The Logic of Leftism: Outsourcing our Thinking

    What is leftism?  It has taken many different forms over the course of time, but in 2021, the essence of leftism is simple: outsourcing one's thinking to the System, in particular the mass media.  

    One of Bruce Charlton's crucial insights is that the mass media (which includes social media) is the driving force of leftism.  It sets the direction that everything else follows.  And if the media changes, then leftism changes.  

    Another feature of Leftism that Bruce Charlton has pointed out is that Leftism is no longer based on a particular ideology or political theory, but is purely oppositional.  It opposes traditional Western culture, Christianity, and in general anything good, but leftism really has no positive program.  Anything can be taken up, used and then discarded.  

    One good example of this is the New Atheist movement.  Had the New Atheists not been picked up by the media, the movement would have remained fairly academic.  It would have been known among people interested in philosophy and religion but not been widely recognized by the general public.  However, the movement is now gone.  And this was also done by the media.  The New Atheists were either ignored or attacked by the media.  And I believe it was because they were ineffective.  In fact, by attacking religion directly, the New Atheists caused more people to think about religious beliefs.  After all, if you have a debate about the existence of God, some of the people listening might come to the wrong conclusion.  Not only that, for every atheist book written, there were multiple religious books being written in response.

    Hence, New Atheism as a movement was started by the media and ended by the media.  It was just one tool among many.  

    Bruce Charlton's insight is important because it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that if we can just come up with the perfect argument against Leftism, then we can steer people away from it.  Because leftism seems to be concerned with ideas, like equality, tolerance, etc.  But these aren't the essence of leftism.  Tolerance and equality may be bumper stickers, but they aren't the one driving the car.  Any words or ideas may be used but those words and ideas will mean whatever the media wants them to mean.  

    Now, this is not to say that argumentation and logic are ineffective.  Rather, their power does not lie primarily in the arguments themselves.  It lies in the person considering the arguments.  There are many ways out of leftism and people can be reached in both logical and emotional ways, but the crucial point is that it must come from within.  It is vanishingly rare to leave leftism passively.   

    Leftism will never go away until people stop outsourcing their thinking.  The media can give canned responses for anything.  And people who want to believe will grasp at them, not so much becasue they are plausible as because they are no longer thinking for themselves.  Bruce Charlton gives an example of this in his recent post "The ongoing collapse of brain-thinking":

    "All that happens now is an ignorant 'parroting' of the superficial forms of brain-thinking - such as managerialist flow-charts and checklists - whose application is rigid but whose content is increasingly arbitrary and incoherent."

    But leaving leftism is only the beginning of thinking.  For those of us who are not leftists, the task is not only to think for ourselves, but to think from ourselves, which is intuition.  (Both Bruce Charlton and William Wildblood have written many posts on this subject).  Rather than thinking by means of methodologies that we have adopted, we need to know and understand things for ourselves.  

5 comments:

  1. "Outsourcing our Thinking" - I good encapsulation.

    The strangest thing is that this goes along with the supposed cynicism of modern (post-God) Man, that he believes-in no 'authority'.

    In the 1980s, academia and highbrow journalism said that we lived in a postmodern age, in which there were no metanarratives, because no authority was believed etc. There was a revival in explicit relativism. This was when it was all about 'tolerance', and 'conversation'. We would just amuse ourselves until we died - preferably gently, 'without harming others'.

    How quaint it all sounds! But that was the tactic or guise of leftism at that time. And it left behind a rhetoric of relativism that still bubbles up for use against the catholic churches, or any form of alternative system, any 'authority'.

    So, as of now, people outsource their thinking to people and institutions that they 'know' (by the leftist residue of relativism) lack authority; and the motives of these authorities can be reduced and explained by class/ sex/ race/ national etc. self-interest.

    People therefore outsource their thinking to those whom they regard as unworthy and incapable; hence the undercurrent of despair, just below the surface.

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  2. A very good post, if I may say so, Kevin. Your point about the New Atheists and how they were dropped because they actually made people think about religion instead of just assuming it's all nonsense is one that hadn't occurred to me but makes perfect sense.

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    1. The point about the New Atheists made me think of this quote "The opposite of love is not hatred, it's indifference". Apathy is what's driving much of secularization today. Few people are actively hostile to God like Richard Dawkins, they just ignore Him. In my opinion, this indifference is much more spiritually dangerous than hostile anti-theism.

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