Archive for the ‘#politicalcorrectness’ Tag

But He Didn’t Say That   Leave a comment

My first introduction to Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto clinical psychologist was when Brad asked me to watch an interview Peterson did with Camille Paglia. I didn’t care for the interview, mainly because Paglia likes to hear herself talk too much, but I did come away curious about Peterson, who up to that moment was a complete unknown to me.
Image result for image of jordan petersonI then caught his  interview with British journalist Cathy Newman a couple of weeks ago. Newman pressed Peterson to explain several of his controversial views, which is enlightening, but what struck me – more than his views — was the method Newman used in interviewing him. THIS is one of the main reasons I distrust the media today.First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem their view is offensive, hostile, or absurd.

It’s not new or unique. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. The Peterson interview showed so many successive examples that even our son, who couldn’t care less about politics or 90% of what Peterson and Newman were discussing, wondered why the interviewer kept inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims instead of addressing what he actually said.

I don’t dislike Cathy Newman. As British journalists go, she’s somewhat accurate and fair, although I don’t have extensive knowledge of her reporting. Restatement has a role in psychology and journalism, especially when trying to force a poor historian or an evasive subject to clarify their ideas. I suspect she has used that tactic to good effect elsewhere. It’s just that in this interview with Peterson, Newman relied on this technique to a remarkable degree, making it a useful illustration of a much broader pernicious trend. While Peterson was not evasive or unwilling to be clear about his meaning, Newman’s exaggerated restatements of his views mostly led viewers astray, not closer to the truth. She was telling people what she THOUGHT his words meant, rather than listening to what Peterson actually said.

Peterson began the interview by explaining why he tells young men to grow up and take responsibility for getting their lives together and becoming good partners. He noted he isn’t talking exclusively to men, and that he has lots of female fans.“What’s in it for the women, though?” Newman asked.

“Well, what sort of partner do you want?” Peterson said. “Do you want an overgrown child or do you want someone to contend with who is going to help you?”

“So you’re saying,” Newman retorted, “that women have some sort of duty to help fix the crisis of masculinity.”

Brad paused the interview at that point and asked me what I thought Peterson had said. I thought he posited a vested interest, not a duty.

“Women deeply want men who are competent and powerful,” Peterson asserted. “And I don’t mean power in that they can exert tyrannical control over others. That’s not power. That’s just corruption. Power is competence. And why in the world would you not want a competent partner? Well, I know why, actually, you can’t dominate a competent partner. So if you want domination—”

“So you’re saying women want to dominate, is that what you’re saying?” Newman interrupted.

The next section of the interview concerns the pay gap between men and women, and whether it is rooted in gender itself or other nondiscriminatory factors:

Newman: … that 9 percent pay gap,  that’s a gap between median hourly earnings between men and women. That exists.

Peterson: Yes. But there’s multiple reasons for that. One of them is gender, but that’s not the only reason. If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a uni-variate analysis. You say women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay. Well then we break it down by age; we break it down by occupation; we break it down by interest; we break it down by personality.

Newman: But you’re saying, basically, it doesn’t matter if women aren’t getting to the top, because that’s what is skewing that gender pay gap, isn’t it? You’re saying that’s just a fact of life, women aren’t necessarily going to get to the top.

Peterson: No, I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, either. I’m saying there are multiple reasons for it.

Newman: Yeah, but why should women put up with those reasons?

Peterson: I’m not saying that they should put up with it! I’m saying that the claim that the wage gap between men and women is only due to sex is wrong. And it is wrong. There’s no doubt about that. The multi-variate analyses have been done. So let me give you an example––

The interviewer seemed eager to impute to Peterson a belief that a large, extant wage gap between men and women is a “fact of life” that women should just “put up with,” though all those assertions are contrary to his real positions on the matter.

Throughout this next section, the interviewer repeatedly tried to oversimplify Peterson’s view, as if he believes one factor he discusses is all-important. Then she seemed to assume that because Peterson believes that given factor helps to explain a pay gap between men and women, he doesn’t support any actions that would bring about a more equal outcome. 

Her surprised question near the end suggested earnest confusion:

Peterson: There’s a personality trait known as agreeableness. Agreeable people are compassionate and polite. And agreeable people get paid less than disagreeable people for the same job. Women are more agreeable than men.

Newman: Again, a vast generalization. Some women are not more agreeable than men.

Peterson: That’s true. And some women get paid more than men.

Newman: So you’re saying by and large women are too agreeable to get the pay raises that they deserve.

Peterson: No, I’m saying that is one component of a multi-variate equation that predicts salary. It accounts for maybe 5 percent of the variance. So you need another 18 factors, one of which is gender. And there is prejudice. There’s no doubt about that. But it accounts for a much smaller portion of the variance in the pay gap than the radical feminists claim.

Newman: Okay, so rather than denying that the pay gap exists, which is what you did at the beginning of this conversation, shouldn’t you say to women, rather than being agreeable and not asking for a pay raise, go ask for a pay raise. Make yourself disagreeable with your boss.

Peterson: But I didn’t deny it existed, I denied that it existed because of gender. See, because I’m very, very, very careful with my words.

Newman: So the pay gap exists. You accept that. I mean the pay gap between men and women exists—but you’re saying it’s not because of gender, it’s because women are too agreeable to ask for pay raises.

Peterson: That’s one of the reasons.

Newman: Okay, so why not get them to ask for a pay raise? Wouldn’t that be fairer?

Peterson: I’ve done that many, many, many times in my career. So one of the things you do as a clinical psychologist is assertiveness training. So you might say––often you treat people for anxiety, you treat them for depression, and maybe the next most common category after that would be assertiveness training. So I’ve had many, many women, extraordinarily competent women, in my clinical and consulting practice, and we’ve put together strategies for their career development that involved continual pushing, competing, for higher wages. And often tripled their wages within a five-year period.

Newman: And you celebrate that?

Peterson: Of course! Of course!

Note that she seemed disgusted with the idea that women would have to be assertive to get what they want in the workplace. Yeah, I couldn’t figure that one out either. Men have to be assertive to get what THEY want, so why shouldn’t women? Another passage on gender equality proceeded thusly:

Newman: Is gender equality a myth?

Peterson: I don’t know what you mean by the question. Men and women aren’t the same. And they won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be treated fairly.

Newman: Is gender equality desirable?

Peterson: If it means equality of outcome then it is almost certainly undesirable. That’s already been demonstrated in Scandinavia. Men and women won’t sort themselves into the same categories if you leave them to do it of their own accord. It’s 20 to 1 female nurses to male … something like that. And approximately the same male engineers to female engineers. That’s a consequence of the free choice of men and women in the societies that have gone farther than any other societies to make gender equality the purpose of the law. Those are ineradicable differences––you can eradicate them with tremendous social pressure, and tyranny, but if you leave men and women to make their own choices you will not get equal outcomes.

Newman: So you’re saying that anyone who believes in equality, whether you call them feminists or whatever you want to call them, should basically give up because it ain’t going to happen.

Peterson: Only if they’re aiming at equality of outcome.

Newman: So you’re saying give people equality of opportunity, that’s fine.

Peterson: It’s not only fine, it’s eminently desirable for everyone, for individuals as well as societies.

Newman: But still women aren’t going to make it. That’s what you’re really saying.

By this time Brad and I were both shaking our heads in wonderment and Keirnan was even saying “But that’s not what he was really saying!”

In this next passage Peterson shows more explicit frustration than at any other time in the program with being interviewed by someone who refuses to relay his actual beliefs:

Newman: So you don’t believe in equal pay.

Peterson: No, I’m not saying that at all.

Newman: Because a lot of people listening to you will say, are we going back to the dark ages?

Peterson: That’s because you’re not listening, you’re just projecting.

Newman: I’m listening very carefully, and I’m hearing you basically saying that women need to just accept that they’re never going to make it on equal terms—equal outcomes is how you defined it.

Peterson: No, I didn’t say that.

Newman: If I was a young woman watching that, I would go, well, I might as well go play with my Cindy dolls and give up trying to go school, because I’m not going to get the top job I want, because there’s someone sitting there saying, it’s not possible, it’s going to make you miserable.

Peterson: I said that equal outcomes aren’t desirable. That’s what I said. It’s a bad social goal. I didn’t say that women shouldn’t be striving for the top, or anything like that. Because I don’t believe that for a second.

Newman: Striving for the top, but you’re going to put all those hurdles in their way, as have been in their way for centuries. And that’s fine, you’re saying. That’s fine. The patriarchal system is just fine.

Peterson:  No! I really think that’s silly! I do, I think that’s silly.

Peterson never said “the patriarchal system is just fine” or that he planned to put lots of hurdles in the way of women. He never said women shouldn’t strive for the top or they might as well drop out of school, because achieving their goals or happiness is simply not going to be possible. Newman put all those words in his mouth by projecting her own bias’ upon him.

The conversation moved on to other topics, but the pattern continued. Peterson made a statement and the the interviewer interjected with “So you’re saying …” and filled in the rest with something that is less defensible, less carefully qualified, more extreme, or just totally unrelated to his point. I think my favorite example came when they began to talk about lobsters. Yeah, lobsters! Here’s the excerpt:


Peterson: There’s this idea that hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the Western patriarchy. And that is so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable. I use the lobster as an example: We diverged from lobsters evolutionarily about 350 million years ago. And lobsters exist in hierarchies. They have a nervous system attuned to the hierarchy. And that nervous system runs on serotonin just like ours. The nervous system of the lobster and the human being is so similar that anti-depressants work on lobsters. And it’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with sociocultural construction, which it doesn’t.

Newman: Let me get this straight. You’re saying that we should organize our societies along the lines of the lobsters?

To this, Keirnan cracked “Yes, he proposed that we all live on the sea floor … except for those who want to live in the seafood tanks at restaurants.” We all got a good laugh out of that, but the kid has a point. It’s laughable. Absolutely ludicrous. Peterson, to his credit, tried to keep plodding along.

Peterson: I’m saying it is inevitable that there will be continuities in the way that animals and human beings organize their structures. It’s absolutely inevitable, and there is one-third of a billion years of evolutionary history behind that … It’s a long time. You have a mechanism in your brain that runs on serotonin that’s similar to the lobster mechanism that tracks your status—and the higher your status, the better your emotions are regulated. So as your serotonin levels increase you feel more positive emotion and less negative emotion.

Newman: So you’re saying like the lobsters, we’re hard-wired as men and women to do certain things, to sort of run along tram lines, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

She was actually tracking until she added the extreme “and there’s nothing we can do about it”? Peterson is a clinical psychologist who coaches people to change how they relate to institutions and to one another within the constraints of human biology. Of course he believes that there is something that can be done about it.

He brought up the lobsters only in an attempt to argue that “one thing we can’t do is say that hierarchical organization is a consequence of the capitalist patriarchy.”At this point, we’re near the end of the interview. And given all that preceded it, Newman’s response killed me. She took another accusatory tack with her guest:

Newman: Aren’t you just whipping people up into a state of anger?

Peterson: Not at all.

Newman: Divisions between men and women. You’re stirring things up.

Actually, one of the most important things this interview illustrates—one reason it is worth watching (find it on You-Tube) —is how Newman repeatedly posed as if she were holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it was she who was “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.”

At every turn, she took her subject’s words and made them seem more extreme, more hostile to women, or more shocking in their implications than Peterson’s remarks themselves support. Almost all of the most inflammatory views that were aired in the interview were ascribed by Newman to Peterson, who then disputed that she had accurately characterized his words.

There are moments when Newman seems earnestly confused, and perhaps was. But if it was merely confusion, why did she consistently misinterpret him in the more scandalous, less politically correct, more umbrage-stoking direction?

I hadn’t followed Peterson enough to know what I thought of him when I watched the interview, but I have since gone out and listened to several of his lectures and interviews and I find a lot of good meat in his arguments, though I don’t wholly agree with him because I think Jungians take their archetypes far too seriously.  I’m just pointing out that Newman’s interview techniques were unhelpful and unfair because they were untruthful. Those who credulously accept the interviewer’s characterizations will emerge with the impression that a prominent academic holds troubling views that, in fact, he does not actually believe or advocate. Distorted impressions of what figures like Peterson mean by the words that they speak can only exacerbate overall polarization between their followers and others, which will actually make it harder for their critics to push back against any wrong ideas.Lots of culture-war fights are unavoidable because they are rooted in earnest, deeply-felt disagreements over the best values or societal goods. The best we can do is have those fights with some civility rules to prevent duels at dawn. Disagreements are inevitable in a pluralistic democracy, but reducing needless division requires that we accurate characterize the views of folks with differing opinions, rather than distort their works so that existing divides become more intractable. That sort of exaggeration or hyperbolic misrepresentation is epidemic in the Western world today and we are long overdue for addressing it … for everyone’s sake.

Why Can’t We Talk to One Another?   Leave a comment

When I was a kid growing up in Alaska, politics were an indoor participation sport. Even little kids were encouraged to have opinions. According to my Dad, I didn’t like “cold water”, but I thought Lyndon Johnson looked mean … I was four, so I would have voted for Barry, much to my liberal-for-the times dad’s chagrin — he’d be a moderate Republican these days, I think. Holding an opinion didn’t mean anything of course. The adults would try to dissuade us from them. That might have been for their entertainment (we had limited television) or it might have been because they thought we should learn how to defend our positions or change our minds when presented with a good argument.

Image result for image of antifaI can’t recall any of the kids I grew up with becoming mass shooters or ax murdering the family next door. Oh, wait … yeah, but he had paranoid schizophrenia, so maybe we can’t blame that on those early forays into controversy.

So, if even little children can handle hearing contradictory opinions, why are we protecting college students (10-15 years older) from them?

When I was in college, professors would tell us that they wanted us to challenge each other’s presuppositions. I was a moderate among liberals, but I had some friends who were conservatives and even libertarians. We challenged each other regularly in classes and at the student union, sometimes with professors in attendance. Conversations got a little heated occasionally, but nobody tried to kill anyone and no one went home and shot themselves in the head because their opinions were refuted.

These days, some college administrators seem to believe that hearing new points of view can be unsafe or damaging to students on some psychological level. They want certain opinions to be silenced for the “good” of certain students and then they extend that prohibition out to the rest of society. Ironically, this kind of thinking has actually put people holding whatever view is currently being demonized in real danger, as we’ve seen beatings of Trump supporters and others by college “activists” (the PC term for thug) across the nation.

In the end, there are only two possible ways of dealing with disagreement:

  1. We can talk to each other, working to peacefully persuade others to our point of view, … and then agree to disagree if we can’t come to an understanding.
  2. We can not talk to one another and allow our disagreements to devolve into violence and hurt people who hold different perspectives.

Only one of these is healthy for society. Guess which one?

Language Manipulation = Coercion   Leave a comment

Do you ever think about how we misuse language today? Probably not. Most people don’t. But we should … really … think about it because it affects all of us.

The Nazis and the Communists both changed the meaning of words in order to manipulate their populations. Consider how the leaders of Soviet Union used to pontificate against the “Imperialist West” when it in fact had one of the largest Empires in the world at the time. The Nazis included “Democratic” in their name for their country.

Image result for image of coercionThe same manipulation of words and ideas appears in the language of the progressive and radical “left” in America today. Just how successful this has been can be seen in getting people both to forget the past and accept the title “progressive” for all those who look forward to a collectivization of contemporary society.

Today’s “progressives” were the socialists of a century ago. Back then, they were confident that Marx’s “laws of history” made a socialist planned society inevitable and inescapable. But “socialist” soon came to possess too many negative connotations such as central direction and command of everyone in society under what was likely to be a dictatorial political regime. People rejected that, so the socialists performed a linguistic trick to prevent anyone from taking such a critic seriously. They used some language sleight-of-hand sleight-of-hand to transform themselves into the new and “true” or “progressive” liberals. Their goal, they insisted was entirely in line with the unfinished political program of the old, 19th-century “individualist” liberals who only spoke of “negative” freedoms from coercion and interference by other private individuals or governments.

They explained that the old-style liberals had left the program unfinished and this required a new “progressive liberal” agenda to the fulfill “positive” freedoms through governmental guarantees to a wide variety of redistributed benefits for the “needy,” the “exploited,” and the toilers of the earth who were the “real producers” of all things, but who were unjustly treated and abused by “the rich” — those capitalist owners who cared nothing about the little guy on whose back these capitalist exploiters rode to their unethically acquired wealth.

And, it didn’t matter how ethically or morally you’d acquired your wealth, how well you treated your workers, or paid them. If you were wealthy, you’d obviously become so through exploitation of people who couldn’t defend themselves from your rapacity.

Eventually, liberal” became a swear words due to negative attacks by political conservatives and, well, just about anyone with observation skills, so “liberal” was jettisoned and replaced with simply “progressive,” meaning a person looking forward for the achievement of more “social progress,” connoting what used to be considered a “socialist” program of a century ago – welfare redistribution, along with extensive government control and regulation of economic and social life.

These days, if you accuse a “progressive” of being a socialist or interested in advancing portions of a traditionally socialist agenda, you will be labeled a “right-wing extremist,” a “hater of the poor,” and an opponent of “social justice,” … if they just don’t call you insane, stupid or evil. It’s a linguistic trick to prevent anyone from taking your critique seriously. Clearly, you  have no logical and historical basis of your argument so to take it seriously shows that such a person has fallen victim to “reactionary” ideas outside of legitimate and acceptable political debate. No need to talk further. Discussion closed.

From “Class Warfare” to the New Race Collectivism

Traditional Marxist political economy was based on “class struggle.” Society is divided into two main “social classes” defined as and identified by whether an individual is or is not an owner of the means of production. If he is an owner, then he is a member of the capitalist “exploiting class.” If he is not an owner, then he is a member of the exploited, oppressed and victimized workers’ class.

Property ownership determined the social status and place of any and every individual person in society. What the individual believed, how he personally acted in his social and economic interactions with others were essentially meaningless. You were praised or condemned based upon your “class status” in the society.

Today, we’ve modified the the Marxian conception to transform it into the new notion of irreconcilable social conflict. We cast it in racial terms – you’re benefited by “white privilege” or a sufferer of “white oppression.” Instead of your status relative to the ownership of productive property determining your classification of social “saint” or social “sinner,” there is racial collectivism to tell you who you are.

Being “white” condemns a person as an implicit and explicit beneficiary of a social and economic system (“capitalism”) that has been placed at the service of a limited segment of the human community to gain power, position and wealth for itself at the expense of all those other “persons of color” everywhere else around the world.

The race advocates will insist that “white people” either fail to understand this or oppose admitting it in demonstration of just how embedded “white racism” really is in modern American society. Failure to accept this new race collectivist argument is taken to be proof of the racist mindset that the “progressive” opposes and is determined to overthrow by virtually any means.

Nobody cares what the individual’s own background is. It doesn’t matter if his ancestors owned slaves or conducted a waystation on the Underground Railroad. Did those ancestors come to the United States after slavery had ended in America? Were they, themselves, immigrants escaping oppression and discrimination in the “old country” and advocates of equality of rights for all in their new land of America? It doesn’t matter. You are unable to transcend your own accident of birth to be a thinking, willing, acting individual.

How has the individual standing accused of “white privilege” merely due to the pigmentation color of his skin acted in his own personal life toward others? It doesn’t matter because the color of his skin is all that’s important. How has he earned his own place in society … through fair dealing in what remains of a free market in the United States or through “crony capitalist” favors and benefits from the government? The question is never asked, and any attempt to offer answers to the the false assumptions of the progressives is rejected as smoke screens and rationalizations for maintaining “white privilege.”

Individuals are submerged within and reduced to social categories defined and imposed by ideologists reflecting their notion of a new racial- and ethnicity-conscious society. Yes, it dehumanizes the individuals who happen to be the descendants of Caucasian parents, and it does seem eerily reminiscent of racial stereotyping against blacks and Hispanics in earlier generations, but whites are not considered to be “victims” because they are not “persons of color.” You are an inescapable captive of your race, with only a “progressive” government able to guarantee you a “just” place in society.

Yes, this sounds a lot like the Nazi assertions that everything undesirable thing in German life was due to the machinations and intrigue of “international Jewry.” The failure of so many others in the world to see the insidiousness of Jewish manipulation and exploitation demonstrated the extent to which “the Jew” had succeeded in his control of the social and economic affairs of the world, and how many others were either their unwitting victims or the degenerate accomplices of their attack on “civilization” and race purity.

And, yes, there is a creepy similarity to the Soviet method of debate and argument-stopping. If you disagree with the politically correct statement, you are a dupe of the capitalist exploiters, and therefore should be ignored or condemned. Your refusal to admit the justness of the socialist cause shows that you must be in the pay of the capitalist bosses, and thus your arguments should be rejected as special pleading. Your arguments against communist and socialist planning should be discounted and ridiculed because you are simply a “red baiter” trying to demagogically arouse emotional resistance against those interested in “social justice” and “world peace.”

That’s really how it feels on some American campuses now. The techniques used are very similar to those used by the “Red Guards” during the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao in China during the 1960s and 1970s. Mobs of shouting, bullying and physically attacking young thugs spouting meaningless and ideologically vacuous phrases from the “little red book” of quotations from Chairman Mao, to mentally and physically crush any and all who failed to parrot the Party Line or who were the objects of Chairman Mao’s political purges and personal vendettas against real and imaginary opponents.


A distinct difference between the proponents of this new race collectivism compared to the 20th-century episodes of German Nazism or Soviet socialism is that this linguistic totalitarianism and word indoctrination is being advanced and imposed without any direct coercive and monopoly apparatus of governmental power. Academia, who were the opposition in Germany and the Soviet Union, is the headquarters of the new indoctrination. Schools with heavy taxpayer funding that allows comfortable salaries, programs, curricula and lifetime tenure are freed from the system of market-based work and reward to become islands of educational socialism with “safe spaces” within which there can be cultivated, to use George Orwell’s phrase, “some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual can believe them.”

An increasingly successful Orwellian-like thought police of politically correct “newspeak” is imposed on people in almost every circumstance of social life.

The assertion and repetition of “white privilege,” “the one percent,” “social justice,” “racist,” “gay-basher,” “LGBT-hater,” “gender insensitivity” have had numbing effects on private and public discourse, which produces self-censorship out of fear that the wrong word, the misplaced phrase, the wrongly understood witticism, or an unintentionally offending double entendre will bring down an avalanche of criticisms and threats to one’s job, social status, or acceptance among professional and informal circles in society.

The politically correct world of American progressivism and race collectivism threatens to drain human interaction of spontaneity and the real and relevant diversity of views, voices, and modes of expression and argumentation. Increasingly, people feel that they have to be “walking on eggshells,” never knowing who might take anything said or done as an offense against some ethnic or racial group or person.

Another technique of race collectivism and progressivism is to take what is normally accepted as reasonable and appropriate modes of polite and courteous behavior and turn them into a weapon to serve their own agendas. We all know and usually attempt not to intentionally say or do something that will offend or be embarrassing to someone we are associating with in some social setting. We just know it’s not the “right thing” to do. And if we see someone going out of their way to act in this improper manner, we find it inappropriate and “not right,” even if we remain silent and don’t do anything in response to it. Race collectivists and progressives have learned to use this notion of proper etiquette and good manners that acts as a break on most of us in the social arena as a weapon to silence and beat down anyone or anything not consistent with their worldview and political agenda. Anything said or done inconsistent with their ideas and ideology is “hurtful” to some oppressed minority or subgroup in society. We show insensitivity and misunderstanding of that group’s experiences, history, culture or degree of suffering caused by – “white privilege,” or “the capitalist system,” or . . .

Made to feel guilty in thinking some thought, saying some word, or expressing some idea, and fearful about the consequences of doing so, an increasingly successful Orwellian-like thought police of politically correct “newspeak” is imposed on people in almost every circumstance of social life.

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, the anti-hero, Winston, works in the Ministry of Truth. His task is to go through the pages of old newspapers and rewrite the articles in them to make events and statements made in the past consistent with and supportive of the government’s current Party line. The words and events of the past are made to conform to the ideological “truths” of the present.

And that happens today. In another tricky technique, race collectivists and progressives insist that historical events and the people who lived in the past must be remade to fit the “truth” of these new totalitarians. When Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all human beings are created equal and have certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, this was all “really” code words and rationales for a society of white racism.

If James Madison helped to author a constitution for the United States that had as a leading purpose restraints on the passions of potential individual rights-violating majorities that would threaten a free and prosperous society, this is “really” the institutionalization of the power of an oligarchy of the “the rich” to thwart the progressive will of the majority of “the people” for “social justice” against the exploiting “one percent.”

Stalin rewrote the actual history of the Russian Revolution to make himself, a relatively minor player in those events, into the right-hand comrade of Vladimir Lenin. Making the past conform to the politics of the present is often followed by a purge of those who might remember otherwise.

Everyone who believes in freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, in freedom of exchange of ideas, must oppose and prevent this new racial collectivism and its accompanying “progressive” linguistic manipulation from imposing a new dark age of diminished human discourse.

The wit, charm, creativity, and humanity of words and the ideas expressed through them, must not be stunted and then petrified by those who wish to reduce individual human beings to collectivist categories of ideological control and command. Liberty of thought, deed, action, and association is too precious to be lost to these coercing thugs bent on intimidating the human mind.

Rockers Who Speak Their Mind   Leave a comment

Dream Machine’s Matthew and Doris Melton were dropped by their record label for being politically-incorrect pragmatists. They exercised their right to express an opinion. Doris, a legal immigrant from Bosnia, said she thought illegal immigrants who break the law should be deported. Doris, a woman, also believes that girl bands have become overly political manhaters who don’t play their instruments properly. Matthew and Doris both believe that we are too sucked into social media that we’re missing out on real life. Those are opinions, but I’m not really sure how they are hateful.

I find it ironic that their record label, Castle Face, dropped them after Matthew said such complimentary things about them.

So, I finally found the interview and thought you should have the opportunity to read what they actually said that was supposedly so “hateful”.

I first became aware of this controversy on Fox News while I was sweating on the exercise bike. Matthew made a point that I really agreed with – rock has always been about protest and counter-cultural thinking, so it is a real shame that currently you can’t express a politically incorrect opinion without facing sanction.

Matthew believes that, over time, more rock musicians will become more outspoken and start speaking out against political correctness. I hope so and this is my way to do my part toward that movement. Since they don’t do social media, I’ll do it for them.

Martin Heidegger: Philosopher of Nazism and Other Collectivist Cults | Tom G. Palmer   1 comment

Philosophy matters. We all “do philosophy” every time we ponder what we should do or whether a statement is true or false and how we know it. To do philosophy, one merely need devote time to thinking about those important questions and others that arise in the course of thinking about them. That makes one a philosopher. I say this consciously and not necessarily systematically, but, generally, people who style themselves philosophers go for being systematic in their thinking, for creating “philosophies” that express their ideas about life, truth, and action, and that serve as a means of legitimating their actions or those of their followers.

Image result for image heideggerMany of the problems we face today are the creations of philosophers. It turns out that one of the most dangerous things in the world is a philosopher with power. Thinking systematically about things and coming up with the wrong answers can lead to systematically bad ideas: communism, fascism, political Islamism, and many other ideologies have contributed greatly to human suffering, and because they are philosophies, they do so far more systematically than merely random acts of cruelty or stupidity.

All three of these philosophers wrote in German, although the last wrote many of his most important later books in English. The first two are important to me because I believe that we can discern their influence in all of the major organized intellectual and political challenges to libertarian values and principles around the world.

In modern political communitarianism, nationalism, populism, leftist politically correct assaults on freedom of speech, radical Islamism, and resurgent fascism and national socialism in Europe. I’ll talk through what may seem technical issues in philosophy, some in puzzling language, but there will be intrigue, war, and – as this is Planet Hollywood – nefarious Nazis, as well.

Martin Heidegger

The first philosopher is one of the most difficult to read and understand because he wrote in a style that is, in my opinion, deliberately opaque. His name was Martin Heidegger and he is widely considered one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. He made his big splash in philosophy in 1927 with the publication of his book Being and Time, a start on a longer work that was never finished.

In his book, he seemed to be following the program of the man widely believed to be his mentor, but whom we have since learned he despised and quickly dumped as soon as he had used him to secure a strong position as his successor at the university. That man was Edmund Husserl, considered the founder of the phenomenological movement in philosophy, that is, a scientific method whereby objective study of what would otherwise be considered subjective matters, such as consciousness and such conscious acts as perceiving, judging, comparing, and so on.

The Philosophy of Heidegger

Heidegger asks about the meaning of being, which is a term that has been considered either so general or so empty as to defy description. However, seeming to start with a phenomenological method, Heidegger looks into the kind of being that asks about being, which is us, which he terms – in German – Dasein. He claims boldly that we can see the meaning of being by examining our very asking about it.

In the process, he inaugurates what comes to be known as existentialism, for he argues that, whereas we use categorials to name the ways in which we can speak of a thing, such as substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, and so on, in contrast, Dasein is structured by existentials. He denies that Dasein has an essence, or a “what,” “because its essence lies rather in the fact that in each case it has its Being to be, and has it as its own.” Dasein, he wrote, “always understands itself in terms of its existence – in terms of a possibility of itself: to be itself or not itself.”

It’s by building on that primordial relationship that we might come to understand things better as rooted in something more basic.

That kind of talk seemed very exciting at the time and seemed to allow us to start with human beings as we really are in the world, before we come to study ourselves using scientific methods. Thus, we live in a world in which we are related, not to scientifically described objects, but to things as they are ready to hand for us to use. When I relate to a podium, I don’t relate to it as it might be described in either Newtonian or quantum physics, but as a useful thing on which to rest my arms. It’s by building on that primordial relationship, of being at home in the world, that we might come to understand better things such as the scientific understanding, as itself rooted in something more basic.

In contrast to Immanuel Kant, who started by asserting the truth of Euclidean mathematics and Newtonian physics and then attempted to reveal what must be true metaphysically for those sciences to be correct, Heidegger proposed to start with the structures of human existence, without presuppositions about things as understood scientifically, and then build up a philosophy of human existence.

So categories structure our perceptions of things, but existentials structure our own existence. What is remarkable, however, is how so many of the alleged existentials and their substructures are drawn from the literature that grew out of World War I and the experience of combat and death, such as authenticity, resoluteness, steadfastness, and being toward death. Heidegger offered a metaphysical dressing up of the cultural themes of violence, brutality, and domination that had emerged out of the war, especially as glorified by the novelist and essayist Ernst Jünger, who had a major influence on Heidegger.

Heidegger’s History

Heidegger famously publicly joined the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1933 after the takeover of power by Hitler. He organized and supervised militaristic organizations of students and faculty, insisted on public allegiance to the Leadership Principle, or the Führerprinzip, and much more. After the war, he denied that he was a Nazi, presented himself as a naïve and bewildered philosopher who grew disillusioned with the party after just one year, who retreated into a kind of private opposition, etc., etc. His ideas were not at all implicated in National Socialism and should be judged independently, and so on. It was all lies. All of it.

After the war, when his whole career was at stake, Heidegger denied that he had been a Nazi or even a sympathizer, saying that he had not read Mein Kampf, due to how repulsive he found the ideas in it, which was clearly a lie. As the Freiburg University historian Hugo Ott discovered when examining newspaper articles from the time, private diaries, party archives, personal correspondence, and much more, virtually everything Heidegger publicly said after the war was a lie. In fact, Heidegger was not merely a naïve professor who was tapped by the ministry of education to come in and take over the burden of administration after his predecessors were removed by the authorities. The party archives revealed that he was an active collaborator and agent of the National Socialist Party before he was named Rektor of the university, and had actively conspired with them to take over the university. A National Socialist professor reported on 9 April 1933 to his party handler in a written memo that:

To take the first point raised at our recent discussion, concerning the alliance of National Socialist university teachers, we have ascertained that Professor Heidegger has already entered into negotiations with the Prussian Ministry of Education. He enjoys our full confidence, and we would therefore ask you to regard him for the present as our spokesman here at the University of Freiburg. Professor Heidegger is not a Party member, and he thinks it would be more practical to remain so for the time being in order to preserve a freer hand vis-à-vis his other colleagues whose position is either unclear still or openly hostile. He is quite prepared, however, to join the Party when and if this should be deemed expedient on other grounds. But I would particularly welcome it if you were able to establish direct contact with Professor Heidegger, who is fully apprised of all the points that concern us. He is at your disposal in the coming days, but I should say that there is a meeting in Frankfurt on the 25th which he could usefully attend as the spokesman for our university. (Ott, p. 144)

The lies that Heidegger told to save his miserable life were promulgated by a large movement of anti-liberty intellectuals who rallied to rescue him in the final days of the war and for decades until and after his death in 1976. His defenders, notable among them the French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, who staunchly defended Heidegger until his own death in 2004.

Martin Heidegger was one of the least understood of philosophers because he was, on the one hand, so efficient at concealing his ideas behind clouds of impenetrable prose, and, on the other, able to falsify his record during the Nazi era.1 He was at the same time one of the most influential of all such philosophers; his anti-individualist ideas have infused and motivated the far right, the far left, radical and violent “Islamism,”2 the radical environmental movement – which was given power by his influential essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” the “Social Justice Warriors” who censor and silence others in the name of “political correctness” – and other collectivist movements.

Decades of post-World War II readers who puzzled over his writings about “existence” (“Dasein” in German) thought that Heidegger was writing about what it means to “be” an individual human being or for you and me to exist as a human. In fact, as he made clearer during the period of National Socialism (Nazism), when he could speak more openly about his ideas, Dasein is something of which one can speak only in the collective “we,” and specifically, the Dasein of a particular people, the German Volk. As Heidegger declared in his lectures after the National Socialist seizure of power,

The German people is now passing through a moment of historical greatness: the youth of the academy knows this greatness. What is happening, then? The German people as a whole is coming to itself, that is, it is finding its leadership. In this leadership, the people that has come to itself is creating a state.3

That is to say, in “finding its leadership,” the leader (“der Führer”) will decide for all of the people. And, indeed, that collective Dasein, by finding its leadership, will be infused with power: “Only when we are what we are coming to be, from the greatness of the inception of the Dasein of our spirit and people, only then do we remain fit for the power of the goal toward which our history is striving.”4 Rene Descartes, famous for his “Cogito ergo sum” formulation (“I think, therefore I am”) was denounced by Heidegger because, for Descartes, “the I of the thinking human being thus moves into the center of what can truly be humanly known.”5 Heidegger wished to displace the “I” with the “We” of a collective.

As he stated in a very strange lecture course on logic delivered under the National Socialist regime, which had little to do with what is normally understood as logic and much to do with Heidegger’s enthusiastic racism and National Socialism, “we have … the advantage that the question of who we ourselves are is timely, as distinguished from the time of liberalism, the I-time. Now is the We-time.”6 The “We” was not merely this or that “nameless crowd” or “revolting mass,” but the Volk.

As for Marx, for Heidegger, Dasein was not the existence of an “isolated” and “self-forlorn” individual, nor of mere collections of them, but of a self-conscious collective. In Marx’s case this was the class and State, and in Heidegger’s case the Volk and State: “it becomes clear why the character of the self does not consist in the reflexivity of the I, of the subject; for it is precisely the blasting of I-ness and of subjectivity by temporality, which delivers Dasein, as it were, away from itself to being and thus compels it toward self-being.”7 The entire performance is mired in non sequiturs, opaque language, unjustified leaps of inference (often justified by whether words sound similar), and other moves, but Heidegger considered it one of his most important works, although not published until many years after his death, as his explicitly Nazi works started to emerge from the archives.

Founding Political Correctness

Heidegger set the stage for the rejection of individual freedom and responsibility in recent decades by insisting that the center stage should be occupied by the We, in his own case the We of the German People (Volk), which he considered a historical people with a historical mission. Heidegger’s elevation of the concept of “authenticity” as the test of true existence set the stage for a wide range of anti-individualist movements: nationalist, racist, socialist, ethnic, and even the recent surge of “politically correct” identities. Others have merely substituted for the German Volk other collectivities, consistently with Heidegger’s polylogism (the idea that there are different truths for different groups) and rejection of universal truths.8 In each case, it is an authentic existence that is asserted to be collective, as distinguished from the mere “I” in the company of other individuals that characterizes classical liberalism.

Heidegger set the stage for the rejection of individual freedom and responsibility.

Metaphysical collectivism, the assertion that existence itself is inherently collective, was eagerly taken up by aggressive anti-individualist extremists of left and right, all of whom assert that their ideological submersion of the individual into the greater whole represents the embrace of “authentic” Dasein, and all of whom are united in their rejection of the idea of individual freedom and responsibility. Of course, such absorption of the individual into the “We” always means the subordination of some individuals, usually the majority, to other individuals, usually a small and well-organized clique of people who have seized power for themselves in the name of the collective.

I should add that, to put him in perspective in an American setting, the wave of political correctness also derives from one of Heidegger’s most famous students, the Marxist theoretician Herbert Marcuse, who saw in Heidegger the metaphysical foundations for Marxist collectivism. As he excitedly wrote in 1928 of Being and Time, “this book seems to represent a turning point in the history of philosophy: the point at which bourgeois philosophy unmakes itself from the inside and clears the way for a new and ‘concrete’ science.”

What excited Marcuse was the way in which formal rules would be dissolved in a concrete life, inevitably a collectivity, and thus the rule-of-law that characterizes liberalism could be swept away. As he noted in his 1928 gushing over Heidegger’s work,

Recognizing the historical thrownness of Dasein and its historical determinateness and rootedness in the ‘destiny’ of the community, Heidegger has driven his radical investigation to the most advanced point that bourgeois philosophy has yet achieved – and can achieve. He has found man’s theoretical modes of behavior to be ‘derivative,’ to be founded in practical ‘making provision, and has thereby shown praxis to be the field of decisions. He has determined the moment of decision – resoluteness – to be a historical situation and resoluteness itself to be a taking-up of historical fate. Against the bourgeois concepts of freedom and determination, he has posed a new definition of being free as the ability to choose necessity, as the genuine ability to grasp the possibilities that have been prescribed and pregiven; moreover, he has established history as the sole authority in relation to this ‘fidelity to one’s own existence.’

Later, in the US, he became a leader of the far left and argued that capitalism and liberalism had so infused all modes of life that the only way to be truly liberated from it, to achieve real freedom, was to abolish toleration. In his 1965 work on Repressive Tolerance, the deepest source of political correctness and the social justice warriors, he argued that to achieve liberation would require,

the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc. Moreover, the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions which, by their very methods and concepts, serve to enclose the mind within the established universe of discourse and behavior – thereby precluding a priori a rational evaluation of the alternatives. And to the degree to which freedom of thought involves the struggle against inhumanity, restoration of such freedom would also imply intolerance toward scientific research in the interest of deadly “deterrents,” of abnormal human endurance under inhuman conditions, etc.

The idea of authenticity that Heidegger promoted is another key idea that has been deployed by anti-libertarian movements, in which an authentic collective self is allegedly liberated from the abstract rules-approach of liberalism. Every modern national fascist movement, every modern populist movement of modern times, has roots that are deeply embedded in the soil prepared by Heidegger, which found authentic existence in a historical collectivity, which may be taken to be a national-linguistic-racial collectivity, such as Germanness, or the Islamic Umma, or community of believers. Heidegger’s thinking is central to the neo-Nazi Jobbik and Golden Dawn movements in Hungary and Greece, the Neo-Eurasianist Nazi movement in Russia, and in the Islamic Republic of Iran and radical Islamism generally. The Islamic Republic is a most interesting case, because the intellectual leaders behind its establishment were very committed Heideggerians.

This is an excerpt from a speech delivered at the 2016 FreedomFest.
Parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here.


[1] See Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) and Hugo Ott, Martin Heidegger: A Political Life (New York: Basic Books, 1993).

[2] See for Heidegger’s influence on the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Mirsepassi, “Religious Intellectuals and Western Critiques of Secular Modernity,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Vol. 26, No. 3 (2006), pp. 416-433.

[3] Martin Heidegger, Being and Truth, trans. by Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (Bloomington, In.: Indiana University Press, 2010), p. 3. The lectures in the book were delivered in 1933-34, after Heidegger’s Nazi Party had come to power in Germany.

[4] Ibid., p. 6. As he makes clear, “our western, German Dasein” refers to “our historical being-with-others in the membership of the people.” Whether “the derivative mock culture finally collapses into itself” “depends solely on whether we as a people still will ourselves, or whether we no longer will ourselves.” p. 11.

[5] Ibid., p. 33.

[6] Martin Heidegger, Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language, Wanda Torres Gregory and Yvonne Unna, trans. (Albany: State University Press of New York, 2009), p. 45.

[7] Ibid., p. 139.

[8] Polylogism, in both its superficially distinct Marxist and Nazi versions, was subjected to withering criticism by Ludwig von Mises in such books as Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War (1944), Theory and History (1957), and Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (1966), all of which can be purchased or accessed online at

Source: Martin Heidegger: Philosopher of Nazism and Other Collectivist Cults | Tom G. Palmer

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