Imagine

Making the rounds recently: an excellent article at Quillette about the ongoing purge of moderates and conservatives from the social sciences.

After beginning with some evidence that the purge itself is real, accelerating, and is driving the academic community sharply to the left, the author, Uri Harris, compares two ideological narratives. The first is the “liberal progress narrative”, as outlined by sociologist Christian Smith:

Once upon a time, the vast majority of human persons suffered in societies and social institutions that were unjust, unhealthy, repressive, and oppressive. These traditional societies were reprehensible because of their deep-rooted inequality, exploitation, and irrational traditionalism. . . . But the noble human aspiration for autonomy, equality, and prosperity struggled mightily against the forces of misery and oppression, and eventually succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic… welfare societies. While modern social conditions hold the potential to maximize the individual freedom and pleasure of all, there is much work to be done to dismantle the powerful vestiges of inequality, exploitation, and repression. This struggle for the good society in which individuals are equal and free to pursue their self-defined happiness is the one mission truly worth dedicating one’s life to achieving.

Mr. Harris criticizes this description for its vagueness, and brings in Jonathan Haidt to sharpen it:

So, I take part in a lot of discussions, I’m invited to all sorts of lefty meetings about a global society and… you know… the left usually wants global governance, they want more power vested in the U.N., I hear a lot of talk on the left about how countries and national borders are bad things, they’re arbitrary. So, the left tends to want more of a universal… I’m just thinking about the John Lennon song… this is what I always go back to, Imagine. Imagine there’s no religion, no countries, no private property, nothing to kill or die for, then it will all be peace and harmony. So that is sort of the far-leftist view of what the end state of social evolution could be.

Harris focuses on two points in Haidt’s remark:

What’s interesting about Haidt’s alternative interpretation of the liberal progress narrative is that he mentions two elements central to the narrative—private property and nations. And what has happened to a large extent is that as the failures of communism have become increasingly apparent many on the left—including social scientists—have shifted their activism away from opposing private property and towards other aspects, for example globalism.

But how do we know a similarly disastrous thing is not going to happen with globalism as happened with communism? What if some form of national and ethnic affiliation is a deep-seated part of human nature, and that trying to forcefully suppress it will eventually lead to a disastrous counter-reaction? What if nations don’t create conflict, but alleviate it? What if a decentralised structure is the best way for human society to function?

What if the type of mass-scale immigration currently occurring in Europe, containing relatively large amounts of people with different nationalities, cultures, and religions, is going against some of the core features of human nature? Maybe it isn’t, but if it is, do we have to wait until after the fact to say ‘well, globalism doesn’t work’, as we did with communism? Surely there is a better way.

This is a key question: “do we have to wait until after the fact to say ‘well, globalism doesn’t work’, as we did with communism?” It certainly seems as if that’s the choice we’ve made: the field-testing we’ve already done — particularly in Europe — has already demonstrated that globalist Universallism is in many ways a self-evident disaster, on its way to becoming a civilization-wide catastrophe, yet, just as with Communism in China, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, its proponents are doubling down. As I pointed out here, regarding large-scale immigration, it is very hard to know in advance where a calamitous “tipping point” will be, and once it has been passed, the damage is almost impossible to undo, “without recourse to great, often sanguinary, unpleasantness.”

Mr. Harris then suggests a different narrative of progress, which he calls the scientific narrative (my emphasis):

Once upon a time, human beliefs and practices were crude, steeped in superstition, and tightly regulated by central authority. Consequently, humans were at the mercy of not only an unpredictable and punishing environment, but also of each other. But the human aspiration for truth and stability eventually prevailed, as humans piece by piece began to assemble a model of not only their environments, but of human nature itself. With this understanding came the blueprint for establishing a robust, dynamic society that could withstand environmental pressures while effectively regulating human interaction. Thus, societies learned to harness human potential by working with human nature, not against it. Again and again, theories that were believed unquestionably true were replaced by better ones, often after heavy resistance. There is much still to be understood, but it’s clear that the struggle for a good society must be led by an uncompromising search for truth, however uncomfortable it might seem at the time. Any society that forces humans to behave against their nature is bound to eventually fail, and only truth can prevent this from happening.

How refreshing: a society that works “with human nature, not against it”. Imagine!

Read the whole thing here.

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3 Comments

  1. guy says

    …the failures of communism have become increasingly apparent many on the left—including social scientists—have shifted their activism away from opposing private property and towards other aspects, for example globalism.

    Globalism because, as is the case in blue states in the US, people will flee the disasters their policies have created.

    The lefty answer isn’t to look soberly at the results of their policies, the answer is to eliminate the possibility of escape.

    Posted July 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    The last Lefty politician I can think of who could look soberly at one of their policies and see the damage is the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was savaged by his own side for speaking it. The policies continue with devastating results and we are no longer allowed to ask why. The real truth of them is so damning that their dysfunction has now taken on an air of normalcy.

    Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    Drat!! I meant to include this link with the above. It is a bit long but tells the Truth about Lefty social engineering:
    http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/standing-pat/

    Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink