rescue the mass victim group in the face of allegedly unprecedented crisis and threat also seem to be there in the above. But then, Fascism was in many respects Marxism 2.0.
This is key KF. We err when we think of fascism, communism, Marxism, and progressivism as being different things. They are not. They are different versions of the same thing. We especially err when we think of a fascist like Hitler and a communist like Stalin as being somehow polar opposites (with one on the “right” and one of the “left”). Hitler and Stalin had far more in common than otherwise, and a political analysis that perceives them as opposites is deeply flawed.
If all of these things are versions of the same thing, what thing is that? That thing is materialist metaphysics applied to politics. Just as in the origins debate, the materialism is accepted as a matter of blind faith in the teeth of the evidence to the contrary. And once the materialist underpinnings are established, everything else follows as a matter of simple logic. It does not matter, for example, that the peppered moth story provides absolutely zero support for the theory. It is nevertheless considered powerful evidence for the theory. Because if materialism is true, a materialist account of origins must necessarily also be true and any “evidence” (even non-evidence as in the case of the moths) is sufficient to support it.
You are also correct that Dawkins’ “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” comment is of a piece with the self-righteous, smug, and condescending style of modern progressive political rhetoric.
[As an aside, note that it is not only conservatives who believe progressives are smug and condescending. Even thoughtful progressives recognize and deplore this tendency among their brethren. Witness uber-progressive Emmett Rensin’s article in the leftist rag Vox: “The Smug Style in American Liberalism,” (with the word “liberal” standing in for “progressive;” the words are often used interchangeably). http://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism ]
Dawkins is completely, utterly and irrevocably convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that materialism is true, and therefore a materialist account of origins must also be true. And because he is such a rabidly-devoted true believer, he is literally unable to understand how anyone could possibly disagree with him in good faith. It follows that to him those who disagree with him cannot possibly do so in good faith. Not only does it not occur to him that they might be correct (not possible), but also it does not occur to him that they might be merely mistaken. Oh no. For true believes like Dawkins, only those who are morally perverse or intellectually infirm can possibly disagree with him.
We see the same phenomenon at work in progressive political rhetoric. Here is an actual exchange from a recent Facebook debate I had with one of my progressive friends (yes, I do have such):
One can’t just stand there and not vote, or not feed a starving child or adult, or not save a drug addict from getting creamed by a bus. One should not stand by and watch people prosper at the cost of old people dying or children going into anaphylactic shock or dying from diabetes or whatever.
If conservatives don’t want to add another 10 trillion dollars to the debt and/or raise taxes to a confiscatory level, they affirmatively want to kill people. It couldn’t possibly be the case that conservatives want to maintain an adequate social safety net while at the same time not killing our economy with confiscatory taxes and smothering regulations. No, this is not about the inevitable trade-offs when infinite needs meet finite resources. This is about good, loving, kind virtuous people (liberals) and evil, bigoted, hateful people who want to kill old people and children (conservatives).
“This is about good, loving, kind virtuous people (liberals) and evil, bigoted, hateful people who want to kill old people and children (conservatives).” Correct
To be clear, that last comment from my progressive friend was probably meant in jest. Nevertheless, it demonstrates the attitude I am talking about, if in an extreme way. Progressives are so convinced they are morally and intellectually superior, it is difficult for them to conceive that anyone might possibly disagree with them in good faith. Only evil and/or stupid people can disagree with them.
It follows that when one’s opponents are, by definition, evil and/or stupid, one need not treat them with respect and dignity. Such must be crushed by the mailed fist and the booted heel – which is why progressivism so often walks hand-in-hand with fascist/authoritarian tactics.
But haven’t progressives such as the ACLU often championed freedom? Yes, they have when to do so predominantly furthered progressive interests. But this was a tactical, not a philosophical stance, as demonstrated by Maud Dib’s dictum:
When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.