Monday, January 17, 2011

Follow Your Heart?

All political evils require the ability to rationalize their obvious falsity and their use of coercion. It takes no more or less powers of rationalization to be a Hitler Youth than it takes to be a Young Democrat: both require for the individual to deny his emotions, internalize the proper forms of hatred, and rationalize the absurdity and coercion contained in both ideologies. The whole purpose of the democratic rituals, the pomp of elections, all of the self-importance given to both, the symbols of power, is to make it easier to rationalize the absurdity and the use of force which they represent.


Now, if you want to discredit any idea, ideology or movement, the best way to do that is to show that it is based on some emotional reaction. We really believe that we are “explaining away” an ideology by “exposing” its emotional roots, much like the Christians believe science “explains away” the wonders of nature by showing their causes. But neither is a valid conclusion, for the exact same reason: explaining the causes of an ideology or of a natural process does not magically make it disappear. Explaining that the rainbow is a result of the refraction of light over a field of raindrops does not change the appearance of the rainbow; in fact, this explanation adds a new level of beauty and wonder.

Likewise, explaining the psychological sources of an ideology does not render it magically false or unjustified. The issue of why any given person adopts an ideology is quite distinct from the premises of that ideology. It does us no good to adopt an ideology dispassionately if that ideology turns out to be corrupt and based on evil premises. The fact that people become racists because they are hateful bigots looking for a target to blame for their own failings does not disprove racism: the fact that there is no such thing as a race disproves racism. The fact that some people become liberals because they feel that they are being egalitarian towards the least fortunate does not prove that liberalism is egalitarian: the fact that liberalism (and all other statist ideologies) has as a premise the need to dominate, control and exploit those “least fortunate” proves that liberalism is not egalitarian.

The opposite is also true. Even if some Anarchists have adopted the ideology on the basis of jealousy (as we are told), this does not make Anarchism false.

from: “Follow your heart… but don’t.”

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