Monday, August 20, 2007

Pitfalls of procrastination

I've been meaning for a good while now to write a review of The Assault on Reason by Al Gore. I've actually already got a couple of pages done but haven't gotten around to finalizing it.

Now I see that Michelle Goldberg has already beat me to the punch and used Gore's new book as a jumping off point about the postmodernism/nihilistic relativism of the conservative movement (which I had intended to do myself.)

With the indispensable help of the [Christian Nationalist] movement I'm talking about, the Right has created a climate in which the popular understanding of empirical reality is subject to political pressure, and in which the findings of science are trumped by ideology. The Right likes to rant on about postmodernism and relativism. But really, theirs is the ultimate relativistic movement, claiming that there is no reality, that nothing can be known, and that everything is a function of power.

In her seminal book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Hannah Arendt writes:

Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lives, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of the man who can fabricate it.
Although I'm certainly not comparing Christian nationalism or the current administration to the Nazis or to Stalin, they do share elements of totalitarian movements in their embryonic stages; the first step in the erosion of a liberal democracy is often this kind of subversion of truth combined with the creation of an alternative reality and an attempt to impose this alternative reality on everyone.
Of course, the movement uses Newspeak to code its assault on reality. It calls its reality revision "politcally incorrect" in an Orwellian effort to depict truth and factuality as matters of p.c. (read: liberal) orthodoxy.


spocko said...

HG: Could you please do a bit about the whole "politically correct" dodge?

I'm really sick of the right (and the left in knee jerk reflexive mode) using the prefix of Politically correct to excuse their uttering of hate.

Mike said...

It's so PC, these days, to be un-PC that I like to be PC just to be un-PC.

Hume's Ghost said...


I will eventually - I've got a draft version of a post on this subject that I'll get around to doing at some point.

I keep putting it off because I keep finding something I want to read before I finish it.

Sheldon said...

I am glad to see that people are beggining to pick up on the postmodern relativism advanced by the right. This includes an ethical relativism as applied to international affairs, where the U.S. is not held up to the same standard that it holds others to, and is right because it is the U.S..